How I moved countries with two babies and prepping update

This past year has been quite chaotic. I stopped posting on here the day before I moved countries from Ireland to England with my two babies. The whole house needed to be packed into one small van, then we had to drive (and sail) to England.

The hardest part was planning how to time everything. We hired the van for four days, from the day my husband came back to Ireland, to the day after we expected to have the van empty. Planning in this extra time really helped because moving house always takes longer than it seems like it should, especially when you have to keep stopping to breastfeed a baby.

We took the daytime ferry from Belfast to Liverpool to reduce the amount of driving. It’s an eight-hour ferry, but the day sailing is cheaper than the overnight one so we were able to save a lot of money on the tickets.

One big issue with van hire was that I didn’t want to have to drive back to Ireland to return the van. To combat this, I hired a van from Northern Ireland and paid a one-way fee of around £120 to return it to a branch of the same car hire place in London.

They also allowed the van to go over the ‘border’ into Ireland for about another £100. If you hire from Ireland you would have to drive all the way back to return it, which would cost more money due to the cost of the ferry, as well as taking up a huge amount of time.

For boxes, we bought archive boxes from Argos as these were cheaper and more plentiful than house moving boxes. We went around the house one room at a time and filled boxes with things.

For furniture, to reduce the size we flat-packed anything we could; beds, tables, shelving units etc all came apart and could be transported in pieces, making more room for other things in the van. Annoyingly, a couple of big things wouldn’t pack down, so we had to just move those as-is.

In the four weeks before we moved, I had a really big clear-out and sold about five car-loads of stuff that wouldn’t fit in our new flat (we weren’t just moving countries, we were downsizing as we were moving from rural Ireland to just outside London and house prices are higher).

This stuff would have required a second van to move it to England, and another ferry ticket, so it was great to ditch as much as we could, even though I was very sad to have lost all of my gardening equipment, accumulated over the past three years.

The main thing I hated about moving was going from a place with a huge garden, where I’d planted fruit, nuts, herbs and vegetables for my self-sufficiency garden, to a second floor (third floor in the US) flat with no garden. I’m still struggling with losing food security ESPECIALLY because my parents-in-law did two things that, combined, meant we lost ALL our food when we moved.

I realised when I was in church this week that there’s a lesson to be learned from living here. I can’t depend on growing plants to protect my family from the upcoming food supply issues, so I am going to have to change the way I prepare. My preparedness plan was very heavily skewed towards self-sufficient gardening and preserving our harvest.

On reflection, the lesson I need to learn is how to improve other aspects of my preparedness. Buying and storing food is one aspect of this, but since we’re in a small flat where we can’t control the temperature very well due to the height of the building and where the roof is, I think we’re here to learn how to forage better.

This is something I’m going to spend more time on over the coming year, while we wait for our house to sell and wait to buy another one.

That is not to say I won’t grow any plants at all. My windowsills are currently buried under containers of spinach and I have a blackberry plant soaking up sunshine out in the parking area for a few hours. And I’ll definitely write about gardening indoors in a flat with no balcony. But with the space I have, it’s not realistic to be able to grow and store the volume of food we will need to feed the four of us.

I also need to improve my ability to cook from scratch. Particularly, I think cookies and bread are things we will struggle to find in the shops next year due to the wheat shortage, and knowing how to make them at home will make the coming problems a lot more enjoyable for our young children (and me). Since I usually cook Asian food, having learned to cook in Asia, I’ve never made either of these things.

One of the most miraculous moments of the past few weeks, however, has been that my husband is finally on the same page as me with regards to prepping. I have been prepping since 2015, and it has taken seven years, but instead of ignoring it all (or using up my stores without telling me), he’s now making comments like, “this house has a basement where we could store all our long-term foods,” or, “twenty five kilos of soybeans is at the best price right now,” which just makes me fall in love with him all over again.

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