Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Storage for small spaces

We don't need storage solutions, there's my husband and I in a 3 bed house, in Dubai, with so many built in cupboards that we have the luxury of keeping the toaster in a cupboard.

However when we lived in the UK there was a period of time when we had 5 children in a 4 bed house and we had to make the most of every inch of space, from built in shelving in alcoves to storage boxes under bunk beds and regularly holding boot sales or donating items to charity.

In recent years, we bought a 1 bed flat in the UK to use as a base for visiting our families and as somewhere for our adult children to stay when we were over.

Sadly within 6 months of purchasing the flat my father died suddenly and mum had to move from her 4 bed house to a 2 bed flat as my father was a bit of a hoarder, lots of the more valuable items ended up in my flat for me to be able to sell on mums behalf at a later date.

Space in the flat is tight, with plastic storage boxes under the bed and a set of golf clubs and a suit case belonging to our middle child who is now living in Australia and my father's stamp collection in the built in cupboard and an old sewing table of my gran's in the lounge as I couldn't bare to part with it.

The 3 best buys I've had for the flat to ensure we can still live in it when we visit (up to 6 months of the year) was the wardrobe, the under sink cabinet in the bathroom and the sofa bed from Ikea.

The sofa bed stores all the spare bedding and pulls out as a double bed.

Washing is an issue and I've not mastered the art of drying things. We do have a washer dryer but the cost is high and the dryer part isn't that effective so I often do a service wash at the laundrette when anyone else is staying in the flat with me, other wise I hang bedding to dry over doorframes and chairs.

A cupboard under the sink now keeps the bathroom items on the shelf and cleaning chemicals hidden from sight, making it easier to keep the bathroom clean.

Moving my fathers stamp collection into the cupboard has freed up space in the bedroom.

I purchased a small wardrobe for this alcove behind the door to hang my clothes now the cupboard was full and our son's belongings now live under the bed.

Over the door hangers free up space in the lounge for hanging clothes to dry. This is also the cupboard housing my fathers stamp collection.

Do you have issues with storage? Having built in units in our former family home and our current one in Dubai mean we require far less furniture than we used to need and I'm sure when we move back to our former family, 6 bed, home in the UK next year with just the two of us, we won't have half the need for the furniture and storage solutions we've purchased over the years.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Creating a garden in the desert - recovering my summer lawn

7 weeks away and a husband who really doesn't have the time or the inclination to sort the garden and I returned to this:

Dead plants, an over grown border and a lawn that grew so much with the humidity, it just collapsed in on itself.

Summer in Dubai is hot and the humidity can take 'feel like' temps up to the high 50's.

We don't use the garden between mid June and mid October, other than letting the dog out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The months leading up to summer tend to involve just sweeping up sand.

It's November now, the garden and balcony is in shade most of the day, the temps are below 30c in the day and 20c at night. The dog is being walked twice a day and is enjoying digging in the sand.



I'm spending most of my time at home in the garden. The evenings aren't as pleasant now the temps have dropped due to the mosquito's and getting bitten and we've probably got 6 weeks until the rain starts on and off which brings the sand with it also.

Cleaning the balcony requires a bit of ingenuity to get the hose pipe up there as the outside tap is in the garden.

So I'm making the most of it. I spent a day strimming the lawn and pulling up dead plants, a day tidying it all up and then putting the rubbish out.

The grass is starting to recover slowly with watering and the cooler weather.

We're leaving the house the end of May, the cat and dog are relocating to the UK in January and sometime in March I will sell the fence, slabs and plants as we have to return our garden to the same state it was in when we moved in 2 years ago.

I'll be moving the pots back to the UK and the indoor plants, cactus and palm tree will relocate to the balcony on our apartment and we'll see how long they last.


Indoor plants have been repotted as will some of the plants we have in pots outside so I can take the lovely ceramic pots back with me to the UK.


All the garden cushions etc have been moved back indoors as we're forecast some heavy rain over the next few days.


Bob always knows when it's going to rain and he brought all his toys in from outside, I had all the doors and windows open to enjoy the cool breeze.


