• Living the Dream -12. Four Weeks

    I write this exactly four weeks before we fly to Cyprus.

    We are a tiny bit disappointed, knowing that we will be inspecting damage done by last week’s uninvited guests. (Robbed!)

    Friends secured the house for us immediately after the robbery, but the repairs are temporary and we will need to deal with the internal damage. So, along with sourcing a home security system, sorting these things out will be the first order of business.

    Admin

    Now that the move is four weeks away, I’m able to pull the trigger on several decisions that I had deferred; insurance policies and the like. Forms to fill in. What fun! Said nobody ever about filling in forms.

    Even more amusing, I have to make several very chunky payments. I’ll be glad when this part of the process is done with – nobody likes handing over lots of money. Hopefully though, this will soon pass. I will have made, or set up,  the payments, the to-do list will be shorter – and I’ll disappear off for a week’s walking in Spain with my best mate; leaving Mags in the eye of the storm. (Yes, I do know that I am a very, very lucky guy to have such an awesome, understanding and generous woman as my wife.)

    Stationery

    More fun has been picking out stationery supplies for my new home office. Regular readers will know that I love my paper products and analogue tools, and that I own a webshop, Nero’s Notes. The picture is one box of notebooks that should get me started. (I know – it’s an addiction!)

    We are still stressed, still wrangling to-do lists, but we’re getting excited too.

    Tools

    I spoke today with the man who has maintained the swimming pool and the garden for us. He revealed that the thieves had thrown my power tools into the swimming pool.

    Charming. Criminals these days, no class.

    In fairness, my lack of proficiency with power tools is legendary, but I do find myself affronted that the thieves threw them into the pool, nevertheless.

    Swine.

  • Living the Dream – 11. Robbed!

    Ouch. The unexpected ring of the phone startled me. I spilled coffee onto my hand.

    It was before six. Who called a mobile before six in the morning? The ring had come from Margaret’s phone. I let it ring and dealt with the spill.

    Mags called Antonia back. Antonia keeps an eye on the house in Cyprus for us and gets it ready whenever we visit.  When there had been no answer, she had also sent an email, one that encapsulates the situation rather nicely;

    “Good day. I have bad news. Somebody stole your home.”

    I imagine it reads a bit better in Greek; still Google Translate got the message across. We had been robbed.

    Not the start to the day that we hoped for.

    Every room had been ransacked.

    I imagine that the thieves were looking for a store of value. A safe or similar. They even emptied the washing conditioner bottle. The utility room is now very fragrant.

    There is no good time to be robbed, but there might be many worse times than when we were not in residence and the house was sparsely furnished.

    We’re far from happy, but I can’t help but smile when I picture some dope tearing around the house trying to find something more valuable than the router.

    An empty house is always a target, I guess, but first order of business in October will be a home security review.

  • Living the Dream – 10. Reality Bites

    Reality has crept up. For months, emigrating has been exciting, distant and most importantly, theoretical. Something to talk about, plan for, even blog about.

    Then, all of a sudden, reality sidles in unseen, and chomps hard into my backside.

    By the time this post publishes, I’ll have twenty one more days in the UK, along with eight walking in Spain. Less than a month.

    Friends are anxious to get together, wanting to wish us ‘Bon Voyage’. Last chances are mounting up; the last chance to go this shop or that restaurant.

    Mags and I find ourselves tired, and tetchy. Inexorably, stress levels have crept up. We’re both developing little health niggles. Regardless of lists, the volume of tasks is overwhelming. If we can’t find anything to stress about, then we invent some.

    “What if…what about…?”

    We devise endless potential problems and issues, rather than deal with the reality:

    We’re scared.

    What if we hate it? What if we’re bored? What if we can’t stand the relentless weather?

    Still – I think this stage is passing. I’m through it. If I’m with Margaret, I’ll be OK (Not sure she feels the same!)

    We’re starting a new, exciting chapter – and most importantly, we’re starting it together.

    I’ll take that reality.

  • 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.