We’re just back from the vets after getting everything sorted for the pet passports. Three rabies jabs and a microchip later we’re £300 lighter but good to go. The cats all seemed pretty happy in their carriers (cheepo ones from PetsAtHome, recommended by the pet courier) so that’s quite reassuring. Now to book the courier.
We deliberated for a while about transporting them ourselves, either in a van (along with all our belongings) and convoying with me in the car with the kids or – if we decided to use a removals company – in the car with all of us. The van option looked risky – more about that in a future post – so we thought maybe it would be fun if we all travelled together in the car. But three cats and two young kids on a 16-hour drive, seriously? That would mean three animals that will want to get there as quickly as possible versus two small children who don’t want to be in a car for more than a couple of hours at a time, equating to two anxious, irate parents up front trying to block out the screaming and yowling. Not in a million years, thank you. Having looked at a few pet courier companies we’ve decided to go with Pets2Go2. They have a very transparent looking website with nice clean vans and their communication has been excellent. It won’t be cheap but we decided they will at least travel down in a safe, pet-centric environment and be well looked after leaving us to focus on our human passengers. It also mean we’ll be relieved to see them when we pick them up rather than so strung out from the journey that we struggle to give them the reassurance and attention they need. H, for one, will be so happy to reunite with Bitty after a couple of days separation. She’s mad about that cat – “he’s my best friend” – and I suspect he’ll be pretty pleased to see her too.
It’s going to be the longest journey they’ve ever made by car, as it will for us all! It will be worth it though. What could be nicer for a cat than living somewhere without cars, surrounded by open fields (so same as here) and with sunshine (accompanied by heat – so nothing at all like here) most days? I like to think that Star can live out her last days snoozing in the shade while Ty and Bitty rough up the local rodent population before sleeping it off on the roof somewhere. There are a few neighbourhood kitties for them to contend with but I’m sure any territorial spats can soon be settled. And they will, for the first time, be able to experience hot terracotta tiles. Now if were a pussy cat I’d quickly forgive my owners the indignity of being stuck in a small cage for the best part of 48 hours knowing that was what they had in store for me. They’ve been stuck inside here for the best part of 48 hours thanks to the relentless rain – and there’s no end to that in sight!
One more practical consideration though: insurance. Can that be transferred or do we have to cancel? Currently two out of the three cats are insured (Star isn’t). That’s more than paid for itself and with the two boy cats I’d be nervous about not having it so something else to look into!
Okay so we were planning to leave anyway but with things as they stand, which is in a cesspool of uncertainty, we’re going sooner than we originally planned. While I could quite easily freak out at going before I’ve had chance to say goodbye to many of my friends, which I was hoping to on a more leisurely timetable, it will be nice to be able to enjoy some warmer days and not just be there for late autumn and winter. We’re going to take a few week to recuperate after the busy and stressful weeks and months leading up to the move. We can go to the beach, swim in the lake, chill on the terrace. Actually, I can’t wait. I’m sure many of our friends could be persuaded to come out and visit!
The dark side of all this though is that our planned move will now all take place in the shadow of uncertainty. If Article 50 is triggered what will come out the other side? Will we have access to healthcare and schooling for the kids, can we set up a business, how will we be taxed? These and a zillion other questions have kept us awake for a few nights now and at one point we considered that maybe we shouldn’t go until we know the answers. Then we pulled ourselves together and thought, sod it, let’s go! Worst case we spend a couple of years living in a new country, learning the language and soaking up the culture. At the end of that time we’ll have enriched our lives and spent two wonderful, carefree years with our young children at the time when they need us most. Worst case we move on in a couple of years and go where the wind blows. If we can get somewhere with our French language skills – given I’d need to return to having a “proper” job – maybe Canada, maybe somewhere else in Europe. The worst that could happen is that we end up back in the UK, in which case there’s always Scotland! So yes, we could stay here, live as we are now, put up with the rain, the collapsing economy, and wallow in the mess that the UK has become, or we can take a leap into the void. When I put it like that, we’d be crazy to stay.
It seems I’ve been pootling along in a daze, not really grasping what moving house means in terms of the effort required to make it happen. James, on the other hand, has been busting a gut, essentially leading the way while I look on in bewilderment through the fog of newborn nappies and toddler tantrums. But now I get it. If we’re to meet our self-imposed deadline we have quite a to-do list. It looks something like this:
- Find somewhere to live. This involves finding a fully-furnished property that doesn’t cost the earth, has a heat source to see us through winter, is safe for cats and kids, and that we like, so nothing fussy, full of stuff that could easily be dismantled by a two year old.
- Figuring out how to get us and our stuff there. We live down a very narrow lane and are likely to move to a property down and equally narrow lane. Plus the property we find may not have much storage space so do we use movers or buy a van? Do we buy a decent van in the hope of selling it on or a crap one we intend to scrap? And how do we get the kids and the cats there when it’s in the best interest of one to get there as fast as we can with few breaks (cats) and the other (kids) to spend only short stretches in the car with frequent stops?
- Getting everyone legally ready to go. We need four new passports before we can go anywhere: one for our new baby and one for each of the cats. For the cats this involves rabies jabs, microchips, and some official documents verifying they have the above. For the baby it’s less complicated thankfully, although he does still need all his vaccinations, which will be fun for him.
- Decluttering on an enormous scale. We have a lot of crap and clutter in our house. Not everything is worth selling but some of it is. This means we’ve been taken over by boxes, for recycling, depositing at the charity shop, freegling, or ebaying. James is doing much better at this than me but I am getting the hang of it. I gave away all my LPs on Wednesday which was a big deal. I feel okay about it now but at the time it was emotional.
- Getting on with all the above while maintaining normal life. That means shopping, cooking, washing, taking DD to play with her friends (and meet mine too), trips to the dentist, visiting family and friends, etc. I would add cleaning but we’ve pretty much given that up until the floors are visible again.
Im sure I’ve missed a few things off, but these are the really big ones. Oh, and I’m trying to get back to fitness. Some might say that I’ve got enough to do (see above) without spending time exercising each day but for me it comes under the heading of self care and is therefore non-negotiable. More about that on my other blog.
So, lots going on and, as I’m frequently reminded, only 12 weeks (ish) to go!
Reality check: we are planning to move to France in October, which means we have roughly 16 weeks to do everything we need to do to make that happen. This last week James has been incredibly busy trying to find a place for us to move to, as our plan is first to rent then to buy as that will enable us to check out nurseries, schools, etc. However, it turns out that finding what is termed a long-term furnished let that allows pets (we have cats), is safe for both children and said pets, and has some form of heating is complicated.
Then there’s the logistics of getting there. Is that complicated or what!? Cats are the critical factor in all moving scenarios, making the whole darned process pretty darned complicated! It’s a good job we think of them as family or they’d be out in their soft pointy ears.
Then there’s the troublesome problem of only one of us really having the time and headspace or having the use of both arms simultaneously to do much if this. Clue: that person is not me. Complicated further by the fact that my brain is so smashed from 1, 2, 3am wake ups (and the rest) that everything J tells me he’s done goes in one ear and out if the other. What I need is for him to write things down but that’s not his style. Oh boy. Complicated!
Finally, there’s this Brexit referendum nightmare to take into account. The potential implications of the Leave lot getting their way are not worth thinking about. The vote is later this month. It’s a pretty complicated question to put to the general public, in my view; far, far too complicated!
So here we are. 16 weeks and counting. And its all a bit complicated.