Friday 28 February 2020

Post Comment Love 28th Feb - 1st March

Well my month in the UK has come to an end quicker than I thought. I've got most of the jobs done around the house, cleaning, repairs and will order new carpets when I finish the painting in April. Looking forward to the warmer weather to get out into a now empty garden now, we have some lawn, mostly weeds and a new fence. I'm off back to Dubai on Tuesday and will be advertising our garden and fence there for sale, shame I can't just bring it all over here in the container.

UK Garden before

UK garden now, a nice blank canvas to work from, with a new fence.

My MIL arrives today and is house sitting for the next 3 weeks, while I pop back over to Dubai to organise the insurance for the container to send our furniture back to the UK and to apply for my Transfer of Residency so I don't have to pay tax/duty on our personal belongings.

My friend is going to walk Bob for me in the evenings, apart from the week she comes out to Dubai with her husband.

Hope you've all survived the storms and flooding. Although where I live hasn't been directly affected by the floods, I am living in the triangle between the River Severn and the River Wye and major routes have been been cut off. My family in Monmouth, South Wales have been hit the worse, becoming an island for several days.

Stephanie and I would love top know what you've been up to this week.

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Tuesday 25 February 2020

The differences between Dubai and the UK

I've been back in the UK for just over a month now. People keep asking me if I prefer living in Dubai or the UK. They're both so very different that it's hard to make comparisons. I'm still making regular trips to Dubai to see my husband and it'll be another 2-3 years before we're back here full time.

It's winter in both countries, sort of like a UK summer in Dubai, but we've had torrential rain, flooding and sand storms over recent weeks.
So far the UK has been cold, very wet and windy and when the wind picks up the temp drops dramatically. A bit of a reverse to a summer in Dubai where the humidex factor adds an additional 10c to the temps. But at least in the UK I can get out and about in between the rain storms and it is lovely to come home to a warm house, unlike Dubai where most of the year it's just hot or hotter and going outdoors in June till September is unbearable with the heat.



In Dubai we drive on the opposite side of the road to the UK. I have no problem switching driving from either country, it's 2nd nature to me now, but I find I still go to get in the wrong side of the car when I'm in the UK and then reach to the left for the seat belt. I drive an automatic in Dubai and usually the rental cars are manuals, occasionally I forget to change gear, but using my right hand to do so is an automatic response.
The roads in the UK are narrower, as are the parking spaces and of course there are fewer lanes on the motorway. I have to remember to stick to my own lane and not undertake, something that is common practice in Dubai and driving too close to the car in front will get me in trouble here in the UK. It also takes longer to switch lanes in the UK.

I can take Bob almost anywhere and it takes ages for us to get anywhere as he's so excited with the new sounds and smells and people are constantly stopping to pet him, which he loves, unlike Dubai where people ask you to make sure your dog doesn't bite them. In Dubai, I would walk Bob then go back out for my shopping and/or coffee. Here I can combine the two, we're out at least 2 hours every day. I still can't let Bob off the lead in public, but in both Dubai and the UK there are dog parks I can visit by car.


Going shopping in the UK stresses me out. Hot inside, cold outside, in and out of shops etc drives me mad. Being approached none stop in the streets to donate to this, that etc is too intrusive, however little difference from Dubai in the malls where you're at constant risk of being sprayed with perfume or an attempt is made to sell you property. In Dubai it's just a case of pick which Mall you want to go to. I do prefer the UK though, wandering around side streets, independent coffee shops and being out in the fresh air.

There were 7 of us living in our old family home in the UK. it's a 6 bed house, my first thought when I got back was 'this is too small, I can't live here, I feel claustrophobic' however having been in the house for a month now, I'm loving the cosiness of it, being able to clean a room and shut the doors. A separate kitchen so the food smells don't fill up the whole house. I've never really felt like I've settled into life abroad, in the back of my mind I know we'll be on the move at anytime soon and it's been hard to settle, but I've always made each house a home. It's also nice to have carpets under my feet again.

