Well, it was all much smoother than we were expecting. By 3pm this afternoon our container was on its way to Abu Dhabi, and everything we hoped would be in there had been accommodated.
The packing team arrived just after 9am this morning to finish the rest of the packing, and to start labelling all the boxes and summarising their contents. Each box has to be individually numbered, and its contents recorded on the shipping schedule ready for perusal by customs.
At 1pm the container arrived, and following some skilful reversing managed to back up the driveway without destroying too many trees.
We were quietly nervous that not everything would fit, but the packers seemed relaxed and proceeded to demonstrate their skill in making maximum use of the space that was available to them. Our essential possessions took up 97 boxes, but in the end we managed to get a number of our reserve items in as well, making a total of 115 boxes (goodness knows what is in them all!).
Once it became clear we were going to get some of our reserve items in, Jo decided to clean the barbecue, just in case there was room for it. This resulted in one of her classic lines, as she emptied the drip tray of its layer of sand, "do you think we'll be able to get some new sand in Abu Dhabi?". I politely reassured her that I didn't think this would be an issue! In the end the barbecue didn't make it anyway, so we don't need to worry.
It only took a couple of hours to load all of the boxes, so shortly after 3pm we were able to observe the locking of the container with the official seal, not to be opened again until it reaches Abu Dhabi. The truck driver had a minor panic at that point, because when they shut the container doors it trapped a few stray branches from a nearby tree, so he was concerned that customs may be concerned that we were importing something dodgy! Anyway, the debris was soon cleared so I don't think we need to worry about that.
It was then time to bid farewell to the container, with our fingers crossed that we will see the container again in six or seven weeks many miles away. Before he left, the driver reminded us that we are able to track the progress of the container ship on the Internet. Jo's comment (sorry Jo) at this point was "so is that like we can track Father Christmas?" (as we have for the last couple of years using the (fictitious) NORAD website). I said it was similar, although in this case our container ship really does exist!
We then spoke nicely to the packing team, who have been fantastic over the last couple of days, and they were happy (once we had made it worth their while) to move some of our surplus furniture from the house to upstairs in the garage where we are going to store it.
It's strange seeing the house almost empty, we've not seen it like this since the building work finished as we moved in before it got to this point. There is still some final sorting out to be done, but that is a job for tomorrow and Thursday.
Since the container left we have only found two items that we forgot to pack; an ironing board and a remote control for the TV, so I don't think we've done too badly.
The other piece of good news today was that I have now received my entry permit for Abu Dhabi (thank goodness!), which allows me to enter the country in August and start the process of applying for my full visa.
Time to relax now, so I shall leave you with a snippet of our container disappearing.....