Friday 30 July 2021

30th July - 1st August 2021 Post Comment Love. Unpacked and ready to get on with life

Welcome back to PoCoLo with Stephanie and I, it's great to see so many familiar and new faces each week and I do enjoy reading everyones posts.

I've not been blogging too much since our return to the UK as I kind of think people aren't really interested in life without drama. I could write a 'how to guide' for unpacking, settling into a new home, provide a list of all the things one needs to do and top tips on how to survive a move but these things have been written about to the death and the one thing we've learnt since living abroad is that everyones situation is different anyway.

Our dining room is out of action, packed with boxes for the kitchen that we won't unpack until we have a new kitchen fitted, a sofa that can't sit in place until the boxes are unpacked and 2 dining room tables. One we inherited, which is currently under a sofa bed with a fridge freezer, that came from our flat which we now rent out. We basically have the contents of 2 houses and 1 flat all in 1 place.

We don't have any kids at home and the next visit from our grandchild is the middle of August and we'll just keep the dining room door closed.

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Thursday 29 July 2021

What to watch out for with an International move - The hidden costs

Most guides on what to do when planning an International relocation, usually advise you to obtain 3 quotes, ensure you keep in a locked room your documents, keys, passports, wallets etc on packing day so they don't end up in the container like our son's shoes and wallet did, along with the key for the padlock for the side gate. They'll also tell you to make sure the bin is empty and you've washed up the plates before the packers arrive. All good advice, but it's the hidden costs you really need to look for and an honest time frame.

We've been fortunate with 3 International moves and 3 internal moves over the past 10 years that nothing has been broken, other than the odd bowl etc, however we haven't been lucky with the information given to us and the additional hidden costs. Although the company paid for 2 of the moves, it did not pay for the extras.

We've used 4 firms for International moves and 3 different firms for internal moving. The internal moves have gone to plan. You get up, dress, they pack, they deliver to the new address, they unpack and remove all the packaging.

Our first move from the UK to South Africa went wrong from failing to tell us they couldn't ship until we got our visas, AFTER they'd packed and removed everything from the house 2 months before the move and then added we needed to itemise everything they'd packed for insurance purposes.

On arrival in SA there were hidden customs (bribes) charges, our container was 'lost' until we paid the fees, we NEVER received the seal number so had no idea if our container had been opened or not. The UK side of the organisation stopped answering emails and despite the contract being with them directly, they said it was now the fault of the agents in SA.

From SA to Dubai, the move was handled by my husbands company this meant that NO-ONE would discuss any part of the move with me in either country, despite my husband not being present in either country when the packing was done and the container was delivered.

We had to apply for visa on arrival in Dubai, so we were on a tight timeline for the move and organised air cargo with bedding, TV, paperwork and some basic kitchen items. Due to their being a shortage of visas, our container sat in the dock for 2 months and our air cargo arrived 10 days AFTER the container was delivered to our new home. Costs were met by the company as they hadn't organised the visas.

For this last move, we had 2 shipments. The first was a shared container, it arrived on time and no one would speak to me, not the company in Dubai or the agents in the UK. After many phone calls and the threat of legal action and help from the shipping company in Dubai, the Bill of Lading was paid from the company to the shipping line, container released and goods delivered.....on a Sunday night at 6pm, they took 2 hours and dumped the sofa in the neighbours garage leaving me to unpack and remove the waste. The company in Dubai said as a 'gesture of good will, they'd waive the storage fees with the delay. They also failed to take out the Insurance on time and took 2 months to repay it, again with the threat of legal action.

The final saga is the current container, delivered last week, again storage fees wavered as a good will gesture. I picked a company that managed the whole move from door to door, turns out they sub contract and due to them not being available before the 21st July, there was going to be a charge of £1000 for UK port storage.

However, it wasn't customs charging me the fee, they cleared the container on the day it arrived in port and it was ready for collection at 20:20. So then they tried telling me it was the shipping company not having hauliers to move the container. I called them, they said it wasn't their container. Then it was the port charging me due to lack of hauliers, so I called them, they explained no one had applied for a VBS and once that was done the container would be ready for collection within the hour.

