Time for an update: five weeks ago today, I arrived in England from Hong Kong for the start of a whole new chapter in my life. Everything still feels odd and unsettled, as if I’m just on an extended trip ‘away’.
The reality is that it has been a long, exhausting process to get here, some of which I’ve documented a couple of blogs ago. Still in a holding pattern waiting for touch-down are my shipment from HK (all my stuff!), the exchange of contracts on the house I’m hoping to buy, and seeing a rheumatologist here.
So, in order: the shipment should have already arrived at port and is going through whatever it needs to go through for HMS Customs to clear it for delivery to me. That should be fun, too, as the road where I’m currently renting a house is not so much a road as it is a pretty, pink brick-paved drive. How a gigantic container lorry is going to squeeze its way down here will be an interesting thing to behold.
The house I’m hoping to buy is just around the corner from where I am now. It’s a new build — about 5-6 years old — and stands three storeys tall. Yes, that’s right: THREE.
I still laugh when I think about it, although the possibility that I may have to install not one but two stairlifts if my knees give out usually wipes the grin off my face. It’s been about eight weeks since my offer was accepted; the purchase process for property here moves painfully slowly. According to my solicitor, they are now waiting for the final search (?) to come in, any queries to be put to the vendor’s solicitors and then, all being well, it’s time to hand over the dosh and sign contracts.
The rheumy: I went to see my local GP just over a week ago, and he put in a referral for me to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. I was told that on the NHS (National Health Service), I would have to wait between 6-8 weeks before I could hope to get an appointment with a rheumatology specialist. So I filled in the requisite forms, provided proof of my identity and eligibility for free treatment under the NHS, and waited. This morning, I got a call: a cancellation means I now get to see a rheumy on Monday!
(And in the meantime, the local GP office has arranged a repeat prescription of my meds.)
Update 13/9/13: in HK, consultation fee with rheumy specialist was HK$1,600 a pop. Meds on top of that averaged around HK$4,500 for 4-6 weeks’ supply, including the mandatory blood tests… Meanwhile, here in Blighty, rheumy specialist consultation on Monday (6 weeks sooner than I was warned I would have to wait) and blood tests will cost nowt. And on prepayment scheme for prescriptions, my meds will cost less than 20 quid for 8 weeks’ supply. Blimey.
Some things work really easily and painlessly here. Setting up internet access was a breeze, and all done via email, pretty much. I applied, they approved, and posted the modem/receiver to the house (I hadn’t arrived in the UK when it was delivered, so the postman tucked it in a corner by the back door, where it remain safe and untouched for several weeks!) and a friend of a friend came by to help set it up and ensure that I didn’t plug things into the wrong places.
He also set up our blissfully beautiful, easy and very clever ‘smart TV’ for us: high-def, internet access (so we can get online movie channels, BBC iPlayer etc), and more Freeview channels than we’ll ever watch. Take that, NowTV!
But life likes to deal out a sharp smack around the back of the head every now and then, just to make sure we’re not coasting along thinking how clever we are. I got my head-slap with the purchase of a previously-owned car: all seemed well, the timing was perfect and I would be able to collect the car at the same time as I had to return the hire car.
Then, two days AFTER the dealer had banked my cheque, I got a call: the previous owner had put personalised number plates on the car and the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) would have to re-issue the vehicle’s “log book” (don’t ask me) with the original number plates before it could be delivered to me. How long would it take, I enquired politely, pointing out that I was due to return the hire car in three days.
“Up to two weeks, maybe longer,” they said.
That was when I had my first “wtf you’re having a f*cking laugh” moment since leaving HK. Long story short: between the DVLA, the car dealer and the car hire company, I was royally screwed and the whole sorry mess ended up costing me nearly 900 quid extra in car hire fees as I waited for a bunch of blokes to sort out a mess that was none of my doing.
I finally collected the car (after a fair amount of tears, snot and anger) only to discover the next day that there were two big chips in the windscreen, which weren’t there when I viewed and bought it — but which the car dealer refused to fix because “it passed the MOT with those chips so they are not deemed a problem”.
Cue second “wtf” moment.
Thank god for fully comprehensive insurance with windscreen cover, is all I can say. A lovely man from Autoglass came out to the house and replaced the entire windscreen in less than an hour.
(The car dealer has offered no compensation at all, not for the inconvenience, or the windscreen cost, or nearly a grand in unplanned car hire…. I am wondering if it’s time for a class-A “Hong Kong gweipor hissy fit”.)
But still, I count my blessings: my youngest is loving her new school, my eldest is loving being back in London after nearly dying of boredom here in Wymondham, the cats have recovered from the ordeal of their journey here and are eating again (and getting very excited about “Outside”), Mr Chan has arrived (albeit struck low by the dreaded, deadly Manflu since his arrival), work is progressing nicely now I’ve settled down into a proper routine, my BFF and her family have been blessed rocks of support and help… there are many, many more things I am thankful for.
Oh, apart from a constant series of niggling flares over the past two weeks or so: today, my left index finger and joint are inflamed, hot, and swollen like a balloon. Still, at least my knees haven’t given out, which is handy now that there is now Upstairs and Downstairs.
Oh, and a quick reference to the title of this blog post: last Saturday (7 September 2013), my other half and I spotted what we thought was the tail-light of an airplane in the night sky. It was very, very high up among the stars, but it wasn’t until it suddenly paused, then moved abruptly and erratically in a zigzag motion that it dawned on us that it might be something else altogether… Which is when it disappeared, justlikethat.