Tuesday 30 November 2021

Step Parents, Step Children and the next generation.

We are parents to 5 and grandparents of 2.

And that is that. There is a biological mother of 2 somewhere and a biological father of 3 around but for the purposes of our family, we are mum and dad to 5 since 2000 and Granny and Grandad of 2 over the past 2 years.

Whilst 2 children have contact with their biological father and he is Grandad to one of the grandchildren we share, there is no other Granny to the other grandchild. Both of our DILs parents are Nanny and Grandad. We aren't involved in our children's lives with their other parents, but are a bit more involved with their wives family. For instance I'm currently staying with my DIL's parents whilst visiting our new grandchild.

Only a few people other than family really knows which child belongs to which parent. When we meet people, like new neighbours or colleagues we just say we have 5 kids and 2 grandchildren. As we get to know people, they soon find out which child belong to which parent. The 2 eldest are my husbands, the other 3 are mine. No children together. 

With 4 of the children being boys, people will then say how nice it must be to have a girl also and ask if she is married, has kids. We will then say she is disabled and lives in a care home, then when people ask if we knew before she was born of her disabilities, it is at that point I say I'm her step mother as I can't answer those questions and we explain the set up of our family.

Over the years people have said to my husband 'oh you have one of each, whilst others will ask me if I would've liked a girl. For some reason people seem to think a woman is disappointed with only boys and a man is disappointed with only girls. Then they'll add 'well as long as they're healthy, that's all that matters.' Well our daughter is healthy, she just lives in a care home due to complex physical disabilities.

We've had friends who know our situation state that they are blessed to have one of each and a complete family and others who have said god has rewarded them with two 'normal' children. We tend not to stay friends with people who have that attitude.

The latest conversation people feel free to have with us is about our grandchildren. Whilst I'm pleased to say we have one of each, it doesn't stop people who know us telling me that a biological grandchild will feel a lot different to a step grandchild for sure. Mostly these people don't have other children than their own biological ones to care for, or if they do have step children the set up has been that they haven't lived with them, or met them when they teens or even adults.

The thing is as a parent and a grandparent we have no say how a child or grandchild will feel about us either as a step parent or a biological one.

Our children have always referred to us as the Parents, if someone says 'your mum/dad' they've never corrected them, my husband and I are often addressed as Mr and Mrs (surname of my children) but they've always used our first name as the step parent, but introduced us as their mum or dad. 

Our grandchildren are fortunate that they have additional grandparents, they'll work it out for themselves when they're older, but for now it makes no difference whether we're biologically related to anyone or not. We're family and that's all that counts.

But it does hurt, that people suggest I may love a step child or their child any less than I love the ones I'm biologically related to. You might think you have good intentions, but I'd rather you kept your comments on our family set up to yourself, I've explained how it works. 

Due to where our children live, I tend to spend more time with child 2, his wife and their child. I'm not closer to them, I don't love them more, I just live nearer. I'm the only Granny their child has, DIL's mother is Nanny and lives nearby so spends more time with them also, this grandchild has 2 Grandads. Child 4 and his wife and grandchild live near her parents, their child will spend more time with Nanny and Grandad than with us as Granny and Grandad, there is also another Grandad who the child will grow up knowing. Does it matter that that child 2 is my step son and child 4 is my biological son? Does it mean their child will love us any less? No they'll just grow up into a family that is accepting of them and them of us.

We are parents to 5 and grandparents of 2.

This was a blog post I had originally asked John from @dadbloguk who himself is a step child and writes often about step/blended family dynamics, to post on my behalf anonymously for fear of feedback from people identifying themselves or for discussing our children who are now adults and may see this differently. However as with all things on my blog, this is from my perspective on our family and how family life past and present, informs my life choices. It's a conversation I had recently with child 4 and his wife. I don't write the details of events, just how the events have affected me. Family and friends are welcome to comment, ignore or ask if they don't understand something I've written.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Week 47 One Daily Positive Project 365 - it's all about Freddie.

I've been suffering with a bad back, due to lack of mobility. Too much time this week has been spent sitting cuddling Freddie. I've had to take myself out on long walks, borrowing various dogs to join me. It is however getting very cold out there and we had our first frost this week and light snow on Friday. I am however getting plenty of sleep.

