I have been busting to post since AW and I went to the Czech embassy to apply for the ‘EU family member Schengen Visa’ (bit of a mouthful, but that’s it’s name). So much has been happening though, that I have not had the time. A number of sagas are coming to welcome conclusions, so I’ll fill you in. Go and grab of tea. I’ll still be here when you get back. Bring a few digestives.
(I’ll discuss the little monkeys at the end, but I’m working on the premise that other people’s kids are boring, and you might prefer reading about ME (or just watching paint dry?)).
So – the Moving To Prague Saga
EU family member Schengen visa.
We went last Friday and although we knew this visa was supposed to work in a very particular way, we were not truly, truly sure that it isn’t too good to be true. The visa you get out of it is a normal Schengen, which lasts 90 days and entitles entry into any Schengen country (I believe there are 28). However, the application process requires none of the usual stuff. In fact it requires only proof of your relationship (we showed our CP certificate, but it is supposed to be possible for unmarried partners who can demo 2 years’ cohabitation), and your intent to travel to a Schengen country together. We were behind a ‘normal’ Schengen applicant and they received the usual, demeaning grilling over the minutiae of their application. Our nerves twitched, and we muttered to each other.
At the window, was a Thai lady (transpired she was the rather officious but helpful lady I had spoken to on the phone. I got the feeling she enjoyed the power her position gives her. It may be cynicism to believe many immigration and consulate staff might feel that way. They do wield enormous power.) and a burly Slavic-looking fellow. The Thai lady was really picking the woman’s evidence apart, and told her she had to go away and fix something in her bank book. For a two-week hol, you need evidence of your financial activity for the previous 6 months.
When it was our turn at the window, we passed our envelopes through and SG’s (Slavic Guy’s) face clouded a bit. He was clearly looking for the usual evidence required. The Thai lady (TL), to whom I had spoken on the phone, appeared to not really know of we could do this visa as two women. Even though we booked the appointment through her and she knew what we were expecting. When the burly Czech guy realised what we were asking, he looked ever-so-slightly-amused and skidded back on his wheely chair to the wall which evidently hid the consular officer.
To try to cut this story of tension and trauma a bit short, I will tell you that there were several confused and tense moments at the window with TL and SG, and In the end they had to ask the consul himself. He came out and greeted us. I loved his face- silver hair in waves, high cheekbones, and penetrating blue eyes. He spoke to the other two and I heard him use a work that sounded like ‘registeredznipartnershipski’ several times, indicating all the paperwork and the he turned to us to confirm it was all in order
Got to say the the Consul was, Awesome (wonder what that is in Čech? Awesomeski?).
This visa route we are doing is a bit like that; it is absolutely fantastic, but I think resented slightly by the countries chosen by applicants; they would prefer to apply their national law and it is overridden. Or embassies simply don’t know of it and need to be educated. Officials don’t really like that, so from what I have read it can be a more than slightly stressful application (imagine if you are already suffering from months of separation and going at it at your wits end already?!). So, i was more than a little relieved when we were told everything was ok and that we could go ahead and book our flight tickets. We did, and thankfully the visa was handed over yesterday, เนียบร้อย.
Major hurdle leapt.
We handed them:
-civil partnership cert
-bookings (showing intention to travel together – a return ticket not required, just an unconfirmed reservation)
-our kids’ UK birth registrations with both their names
-my job contract
-cover letter from me (EU Citizen)
-cover letter from AW (filthy non-EU)
(We looked up the staffing of the embassy and addressed the letters to the consular officer, which I think could only have helped).
We also had, just in case, a few pages of photos spanning our relationship and copies of the EU freedom of movement directive in English and Czech. They didn’t ask for or necessitate the submission of those things.
The flat saga is also over. The offer I accepted has completed and so for these last few months in Thailand we don’t have to send more than half our income to the UK. Enough said. Just don’t ask me if my 2007 ‘investment’ was worth it. Aside from a sharp lesson in economics, it wasn’t. I am relieved beyond words to be rid of Saniflo waste disposal units, and we are relieved beyond words as a family to know that our money is now our own.
The consulate staff did misadvise us on the flights, which has led to the ongoing flight saga, which I’ll fill you in on next post.
Briefly in other news:
Period #2 came along on Tuesday (22.4). It’s weird! If you think that I have been a non-menstruating woman now for 24 months (apart from the post-partum bleed), then you might understand why I’m irritated. No, hell, if you’re a woman you’ll understand. Periods suck balls
The girls are so gorgeous and starting to say things slightly more regularly.
First words log:
This month Ivy has said “maew” about everything that is an animal
Olive says “buuh” for birds
Once, very clear with a telephone last Saturday (19th April) Ivy said “hello”
Yesterday (20th April) once, Olive did a runny poo, pointed to her nappy and said “poo”
They are both saying ‘nah’ and ‘no’
Less happily, Olive is liking biting Ivy.
Trying positive discipline but it is not followed during the day, so not sure how effective it will be.
So excited that they will be parented by AW in Prague 🙂