Moving House


 

After a hectic day of packing the day before, all our belongings are stowed onto the two trucks.  Our moving team are incredibly efficient and we arrive in the small village of Piddletrenthide, Dorset by about two o’clock.  The next few hours fly by.  The house owner, Kim, has just finished painting the dining room to hide the damp.  She greets us warmly.  Clearly this is her family house, but due to illness she needs to live with relatives for a while.  She loves it and hopes to return soon.  That is why the house has such a lovely feel to it, unlike many buy to lets.

John is occupied by the estate agent and her twenty page list of notches and marks throughout the house.  What do people expect from a house which is two hundred years old?  The removal team ask for a two minute debrief on what might go where and they use their initiative to place the furniture and the sixty boxes.

We are here!  The next stage of our retirement project!

There is such a mix of emotion.  Exhaustion! Exhilaration! Bewilderment!

We have no mobile signal in the valley: no landline so no phone calls are possible until we discover that we can walk up the hill almost a mile off!  There is no internet set up.  We suddenly feel very cut off from friends and family.

Once everyone has gone, we walk happily up the garden hill in the hope of getting a signal.  We clutch a bottle of champagne and a plate of food.    We climb over the style at the end of our grass area and enter the wooded section.I had no idea the hill would be so steep.  I end up grasping roots and pulling myself up.  There is the remains of a tree house to the right.  Ivy clings to the trees, making it darker.  Soon we reach the opening and a path which runs along the ridge behind everyone’s garden.  Disappointed there is no where to sit we descend again a little way and perch on a fallen tree trunk.  Here we sip champagne and wonder at the beauty and difference!

The view over the valley beyond, the farmland, the rooftops is wonderful.  I think I will be happy to call this home for the next six months or so.

 

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Packed and waiting


That’s it then!
We’ve done it!
Around ten o’clock this morning, whilst we had five men and two vans packing us away, we heard that the exchange had taken place and the completion on the house deal will be Friday!

Woohoo!

It all worked out after all!
We move tomorrow.

There may be radio silence for a while. The new place has no broadband, no 3G signal and no mobile phone signal. So if you don’t hear from us for a short while- don’t worry. We made it to Dorset.

I promise photos and news as soon as possible.
Thanks to everyone who sent their support and messages of hope. You have all been wonderful.

Oh! I am so excited!

Pre-packing


Tomorrow, we are going to take our furniture on holiday!
Six men are coming to pack it all in boxes, with loving care, we hope, and plenty of bubble wrap. Our cats are going to be confined in a room, which they will not appreciate.
There will be nothing to do and there is everything to do.

It feels like a holiday because we are only staying in this new house for six or seven months, so we cannot get rooted in it. It feels like a holiday because we still have not exchanged contracts with the buyers, although everyone tell us this will happen tomorrow. As I have been hearing this for over a week, I am a little dubious.

On Friday, John and I sat down for a crisis management talk.
What if it all falls through?

After copious lists of possibilities and calculations on how much money we might lose over this, we made several phone calls to check our facts. The probability of it all working out as planned rose as a consequence to the phone calls. It reminded me of my role as head teacher. “If someone does not do something to resolve this situation, heads will roll!” Someone did something.

If all is not going to go well, we have plan B and C. They are, loosely, renting out out current home or returning home with the furniture after a short holiday.

The pre-packing continues with increased frenzy. The washing machine is disconnected: this proves more difficult that it sounds. Assorted wood is pulled from dark corners in the attic where John has been storing it, in case he ever wanted to make something. Now, wood is something that I remember from my last move 24 years ago. So that must have made quite an impression! For years after the last move John bemoaned the loss of a specific piece of wood that would have been perfect for whatever job was in hand. So I am keeping out of the woodpile.

There’s cleaning, and gathering things we will need over the moving days, along with packing or gathering the myriad of small things we have no use for but cannot throw away. Oh! So that is how junk is born!

At one point I can stand it no more and grab my bike for a tour of our lovely local park. That’s where my elder daughter lost her Wellington boot in mud: over there our kite got stuck in the tree about 20 years ago: here is the playground where both daughters loved to play and recently Keoni enjoyed. The list of loved places grew as I pedalled.

But I do not want to go back. Much as I love it. I want new adventures, new friends to join old ones, new decorations and styles to try out in new houses. A life full of visitors and fun and friendship.

I am hot, exhausted, unable to rest, fiddling with things which do not belong together and refuse to find their way into the rubbish bin.

What am I doing?
I am taking my furniture on holiday tomorrow!

Exchange frustration and others lives


Aaah!

