A Change of Plan

25 Mar


For the last couple of months I’ve been writing a second diary that I didn’t post on the blog. It seemed too early to explain what was going on. But now it looks like a new adventure for us is really about to start. To explain, here are the main exerts from that diary. Well, I did warn you that the blogging would start again in earnest!

Here We Go Again

4th January 2014 

We make plans and then Fate laughs in our faces. The accompanying shove in the back can come in many forms. For us it was an email. Abu Dhabi police were after Neil.

The email was from Human Resources at his old Force. Abu Dhabi had Neil’s CV from an enquiry some time ago but they had lost his contact details. Would he like to get in touch with them about a possible job?  Well, would he? Four and a half years after turning his back on all that? Don’t be ridiculous. Well, yes, he would, actually.

I tried to leave the decision up to him but I, too, had heard that little bell that starts ringing, the warning of the on-coming express train, when dear old Fate has made her own plans. Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. I’m not at all sure where I’ll fit on this new course other than as the faithful sidekick but it looks like I could be about to find out.


And So It Begins

20th January 2014 

Neil has recently returned from spending a week at home in the UK. This previously unplanned trip became a necessity to sort out the paperwork to apply for a visa to work in Abu Dhabi. Now this is a right palaver. Pretty much everything in the way of education and training certificates along with his birth certificate has to be “notarised”, something we don’t do very often in Britain and, which we discovered when selling Seren Môr to an American, wasn’t as easy as in the States.

There aren’t that many notaries about outside of London. And this means they don’t come cheap! However, we did find a good one and it was logical to use him again. After being notarised the documents have to be sent to the Foreign Office and then to the UAE Embassy in London (each making a charge) which sounds like a rather drawn out process. Fortunately, the notary was able to take all this on and Neil was able to leave him to it. For a price, of course. 

We hit more of a problem when it came to getting the documents notarised that I would need for a visa, though. Once Neil has a visa he can then sponsor me as his wife so I can apply for mine to join him out there. For this we needed to go through a similar process for our marriage certificate. And guess what? We were married in Florida so it’s an American certificate not a British one which has to be dealt with in the USA. Whereas my birth certificate is British and has to be dealt with in the UK – two notaries, three government authorities (state and national level in the US) and two different embassies of a third government. And all this has to be done at the same time or it will confuse the embassies apparently.

Then there is the little matter of renting out the house. And what will we do with the caravan? Stay tuned.


Now We Wait

27th January 2014

With Neil now back here in Spain we wait to hear from the Abu Dhabi police. We should be here until the end of March but, assuming things like security checks are all ok, Neil will have to fly out to AD as soon after his visa is approved as possible. The problem is we have no idea how long that process will take. So we wait.

In the meantime we try to carry on as before, get back into our enjoyable routine, but the dynamic has changed. There is a feeling of doing things for the last time, of saying goodbye both to people and places. We go to favourite restaurants and do favourite walks because we don’t know if we’ll get chance to do them again before we leave. And yet we might. Will we still be around when that restaurant re-opens? Maybe. Will we get chance to spend a few days away? We probably shouldn’t. Will the almond blossom be out before we go? God willing. Or should I say “InshAllah”?


Heading Home

1st February 2014

Shortly after writing the last entry we heard the sad news that Neil’s father had passed away. This changes things as, of course, we want to be with his family and attend his funeral. So we’ve called it a day, packed up the apartment and are now heading home.

We’d like to think we will be able to return for a couple of weeks but, as the necessary paperwork is now in place for the Abu Dhabi Police to apply for Neil’s visa, this seems unlikely. Leaving was hard, though. We are aware that if everything works out it will be at least a couple of years before we even get the chance to return. We still talk of the UK as home and I guess it always will be where our roots are. Yet Jávea is where we have spent most of our time since leaving the boat in Messolonghi over a year ago, where we probably both actually feel most at home.

And, with the death of Neil’s parents, what constitutes home in the UK has irrevocably changed, particularly for Neil. For me, the house in North Wales is more Alex’s than ours. He has naturally stamped his character on it in our long absences and we return mainly to spend time with him. And life, of course, goes on without us. This wonderful, itinerate lifestyle does come with a price.



