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To 'B' or not to 'B' that is the question...

B... B... B.

I can’t even say it.

That word... The one we’re all sick of.

Not to B is my wish.

Today is the 29th of January and with a one way ferry ticket booked, in two months time to this day we will be in France. Two months today we will finally know any arising difficulties we could face, though as you are so aware it’s apparently all speculation and scare mongering right now, all to do with damn ‘B’.

I try to be philosophical about life’s rich tapestry and the hurdles it throws up but this halo of dashed hopes circling my head is beginning to create a whirlwind of increasing uncertainty.

The hopes, dreams and intentions we have had pointing to the direction of South West france over the past 16yrs might not even come to fruition now because of ‘B’.

We had always planned to live in france from the outset but life evolves its twists and turns, and with many years of dedicated fighting for our daughter with her mental illness and other difficulties, we happily put life in france on hold. Now Molly is settled and as happy as she can be in her little world of movies, music and guinea pigs. She is happy not to spend so much time with us because, as she reminded me over Christmas Roddy and I are a bit boring now. She has grown in physical and mental age and is in a good place to allow us to have a crack at life in france, knowing we can jump on a plane should any emergency situation arise.

However with the ‘B’ deadline gloomily looming like the grim reaper lurking somewhere in the dreary depths of darkened shadows, we may have to rethink again.

To apply for residency in france you have to have been living there for 5 years with proof of utility bills, tax contributions and paying into a health plan. Well some can apply for the first part of the Carte de Séjour within the 5 years as a current EU member but the fact that we bought our house in 2003 doesn’t mean a thing other than it’s simply just a maison secondaire.

Many people say ‘what’s the problem?’ They tell us it’ll be ok, once it all dies down after 29th March... Really? Well perhaps it will be but I can’t help feeling we may have some trying times ahead. I fear we will become a little lost island within a vast and angry ocean surrounded by a stormy current and fierce waves of EU counter rejection, thrashing against our shores punishing this silly shrivelled island into diminished isolated insignificance...

Some foreign investors are already pulling out of trade deals taking their business elsewhere. I know one or two people who voted 'out' and now deeply regret it realising that with their business's currently linked to Europe, the backdraft of commercial currency combustion could prove extremely expensive to them now where importation is concerned in this highly flammable situation. Some people - via FB source - who voted out are actually living in europe! How crazy is that?! Don't they get it? Their freedom of movement could be taken away!

"Oh but it'll be ok... coz we're British.'

One woman actually posted about having two holiday homes and thinks she'll be fine as when she's had her 90 day's in France she'll fly off to her other holiday home in Spain! Don't think she gets it does she...

Those rose tinted spec’s lay still on the side as I strive to see this formidable forthcoming problem as something of a challenge to figure out how we can get round. I have been researching ‘worst case’ scenarios just in case...

Though I never had any great interest in Facebook, my preferred social platform being Instagram - as I have always loved taking photos - I have joined a couple of French / English FB groups where notification alerts on my mobile merrily twinkle, prompting me to read discussions that try and throw slithers of light on this imminent, dull and desperate situation known as ‘B’.

I think most are pretty keen to know how it will effect us all when freedom of movement is forever taken away. Those folks who voted ‘out’ because they want Britain to be great again are in my opinion, delusional. I feel utterly sad. This is a back step. Regressional Britain. I fear we will turn into a far-right racist state. In some areas of the country, already it seems.

But, hey, for those who wish to have a nice two week holiday, no problem...

‘B’ consequences for us? Well it’s possibly - no definitely, the worst time to be launching a business in Europe that's for sure, be it a small one!

The first hurdle for us to overcome is the subject of our Iggys. If we are dealt the hard Brexit card (there, I said it) in the unfortunate game of ‘no deal’ then we will need an OV (official veterinary) certificate alongside the Iggy passports. To have one of these Huxley & Biba will need to go through the blood titre testing procedure again. In trying to pre-plan, I read some info courtesy of www.gov.uk on Defra’s page. It’s somewhat confusing, so I figure it’s perhaps better to get the Iggy's blood test's done before we go - even though they are not due for their booster until November. I ring my vet for advice and am told it may be best to bring them in now, before we leave though she’s not absolutely sure.

Later that week at my appointment, I see a different vet and she isn’t sure either.

Problem is, if they have the rabies booster today there is a 30 day wait until the next stage which is the blood titre test.

