Go big or go home…

Archive for the ‘planning’ Category


Posted on: June 29, 2010

It was sixteen months ago. The first day of my shiny Singapore job. I chatted to the receptionist while I waited for HR, and smiled when she said her name was Rose. The receptionist at my London office was called Rose – maybe this was a good omen, perhaps I was meant to work here.

She asked the usual questions – where was I from, how long had I lived here? “Only a month,” I said, almost apologising. “Don’t worry,” she replied, laughing, joyful, “the hot weather will soon melt all that fat of you.”

Now it’s a year on. Tomorrow I leave this job. The coincidence of a shared name didn’t turn out to be that good an omen, but neither was it the worst. Everything teaches us something.

I go to say goodbye to Rose. She hugs me and says it’s always the nice ones who leave. Then she steps back and cocks her head, eyeing me critically. “You’ve lost weight. Whatever you’re doing it’s working.” I smile. Skinnier to start my new job. That must be a good omen. Right?

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Rosie Bonita is my tortoise:



She is a Tunisian spur-thigh, she is the first birthday present J bought me, and she is the best pet I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately she is not allowed to travel.

Most (all?) tortoises are finally, sensibly, protected by CITES, which restricts their import and export.

This means that UK breeders have to be registered, and stops nefarious characters going to places like Tunisia, packing a tea chest with baby Rosies and shipping them back to pet shops in the hope that some survive.

Because of these restrictions, tortoises are now relatively scarce in the UK so it would have been easy to sell Rosie back to a good breeder, but I just couldn’t do it.

Instead she is being fostered by a friend, with a support network that includes my sister, J’s mum and another friend.

I don’t know if this is an ideal solution – I have no idea when I will be back – but the thought of never seeing her little pointy face again was just too sad.

She's teeny

She's teeny


One of the more urgent items on our to-do list is to rent out our London flat, as we’re definitely not flush enough to keep homes across the globe.

We’ve registered with an agent, and were hoping we’d find a tenant within the next few weeks.

Until we arrived home on new year’s eve. The main entrance was padlocked and chained, and the ground floor launderette was reduced to a smouldering, blackened abyss.

There are three flats above the launderette, one on each floor. Fortunately all the occupants were out – the fire brigade said no one would have survived all the smoke – but there is water and smoke damage, and the firemen were forced to kick all the doors in.

First floor hallway, at least the corrugated metal matches the wainscoting

First floor hallway, at least the corrugated metal matches the wainscoting

Our flat mostly survived. Our front door refused to explode like the others so the firemen came in through a window (meaning we are still fairly secure – the other flats have had their entrances boarded up with corrugated steel), and the smoke damage is minimal as we’re on the top floor.

Second floor hallway

Second floor hallway

A good professional cleaner and decorator should get the place sorted fairly quickly, but I think the burned out shop and padlocked street access might put off the more discerning renter before they even make it upstairs!

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One of the perks of being relocated (as opposed to relocating yourself) is that people who know what’s what are paid to help you out.

As such a nice lady in Illinois (obviously) is in charge of our shipping. According to her:

Here are the items not allowed to be shipped per our policy:
• Household Pets
• Piano
• Items of exceptional value, Jewelry, Furs, antiques, works or art, coin or stamp collections
• Wine or Alcoholic Beverages
• Boats, engines, cars, motorcycles, trailers, Recreational Vehicles or Airplanes
• Riding lawn mowers
• Foodstuffs
• Live Plants
• Firearms, ammunition, knives or blades, which could be classified as weapons.
• Materials of any explosive, dangerous or flammable nature such as paints, solvents, bleaches, acids, etc.
• Building Materials
• Any item that may be subject to complex or restrictive export/import controls.

My first response to this is that clearly we’re being a little unambitious thinking that all we need to take with us are two boxes of books and some dive kit.

Second thought – what kinds of people does this woman usually relocate??? “Yes, I’d like to ship this greyhound, a grand piano and a mysterious fur coat.” That’s surely the plot of a Jack Lemmon movie?

And who takes building materials? Apparently we have a whole 20ft container at our disposal. Perhaps I’ll fill it with bags of cement and coarse aggregate.

Or perhaps I’ll just take two boxes of books and my dive kit.


As J is being transferred to S’pore with his company, he’ll enter with an employment pass sponsored by the firm.

I, on the other hand, am entering merely as the spouse, and will be there on a dependent’s pass. This is basically a housewife visa – I won’t be allowed to work unless a local company writes me a letter of consent.

Yet… I’ve been asked to supply my birth certificate (fair enough) and my degree certificate (preferably from a “well-established” university).

I *really* hope this is a belt & braces approach from J’s company rather than a Ministry of Manpower (so Orwellian!) requirement.

I can’t see my ability to run Southern blots being all that useful when it comes to getting sozzled on gin at lunchtimes and ordering around the staff.

We’ve booked our flights. First time I’ve ever had a one way ticket anywhere. *gulp*

D-day is January 25th, exactly five weeks from today. Fortunately we’re on the 2205, which gives us a bit of time to get ourselves to the airport.

The extra time is likely to be necessary as we’re having our leaving drinks on the 24th (going out with a bang) so I predict that in five week’s time I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing right now – sitting saucer-eyed in my dressing gown after four hour’s sleep.

Recipe for disaster?

After two year’s talking incessantly about how much we’d like to live abroad, it’s finally happening!

D-day is the last week of January – less than two months away.

I’m sooooooooooooooooooo excited/terrified/excited/terrified. It’s gonna be a roller coaster, baby!

There’s nothing like all out bipolar mania to let you know you’re alive.