I'm staying with the in laws, a few miles down the road. Son returns to work next week so I'm moving down there's to help mum and baby get into a routine with baby and his additional needs until he has his surgery sometime in the new year. 

Peter has been sorting out issues with the flat in Wales, it appears the water damage has come from a leak in the flat above, tenants in there know nothing about it and the property maintenance company haven't replied to my email yet, so I'll have to chase that up next week.

I've lost track of what we've done this week other than cuddling Freddie.

324 Saturday A lazy morning, Freddie time and off to Belfast. Christmas is in full swing as were protests against covid passports. 

325 Sunday A day of Freddie cuddles.

326 Monday A long walk and coffee stop, down to sons in the afternoon for Freddie time and off for a long walk at Hillsborough.

Granny, Freddie and Nanny

327 Tuesday Day spent with son, DIL and baby, helping with sorting out the nursery, putting clothes away and moving things into the attic. Lots of baby cuddles and 2 dog walks.

Peter is having to get to know Freddie via video chats for the time being.

328 Wednesday A day of Freddie and popped to the supermarket.

Smiling for his Granny? Nope, it's wind.

329 Thursday Coffee in the village then afternoon spent on the laptop while the DIL's grandparents visited for the afternoon.

I'm still sitting outside as much as possible.

330 Friday Over to son's then out for a coffee and a walk, back to theirs to finish tidying the nursery and cuddles with Freddie while they started putting the Christmas decorations up.

Freddie having some awake time. Our other grandchild asked where his eyes were.

On the blog this week:

I had a rant about tenants and rental agents this week.

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Friday 26 November 2021

26th - 28th November 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. 

Always great to see so many regulars and new bloggers, all welcome. I'm late with my commenting and tweeting out your links this week as I'm back in Northern Ireland spending as much time as I can with our new grandson. I'm staying with the parent in laws while I'm here.

Me (Granny) Freddie and Nanny.

This week on the blog I've been having a bit of a moan about bad tenants. As a landlord there is little come back other than keeping the deposit, I think we're done for the time being, we'll make repairs in the New Year and then decide what to do with the flat.

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Monday 22 November 2021

What to do with bad rental tenants? Apparently, nothing, just suck up the costs.

As landlords for the past 11 years with 2 properties and tenants ourselves for 10 of those years whilst living abroad, we've had our fair share of fun and drama.

We're still chasing a deposit refund from the last property we rented. The agents came with a pre filled in form to charge us for repainting the front door as it sat in direct sunlight, to change the locks, clean and repaint. All decided before they walked through the door, they also claimed air conditioning units we had NO access to were damaged.

The re decorating costs were removed due to it being a new build and there being settlement cracks, but we have no right of reply to the other issues and apparently they will need to clean the house after they've got it ready for new tenants. they don't seem to see the problem there, that is we returned it clean, it's not our fault they will dirty the house when decorating.

In another property they deducted gardening costs because they didn't rent the house back out until 2 months after our contract ended.

We've had 2 lots of tenants from hell with our family home that we're now back living in and a tenant in our flat in Wales who left a month early, left the hot water and heating on full blast, left junk behind, didn't pay the last months rent or bother cleaning and failed to report water damage as well as damaging the tiles behind the shower.

We've had 3 sets of rental agents. the first ones sold the business and shifted the management of our property. The tenants weren't paying on time from day 1, but the agent paid us and played catch up with the tenants until he could no longer afford it. We ended up going right to wire with a Section 21a, application for bailiffs and application for police to attend. 

During this time they failed to pay rent and they broke the oven and I was forced, by law, to buy a new one. The agents did nothing to support the eviction and when I retained the deposit, the agent took their fee for the time I'd been spending a fortune in the courts to evict. All I could do to recover my money was to make a claim through the small claims court, which would've cost me more money.

The second agents found us a couple of good tenants, but the last lot, moved into a freshly painted house, then after 18 months demanded it was repainted as it was in a state and threatened to withhold rent. I stood my ground and said no, so then they threatened to sue me for a friend tripping in the kitchen. During their tenancy we had the really cold weather and the boiler broke down. I provided them with money to purchase 2 fan heaters and informed them they had an emersion tank to heat the water, while they waited a week for the new boiler. They tried to claim the additional electricity costs from me, until it was pointed out, I wasn't obliged to provide them with anything for the week. Finally they claimed the building was a fire risk due to insufficient fire safety doors on the top floor. i was able to prove to the agents that they were and they had put themselves at risk, as well as my house by removing the automatic fire closures and doors. 

