Tag Archives: moving abroad

The Final Countdown

OK, so who has that 1980s’ power ballad stuck in their head now? Still, you can’t beat a good earworm!

Five days to go until the adventure proper begins. Part – most – of me is excited, elated and can’t wait. But part of me is also exhausted and keeps finding new things to worry about. Moving house is stressful at the best of times, but packing up your whole life takes it to an entirely different level.

Those possessions you’re not quite sure what to do with – childhood memorabilia, old photographs, wedding dress and so on? Can’t just pack them in a box and stick them in the attic when your new place is thousands of kilometres away and you’re trying to cram your worldly goods into just nine suitcases to avoid hefty shipping fees.

Tough decisions have to be made and we’re grateful to family and friends who have offered either a few spare square metres of garage space for storage or to bring over an extra case when they visit.

The most hair-tearingly frustrating part, though, has to be the ineptitude and lack of customer care that seems common among so many organisations and companies as we try to wind up our current existence.

Let’s take trying to return our car. I’ve called the relevant company at least five times during the past six weeks but haven’t yet been able to fix a date or time in spite of repeated assurances and promises to call me back. This morning I told them I’d leave the vehicle on the road and post the keys, which at least got me one step further into the labyrinth of their collection arm, but at the time of writing nothing has been arranged. Maybe I should stop fretting – I’ve done all I can and the key-posting option is always there as a last resort.

I’m just one of those people that thrives on having a ‘to do’ list – or several – and being able to tick jobs off. To have to keep putting them back on, while watching the list grow ever-longer, truly irks me.

Still. In five days I will be on the brink of the next stage of my life, and hopefully this will all be behind me. If I close my eyes I can see myself lying in the hammock on the terrace, a glass of cold Efes at my side, watching the birds and enjoying the sunshine…..

For now, though, it’s back to the ‘to do’ lists….

RP

 

Do I Dare to Dream…..?

It seems incredible but, just a week ago, I was perched in the prow of a single-masted sailing boat, legs dangling either side of the bowsprit as I watched the blue Aegean sea skim beneath my bare feet.

With the warm sun on my back I watched for dolphins which I hoped might join us as we cruised to our next mooring, where I knew we could look forward to a barbecued lunch of fish or chicken washed down with cold beer from the ship’s ample refrigerator.

Some lazy chat and a bit of snorkelling would probably follow before we’d weigh anchor and sail on, heading for another secluded bay miles from the crowded tourist beaches and a lifetime away from the deadlines and ringing phones which have been part of our lives since … well, forever.

I know I ought to have been ecstatically happy, relaxed, completely at ease… but instead, all I could really feel was panic and guilt.

If you’re a fan of the BBC television series Red Dwarf, you’ll know what I mean when I say I have confirmed yet again that my default settings are similar to Rimmer’s in the Better Than Life virtual reality game. In other words, I struggle to believe that good things happen without paying a high price later.

I’ve had the good bit; now, inevitably, something is going to sneak up behind me and bite me on the bum – hard.

So, while I should have been savouring good food, an azure blue sky and the simple pleasure of watching brightly-coloured fish dart for breadcrumbs dropped from the table, my mind was chasing thoughts about what work I really should be doing instead.

The daft thing is, there wasn’t any. We’ve deliberately planned a few slack weeks between now and the Big Move to allow us time to adjust and complete the multitude of tasks involved in relocating to a foreign country.

But that doesn’t stop the words of the naysayers and doom-mongers creeping up on you in quiet moments or in the middle of the night, rotating on an endless loop, demanding to know just what makes you think you deserve to live in paradise.

The antidote, of course, is to get to work; to do something – anything  – rather than laze around. Fire up the laptop, scour the internet, fiddle about with files, tinker with pictures, even stalk the house looking for things to rearrange, tidy away or clean.

Such behaviour, I know, defeats the object of moving in the first place. One of the main motivations for doing all this was a desire to slow down, to have time for something other than work.

