And Then we had Stuff

I've been a bit neglectful of my blog just lately (meaning I'm quite behind in posting) but we've had some pretty big stuff going on in real life, our shipment of belongings (read pretty much our whole lives) finally arrived from Singapore. I can't begin to express how wonderful it is to have our things around us again, particularly as it ended up being quite a protracted process to get them back.

When we left Singapore at the start of April we, of course, had to do something with all our belongings. When we'd moved over there we'd had everything shipped so naturally a move elsewhere meant arranging another shipment to wherever that was. However to begin with we weren't sure where that was going to be so we made arrangements for everything to be packed up ready for an eventual shipment and in the interim to be put in to storage in Singapore. Eventually we established that, for now, we were to be based here in Edinburgh so we requested for our items in storage to be shipped to the UK and delivered here. This part went fairly smoothly, before long our items were on the container ship and a date of arrival in the UK was given to us, the 18 August. We knew that all our items needed to clear customs etc. before we could physically have it but didn't imagine this would take that long. I don't remember the precise dates but when our belongings were packed for shipment to Singapore they were physically packed at the end of June/start of July and delivered to us at the end of August. The longest part of that process was waiting for a container that would be coming to Singapore as we were sharing one rather than having a whole one to ourselves. Once though it was underway and had arrived it very quickly cleared customs in Singapore and was delivered.

Things coming back though were a little different shall we say. Our container did indeed arrive in the UK on the 18 August but the process of it leaving the docks, clearing customs to a date being scheduled for delivery took almost two months! In the end our belongings were finally delivered on the 11 October! To say we were quite frustrated by this in the end is an understatement, especially as a friend of mine who left Singapore around the time our container did and whose own container of belongings was shipped at the same time she left got her things back several weeks before we did. In fact her container arrived in the UK on a Tuesday and was delivered to her home that same week on the Friday. Now her container did come into a different port in the UK, we were repeatedly told the delay in clearance was because of a high volume of goods entering the port that ours had come to but it still is quite amazing to think there can be such a difference between ports (and subsequently delivery firms) for the exact same process to be completed. If nothing else you'd think they'd want to get items cleared promptly to make way for the next round of ships and goods.

Even when it had finally cleared customs we then had a long wait for the partner company in the UK of our Singapore packers to schedule a delivery date. Again you'd think they'd want stuff moved as promptly as possible to make space for other things. I can't really fault the packers in Singapore, admittedly some items perhaps weren't packed as well as they had been on shipment out as we had a few more breakages this time around but overall they did a very good job. However their choice of company here were a big disappointment  in the lead up to and when delivery day did come.

George and I waiting for the arrival of our stuff on delivery day

So delivery day did finally come and I confess to having had nerves mixed with excitement about it, nerves about whether everything would be alright, especially with it having been in storage for a few months prior to leaving Singapore. Excitement though because we would finally have everything back again and could make our new place a home instead of just an empty shell. I was also nervous because the place we are now in is smaller than our place in Singapore was, plus this place doesn't have the storage (or extra rooms) that our place in Singapore did that we could just put stuff in in the interim until we were able to sort it out more thoroughly. However I consoled myself that there would be a team of experts unloading everything just as we had had when our stuff was packed for shipping to Singapore and when it was unpacked the other end and as there had been when it was all repacked when we left to come back to the UK. I was slightly less reassured though when just two men turned up, especially as they'd only allocated an afternoon for delivery and unpacking/reassembly of large items.

Initially everything went reasonably smoothly with me instructing them where to put things, beginning to unpack some of the kitchen boxes and asking them to reassemble our bed and sofa and unpack our book cases. We'd previously planned where we wanted things to go and I advised them accordingly. However as time went on it became clear that boxes were filling up all the available space and although they unpacked the bookcases and reassembled the bed they had left themselves no room to reassemble the sofa. They then also quickly threw into the mix that this was not straightforward reassembly and therefore they wouldn't be able to do it. In reality there wasn't much I could do as space to move items had become limited and it was clear they weren't going to do it for us even if I could have spirited away the boxes to make the room. By this stage I just wanted everything in our place and them gone. There comments about us having too much stuff, have you considered storage etc. were just becoming more and more annoying. I wish I'd taken a photo of our lounge after they'd left but by that point I was just too disheartened.

George 'helping' with the unpacking

The next day, and feeling a bit more positive, began the slow process of trying to unpack and make sense and space in the disorder. As we had so little spare space initially it became a matter of unpacking a piece of furniture and literally moving the boxes in the room around to get it into position. We also had the issue of now living in an older property with slightly uneven floors and huge skirting boards which stick out from the wall quite considerably! It soon became clear that where we had hoped to put our bookcases wasn't going to work out because the skirting boards were very wide on this wall meaning the narrow, tall bookcases couldn't stand against the wall making them unstable and dangerous. Luckily one of the other walls had much narrower skirting boards and with a bit of cardboard under the two front corners of each to steady them they stood against the wall and didn't wobble in a scary way. Of course the bookcases were one of the few things the removal firm did unpack and put into place where we had originally wanted them and in the meantime stacked boxes up all around them so, of course with our limited space, we had to move the boxes around the room to then move the bookcases into their new home. But once we did, this did then mean we could unpack a few boxes and get our books back onto the shelves and from there everything else gradually fell into place in the following weeks as we unpacked more.

It's been a month now since our shipment arrived and finally things are pretty much sorted. In the process though it has meant a few setbacks with our original ideas, a couple of visits to the tip, to Ikea and coming up with some inventive storage solutions but we got there. It did encourage us to declutter, which was not necessarily a bad thing and despite having already done that a bit before leaving Singapore we did in reality have plenty of other things we really no longer required or used. It felt quite liberating to make that decision that I never used it in Singapore so no I won't miss it and I no longer need it. We even hosted some visitors in the midst of all the chaos, OK it was family but even so we managed it. I'm so glad to have our things back now and although this was pretty stressful at times, in comparison to what I remember from our shipment leaving the UK and arriving in Singapore and the process before we left in April, it's finally done and looking around our lounge now it's good to have it all in place again. Until next time ...


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