On this occasion the agents failed to take sufficient photographs and didn't date them and were late submitting evidence of damage to the Deposit Protection Scheme and I received less than 50% back of the deposit. The agents also sent in a painter and decorator and signed off his work without checking it. The decorator used emulsion paint on doors, skirting boards and walls, despite being paid to gloss the woodwork, repair holes in the wall and fit doors, that we had to refit. We were also charged a fortune to have the rubbish removed of which we received no reimbursement for and I had to replace fence panels, damaged by Ivy from next door that had been allow to grow over. 

The agents were clearly on the side of the tenants, from speaking to the neighbours after both sets, they said they were foul mouthed and intimidating. Weirdly though despite the neighbours telling me how much of a problem both sets caused with their teenage sons and noise, they failed to let me know via the email address they had for me.

The latest debarcle is a single bloke in our flat in Wales, he left a month early without paying rent. He left behind the things he didn't want, he left the place filthy and failed to report water damage after a leak. I only found out he'd left because the council tax got in touch. He did give meter readings to his energy provider but left the hot water and heaters on full blast. He handed the keys back to the agents who failed to join the dots and on their recommendation I agreed for someone else to move in the following week.

After a visit to the flat on the weekend, the tenant has been relocated to another property and I'm now searching for a plumber and tiler to sort the bathroom out so we can re let it (with new agents) They failed to do an exit inspection for over a week and I'm now chasing up the deposit plus additional costs so I'm not out of pocket. There is a huge difference between wear and tear and wilful neglect and damage.

Over the years I've searched for advice from other landlord, solicitors, from Citizens advice etc. All I've ever found is information on what a tenant can do to protect themselves from bad landlords, including advice on how to get rehoused if they can't pay the rent, to how they can withhold rent if the landlord fails to ensure their home meets minimum adequate requirements. For landlords the information available is about what the landlord is legally required to do.

I asked in a facebook group if anyone had experience as a landlord with bad tenants and how, if at all, they resolved the issues. 

I explained the flat was damp, but the tenant had failed to inform me or the agents, therefore I was unable to make repairs. 

Responses ranged from:

You shouldn't rent out a property that's in bad repair and poorly maintained (it wasn't when the tenant moved in a year ago)

Yep, same here, just had to write the losses off. (Done this too many times)

That's what the rent is for. (Rent received covers insurances, maintenance fees and is taxable as an income, in some instances there are mortgages to be paid)

We had bad landlords, the law is on their side, the tenant always loses out (I could send endless links for what help and support they could get in enforce the landlord fixing these issues)

You could try small claims court (It'll cost money and you might get back £5 a month, but you still have to pay for the work to be done) or just put it down to bad experience.

Make sure you get proper references and entry exit inventories and put the deposit in the tenancy deposit scheme. (Done that, at the cost of at least £500 per let period)

In my opinion the rental agents should do more. They find the tenants, arrange the references, organise entry and exit inventories, carry out inspections and can arrange for repairs to be carried out if informed by the tenant. For this they charge an arrangement fee, charge 10% monthly for collecting rent and bill you directly for all the above.

The rental agents don't check on the quality of the work carried out, they don't challenge the tenant to make any repairs themselves and deem everything as wear and tear and if a tenant does break something they only advise the landlord that they can ask for costs towards a replacement. They just rush from tenant to tenant, they say people are desperate for accommodation and said we could clean the damp, patch the tiles and move the tenant in.

That's not how we work as landlords, sorry if you've had a rough time as a tenant, this isn't the forum to tell me how brilliant you are as a tenant and how bad your landlords have been. But if you've had bad tenants and are looking for somewhere to vent your frustrations, please feel free to visit the comments section.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Week 46 One daily Positive and Project 365 Back to Northern Ireland - A week of Freddie

My blog post this week reflects my frustration with social media. It's not about people not sharing their news, it's about the worry of me telling someone face to face and them posting a message online. Also if I had  posted about going to Belfast last week, everyone would automatically know the baby was here.

