Today is the last day of term, the year has shot by. The students left yesterday but staff are in today. Those leaving are clearing out, those staying like me are tidying up.
So for me it was a chance to tackle the cupboard in my room. It brought back memories of clearing out my office a year ago.
There are a number of colleagues departing this year (the nature of International Schools with two year contracts I suppose. Qatar, Thailand, Uganda, Australia, Romania, Netherlands and the UK are all on the list of next destinations for colleagues.
The year has flown by. I have achieved a year without absence for the first time in many years (possibly only the second time ever!).
A year of teaching ICT – in many ways the same as ever but in so many ways different.
A year in which no child has been openly defiant, no child has sworn at me- these two are occurrences sadly unheard of in the UK. A year of well behaved and eager students, hot weather, wet or dry. A year of monkeys in the playground, exotic birds in the trees, new computers, old computers, power cuts and generators.
So the term is up and holidays about to start. You can follow our Summer travels on a new blog Victoria to Victoria.
After what has been the quickest term ever it now seems the clock is determined to right itself in this the last week as the clock ticks slowly towards the end of term and a well earned break.
The events of last year have taken their toll with the period from February to August consumed by sorting, clearing, dumping and packing as we left our old house. The period from August to now being consumed by moving and settling in to our new house our new roles and our new country. There have been a couple of hiatuses during our weeks away in Newquay/Cheddar and Serengeti respectively and the various bank holidays at home and abroad, but otherwise it’s been full on and much as I have enjoyed the term thus far and various activities such as the camping weekend,and the Wag Hill weekend and getting to know new colleagues/friends I am sorely in need of a break. For those ex-colleagues in the UK who have an extra week more of teaching I am not gloating when I proclaim that we break up on Friday. I need it, we need it and it can’t come soon enough. As for now the next 1.5 days seem an age away and I am longing for 2:15pm on Friday afternoon, and the subsequent three weeks off, not forgetting our Zanzibar trip!
Just hoping the clock ticks slowly in the three weeks ahead as much as this week and not like the clock has ticked for the rest of the year.
The journey from Milton Keynes to Mwanza will have been complete by tomorrow. The next phase will begin and the blog will follow our lives abroad.
I have completed a goal to blog each day until departure. I hope to produce some scheduled blog posts to tide us over the weekend, but posting from Africa will almost certainly reduce but we hope to share our experiences in a new place, our new home – Mwanza Tanzania.
Today I have been in possession of three cars.
The first was our own trusty Citroen which departed these shores at 5pm 😦
At 11am we picked up a hire car – a Vauxhall Zafira from a local AVIS. Fortunately I took out a policy which covered all damage and repairs. Within 3 hours I needed it as I left the house to find that one of the tyres was flat as the proverbial pancake. A phone call lead to a conversation with the AA where they were convinced there was no spare and I who had checked said there was. Eventually a nice man from the AA came to fix (I had far more pressing things to do and having paid £30 per day for the cover I was going to get my money’s worth). Unfortunately the tyre was one of those temporary jobs which only let you go a certain speed and shouldn’t be used for long journeys. Do we needed a new car. Because the Oxford branch don’t take phone calls, a lengthy phone call with AVIS ensued, in which I spoke with Barcelona? (unhelpful) and Swindon (helpful). This resulted in a replacement vehicle, an Audi Estate. The local office were very helpful face to face, so it was a good ending to a stressful day!
So we return to MK tomorrow for our day trip to collect injections and GCSE results (but not necessarily in that order), visit Guinea Pigs and friends( possibly in that order!), do last minute shopping. Thankfully in a car which can go more than 50mph.
T Minus 2
Late last night we finally completed our packing (barring a couple of last minute things). It was a mammoth job and in the end we’ve “bitten the bullet” and bust our weight allowance. As we’re moving to Tanzania rather than going on Safari we are comfortable with this and prepared for the added costs. There is still a tidy up to do – we couldn’t face that at midnight but we’re done.
Today we sell the car and hire one for the last two days. It’s an Estate Car and we’re gonna need it! Then hopefully an afternoon where we can chill and actually spend some time with our hosts.:-)
The title says it all, we have returned to Abingdon, where we left two weeks ago to go on holiday.
After two weeks away we must face the reality. When we left our house in MK we weren’t quite ready. The last few hours involved dumping everything else into bags, boxes and cases with very little time to sort. We have purchased things in Newquay and Lincoln which we need to take and need to be more ruthless with that we still possess.
So today we embark on the task of resorting, repacking and dumping the remainder (and it’s still a big remainder!).
We are almost certainly going to exceed our limit – but we need to reduce this to a minimum. We have electronic weighing scales and we need to get to as as close as 2x 23kg per person each as possible.
This is an early post ’cause there’s still lots to do, so we’d better get on with it!
Here’s a video of a song from the early ’90s based on my blog entry (not).
As we leave Lincoln I reflect that as awesome as the change we are about to make is; it is after all just another move, something I have done several times before.