The results of the blood test must show that the vaccination has been successful (rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml). Then another wait of THREE MONTHS after the blood test and before they can travel.

Hmm...

Chances are on that basis we won’t get to france until at least end of June! We have a mid June booking for the gite. However there is also that ever so small chance that if one dog fails then the whole procedure has to be started again. A chance we can’t take as one of our lurchers failed about 12 years ago and had to go into kennels.

Iggy’s don’t do kennels.

“So can I get their test done today? get the OV after the initial 30 day period? that would be end of February, in time before we go. Then if one dog fail's, I can still go under the November date in their current valid passport?” I suggest to the vet.

“We can’t really do that.”

“Can’t you just turn a blind eye?”

“Not really.”

“So surely the best thing then is to take them out before the 29th, get the rabies booster done in france and then we have 6 months to play with in case the test fails over there?”

“Assuming the ferry doesn’t require the OV going out of the country.”

“Oh.”

So we find ourselves staring at the Iggy's - me, waiting for their maybe, maybe not booster jab and the vet pondering over different decisions without risk of anything backfiring on her. We stare at each other, clueless.

The vet decides to ring Defra and eventually hangs up after a stream of unanswered questions, because Defra doesn’t know either.

I go home and ring Brittany ferries to check if we will need the OV at passport check-in at Portsmouth but guess what... they don’t yet know either. Trouble is, if Teresa May & the EU don’t know then how is anyone ever supposed to? The situation is a mess. The government is a mess. At one point I almost felt sorry for Teresa May but now I am feeling inordinately impatient! Oh, please let there be some wondrous miracle that sorts out this unfathomable circus of leaders and politicians!

Okay well we’ll just have to chance it and hope we can depart the UK on the Iggy's current passports without providing the OV. (It wouldn't be the first time we get turned away from the ferry port.) At least we might then have a 6 month window in france should one or the other Iggy fail the titre test.

Hmm...

The next consideration is whether Roddy will be allowed to actually stay in france for 6 consecutive months... If we crash out on the 29th with 'no deal' and are classed as a third country there is a possibility that Roddy will not be able to stay.

Hmm...

Assuming visa’s are then required, Roddy might only be allowed to stay consecutively for 90 out of 180 days. For now, that is under the treaty of the Schengen Agreement, but we are a non Schengen EU country (until end of March)

Hmm...

If a visa is required, apparently one has to apply in their country of origin to the required consulate of the intended country of stay. So Roddy might have to travel back to the UK (London) to the french embassy in person to apply for his extended visa, before promptly returning to france. Or maybe not so promptly, the embassy might be inundated. There maybe be numerous week's wait!

You can apparently apply for a tourist visa for extending your stay to 6 months (Yay!) - but on that visa you MUST NOT WORK! (Damn!)

Hmm...

I will be coming back to the UK every 6 weeks to do a chunk of work, extremely grateful to all my amazing clients who are supporting our venture this year, or I don’t think we would be able to stay that length of time in france without a source of income, living just off savings.

Hmm...

So what happens next year? We were planning to stay for 6 months (seeing as residency is rapidly slipping away from us) relying on the income from renting out our house in the UK. Could be a major problem if we can only stay 90 consecutive days out of 180.

Hmm...

I guess we won’t be able to rent our house out for 3 months only, and you have to be around to offer Airbnb, providing crisp clean white bedlinen and flowers on the table...

Furthermore we won’t be able to hop across the boarder for the night and then go back into france either. We have to come back to the UK for the next 90 days before re-entering an EU country again, or else go to a non-EU country should the house be rented out for 6 months.

Hmm...

Surprisingly, I’m not tempted with Libya, Tunisia or Afghanistan. USA, Australia and New Zealand would tempt me but alas too far. I would be more than happy to spend 3 months touring India, Morocco and Jamaica, but apart from the fact that our funds aren’t lucrative enough to stretch to that level and length of travel, what on earth do we do with our beloved Iggy’s? They wouldn’t last 30mins in Iceland with the fragility of their wafer thin coats, they virtually live in the house under blankets!

Hmm...

In fact what DO we do with them?! If there is a problem with the blood tests in france then we may not have the leeway of the 6 months span to attempt another try if Roddy has to return to the UK. We can’t dump them in the kennels until they get their titre results! God forbid the EU bring back primitive laws of quarantine on countries classed as ‘third’? No! Surely not!

Hmm...

aren't we just!

Fingers crossed there will be