Due to complicated issues, my freedom to talk openly online about my life is restricted by Peter's ex wife. Our eldest grandchild has to be referred to as 'Grandchild', as the ex has been excluded from child 2's life, at his request (he is in his 30's and we agree that he's made the right decision) As far as child 2 is concerned, I am mum and I am Granny. This also means we can't/don't post photos of our grandchild. I'm always worried I will slip up somewhere and constantly checking I use the pronouns 'they/them'

We also had to complete child 1's End of Life Plan. She is profoundly disabled and is in care. She isn't ill, it's a physical disability. The form was more suited for someone who was capable of making informed decisions about their lives, so most of the sections read 'Consult parents, unless I outlive them, then please consult my brothers and their wives/children.'

317 A long drive home, time to unpack, shop and load the sofa bed in the car to take to mum at her new home tomorrow. Popped round the neighbours to share baby photos and to say thank you, with flowers, for looking after the cat while we were away. Evening spent in front of the TV.

318 Walked the dog and then down to the flat in Monmouth to carry out some repairs between tenants, sadly repairs are major. I met a friend for coffee, then over to mums to drop the sofa off and set it up. I've not seen my mum for over a year, we've been in different bubbles so no hugging. Then off to see grandchild 2b (so numbered as they are the child no 2 and his wife 2a) who lives a few minutes away.

319 Up early and caught up with emails, blogging and other crap I had to sort out. I came to a halt around 9am and then I kicked my arse into gear around midday. Filled up with fuel £67 FFS, anyone remember the strikes when fuel went over £1 a litre? Did some washing and sorting baby clothes I've been given to take to 4b (newborn of child 4 and his wife 4a) Good news, baby came out of hospital this evening. Sorted out some gifts for posting, Watched TV and bed late. 

320 Walked into town to get a zip fixed on a leather handbag, we were out two hours, I cooked a roast for lunch and spent the afternoon filled in some financial paperwork/tax forms that had to be posted. It was very stressful, also dealing with the aftermath of yet another tenant.

321 A day of tidying and cleaning, the spare car and house keys have been missing for several weeks now, no idea where they've gone. I found a hairdressers to get my hair sorted after the previous cut at another place and had my nails done. Peter had his flu jab.

322 Off to meet a friend to organise repairs to the flat, DIL and grandchild 4a and 4b, joined us for a coffee and a wander round the shops. A visit to the Doctors to organise further blood tests; whilst my ferritin levels have moved back into the normal range there are still a few other bloods that need sorting. Friend came round for rearranged Friday night chips and wine.

323 Early morning flight to Belfast to meet 4b, Freddie. Peter stayed at home to look after the dog, he'll come over another time, soon. No idea how long I'll be out here for.

On the blog this week:

Making announcements on social media.

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Friday 19 November 2021

Post Comment Love 19th-21st November 2021

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. It's a weekly post where we encourage people to link up with any post they've written this week, comment and share the love using the hashtag. We love seeing so many familiar and new faces each week. 

I'm back in Northern Ireland, arrived this morning to spend some time getting to know our new Grandson. Unfortunately Peter hasn't travelled with me as we have no one to look after the dog. We'll arrange something soon so he can come over with me, or maybe he could pop over on his own sometime.

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Wednesday 17 November 2021

The worry about making announcements on Social Media.

Our son and his wife had a baby. Born on November 5th. Obviously mum and dad's priority was that of their new family.

We were called at 3am and a photo was sent.

Obviously, we didn't share that photo online. We didn't post their news online. We were more than happy to wait for them to get home from the hospital, tell their extended families and friends, settle into new life before they make any birth announcement online.

They had the advantage of the due date being the 9th November, so it'll be a while before people start asking 'is the baby here'

They had the call from the hospital on Tuesday, to let us know they were going in. Obviously again, I didn't post about it, I didn't tell anyone. It wasn't my place, people will ask for updates. People might start contacting them, asking for news.

We headed over on the ferry on Saturday night, we didn't post about it as people would know why we were going, there must be a baby for us to be making the journey. In fact we didn't even tell our son and dil we were on our way over so they could settle in without having to worry about us descending on them, we just wanted to be that bit closer so when they called to say they were home and tell us we could come over, we'd already be nearby.

