Posted in Uncategorized

Returning Resident Visa…check! 

Quick update… I was impressed by the very efficient service when collecting documents: there were 5 people in front of me waiting for the office to open at 9am. They opened at 9:00 on the dot, within 6 minutes I had my passport (and my visa, thank goodness- sorry for the spoiler in the title) in my hand and was out the door again. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Waiting for UKVI

Just so you know, purchasing a priority service with a targeted time frame of 5 days does not mean you will receive any contact within the 5 day period. Just as, in Zambia, if someone tells you they will come back tomorrow, they don’t actually mean tomorrow, they just mean it won’t be today. Some point in the future, maybe, (if you are licky) but definitely not today and possibly not any time soon. 

I digress. 

In fact I received an email to advise that my passport was ready for collection after 9 working days (10 if you count the day I submitted the paperwork).  Considering that without Priority it can take up to 6 weeks I believe they quote, 9 days is pretty quick. 

They cannot and will not tell you what the decision is, even if you pay to call the enquiry number. The very pleasant young man did tell me the decision had been made on 12 June and that I could expect to hear something within 10 working days. It was in fact a lot faster than that, but they obviously have to cover their backs, ‘Don’t make any wild promises that might come back to haunt you!’, that kind of thing. 

So we’ll sit here in the 9th in a cool little extortionately priced cafe and wait for the collection office to open. 

It’s important to take time to slow down, stop and smell the coffee beans. 


(By the way, I think I’m allowed to take one of these coffee bean bags… “Open your purse…” – Sheila F. Remember that?)

More later when I have an actual decision to report. 

Posted in Insomnia, Travel, Visa

Insomnia…again

Yup. I could almost guarantee it. About 3 or 4 weeks before a move my brain just hits a road block and I either can’t get to sleep at all, or I wake up in the wee hours of the morning and only manage to finally drop off just before the alarm goes off. 

It’s brutal. Of course it comes at a time when I’m mega-busy with work, a son taking A levels, husband working away full time and another international move to organise. 

I can’t complain and I’m not: the packers pack, my husband is paving the way in the new place and getting on with it, dashing all over the UK and Europe and still managing to get home most weekends (without complaining either): my son has one job at the moment so I’m leaving him to revise. We’re all busy.  

Today I was up to my knees in cobwebs and dust clearing some outside storage areas, but I felt ok about it, I got quite a lot done. I’m organised for Monday, got some paperwork to post out and emails to send but it’s organised. I even got one of my final Yoga papers written in preparation for finishing the 200 hour teacher training. 

As always, it’s the logistics that are tricky when moving countries. What to do with the pets is currently my dilemma. We’ve worked out how to get them from Paris to York, but not what to do with them during the move and the overnight in a hotel (that I’ve decided is going to be necessary). It’s all coming together…sort of. 

Yet here I am, 1:30. My alarm would normally go off in 4 hours and I havent slept a wink. They say screens don’t help but I avoided them for hours before bedtime, made no difference at all. Postponing the alarm to the latest possible time that I can, whilst still getting to work on time. 

I suppose I am anxiously awaiting a decision on my visa, so that could have a bearing on it. I’ve tried chamomile tea, breathing exercises, Reiki, counting sheep. I lied, I didn’t try counting sheep. But I’ve featured a picture of one anyway. 

Let’s hope sleep comes soon, I’m turning off the screen again. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Returning Resident 

Warning- unless you need a visa for the UK, this post is mega dull! This is my life right now, no apologies. 

So on to the next phase – applying (again) for a Returning Resident Visa. I applied at the end of 2015, and was granted one; it expired a year ago. 

I only applied at that time because I knew a return to the UK was likely at some point BUT a) I had no idea how long the process would take and b) I didn’t know that they only gave a validity of 6 months. Had I known all that I would have waited. 

I just hope it won’t hurt my application this time that I already had a visa and failed to take up residency. 

So off I went with more evidence than I probably needed, got as far as submitting my documents and sat in front of the person who would take my biomemtric details only to be told that the Immigration Expert who helpe me complete the application had purchased the wrong Priority service. Later I’ll have to apply for a refund, but immediately I had to exit the visa office to use their computers in the foyer area to buy the correct Priority service. 

€224 and 15 minutes later, I’m back in front of her again and we’re in business. 

On the plus side, instead of 15 days it should now take 5, which is excellent news when I’ve got travel plans on the 23rd June and they currently have my brand spanking new passport. 

