Tag Archives: Removals

Removals quotes

I’ve booked the removals company! We had a quote from EVL (after they came out and did a detailed survey) of £3,105 for approx. 580 cu ft of stuff, which is a bit cheaper than Pickfords quoted.

What really swung it though was the fact that this quote was based on their smallest container, which actually holds 1,000 cu ft. When I enquired how much extra it would cost to actually fill the whole thing, they said just £100 more.

Now this is a deal which can’t be sniffed at!

We were originally only planning on taking the downstairs furniture. We have some IKEA Hemnes stuff upstairs, which won’t survive another move, and some lovely painted wooden bedroom furniture, which wouldn’t look right in a villa, so I am selling all that off.

Now I am planning a massive shopping spree for completely new bedroom furniture (and hopefully some lounge furniture too).

It’s going to cost a fortune, but I think it’s an investment – the furniture choice is awful and very expensive out there. And we can always sell it on to another desperate expat if we decide to leave Qatar and/or I buy something unsuitable.

I am going to make some investment purchases (e.g. a super king sized bed!) but we can always ship them back to England with us if we come back, so I think it’s worth buying for the longer term. And I want our new villa to feel special and exciting when we move into it, as it will help us to settle in.

I did try and order this bed at the weekend, but I found out today that they can’t ship it until April 22nd, so I’ve had to cancel the order. It was hard enough finding that, so I’m not looking forward to doing it all over again this weekend!

I want something upholstered (so it gives me more flexibility in choosing furniture to go with it) and ideally in a darker colour, so I can set it off with lots of outrageously brightly coloured soft furnishings. I am addicted to grey at the moment – I want a grey bed and a grey sofa, so I’m hoping they go with the inevitable Doha peachy walls and terracotta floor tiles!

Also on my wish list:

  • Wardrobes (if I can find flatpack ones which don’t hog too much container space)
  • Bookcases (have been advised to buy lots of these to make rooms cosier)
  • Coffee table
  • Side tables (can always scatter these in halls and landings if no room in lounge)
  • TV console table
  • Bedside tables
  • Chests of drawers

I’m not sure whether or not to buy stuff for the spare room yet, or leave it, or just take some of our existing furniture for it. We’re not expecting to have visitors for at least a few months, so I might just leave it.

I think most of the furniture I buy is going to have to be IKEA, so that it can be flat packed for the container.

I’ve also been advised to buy rugs, curtains, cushions and bedding…..unfortunately I set up hubby with access to the joint accounts through his netbook before he left, so he might be in for a shock…..it’s an investment, darling! It will save us money in the long term 🙂


Removals firms and pensions

Ahhhh well, bureaucracy is something I know I’m going to have to get used to, but I didn’t expect our own Government to start battering me with the wet kipper of silliness quite so soon.

I thought it would be a Good Idea and Very Sensible to get a state pension forecast before I go, to decide whether or not to top up my National Insurance contributions while overseas. You know, the sort of sensibleness your parents aspire to see you reach.

After much googlage and confusion, I finally found a page within the direct.gov.uk website which allowed me to apply for my state pension forecast. There were three options – you could get it over the phone, apply for a written one, or get it on t’internet.

Naturally, I assumed that getting the online forecast would be the easiest…. First step was to register with the ‘Government Gateway’. Simple enough, but then I had to wait for an activation code to be sent by post.

Despite having got married 3 years ago, and changing my name, I am still in The System with my maiden name, and my old address (although the address is more forgiveable, as we only moved recently). I thought your employer sorted all this stuff out for you, but maybe I am meant to do it myself, although I would have no idea how to do this. Do you have to contact National Insurance, tax office etc. separately? I haven’t a clue.

Thankfully our mail redirection from the old house also covers my maiden name, so eventually my activation code arrived here.

I tried to use it last weekend, but once into The System I was duly informed that the website I needed was down for maintenance (at a weekend, possibly when they get their highest hit-rate?!).

So I tried again this morning, and hoorah – success. But as soon as you log in, you are taken back to a publicly-accessible page within direct.gov.uk  – in fact pretty much the same page at which I had started this whole journey. I was beginning to wonder why I had had to log in at all.

