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A moving experience

October 6, 2013

We spent the rest of our first weekend relaxing, unpacking clothes, sorting out where we were and enjoying a good roast beef dinner. We needed the break!

The removal men arrived bright and early on Monday morning, 8:00 am and as suspected they could not get the truck into the cul-de-sac so were parked at the entrance reversed in as far as they could. I don’t think they were too happy but there were no complaints and offers to go and get a pallet truck were refused. They had a couple of sack barrows, plus mine, and hand carried everything the whole way. We had a couple of snags – first being the agent had not given us a key to the back door into the kitchen which meant everything had to come in via the narrow hall by the front door or through the conservatory. The other problem was where to put everything but again they managed and even the garage wasn’t full! They were all done by 1:00 pm and we never heard a word of complaint as long as the tea was flowing – it was of course the first box off the truck having been loaded last!

We did get one bonus, I had mis-measured the ceiling height by 10cm (eyesight isn’t improving) and there was plenty of room for our two big cabinets after all. We did have to move the smaller one in the living room but that was relatively easy and then it just needed levelling. We now had a very small bungalow crammed tight with boxes and furniture and decided the only way to sort this out was room by room. We spent about 2 ½ weeks living at Joans taking advantage of here generosity in shopping, cooking etc leaving us to get the bungalow and other logistical stuff sorted – we finally made the move into the bungalow on the 3rd of October.

The entire three weeks kind of blurred into a multitude of small challenges and incidents, some bigger that others, some a pleasant surprise. Once aspect of returning to the UK for which we were ill-prepared was the plethora of seemingly mindless rules – procedures and methods which made little sense. Rather than cataloguing each event I have decided on a précis of some of the things we came across.

Unpacking

June worked on the kitchen, I worked on the spare room and tried to create a workspace. This was a gradual process and we learned very early that it is impossible to get it right first time, so we adopted the practice of just putting things in what seemed to be a logical place then observing how it worked. By and large this has proved effective and we have created a liveable space – lacking certain essentials as the corkscrew was still packed and we forget the lemons for the evening G&T!

The bungalow is really nice but really needs some help with its basic facilities – it has been owned by an older lady since new and she obviously isn’t a practical kind of person. The heating system wasn’t working properly and we contacted the agent who finally agreed to let the owner show us how it all worked. The owner came but didn’t know the answer but by trial and guesswork we figured it out – the plumber who fitted the new shower had turned the heating boiler valves off! The shower also doesn’t work as there is no real hot water pressure – typical of UK buildings with a cold water tank in the attic gravity feeding the hot water tank.

Telephone, Internet and cell-phones

We researched into the various deals and decided on TalkTalk as our phone provider and broadband supplier, fairly easy to get an account, no credit checks and a package which gets us free calls to most places. However, it took about 10 days for them to send the router and then another week to connect the phone line. It worked well after that and I managed to connect my desktop to the internet on a wireless device I had bought previously in France and the speed is about 4 times the French service – great, no wiring!  Cell-phones were another story, I ordered one from TalkTalk and discovered they will only allow me one until we have been customers for three months – no idea why. The other cell providers were less than helpful so I gave up on them and I got a SIM package for June at a cost of £5.00 for six months worth of time.

Cars

I contacted the dealer in London and he confirmed he would buy the Peugeot so we went looking for a replacement. High on the list were the Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Santa Fe – we wanted automatic and 4WD. The RAV4 we had been looking at via the Internet was sold before we could get there but then I found Santa Fe about 6 miles away so we went and looked at it. Long story short, we bought it on the spot for collection in a few days and it came with a new MoT and 6 months warranty. The dealer collected the Peugeot and paid an acceptable price for it, we ended up basically spending almost nothing on changing the car and so far the Hyundai has proved a good choice.

Medical

A visit to the local GP practice saw us registered and a first appointment with a doctor. Interesting experience as he could only give us 10 minutes each and of course 22 years worth of history cannot be discussed in such a short time. We did get prescription renewals and he sent us for blood tests to start his own baseline, our next appointment is in a few days so we will see how things work out. Very bureaucratic with some very strange rules – e.g “you cannot make an appointment with a named doctor on a Monday or a Friday and there are no appointments on Thursday as we keep those for emergencies” I didn’t ask what happens if you have an emergency on Wednesday!

TV set up.

Our neighbour was unable to get his mate to install our satellite system so I found a local guy who came out within four hours. I explained the deal of sharing a dish with the neighbour and he set them up with a new dish, new cables and ran cables into the bungalow – it was pouring with rain and he seemed oblivious to it, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt he was absolutely soaked! We hooked it up to my Freesat box which promptly died and would not recover. A call to Humax support for the sat box was not successful in getting it to work but it turned out it is still under warranty so they are exchanging it for a new one – it’ll arrive by Monday 7th. Great service and very helpful.

My world wide Sony TV does not understand the UK digital frequencies for some reason which Sony can’t fix so now we have no TV. However we did have an old aerial connection, borrowed a Freeview box and hooked up our small 19” French bought TV – it worked but it is difficult to see across the room – the Korean GP qualifying looked like Matchbox toys!

Appliances

Thanks to some excellent advice we purchased a washer, dryer and fridge freezer from John Lewis – all with 5-year warranty, delivered and installed in three days – brilliant! The only issue was the designated little utility room is too small so we ended up with the washer in the kitchen, spoiling our plans for a much-needed pantry cupboard. They work great though and the installers were really helpful and efficient.

Electrics

Endless fun changing plugs (for the third time on some things), rigging up extension cords, making lamp fittings work and finding bayonet fitting bulbs. They are prevalent in the UK so our supply of Edison screw bulbs are only useable in a few table lamps – and we can’t use those as there is no room for our side tables. I still think the UK 13-amp plug is the most over-designed, over engineered waste of space ever – really fiddly to fit and ludicrously oversized. Gone are the days of simple two-pin plugs for lamps, phones etc. that we had in the US and France.

Supplies

We have a Tesco and Morrisons plus numerous other large stores (B&Q etc) within 15 minutes drive and good local shops for fresh meat, veg and bread plus the bank, post office and cafes just 5 minutes away. We have a local pub serving good meals including lunch specials for £5.00 and there are two or three other pubs in easy reach. We have yet to investigate Chinese, Indian etc but they are about, looking forward to some experimenting.

Today we are attempting our first roast Sunday lunch – the oven is brand new and a little small but we will cope and we are looking forward to it and a restful afternoon.

Cheers

 

David & June

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