We were quietly making our way north again after leaving Paddington Basin, with the intention of securing winter moorings at Dunchurch Pools Marina near Rugby while we headed for warmer climates, when a letter from the Home Office arrived which caught us off guard and immediately had us reassessing our future plans.
I had finally done my 5 years in the UK and was eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain – a precursor to becoming a citizen and acquiring a UK passport. However, I had made one error – due to a few things outside my control and a couple within, I had submitted the laborious application several weeks late which technically made me an overstayer.
Long story short – with the assistance of our lawyer, Kawther and barrister, Edward, and with the invaluable support of a huge army of family and friends both near and afar, we fronted the Immigration Tribunal in Birmingham on the 16th December and fortunately won the appeal enabling me to remain for a further 2 ½ years. We thank our many family and friends who attended court, gave statements, wrote support letters and sent messages of love and support, which undoubtedly got us over the line during this difficult period. My best advice to anyone contemplating spending prolonged time in a country other than that of which they are a legal citizen – seek legal assistance from someone very experienced in matters relating to immigration. It is a minefield without such advice and assistance.
Fortunately, we have finally heard that I have been granted the Indefinite Leave to Remain that I applied for and within a few days I will be in receipt of my much prized and long-awaited Biometric Residence Permit enabling me to travel abroad and return to the place I call home.
The thought of having to suddenly leave the country we have been blessed to live in for the last 6 years, and the friends and extended family that have become very precious to us, sent us into a bit of a spin. We chose to pursue an alternative mode of transport and home that would enable us to tour Europe if I had to leave the UK in a hurry to avoid being deported.
After a bit of a search, and lots of advice from Bob’s experienced cousins, Mick and Cheryl, and my sister and brother in law, Yasha and Juergen, we finally found and purchased our new home/mode of transport.
Introducing our 2006 Hobby 700 Motorhome, known variously as the Celtic Tart, Tartcart or Celtic Wheels. We love her almost as much as the Celtic Maid. I’ve always wanted a hobby and now I have one!!!!
We have undertaken a few trips in her – visiting family and friends in Hertfordshire, a run to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, a visit to Jim and Chris near Tamworth.
We have also spent a few days in Uxbridge, either side of clinic visits for Bob’s eye condition, visiting our friends Jonathon and Mija and baby Leo, again. We just love these people and getting to know Leo is an absolute treat.
So, our intention from here is to get to know our new home before heading to Europe for a few months of exploring before returning in July to Celtic Maid to do some cruising. Celtic Maid now has annual moorings at Dunchurch Pools Marina, and she has been happy sitting here with her friends while we have been getting to know her sister on wheels.
We are blessed to be so well supported and to now be able to continue living the dream in both Celtic Maid on water and Celtic Tart by land.