Thursday, 31 July 2008

including the kitchen sink

I might have lied about the fact that we managed to fit our whole life into the back of our estate car. Turns out that that was only the first part of what we need to take. We had to go and buy a roof rack, enormous roof thingy and we still can't fit everything in and the ferry is first thing tomorrow morning. And the dog has rolled in something so disgustingly whiffy that the indescribable smell will infiltrate the whole car for the whole of the hot, stifling 3 day journey to BiH. Mm mm. Really looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Admin is the key

Slowly we crawl towards the emigrating status. D has returned triumphant, already morphing the memories of a long, hot car trip with grumpy people into an epic journey, memories of which will be embroidered over late night beers for years to come. More importantly he also brings with him our notarised document with a proper looking red sealed stamp and everything which states that I have his permission to travel on my own with the kids. The appointment with the vet to get the last minute health checks for the dog is drawing near. I'm repacking various bags to try and get rid of some of the rubbish I seem to think is indispensable.

We actually leave on Friday, and are driving out with the dog, but leaving the boys in London with my Mum before I fly back in 10 days or so to pick them up. Mum, very sensibly, has looked at the prospect of 10 days with 2 rampaging toddlers shouting 'poo poo face' and (newly today - oh the joys - and annoyingly this time it is me who is guilty) 'bollocks' and has hired a nanny. The lovely Nalge, who has spent years working with a family in Hongkong is arriving on Thursday. I'm just hoping her lovely HK family weren't too beautifully behaved and she's used to the delights of male toddlers and won't be too embarrassed by A's latest favourite discussion about whether willies should be inside or outside of pants.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

poo poo face

A has been having a marvellous time recently hanging out with some slightly older children. He is enthralled by them all and has enthusiastically joined in the craze for calling everything poo poo face which he obviously finds absolutely hilarious. L (already one of Trouble's closest friends) also finds it hilarious and is desperately trying to copy his big brother. I'm not all that thrilled - L only has a total vocabulary of about 15 words, and I really am quite keen for 'Mummy' to be added to this list before 'poo poo face'.

There are a number of upsides though - for once it wasn't my boys teaching other toddlers new tricks (a fellow mothers union member is still trying to persuade her daughter not to pull her nappy down in the middle of the road for a quick standing up wee).

Slightly more worryingly, once we get to Bosnia the boys will pick up the language far faster than we will, and I'm going to be completely unaware of what delightful things I am being called whilst in 'mean mummy' mode. On balance, probably a good thing.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Why? It's a very good question.

Although we shut up our house a week ago, we have yet to actually start our journey out to BiH. I've made it as far as London, but D, seemingly unperturbed by the fact he is to drive across Europe next week, has decided to drive across Europe. Together with his best man he is currently somewhere in France as part of the Rust Bucket Rally and sweltering in a car which is not only beige and decorated in an Elvis theme but also worth less than £200 including the petrol. If they break down and miss their flight back home the chances that I will be very cross are very high, so his mechanic skills had better be on form.

The boys and I have been taking this opportunity to catch up with a whole bunch of people who I haven't seen for a while, and certainly since we turned this crazy plan to emigrate to Bosnia into more than just bravado. Seeing so many people has meant that I have had to answer over and over again the question 'why are you going?'. We enjoy our life in the UK, have a whole bunch of lovely friends, live in a lovely city, do lots of fun stuff. No, we are not going because we don't like England. Rather it is more that we felt we needed to get out of our comfort zone. It would be so very easy not to go, and believe me there have been times when I secretly wished that we weren't. Ultimately, when all is said and done, the main reason we are going is because in two years time we would be kicking ourselves if we hadn't. I'm not sure if that is a good reason, but it is good enough for me.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Interesting times

The news of Radovan Karadzic's arrest in Belgrade has bought sharply contrasting reactions from the Bosnians. Some are dancing on the streets - in Sarajevo and Tuzla there were celebrations all night. Others, mainly in the Bosnian Serb section of Bosnia are furious, especially at the perceived betrayal of the Bosnian Serbs by the Serbians proper. Many in Serbia itself are angry, flags of Karadzic were waved at a Serbian football match in Belgrade by masked supporters.

Bosnians are glued to the news and they believe that the ICTY (the International Court which tries those accused of war crimes during the 1992-95 war in the former Yugoslavia) has specific evidence as yet unseen which will convict Karadzic of the crime of genocide throughout all of Bosnia, not just in Srebrenica.

