Arran update: good news!

We just heard from the bank today that our application for a business loan has been approved in principle! So, step one is now complete. I’m not sure what the next step is and will have to speak to the bank business adviser about that. I suspect that we will have to have a survey of the business done prior to making an offer. The bank will also need to have a survey done of our security.

It’s all starting to become a bit more real now, which is both exciting and scary. It also means that the disappointment factor is higher, as our hopes are now that little bit higher. I’ve already started looking at Luxembourg with fresh eyes as I have the feeling that I might not be here for all that much longer. It’s a good feeling. Still, I have to remain focussed on the immediate tasks and not start getting caught up in projecting; that’s dangerous ground for me. I take care of the actions and try not to consider the results, otherwise fear can get in the way. Little steps, action instead of inaction, and what will be will be.

News update

Lorraine put her back out somehow in her sleep the night before last and is now at the doctor yet again. Her bronchitis also sounds worse than ever. She’s really not having a good time of it at all at the moment.

Thankfully the kids seem okay; the coughs are almost better now and they’re both happy.
Arran wise, progress is slow. I almost completed the RBS business plan template and had Lorraine help me with it. She pointed out that the parts I was stuck with were because they didn’t really fit with the type of business we’re looking at — I guess that’s the problem with templates. So we’ve decided to send the Post Office business plan to the bank instead of the RBS one. I did about half of it yesterday and hope to complete it this afternoon.
Arjun and Marina are coming to visit on Friday for the weekend and I’m really looking forward to seeing them.
Time to change some nappies. I hope to get another couple of blog entries done soon; there are a couple on the boil…

Post Office progress

We got some documentation through on Friday. My good pal Graeme (current postmaster at Prestwick PO) sent me the business plans that he used (one for the bank and one for the PO) and it’s been a great help.

I spoke to the seller for over an hour on Friday night and got a lot more information from her to get me started on the business plan. Thankfully I’ve started making phone calls using Skype, the advantages of which are twofold: firstly, it’s cheaper than by regular phone (ā‚¬0.017 per minute), and secondly, I can record the calls. Having recordings is a great thing as I don’t have to sit on the call writing illegible notes and failing to listen properly because I’m scribbling on the notepad.

We also got some business loan info from the Royal Bank of Scotland, including some software on a CD ROM for creating a business plan. I spent all my at-home time over the weekend poring over the material and trying to put the business plan together. It’s now Monday and it’s not yet complete. I have had to ask Janice another few questions (I’ve just sent her an e-mail) and also Derek at the RBoS (who just happens to be off this week – it figures). So I’ll give my Graeme a call tonight and see if he can help me with my queries. The business plan that he submitted to his lender (not the same as mine) is a lot less detailed than the one that will be generated by the RBS software.

I hope that it will be ready to send by mid week, so that it is on Derek’s desk when he gets back from wherever he happens to be. That means it really needs to be completed by Wednesday morning. I would also like to have had it looked over by a friend of an accountant friend of ours, but I’m not sure how likely that is, given that it’s a friend of a friend and the tight timescale. Well, I guess it’s not that tight; the seller intimated that there are other interested parties but didn’t say as much outright. But it is in our interests to act as quickly as possible in order to be in the position to make an offer before anyone else does.

Watch this space.

Progress report

I completed the bank forms yesterday after calling Derek (business relations manager) and discovering that he also wants a business plan and our CVs. The CVs we can do, but the business plan? How does one do such a thing?

I had a look at the PO website which contains some info on how to apply to become a subpostmaster. It mentioned on there that only UK residents may apply, so I called their HR dept. and it seems that we should be just fine, providing we can prove that we will be resident when the application is made. I did discover, however, that the application cannot be submitted until the current postmistress has formally handed in her notice of resignation. I foresaw a vicious circle. She won’t resign until she has an offer; the bank won’t offer the loan unless we’re accepted by the PO; and we can’t put in an offer until the loan has been approved.

