• Living the Dream – 9. Nero

    Nero. The Easiest Decision.

    I wrote last week about the Hassle Hurricane and my coping strategy. The to-do lists are still growing but light is discernible at the end of the tunnel. One of our first decisions, which I have not covered in an earlier post, was our easiest. What to do with Nero.

    Nero is our miniature schnauzer, and there was absolutely no way that Mags and I were going anywhere without him.

    As there are no longer ferries to Cyprus, like us Nero need to travel to by air. Technically, he is cargo, but we don’t say that when he’s within earshot. Cargo costs are remarkably reasonable, however when the cargo is a beloved family pet, the ‘extras’ come thick and fast. Overall, Nero’s one-way travel will cost considerably more than two human return tickets.

    The little guy won’t be flying with us. In part, this is because we are flying at a weekend, and in part because I would rather not deal with lots of luggage and him at the same time. Wrangling the luggage to the car hire desk, and then to the hire car is bothersome enough, with a disoriented dog desperate to mark his territory, explore every nook and cranny of the airport and make everyone aware of his presence with a persistent bark.

    Reservation

    So he will spend a few days in kennels in England, where he will undergo his pre-flight medical checks and will fly to us on the Tuesday. (We fly the previous Saturday.)

    In my experience, dogs are sanguine creatures, and Nero will adapt easily to the flight, first enjoying the new sounds and smells, then opting for his usual coping mechanisms of a hearty bark, and then a good snooze. That knowledge won’t stop Mags and I worrying about him. If you have a dog – you know.

    Nero, always a puppy to us, is a senior citizen now. The vet predicts that the warmer weather will do his arthritis the world of good. Quite what he’ll make of the wildlife, I’ve no idea. Small lizards and snakes will be entirely new to him, I imagine.

    For Mags and I, the sight of Nero in the house will be significant, I think.

    Where Nero is, is home.

     

  • Living the Dream – 8. Hassle Hurricane

    In six weeks or so, we will be waking up in Cyprus. As my home. Oh, how I anticipate that day! Right now however, we are in the midst of a hassle hurricane.

    Hassle

    Each day, I wake to long to-do lists, endless dependencies and unforeseen complications. There’s a skip on the drive, bundles of paperwork to complete and the small matter of valuing every single thing that we own still outstanding. The garage needs partitioning, the fridge ‘un-plumbing’, the list goes on.

    There are plenty of people who offer to take away this hassle. At a price. More than once, my legendary patience and laid-back approach to life has been tested by ambitious quotes.

    “How much?!” I have spluttered.

    Fortunately, I married a very smart woman, who has calmly sourced alternative solutions, leaving me snorting and shouting ineffectively into the wind.

    Ultimately, the sheer volume of tasks can be stress-inducing and overwhelming. Often, changing one arrangement has a knock-on effect requiring several other things to be adjusted.

    Solution

    Staying on top of these hassles requires a notebook. That might sound silly, but it isn’t: Writing lists asserts control over the tasks, ticking them off creates a feeling of progress. Referring to the book calms any mounting nerves and anxieties.

    For those of geeky disposition (like me), the notebook is a Great Barrier Reef by Dingbats, from my store, Nero’s Notes. I got the pencil from there too, and it is a Palomino Forest Choice.

    Have no illusion, the notebook completes no tasks and lowers no prices, the hassle hurricane remains. However – using the notebook helps me plan my days and navigate the bureaucratic nonsense, arrangements and dependencies. Suddenly, I can spy glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. Some lists are completed, some can only be completed nearer to departure date.

  • Living the Dream – 7. Mobile phone

    Mobile Phone

    “It’s time to renew your mobile phone contract.”

    Music to my ears. The mobile contract for Mags and I was expiring a couple of months before we are due to leave. Once or twice in the past I have retained contracts made useless by a change of country.

    Once, it was important. Changing your phone number was a hassle. I went to great lengths to ensure that that everybody knew how to contact me. Partly this was driven by an inflated sense of self-importance, and partly because it was true. A lot of business was done and organised on the phone.

    I have just checked my phone log. Statistics for the last week.

    • 11 calls over 7 days. 1 of which was a missed call
    • 5 were between Mags and I
    • 3 were between my Mum and I
    • 1 was a friend
    • 1 was a company looking to sell me stationery

    The majority of my communication these days is not over the phone. It is on e-mail or other electronic channels. Even when communication is by voice, it is often over the internet (VOIP). Were I in Cyprus, I suspect that the three calls with my Mum would have been over the internet. The stationer wouldn’t call me internationally either. As I’ll be working from home, Mags is likely to put her head around the door rather than call me.

    By any reasonable measure then, I don’t actually need a mobile phone for phone calls.

    Decision

    Great. I won’t get one.

    Oh, but it is handy to have internet access on the road. Social media is after all the shop window for my businesses. Actually, having an incredible camera in the pocket is pretty cool too. What about emergencies? Good point. Looks like I’m stuck with a mobile phone.

    I converted the UK phones to Pay as You Go, mobile phone companies won’t simply extend a contract to a determined date, largely because phone companies are rivalled only by airlines in paucity of service. My intention was to simply let the UK number run until we go, and then simply let people know the new number. There are so many ways to get in touch now, I doubt it would be a problem.

    2FA

    Then, by chance, I discovered a hidden hassle. Over the last year, I have almost drowned in recommendations to implement additional security online. One element of this is two-factor authentication (2FA). There are lots of websites, that when I log on, send a code to my mobile phone, which I need to enter on the website to gain access.

    Ah.

    I’m doing my best to remember which sites I have set this up on, and turning off or changing the method. I wonder how many I will not discover until after the UK number no longer works? What joy that will be.