Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who (didn't) move the stone?

Those of you have followed the saga from the beginning know that we're moving ourselves, our kids, our fur-kids (feline and canine) and... our family rock - a 300kg piece of hand-cut African Sandstone from B's great grandfather's farmhouse in the mountains - a piece of an old frontier farm that saw the family through marriages, births (mostly in that order), tears, joy, laugher and grieving across long generations. The farm was expropriated (by the old apartheid govt -not the new lot - as a conservation area) and the house that would have been 140 years old now demolished. There is a wattle forest and bramble thicket there now. We eventually got permission to go up and collect one the rocks from all that was left - the foundation. With much grunting and panting five of us managed to get the largest - the lintel stone from the crawlway to the underfloor from under the window of the main bedroom - onto a wheel-barrow - which bent, but with us hauling on climbing slings helped us to get it and onto the 4X4. We took it back to Finnegan's wake, planning to build it into a new family home in the mountains, a part of where we came from and what we are.

Only then we decided that we were planning to immigrate to Australia. To a remote, beautiful wild lonely island - mountains still, but mountains in the sea.

We decided that the rock was going with us - to the puzzlement of the various movers who came to quote. "and the rock." You know how elderly bloodhounds whole face seems to have the droop? Well if you want to see that very expression on the high-heels-and-make-up face of city-girl moving quoter - just tell her she's moving a 300 kg block of stone. It's apparent after all of the movers who came to quote got their volumes wildly wrong (we got rid of a lot of stuff -most of which could be useful to bring our volume down. And we could have coped with every bit of it, without a hi-rise. And a lot of the stuff we were told not to take, I talked to the AQIS officer about. It's a hassle for movers, not AQUIS or you.) Anyway, 'tis done, and I may forgive them my tools one day. The rock however was loaded, (I photographed it myself) and began it's long journey back in November, nearly getting as far as Reggie's dam... but somehow making it through customs, through AQIS, (it had been bleach-scrubbed and painted with tile-sealer.) and to Melbourne.

So If you need to know who didn't move the rock, the answer is Grace Removals. Melbourne didn't send all the paperwork to Grace in Launceston, So they did not know that item 223 was a block of sandstone. So when they repacked the 40 foot into two 20 foot containers they somehow decided a crated block of sandstone in a container that held no one else's goods... was not not for the same destination. No, they didn't check or get the full manifest. They just parked the rock. Not exactly inspired but there you go. If you want inspired you'd better come to Flinders Island, 'cos we do things better here. At least Mike Bowman does. Like many of the other tall stories we were told, the movers do not send 4 people to the island to offload and unpack, nor do they send trucks. They just contact the local haulier and say 'can you just do a little job for us?' Which actually works better for me, because I'd rather have a local (who has to live on the same island with me) and who has moved furniture professionally before, even if cows and gravel are more typical. Firstly they didn't break anything (and let us be involved so we could see, and advise) (The dining room table and one of the legs off the stove were bust before coming out of the container.) Secondly, Mike actually got the manifest. And thirdly, they had a sense of humour, and some of that rare stuff common-sense. Grin - He said "I didn't want to be in that 20 foot steel container with you when you heard the rock wasn't there." I tried not to explode.... really. Wasn't his fault. And more importantly it was his fix. He got hold of Grace, and arranged for the rock to come next week. So maybe we will have our ferry-tale ending after all. The movers were moaning apparently that as they have had to ship with another occasional ferry - which does opportunistic cargo - they had to pay more, should think of the savings in surgical costs (because I'm an easy-going peaceful man, but I was incandescently angry right then) Mike has given them.

So... moving in. "carefully... OK that's it. If you could just move it off my foot, that'll be perfect." Boxes and a sort of tetris...

In the middle of all of this Inge - who has to be our favorite islander so far (She arrived here many years ago as a German speaking new Australian with her soldier-settler husband. She I think understands better than most what it is to be a stranger in a strange country.) came and brought us some supper - cooking or even going out last night would have been a move too far.

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