Saturday, December 17, 2016

Take you down t’ the foamin’ brine ‘n water (Captain Beefheart)

Rambling Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 10 part 4)

Purdy kids before heading to the UK

As we prepared for our departure in Auguest 2004: Adam was about to finish his final year at Cambridge High School; Keegan was flatting while at Waikato University doing his BA; Samantha was in Year 10; and Jade was at Hautapu Primary.

It was messy, but Adam, Samantha and Jade were about to transition to the next stage of their education - Adam to University, Samantha to senior school with NCEA Level 1 and Jade to High School.

It's never easy moving schools and starting at new places but to our way of thinking this was the best messy change possible.

Adam at Abbey Road
Still, moving the five of us to the UK was disruptive in the extreme. Adam was unhappy - he gained Level 3 NCEA but couldn't sit any externals and was leaving his friends before he had to, Samantha and Jade also had their schooling disrupted. Not only because of the different September to July UK school year, but also the vastly different culture and educational system.

Before leaving, we had to sell a lot of our stuff, and put important stuff into storage. We had to resign jobs and find homes for the animals: Lewis went to live with Michelle and Gavin, Persia to Jenny Going and Sallie offered to look after Bazil for us.

This was all traumatic in all sorts of ways. But we did it, some of us with gritted teeth, because it was an adventure and we were all up for an adventure. Well, maybe not all. I was defintely driving the adventure but we had a family group conference and everyone had indicated they were open to the concept.

Stupid me! I should have realised a few important details but didn't. Jacky would follow me to whatever crazy location I picked, the girls were very young and had no concept of the life awaiting them in the UK and Adam was at best reluctant.


So, we headed off to live in Essex with a suitcase each and a carry on bag each. 

Singapore Airlines meant a stop over in Singapore. We did all the touristy things and had a great time at the bird park, Sentosa, swimming at the hotel, shopping, and adjusting to a new life. 

Unfortunately, for some reason Jade was really sick before we left Singapore and had a miserable start to the actual UK adventure.

The Grand, then...
We had booked a hotel in Leigh-on-sea, The Grand, from Nu Zild via the internet. Hey, it looked impressive in the advertising!

It turned out The Grand was a nearly derelict old Hotel that was being run by a Basil Fawlty clone. We moved into the top floor to find pigeons were using our bathroom as their own private hotel. Basil reluctantly came up all the stairs with his rubber gloves and detergent to clean the dirty toilet and get rid of the pigeons. 
...and now, all boarded up!

Adam had his own room but the four of us dossed down together. It was grim.

When I'd taken the train to Leigh it had wound through rural countryside. This had given me a false impression. My descriptions to Jacky and the kids were all of a bucolic sea side village with olde worlde charm, because that's what I saw.
When we landed at Heathrow we hired a car to take us to Leigh. We quickly found out, as we drove along the A12, that we were in solid built up housing for miles. Jacky was peeved and it took about an hour of living in The Grand for her to start saying, I want to go home. Jade and Samantha were both sick and tired from the flight. Adam was tired and grumpy.

I needed some air, so I calmly went downstairs. Actually, Jacky's description of my 'storming off' is the more accurate of the two. My heart sunk as I headed out to buy us some dinner (pizzas) from the broadway. This adventure lark was gonna be a tougher sell than I'd expected!

Love and peace - Wozza

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