Then everyone stopped answering their phones and their emails, they'd already said my contact had ended up in junk, after they swore blind they'd never received anything from me, then it was claimed I never replied. I called them out on the email sent on June 29th, a week before my container arrived.

I have my container, it's all unpacked, fingers crossed I don't hear anything more from anyone and if you ever hear me saying that I'm thinking of moving, please stop me.

Things to do:

  • Get contact details of agent in the country you're moving to
  • Itemise your packing list and work out replacement value in country you're moving to (I worked off this list and updated it for all moves)
  • Take photo of container with it's number, shipping company and seal details
  • Track the ship for arrival date
  • Register with

Don't be frightened to call customs, border control, the port, the shipping company directly, they were very helpful and informative and I was able to use the information given to prove the costs incurred were the responsibility of the removal company and not mine.

  • Do the washing up
  • Empty the bins
  • Group items ready for unpacking at destination


  • Using the inventory packing list to decide where each box is going
  • Label rooms according to unpacking
  • Unpack to surface isn't always possible so when signing the job off add the number of boxes not unpacked and take a photo of the paperwork.

Friday 23 July 2021

23rd-25th July 2021. Post Comment Love and living a new normal.

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie and I. Our expat journey has come full circle after 11 years away. The furniture was delivered, unpacked and assembled on Wednesday, now just 60 boxes to unpack and find a home for their contents.

The sofa and dining room table are in the dining room with all the boxes for the kitchen that won't be unpacked until we decide if we're either staying in the house and having an extension built or whether we're going to move.

The weather has been glorious and we've enjoyed sitting outside in the garden, having the patio furniture and umbrella here has made it nicer to sit and relax in. We purchased this in South Africa, it feels a little strange having it in the garden in the UK. It's also weird coming back to our family home and having furniture here that we took with us as well as furniture picked up in South Africa and Dubai.

I spent Thursday in the Forest of Dean where we used to live and where child 2 lives with his wife and our grandchild. I visited my friend Chrissie and her daughter who I met on twitter 12 years ago. who were on holiday there from St Albans. We usually meet up when I fly in and out of Heathrow, but I've been unable to do that for a while so we've had a couple of meet ups in Oxford over the past 18 months when we've been allowed to and she came to my rescue in March 2020 when I flew into T5 and Dubai closed behind me and had me to stay at her home for the night.

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Wednesday 21 July 2021

Do you leave a tip?

As a Brit, I find tipping hard. I never expected to receive tips when I worked in a bar, cafe and night club. I did get them though, usually just loose change, so I'm always happy to do that when I pay by cash, which doesn't happen too much at the moment.

I resent being asked if I want to add a tip and I loathe where a tip is included in the bill and I have been known to tell them to remove it, because I feel they shouldn't be telling me how much I think they were worth, doing the job they were paid to do, especially when there is a service charge included also.

In South Africa we tipped all the time. Quite a lot of people only get paid in tips, so regardless of the quality of service they offered, one always tipped. If the server went above and beyond then the tip was larger, we always left the tip in cash and on the table.

In Dubai the cost of living is much higher and whilst everyone is on a salary, there is no minimum wage and again tips are very welcomed. However the service can be poorer and I wouldn't leave a tip if the server had done less than they were supposed to do, so slow service, messing up orders would mean no tip.

In both countries when I tipped I would leave some for the waiting staff and some for the kitchen. At the hairdressers/nail bar, I'd leave a tip for the stylist, the hair washer, floor sweeper, nail technician and the person who offered and made the tea.

We're back in the UK now. Today 5 men delivered and unloaded a container, unpacked it all, assembled all the furniture and removed the packaging. They were at the house 4 hours, plus their return journey time to London, another 4 hours. We paid £6,500 for the service which included dismantling, packing and loading back in Dubai. We tipped the guys in Dubai £5 each (there were 8 of them) we tipped the guys in the UK £5 each, that's 1% of the bill. When I do tip anywhere I always leave 10%, but I wasn't prepared to leave a tip of £650 and I was reluctant to leave a tip at all as the removal company tried to charge me and additional £875 for storage charges as they couldn't get a crew to deliver within an acceptable time frame, yet I still tipped the crew because it wasn't their fault.

I hate having to make a decision on who and how to tip. Do you find it an easy decision to make?