I was not born here, but moved to Lincoln just before my 7th Birthday. At the time it was probably the most traumatic change, uprooting and moving half way across the country, settling into a new school, half way through the year, with a South East accent ‘Up North’. Nonetheless Lincoln became my home and though I lived here for less than 12 years I feel it is my home from home; partly due to the fact mum still lives in the house.
When I left Lincoln, it was for University and I didn’t move far. Nottingham became my home for the next phase. Another major upheaval as I was suddenly confronted by hundreds of people I didn’t know in a Hall of Residence. You make friends quickly in such circumstances! Nottingham in various rooms and flats and houses was my home for 4 years.
Leaving Nottingham to get a job brought me unknowingly to Milton Keynes, my home for almost 26 years. In that time I have rented and owned property; been single, in a relationship, engaged, married and had kids; worked in four different schools; attended two churches (one of those for virtually all of the 26 years!). As we speak Milton Keynes is the place we call home more than anywhere (Anita lived here a year longer than I although she lived in Canada, Jamaica and Malaŵi for 27 months).
Although this is a phase it has probably been several phases in reality, demarked by changes of job and circumstance.
I think that the longer your in a phase the more dramatic the change is when
it comes. We lived in the same house for 17 years, I have been in one job for 11 years and so the last 11 years has been a phase in itself. Getting up at 6:15am, out by 7:15am and on the road for the 50 min journey for start of work by 8:30am. Returning back home from between 4:00pm and 6:00 pm (7:30pm on Parent’s Evenings). Badminton for me on a Monday; Woburn Sands Band for the others Tuesday to Friday; Saturday Park Run and the Weekly Shop; Sunday Church at 11am. Life has been routine!
Currently we are between homes and have been touring the country, but this short phase is coming to a close and the next phase is about to begin!
Change is happening, more do than ever before but change has preceded it and in the end the new will become the new routine, a house will become home and a new life will ensue.
After our time in Cheddar meeting with Anita’s family, today a chance to touch base with mine, courtesy of Mum. My Aunts and Uncles are visiting along with one of my cousins. As we have grown older these gatherings have been fewer and farther between. It’s great to catch up and nice they could come. There are others in my family who aren’t here so to them fondest wishes too and hopefully we will be able to catch up when we return. Certainly we hope to keep in touch my electronic means.
Our grand tour continues as we make our way to Lincoln. Although not the place of my birth – it is the place I grew up in and now we have sold it is the closest thing to home there is (for now). A house I moved to in 1972 with lots of memories so a good place to reflect ahead of the move. I will feel the leaving of this place almost as much as my own home (perhaps more so as this was such a rush in the end).
It is a place I lived in until 1984, and came back to throughout the next four years whilst at University; rather like this visit with a tonne of washing (following our 10 days under canvas!). Even after 1988, it was still a home from home – especially in those years before 1993 when I bought my own house. Now we are homeless (in the UK) at least it has reverted to it’s prior role for the first time in 21 years.
Lincoln is the place I transitioned from
childhood through teens to adulthood; the place I became a Christian. Similarly MK was the place I transitioned from young adulthood to middle age; single to married to parenthood.
Life lived in phases (the seeds of another blog in that phrase alone!).
The next phase is rushing upon us – where will it lead and how will I (we) change?
For certain the next 5 years will see the transition in our family, as our kids finish school and start out on their own careers / university / college courses, becoming young adults (as I was when I left Lincoln). You never give up on being a parent but things will change, whether we go to Africa or not.
Time is flying fast and although much has been done, there still seems a number of things we need to do before we go and time is ticking.
We realised last night was our last in the UK as a foursome as we sat round the campfire at Petruth Paddocks in Cheddar
Son goes off to Soul Survivor (a youth camp) for 5 days whilst we three head for Lincoln. We regroup for the last frantic days of packing and repacking at Anita’s parents Abingdon but there we will be six.
Not until Tanzania will we have an evening together alone as a four.
Sitting here on a very windy (remnants of Hurricane Bertha) field at Petruth Paddocks in Cheddar and reflecting back on the past few months – it’s amazing to think how much “stuff” we had and how much we have got rid of. Living life in the UK we have accumulated so much. Not only the “stuff” but the house itself. It has been the most challenging part of moving out of MK.
From a worldly perspective this has all been foolish, we do believe however, God has a plan and we are just taking the first step. Both at church today (Cheddar Community Church) and in New Wine video we watched at Anita’s cousin (Phil’s) house, the theme was very much about taking risks and seeing it through; living with freedom to do anything, but with responsibility to do the right things.
It was great to catch up with Phil, Carol and family today and to see Anita’s Grandma too on holiday from Abingdon. Tonight a barbecue with Julian and Sandra (Anita’s cousins).
We certainly will miss family but equally looking forward to the adventure ahead.
Some people have wondered whether we will come back? Some people have questioned whether we will be able to? Some have said that coming back will be harder than leaving.
Have we burnt our bridges?