This is so frustrating!

There is a tension in my stomach and a mix of pure excitement and horror.

Since Friday we have had a daily question about our exchange. Everyone will tell you that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do. It is up there with divorce and death.

Our house move has gone so very quickly in comparison with other people. We have been very lucky to achieve a record price for our street, and the whole thing has gone from first view to offer in a matter of weeks really.

We have chosen to be the top of the chain of buyers. We thought this might make us more ‘appealing’! Ultimately it will also makes cash buyers; a strong position I’m told.

Our chain of buyers is only three long, but the people at the bottom, I’m told are in the process of divorce. There are additional papers for them to sign, and they chose to go on holiday just last week.

For three working days, the estate agents have been saying, ‘today’! But each day passes. I feel so sorry for the couple and their relationship. No one would want to be in their position.

But we have tried to go with our own buyers who are disparate to move in so their children can get places in local schools. To this end we have found our rental house and told removal firms and letting agency that e hope to move on Tuesday. Yes, that’s the one! Six days away!

Fellow bloggers have been so kind with their wishes for our future. I am heartened by these virtual friends!

It will happen. Just not sure when!

So nothing to report. Everything in place like dominoes lined up for a small push.

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A Knife Edge between Joy and Sorrow


Less than a week ago, we went down to Dorset in a “let’s see what it has to offer” mood. We had arranged viewing for three properties to buy: a mill, a barn and the wing of a Dower House. All so different, but exciting properties. Could I see myself living the stately life with antiques and the faded beauty which the Dower House offered? Did I prefer the massive spread of exposed cogs and beams in the mill, which happened to be right up against the road? Or would I like the finish of the barn; all done to a high spec, down a tiny road next to a farm?

I guess, the reality was more…did I like the area? And we did! Very much. So we stopped all efforts to live on the South Downs and focused on Dorset. Time has run out to buy. We need to rent for six months or so.

Within a week of hard work and constant viewings or phone calls, we have found the property.
A four bedroomed house with steep garden up to a wood. This house must be centuries old, with the first floor to prove it; all uneven, sloping and higgledy-piggeldy.
The basic structure is a dolls’ house with a central hall, flagged in stone polished over the years and four rooms per floor. The kitchen has an oil fired Aga and quarry tiling. It is located in the middle of a tiny village, opposite a pub and some 100 metres from the village shop.

We agree to take it immediately because it is vastly more characterful, cosy and spacious than any other we have seen.

But we have not yet exchanged. We trawl through quotes from four removal companies and choose one who, promptly say, “ah, yes! But that is the Bank Holiday!”. So we agree to pull the whole thing forward to next Monday for packing and Tuesday we move.

That is 9 days!

And we have not yet exchanged! So we had no legal way of knowing our buyers will buy and it will really go ahead.

Hey! I have taken risks before. This will be alright.

So today, we hold a family meal. Both my daughters have grown up in this house. It is a simple farewell! A meal, a trawl through a handful of old photos, laughing at our hairstyles from the 80s, and a ritual story for our grandson. All of us in the room together.

Laughing through silent tears, that this can never be replicated.

For the girls, their childhood is disappearing. Of course, they can always come back to us, but never back to this, their childhood home. Of course they are both past 30 years old. But we are a tight knit family, our bonds are strong.

I can hardly come to terms with the constant waves of emotion. This is it! A really big move. I have never lived out of London. It has been years since we rented a place. I am so excited to be learning about a new community. So why was it only today, that I ran into at least four neighbours, while shopping?

How can I so willingly let my grandson leave my house, where I have the total privilege of seeing him every day?

How fantastic will it be for the girls to come to see me, rather than use the house as a base to visit their old school friends.

24 years, I have been here. Before that, we lived just around the corner for 8 years.

This is a BIG move.

I am looking forward to it with tears in my eyes!

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Exhilaration


It’s a whirlwind! It’s very exciting! It feels more than a bit risky…and I’m loving it!

Having found a buyer for our home of 24 years standing, the paperwork is nearly complete. Surveys done, solicitors engaged and dates are being spoken of…our buyer seems very keen to move in. They have new schools to enrol in, and no doubt want to start at the beginning of the UK school year. (That would be the beginning of September)

We are rooting through our belongings, happily taking stuff down to the charity shop or recycling centre on an almost daily basis. Probably not taking it quite as seriously as we should.

Occasionally we drive down to West Sussex and mooch around villages, debating their merit; or we might browse the web and estate agents, searching our ideal home. This is apparently not there! They are too big, located too close to a road, too far from the town, too new, too old….