There was a nice clear link to “Get a State Pension Forecast “, hoorah, which I duly clicked on, but again was taken to a publicly accessible page with a bewildering array of links. I tried some of the links, including the first and most obvious “State pension profiler”, which took me through a series of questions and then suggested I might have paid x years of NI contributions and needed to pay x more to qualify for my £100 a week state pension. But this was all based on guesswork and I could have got this anyway without logging in.

So I scrolled down the page and found the link to ‘Apply for State Pension forecast online’ – hoorah again. But it did feel like I was going round in circles here. But this should be THE link surely?

Nope. Yet another page of explanations and ANOTHER link to click on. This time enticingly entitled ‘Apply for State Pension Forecast’.


Finally, I am back on the bizarre ‘Government Gateway’ page where my login actually allows me access to the secret room in which all of the mysteries of my National Insurance payments to date will be revealed to me…..

Or so I thought.

Yet another link, this time ‘Launch the state pension forecast e-service’. I didn’t hold out much hope with this. This must be the fifth time that I had clicked on a similarly hopeful and definitive-sounding link.

I click on it anyway, and to my relief and delight, something official-looking opens up in a full-screen window. This is it. I am finally, after 2 weeks, going to be told the information about myself which only the Government, thus far, has known.

It’s probably not going to be a great revelation to you, dear reader, that I was faced with an error message at this point, and told to phone a number to report it.

After being subjected to a suite of patronising statements from a robot lady, I finally go through to a lovely Geordie lady who informed me that the online state pension forecasting service “just wouldn’t work for some people and the technical guys can’t work out why”.

I asked if it was expected to be fixed at the stated scheduled service outage on Wednesday, but was told that it had been ongoing for a couple of months, and with a sigh she said that I may as well order my state pension forecast by post.

I was put through to the DWP, where my journey of going round in a strangling series of concentric circles finally led me to order my state pension forecast over the phone. It will arrive in the post next week.

On the plus side, now that I have been activated as a registered user on the mysterious Government Gateway, I am now entitled to carry out a suite of 28 tasks online, including ‘Defra seed certification’, ‘ sheep and goats ear tag allocation system for external officials’ and ‘London Borough of Brent customer portal’. So it wasn’t all in vain.

Removals Quotes.

We’ve had a couple more removals quotes in, based on the cubic footage that Pickfords assessed us as needing.

The local firm finally got back to me, quoting £4,700, so we’ve ruled them out immediately.

We’ve had a much more interesting quote from the slightly disturbingly-named EVL, of £2,700, so I need to explore that a bit further. I’d be happier if they came to see the house (which has quite tricky access) and I could meet them face-to-face, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

In other news….

The Christmas tree, inspired by the early snow, has been up in our house since a record-breaking November 30th, and I have rather unfortunately decided that I LOVE cold weather. This does not bode well.

I’ve been taking some rather fabulous lunchtime walks this week in the snowy countryside around our office. I am taking in every sight, sound and crystal of ice, because I know that the countryside and glorious winter days are two things I am really going to miss about the UK.


Starting to feel quite real now….

So it’s all starting to dawn on me now. Thankfully I’m one of those people that absolutely embraces change, but I don’t tend to think about the implications until much further down the line (if ever!). That’s kind of a good thing for making stuff happen in life, but it does mean that things catch up with me later, usually when I’m least expecting them.

This whole moving to the Middle East business is a bit different….just in the past couple of days I have started to dwell on things a bit more, even though we’re still weeks away from the Big Move.

The biggest thing I’m dwelling on is my husband going away, in about 6 or 7 weeks. I’m quite shocked at how pathetic I am being about this, because I’ve always been fiercely independent and lived on my own a lot before I met him. But now the realities of the endless dark evenings and weekends alone are starting to hit home. I am really going to miss him!

We have a really good relationship, and a good giggle together and I am going to miss coming home from work and having someone to talk to, to shout at the telly with, to cuddle up with under the blanket and to go on long country walks with.