Are we embarking on a one way trip?
One Way Trip
In response to the last question first – it is not a one way trip in that there are flights at the end of contract. Whether that is two years (the term of the initial contract) or more (should we extend) is to be determined but we will return at some point to visit if nothing else.
Will we return for visits in between?
This is a little uncertain in the first two years; as much as due to the fact that we want to explore our new home a little (see East Africa Bucket List), also because we want to make a go of this venture. There are tentative plans for my mum to come out in and around my 50th in Jan 2016. However, we probably won’t come back before Summer 2016.
Beyond that we would hope to return periodically, should we stay on longer. My new colleagues seem to be able to do so every one to two years so it seems feasible. Although to begin with we will be 4 then 3 , so cost will be steeper, it will be possible to save, as our outgoings will be relatively low.
Of course all these thoughts lie in the future. We will know more when we are out there.
In an ideal world and with agreement we would want to be out at least 5 years to allow my youngest to complete her education. Beyond that, who knows? In a sense the “world will be our oyster” and other International Schools might be an option, or staying put in Mwanza or returning to the UK.
Returning to the UK
We have sold, and consequently exited the housing market, as such we are burning bridges. However, if I returned to the UK, it would be with a job, I am certain. We are not afraid of renting in the first instance and we would be looking to downsize. Again this is all for the future.
Plans and Purposes
As Christians we believe God is in this. We believe that He has opened doors, smoothed paths and solved the seemingly impossible. So in this vein we also believe that the future will work out in the right way. A year ago I was wandering around Phnom Penh in the rain. I could never have imagined the year that would lie ahead. We are taking this first step in faith – who knows where it will lead?
So here we are at last. Our last morning in MK. Our last day in the house. Two days and a lot of clearing / packing later we are ready to leave. There’s still a lot to sort and to cull (in the end we had to pack without sorting – there was just too much to do in too short a time) but that must wait. All the “stuff” is in Abingdon barring one last car load. We will return there in two weeks after a break in Cornwall, Somerset and Lincoln and a day in Bicester.
Waking up to a near empty house is weird – less so because our bed is staying – but still weird. There was no food in the house and so off to Dobbies for breakfast (MK garden centre – known for it’s cheap and filling breakfasts). We had forgotten that this was the venue of St Mary’s monthly drop in / breakfast – so it was great to catch up one more time with some SMB folk especially as many of those there were in our Home Groups over the years.
Then back home (for the last time) to tidy up. It actually takes a lot longer than we imagined, the remaining contents fills our car to the brim and then it is a vacuum through and a final trip to the dump.
In addition a mountain of pink sacks deposited with rubbish that will have to wait for collection.
So we leave our home (already it’s someone else’s house) and head off to Abingdon. We’re on route to Newquay, but it’s taken so long we’ve decided to stop over for the night and travel down a day late for 10 days under canvas. So concludes the first phase of our move to Mwanza!
We had a good day yesterday but in the end we were just not able to get everything into our car (and our in-laws). After three car loads we decided to call it a day – stay one more night and head off in the morning. So it’s now 1am we are returning from my in laws (Abingdon) back to MK for the very last time. The kids have gone with their Aunt and we shall all rendezvous for a well earned holiday in Cornwall tomorrow evening. The house is virtually bare but we have another car load / dump trip / charity shop visit to do before we go. We have barely had time to contemplate the end of our time in MK. I think the time of reflection will come in the next week. So many memories, so much of my life in this one town. More of this In posts to come I am sure.
Very short post today.
Still here in MK – I honestly don’t know how we’re going to get everything done. When you have a big thing to do there’s a reason it’s called a mountain. It’s not just the height it’s the gradient!
It’s been a much tougher day than expected. So much so we have had to modify plans. The in-laws are back tomorrow, the kids are staying here tonight. There is still so much to do and we need to attack it head on.
Today we have cleared the kitchen and identified that which we’re giving / dumping taking. We did similar in the bathrooms. The kids are virtually packed but we haven’t really started on our own. One problem we knew we’d encounter was the sheer volume of stuff we want to take compared to what we can take. We might need an extra case!
A long day ahead but we’re worrying as to whether we’ll do it.
Another problem is the car. We own it but need to sell it. The only problem is that our dealer, Perrys want to give us a ridiculously low figure, so we’ll need to try and sell privately, but have lite time to do it. Another hurdle to clear.
So here we are – temporary tenants in our old home. Yesterday we exchanged, however, our buyer is content for us to remain in situ until the weekend. So begins the last three days in MK and the final clear and pack. It’s a big job, but we’re glad to have Anita’s parents down to help out. Time is definitely against us and do much is now being tipped or given to charity including stuff we’d rather have sold but such is the way of things.
Difficult decisions lie ahead there is no way I can take all the clothing I want too!
We live our technological western lives surrounded by data. Electronic binary crammed full of personality. The data itself is invisible taking up no volume. The media upon which it’s stored is heavy and takes up space, space we can’t necessarily afford.
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