But it seems that’s going to be harder than I thought. It’s going to take time to adjust and to trust to the fact that 12-hour days are not strictly necessary.

In the meantime,  I’d better get on with cataloguing all the pictures on my hard drive in alphabetical order….

SP

“But why Turkey…..?”

“But Turkey…? Why Turkey?” So many people have asked that question when we’ve told them about our plans.

You might think it would be easy to bash out a few glib paragraphs and a couple of anecdotes to explain the background, but I’ve actually found myself staring at a blank page for half an hour.

The reason? Well, I suppose it’s because there are at least a dozen different answers – and marshalling them into some sort of order is something of a challenge. Like everything, it’s probably best to start at the beginning.

I suppose it began as a slow but nevertheless powerful realisation that, professionally at least, we were unhappy because we didn’t seem to have any real direction or goal. Neither of us is particularly ambitious and we’ve never had any desire to grow an empire; just the same, we were finding ourselves working harder and harder just to stand still.

Although it’s changing fast, the PR market is also undeniably overcrowded, flooded both by journalists being made redundant as the internet continues to offer new channels for news and information and by universities churning out energetic, bright young things who wake up every morning eager to wrestle the PR tiger.

Of course, many would find dramatic and rapid change exciting and, if you don’t mind endless networking and late nights in the office, if you have an encyclopaedic grasp of the latest social media platforms and the stamina of the Duracell bunny, then the Yorkshire communications industry can get you all the things in life we’re told we need.

The thing is, we realised “things” are not necessarily what we want. Instead we want a life lived, not an existence – and, almost immediately, we began to feel a little like misfits. Put another way, we realised we were no longer enjoying a ride which was taking us somewhere we didn’t really want to go – so much so the desire to get off became overwhelming.

So why Turkey? Actually, Turkey wasn’t the first choice – for me, at least. After an exploratory trip last year, Africa seemed to offer more opportunity and we even worked with UKTI to identify potential markets which needed our skills and expertise.

In the end, obstacles presented by distance and the risks posed by volatile political and religious situations persuaded us to reconsider. Spain and Italy – where we have family – were discarded in light of the turmoil and uncertainty over the Euro. So, having visited Turkey and fallen in love with its beautiful Mediterranean coast, it was our next target.

We found a relaxed and easy-going culture, low cost of living, affordable property, potential for work with companies in an expanding tourism sector in a country identified as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Turkey moved straight to the top of the list and work resumed with UKTI to establish how we could adapt our offer to match possible demand. As a result, Dolphin International Communications is finally launched this week – a name chosen to reflect both our new Mediterranean location and the fact we’re still only a “click” away for clients who have opted to stay with us.

Of course, some have told us we’re mad. Others seem convinced we’re heading for some sort of war zone or a backward nation stuck in the 1930s. It’s true we might not be able to buy ham or sausages unless they’re “under the counter”, the power goes off pretty regularly and most of the TV will be unintelligible (although I’m actually looking forward to learning a new language).But if you’ve watched The Hobbit, you’ll have seen Bilbo leaving the detritus of a meticulously-organised life behind him as he runs after Gandalf and the dwarves, shouting: “I’m going on an adventure!”

There’s no doubt there will be challenges ahead, some involving things we don’t even know about yet. Just the same, inside, I’m with Bilbo.

SP

Overwhelmed by ‘Stuff’

