Monday, December 29, 2008

God and dogs

So I believe in God, and I believe in prayer, but I've never quite figured out how it all works, and greater men than I have failed too and simply called it a mystery. Now if I were God I would want to prioritise prayers about war and starvation and dealing with all the bad stuff in the world. I certainly wouldn't be too impressed with anyone who thought praying for a suitable home for a couple of dogs was a good thing to do. But I must have prayed at some point - well there's no harm in asking - and it may be just coincidence that the young lady who approached me outside Tesco recognised the mutts and me from walking on the common, it may be pure chance that we were both there at the same time, it may be sheer luck that she is able to take Percy & Bonnie into her home, and that they appear to be very happy there......well lets just say we are very grateful for these random occurences and it feels very much like 'someone' is interested in helping us out here.
I'm sure there's a whole swathe of theology about God's relationship with non-humans, but I'm not going to get into that here, I'm just glad that our biggest problem prior to moving to NZ appears to have been solved.
Now maybe I can write about something other than dogs - although a few more cute photos might not go amiss.
The plan is, we will ship at least one dog to NZ in six months' time when we return for stepson's wedding.....we do suspect that one dog may no longer be with us. Though he still seems determined to prove us wrong.
By the way, wife is slowly getting better, but it's going to be a bit of a slow process. Apologies to anyone who was expecting us to be out boozing in Stroud this Saturday, it ain't gonna happen yet. Anyway we haven't got our sweaty palms on the visas yet.

PS I'm a bit bothered by this posting. It reads a bit like those 'God gave me a parking space on a busy Saturday' sermons that used to crop up from time to time in church meetings I attended many years ago. The thrust of these talks was usually that 'if your life feels like crap, you don't have enough faith'. Not the kind of preaching you'd want to hear in a refugee camp, for example.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

A very Merry Christmas to all - or should that say 'both' - of my readers. And full marks to the NHS today - after much coughing and upping and downing of body temperature, we took Judi to the out of hours doc who promptly agreed with her self diagnosis: she has left lower lobar pneumonia. This is the third Christmas in a row that she has been ill and you can see why she'd rather be in New Zealand sunshine.
Anyway I just realised that in the last entry I referred to the dogs' new foster home without writing about it: a very lovely lady who lives about half a mile away and is mad about lurchers is to have them for six months. There's lots more to tell about this tale but she & her two children are due to join us for dinner any minute now, and I've been summoned to examine the turkey. So you'll have to await the next entry with baisted breath......(groan)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Better late than never

On the morning of my 49th birthday, Friday 12th December, a short but rather friendly email from immigration NZ informed us that our residence application had been accepted 'in principle ' and that visas would take around another three weeks. Unfortunately due to a typically English winter bug (bad chest, coughing all night) I didn't feel like leaping around the room celebrating. But it looks like we really will be going 'upside down' soon.
Meanwhile the dogs have spent more nights at their intended 'foster home', although Bonnie did make a 2-3 mile dash for home this weekend whilst being walked on a local common. However she was promptly returned to her weekend retreat and is none the worse for it.
I've a long way to go before this blogging lark becomes a daily event....e.g. tonight a fine South African cabernet sauvignion is making me far to mellow to blog angrily about: immigration bureacracy, NHS targets, greedy investment bankers and the self destructive nature of monetarism, sloppy defending at the Ricoh Arena, latent racism in the UK fuelled by scaremongering journalism, NHS bureacracy, litter, Tesco shopping trolleys in the river, canine incontinence, poor educational standards, cultural ignorance, the effects of alcohol abuse on these are just a few of the things I'm normally cross about, and you all thought I was so chilled.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stuff & Negligence

My mate Jules says I should do it every day, then I'd get into the habit. Blogging, that is. Jules is 50% of my current following, along with Paul who is the other 50%. Chatting to Jules ( ) & Paul ( ) inspired me to get started, along with Tom Reynolds 'Random Acts of Reality' ( ). Thanks guys.

It's funny, both wife and mother-in-law reckon I spend too much time at the laptop, and yet I'd generally rather be playing my guitar, walking the dogs or in the pub watching football.

A word about mother-in-law: she is an inspiration. 87 years of age, we are living with her rent free until NZ decide to let us in, and she is saving up for a ticket to visit us. She spends much of her time looking after friends from the church who are younger & less able than she is. And she is currently tolerating a lot of dog hairs in her house...

