I am sitting here at my desk in our house in Flanders, looking out at cloudy Flemish skies and next door's fruit tree swaying in the wind and the patio covered in the kids' chalk drawings, and finding the idea almost impossible to believe. I think part of the problem is that we have a very full and varied (not to say complicated) life here: the Scouts, the Guides, the swimming club, Dutch lessons. In Scotland we have a house that I have seen twice and hubs has only seen once from the outside, we have school places and a car, but it doesn't feel as though we have a life there yet.
The other thing is, we're not ready. Hubs has spent days, weeks, tidying up the garden and renovating our rental house here in the hopes of avoiding punitive charges when we leave. I've thrown out what seems like a hundred brown big bags full of things we no longer need, or don't need enough to make it worthwhile taking them to another country. I've given things away, sold things. Still the house is a mess although I know that by Thursday morning it has to be clean and tidy, everything ordered and ready to be boxed away and loaded into the removal van. Vast amounts of work lie between now (Sunday) and then (Thursday) and although I would rather crawl back under the duvet with a good book, there is no time left for procrastination. I shouldn't even be blogging; I should be stacking the school books we have agreed to donate to a friend, and cooking some of the stuff left in the freezer so it doesn't have to be thrown out on Wednesday night.
Although we are not travelling to Scotland ourselves for another nine days, we have already said many of our goodbyes. The coming week is half term, so this week we had the last ever Scout meeting, the last ever Guide meeting, the last riding lesson, the last day at school. (The last Dutch lesson, alas, is the night before the removal men come, and I am sitting the 3rd year exam that night whilst trying not to worry about the work that still needs to be done at home.)
Driving home from the school on Friday with the boot stuffed with text books, art projects, lunchbags, etc. I imagined the first day back at school after the holidays. My daughter's class will all be there at their desks, everything will go along as normal, except that she won't be there. Ditto my son. Guides will restart and my daughter won't be there. The swimming club will meet and all the "white caps" will be there ploughing up and down the lanes but my son won't be among them. It all feels rather scary, as though we are dying. We're closing down our life here and the new one is unknown country.
I think a lot about the day we left the UK, back in 2001. We have a photograph of the four of us which my father took just as we were about to get into the car to go to the airport, to fly to Germany. Hubs looks younger, I look scruffier (the kids were tiny then and personal presentation was not top of my to-do list). Our daughter is a toddler clutching a stuffed animal, our son is a placid-looking baby waving plump fists in the air. We had one-way tickets to Köln. Now, ten years later, we have the return tickets. It is a very strange feeling.