9th February 2014

Over a week after leaving Jávea, we’re still none the wiser about what is happening in Abu Dhabi. We’re beginning to wonder if the job is still going let alone if the visa has been sorted. If we are going over there, how long have we got before Neil has to leave?

We’ve both been really busy sorting out various things in preparation for leaving but at the moment everything is just on hold. Do we sell the caravan or get it ready to head off in it again? All the things that were conveniently stored in Hereford, near where the caravan is in winter storage, have now got to be moved to North Wales and room found to store them. Then, of course, if we sell, some will have to go back to the ‘van in Hereford for inclusion in the sale while the things we want to keep have to come out and be transferred to North Wales. We’ve already had a couple of people interested in buying it but we have to keep them waiting until we know what’s happening so we could easily lose a potential sale. Aghhh! It’s all so frustrating! Pour me another glass of the red stuff.


More Waiting

 23rd February 2014

So still we wait. The difference is we’ve decided to do it in Spain. Neil finally heard back from Abu Dhabi some three weeks after sending his documents to them. It sounds like things are actually starting to move over there but we still have no idea when he will have to fly out.

In the meantime the house in Hereford has been emptied and the keys are with the letting agent. The caravan is still in storage as we are reluctant to sell until we know for definite that this whole escapade is taking place. We’ll have to deal with that if and when the visa application is sorted and we head back to the UK.

But it’s good to be back. The apartment is as we left it, of course, although now considerably depleted of most of our possessions. We chose to leave the car behind in favour of a cheap flight and could only bring what we could carry in our suitcases. There’ll be no crates of cava on the return journey so we have to make the most of it while we’re here. Oh the hardship. I know what you’re thinking. How will they get on in a Muslim society? That should be interesting. Hmm.

2nd March 2014 

Another week has passed without hearing anything. There being absolutely nothing we can do and no timescale for change, the prospect of this new life has started to feel unreal and we’re glad we haven’t told many people about it.

It’s hard even to do any serious research on what to expect. Neil probably has more idea than I do about what it will be like, having worked in Jordan, but we are told it will be fairly liberal in Abu Dhabi. Women are allowed to drive!

I’m trying to be practical but it’s not easy. Just what do they mean when they say women should dress “respectfully”? Apparently a bikini is ok around a hotel swimming pool but bare shoulders are not acceptable in the street. No point buying that dress I fancy if the skirt is too short for me to wear out there. Just how short is too short anyway? Is a t-shirt respectful? What about skinny jeans or cropped trousers? I guess I’ll just have to buy a whole new wardrobe when I get out there. That doesn’t sound so bad.

16th March

Still no news so we’ve decided we’ll stay in Spain until the end of the month regardless of if we hear anything between now and then and have booked the flight for the 30th. So there.


A Text!

25th March 2014

Out of the blue, with absolutely no warning or further information, Neil got a text from AD today asking him what airport he wanted to fly from. Panic! Don’t book it yet, we’re not ready! A couple of emails later and it really looks like this is going to happen. Gulp.

We celebrated with a bottle of cave. Oh, and I bought a new hat.


7 Responses to “A Change of Plan”

  1. Liz March 26, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Wow this sounds really exciting.I have relatives in AD, Georgie & Lee Essen.They went for two years,three years ago! You will not have a cava problem Cathy. Will give you their details bit nearer the time.Love to both,Liz

    • lamputts March 26, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks Liz
      Reassuring about the cava!

  2. peteandlu March 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Wow! How exciting! Wishing you all the very best.

    • lamputts March 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Have a great sailing season. Will be following your blog to see what you get up to 🙂

  3. Lau March 27, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    All the best, I hope you will like living in Abu Dhabi! It is an amazing city 🙂

  4. Sarah March 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Well Neil, never thought I would see the day! Back into the fold. Congrats and good luck with it.

    • Neil March 28, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Thanks Sarah, the offer was a surprise to me, but looking forward to it – best wishes Neil

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