I’ve been itching to crack on with packing up, sorting out and/or disposing of our belongings.
The idea is that we will take as little as possible with us – mainly clothes and personal items. Some things will be stored at my stepfather’s; some sent via courier later in the year.
I’ve booked the maximum amount of allowable luggage with the airline – nine cases in total, each to weigh no more than 22kg. In theory, that sounded like quite a lot.
However, having just packed one of my bags, I’m no longer so confident. I hardly seem to have made a dent in my own bits and pieces, let alone anyone else’s. I’m telling myself that it will be fine and we’ve got a second run at it with the final move in June.
I’m also having to stop myself crazily filling all nine cases so that I feel I’ve achieved something; that way, I’ll either end up taking things I don’t need or will have to live without vital possessions until we go.
It makes you think, though, about how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate over the years. The trinkets we keep because they mean something or “just in case” they prove useful.
Clearing out your life in such a way as we are makes you look long and hard at everything, and there are tough decisions to be made.
Some aren’t.
The hand-made birthday cards the children gave us when they were little? The baby books we kept to record every detail of their first years? Easy. Put them to one side to keep in storage.
Those beautiful pink satin shoes I fell in love with but which I’ve never worn because they’re slightly too high and a little too big? Pop them on an auction site; if they don’t sell, they go to charity.
But what about my wedding dress, for example, which lies in the loft in its clear plastic protector? What happens to that?
I’ll never wear it again. A few days shy of our 22nd anniversary and I’ve never even got round to having it cleaned – so even if it wasn’t hopelessly out of fashion, I can’t sell it. It’s not the most practical thing to store – and why, anyway? What will I ever do with it?
But there’s a lot of emotion, so many happy memories tied up in that confection of satin and lace. It feels wrong to say: “Bin it.”
Someone who has already been through this process told me to be ruthless. To remember that all my memories and associations with this ornament or that picture are in my mind, safe for ever. That it might seem a waste to part with household items and then buy replacements once we’re there, but it’s likely to work out cheaper than bringing it all with us and paying for the extra weight.
I’m trying to remember this, as we begin the process of picking over some 24 years of accumulated ‘stuff’. But with just under four weeks until Round 1 of The Big Move, I can’t help feeling I’ll still be buried under a mountain of books, bedding and bric-a-brac when the airport taxi arrives at the door.

RP

The Calm Before The Storm

We’ve got ages until we move. It’s a good – ooh, just under three months. Plenty of time to get everything sorted out. Let’s check the calendar – yep, roughly 11 weeks.

Hang on. Eleven weeks? That’s nothing! There’s the cats’ transport to book. We need to decide what we’re going to take, sell and give away, and start packing accordingly. I have to set up the mail forwarding, send out change-of-address notifications….. I’ll NEVER be done in time.

This is pretty much the state of my mind right now, veering between calm confidence and blind panic. We just want to get on with it, really. Once our worldly goods start going into boxes, our son’s new flat or to their new owners, I’ll feel like we’re getting somewhere.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We’ve got an American student arriving this weekend for two weeks – the return leg of my daughter’s school exchange – so we need to keep things pretty much normal for her.

Which means there’s not a lot I can do until the end of April, except maybe offload a few trinkets to the charity shop or local auction site. Which means by the time we can get on, there’ll only be around eight weeks left before we go, and that really isn’t any time at all.

In among all this, we’re trying to keep the business ticking over, our daughter has GCSEs to do and there’s the usual domestic chores to keep on top of.

I guess we’ll get there, one way or another. In just under three months, I’ll be sitting on our balcony in the sunshine and all this will feel like a distant memory,

Hang on. Just under three months? That’s roughly 11 weeks……

RP

On The Move

It’s deliberately been a while since the last post, simply because – and I know how daft this sounds – I didn’t want to jinx what I wanted to write about. But if I take that view it could be another couple of months or more, so here goes….

Sold!

Sold!

We’ve sold our house.

It went on the market on Friday, December 6 2013 and we formally accepted an offer on Monday 23 – less than three weeks later. It was the best Christmas present we could have hoped for.

Now, in theory, it should be a simple transaction. Neither party is in a chain and our buyers seem lovely, reasonable people. There’s every reason to expect it all to be done and dusted in – what? Eight weeks? (It’s so long since we bought or sold any property I have no idea what the average is these days.)

But there’s always that little niggle, that fear that something will go wrong. There’ll be some issue that can’t be resolved, feet that will be dragged, or what if they simply change their minds?

