The Cat and the Bear

The Cat and the Bear
Charlie and his bear pal!

Ex-Pat to Re-Pat

Welcome to my countdown to repatriation!

After living in Athens, Greece for the lion's share of two decades I am on my way back to settle again in the land of my birth, Wales. I have a cat so that makes things a bit more complicated. Those of you in the same boat will know that you need a pet passport to take a pet into the UK, and that procedure takes at least 7 months. So, I decided to get the major removal upheaval over with and left Athens in January to winter on the island of Corfu. This is where my Greek odyssey began so I am very happy to have this chance to 'close the circle'.

So far I have focused on enjoying Corfu but the days are flying by and my mind is turning more and more towards Wales. This is starting to bring up issues and concerns about living in a new country. Yes, despite the fact that I was born in Wales and have visited regularly, after all this time of living away, it will be rather 'foreign' to me. I suppose that fellow ex-pats will appreciate more than anyone else what I am talking about. I would be very happy to hear from you!!

Thanks everyone for your encouragement so far in this adventure!
Love and light!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Pet Passports, Wellies, and Sunsets - 40 days and counting!

The time is flying by and I am not doing as much posting as I thought I would because there is a general Internet connection problem on the island. Ah well. It is but a small frustration in the grand scheme of things.

The weather is improving though the breeze is still a bit chilly and the evenings are too. Having said that one brave woman was sunbathing in a swimming costume on the beach today. I, on the other hand, was dressed quite warmly complete with hat and gloves and paddling in my wellies. I didn’t envy her!    

Many of you are asking about the Pet Passport thing - how it works and so on – and I thought I’d tell you the details for those wanting to take pets into Great Britain from Europe. (I understand that from other countries there may be different rules so bear that in mind.). It wasn’t that long ago when to take a pet into the country it had to spend its first six months in quarantine. In that case the poor animal was holed up alone in a cage. This cost the owner thousands of pounds, and, too often led to the pet dying of a broken heart. I mean, you just can’t explain to an animal that they are in there because you love them and want them to continue being part of your life, can you?

I remember watching a programme on this topic in the mid-nineties. As I was already living abroad with two cats it was a sobering portent of what I would have to face if I decided to return to the UK to live. Some pet owners interviewed had chosen to remain outside the country until their animals passed away naturally.

Fortunately, all this changed just over a decade ago with the introduction of the Pet Passport Scheme. I was so happy about it that I immediately wrote it up in an article for the Athens News. I have heard a few bad stories over the years, of, say, cats going missing from their cages at airports, and so on. Bearing that in mind, and not being able to buy a cage on Corfu sufficiently secure for air travel I ordered one (that satisfies all the regulations) from the UK. It is a Vari Kennel which you can Google to find a supplier.

Anyway, the procedure to get a pet passport goes like this:

You go along to a vet who can supply one. (Sell you one I should say, it cost me 100 Euros.)

1) The vet starts by putting a chip into your pet’s neck. It’s about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted by injection. Its barcode is recorded onto the pet passport along with details of your pet – name, age, breed and so on.

2) The same day (in Charlie’s case) your animal is vaccinated against rabies. This is documented on the pet passport.

3) 30 days later your animal has a blood test to ensure there are sufficient antibodies present. This test is very unpleasant for the animal as the blood is taken from a vein in their neck.

In due course (in Charlie’s case after five weeks), the blood test results come back from the lab. If there are enough antibodies this is noted on the pet passport and a *six months waiting period begins – counting from the date of the blood test. Fortunately, Charlie’s results were good. I breathed a sigh of relief because…if there are not enough antibodies the animal needs another anti-rabies vaccination and the procedure of waiting and testing and waiting begins again. 

*In our case I decided to come to Corfu for this waiting period – hence this blog!

This bit was copied from Defra the government site:
Please note that steps 2 and 3 above must be carried out in a PETS listed country (Greece is PETS listed) and that your pet must remain within PETS listed countries.  Entry into an unlisted country would mean your pet could no longer be deemed UK PETS compliant and all PETS preparations (with the exception of the microchip) would have to be started again, whilst in a listed country.

Further to this, pets must be treated against ticks and tapeworm not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before checking in with a PETS authorised carrier (on a PETS approved route), for the journey that brings the pet into the UK.

For further information on how to prepare your pet for export to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), including documentary requirements and approved routes and carriers, please see the link below:

Please feel free to contact me if you want more info or if you want to pass on any advice on this whole procedure.

While I have been writing this there has been a gorgeous sunset over the sea which I have been peeking at from time to time. I am off now to enjoy the afterglow. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sun with teeth, Jamie Oliver and Martians - 58 days and counting!

After storms and high winds the sunshine is back – but it is “sun with teeth” as the Greeks put it; and they are right, it really is biting cold. But I did get my walk on the beach today and yesterday and, wrapped up well with a hat pulled right down over my ears, it was great.

As I walked I thought about how I can expect lots of this cold, windy weather in Wales. I remember almost crying with the pain in my ears from that very thing on many an occasion. I have with me the ear muffs I grabbed when they came into fashion one year and have never let out of my possession. I wore them once in January here but not since. It also brought up memories of iced up car door locks and windows. I remember bringing a can of de-icer to Athens. I never used it and finally threw it away. And oh, what about the joys of shovelling snow? Another winter treat to look forward to! Moving on…

I have been watching more television here than in Athens. I am following a cooking series featuring UK chef Jamie Oliver. I had heard his name but knew nothing about him. Now I know why some friends in the UK like him. I do too. His cooking is homely using lots of organic veggies from his garden. It is inspiring me and making me look forward to having a garden again. In Athens I had two balconies which I lined with plants in pots. Some grew quite tall. I miss them… Anyway, as I said, I like Jamie Oliver’s recipes and attitude. And when he uses dead flesh – I am a vegetarian and that’s what it is to me, I just watch something else until he gets back to, say, the dessert to follow that main course. (Just lurve desserts!)

So, now I have filled in the blanks below the name: Jamie Oliver. But! This is just one person and there are, well, hundreds at least that I know nothing about; not even their names. For instance, when it comes to music, someone in the UK will say things like, “Oh, I really like the new Moby CD,” and I’ve had to reply, “Moby? Don’t know them.” It was my brother who alerted me to this band years ago and I have since heard them, and I did know their music but just didn’t know their name. This is because on the radio in Athens, they usually don’t say who the artist is when they play the track. So, I know the music but not the name. So… mega gap in my knowledge which has already had people looking at me as if I’m a Martian. I can look forward to many more weird looks I’m sure…

I hope all is well in your world and that no one is giving you weird looks!