Cost of living
This is a difficult one for me to judge as I'm still mainly spending Dirhams and haven't been back in the house long enough to get a fair view of the bills, we're paying all bills in both countries as and when they come in and things like car insurance and the council tax have all been paid up front until I have time to set things up with transferring money etc. AED 100 is approx £21. I find that money seems to stretch further in Dubai than it does in the UK. Coffee out is about the same price, train travel in Dubai is around a £1 a trip.

Where do I prefer to live?
I'd quite like to live in the same country as my husband, cat, dog, kids, grandchild, mothers etc. The reality is we're spread out in the UK quite widely and one child lives in Australia and another in Northern Ireland. I don't have a car at the moment and can actually only get direct public transport to my MIL in Bristol and daughter in Gloucester, every where else requires bus, train, walk.
I've noticed how dirty and messy the UK is, it all looks so tired and old, dark and gloomy.

On the other hand the wild flowers on the side of the roads and the random spring bulbs look so colourful compared to the beigeness of Dubai.
I can't just hail a taxi here in the UK, if I've done too much shopping, it's a 90 min drive to the beach rather than a short car or train trip. The local pool is a 30 minute walk away instead of 2 minutes over the road. Parking costs in the UK are expensive, compared to free in Dubai, there are no drive through coffee shops of ATMs in the UK. I have to fill my own fuel tank, pack my own shopping. I can't valet park at the Doctors. But I can phone people up without worrying about the costs, I've got TV I enjoy watching and friends nearby.

Saturday 22 February 2020

One Daily Positive - Week 8 Floods, family and friends

Finally feel like I've got somewhere with the cleaning. It's all done. Some of the damage I just can't repair, so new carpets for the stairs and the bedrooms have been ordered. A friend is coming round to do some jobs for us, such as putting up a curtain pole, sorting out some damp in a bedroom, fix a window and reseal the bath and the shower cubicles. Next job for me is to start the painting.

The garden is starting to take shape now, as in I've just pulled everything up and out, the new fence panels survived Storm Dennis and I've filled the freezer up with some batch cooking as I keep forgetting to eat.

Bob and I have had some lovely long walks, despite the rain and I had a lovely visit from Mary and her son.

Wow the rain was heavy, everywhere around is flooded, Mary managed to get through Upton just before the road was closed. The main road in and out was opened 24 hours after it flooded. Mum and niece are completely cut off in Monmouth.

47 Sunday Walked Bob, cleaned windows in the dining room and conservatory and the sliding doors, rearranged the upstairs and scraped all the paint off the light fittings and bathroom tiles, hoovered. We've only got one bedroom with any furniture in it so it was a quick job. In between the showers I dragged all the garden waste round the front of the house ready for collection on Monday.

48 Monday Dog walk and coffee. Cleaned all the windows upstairs and gave the bathroom and shower rooms another clean. Mary from Over40andamumtoone and her son came to stay, she literally just made it through the flood water before the last route into Malvern was closed due to flooding. We walked Bob to the retail park for coffee, had dinner and spent the evening with red wine and a catch up.

No photos today just a screen shot of the flooding

49 Tuesday We walked into town, had coffee and cake and explored the Abbey. We caught the train home. Mary dropped me at the retail park on her way home, I did some shopping and walked back in the pouring rain, no umbrella. The evening was spent watching TV and reading my book.

50 Wednesday Walked Bob to the coffee shop, he's settling in really well to the UK despite the weather. Caught the train to Worcester for a few hours. Spent the rest of the day touching up the paint work on the top floor and catching up blog posts, reading and watching the TV.

51 Thursday Visit from my nephew, his partner and their son cancelled as it's now Gloucesters turn with the River Severn flooding and their route to the M50 and M5 is flooded. Took Bob for a long walk, did some more painting and sorted through emails and filing. Bob is now sitting nicely in the coffee shops and not bothered by other dogs.

52 Friday Dog walk, then a visit from a friend with her 3 year old twins. I met Kathryn the night my dad died, she was a neighbour who came out to see if she could help and took in child 5 at 2am. She dropped me in town on her way home, did some shopping, home, dinner, painting, TV and bed.

