Change is coming
Well, what a couple of weeks this has been. A while since my last post about the hotel stay in Shanghai. There has been a lot going on, which has not been helped at all by a lack of connectivity here in the countryside!
We said goodbyes to tearful friends and staff in hotel lobbies, airport drop off zones and several other places. I managed to avoid 'the ugly cry' except for one occasion, but others didn't do so well.
We checked in with Air France early on the morning of June 28th, having met the lady from the dogs' kennels, and hearing the girls howling from their crates, we paid all our excess baggage charges (gulp) and waved the ladies off. That was the probably the longest flight of my life. Every little bump in the flight I worried that they'd fall over, or be scared. I didn't sleep much.
Tom charmed the cabin crew and joined their frequent flyer programme, so that was fine. Eventually, we arrived in Paris. We'd paid for airport assistance, which was great, and very necessary owing to my soaring stress levels.
We came through the airport with no problems at all and I was very relieved to hear two healthy and complaining dogs coming out of the oversize luggage area. The staff there put them on An appropriate trolley, and wheeled them outside. Along with our suitcases, us, and our assistance lady, Arlene.
We took the girls out of their travel crates and they had a walk on leads up and down the area, they were very thirsty and complaining (a lot) but otherwise they were physically fine. Steve and Arelene headed off to collect our rental car, which came back way smaller than we had booked. Tricky. There was no way everything and everyone was going to fit in that! Nice car though.
This was where Arlene really came into her own. She set off brought us bottled water, and went to get her own car. Dog crates and two suitcases in her car and we followed her to our hotel. Got they room key and took the dogs into the lift and their first ever hotel stay. All those sniffs!!
The luggage came in various trips, and Steve broke down the dogs travel crates and used them as suitcase holders in the car. Pink immediately took to the big bed with her back to us In her now well known "I am not speaking to you humans" pose. Dottie was just frantic and wanted a fuss. Constantly.
The next morning we set off on the road to Franche-Comte. We were somewhat overloaded and it was not the most comfortable journey ever. I had 1 seat and half of one of those half sized middle seats to share with Pink and Dottie. The rest was luggage.
Where was Tom in all of this? Up front with his Dad of course, in comfort! Several hours later, we arrived at our new home. Completely pooped.
The saga will continue........
So here we are in the Holiday Inn, in what used to be called Xujing, or QingPu, but has now been gentrified (I believe that's the term - new buildings, new people, higher rents) and is now in Hongqiao West. Regular HongQiao being around 30-40 minutes drive away, depending on Shanghai's lovely traffic. One of the few things I won't miss at all.
Tom is having his last day at school today, and we had a small celebration there at lunchtime with all his classmates. There was food which they'd all brought to share, and then they sang a song for him, Tom responded with a speech thanking them for their friendship and encouraging them to keep studying hard as he would. He was a little champion! But then I am slightly biased.....
There was more singing, from Tom and all the other students, and then many of them lined up to give him gifts which was lovely. He has a letter from his first crush, and I will struggle to read it to him without doing the 'ugly cry' later.
As a volunteer teacher there for the past year I received a beautiful silk scarf which was completely unexpected and much appreciated. So, Tom is out of school for the summer, I know he'll enjoy his last days here catching up with friends and making sure I don't get more than arm's length away from him. Anxiety is very present at the moment, the fear of further abandonment is not far from the surface, so I"m doing everything I can to reassure and make sure he knows where I am.
Right school run and time off out for a cheeky cocktail I think........
Well, the promised changes are in the air, and the packers arrived at 9.00 this morning! The place which has been our home for the last seven years plus is a mess of boxes, bodies and bubble-wrap! THere hasn't been too much yelling so far, so I think i might be ahead of the game by a millimetre or so....
Yesterday saw PInk and Dottie go for their vacation to JiaLiang K9 Shanghai-La (advertising is all) they were testing out their new harnesses and car seat belts so that we arrive in France all legal and don't have dramas on day 1 As we drive from Paris to our new home in Lachapelle sous Chaux.
Ah yes, Prairie Road, Lachapelle sous Chaux. Population about to increase by 3. That's quite significant in a place of only around 700 people! They have no idea what is about to arrive at the end of the dirt track that is Prairie Road. Looks as though we've leased the little house on the Prairie.
Must go, my Thai cabinet is just falling apart on the packer....
Well, today is the day we will find out if we have a new house for our new life in Europe! Yes, as the rest of the UK gets itself all fired up about leaving the EU, the Garratts are due to arrive! We've always been out of step with most people, so Steve and I are not phased at all by this development, we're used to being the outliers, the ones who don't fit the pattern. I just wonder if Europe is quite ready for The Garratts - especially the corner of rural France which we will soon be calling home.
Adjustments will have to be made, and that is true for all of us, but Tom has more to adjust to than most. He needs to make a new mind map of his environment, get used to the new space, and then it will be time for him to get used to a new schooling arrangement (yay!) and environment. There is also the small consideration of all this happening in a new language.
In just three weeks he will leave behind everything he's ever known. There has been a great deal of assurance, and he has been involved in the planning as much as possible so he knows he is part of the travelling circus that will be headed out on Air France at the end of this month. What does he make of it all? I'm honestly not sure. He still sometimes asks if he will be our son forever, and some part of him still believes he will remain in Shanghai when we take off for our next adventure. Apart from get him on the plane, and provide constant reassurance until then, I have no idea what else I can do.
Many children who are adopted from China are a) younger than Tom and b) leave immediately after their adoption. Tom has been with us for more than two years now, and everything he really knows (holidays excepted) is still here. I sense a hard transition ahead, but with love and reassurance, and cheese, I am sure we will all settle in eventually!
I haven't spoken French since the day I failed my 'O' level! Well until last week when a very brave lady by the name of Clementine became mine and Tom's French teacher for some classes here in Shanghai before we leave.
So we are on countdown to the big day when we finally get to Chexit!
Things are being thrown away at an alarming rate - some of it I'm not even sure is ours, so if you left your stuff here at some point in the distant past - unlucky!
I'm passing out all the stuff we can't ship and trying to decide what I do actually want to take. There is a lot. There really is a lot of stuff. Extraneous crap. But the loft (which was completely full) is now empty except for several boxes and some wood (!?!?)
The lady doggies will travel with us and their travel crates are taking up space and being completely ignored in the lounge. Crate training not going well. Photo - Pink and Dottie enjoying crate time. Oh bugger they've escaped again.
So another Christmas approaches here in Shanghai. Most of the allegedly 25 million residents don't care much, for some its just another shopping opportunity, and for others its a time for vacation with family and friends. For us, well, its same old same old here. Another innocent turkey will get itself roasted if the oven here holds out, and we will all stay warm if the power stays on. Luxury expat living! We couldn't go anywhere if we wanted to, as Tom is currently lacking a passport of any kind, another bureaucratic nightmare! But I will share about that when it's all over and he has a passport in his anxious little hands!
For me it feels quite odd. Just back from a trip to Thailand and Europe, I am really not in the zone, and have hardly bought anything yet! I'm aware that there is a move in the coming months for us, so all gifts need to be consumable or packable! Tom is happy with new clothes, but I always remember my Dad saying that clothes weren't presents because you'd get those anyway. He's so hard to by for though, its just finding that thing that will fire his imagination, and I hate wandering around shops!
I look at our half decorated Christmas tree, and promise myself this is its last outing. I bought it in Thailand about 17 years ago and it's made it through several moves and is now held together with duck tape, which you have to strategically place the tinsel to hide!
Moving forward, moving on.