Soon after the euphoria came the anxiety, and I don’t think that will really dissipate until we exchange contracts. So I’m having a few sleepless nights….any tips for coping with those welcomed!

RP

Tears Before Bedtime

It had to happen. Ever since we first started talking about The Great Escape, as it’s become known, our youngest has been unbelievably calm about it.

We’ve talked to her, asked repeatedly if she’s really happy with the idea, made sure she knows she can come to us with any questions…. and in that incredibly placid, take-it-all-in-my-stride way of hers, she’s said it’s fine and she’s looking forward to it.

She does have an amazing capacity to adapt and accept, I know that. But this move isn’t just across town – it’s a complete removal, geographically and culturally, from everything she’s ever known. That’s got to be a big deal in anyone’s book.

So when I got a text from Steve that read simply: “Tears about Turkey at home. We need to talk.” there was a bit of me that wasn’t surprised….and another bit of me that panicked wildly. What if she had objections or fears that were quite simply too much to overcome? What if we had to abandon the dream?

Turned out there were a few things on her mind after all. So we asked her to make a list of everything she was worried about and everything she was looking forward to – or, in other words, the pros and cons as she saw it.

Firstly, I was relieved to see there were a lot more reasons ‘for’ than ‘against’. Secondly, all her concerns were entirely natural – in fact, they were the same things that would be on our own list, if we wrote one. They included:

  • I’m upset at the thought of losing touch with my friends.
  • What if I don’t make any new ones?
  • What if I really struggle with the language?
  • I’m worried about leaving my brother behind without us.

I won’t copy out the rest, although there weren’t many more, and the whole episode actually turned out to be a good thing. It gave us an opportunity to sit down afresh and air any fears and reservations we had. It meant Em could see that we’re not expecting it to be perfect – we accept there will be stress and difficulties in our ‘new’ life, as there are anywhere. They will just be different – and yes, we’ll have to learn to cope with them.

It also gave us a chance to really, really impress upon her that she has to talk to us and not bottle things up because saying everything is “fine” is what she thinks we want to hear. She’s entitled to her opinion and she’s allowed to express it. Not saying it doesn’t make it go away and, once it’s out there, we can talk about how we’ll deal with it.

I guess subconsciously I was aware that she was fretting, because something inside me that links to her is more settled – it’s as though before there was something prodding me, asking if I really believed she was ok with everything, whereas now I’m confident she is – and, if she isn’t, she’ll tell me.

As a result, it’s all a lot more open. I’m not saying there won’t be more tears – from any of us – but at least we won’t be hiding them from each other.

RP

Focus on Fethiye

It’s so hard to concentrate on the day-to-day stuff when your head is in the clouds (possibly literally at the moment, looking at some of the weather forecasts for southern Turkey).

We have a business we need to keep going. We have jobs to do around the house to get it ready for sale. Not to mention all the other bits and pieces of everyday life – looking after the kids, cooking, cleaning, shopping. You know what I mean.

But my heart and my mind are already in Fethiye. I just want to up sticks and go. I’d far rather spend time planning how we’re going to get the cats over there, work out whether I can take my slow-cooker and make a decision on what to do with that very delicate but beautiful vase we got as a wedding present than…..well, pretty much anything, really.

I keep telling myself that it won’t be long until we’re there for good, but the next few months still stretch out interminably before me.

At this point I’d like to pay public tribute to Steve, who really is the stronger one of us at the moment. He knows what needs to be done and he’s doing it; not that he doesn’t want to get moving any less than I do, he’s just better able to focus on the here and now than I am. He’s being brilliant.

As for me – I’ll keep kicking myself onwards like a particularly obstinate mule, interspersing Turkey-related tasks with domestic necessity.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

RP

 

More Than Just A Dream

It’s beginning to feel a little more real now. Even though we’ve been talking about this for a while and have started to tell people what we’re up to, it’s still intangible. “Next summer” is a long way in the future.

