Yesterday, work finally started on repairing the water damage. The lovely Dominic, who has done a few jobs for us in the past, and his offsider, Ryan, have been filling and sanding and painting up a storm and the house is already looking significantly improved. We also chose a removal company yesterday, and we’re expecting our boxes to arrive tomorrow, so I’ll soon be able to begin the packing process.
In the meantime, Kate has been busy on eBay – selling all of our furniture out from underneath us. Our bed has been sold, as have the girls’ bunks and shelving. In preparation for Dominic’s tidying up of the cellar, we moved the sofa and armchair out – a rather fraught process that required the removal of the cellar stairs banister and one of the kitchen doors, not to mention the solving of a most vexing geometry problem involving the rotation of non-uniform three-dimensional shapes. My poor old cellar, once the womb-like world to which I could escape when life all got a bit too much (ie, nightly), is now looking decidedly forlorn. Indeed, there’s now so little wine down there that today I was reduced to buying a bottle from Sainsbury’s.
The two clouds still sitting on the horizon are our Chinese visas and our mortgage. We spent pretty much the whole of Friday fighting with the visas. We had hoped to put them together ourselves (in order to save quite a bit of money), so we began the day filling in the requisite online forms. This was a particularly tedious process as each application required the inputting of all of our accommodation bookings for our time in China – date, region and full address for nine different hotels on four separate applications. We then had to print and sign the forms, which was when the printer decided to run out of ink, forcing Kate to drive up to Tesco for a new cartridge. We then discovered that the processing time was such that we couldn’t guarantee that our passports would be back in time. There’s an express option, but you need to deliver everything in person, and the next available appointment wasn’t until the 10th of April, three days before we were due to leave. So, we had to go back to our Russian travel agent, who should be able to turn things around quickly enough, assuming everything goes according to plan. Of course, this meant filling in their online forms, which meant the inputting of all of that accommodation data again. We were then supposed to receive pdfs of the filled in forms to sign, but they kept coming up on screen with dots where the characters should be, so… no, it’s too tedious even to try to explain the other steps in the process – suffice to say, they ended up in the post by the end of the day and given that the Chinese embassy asked for the girls’ birth certificates his morning in order to verify that Kate was their mother we at least know that everything is under way.
The mortgage situation is a bit more worrying. If we want to rent the house out (and obviously we do), we need to change to a buy-to-let mortgage, but as neither of us has a job, there’s apparently only a 50-50 chance they’ll give us one. We have an appointment to talk to an advisor tomorrow…