Another balls-up with this application, I wasn’t aware til I got there today that you could pay extra to keep your passport while they decide. I didn’t feel the need to once I had to pay this new fee, as this way should only take 5 days, but when it was going to be 15 working days, it would have been good to know, I could still have gone away as planned. Like I say, a balls-up. 

I hadn’t anticipated quite how stressful this process was going to feel now that it’s such a crucial step. I’ve done what I can, there’s no interview in this process so you don’t get to explain face-to-face or argue your case. Everything you want to express has to be explicit  in the application form and the documents you submit. It is out of my hands. 

Now I wait. 

#visa4UK #returningresidentvisa 

Posted in Uncategorized

Passport Part II

So far so good – not only did I manage to submit my passport application, the official I spoke to let me keep my current passport until the new one could be collected. That was a huge relief as I had booked a weekend in England to support Husband and Daughter, both of whom are clearly complete nutters and were running the Snowdonia Half Marathon. (They ran, they finished, got the t-shirt and TWO medals!)

Anyway, he (Nice Embassy Man) told me that it would take 2-3 weeks to get the passport back, and 13 days later I got the call. Hence I am back to collect it. 

I’ll report back once I’ve got it, but I must say so far my experience with the Embassy staff this time has been great. They’ve been helpful, someone actually CALLED to tell me it’s ready and when the call dropped before she finished telling me what to do, like a decent human being she CALLED  BACK! 

Emails have been answered almost immediately, and I mean like within 15 minutes. I think that’s quite impressive. 

Like I said, I haven’t actually got the passport yet, but I should have it within the hour. 

Meanwhile here’s a Frenchman in a kilt. 

Breakfast in Paris: you never know what you’ll find. 

Update: after just 1h40 mins of waiting this time, passport is in my hands. The fact that I somehow look like I belong in The Addams Family is somewhat unfortunate in a ten-year passport. But I can start the next step now…Returning Resident Visa for the UK. #iloveredtape

Posted in Uncategorized

Into the unknown…

I am about to disappear into the vast abyss that is the US Embassy here in Paris in the hopes of renewing my passport – that alone is a stressful event, I find (queues, paperwork, pictures, payment…take a number, hurry up and wait). 

I, however am in the unfortunate position of needing it expedited, hence the personal visit. Eek. 

They will take my phone away on the door, so here goes nothing. Wish me luck, y’all.   (Not sure where that came from, there must be a Texan nearby.)


No photos of embassy, not a wise move. 

Posted in Cumbria, Hiking, Italy, Travel, Yoga

Grateful

I know I haven’t posted for a while,and I apologise. Life has become very hectic since the start of  September – I am working full time (but very local, which is great) whilst at the same time studying a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Dharma Yoga in St Germain en Laye. It’s wonderful but busy.

I have other goals which include writing, exercise outside the yoga studio and the most important one, looking after my beautiful family.

On that note, I feel compelled to share a snippet of the last two wonderful weeks I have just spent in the bosom of family. (Did I really just use the word ‘bosom’?)

In a very decadent move, we took the full two weeks of the school holiday off, being the last ‘school holiday’ in which we will have offspring in school – our youngest will be on study leave and racing toward his A levels by the time Half Term hits in May. End of an era, perhaps.

We were fortunate enough to return to a tradition we had to abandon for a few years whilst we lived to faraway, which is a week with an extended group of family and friends in a holiday cottage in the Lake District in the North of England for a week of hiking, talking, laughing, eating and drinking (and more laughing). The group shifted and changed over the years as some friends would join us for a week, maybe return for a few years or never again (we get lost A LOT so it’s understandable ) but there was always a core that extended to 14, including 3 generations of our family.

Our traditional group was missing one core family this year who had other commitments, making our group 10 this time  – but I do hope they’ll make it again as their absence was felt.

The weather was magnificent, the house had the most wonderful view of the Langdales and we enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family who all live far from us. In addition to all that, our kids (now aged 18 and 21) still want to come with us; not only do they come, they embrace the experience with enthusiasm (except for the getting lost part).

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From Silver How looking across at Grasmere
Ullswater
I didn’t say it was warm.

 

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The father-in-law, AKA ‘Doobs’. Still climbing to the top of stuff. 

To top it all, the day after we arrived, we attended the glorious wedding of dear friends in Glenridding, at the Inn on the Lake. John was ‘joint Best Man’, he didn’t just place himself in the official photos.