So anyway, no matter how much time at the laptop doing the usual round of emails, ebay and elation (had to find another e-word, didn't I?) on the odd occasion that Coventry City score a goal, I still manage to neglect the blog. Maybe it's like a house plant, needing some watering and sunlight in the right measure.

Ok, I'll try to look after it more. Feed it and see if it grows. But right now I keep getting this message that says 'could not contact saving and publishing may fail'.

So you may never get to read this....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Four Legged Family

Ok I've just realised my worst fear about starting a blog: what, you may ask, that no-one reads it? No....that I won't get around to writing it. One posting so far, tons of stuff in my head, but always too busy, too tired or too lazy to write. Being in between jobs is a great time to try the art of blogging, so I really should stop waffling and get on with it......

So, I've given up my job and we're moving to New Zealand. When immigration say we can. If you work in NHS management, imagine preparing for an NHSLA* type assessment: on you, personally! Gather together all the evidence that says you are who you say you are, your partner is who (s)he says (s)he is, your relationship is genuine, you're in good health, you are not a criminal, etc. etc: then send it all off to London to have your life examined. Weird.
Tidy people, those who throw away all their old letters & bills & bank statements need not apply. Oh, and rule number one: don't upset your case officer. Once we've been accepted, I'll explain how I broke rule number one (don't get excited, now, it was a fairly boring mistake).

The thing that most of our friends & family have got excited about, is the question, what about the dogs? In case anyone reading this doesn't know, we have two lovable dopey lurchers who have been part of our life for a very long time. As soon as NZ became a possibility, they became our biggest issue:

The book we read said it cost about £3000 to get a dog to NZ, including vets bills etc. Well our two large hounds will cost us £5200 if we take them. Ouch. On the other hand, could we ever leave them? We are living at J's mum's and seeing more of them than ever, lots of lovely long autumnal walks......then again, Percy (the white one) is over twelve years old, and we have agonised for months over whether he will survive the flight (36 hours in a comfy crate with just water, no food and no sedation). He has a dodgy back leg too - but the way he has been bounding around recently, I think he's trying to demonstrate that he HAS to come with us.
Bonnie, incidentally, did the Five Valleys Walk with me a while back, all 21 miles on a glorious golden Sunday in aid of the Meningitis Trust. She's fat but fit.
A couple of weeks back we thought we had the perfect solution: a local lady had offered to 'foster' them for a few months until we were settled in NZ, then we could fly them out to join us. But she's now pulled out and we are back to the drawing board. One way or another they will be joining us I'm sure, but it would be nice if we could go & get settled first.

My conscience is troubled by the thought of spending five grand on shipping two dogs halfway around the world. There are far better ways to use this kind of money in the crazy, needy world we live in. But I am very attached to them and (non dog lovers may reach for the sick bowl now) they are family - they'll just have to join us.
And I'm proud of Percy. We popped not work the other day to see a few folk and he let a rather nasty fart go in J's manager's office. Splendid.

*National Health Service Litigation Authority, who audit all your policies and procedures to check that you are 'insurable'

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bad Monday

About four months ago, after a fabulous week Munro bagging in Scotland with my mate Andy, I had a bad Monday. A 'drop everything and go to this meeting' kind of Monday. The meeting was relatively high powered, and completely rubbish. Pointless. I'd never seen so many angry & depressed people in one place since my last visit to the Ricoh Arena to watch Coventry City . In the evening, I decided months of deliberation & procrastination should come to an end: I emailed a bloke who used to be one of my bosses, now happily managing Wellington Free Ambulance in New Zealand. I didn't exactly say 'gissa job', but that was the gist of it.
Four months later.....
House, car, dogs, guitars, job, colleagues, friends, family, bikes, campervan, computers, TV, hifi, kids, emotions, places.........
Everything is up for grabs when you decide to move to the other side of the world. The title of this, my first attempt at a blog, refers both to the fact that NZ is - relative to the UK - 'upside down', and to the fact that this moving business has indeed turned my whole life upside down. It's mostly aimed at friends who want to know why/when/were/how etc., but if you've browsed your way here for any other reason, I'll try not to bore you too much.
I bet your first questions is 'what are you going to do about the dogs?'