When our first grandchild was born 2 years ago, the logistics of visiting were harder as we were in Dubai and the due date coincided with another sons wedding. I arrived a few days before the baby was born (a week early), popped over for the wedding where my husband joined me then both back to the mainland to spend time with the baby before returning home.

The birth was announced on Monday and all of a sudden a great weight was lifted off me. Friends who were asking about the baby could now be told he was here, phone calls could be had, I could chat freely about the new addition in our lives. I could forward photos to friends, I could talk about our new grandchild freely without worrying about someone posting a message online and spoiling their announcement.

When my kids were born we didn't have social media to worry about, you just told people when you saw them. Made a few phone calls to family and people had to wait till you'd had photos processed and they arrived in the post, or they made the journey to visit the new born. In fact I waited a week before I made my social media update in my weekly blog post, only because people then new I'd travelled to Northern Ireland.

Do you have similar worries?

Saturday 13 November 2021

Week 45 One Daily Positive and Project 365. Introducing our Grandson

I've had to wait till the end of the week before I could post any photos, until our son and DIL had told everyone and made their own social media announcement. 

Meet Freddie born 5th November weighing a whopping 8lb 15oz.

Freddie is still in hospital and we haven't met him yet. I'll be returning next week to hopefully get some Granny cuddles, so this week the photos are all about the dog, who has had a wonderful holiday and has been thoroughly spoilt.

310 I took Bob out for a long walk and a take out coffee, then came home to clean and tidy the house and pack the car. Peter went to the pub to watch the football. We watched sport in the afternoon on the telly, then headed up to Liverpool with the dog for the ferry to Belfast.

311 Arrived at 7.30am, little sleep as no cabins available. Had to hang around till the accommodation was ready at 3pm. Found a lovely place for Bob to run off lead and a walk on the beach, found a lovely country park to stop for breakfast with a view of the sea, then drove up to Ballycastle for a coastal walk. Checked into the accommodation and evening spent with the in laws.

312 Off to sons house in the morning, went into Lisburn to do some shopping, we were able to leave the dog at their house, early dinner and evening at the in laws. Stupid dog got in, couldn't get out.

313 Took Bob for a long walk at Hillsborough, he spent. a lot of time off lead which resulted in us having to wash him in the lake. Round to sons house to sort the washing, off to Belfast for lunch and a bit of shopping, back to sons to iron, watch TV and collect the dog, back to accommodation and evening spent in front of the TV.

Just a boy and his dog.

314 A lazy morning, bacon butties and mugs of tea. Collected an order from the town for Dil. We drove to Bangor and walked along the sea front. Bob enjoyed time off lead and a swim in the sea. Back to son's house late afternoon to do some chores and wash the dog and his bedding and towels. Saw son and Dil for an hour then back to the air b&b.

315 A lazy morning, then collected sons dog from the in laws and headed out to Stormont for a walk, stopped for coffee and lunch, had an early dinner then over to the in laws for the evening.

With our sons dog. Molly.

316 Cleaned and tided the air b&b, it is cleaner now than when we arrived. Off to sons to do some washing and wrap the Christmas presents, left my suitcase and gifts at the in laws and took Bob for a walk in the rain. Afternoon in front of the TV, early dinner, then off to the ferry stopping by the hospital on the way. Straight into the cabin for the night.

On the blog this week:

The highs, the lows and the in betweens - Since relocating to the UK, the lows have become much easier to deal with.

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Friday 12 November 2021

Post Comment Love 12-14th November 2021

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. It's a weekly post where we encourage people to link up with any post they've written this week, comment and share the love using the hashtag. We love seeing so many familiar and new faces each week.

We're in Northern Ireland this week visiting our Son, Dil, parent in laws and our new Grandson, born a week ago today. We're heading home on the ferry tonight,  I will be flying back over on my own next week after we've sorted out a few things with the flat and the house. Will post some photos soon.

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Wednesday 10 November 2021

Sharing the highs and the lows and the in betweens.

I know a lot of people only post their achievements, use social media to show off/brag/highlight their successes. 

I know a lot of people who only post about things when they're depressed/in pain/when they want to complain.

I do both of the above, My weekly Project 365 posts are a mix of the above, from posting photos of things I've achieved to mentioning a migraine and the in between stuff such as running the cleaner around.

The 'in betweens' are the things my days are full of.