We are not in Bosnia yet, still conducting the round Britain odyssey bidding farewell to our nearest and dearest. I am sad not to be there to witness the reactions to this news but looking forward to getting there to watch the political developments and their impact on individual Bosnians.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

sad nursery good byes

We're doing quite a lot of 'last time we'll' at the moment. Today was the boys last day at nursery, and I really was quite sad. I love their nursery, it is small, friendly and the staff that were there when I first put A in 2 1/2 years ago are still there now.

More importantly the boys absolutely love it. Although there have been moments when they weren't sure about the whole nursery concept (L in particular took a long time to settle in and then when he finally did, he had a period of time when he would choose the wrong thing to ease his teething pains...)they now race in, looking for their friends and the toys they want to play with. I've made friends with the other mothers and enjoy the picking up time social activity which doubles up as a time to devise plans for non-nursery days. Yes, we will really miss nursery and the people there.

What we are going to do for childcare in Bosnia is an ongoing worry for me. We did look round a nursery when we were there in September, but there were 2 grumpy middle aged chain smoking women looking after about 30 children. A far cry from the 3 lovely, smiling, fag-free women who look after 8 of them here.

Of course we could think about a nanny or an au-pair but it would take me time to around to get my head around that concept. Also, I like the social element of nursery and would be sad to give up the toddler play element that a nursery provides.

I suspect this will be an issue that runs and runs, and until we actually get to Bosnia and can look closely at what is available I can't actually do anything about. I can't help but hope that we find something that the boys love as much as their current nursery.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Gotta love estate cars

You would not believe it. We have managed to fit in everything we need for the whole family to live in Bosnia into the back of our car. Admitedly the boys are not driving over with us so we have been able to put the back seats down (and use their flying allowence to transport most of their clothes). Even so, a full on proper heaven sent miracle.

In order to acheive this mighty feat there has been some hard bargaining. Things were classified as essential and luxury, although not without argument.D's attempts to pass off a crate of fine red wine as essential was stopped at source.

There have been some tough ones though. L's favourite toy of the moment is a push along Thomas the Tank Engine which is just to big to put in the car. He has just got old enough to really enjoy it, and I do feel guilty that we are putting it into storage. A loves his scooter more than anything else, but again, it is quite big and bulky so didn't make the cut. I guess part of the payback of the brutal culling of stuff that has been going on is that we'll have to take a trip to the shops in Bosnia and buy most of it back.

Whatever D says, I bet they don't have may favourite saucepan, now languishing in storage.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

TRAGEDY (at least a tragedy the girls will understand)

So I did pack a black tie outfit (see June 21st post if that statement sounds ridiculous). At least not a full blown floor length gown but certainly something that could smarten up nicely. Just in case you understand. There I was feeling all smug when a cold realisation dawned. The shoes... the shoes... where are the shoes? Surely not? Oh yes, the shoes have gone to storage. And not only are they languishing in some metal box, they are right at the back, behind the other 70 odd boxes that are in there. I dare not ask D if we can go back and look for them. Instant death and/or divorce. No, shoeless I must bravely venture forth and hope for no invites to smart events.

Monday, 14 July 2008


Just when it was all going so well...

We had checked the Foreign Office website, honest. It was just that, what with having lived in Bosnia already and been back to visit last year, we hadn't checked it very recently. Turns out that since Bosnia has signed the SAA (stabilisation and association agreement which puts them on track to talk about joining the EU at some point) they have really tightened up on border controls. No longer is it the wild west.

So now we have a number of issues that need to be dealt with.
- I can't bring the boys to Bosnia on my own without a letter from D giving his consent to our travel that has been notarised by a proper notary.
- We need a police check confirming that we don't have a criminal record

I can go on (and on and on). There are issues with the car. There are issues with how long we plan to stay. There are issues with health cover. All of these require documents and will take time, something we don't have a whole lot of.

Should have read the bloody advice. I thought we had quite a lot to do before, now we really are snowed. Ah well, you live and learn.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

hungover packing

Having shipped the mayhem creators off to Grandma's so we can really get down to packing, we totally blew it by going out last night, drinking a lot of wine and beer, getting back home at 3am and then not getting up until 11. It has to be said that being hungover is a lot easier when you don't have children around, but extremely bad for packing productivity. Worth every pounding of the head though, as it has been a long time since D and I went out together to a pub with mates and we really had such fun.