So, I called Derek again and put him in the picture. He was pretty helpful – he’s a bit of a Jack the Lad actually, using such phrases as “rubber ducked” and “lazy bastards (referring to Arran’s plumbers)”. Providing we are approved, the loan can be offered on the condition that we are accepted by the Post Office. At that stage we should be able to put in an offer which will also be conditional upon acceptance by the Post Office. Then the current postmistress can submit her resignation. I don’t foresee any problem with being accepted by the post office, apart from the whole residency thing. But we’re committed to moving anyway, so even if we move and it doesn’t come to pass, at least we’ll be out of Lux.

The Post Office has a template business plan that you can download, as does the Royal Bank of Scotland. On reading it through, I realised that we did not have enough info from the seller, so wrote out a list of questions. I then called my good friend Graeme, who just happens to have gone through this process himself, and got some great help from him. He’s asked that I send him the info I have and he’ll look it over and see if he thinks the asking price is too high. He’s also going to show it to his brother, who’s a business relations manager at another bank. He is also going to send us the business plan that he used so we can see the sort of thing we ought to be thinking about. And he suggested that we get an accountant to draw up our business plan, which is good because it so happens that a good friend of Lorraine’s is an accountant!

So considering Graeme and Irena the accountant’s help, it seems once again that things are stacking up in our favour.Is this my higher power at work? I just have to keep on going with it and not let things slip. At the moment I’m waiting on Graeme’s business plan arriving and I still have to call the seller with my list of questions. I can’t do that tonight as I’m out playing guitar and it seems more or less to have been decided that it is I who will be doing most of the organisation on this. I’m happy with that, and it seems to make sense given that it’s in my part of the world and I speak the same language.

Maybe I’ll call the seller at work this afternoon and get that done.

Meanwhile, I still have the translation to get finished. Lorraine got as far as reading through Chapter 4 of 8, so I can review her changes to Chapters 1ā€“4. Hopefully it won’t be too big a job.

Arran update

We got the financial info and schedule through from the seller today, so I can finally get to work completing those horrid bank forms.

I’m off to see to the bank forms right now and hopefully get them sent off tomorrow.


Arran progress

I spoke to a solicitor in Saltcoats yesterday — from the firm Nellany & Co — and had a nice chat with Michael Nellany. He said he would contact the seller to request the same info that she’s sent us and will be in touch.

Meanwhile we’ve got the personal profile and business profile forms from the Royal Bank of Scotland to fill out. Hopefully the info from Janice will arrive today so that we can fill out the forms over the weekend.

Thankfully I spent a lot of time in the latter half of last year entering our financial info in Microsoft Money (which is rather a difficult piece of software to get to grips with), so I should manage to get all the info I need about income and expenditure fairly easily.

For now though, it’s back to the translation. šŸ™

Chance of a dream come true

On Sunday Lorraine mentioned to me that she had seen in the Arran Banner an advert for the sale of the lease for the Brodick Post Office, not thinking for a moment that I would be interested. Pretty soon thereafter I called the seller to get the lowdown and began to realise that this could very well be the opportunity of our lifetime. We’ve wanted to leave Luxembourg for a while and dreamed of moving to Arran (an island off the west coast of Scotland and the most beautiful place on Earth).

We looked at properties on Arran back in August and made some enquiries about getting a mortgage. It turned out that no UK banks or building societies would entertain us, as we’re not UK residents. I expected the same response when I began making enquiries about a business loan to buy the post office lease. I called my branch and got the usual response (I’ll call you back). Soon thereafter, much to my surprise, I got a call from the business manager at the branch on Arran! We talked for a while and it really sounds like this might be a possibility.

There are many ins and outs and it’s rather a daunting prospect at the moment. I just have to remember that we’re only in charge of the actions department; the results department is not our concern. I have to think that way as there’s too much at stake otherwise.

The seller has mailed us a schedule and some financial details. The bank has sent us two forms to fill out: a personal profile and a business profile. We can’t really get our teeth into those until the info from the seller arrives. We also need to find a solicitor to request that he submit a note of interest on our behalf, just to make things official. We have details of two solicitors in Saltcoats who have knowledge of Arran. Hopefully the schedule from the seller will have the contact details of her own solicitor so we can get that ball rolling.

So, let’s just wait and see what happens. If you’d told me on Saturday that, by the close of the following day, I’d be excited about buying a post office lease, I’d have thought you were nuts.