This week it's been about sorting out a tenant who handed the keys over a month early and I only found out when the council tax got involved so hours have been spent on the phone, sending emails and generally wondering what I pay rental agents for.

I've had urgent forms to sign 'in wet ink' I assume they mean not digitally signed, but I'm away from home, I need to find a printer (google is my friend here) thankfully I can scan and I happen to have an envelope and stamps on me to post back. I'm sure a postbox will be easy to find.

I wanted to get some photos printed. I found a handsfree booth, but it ran out of paper, then ran out of ink, I had to pay upfront so i couldn't just move to another printer. I came close to forfeiting my money and just walking away.

I attempted a simple task of buying an item of clothing, delivery would take over a week and in store delivery on the weekend. I found a store where I could get it within 2 days and got the day wrong and have to go back again to collect.

We're staying in an air b&b while visiting family. We've stayed in some lovely places. We've not been so lucky this time. It's clean (on the surface) it's well stocked but everything is old and tired apart from the new bathroom suite and carpet in the bedroom. The bedding, whilst smelling clean is old and tatty. It looks like someones gran has died and left them the house and they've just taken out her clothes, toiletries and personal items. There are half open bags of food in the freezer with a note to say we can help ourselves to anything.

I've already planned my review 'lovely to find a place that provides cleaning equipment so we can tidy as we go along' and ' well stocked with condiments, tea, coffee etc and fresh milk' and 'a lovely selection of books, tour guides and games' adding 'house lovely and warm and off road parking', dog friendly' We received a discount based on the fantastic reviews we've received. I've also taken photos so when (as no doubt will happen) cleaning fees are applied I can argue the toss that dirty tissues under the bed and debris in the kitchen drawers was not indicative of a pre covid clean.

There's other stuff going on I'm not ready to share, but for now it's dog walking, visits to the beach, coffees, lunches, washing up, cleaning up dog poo, trying to find enough change for the parking meter, wrapping Christmas gifts, writing letters and ensuring I'm tired enough at the end of the day to sleep all night.

It's sometimes difficult to write about the highs without 'showing off' It's difficult to write about the lows without sounding like one is just complaining and the in betweens often sound boring and mundane.

It's been a long time since I've had more in betweens than I've had highs and lows. In the past whilst living abroad and having kids at home, the in betweens used to be my lows, they're much easier to sort out now we're back in the UK full time.

Saturday 6 November 2021

Week 44 - One Daily Positive and Project 365 Waiting for the baby.

Our second grandchild is due anytime now, they are waiting for a call from the hospital to go in or for mother nature to take its course. As soon as our DIL is admitted we'll be booking the ferry and dog friendly accommodation and we'll be on our way. The neighbour will be looking after the cat whilst we are away.

The weather is getting really cold now, we had torrential rain over the weekend, but no frost yet. In between the sun has been shining and I'm still able to sit outside, which I love to be able to do.

303 Train cancelled so walked home and drove into Worcester. Peter went to see Dune while I sat outdoors and had a coffee and wrote some postcards. I explored the Guildhall and wandered around the city. In the evening I carved my pumpkins.

304 I baked cakes for Halloween and made some popcorn to bag up. The neighbours came round with their kids for the afternoon, then I decorated the garden ready for trick or treaters. I ran out of supplies around the same time the torrential rain came down.

305 Peter dropped me at the retail park and Bob and I stopped for a coffee and met two lovely women, one after the other for  chats about dogs, lack of kennels and decorating, we walked home, took the decorations down, tidied up and started another santa sleigh, cut and assembled.

306 A busy day. Tidied the garden, moved pots around under cover for winter and harvested the last of the veg. I did several loads of washing including the dog beds. The santa sleigh received its first coat of paint, as did the floor....ooops. Bob had his walk, I read some of my book in the bath, we watched TV while I ironed and started to prepare for our trip to Northern Ireland. 

307 Walked Bob, fleece wrapped the bay and olive tree, we loaded the fridge freezer into the car, as my mum needs it when she moves into her new home next week and dropped it with my niece who can arrange to get it to the neighbouring town, as we'll be over in Northern Ireland. A friend nearby helped me unload. I haven't seen my niece and the Things for almost a year. This is Thing 3 & 4. 1 & 2 were in school.

