|With only four weeks till the moving van arrives, my mental checklist is becoming increasingly specific. Gustav catches me staring off into the middle distance, which is common enough with me, but now I have to explain that I’m mentally packing the items on the shelf over his left shoulder. |
The rooms full of books have been turned into rooms with some cardboard replicas of the basalt columns from the Giant’s Causeway. Bookcases have returned to their flatpack embryonic forms, and several cupboards of overflowing wires, widgets and paperwork have submitted to being distilled to a few crates of essentials.
We have one last guest arriving in mid-February, so I’m leaving everything else in place till he goes, otherwise the house will be left with all the ambience of an empty transport container.
The really big stake-in-the-ground milestone was booking our plane tickets while they were both available and affordable. That’s all done except for the short leg I’ll have to do from London to Copenhagen to meet up with Gustav after Munson’s been handed over to the pet transporters.
The remaining time has three stages for me: packing, Paris and “parading around Britain”. I got the Paris stretch mostly sorted today with a hotel booking, Gustav’s onward flight, and my ferry booking from Calais to Dover. So I arrive in London on Sunday March 3, and take Munson in to Heathrow for blood tests the following morning, and with any luck on to Munson’s Coffee for lunch immediately after that.
That gives us twenty days to catch up with all and sundry around the UK. So far I’ve pencilled in visits to Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, Wigan, Norfolk and Cambridge. I’ve half a mind to do another week long walk with Munson somewhere. If you have any suggestions or offers of a sofa for a night or two, please yell!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
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!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Gustav is back home from
I had asked that we not exchange Xmas gifts until his return, because I needed those four weeks to knit up the G*STAV sweater you see before you. I just had time to sew it all up yesterday and have a couple of minor tidy-ups to do as well as adding buttons. It’s just as well I took the needles and wool down to visit Claire last week so I could make some progress on the collar.
Gustav gave me something that’s been on my Xmas wishlist for a while now – a Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time apron. Rib Ragu coming up, bitches – someone is G*starving.
Munson’s present was having the natural order restored: now he’s back to two plates per meal to lick.
Thursday, January 03, 2013
|Saint-Sulpice-sur-Lèze lies about a half hour drive south of Toulouse. It is overlooked by the fifteenth century windmill of Pesquies (map). The current sails are purely a decorative addition to replace the long defunct originals after a local society was formed in the 1980s to restore the collapsing structure. One of its members has made a 1/10 scale model with moving parts. |
We took all the dogs up the hill for a run this afternoon. The windmill itself sits in a little open park with picnic tables, surrounded by ploughed fields. While Django and Coco went off to chase frisbees, Munson and I, together with Claire and her son Olly explored the windmill exterior. It’s open for inspection on Sundays and holidays or by arrangement by getting a key from the township.
There’s a French expression « Entrer comme dans un moulin » meaning that something is as easy to enter as a windmill. This is because they usually have two doors, in case one of them is blocked by the sails. The roof of the building rotates to move the sails into a favourable position.
|My day began with the sight of new sunrise-lit contrails slicing up the eastern sky. A few hours later Munson and I were driving in that direction to a location south of Toulouse where my Australian friend Claire and her family were staying for a few days. Their hosts Thierry & VB have some German Shepherd dogs to be introduced to Munson. I’ve made a lemon & thyme cake to bring – it looks a bit strange, like a house-brick with a cavity in the top, as I put in too much baking powder, it rose too far and then collapsed when I removed it from the oven to drizzle it with lemon syrup. I’m expecting that it will still taste fine. |
I was very pleased that the new dual carriageway road from Auch to Gimont is now complete, and so we shaved some time off the usual trek. We then turned south through Samatan and the southeast corner of the Gers that I haven’t visited since moving to the farm. It was here that I saw a very long unbroken tubular pillar of cloud that I’ve seen on other eastbound journeys. The last one sat very close to the ground from Vic Fezensac to Toulouse. I wonder if they’re a regular feature of this region where air moves between the Atlantic and Mediterranean north of the Pyrenées.
At our destination everyone was out for the afternoon except for Claire’s husband John, so I took some time to do a staged introduction to the two dogs Django and Coco. Beginning with Django the large male I followed a similar protocol as I had with King in Denmark last year. The two boys were given space and a chance to sniff each other before allowing both off leash. There was a bit of piss and vinegar at first but Django quickly got over and the two became quite solicitous towards each other. Coco the female was a bit more difficult but as long as Munson didn’t interfere with her toys she was OK. I took it as a good sign that all three dogs would come to me for reassurance and listened. Munson is bigger than the two of them put together but just wants to play.
Later in the afternoon when everyone was home, I had a delightful half hour in the spa, glass of champagne at my side while I looked out towards the Pyrenées as the sun set. Thierry le chef spoilt us all with a multi-course dinner while Claire kept the champagne flowing. Pop!