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March 2011

Some news…

Some news…

by Clare Mansell
Banana Smoothie on the beach

It’s been a stupidly chaotic week here in Cyprus – We are now 3 weeks into our 7 weeks without belongings (discovering more and more things we need, and are missing by the day!) and just when I thought I’d seen enough rearranged furniture and boxes, they decided to repaint my office! Maybe it’s because I’m a Leo, but it’s hard not to feel a little feline about all this disruption… The suitcases are out, things are being moved, my world is ending! I think the dogs feel it too, and who can blame them!

I also spent the middle of the week sneezing my head off, then exhausted my supply of books I had kept out to last me till we leave, the hot water system packed up in the house first producing nothing but hot, then producing nothing but cold before finally being fixed, and at the end of it all, we spent this morning in the local hospital….

But don’t panic, we have good news at the end of this crazy week! The hospital trip was for my 20 week scan! It’s time to let the cat out of the bag…We are expecting a baby in August, and despite the moving, the boxes, the house falling to bits and all the rest of the chaos, all is all progressing very well and I have been exceptionally lucky to have been healthy throughout the pregnancy…so far!

There are two little bits of trivia that make this baby’s impending arrival interesting. Firstly, in this family humans and hounds alike have all been born in their own individual country and that trend will continue. Husband was born in Bahrain, me in England, Big Dog in Canada, Small Dog in Cyprus, and the baby will of course be born in Scotland…

Secondly the husband and I have birthdays 3 days apart and by some incredible timing (people ask if we planned it!!) the baby is due right in the middle of them… It’ll be interesting to see if it manages to arrive on time!

So why the photo of a banana smoothie? Well firstly I hate to post without a picture (and the scan ones from this morning were pretty dreadful) but also we spent a wonderful afternoon at our local beach bar yesterday right on the waterfront, lapping up the early summer sunshine… and that was my oasis of calm this week. I hope whatever your week has been like, you found one too…

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This moving business….

This moving business….

by Clare Mansell
Removal Lorry

Now that the chaos has passed, I thought I’d do a post explaining a few things about how a military move works…

First of all, in the British Army you generally move to a new job every two years, but people do often leave posts early on promotion, or if a position is axed.

Most forces families spend an entire career moving around locations within Germany and the UK, we are the exception. Our next house will be our 5th home in 4 countries in less than 4 years of marriage – even by military standards that’s a lot!

We do get a degree of choice about where we go, but the ‘posting preference form’ serving personnel fill in is also known as the “dream sheet” because it’s rare to actually get one of your top job choices. Our last three postings have all been near the bottom of the list, and as such have been a complete surprise!

When we move we are given a shipping allowance based on the size of our family and the place we are posted to. Inside mainland Europe, the allowance is about 80 cubic metres 67 cubic metres, which is a house full of possessions. Further afield like Canada or Cyprus it is much less, currently just 10.6 cubic metres for the two of us. When they collected our removals on Friday we were 4.5 cubic metres over our allowance, and we will be charged for that…

Regardless of the location you are posted to the military gives you the option of having your quarter furnished. Naively when I first took on a house (as a single civilian working for BFBS) I agreed to take it furnished not realising how bad the furniture would be. 5 years later I am very familiar with the MODs nylon covered sofas, 1970s plywood dressers and rock hard beds and so we recklessly use up part of our allowance (2 cubic metres!) moving a bed around the world with us!

Unlike a move within the UK, when you are posted between countries it takes time for your possessions to reach their destination, during this time you live with a couple of suitcases of belongings and a thing called a Get You In/Out Kit, which contains basic kitchen equipment and bedding.

And finally nothing comes from free… There’s an odd myth that persists that military quarters are free to live in, not only are they not free, but when we are based overseas we have to pay a sum in lieu of UK council tax on top of our rent! Rent on houses is scaled according to their condition, a house like the one we are currently in, with no central heating and kitchen and bathrooms which haven’t been updated for 50 years, are cheaper than more modern houses.

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In the thick of it…

In the thick of it…

by Clare Mansell
Removals day

Just a brief explanation for my absense from the blog. Today is removals day in Cyprus, we are waving goodbye to all but a few suitcases of our belongings for the next two months. I have briefly taken myself away from the chaos while the crew load the van, we’ve no TV or radio, but thank heavesn we still have internet! The dogs have been banished to the garden since we started this 7 hours ago and are not impressed!

It’s only 18 months since we last packed up our home and it’s always stressful… I’ll check in again with a full update when calm has returned!

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