Saturday (30th September)
It’s 5.30 a.m. and I’ve just got up and come downstairs in a strange new place. Home.
To say it has been a stressful few days would be the understatement of the century. However well you can see the deadline looming, however ‘organised’ you think you are, packing up 13 years of a 4 bedroomed house into cardboard boxes is a mammoth task. Most of the boxes have been labelled, but as I stare at the sea of cardboard, it really doesn’t help when you can’t even see box sides / tops to see what’s written on them.
Unfortunately and fortunately I’ve been off work for several weeks with depression / stress / anxiety. Fortunately this has allowed me to pack little and often and to purge of a lot of unnecessary and unwanted things. Unfortunately such activity is not proven to alleviate depression / stress / anxiety. It would be nice to imagine that having now moved, I (we) could put our feet up in our new pad and relax… But I’ve bought a project… and that just ain’t going to happen yet a while.
Anyway, here’s how we got here….
The removals guys arrived at around 9 a.m. Needless to say, we weren’t ready for them, in fact my daughter wasn’t even out of bed. Rookie error #1 was not moving out our cars before the truck blocked them in the driveway, meaning that we had to summon help to get my daughter to college… This was to be ‘pack and part load’ day… they were packing fragile items and removing all furniture except for our beds, one sofa and the tv. It was really difficult to keep track of things, as I was packing non-fragile kitchenware, and they were up and down the stairs. By the time I had a chance to go up to my bedroom, they had removed all but one of my pillows, as well as the empty suitcase I’d put ready to pack… (shall we call that rookie error #2?) My wardrobe took four men, a lot of head-scratching and multiple tools to dismantle. I’m not sure it will ever be worth reassembling. Many cups of tea and coffee later, they called it a day and left us to finish packing personal effects and retire to the local pub for our evening meal.
I think I had possibly the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had in that house. I had ‘bravely’ elected to have my bed frame packed and sleep on a mattress on the floor. Rookie error #3… I’m 51, not 15! I could hardly get down there, it was hard as nails once I was, and getting back up was a comedy sketch in itself. I gave up after an hour, and ended up on the sofa downstairs. Not the last night I had envisaged, and no cathartic last wake up in my bedroom. When I did wake up on the sofa, my back had seized so badly that I spent the rest of the day hobbling very tentatively and in quite some pain 😦
Friday (29th) morning
The removal team arrived even earlier than they’d told us they would, and 8.30 a.m. saw both me and my daughter scuttling to move our cars out of the drive this time! With very little left to load from the house, plus the contents of the garage and garden, they were done by 10.30, driving our entire house contents off in their truck to await my call that we had they keys to the new place.
Meanwhile, my trusty cleaner, my lovely Mum and my daughter set about cleaning the upstairs; Owen and I took a load of rubbish to the tip before joining them to scrub up the house so that it was in a fit state to hand over to the incoming owners. On the contract exchange, I had given 1 p.m. as our guaranteed handover time, which gave us enough time to clean, load our personal bits into cars, say goodbye to the house and lock out.
Except it didn’t happen like that. At 12.30, with that 1 o’clock deadline looking perfectly achievable, the door knocker went and a short, stiletto-clad, Italianate woman with an oversized handbag veritably strutted into the kitchen. “I’m Stefan (the new owner)’s Mum. And you are…?” She honestly looked at the three of us as if we were something the cat dragged in… I was momentarily lost for words. Who indeed were we?! “We’re the people moving out,” I offered. “Right. Well, you can tell your cleaner to go home – we don’t want her, we’ve got our own cleaners,” she continued. “Can I send them in to start upstairs?” Slightly stunned, I gathered myself quickly. “Yes, you can,” I said, “at 1 o’clock. That’s the time we said we’d be out. We’re not quite finished, but we will be by then.” A short contretemps followed, before she retreated to her large Merc. Minutes later a call came through from the estate agent, backing her up and telling me I had to leave asap. So much for a contractually agreed deadline – the keys had been released and we were ‘no longer the legal owners’ of 3 Llwyn y pia…
Until that point we had all been holding it together very well. From subsequent conversations with the kids, I know that we all had pretty much the same ideal of saying our goodbyes to the house and garden, before a ceremonious final lock of the door and the start of our journey to the new house. But right at that moment, there were three people sobbing in the kitchen, one bemused cleaner exiting and two on their way upstairs. Frankly, some stuck up cow, devoid of emotional intelligence, had just booted us out of the house. I stood in the driveway, with bags and boxes at my feet, and forced the last few items into my car with tears streaming down my face. I did not go back in. The kids, also crying, went in and down the garden to have a few moments together… watched from the kitchen by the cow. When they reappeared and exited the front door, the cow locked it behind us. Ouch. (*Note to friends: I have since secretly hoped that the very next thing she did was use the downstairs loo, with its shiny silver lock… 😉 )
My processing of this entire scenario has led me to conclude that the house was propelling us out from our old life and into our new one. It was time to leave, and the romantic lingering goodbye was not appropriate. I can live with that, even though in reality I would have preferred things to go rather differently.
In the course of the ‘get out’ it appeared I had missed calls from the agent for the new house and the removals team to let me know we had taken possession of Amesbury Rd… So it was out of the drive, and on the road straight to the new house! We were met there by my Dad and by the truck – the guys had already been in and opened all the windows and were chomping at the bit to start unloading. Not only did I not get to lock out of the old house, I didn’t get the pleasure of unlocking my new front door myself either. I fended off all attempts to start bringing stuff in whilst me, the kids, my Dad and his partner set about ripping up carpets and underlay and removing curtains in three rooms, piling them up in the front forecourt.
From that moment, things got more and more chaotic. I had decided that apart from beds, all upstairs furniture would go into the front bedroom, and that downstairs, kitchen stuff would make its way to the kitchen, the sofa to the front room, and all other downstairs furniture to the middle reception room. Garden stuff to the garden, garage stuff to the shed… (which, it turned out was still rammed with the outgoing owners stuff at that point, although he did reappear an hour or so later to finish unloading it).
By about 4 o’clock, everything was in. We could hardly move, and it was clear that finding stuff was going to be a nightmare! Myself and my Dad’s partner were busy scrubbing kitchen cupboards inside and out, cleaning the fridge and defrosting the freezer, while the kids unloaded boxes of kitchen stuff into them.
By 6 pm, my Dad had done a first run to the tip with carpets, the kitchen cupboards were filling up, I’d given the grand tour to my Mum and her partner, and we were about ready to sink into the padded dining chairs of the local Indian. Once fed and watered, we returned home to receive a surprise Ocado delivery of non-essentials (prosseco, pizza, cheese and ice-cream) courtesy of Heather and to hit the sack… which comprised three beds in a row in the solitary functioning bedroom.
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Sunday (1st October)
If you’re still reading, thank you. I needed to write all that… I could have written more, but I feel that the above gives you a flavour! I know that we had to make this move – from all aspects… financial, personal and emotional – and I know it’s the right thing. Things are already looking better at the end of a weekend of hard work. We now have a pretty functional kitchen, and can all get ourselves clean and access our clothing. However much of a mess we are in, I can see this house as a home and I keep on telling myself that it will be all the more dear to us because we will have put our own ideas and hard work into it. I hope that sentiment keeps me going long enough to finish the project!!
The door is open and you’re very welcome to come by and see us… as long as you smile and take us as you find us just for now.