Not having the little angels around on a Sunday morning also allowed me to indulge in my favourite radio activities. Actually listening to The Archers Omnibus, followed by Desert Island Discs and then I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on Radio 4 is one of life's great pleasures. It certainly helped the hungover packing to be a little less excrutiating.

Knowing that I become more English as soon as I leave these shores, I am comforted by the thought that through the wonders of technology, I'll still be able to keep up with the events in Ambridge listening online.

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Fear

With a week to go before we leave our home, I have finally reached that moment in time when I know that there is not enough time left to do everything that needs to be done. When I was studying this moment used to be known as 'The Fear' and was a necessary part of any revision schedule. It is only when The Fear strikes that anything gets done in any meaningful scale. Sure enough, I have done more today than in the whole of the past week. Helped by giving up my momentary ebay addiction, this is a house that is looking as if people are moving out, rather than a house that just looks as if a bomb has hit it. Long may this period of frenzied activity last. We might even move out next Saturday as planned.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Saturday night .. at the movies?

D and I have an odd dilemma. Faced with the mountains of packing still to be done we're shipping the boys off to Grandma's for the weekend. This means that for one night only we will be child-free. No need for babysitters, no need to rush back. We can go out and do whatever we like. This can include pubs, drinking and maybe even a spot of dancing. We can go to a late night movie. This is our chance for a big night out before we leave.

We're not sure what to do though. Or, given that most of our local friends also have kids and are not therefore footloose and fancy-free, who to do it with. We haven't been in this situation for years. I'm quite enjoying it. If I devoted as much thought time to packing as I am to Saturday night, we'd be in Bosnia by now.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

rain rain go away

There are many things that I will miss about England. This weather is not one of them.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Enjoying the music

Hand in hand with worrying about losing the Mothers' Union in my day to day life, I worry about losing all my local knowledge. Here I know how to get things done, who to call, where to go and who to ask. I know what there is to do round here and when there are big events to go to. In Bosnia we'll be reliant upon a much smaller group of people to let us know how to do things and what is going on.

In our last few weeks in the UK we've been making a conscious effort to do all those things that are on our doorstep. We've used the splash parks and adventure playgrounds and been swimming (a big thank you to the City Council for making all this free for children). We've watched cricket games and rowing races and looked at dinosaurs in the museums. Yesterday we braved the rain and went to a music festival and danced the day and quite a lot of the night away. The boys were in seventh heaven, particularly with the fairground rides and we even got to listen to some music. This morning A was full of talk about the day, chit chatting about the songs he had heard and the other children who were there.

Obviously there are many events in Bosnia which we can go to, and they also have much better summertime weather in which to enjoy such jamborees. But I still worry that not only will I have less day to day activities to do with the boys but somehow we might miss out on some bigger special treat type events. And when I think back to my childhood it is the special treat type of events that I remember most fondly.

Friday, 4 July 2008

All hail the Mothers' Union

Of all the things that are worrying me about moving to Bosnia there is one that stands out above all others. Here, in the UK, I have quite a well developed network of friends with children who can be relied upon to swoop to the rescue on those days when the toys are literally being thrown out of the pram. Today was one such day. A put on his best 3 year old I am atrocious face and was full of whinge and whine from the word go. Nothing was right, he didn't want to do anything, but also didn't want to do nothing. Battering his brother and hording every toy was leading to on-going screaming from both parties. D and I, already grumpy from packing, were not responding well.

This was a job for the Mothers Union. A few phone calls later and the boys and I were out in the woods with other toddlers and other adults and everyone was enjoying themselves. Admittedly the adult enjoyment was enhanced by the appearance of coffee and croissants from an enlightened Mummy, whilst the toddlers seemed to be happy to have other toddlers with whom to make mud pies. The day was rescued, sanity saved and everyone reached the end of the day tired, but happy.

The prospect of not having this network in Bosnia is simply terrifying. Furthermore, my Bosnian is pretty sketchy so not only do I need to find people with appropriately aged children who I like, but I have to find people with appropriately aged children who I like AND who speak English. I suspect it is going to take me a while. In the meantime, I'm fully expecting us to endure some dreadful days. I suspect it is the development of this network which will decide whether our time in Bosnia is a success or not.