308 Peter finished making a table I'd requested for the bedroom to replace the Ikea unit in there. I took Bob for a long walk and stopped for a coffee on route. 

309 A lazy morning followed by a trip to the retail park while Peter took advantage of the dry weather and mowed the lawn. We popped over to Gloucester to take child 1 shopping. I took Bob for a walk as he doesn't like the sound of fireworks when he's indoors, he took no notice of them whilst we were out. I found some sparklers in the fridge (obviously I meant to say shed) and messaged the neighbour to ask if I could borrow her almost 2 year old son so I had someone to play with.

On the blog this week:

Life after expat life

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Friday 5 November 2021

Post Comment Love 5th-7th November 2021

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. So lovely to so many people linking up each week, it's always great to meet new people, so don't be shy, please share this post with others.

At the time of scheduling this post (Halloween) we were patiently waiting for the arrival of our new grandchild, so fingers crossed, we're in Northern Ireland right now. Hopefully I'll have caught up with your posts from last week before we travel, if not, I will as soon as I can.

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Wednesday 3 November 2021

Expat life, repatriation and retirement. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

I retired in January 2011, taking a 10 year career break to support my husband with his job abroad, I did work full time as a volunteer for 4 years in South Africa and up until March 2020 when covid hit, I went back several times a year. I also taught for 18 months in a school in Dubai, but that's it.

Since we both returned to the UK full time in June 2021, I've signed up with an agency and carried out some paid work with LFT's for back to school and a day at the T20 cricket and I've had an interview for the Commonwealth games as a volunteer in 2022. I'm also waiting to hear back from the local college about some volunteer work.

I will return to the work place some time next year, but for now I'm taking some time off with my husband as he settles into retirement, spending time with our grandchild, awaiting the birth of our 2nd grandchild (due any minute) and planning a trip to Australia early next year to see the middle child for 3 months as it's been 2 and a half years since I last saw him, almost 4 years for Peter.

In the meantime, what are we doing to fill our days? All my family and friends say I'm always so busy, what they don't realise is that I'm always looking for something to do, to occupy my time and make me feel fulfilled.

Days now are filled with doing lots of nothing. Although I've had the time to do things at my own leisure for the past 10 years, the last 6 years in Dubai have been quite lonely. The kids had left home, we didn't know our neighbours, had few friends and spent most of our lives indoors. I was always travelling between the UK and Dubai and felt that I couldn't ever commit to anything for more than a few months at a time, in either country. 

I started hobbies and crafts, joined a few places but was continually moving. People and places just moved on without me.

Now we're settled back in the UK, it's been great spending more time with the family, reconnecting with friends, getting to know the neighbours and being out and about more. long dog walks, stopping off for coffee or the occasional pint.

We get up late, we walk the dog, have leisurely breakfasts, cook from fresh every dinner time. Watch quiz and comedy shows, we do jobs around the house as and when needed. We share the tasks such as washing up, cooking and food shopping. We visit family and friends, Peter plays the occasional game of golf and is making items of furniture for the house, I'm crafting things for Christmas, writing letters, drinking coffee in the garden or the shed if it's raining. Reading books and watching movies.

It's so nice to be able to plan things and see them through, nothing has to be rushed. I can't plant seeds, be around to nurture and watch them grow and harvest, rather than starting something then having to get on a plane. 

It's hard to describe how nice it is to have everything in one place. I can just pick my handbag up and pop out. I'm not constantly looking for where I've left things, or realising I've forgotten something and it's now 3000 miles away.

It's not just being in one place that gives us more time, it's not having to manage 3 different properties, paying rent, insurances, managing tenants and property management fees. Whilst we still own 2 properties, just being able to pick up the phone to sort insurances and boiler services etc is no longer as stressful and expensive to be on hold for.

The bubble will burst, I'm sure. I'll be back in work then my time off will be limited, for visiting and travels. I'm sure employment will see my stress levels return, so I need to get the balance right of either part time work or if full time, a job with little stress/responsibility ie P/T Teaching or F/T Teaching Assistant. 

I want to work, for me, but I have nothing else left to prove. I craved my career thinking it defined who I was. But I am no longer an expat now, defined by what I do and judged on my salary and housing allowance. 

So yes, this is real life, now. The expat part was fantasy.