Saturday 28 November 2020

Week 48 - One Daily Positive. The saga of the shipping container.

I can't make this stuff up quick enough and if I wrote it as a book, everyone would think it was fiction with a comedy angle thrown in for good measure.

Lets just say I've been on the phone, emailing, whatsapp and generally shouting, crying and pulling my hair out all this week trying to unravel the mystery of why I paid professionals to ship a container on my behalf, when it appears it only takes 3 days to learn the ropes and sort the issue yourself.

I won't be getting back to Dubai until mid December at this rate, but on the positive I am getting to spend time with my son and his wife in Northern Ireland, although my son has threatened to send me to his in laws who have said I'm more than welcome top stay with them as long as I like.

Thank heavens for having such a supportive family in the form of all our adult children.

Anyway on to what else I've been up to this week, other than ironing, cooking and cleaning, which I've loved helping out with, it's been a long time since I've had to think of anyone else other than myself.

327 Sunday Morning spent walking the dog at Hillsborough with our DIL while son went mountain biking. Full Sunday roast in the afternoon.

328 Monday Day at home and then off to the Parent in Laws for dinner in the evening, via a quick visit to the outlet centre in Antrim.

329 Tuesday Collected by the Parent in laws and off to Belfast for the day. In the evening we went for a drive thru McDonald's and ate in the car park.

330 Wednesday The Christmas decorations went up.

331 Thursday Last day before lock down, so remaining gifts bought, then I took Molly for a walk in the afternoon to explore the estate where son and DIL live.

332 Friday Off to Glenarrif for a long walk to see the waterfalls. I then prepped the bathroom for painting, sanding down walls, filling cracks and removing old paint from frames and tiles. Parent in Laws came to say goodbye. Booked flight and packed for the morning. Found out at 5.20pm that my container is being delivered over the weekend.

333 Saturday Early morning flight to Birmingham, train back to Malvern. Unpacked, repacked, washing on, gluten free food bought and an evening in watching Netflix.

Arrivals Hall at Birmingham Airport.

On the blog this week:

The shipping container saga.

My Garden in November.

The Palm Jumeriah, Dubai from the air.

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Friday 27 November 2020

27th - 29th November 2020 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to Post Comment Love #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I for our weekly link up with any post you've written this week.

I've had the most rubbish week ever. I have no idea why this crap happens to me, but the shipping line have failed to supply the documents for my container and those of many others, it has cleared customs but can't be released, therefore I'm still in the UK, staying with my son and his wife in Northern Ireland as I have house sitters in the UK. They have to leave end of January, so the longer it takes for me to get the container, the longer it takes for me to get home and the less time I will have with my husband.

Christmas is the last thing on my mind at the moment, I know for many others they're waiting for constant updates on what they can and can't do this year. It's only been Peter and I for Christmas day for the past 20 years that we've been together as our kids have always gone to the other parent for the day, so no real difference. We usually go out for Brunch at a hotel, I'm sure this year will be no different, assuming I can get back, if not, I'll stay in NI and for Peter it'll just be another working day in the UAE.

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Thursday 26 November 2020

Paying agents to do a job, badly

I'm pissed off, totally, at the point of having a breakdown.

I'm pissed off because my container is delayed because the agents didn't submit the paperwork.

I'm pissed off with all the work I've had to do to our family home because the agents didn't manage the property and the tenants and submit the correct paperwork to the Deposit Protection Scheme.

I'm pissed off with paying agents/professionals to do a job that I am unqualified to do, which turns out that I am actually qualified to do as I'm the one who has to sort it out and draw on skills and intelligence I didn't know I actually had.

Let me tell you my shipping story.

It began in Dubai early September, I obtained 3 quotes, all the same price, all offering the same service. I did a google search, I asked on twitter. I made a decision.

I picked the one who said they could ship on September 10th.

The ship didn't sail till October 2nd. I spent from the day they packed until September the 22nd asking for the shipping details, until they finally said the container was loaded.

By then I was back in the UK, I googled shipping lines and discovered the ship didn't sail until October 2nd.

I also paid them nearly £500 for the shipping and breakage insurance, I filled in all the forms and sent them off and made payment on September the 9th.

I constantly chased them for the Insurance details until October 13th they informed me Insurance had been denied. I contacted the Insurance directly to be informed that the application hadn't been made until October 13th and therefore as the ship had already sailed I couldn't have insurance.

The company made out they were doing me a favour by refunding me the money. I'm still waiting for the refund.

My container was still at sea. During this time, an attempted hijack was reported off the Isle of Wight of a ship and a container fell off another ship near the coast of Weymouth.