Friday 16 July 2021

16th-19th July 2021. Post Comment Love. Bringing the dog home

Welcome back to this weeks #PoCoLo with Stephanie from @lifeat139a and I. I owe a few comments that I'll catch up with over the weekend and I'm on catch up with repaying visits to all of you who comment on my posts.

I'm back in England, having travelled on the ferry overnight from Belfast. We collected the dog from our son and his wife where he has stayed for the past few months to allow us to finish off in Dubai. The shipping container arrives on Wednesday, we've had a bit of a battle with the 'hidden' costs again, but all resolved now.

Molly the spaniel wanted to come with us.

So as from next Friday the only decision we have left to make is whether to move house or have the work done on the family home to make it more suitable for us since the kids left home. I'm also going to be looking for a job at some point, I want to get back in the stands at Birmingham City FC and I'm hoping I can go back out to Dubai this winter to work at the golf. 

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I don't want celebrities to represent me

I'm really not happy with celebrities experiencing something then telling us all howe to manage it, how to behave, dress, have our hair, what size or how fit we should be etc, etc.

Thanks but my weekends are not spent on TV, I don't live with a hairdresser, know any make up artists, have a stylist to select my clothes and a PR team to ensure everything I do is just perfect for the cameras. 

I made a comment on twitter a few months ago, similar to the one above, and I was blocked by a celebrity.

I'm really glad these celebs have found a way to manage the menopause, have a baby, deal with depression, cook a dinner on a budget, build their own business, find the answer to eternal youth through fitness videos and ever so glad that they share everything they've learnt through their books, tv shows, interviews and columns in the papers, but......

They don't represent me.

Some of the things they talk about I'm sure people can relate to, but I can't. I'm not a size 8, I have no interest in exercising and eating myself healthy and running a marathon at 50. Whilst I've struggled for money in the past it was whilst I was paying for a mortgage, I had no dreams of saving for a holiday or getting bikini fit back when I was 25 and no desire to wear a bikini at the age of 50. Yes I know I can if I want, but I don't feel empowered by putting one on, I feel uncomfortable and it's all well and good telling me I can do whatever I want, I don't want to wear a bikini, discuss my sex life with anyone, think myself fit, learn how to craft, up cycle and/or learn how to blog for a living either.

Therefore I'd appreciate it that whilst some of you are following suit and living life to the large, wearing the bikini, not shaving your underarms, buying all the books, tagging and hash tagging all the celebs, that you'd think twice before offering me their advice on how if I just bought their book or followed them on social media, I'd have so much more understanding of what they're going through and I can relate it to my situation, which I can't, I don't want to and neither do I bloody relate. 

Friday 9 July 2021

9th-11th July 2021. A visit to Northern Ireland with Post Comment Love.

Welcome to this weeks Post Comment Love #PoCoLo with Stephanie at Lifeat139a and I.

So where am I this week?

In Northern Ireland to collect the dog, who has been living with my son, his wife and baby bump and their dog for the past 3 months whilst I was over in Dubai sorting our relocation.

We're staying here whilst we wait for our container to arrive.

Life has never been simple with 5 children, 1 profoundly disabled, in a blended family, ex partners and the geography of where everyone is located. We're hoping to create our own normal now within the new world of living with covid.

I'm going to continue with mask wearing in public spaces. I already dislike crowded areas and busy times such as January sales and August bank holidays, Saturdays in town and evenings in the pub. Now that my husband has retired we are no longer limited to short breaks, weekends and evenings to do things in.

We'll be making a decision soon on whether we're going to look at moving or stay put and make some home improvements. Although our children have left home, they are now married with families of their own so it is nice to have the space for them to come and visit.

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Thursday 8 July 2021

My Spring garden, summer plans and goodbye to my Dubai garden.

I left the UK in the middle of April. I prepared the garden, mowed the lawns and planted out seeds that I thought may stand a chance of survival without my input.

I arrived back in the UK the middle of June. The garden had faired well with the added bonus of the neighbours mowing the lawns, however some of the grass turned yellow, but it is slowly recovery. 

Everything was out in full bloom, the potatoes and onions had grown and the peas, beans and tomatoes were doing OK.

