Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the latest glossy offering from the Easyexpat stable of top of the range emigrey websites. It’s called Expat Quotes and aims to take some of the stress out of settling in a foreign field. The site…
…connects expatriates and future expats to services in the categories of:
Visa & Permits, Moving Jobs, Housing, Finance, Education, Health, Shop &
Telecom, & Tourism. The listings provide an ever-growing directory with
the ability to get free quotes. Whether you are looking for an
international removal company, medical insurance, or expat banking service
– you will find it there. In addition, a series of country guides provide
information directly from expats and experts in immigrating to a new
I’ve been asked to write a word or two so expect to read my irreverent ramblings very soon. Don’t let that put you off.
Our tatty chattels finally made it across the high seas, landing safely at the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk. Her Maj’s Revenue and Customs eyed the consignment with cynical suspicion and decided to x-ray the boxes for contraband Turkish delight. This public service was provided at our expense, incurring a charge of £100. Isn’t this a bit like being frisked by the fuzz and paying for the privilege? The boys in blue found nothing untoward and the family silver was released. That was that, or so we naively thought.
We received word from the carriers that our precious cargo would be delivered by a 19 metre road train (their words) and if they couldn’t park within 15 metres of our new gaff we could kiss our goods goodbye (my words). When I pointed out that the medieval streets of old Norwich are characteristically narrow and that a 60 foot mega truck was a tad excessive for our modest six square metre load, they recanted and decided that a van of standard girth would suffice.
D Day arrived. The van pulled up outside and two large gentlemen swung into action, huffing and puffing as they piled the boxes into neat rows inside our new living room. The entire sweaty exercise was completed in under 30 minutes. As we unpacked each box, it was obvious that spooky hands had been fondling our family jewels. A shattered lamp emerged from one battered box. Glass fragments from the same lamp magically appeared in a different box. Hey presto. The backs of photo frames had been removed and replaced with the clips left open (the same photo frames suffered the same fate when they delivered to Turkey four years previously). Most distressingly, the base of one of our tall super-sleek speakers had been hack-sawed off and the broken thread lay discarded at the bottom of the box. Just as well we smuggled out the rechargeable marital aids in our hand luggage. Clearly, this bump and grind was much more than a bit of rough handling by a hairy docker. Who would have thought?
After the Hump’s disastrous showing at the farcical Caucasian Eurovision circus, we awoke to a thump at the door to match the thumping in my hung-over head. The removers launched into a fast frenzy of wrapping and packing at a speed I’ve never experienced in Turkey before. Our meagre chattels were efficiently boxed, labelled and loaded like a well-oiled Germanic assembly line. The procession of sweaty men was halted only momentarily by a traditional Turkish marching band – all monotonic horns and clashing drums – as it passed along the ancient street. Our fabulous Turkish neighbours popped across the courtyard with tea, cake and smiles. After the briefest of breaks and a quick fag with the fags, the boys chucked themselves back into the fray. The entire endeavour was all done and dusted in just three hours. We had shopped around for a few quotes but most of the silly prices were higher than the value of the family silver: it would have been cheaper to flog the whole lot off and start again. BacktoBodrum came to our rescue with Soyer International Removals – fast, friendly, and cost effective. Our goods will soon be sailing on high seas back to Blighty. We’ll be following them very soon, a suitcase each and handful of high hopes .
Moving day arrived. We watched in amusement as the large removal van valiantly struggled to reverse up the steep road that leads to Tepe Houses. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. And try, try our brave boys did. An hour of fevered debate, frantic gesticulation and trial and ample error later, the van finally made it onto the flat. Guided by four rowdy lads competing for attention the van gingerly manoeuvred backwards along the narrow access lane. Alas, a sharp bend was a bridge too far and the van became stubbornly stuck 50 metres from the house. Undeterred, our sweaty removers professionally stripped our house in record time, re-flatpacking our IKEA furniture, hand wrapping our knick-knacks and covering our delicates in protective blankets. The sight of a slight built young man hauling our fridge-freezer strapped to his back left us speechless. He returned to collect the washing machine. He’ll probably be crippled by the time he’s 40.
We moved from room to room saying our goodbyes in time honoured fashion and closed the door on Tepe House for the last time. Tariq the Toothed caretaker turned up to say farewell. He delivered one of his now infamous rib crushing bear hugs, picked me up and twirled me around. I swear I spotted a small tear in the corner of his eye.
Our chattels have been delivered to the house. As we unpacked each box, we were delighted to find that we had suffered few breakages, but gradually developed a nagging suspicion that someone had been subtly rummaging about. A number of the metal clips that hold the back plate in place for the smaller picture frames were in the open position. It was as if the backs had been covertly removed to check what might lie behind. Given the total apathy of the Turkish customs officer, I assume it was a sneaky British spook making sure we weren’t drug smugglers or money launderers. Little did they realise that we stuffed all the dirty cash down our trousers (that’s a joke, by the way).
We met the rude little man outside the Customs House at Izmir Airport. As the goods were registered in my name alone Liam had to wait outside. I then embarked on my second major appointment with the Byzantine Turkish bureaucratic system. The rude little man ferried me around various offices to pay various official fees to various bored officials, obtaining various bits of official paper, all duly officially stamped along the way. He then deposited me in a holding pen and wandered off, returning now and again to demand ever more cash. I sat there for about an hour and a half with not so much as a cup of a çay for solace, observing the drama unfolding around me. So much of Turkey appears modern or modernising but alas, not the State Sector it seems. My place of confinement was bleak and starkly furnished. Lonely electric wires twisted aimlessly from the cracked ceiling, and an ancient typewriter sat sadly neglected in the corner.
Next to me was a glass fronted office where five of six apparatchik sat working at their desks. Well, I use the word ‘working’ euphemistically. All I witnessed was a lot of gossiping, tea brewing and reading of newspapers, periodically interrupted by someone waving a piece of paper in need of an official stamp. Stamps are big in Turkey; everything must be stamped. Without a word, a heavy-boned, hirsute man would give each document a cursory glance, apply the requisite official stamp and then return to his newspaper. Clearly, this is his job, probably his only job: keeper of the official stamp. However, I assume all the over employment keeps the unemployment figures down and each of these underemployed men probably saves a large extended family from destitution.
The waiting was finally over and the rude little man led me to the depot for my goods to be scrutinised by a rude little customs officer. She didn’t seem much bothered and only inspected the top layer of one crate, though much hilarity was generated by my embarrassing and doomed attempt to mime the function of a terracotta patio heater. At last, I got the last official stamp I needed to release the family silver. I emerged from the Customs House two hours later to a relieved Liam, who had convinced himself that I had been arrested and carted off to prison in a ‘Midnight Express’ kind of way.
We received word that our cargo has arrived from England. We are thrilled. A gay boy just can’t survive for long without the little essentials of life like decent cookware, ethnic knick-knacks and gallons of scent. We paid quite a bit extra to have our precious accessories air freighted and were assured by Pickfords that the crates would be flown direct to Bodrum; a naïve notion. A rude little man from the Pickfords nominated Turkish agents told us to get down to the Customs House at Izmir Airport and to get there pronto otherwise we’d be charged warehousing fees. Off we go on our second Izmir junket at the crack of dawn.