There are many things I would be unable to replace such as photographs and the children's keepsakes, but should my container have been hijacked or fallen in the sea I wouldn't have been able to claim for loss of furniture etc.

My container arrived in Port on November 8th, with a customs clearing time of 5-12 days, after day 5 I am to be charged storage fees.

On November 6th I made yet another call to the UK agents who still hadn't responded to me to let me know the process. I explained I needed to get back to Dubai ASAP and they said they'd be in contact as soon as they were informed the container had been released. 

On November 17th I called the UK company, no response, finally they replied to my email on the 20th to say as soon as they heard they'd contact me.

On the 23rd, Monday this week. I phoned them up again, the container hadn't been released. It was now day 17, so I called the National Clearing Hub, the Port and UK Border Force who all informed me that my container had been cleared on the 17th November, so why hasn't it been collected?

I called the UAE company, no reply, I called the UK company, no reply. I sent emails and whatsapp messages and over the past 2 days I've had the UK agent tell me it's not her fault and she's working hard to resolve the issue. I contacted the shipping line to be informed the Bill of Lading, bascially the Inventory hasn't been sent to them.

Finally the UAE side replied, the agent was almost crying on the phone, I will do I promise, please let me sort this out. The receptionist sends me an email to tell me shipping company have received the Bill of Lading.

Shipping company email back this morning, they still don't have it. UK agent not answering phone or responding to emails. Call whatssapp number in Dubai, woman answers, she is agents and receptionists boss, she tells me Bill of Lading has been sent, it is the shipping lines fault, we argue, she patronises me with Lady, My Dear and Inshallah, she implies she was will sort the issue in 2 days, Inshallah, maybe a week. It's a 3 day National Holiday in Dubai next week, they're 4 hours ahead, the end of the working week is tomorrow, so to stand any chance of getting my container by Monday when I need to fly has to be resolved by 5am UK time tomorrow morning.

I tell her I have email from shipping company, all she has to do is reply to their request. She replies and copies me in. 

'We have long correspondence with your office here in Dubai asking them to submit to our agent at your end the original Bill of Lading.

For this shipment without success we even asked them during sailing of the cargo to release again sea express bill but no replies

& no action.'

She then gives the name of the person in Dubai and their contact details and asks the UK side to sort it out as she has had no luck.

I'm pissed off because the UK agent knows they should have this paperwork before they can collect the container, the shipping company because they know they have to present the paperwork to the UK side, the UAE agent for misleading me all the way through.

I'm pissed off for no one taking ownership of the problem.

I'm pissed off for people making out they're doing me a favour to resolve their mistakes.

I'm pissed off because if everything had gone to plan, my house sitters would've arrived October 22nd, the container would've been delivered and unpacked on the 48th day and I would've flown back out to Dubai to see my husband the first week of November and would no longer be stuck in the UK during Covid on my own. 

I'm pissed off but would've been less pissed off if the paperwork had been processed correctly as I would have flown back to Dubai the end of last week.

I won't have time to unpack now and I'll find out when I do in February if there is any damage and all the agents will be long gone by then and I won't be able to make any claim against them.

The only bonus is that I'm now staying with my son and his wife in Northern Ireland, that I haven't seen since February. 


Thursday 26th November. Shipping container cleared for collection. The Bill of Lading was finally supplied. To achieve this I enlisted the help of two random strangers from the internet who responded to my pleas for help, who worked together in both Dubai and the UK phoning my agents and the shipping line to get the matter sorted on my behalf, for which I am extremely grateful.

Friday 27th November 16.41 No response from UK agent with a delivery date. Yesterday they said delivery was booked for December 10th. Now that is a normal time frame after the container being cleared around 10-14 days. However as my container was actually ready on November 17th, it should be delivered Monday or Tuesday next week, which would be in time for me to fly back to Dubai as planned. They've said they'll do their best to get it sorted for then, but at this late stage of the day, when they're not answering my calls or reading the emails, I suspect it won't be happening.

In my opinion the agent in the UK should've realised that there was going to be an issue and not left it a week before finding out what was going on, in fact it was only because there were 13 of us calling her that eventually something was done, but it wasn't good enough. It wasn't them that sorted it, it was me and the online help i received. Basically the agents in Dubai didn't pay the seafaring bill, although they claimed they paid it on October 11th, yet on 24th November they emailed to say the shipping company hadn't invoiced them yet, a week after the ship docked in London.

I'll update further on the delivery date once I'm informed but I suspect I won't be going back to Dubai for a while yet.

Container being delivered Sunday 29th November. It arrived at 7pm and my sofa is in the neighbours garage until February when I return to the UK.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

My UK Garden in November

So these were the UK Jobs for November. 