It was a truly magnificent day of celebration; the weather, the bride and groom, the setting, the wedding guests. It was perfection.

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Spring wedding on Lake Ullswater

Congratulations Nobby (sorry…David!) and Katy.  Thank you for letting us share your special day.

When our Cumbrian week was over, we said our goodbyes and three families headed in separate geographical directions, all having been fortified by the scenery, the sometimes bracing walks and our friendship.

But it wasn’t over yet. I did tell you we took two weeks off. We had a ‘house swap’ in the bag, as fellow Homelink-ers had visited our cottage last April;  we had decided to cash in our week with them in Trabia, Sicily.

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View from the terrace

This was the view from our terrace. Not bad, eh? Shame I didn’t take any photos in the sunshine!

One week is simply not long enough in Sicily, but we tried to pack as much in as we could. It is a stunning island, the people are friendly and helpful, the driving is terrible.

We visited the town of Cefalù, which has a long sandy beach and distinctive twin-towered Cathedral, all nestled beneath the impressive Rocca di Cefalù. We climbed to the top, and got some lovely pictures from the summit, but I somehow didn’t manage to capture a picture of the rock towering over the town. Here is an an image I found online, taken from the water.

Photo courtesy of Siciliafan.it

Another day, we drove over to Scopello and walked in the Zingaro Nature Reserve, to the most stunning beach.

We watched a Coast Guard rescue, which was quite exciting (I’m not being callous, the injury seemed to be only a twisted ankle, so nothing critical, though painful I’m sure).

There was more, so much more. We visited mountain villages, Castelbouno and Pollina, which had an ancient amphitheatre. We were treated to a bit of Shakespeare (thanks, Jack).

 

We visited a fishing village, my favourite bit being the sunken ship in the harbour that they just left there. Oh, and the swordfish I had for lunch. Delicious.

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Portocello

I am now home, and feeling very fortunate to have experienced all of this with my family.  Shame we can’t rewind and do it all again, but that would be greedy.

I will, however, be self indulgent, and share a few more pictures.

Yoga with a view
Cupid’s fountain
Castelbuono
Castelbuono

 

Portocello Harbour

 

 

 

Posted in Hiking, Travel

Mount Si

We set off this morning to climb Mount Si – its highest point is 3900ft with 3150 ft of ascent and 8 miles round trip.

Making the decision to get an early(ish) start and being parked at the trailhead by 7:45 turned out to be very wise – it was still cool and the car park had plenty of spaces.  Also not too many people (not that I don’t like people, I just don’t want to be on the mountain with half of the population of Washington State).

We were up at the top by around 10am and had a little roam around, taking pictures of the outstanding views.

We then started to climb Haystacks, and decided quite swiftly to turn back. The rock face was steep, extremely smooth rock with lots of ineffective hand and foot holds for an amateur. Experienced rock climbers will mock me, but I did not feel at all secure and came shakily back down, acknowledging defeat. I am glad to say that my family did as well. We saw other hikers that had been up, and they all made it back down alive. To me it really wasn’t worth the risk. Haystack 1, Ryders 0.  Unfortunately Haystack is considered the official summit of Mount Si, but in my opinion we reached the top.

Some websites give appropriate warnings, such as Summitpost.org

The Haystack has a few rock routes on its southern and eastern flanks, and on the north side, there is a route to the top that can be scrambled. The summit scramble is not for everyone. This can’t be stressed enough. A fall off of the Haystack is going to be an uncontrolled fall. People have been seriously injured, and in some cases people have died scrambling to the top. Use extreme caution when making the scramble, and if it’s foggy or raining, seriously consider coming back another day.

It wasn’t wet, but it still was very slippery as the stone is so smooth. I do think the official trail organisation, Washington Trail Association, should update the description on their website which only mentions a rough scramble.

Anyway, it was a beautiful walk and a gorgeous day. We all made it up and down, and apart from the Haystack there was no danger, no risk of losing the trail as it is very well maintained and not too strenuous. A very enjoyable and picturesque hike.

Here are my favourite pics:

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Montage of Seattle/Olympia Photos

Just in case you were expecting a travel log – it’s a photo log. Too much to tell, but what a great place. We LOVE Seattle (though we do NOT love the traffic!) and Washington in general. Olympia is a very cool little town, the downtown area is very arty and inclusive, has  a great vibe. (Did I just use the word vibe? Am I officially a hippy now?)

Enjoy. We did.