The books are being packed up again. Munson has seen this before and seems to have an inkling of what’s going on.
We’re headed for Australia – all three of us – and expect to be arriving in Sydney a few days before Easter, that is to say at the end of March. This has been in the works for about six months now, and in fact we would have already been in Sydney except we had to re-vaccinate Munson and delay the countdown three months. Gustav has been simply bursting to tell the world for some time now, but I needed to wait until some more preparation was done.
After two and a half years on the French farm, the move is not being done lightly or without acknowledging how much I’ll miss the place and having Brent, Jean and the four growing Munsoneers next door. However work options for us in this part of France are severely limited (I have temporary residency at best, and Gustav has little open to him in a dominantly agricultural area other than minimum wage work), so a trip down under provides the most options. That doesn’t mean it’s permanent - especially if I don’t find work quickly – but we have a plan to follow and there’s no cost-effective Plan B that allows for Europe in the near term.
Our timetable has the movers collecting our furniture from here at the end of February. We will drive to Paris for a few days – notably because I haven’t been there since my two month stay in 2006, and neither Gustav nor Munson have spent any time there. From there, Gustav flies back to Sweden to get his final packing and paperwork done, and to act as best man at a friend’s wedding. Meanwhile, Munson and I continue on to the UK where we’ll say goodbyes to everyone. Around about March 25, I leave Munson with the pet transporters in London, and I fly to Copenhagen to join Gustav, and from there we fly to Sydney.
One of the reasons I’m spending three weeks in the UK is to finish Munson’s export preparations. It has been unnecessarily complicated to get this far with his French paperwork, and I quickly realised that it would be much simpler to get the export done from London rather than Paris. I don’t want to deal with any more local officials who ignore or disagree with the Australian quarantine regulations! I also found that it is significantly less expensive to go via the UK than use French transporters (where there is very little competition) who all blithely ignored the information I sent when requesting a quote, when they could be bothered responding.
To make this transfer work I had to obtain a Certificate of Equivalency from the Australian quarantine folks which enables Munson to move between two countries in the six months prior to export. Despite most of Western Europe being a borderless free-travel zone, and each country being rated the same by Australia, DAFF (the new name for AQIS) still has this six month rule. Through December I had a number of sleepless nights pushing paperwork between France, Britain and Australia with at least one catch-22 situation before I got the final approval a few weeks ago.
As soon as we get to London at the start of March, we’ll visit the pet transporters and get them to handle all of Munson’s final tests and shots. They’re the same people as handled Bondi’s travel in 2007.
He’ll be arriving about the same time as Gustav and me, but I probably won’t get to check in with him until after the Easter holiday weekend. He’ll be at the quarantine station until May 1.
The easiest part of the trip planning was getting a working holiday visa for Gustav: his online application was processed in less than 24 hours!
We’ll be staying in Woolloomooloo with my friend Vance when we arrive, as there’s no point in moving back into my house until the furniture arrives in late April/early May.
For now, I’m busy whittling down my life into “keep” or “discard” boxes, while searching for employment in Sydney. If you have any suggestions or leads – please let me know – I have a mortgage to feed!
Also, for friends in the UK, I’ve got plenty of time up my sleeve and don’t want to be hanging around London the whole time – although some visits to Munson’s Coffee & Eats Co is mandatory!