The rain came, it started with a few isolated drops and was followed by thunder and lightening and a torrential down pour.

 Then after the rain I've been left with all this much and sand that's washed off the roof to clean up, before I set up outside again.

Bob likes to be outside in the rain and ventured out onto the balcony while I was shutting the doors and windows downstairs.


Monday, 11 November 2019

Repatriation Part 2 - Starting to get organised

So we're relocating to the UK over the next 6 - 36 months. Who knows when we'll actually both be living there full time, but as expats for the last 9 years in South Africa and Dubai, life has been one big adventure anyway.

It's also been very unsettled for me, not working, leaving our families behind, coping with the death of my father in 2017 and now the kids are getting married and having children of their own.

So what have I done since I wrote the last post?

I've signed up with a rental agent in the UK to deal with our flat.

Contacted relocation companies for the pets in January and furniture in May.

Spoken with our current landlord in Dubai and negotiated a 6 month contract rather than a year, at the cost of 7,250 AED (£1,500) admin fee on top of 6 months rent to paid up front.

Booked my flight to return to the UK in November/December and car hire.

Started to look for a car to buy in the UK and sell my car in Dubai.

Woken up at 4 am most mornings thinking about what I need to do.

Panicked at 4.15am every morning at the enormity of the task ahead.

Been thankful everyday that this whole move is in our (my) control and that we have the finances to do this and don't require visas.

I've also discovered I need to complete Customs clearance for transfers of residence in the UK before flying the cat and dog over or receiving our container of furniture or duty and tax is applied.

My next job is to now fill in the forms and obtain the documentation required for the cat and dog to fly out and arrive in the UK within 5 days of my arrival on January 30th. Preferably on the same flight as me or I have to find a flight buddy for them. I need to take measurements, sort crates, get the cats rabies shot done in December, book flights and arrange transport from the UK airport to the house.

I'll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime I had a relocation company visit to quote for packing and shipping. For all our moves we've had to itemise the contents and provide a replacement cost for the country we're relocating to for insurance purposes. I have the paperwork from both moves so only have a few things to add and work out the replacement values. On our first move we weren't informed of this until the container was ready to ship.

In my head I've started to plan what furniture is going back to the UK and what is staying in Dubai and how/where it will all fir.

Our family home is a 6 bed house, I'll use the furniture from the flat for the first 6 months and I'll have proper time to work out how we'll use the house fully. For now though, I'll only be using the kitchen, 1 bedroom which is ensuite and the lounge and conservatory. Once the furniture is in, I'll keep the bedroom for visitors, move back into our old room and set the rest of the house up. The 2 bedrooms on the 1st floor will remain empty and the 2 bedrooms on the 3rd floor will be used for storage rather than putting things in the attic space.

We've been advised we don't need to look for an apartment in Dubai until the first week of May and I can sort out the furniture for that then, before everything else gets packed up and shipped. As we'll cross over with 2 properties in Dubai for a week or two.

I also have to sell the fence and the garden contents before we leave.


Some of these links aren't yet live and will be updated.

Repatriation or Operation Relocation

Part 1 Things we have to do

Part 2 Starting to get organised

Part 3 Transfer of Residence

Part 4 Relocating pets. Dubai to UK

Part 5 Sorting out our new home in the UK

Part 6 Bob and Pushkins arrive in the UK. What do they think of it?

Part 7 Renting an apartment in Dubai

Part 8 Vacating a Villa in Dubai

Part 9 Moving Day

Part 10 Relocation

Saturday, 9 November 2019

One Daily Positive - Week 45 Combating loneliness

Every time I think about the upcoming relocation, I get stressed out, so much to do, but apart from the paperwork and deciding on which relocation company we'll use, there's nothing that can be done until a week or so before the actual move.

I am decluttering, have some jobs lined up such as sorting through photo's and transferring old family videos. All the paperwork is up to date, the garden has been prepared for winter, all flights/trips booked and the week started with no house work to be done either.