Turn the compost bin - ran out of time and the weather turned the last few days I had in the house, so I gave it a good poke with a stick and added several layers of newspaper on the top, the lid has also gone back on.

Build a bird box - I used the old shed panels and have put the box up on a fence post, it will now have time to weather into it's surroundings before spring.

Mow the lawn - I checked the weather forecast for a rain free day.

Clean garden tools - All done after the last mow. Good do with getting the gardening sheers sharpened, but that will have to wait till the spring.

Wash garden wheelie bin - done. It won't be used again until I get back in February and was starting to smell a little.

Plant blueberry plant, onions and garlic - done. 

Re seed patches on the lawn - didn't get the opportunity to do this due to covid, but spring seeding will have to do.

The sweet peas and peas I planted will be a stringy knot by February, but it will be worth it to have an early crop. The broad beans aren't fairing well, but I can do a spring sowing anyway and the cauliflowers will have to fend for themselves.

The weeds are all ready coming back through in the front so no doubt there will be a lot to work to do when I get back in February.

I've been making some Christmas decorations and rock painting for the front garden also, the local school kids will knock the door (with their parents) and ask if they can take the pebbles, which I say yes to.

I'm looking forward to my return in February to plan my spring garden and make some planters for growing more vegetables. I'm already working on the Spring section of my scrap book.

The garden in Dubai will be overgrown by now. I already rescued the lawn when I was back in September and cut back all the shrubs. I'm out there till February so have plenty of time to sort it all out, however we do have to remove the garden and fence and leave it as we 1st rented it 3 years ago. We were supposed to have moved to an apartment in May this year, thankfully that didn't happen otherwise it would've been left for Peter to sort.

If you're interested this is how I created a garden in the desert.

Sunday 22 November 2020

The Palm Jumeriah - Dubai

I guess one of the biggest construction projects in Dubai is building land in the sea to create more water front residences which are the greatest demand for people to live in. It created 78km of additional coast line.

Around 10,000 people live on the island.

Photo taken from Emirates flight.

Week 47 - One Daily Positive - A week in Northern Ireland

A very quiet week for me staying with my son Child 4 and daughter 4a and their dog Molly in Northern Ireland. Household bubbles exist of 6 people here, so I have been able to join in with the parent in laws who live nearby.

NI has had a sort of lockdown with hospitality and hairdressers etc being closed but all shops have remained open, however they reopened hospitality etc on Friday for it to close down again on the 27th and none essential shops/businesses must close this time.

I've been keeping busy with housework, reading, making some Christmas decorations, binge watching the Crown and Pam Am,  as well as reliving my childhood memories with The Amazing Mr Blunden.

The weather has been wet, cold and windy so not a lot of time spent outside, but I'm feeling nice and relaxed and it's great to have some company.

Still no word on the container, so no idea how long I'm staying her for, my DIL is happy to have me here, my son is suggesting I maybe stay with his in laws for a few

320 Sunday Off for a drive to walk the dog with child 4 and 4a in Northern Ireland where I'm staying for the next few weeks. We got absolutely soaked, but it was great to be out in the woods and just have some company, called in at the Parent in Laws, followed by dinner, tv and I went to bed early.

321 Monday I woke around 3am despite all the walking, my day was spent walking around the village, helping with the housework while everyone was out and cooking dinner. In between I spent the rest of the day dealing with the 'white screen of death' on my i phone 8+.

322 Tuesday Ordered a new phone online should be delivered by Thursday. Went food shopping and to run some errands with son, did some housework, blogged, watched TV, bath and bed.

Molly and I were home alone for part of the day, she missed her humans.

323 Wednesday Spent the day in while 4 and 4a were at work, helped out with some household chores for them.

324 Thursday New phone arrived, had to set it up from i tunes so spent the day signing back into apps, resetting passwords and back up emails and OTP codes.

325 Friday Met up with sons MIL in town for a walk, a bit of shopping and a coffee.

326 Saturday Off to do the weekly food shop, the Parent in Laws came round for dinner. DIL gave me a manicure and gel polish.

On the blog this week:

Flying during Covid

Construction Photography - Housing development in Malvern

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Friday 20 November 2020

20th - 22nd November - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #PoCoLo a weekly linky run by Stephanie from Life at 139a and I.

Not a lot has happened since last week. I made it to my son and daughter in law's in Northern Ireland.

I'm not a big fan of public transport at the best of times, but with covid, trains and planes are a little daunting. It was my first time flying out of Birmingham since this time last year. Due to covid I've had to fly in and out of Heathrow. To see Birmingham airport so empty was most strange.