But because we’re putting firm plans in place, it’s suddenly more immediate. We’ve had a meeting with our accountant to ensure the business is all set up correctly and can continue to provide an income. We’ve got together with the web designer to talk about how we need a new site to reflect the changes.

We’ve got firm notes in the diary to talk to the vet, the bank, the removals company, the estate agent….. and we’ve discussed the logistics of actually getting three of us (plus two cats) over there if we sell the house the minute it goes on the market but we still need to be here for six months. (Wishful thinking on our part, possibly, but fingers crossed.)

It’s all rather exciting, to be honest, and it’s great to have this adventure taking shape in our minds properly, rather than remaining as some kind of ethereal spirit that it would be quite nice to grab hold of at some stage.

One thing that does remain a concern is the law change around applying for residency. The new rules – or costs – still haven’t been confirmed, but the basics seem to be that, after April 1, you have to apply via the consulate in your own country and you can only get one year, maximum. We’re wondering whether it’s worth rushing things on a bit so that at least one of us can get in ahead of the deadline….but then there may be other implications for us given we’ll be seeking family residency.

Another thing to investigate, and a very helpful person on one of the online forums has provided a contact who should be able to help. Watch this space….

Hi honey, I’m home…..

Last week, I went home. I don’t care where I was born or where you might consider my hometown to be – my heart and my soul belong to Fethiye.

From the moment I stepped off the plane at Dalaman Airport, I knew I was in the right place – and I can’t pretend I wasn’t relieved. It had been a while since my last visit and I was nervous that Turkey had acquired a rose-tinted veil in my subconscious. What if it wasn’t as beautiful as I remembered? What if I didn’t feel as comfortable or at ease? What if my inner self – the instinct, the core of conviction we know we should heed – whispered that, actually, moving there was a mistake?

I needn’t have worried. The place, the people, the food, the music – it was all every bit as wonderful as I remembered. All I could think was how much I longed to stay and, just an hour after arriving, I was already dreading the day I’d have to leave.

This isn’t a tourist site. I’m not going to recommend bars or restaurants or tell people where to visit. (That said, Fethiye Fish Market is an absolute must; if you ever get invited to a Turkish wedding then you really should take the opportunity; and if you fancy a boat trip then make sure you go with Captain Tommy and tell him I sent you.)

One of my most poignant moments came on the Sunday, as I lay on Olu Deniz beach. It was perfect – a cloudless blue sky, 26C temperature, gloriously warm sea. I lay on my sunbed, read my Kindle and watched the paragliders drift down to earth from Babadag mountain. The only thing missing was my family, and that made me want to cry.

But the week wasn’t just a holiday – it was for fact-finding, information-gathering, making friends and contacts. I’ve learned that the best way of finding out anything is definitely to get out there on the ground and do it in person. I’ve already started online research of course – made virtual friends on the ex-pat forums and websites, asked questions and received some valuable answers. But you can’t beat being there.

As an example, let’s take finding a home. I’ve seen posts online from people looking for long-term lets. I’ve seen them repeated when nobody responds. If I’m honest, this made me a little anxious. What if we couldn’t find anywhere?

Now, I know it won’t be a problem. There are plenty of places available – you just need to know where to look. Maybe it sounds obvious, but while it’s all very well to Google ‘homes for rent in Fethiye’, if the estate agent’s website is in Turkish, it’s not going to show up.

I was very lucky to meet some wonderful Turkish people in Kayaköy, where I was staying – in fact, they are now friends. Having them on-side will make some of what we have to do that much easier and I’m already planning a return trip in a couple of months to sort out some of the necessary admin.

I can’t wait. I was so close to simply not getting on the plane home, and I wish I could wind time forward six or eight months……or maybe I’ll draw up a chart and tick off the days as they go by, as a child might do for Christmas.

One thing is for sure – if there had ever been the slightest doubt, it’s gone – my future is in Fethiye.

RP