We live in an isolated spot at the end of quite a dark cul-de-sac and it’s the sort of house which feels quite vulnerable to break-ins, so I’m also worried about being here on my own at night.

I’m also worried about getting lonely – I don’t have many friends around this part of the UK, except work colleagues (and I’m having to distance myself from them a bit lately because of this Massive Secret I’m keeping!). I don’t mind him going away for a weekend every now and then, but this is going to be at least 6 in a row!

I’m not going to get bored – there’ll be plenty to sort out, but it might be a bit depressing being on my own all that time. I need to make lots of plans to see friends before I go, although I am going to have to make sure they come to me as I need to be packing and car-booting in between socialising!

I have a feeling he’s going to leave me with an awful lot of crap to sort through…tools, gadgets, DVDs, CDs, car parts, shoes, paperwork….gawd knows what I am supposed to be keeping and what to get rid of! The garage literally terrifies me.

My biggest fear? Putting the bins out on my own. I am only ever a feminist when it suits me, and this does not extend to cold, dark Thursday nights down the side of the house dealing with stinky crap. I don’t even know what our different bins are for…..


Not having much luck in removals quotations so far. The local firm quoted £5k for a 20ft container (having obviously taken no notice whatsoever of my original email to them) and when I replied and said we had been told that we only needed 578 cu ft, they failed to respond at all. Another independent company has also completely ignored my request for a quote which I filled in on their website.

So I am minded to go with Pickfords, who quoted us £3,500 (and didn’t seem to be willing to budge on this price). I know they get some pretty bad reviews on the internet, but I like the way they’re set up and they seem to have a Doha office, so at least there will be someone to go and shout at if I need to.

We’re not taking any of our upstairs furniture. It’s either IKEA crap which won’t survive another move, or the really nice quality pine furniture which we bought at auction and lovingly stripped back and painted in Farrow & Ball paint, which goes for a tidy sum on eBay.

So the only furniture we’re taking is the dining room table and chairs and matching dresser, and the IKEA sofas (plus all of our worldly goods of course). It totals up as 578 cu ft, apparently, which means we will end up with a 650 cu ft container giving us an extra 70 cu ft to play with if we need to – so we’ll probably get another 3-seater IKEA sofa to take with us before we go, as the rooms are pretty massive out there and the sofa shops seem to be a bit lacking. I am looking forward to shopping for a MASSIVE American style bed though 🙂

The big clear out.

This is possibly going to be the most stressful thing, if anything could ever stress me out, about the move. I’m going to have to go through everything and find a way of getting rid of the unwanted stuff – this could be easy, but I refuse to send anything to landfill and I am boycotting eBay (I can’t stand the way buyers can scam you so easily now, and I’ve also had my Paypal account hacked into in the past. eBay leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth these days).

Gawd knows what the alternative is to eBay. I’ve looked at the local auctions, but the commission is 15% and there are charges on top of that. I’ve also thought about ebid, but need to look into that a bit more. We’ve tried Gumtree but there’s not been any interest so far in what we’ve put up already (and it’s owned by bloody eBay!). There’s the local paper I suppose, but it seems like a lot of hassle. I do prefer the auction format, as I have no idea what a realistic value is for some of this stuff.

There are a couple of car boots held indoors around here over the winter, but I’m not sure January is going to be such a great time for selling stuff, whichever method we try!

Then there’s selling the car…that’s going to be a nightmare, because I need to keep it right up until my last day or so in the UK, and so the selling needs to be timed perfectly. I’m not even thinking about that right now.

I think I’m going to have to just focus on getting rid of stuff, and not worry too much about what I get for it (apart from the painted bedroom furniture which I think is worth a tidy sum – I just need to work out how to get the best price for that).

I’m just taking it all one day at a time at the moment, but I know I am going to start feeling the stress at some point soon!

Anyway, we’ve bought our Christmas tree today, and it’s not even December yet. We’re getting rid of the old artificial one, and have gone all out for a massive, real tree this year, and will be leaving it up for as long as possible. It’s our last proper UK Christmas, it’s snowing already and we’re going to make the most of every second of it 🙂