53 Saturday A very lazy morning with tea and blogging in bed, dog walk, home to find these flowers from a friend on the doorstep and painted a door. Child 2, 2a and 2b came up for the day. I cooked a chilli con carne in the slow cooker, we popped out to the retail park for a coffee and shopping. The cat wasn't interested in the baby, but Bob was concerned when the baby cried, but kept his distance. Evening to be spent in front of the TV.

On the blog this week:

Want to know how the cat and dog are settling in?

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Friday 21 February 2020

Post Comment Love 21st - 23rd February

Well the cat and dog and myself are settling into our new lives in the UK. It's been 9 years since we've lived here full time. Having spent 4 years in South Africa and 5 years in Dubai. Although we've visited often and had a flat we could stay in when we visited for the past 3 years.

Since I arrived I've not had 5 minutes to myself. Our youngest child of 5 travelled with me and we visited our eldest child, the oldest boy and his wife and baby, as well as my mum and niece and her family. The the second youngest child arrived with his wife, and the following day my husband arrived and we did the rounds of visiting again. Our middle child lives in Australia, so just catching up with him with video calls.

Child 1

Child 4

Child 2, hubby, child 4, me, 4's wife, 2's wife and grandchild's hand.

With hubby and our Great Nephew Thing 3

Child 2's wife and baby, hubby and child 1

I've been doing all the driving as I'd hired a car when I arrived, I returned it last week after dropping my husband at the airport. Since then I've been going everywhere on foot, accompanied by Bob who is loving the UK, despite the rain.

We've also worked flat out with the cleaning, redecorating and repairs to our family home, my back aches, my chronic pain has flared up, but so far, I've avoided a migraine.

This relocation business is hard work, I've forgotten how the UK works and there are so many new things for me to discover. I get blank looks when I ask questions about how things work. People look at me and must think I've lost the plot.

The cat and dog are both puzzled by things coming through the front door and run to greet the postman, expecting me to open the door as there is someone there. Post in SA and Dubai is to a PO Box number.

Stephanie and I would love to hear what you've been up to this week.

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Monday 17 February 2020

Settling in a dog and a cat from South Africa to the UK, via Dubai.

Bob the Dog aged 10 and Pushkins aged around 11, started their journey to the UK from South Africa, via Dubai. The cat just moved in with us one day in 2012 and the dog was adopted from the SPCA in 2013.

They had 5 years in Dubai where they adapted well to the heat and for the last 2 years Pushkins has been an indoor cat, due to health issues.

They arrived in the UK on February 1st 2020 and so far, despite the cold and the rain, they've settled in well.

It has been helped by child 5 travelling with me, child 4 and 4a visiting and Peter arriving a week later.

They've established a routine of walks, food, sleep and toileting.

Bob is used to extreme weather from living in Dubai and adopted the same approach to the cold, rain and wind in the UK, he needs the toilet, it's a quick dash outside and straight back in.

The cat is still trying to find her spot and we're playing a lot of hide and seek as she has done on previous moves.

Bob is exploring new territory, new smells, sounds (sirens) more cars, pedestrians and a variety of other dogs. It takes us forever to get anywhere as he's constantly being petted. In between he's straining on the leash to explore further. We're not sure if he even speaks the new language of dogs here yet and has been very calm as one appears around a corner wither on an expandable lead and even off leash. The post being delivered is a puzzle to them both.

Bob has never been in shops before. We taught him to lie down by saying bed, so I'm carrying a towel with me to the coffee shops to wipe his paws on and for him to lie down on, so I can drink my coffee without him wanting to explore.

He's so far behaved himself in shops and banks.

Saturday 15 February 2020

One Daily Positive - Week 7 Surviving the storms

I've done too much driving the past week and my nerves were shot to pieces driving during Storm Ciara, up to Birmingham and down to Bristol, but I only have car hire till Friday.

My Mother in Law has jumped at the chance to house sit in March when I return to Dubai, my SIL will bring her up the weekend before I travel. only 1 house rule 'DON'T LET THE CAT OUT' My friend has said she'll walk Bob after work, apart from the week she's out with me in Dubai.

I'm loving the weather other than the storm and the rain, but the cold is good. I'd forgotten what it was like to come home after a trip out and just put my pjs on and snuggle up on the sofa under a blanket.

The house is starting to feel like a home again. Peter has done quite a few repairs and I've finished sorting the paperwork and changing our address. We received less than half the deposit back from our tenants, you can read about that and the house repairs on the blog this week (link below)

40 Sunday
We had planned a walk on the Malvern Hills, but the weather was bad so we walked to the retail park for a coffee and back. Took child 4 and 4a to Birmingham airport for their flight home and stopped along the route for Sunday lunch. Home, into PJs and watched the telly. 4 and 4a spent the night in a hotel after their plane was cancelled.

41 Monday
Down to Keynsham to visit MIL and pick up supplies from B&Q for repairs to the house. My SIL and her friend are coming over to Dubai in March, bumped into the friend at the retail park and met SIL and niece for lunch. This road flooded within 10 mins.

42 Tuesday
Off to Gloucester for a meeting with Social Services about child 1. Child 2a and baby joined us in Gloucester for a couple of hours shopping and we all had lunch.

43 Wednesday
A day at home, while the garden was sorted and new fence panels installed. Took a walk to the shops to choose new carpets and have a coffee. One of our oldest friends called in with his wife. We've both known him for around 24 years, but Peter and I only met 21 years ago. He's offered to come round and put up curtain poles and bathroom accessories, repair loose floorboards and finish the DIY jobs I can't do. Out in the evening with friend and her husband for an Indian, then the pub for a few drinks.

44 Thursday Woke at 5am to heavy rain, we walked Bob into the town for a coffee and some shopping. Peter wasn't feeling well and went to bed for the afternoon. The new fence panels were fitted and I did some gardening and started cleaning the kitchen. Found the grave of Mr Rooney, child 5's pet hamster.

45 Friday
Took Peter to Birmingham airport for his flight back to Dubai, car hire dropped off and I caught the train home. Stopped at a nail bar, then home to finish cleaning the kitchen. The standard airport selfie.

46 Saturday
Walked Bob in the rain to the coffee shop at the retail park, did some washing then caught the train into Worcester, home to cook and bake. Evening spent cleaning the en suite shower room.

On the blog this week:
The real cost of renting - Work done on the house

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Friday 14 February 2020

Post Comment Love - 14th -16th February

Happy Valentines Day.

Time is flying by. I've been back in the UK now for 2 weeks. My husband travels back to Dubai this afternoon and I'm returning the car hire and getting home by train. Our local station is a 10 minute walk from our house, one of the reasons we first moved here back in 2002.

I've had a house full of family, which has been lovely but also quite tiring and emotional considering this is now my home and I'm on my own in a 6 bed house, with the furniture from a 1 bed flat and the cat and dog.

After 9 years of tenants we've had to do a lot of renovations, so far mainly repairs and fresh white paintwork, walls, doors and ceilings, giving us a blank canvas to work from. I'm back in Dubai in March and will be sorting out what furniture is being packed into our container and what stays in Dubai when we rent an apartment in the Marina.

Until we decide if we're staying here or going to move on once my husband retires in 2-3 years, we're not doing any more work to the house. The kitchen and bathrooms will eventually need updating, but for now some minor fixes, like a new bath panel will suffice.

What have you been up to this week? Both Stephanie and I would love to hear from you.

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Monday 10 February 2020

The real cost of renting, lettings agents and The Deposit Protection Scheme

Before I start I would like to point out that for the previous 9 years we've been tenants abroad in South Africa and Dubai and we're on the verge of moving into our 5th rental property.

We are also landlords, we've been renting out our family home in England, until recently. We are also renting out a one bed flat in South Wales.

The last tenants, although not as bad as the first set and did vacate earlier than requested have not looked after our property at all, despite having a list of demands for things to be fixed, repaired and redecorated before they moved in, which we did willingly.

