Oh you guys, what a journey. I am still amazed or actually more like in shock that we made it to the UK. On Brexit day. Because why not? What else would you do as a continental European on Brexit day than simply plant your EU-bottom right into the middle of it all – England. But to be fair, they didn’t quite make it easy. Do you want the whole story? – I was told I should post and write as much as I can as this is an amazing adventure, so I’m gonna give you the whole story. As short as I can. Which probably isn’t short at all. But I’ll try my best. Anyways, let’s get started.
So at the beginning of January, I organized a transport for me and Pinú’u (for those of you who are new here – so basically everyone, considering this is my first post – Pinú’u is my awesome pony) from Belgium (we had lived in Belgium for a bit over a year) to the UK and it all seemed perfectly fine. I booked my apartment on the yard (I’ll tell you more about my apartment and the yard ‘n stuff later) from the 27th of January and the transport company promised me, Pinú’u, I and all my stuff would be there on time – on the 27th. Or even earlier. Great. Awesome! I was so proud of myself for being so organized and not leaving it all to the last minute. So I happily set out on a few well deserved days of holidays in the alps with my mom.
But – HAH! Just when you think it’s all running smoothly, something comes along and messes it all up! I was super happy and relaxed enjoying my time in the alps when my phone bleeped and I saw a message from the transport company starting with “Unfortunately bad news…”. My blood pressure jumped up to whatever measure is the highest (I literally have no idea) and I thought “oh don’t you dare do this to me!” The message read further: “… but we had to put our horse box into maintenance. This will delay the travel by approx. 4 days. Million apologies, this is not how we do business.” It probably really wasn’t how they do business, but COULDN’T IT JUST HAVE BEEN FINE FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE?!
Okay, calm down Denise – Denise calmed down and told them to keep her updated while she tried to find another solution – why the hell am I referring to myself in the third person?
A few pretty busy and nerv wrecking hours later (thanks Mami for being there for me and giving me a back massage and some warm food to survive – I love you!) I had organized another transport for Pinú’u for the 29th of January. But the problem was, they could only take some of my stuff with them and I wasn’t allowed to come with. So I had to find a solution – pronto! I concluded that the best way was to get a rental car in England, drive it to Belgium to pick up my stuff, load Pinú’u, and return back to England with the car, drop off the stuff at the yard, the car at the rental company and then get back to the yard somehow to greet Pinú’u upon arrival. Ugh. Breathe. Plus, I organized a transport for me from the alps to the UK, which was hard enough because just when I wanted to book it, the booking just didn’t go through and it took me an hour and several swear words to find out why it didn’t work – only to book another, more complicated trip through Germany to England.
I know this all sounds confusing. So here’s a list of what I organized:
- 27th Jan. – travel for me Austria-UK, rental car, apartment
- 28th Jan. – ferry Dover-Calais at 10:35am, vet for Pinú’u’s health papers
- 29th Jan. – transport Pinú’u Belgium-UK, ferry Calais-Dover at 6:35pm
- 30th Jan. – return of rental car, arrival of Pinú’u
Cool, huh? Spoiler alert – it wasn’t. At least not in the beginning.
When I arrived in the UK and picked up the rental car, it was 6:45pm, it was dark, it was raining. I had never ever before been driving on the left side of the road. I was freaking scared. And people here drive SO FAST! So I did my best not to ram anything with the left side of the car, stay in the middle of the lane and keep left enough so the passing cars have enough space to actually pass. When I arrived at the yard, I was shaking. And I continued shaking for quite some time. And I was scared of the next day. I had to drive almost 300 miles all the way to Belgium. And back. Oh dear universe, how on earth?! But because I read a clever book by Eckhart Tolle, I tried to pull myself back to the present and not worry about the next morning, because there was nothing I could do about it while being in bed at night. I was moderately successful, but at least it helped a little with the homesickness that took me by surprise since I hadn’t experienced this feeling in about 10 years.
So the next morning went surprisingly well – although my knuckles were white from clinging on to the steering wheel. When I arrived at the docks in Dover I had lost all feeling in my right hand from clinging as if there was no tomorrow. But I made it without an accident and I even dared to drive 70mph on the highway – weehoooo! The ferry made me feel adventurous. Like – driving onto a ship with a car and then heading off to the continent – how cool was I? Turned out – not that cool after all. I spent my time on the ferry rather quiet surrounded by the highest amount of truckers I’ve ever seen in one place. And a chinese family. And then again truckers. And some more truckers. I don’t know why, but it hadn’t occurred to me before that all the trucks that go from the continent to the UK had to cross the channel somehow. So on January 28th 2020 I learned that that was the way most of them crossed the channel. Mind blowing indeed…
After arriving in Belgium safely – again no feeling in my right hand – I went to see Pinú’u, whom I haven’t seen in three weeks – and as a horse owner, three weeks is WAY too long! My good friend and fellow working student in Belgium, Caroline, had already done the health papers with the vet and taken incredibly good care of my boy – million thanks again Caroline!