My daughter and her son, who have been living here for many months now (and looked after the house and cats while we traveled round Australia) are also packing to move to Devon next weekend. On one level I am thrilled that they are up and running again, on another more profound level, I cannot bear the fact that Keoni will not give me my daily hug and insist that I play trains with him.

The house is filling up with boxes again as she gathers her possessions. For the first time, despite her 30 years, she has to gather everything! Girlish diaries, school book memories, pieces of childish art, a lifetime of nicknacks. Plus, of course, all her clothes, books, Keoni’s toys etc etc. It’s quite a hoard! And it will reduce the amount I have to pack and move.

Then, quite suddenly, our buyers suggest moving on 24th August. That is three weeks away!

It strikes us! We have nowhere to live! No decision. No short list.

We have been planning this for nearly two years. I am in no doubt at all that we want to move. W want to experience the country, rather than the city. I have always lived in London. It is time for a change. We looked at North Devon, ourselves initially. Beautiful countryside with incredible variety, but not very hot on shopping towns of the kind I might need. That lead us to Dorset, which we both love for the soft rolls of countryside and the warm stone houses. We are spoiled for villages in Dorset. Yet, for some reason, we had jumped to West Sussex recently.

OK. I know why we changed to West Sussex. We had been on a family day out, had a great time and just went for it!

Now, I know I should be ‘having kittens’, horrified that we have nothing firm planned. But it’s brilliant! I spent today, on the phone, persuading removal firms to come to assess our needs.

“What day will you be moving?” they asked
“Well, I’m not sure. Maybe 24th but we might prefer to do it earlier if we can find somewhere to move.”. Small pause.
“You don’t have a moving address?”
“Not yet!”. I smile “but I think it will be in Dorset!”

I always knew this would get to be exciting enough to blog about!

I’ll keep you posted!

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Thoughts on moving – some background


You will probably know that I retired last August as a head teacher. You may have read about our six months travels round Australia and New Zealand. You can flick back over the past 14 posts to see our voyage around Turkey and Greece, but the stark reality of being retired does not just sit with travel and adventures.
Anyone who has been on holiday knows they come home to a pile of laundry. Even though we threw away the clothes we had literally worn out while traveling, there still seemed to be mountains of dirty clothes and ironing.

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Add to this the fact that our daughter and her family have been house sitting for six months and we have arranged for them to remain at our house while we re-established our relationship with our grandson. This makes 5 in the house, lots of noise, laughter, and running up and down the hall corridor. Not to mention the fact that we need to separate their things from ours because it has become one comfortable whole rather than two families.
My daughter has lived in this house most of her life. She loathes it for its familiarity and loves it for its comfort. She has been an excellent house keeper, but running a massive house and a not quite two year old is very hard work. She enjoys a few weeks of Nonna (that’s me!) taking over, before the real work begins.
By the time we return from Greece, they have packed their belongings but have no job, nowhere to live. Her husband moves out with a van load of stuff to Devon, in search of their future. She, wisely decides to remain here with Keoni, until he has secured a home and job.
It takes a week to further disentangle our belongings. Much of their stuff is piled into our shed, but we still have boxes of fragile things to contend with.
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In short, it is a dreadful mess! My dreams of putting our house in order within days and putting it on the market, crash around my feet. My daughter becomes an amazing tower of strength. She cajoles, reasons, plans and moves. There is the constant need to keep an eye on Keoni but between three adults we manage well. Bag loads of stuff are carried to the charity shops in town. Boxes are re-housed in my daughter’s room, rather than scattered throughout the house. A schedule of tasks is written and we all try hard to stick to it.
Each of us in turn, dips into doldrums. It is an impossible job and we will never do it. When this happens the other two work harder to impress the success of the venture. Gradually, very gradually, the house separates into two and the grand spring clean commences.
My daughter has a brilliant eye for decor. She can move a vase, an ornament and a cushion and create harmony, where I would shove things together in over similar mode to create something altogether too heavy and dreary.
Today, we have been at it for ten days! We had a day off for the Queen’s 60th Jubilee, and a day at the farm with Keoni.
Still to do…
1. Touch up paint in our bedroom
2. Re-paint kitchen
3. Store my daughter’s things in the attic so her room is more livable
4. Hire a carpet cleaner for the whole house.
5. Spring clean front room, my daughter’s room and dining room
6. Pressure hose patio
Problem with 6 is we are in a hosepipe ban, so it looks as if it might be a hand situation. Yuk!
I hope we will be going to the estate agents by the end of next week at the latest.
What do you reckon are my chances?