On a surprisingly sunny day Tania and I found ourselves walking with a bounce in our step, almost skipping, down to our local travel agent John Allan Travel with one single objective etched firmly on our conciousness….. today was the day that we were going for it, the day that we splashed the cash, doled out the dosh and unequivocally committed ourselves to our journey….. today we were going to buy the tickets.
I have to say that Pat and John are splendid people. We spent a really pleasant hour in their company as they endeavoured to find us the best deal to get the 5 of us started on way. So, 15th September we leave London Heathrow bound for Bali Denpasar via Singapore with Singapore Airlines. A great deal on the price too, and really really great customer service in the very traditional and excellent British tradition.
Floating back home in giddy excitement, hearts fluttering, the two of us were like little children who have just been given the best Christmas present ever. Even the enormity of the tasks left to do to get ourselves organised, and the half-packed house couldn’t dampen our spirits. This is it (again), we are on our way!!
When we picked up the boys from school later that afternoon, it was difficult to contain our excitement as we walked home and then broke the news to them. Gauging their reaction was interesting – there were squeals of delight, but it was tinged with sadness as they realised that they would soon be leaving behind the life they knew and the friends they had made during their short but colourful lives.
Galvanised by our recent purchase we then set about clearing the house with earnest and a large helping of ruthlessness. What do we keep, what do we sell, what do we bin? Skip organised we braved the loft. A daunting task, one prone to procrastination of the highest order. However, we attacked it with the determination of zealots, cutting through the dust and heat. Tania looked very fetching in her HazMat suit and cycling glasses as she lowered all of our accumulated junk through the hatch where it was transported outside to the garden for us to sort through. Working like madmen we pushed on until early evening before we collapsed, job done, with a much warranted glass of wine in our hands. What a sense of accomplishment we felt. The one task on the list we were most dreading was over.
The pattern of the weeks since then has been somewhat uniform. Revolving around school runs, work, boxes, and a never ending stream of Removal People coming to assess the volume of our chattels and quote us for the privilege of removing our worldly goods to their storage facilities. Now I am the first to confess that I am not an expert in removals. Working out how much space one’s household condenses into is most definitely not an exact science. But, how can two industry experts with more than 15 years experience each arrive at two totally different answers? One tells us we will have 1600 cu ft (46 cu m) and another tells us 900 cu ft. Three more quotes later and we still haven’t arrived at a consensus although the latest ones seem to be converging at least towards the 1000 cu ft mark. Still, let us not be down hearted brothers!
So as the end of the school term drew ever closer, the boys’ excitement and sadness intensified in equal measure. It is difficult to understand all of the angst that occupies a young boy’s mind, but not too hard to realise that the end of term coupled with the move to France coupled with the trip of a lifetime equated to some feelings of insecurity and a sense of woe as the boys realised that this was the end. That after term finished, we were off and they would never see their friends again. We all know how melodramatic children can be, but it would melt even the hardest of hearts when faced with a weeping child lamenting the loss of his school friends, forever. Such was the scenario I was presented with when Oskar, during a “Why are you behaving so badly?” talk, dissolved into tears. Its not too difficult to make the link between insecurity and bad behaviour, so reassurance and empathy are definitely the order of the day at the moment. Sympathising, I explained that although we were going to the other side of the world (I can be melodramatic too) there was still the internet, email, skype, and even paper and pens and a postal service! And that once we were back in Europe, it was not inconceivable that visits could be arranged for both him, and his friends. And it wasn’t just Oskar, but Luca and Mateo too. Sympathetic mothers of friends leaped into action and a series of after school visits to friends’ houses ensured that final goodbyes were made.
We arrive to the present day. School over, house more than half packed, house clearance sales (one down and one to come), skip a little over half full. Will we be ready? Will the list of things to do ever get done! I think so. We made a short walk down to the travel agent and soon we will be making a giant leap from Heathrow to Bali