Onions, potatoes and rhubarb now harvested, very few peas and beans, but I've sown more seeds for a later crop and bought a couple of established tomato plants, reduced at the supermarket.

I thought the garden was ready for my absence, seeds planted, lawn mowed, plants uncovered. April 11th.

April 12th

We returned to the sun. June 14th.
We're planning to build a new shed and seating area in the opposite corner and creating raised beds and gravel paths as well as introducing a green house. The conservatory will also be replaced with a full one being built along the back of the house.

We also had to say goodbye to our Garden in Dubai this summer. It was interesting Creating a garden in the desert and surprising what we were able to grow over the years.

After getting back to the UK, we mowed the lawns, repaired the borders, repotted the olive and bay tree and harvested the potatoes, onions, peas and rhubarb.

Sweet peas and wild flowers.

Compost bins, potatoes and herbs.

Friday 2 July 2021

2nd July 2021 - You've just repatriated, what next? with Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #PoCoLo and July with Stephanie at Lifeat139a and I.

As you know and are probably fed up of hearing, we're now back in the UK full time. The response from people has been mixed.

'Oh you're back then?' as if we were on some failed mission to Mars, is the common response and bizarrely 'did you have a nice time?' as if we've been on holiday and the last 11 years of blogging, tweeting and face to face conversations have been ignored, in particular the past few weeks with hotel quarantine and of course there's the just ignore the situation because they don't know what to make of it.

When we left the UK we had a child living locally (they still do) one in Germany (now living locally) one in Reading (now living in Australia) and took two kids with us, who then left home from South Africa and live in Northern Ireland and locally. We both had careers and now we are both retired, all the kids have left home and we have one grandchild and another on the way.

We're back in our family home. 6 beds with parking for 2 and a reasonable sized (on the small side) garden. It's next to a school, but it's also near the train station, the local shops, the town and the retail park. Less than an hour to Birmingham and the local kids are within a 45 min drive and can all be visited within one round trip of around 3 hours. We've been looking at other properties in the area, but there's nothing we like the look of so we're getting people to quote for an extension, new kitchen/bathrooms and landscaping the garden front and back.

Our container docks tomorrow and we'll find out by Monday when it'll be delivered then we can book ferry tickets to drive to Northern Ireland to visit our son and his wife who are expecting a baby in November and to collect our dog, Bob that they've been looking after for the past 3 months.

I'd love to read your blog posts you've written this week and linked up with. I'm keen to see more fashion blogs as now I've hit 50 and gained a bit of weight after stopping smoking, I'd love to see what everyone is wearing.

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What happened to Customer Service?

I don't know about you but I'm fed up of the lack of customer service. It's been missing for a long time and it's a topic that is on my mind often. 

In Dubai we've had 6 years of 'yes, yes' 'as you like' and 'inshallah' then refusing to answer the phone, not responding to emails and then just lying to your face.

In South Africa it was 'now now' 'we'll make a plan' and then nothing happened and people would actually just walk away from you.

The UK is actually no better, in fact, I'd say it's worse. Recently when I've asked a question face to face or on the phone and have been misled, lied to and ignored and I've said firmly that I'm not happy with their response I've been quoted to with 'I have the right to work in a safe environment' followed by me saying 'and I have the right to expect the service I have actually paid for'

I get a feeling that everyone I've encountered in Customer Service recently thinks they are doing me a favour, giving up their time and I'm just plain ungrateful. At no point have they taken into consideration that I've paid, over the odds for a service and if my food is stone cold, or my room has cobwebs on the walls or no one answered the phone or replied to my email to confirm bookings and details that, it isn't my fault and if they carry on with their face to face lies 'my manager didn't give me the number' showing them the message from their boss, then them saying 'no one answered when I rang' and me showing them my call log, at some point I am going to go FULL ON KAREN MODE.

I used to teach Customer Service skills at Worcester Tech and they still offer it as a course. It should be mandatory if you work in any environment, for the front of house staff, for those who answer the phone, or reply to emails, the actual FACE (First port of call) for your company, that they know how to deal with and respond to a customer without passing the buck, ignoring the issue or lying.

I leave Basil to explain how to satisfy customers in his hotel. He sums up the recent experiences we've had as paying guests.