Well, it's been quite a day!
Lola had a play date with two boy Golden Retrievers called Bertie and Toby. I mentioned yesterday that I "met" their mum J on a GR Facebook page and today was a bit like a blip meet, only for GR owners instead of photographers.
We set off just after 10am and arrived at their house just after 11am.
What an amazing place! A listed building full of original features, surrounded by amazing grounds that the dogs are free to roam in. Perfect!
We were met by J, her husband P and her two boys. What stunning Goldens they are. Of course they were absolutely hyper to meet Lola and she didn't need to be told twice to go and play with her new found friends. They were bombing round the garden! I just wish the weather could have been more like yesterday but it was grey and miserable, not that the dogs cared.
We went indoors and the craziness of the dogs continued inside. Much to our amazement though Lola was impeccably behaved and it was the two boys who were vying for her attention. Bertie, the older of the boys was very enthusiastic but Lola soon put him in his place. She can certainly hold her own whilst maintaining her dignity.
Just as well J & P's living room is enormous as at one point, while we tried to chat and drink coffee, the three dogs were whirling round and round together like clothes in a washing machine! David and P drank their respective drinks quite quickly and took the dogs back out into the garden to have a proper run around. J and I sensibly stayed indoors and chatted. We got on like a house on fire!
The dogs returned a while later looking much soggier than when they went out (D & P were looking much soggier too!) This shot was taken just as they came in and took a breather for a few seconds before the whirlwind began again!
All too soon it was time to leave but we all agreed we had enjoyed our time together and they willingly accepted our return invitation to bring the boys to ours for a romp on the moor followed by lunch. I will get back to J with suggested dates and hopefully it won't be too long before Lola and her new boyfriends will meet up again.
With Lola crashed out in the back of the car we stopped on the way home at a lovely little roadside cafe for a late lunch. It was there that I checked my phone and discovered some terrible news.
Our friends who were due to visit tomorrow (who I mentioned in yesterday's blip saying we hoped to have something wonderful to celebrate with them) had messaged to say L's application for permanent residency in the UK had been turned down on a technicality that isn't his fault. We are devastated for them and so angry.
This beautiful family have done everything by the book over the last 7 years to gain L's right to stay in the Uk permanently. My friend S is Scottish and she met L when she volunteered in an orphanage for disabled children in Kenya a number of years ago (they are both Social Workers.) They fell in love.
L got a first stage Visa, moved to Scotland, got a job immediately and they got married. For the last eight years they done everything necessary for L to gain British citizenship. He has passed all the necessary tests and today was the biggie - his application for his leave to remain visa. And it was refused on a technicality that is not his fault. And they charged him £650 to tell him this.
I am totally ashamed of the way this young man has been treated. Don't get me wrong, I know it's important that there are rules and regulations in place regarding immigration, but L is the type of person we should be accepting with open arms. He is university educated, he has worked full time since he arrived in Scotland in the care industry and social work and is now working with disadvantaged young people to help them turn their lives around.
He also does a huge amount of work for charity, running marathons, kilt walks, Sponsored Santa to name a few, to help young people in Scotland and his village back home in Kenya. He has paid full tax on all his earnings, he is married to a Scottish woman and they have two beautiful children and so far this whole citizenship circus has cost them £10,000 in visa fees. Ten thousand pounds!!! Who the hell can afford that?! Certainly not a young family trying to make an honest living and contribute to their community.
And the costs keep rising. They live on a Scottish island so had to rent a flat in Glasgow this week to come down so L could submit his application to the Home Office, pay £650 for a fast track decision so they could get their answer and be home again for the start of the week (L due back at work on Monday.)
Now due to an error with a certificate (apparently he has to sit an English language test with EVERY application! Why? He's already passed it more than once! It's not as though he'll suddenly forget how to speak English!) instead of heading home on Saturday, he has to resit the language test (takes 10 minutes and costs £195) on Saturday, wait for the new English Language certificate to be issued then resubmit his whole application again (has to be done in person) which won't be considered for seven days.
My heart breaks for them. Neither of them could talk they were so upset so I've been relying on email updates. They really were at a loss as to how they could manage the reapplication given the timescales, so I have suggested that they come and stay with us. There's no way I could have them driving five and a bit hours to home up north and back again within a few days, with a five year old and a four month old baby.
It will be absolutely lovely to have them here, I just wish it was in happier circumstances.