- Rental car – check!
- Surviving on the road – check!
- Health papers – check!
Only thing now that could go wrong was that the health papers weren’t correct, that I had an accident with my car or that the transport would for some reason not come or break down or whatever. Speaking of transport – on Wednesday, 29th of January, while helping Caroline and her colleague with their farm chores in the morning, I received a WhatsApp saying “Hi, I’m gonna pick up your horse tomorrow. What time would suit you?”
WHAT?! TOMORROW?! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO COME TODAY! Aaaaarrggghh.
Me – running inside, texting the transport company, calling the car rental company to prolong the rental of the car, emailing the ferry company if my flexi ticket allows me to travel one day later, calling my mom to complain, etc. An agonizing hour later and everything was sorted. Again. We were gonna leave a day later than expected. No additional charges. Fingers crossed.
And just when I stepped back outside to see if I could help the girls with anything, I saw that there was a truck delivering some huge bales of hay. Boy had I dealt with that often the past year! I was happy I didn’t have to deal with it now. But – hold on! The truck that brought the hay was parked just 2 meters away from my rental car. If some hay dropped off the truck (which actually never happened before) it would definitely hit the car! Something inside of me told me that I had to move the car IMMEDIATELY. So I pointed to the hay delivery guy that I was gonna move my car and I parked it at a safer distance.
And guys, sometimes it’s good to trust your gut feelings – just a minute after I moved my car, he accidentally dropped two (freaking TWO!) bales of hay at exactly the spot where my car had been parked before. Haaaaaah, god of misfortune, TAKE THAT!
I quickly calmed down from all the stress having to rearrange things once again and Caroline and I decided to use the splendid weather for one last walk together with our horses – her horse and Pinú’u have been field buddies for the past 5 months. And it definitely brightened up my mood. We then had a super nice evening eating and talking and I said goodbye to my Belgian family and their dogs. They’re such a lovely bunch of people, I’m so happy for that one year I got to spend at their farm.
After the second night sleeping on the couch – which was surprisingly comfy and cosy – I woke up with a feeling of guilt. The usual feeling I get, when I move Pinú’u to a new place. I hate that. I hate taking him away from his friends, his home and everything he knows and putting him under stress, into a new place, a new country, a new herd…
At 07:30am Pinú’u was loaded, at 08:15 I had loaded the car with my remaining stuff and went and said my goodbyes to Caroline, her colleague and the place that I grew to love and call home. And I began to wonder if maybe the feeling of guilt for ripping Pinú’u out of his home was also for ripping me out of my home? Again.
But once I was on the road all those feelings went away. New adventures were waiting and this time, they’re gonna be bigger than before. I felt like every meter I drove took me closer to what I’ve dreamt of for so long.
I arrived at the yard on January 30th at exactly the time I had intended to, dropped off all the stuff I had packed in Belgium, got a tour of the yard and where to find everything by the owner and then went to drop off the car. At this point I’d like to state that the car didn’t have a single scratch – even though it was my first time driving on the left in a right-hand drive car, going on a ferry by myself and driving on the right in a right-hand driven car. Booyah!
When Pinú’u arrived on Friday, January 31st, the last day the UK was still a member of the EU, I knew we made history. Our own history. We managed to get to the UK despite all the stones that were tossed in our way and we got here safe and sound. I still don’t know how all of this could work out, but somehow it did so I’m not gonna think of it ever again.
Guys, this – what I’m writing here – may be fun to read, but it actually was and still is extremely challenging. But it means the world to me. 9 years ago I was a student living in London and I had no possibility of bringing Pinú’u to the UK with me. I denied it back then, said I didn’t miss him, but to be honest, I did. I missed him every second. And when I went back home for summer after the first year and I looked into his eyes, I promised him: “I’m never gonna leave your side ever again.” And so I quit my studies and stayed at home, because of my love for him.
Call me crazy, but that is how much one can love a horse. Ever since I left London it was my dream to one day return to the UK – with him. But there was always something or someone that kept me from doing it. And now, 9 years later, I finally made it…
Maybe I should finish this post with an inspiring quote for y’all? Hmmm, let me see… Oh, I got it: