The end is nigh

I know that for sure as most of my camera gear is packed for shipping. Minus the batteries. Where will it end up? We shall see.

It is a very strange feeling. I feel little enthusiasm for the move. I am steeped in HK. All my friends are here. My work, such as it remains, is here. Going to Britain is not going to be easy for either of us. I was shocked when we went back 18 months ago. There seemed to be no equivalent of our Octopus card for example. Octopus is a stored value card that can auto-top-up. I rarely use cash in HK. Either the Octopus or a credit card. Britain still wanted coins for car parking meters. How very twentieth century. I could not recognise the coins and my good old fiver (ยฃ5 note) was rejected as it was out of date. I had forgotten how to get from A to B, both familiar places but lost not in the mists of time but in the pea souper fog of my memory.

For Mrs. Ha it is a great adventure. I have tried to make sure she has realistic expectations. Not everything will be perfect but we shall adopt the philosophy of the good Dr. Pangloss, that all shall be for the best in this the best of all possible worlds. Of course we may just end up cultivating our garden but we aspire to more than that. Mrs. Ha aims to go shopping (in Winchester???) and I intend to take photographs. Lots of them.

We have started moving into our temporary accommodation on HK Island. It is a nice enough apartment but I can’t see or hear any birds. Not even a Kite. Two weeks without birds and then how long on the other side? My camera gear fills half a room – no jest. I need to downsize. Some other time maybe. For now the removal guys will need a lot of boxes, bubble wrap and silica gel.

I have recycled a laptop and have sold a few things rather than throw them away. There is plenty to go into the facility provided by the movers – they give most of it to the Salvation Army or dispose of it responsibly. Still the process is painful and I have dragged it out over several weeks. An hour or two a day of decluttering. The house is stuffed to the gills and with 5 flights of stairs it is a good work out that frankly we don’t want.

Then I think about why we are going. Do we want to live in a city that is increasingly becoming just an extension of the PRC? Well we are part of the PRC but we hoped for longer before the 1 country, 2 systems structure started to crumble. We knew it would over time but the pace is accelerating and it does not feel good. HK has always had a strong capacity to reinvent itself and we hope it does so again. Hence our decision to keep a home here. In some ways a home in Britain is an insurance policy.

Despite my apprehension I am looking forward to seasons, proper seasons again. I am looking forward to smelling freshly mown grass, seeing Blackbirds on the lawn, hearing familiar sounds like the friendly call of the local jobsworth: “Oi! Stop that. It’s not allowed”. I am also looking forward to a better standard of driving. I can also tend my mother’s grave and visit my father’s ashes which have been blowin’ in the wind for well-nigh 30 years. I can watch rugby live instead of in the the wee small hours.

I discovered by chance yesterday that I had lost over a month of emails from a particular domain. If I searched under the name I found them but they were all marked ‘read’ (which they certainly were not) and then transferred to a folder marked ‘personal’. So they never showed up in my inbox. Hugely embarrassing. After scratching (inter alia) my head for a few hours a light bulb went on and I looked in Gmail’s filters. There I found not one but three filters I would never have created. They were a complete nonsense. I deleted all three and moved the ‘personal’ items back to my inbox. I spent most of the day sending emails of apology to people to whom I had not responded. How can this happen? Have I been hacked? I am baffled. Baffled of Sai Kung I shall henceforth be known as.

With that problem solved I can now return to the more mundane list of chores to be completed before we go. An international driving licence would be useful. My old UK one expired yonks ago and looking at the photo I must have been fairly youthful when it was taken. I also have to pay my tax up to date before I leave. Such are the trials of an international relocation. We are in a dark place at the moment but when we arrive at the pearly gates known as Waitrose I am sure we shall be blinded by the light.

Blinded by the light


37 thoughts on “The end is nigh

  1. Dear Baffled

    I hope everything goes well for you and Mrs ha, and that the relocation is not too painful. It’s almost like going to a new country for you, after the period of absence.

    Now I have to see where Waitrose is.

  2. I am confident that all the pluses you have listed will help to make the new home a destination that brings satisfaction and comfort to you and Shirley, Andrew. I would expect the hardest part will be the separation from your daughters.

    At this point in our lives, I shudder every time Mary Beth mentions that she thinks we will need to move to a simpler living situation as we get older. We live mostly on the first floor here, so I am not sure there is simpler…only more complicated with closer neighbors. The downsizing would be maddening.

    I would expect the movers will have a small barge set aside for the camera equipment.

    • Well we come back in March, Steve and Shirley is going to learn how to Skype. The camera gear is incredible when just stacked in a room but the really scary part is that I have the bare minimum insurance for it. The cost of replacement cost isn’t economic. If the cargo goes down then I will be a very unhappy bunny. Leicas and Fujis are going in hand carry!

      • The one time I traveled and had my camera equipment out of my control was a flight to San Francisco and back with two changeovers. I was horrified on the way home to be sitting in the plane and looking out the window to see my bags get the two-handed treatment into the hold. Just one of several reasons I would rather not fly again….although that will make a visit to you, should I ever get an invite, quite a long swim.

  3. You’ll be grand Andrew you will slip back into the old ways of roadworks, wrong sort of leaves on the line, spitfires flying over Winchester, trips to the coast for birdwatching, delays on the Winchester to Euston line, trips to the Bush Inn on the banks of the River Itchen nr Ovington. Plus shopping in Winchester might reduce the overheads ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Wrong sort of leaves won’t bother an old retired fogey like me, Craig. Roadworks are inevitable. Spitfires? Sounds good. And I may have to renew my Needs Ore permit after 20 years away. I hope it will be grand.

  4. Here, have some apple crumble. I have fished out the rhubarb seeing you don’t like it. Moving is traumatic, even or especially, to Pearly Gates type destinations. There will be lots of birds, green dales and frosty winters. Cows in meadows, hoary frost hanging from wire fences and dirt lanes leading to beckoning woodlands.

  5. Shurely “The relocation is nigh” ?
    Anyhow, not only frosty mornings, but Test Match Special in real time. The Today Programme every day.
    As you say – sport when it’s actually played. What’s not to like ?

  6. You are bound to be feeling apprehensive – it’s a huge deal to move back to England after so many years. But much better to feel apprehensive, than to arrive expecting everything to be wonderful and the answer to your prayers. There’s bound to be things that will piss you off about the UK but my hope/wish is that there are many,many things that you will enjoy and that make it all worthwhile for you. You don’t even have to visit Waitrose, you can do an on-line order and it will be delivered right to your door – more time to spend outside taking photographs or lazing on the village green listening to leather on willow while Mrs Ha and Lulu eat cucumber sandwiches. Your stylish range of titfers will be the talk of Winchester! Happy Days, Andrew and wishing you ALL THE BEST ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ah yes, leather on willow. I played a few times for a team called the Eccentrics against the Geriatrics. I suspect it would be the other way round now. If you took a wicket or hit a six you had to drink a pint of beer. I will probably join the girls for cucumber sandwiches instead, Lottie.

  7. Hi andrew i have been traveling a fair amount and have been a bit disconnected so i was quite surprised to hear of your move. When are you leaving HK? We were planning a trip in may and i was hoping to meet with you.

    Anyway good luck with the move and look forward to some entertaing posts as you settle into your new surroundings.

  8. Andrew I just don’t have words of wisdom today, I know what change does to me and what I read it is doing the same to you, we shut down, I’ll pray for you and send you lite, stay focused, it will eventually become clearer and familiar.

  9. I have experienced that feeling, that the end is surely nigh. In a way I suppose it is~an entire way of life is coming to a close. I am eager to hear how it feels when you are in Britain…after your eyes have adjusted of course.

  10. Oh gee willikers. Bet you never heard that one. Odd to say but I am apprehensive for you and Mrs Ha. When the novelty wears off, how will either of you cope without wishing you were back in a country with political unrest, overcrowding and severe pollution?

    As you have written, you have homes in both countries that serve as an insurance policy. If you get tired of one then go back to the other for awhile.

    Parting with your camera equipment for a month or more must be one of the most difficult aspects of this move. You have my sympathy. Don’t overdo on 5 flights of stairs.

  11. We’ll be virtual neighbours – county-wise. Winchester and its surrounds is beautiful – lots of photographic potential, interesting villages, arty towns (Stockbridge – the Greyhound does a mean lunch!) as well as wonderful walks along the Test. Hope you settle in soon and bring us lots of pictures of your new home. Wishing you and Mrs Ha all the best for a smooth move.

  12. There are so many “self-help” pep-talk articles and talk shows out there, Andrew. And in truth, all the misgivings and losses and dreads you’re experiencing will remain until…well, until new experiences and special little surprises begin filling in the void. It’s all part of the process. And you’ll adjust and come through it, and eventually you’ll find yourself adjusting and liking it.
    Capture your new life through the camera lens, and then share it with us.
    I wish you every success and much, much happiness.

    • Thank you Marylin. I have moved internationally many times but this is especially complicated and as I get older my appetite for change diminishes. Each time I say ‘never again’ and I hope it is true this time.

  13. I really feel for you, I had my fill of moving in childhood. I’m an army brat and my husband is a civil service child, so we spent our young lives moving houses. Since we married we have stayed put, and may even peg out here. I hope the seasons and Waitrose bring enough comfort, and certainly the blackbirds. The ones outside my writing room have discovered the tit feeder on the window and keep emptying it in seconds.

  14. I hope that HK will re-invent itself and the spirit of its people will prevail against the PRC.

    Winchester – had to look it up on Google. My spatial knowledge of the UK is pretty much limited to London plus an annual weekend hop to Midhurst for work. ‘Lo and behold, Midhurst is next to Winchester!

    Hope that the move (and shipping) goes smoothly, and that you’ll make new friends – homo sapiens and the feathery kinds – in your new home ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I’m pretty sure that you will especially enjoy nature in the different seasons again – unbeatable and I must admit that I couldn’t live without. So chances are becoming better to meet some day with Gerd’s retirement at the end of the year and lots more travel time. I’d love to travel in Britain again though I’m very drawn to Scandinavia at the moment and we plan a 2-3 months trip up there.
    Anyway, I wish you and Shirley (and diva Lulu of course ๐Ÿ™‚ ) a perfect move and all the best in your new home! And yes, you will have to deal with coins in the rest of Europe as well :p

    Herzlich Willkommen zurรผck in Europa ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Sandra. I’m sure we will settle but it may take time. I will need my nature fix PDQ. ๐Ÿ˜Š. Sounds like you have great plans. Enjoy!

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