I'm determined to enjoy the rest of the time we have living abroad, as I've spent the past 9 years waiting for the next move, next visitor, next trip away and not getting on with anything. The next 18 months are still uncertain for me, I'll be travelling between the UK and Dubai and renovating our UK home in preparation for Peter's retirement up to 3 years away.

I haven't been sleeping since Peter came home, but he's away again for 10 days. Every time I get into a routine with sleep, exercise, diet, it gets interrupted by Peter's job. despite living with constant change, it takes me a while to adapt to it. I fall asleep around 9pm and I wake around 3am, then I'm fighting sleep all afternoon, who cares when I sleep? so I often go back to bed around 2pm for an hour or two.

307 Sunday Was awake most of the night with a strange sensation in my bladder, pain in my left hip, my right eye was sore and my left jaw was aching. So got up at 4am and did the ironing and some blogging. Peter popped into work for a few hours and I went to the mall.

The only time I can use video calls is when Peter is at home using the company video conferencing. However when he's away it makes for a very long and lonley time cut off from all my family and friends other than the typed/written word.

308 Monday Dropped Peter at the train for his trip to South Africa, he's back on the 15th. Relocation company came to do a quote. Can't remember what else I did today.

309 Tuesday Went out to the Mall to do a bit of shopping and then off to the dog park with Bob and to meet a friend, unfortunately her dog is over friendly and Bob gets frightened when he feels cornered so I ended up separating them and leaving earlier. Sorted out the toiletries in the bathrooms and had a lazy evening. Decided to sleep in the spare room to see if a change of bed helps with my neck pain.

310 Wednesday Woke with a stiff back at 3.45am, made tea and drifted back to sleep till 7am. Had coffee on the way to the Doctors, then down to Kite Beach to see the flag display from Flag day which commemorates the ascension of Sheikh Khalifa as President of the UAE. Off to the pub quiz in the evening.


311 Thursday Another relocation quote and then I took myself off to Dubai Mall to go iceskating, it's been over 30 years since I've been on the ice and I stayed on my feet for 45 mins and loved it, will be going back next week. Cooked myself a roast dinner.


312 Friday Walked Bob, did some washing and changed the beds and hit the beach at 8.30am for 2 hours, lots of swimming and started a new book. The rest of the day, like yesterday was spent filling time, I tided the garden and swept sand, brought all the cushions in as rain is forecast, walked Bob again, read some more of my book. Had a bath at 7pm and watched youtube and went to bed at 8pm.

313 Saturday I slept till 6am, repotted house plants, back to bed with my breakfast and catching up with soaps, did some blogging, dressed, walked Bob and headed off to the Marina at 9am to meet a friend for coffee. Had a walk along the beach front and took some more photos for my construction photography project. Afternoon spent pottering around and some ironing then off out to Jumeriah Golf Estates for a Marshall event meeting ready for the Race to Dubai starting in 10 days.


On the blog this week:

Repatriation Part 1 - Things we have to do

Christmas coffee cups and the banana - Too much waste

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Coffee shop Christmas disposable cups - why i don't use them

Yes I love Christmas and all things Christmas related and I love coffee shops. But what I don't love is the disposable cups designed for takeaway drinks.

I use my own coffee cup for take aways, regardless of the coffee shop I use.

Most chains have a Christmas reusable cup out now, but I don't need to buy a new one, the one I have is perfectly adequate.

I have an issue with coffee shops in Dubai regardless of the chain. Every time I request a coffee to drink in, they automatically reach for a disposable cup.

This was obviously drunk here by a previous customer.

I've learnt to place my order as follows (size) (type of drink) and automatically add 'in a ceramic mug and don't warm it'

In the UK I always get asked 'to drink in or take away' but Dubai doesn't work like that. I think it saves on the staff having to wash up as it's easier to scoop disposable cups up and put them in the bin.

I stop regularly at the local petrol station for a latte, using my own cup. I often pick up a banana at the same time.


Whilst I ordered my coffee, asked for a banana, went to the counter and paid, then back to collect my coffee, this had happened.

Not only was my banana in a plastic bag, it was then placed in a plastic bag.

Sometimes I just give up.........

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