We received £716.99 back from the tenants deposit of £1,462.50, the cost of repairs claimed for was £1,820.08. Having read the report of the findings from the DPS, it is clear that there was lack of evidence in the form of quotes, dated photos and itemised repairs, damages etc. I'm very disappointed with the rental agents and could have and would have done a better job myself of submitting evidence had I not relied on the agents to do their job in my best interests. For example it is deemed acceptable for this door to have been repaired.

The rubbish removal wasn't listed with evidence of the individual items

An award of £300 was made for redecoration costs and as it wasn't stated at the time of the tenancy that the house had been freshly dated it was deemed acceptable wear and tear. Paint alone for the radiators, woodwork and walls was £100 and labour £15 an hour. The DPS consider a patch job good enough. 

There was an award of £40 for this carpet to be cleaned, it won't clean and now it has to be replaced

Despite tenants cleaning the property in between, we've redecorated, re carpted a room, replaced appliances, repaired fence panels, dry cleaned curtains. Paid for all repairs, unless caused by the tenant, had a new shower tray installed, fixed outside taps and lights, had new taps for the kitchen and downstairs loo, a new oven and hob installed, serviced and installed a new boiler during the the snow storm of 2018 and gave the tenants money to buy portable heaters to keep warm and had the cheek to take the heaters I paid for. They also had a list of demands that we rectified prior to thier tenancy commencing and they leave our home like this?

You can read about the problems we've had and see the photos by clicking here. There are links within that post.

Would you be happy renting a property that was offered in this condition? Our previous tenants weren't. Yet look how they left it.

I'd love to hear about your experiences as a tenant and/or a landlord. The good, the bad or the ugly.

Saturday 8 February 2020

One Daily Positive - Week 6

It's cold in the UK, Bob has a fleece lined, waterproof coat and is loving life here. The cat thinks the stair carpet is one large scratching post.

We rented the flat out this week, one less thing to worry about.

I changed the buildings and contents insurance from Landlord to personal and ended up having to measure the outside of the house to get an accurate rebuild cost.

Lots of quotes and repairs carried out. I don't know if I'm coming or going. But I've finished the week relaxed, in pain from all the cleaning and driving, but happy.

33 Sunday
Up early as the gardener and fencing man came to do a quote. Then out to take child 5 home to Cirencester, calling in at child 1's to drop off her birthday presents and cake, home at 4pm, sorted through some paperwork, walked Bob, bath and bed.

34 Monday
Electrician came to sort out bathroom and outdoors lights. Took Bob with me to get DIY supplies, have a coffee, visit the bank and collect spare keys from the rental agent. We were out for 3 hours. I went out in the afternoon to collect the paint I'd bought in the morning.

35 Tuesday Bob is adjusting really well to all the new sights, sounds and smells in the UK, he's not used to this volume of traffic, was startled by an ambulance and gets super excited when kids whiz past on their scooters on the school run. Oven cleaner came, had a quote for new carpets, painter returned to finish a few jobs, friend called in with treats for the pets and to meet them for the first time. I spent 3 hours, cleaning 2 bathrooms within an inch of their lives.

36 Wednesday
Bob had a quick walk, I spent an hour cleaning the other shower room and then I was off to Birmingham to collect child 4 and 4a. I did a bit more tidying then we headed out on a 3 hour walk to the council offices, for a coffee and some shopping. Bob is loving life in the UK and it's great for me to be able to combine several activities in one go. We had stew from the slow cooker for dinner and all had an early night.

37 Thursday
Child 4 and 4a took Bob for a walk, I cooked breakfast then we were off to Birmingham for the day shopping before collecting Peter in the evening.

38 Friday
Off to visit 2a and 2b, then to take child 1 out for her lunch and a walk round the town.

39 Saturday
Off to South Wales to see mum, check post for the flat and visit my niece, nephew and the Things. Home to a roast dinner.

On the blog this week:

The cat and dog are here. They had a good flight from Dubai.

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