Still no word of a delivery date for the container, no idea if it's even cleared customs yet. I'd really like to be back in Dubai by the first week of December as I'm due to be working with SKY TV recording sound on the European Golf Tour.

Stephanie and I would love to know what's been happening in your world this week.

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Tuesday 17 November 2020

Flying during Lockdown and Covid

I've made 3 flights during covid, 2 of them during lockdown, in and out of Heathrow and out of Birmingham and each one has been different.

The first flight was with BA on the 24th March, the 2nd day of Lockdown 1, into Heathrow Terminal 5. The original flight was cancelled and I transferred onto the next available flight which turned out to be the last one out of Dubai. On arrival my friend was there to collect me as I couldn't get across the country at that time of the evening. It was a ghost town, I've never such empty skies.

6pm at Terminal 5 Heathrow

Leaving Dubai Terminal 1 on one of the last flights before Dubai closed its borders later that day, 2 days after Emirates suspended all their flights. Whilst social distancing was in place at the airport, the flight was full and only a handful of people wore masks and normal food service took place.

In late July, my husband received permission to leave Dubai for the UK, his flight was due into Heathrow T3, he flew with Emirates. I failed to check the Terminal and arrived to discover it completely empty, it was very weird to see. I drove round to T2 where a one way system was in place, face masks were now compulsory, I collected Peter and we drove home to isolate together for 2 weeks.

Car park at Heathrow T2 around 2pm

An empty and closed Terminal 3

By the time Peter left 3 weeks later and I followed on 4 days after that we now had to have PCR tests 4 days prior to flying in and out of Dubai. Normal food and drink service took place as normal during the flight. Toilets were open and you were encouraged not to queue or stand in the communal areas and not to change your seats during the flight. 

I was hopeful of a social distanced flight, but sadly the seats filled and on both legs, despite requesting a row to myself, there was someone seated in the aisle seat. My anxiety built and I had a panic attack both times. The crew did support me but only after the panic kicked in, there were plenty of empty rows so I had no idea why they thought it was ok to put people in the same row.

Inside Departures at Heathrow T2

Covid testing centre in Dubai.

Terminal 3 Check in, Dubai.

Business Lounge Terminal 3 Dubai

Boarding passes, seat reservations, check in has varied with airlines and airports. Unless you are a passenger there is no access into departures in either Heathrow or Dubai.

Sadly baggage claim back at Heathrow was a nightmare, no social distancing and most people off the flight saying they weren't going to bother isolating and kids were going straight back to school and parents to work.

I took another flight last week with Air Lingus, a short hop over the Irish Sea flying from Birmingham International, the airport I usually fly in and out of 6+ times per year, I know that airport very well, it's 2nd nature to me to use. I arrived early due to using public transport and sat outside reading a book with a take out coffee from the Spar shop vending machine. I then sat in a marked area in the check in area until the desk opened and discovered Departures was closed, I assume whilst the previous flight departed. The whole of departures was in the dark, only Boots the chemist open. The departure board usually shows 2 pages per day of flights, at the moment it displays flights for the next 4 days.

Departure Lounge Birmingham Airport.

Land side Arrivals.

Empty outside Birmingham Airport.

Display board showing flights from Birmingham International for the next 4 days, usually 2 pages just covers the one day of flights.

I'll be returning from Northern Ireland soon and flying back out of Birmingham with Emirates to Dubai until February. I'm sure there will be many changes. At the moment, I can take a PCR test on arrival in Dubai and isolate until I wait for the results which will make leaving the UK easier and the UAE is no longer on the list of places to isolate after returning to the UK.

Sunday 15 November 2020

New Housing Development, Malvern. QinetiQ Site. Construction photography.

Viewed from the Malvern Hills the old QinetiQ site, cleared for the development of 310 homes. 

Construction was stopped in October 2020 after a breach of a number of planning conditions covering a range of technical and environmental matters.

As and when constructions resumes I have found 3 view points where my view for photographing the development which shouldn't be interrupted by other developments. From the top of the Malvern Hills as long as it's a clear day, the main entrance from the road and the end of a public footpath, where I lifted my phone up over the wooden fence for the photo below.

All 3 photos taken from the same direction.
November 2020

I suspect it'll be quite some time before I am able to update this photography project while the dispute is ongoing and suspect it will take a lot longer than than they do in Dubai to finish and have clear 'before and after' photos.

There's quite a bit of activity going on over the past 4 months. I suspect my chosen points will be obscured soon, so I've choosen a new point, looking back up to the Malvern Hills and I'll get up on the hills soon to take another photo looking back down.

February 2021