June 23, 2014

SETTLING IN

The settling in progresses and we're getting used to our new house, our new neighbourhood and our new neighbours.

The house is lovely and we love it. The question is, would we still have bought it if we had known that the neighbours on the other side of our party wall have three very young children?
We have no children ourselves, just a few nephews and nieces. The good thing about them is that we can enjoy their company for a while then wave them off when the family occasion that called for their presence is over. Most of them are teenagers now, well past the screeching stage - unlike the two year old next door.

The neighbours are in fact a very nice family. We have heard no bad language or bad tempers. Only patient coaxing and teaching from the parents and a lot of boisterous shouting from the younger children. They're just doing what young children do I suppose - shout to get what they want and shriek when they don't succeed.

All the clues were there when we viewed the house. There were toys in the back garden next door. I suppose we chose to ignore them, thinking that in a house this size there can't be more than two children, at the most. I forgot that these houses were built as homes for larger families in the 1930's and most of them are still "family homes". We liked the house so much, compared to others we had seen, that we were prepared to risk it. We now console ourselves with the notion that two year olds do grow up - in time.

I have never had a new house before - this is a 1930's house with a brand new interior, very tastefully modernised to compliment its age. There have been a few teething problems, such as the slight leak under the sink which delayed the emptying of boxes of cleaning stuff for a while, until Nick could find the time to fix it. Assembling the wardrobes and chests of drawers was the priority. The drain for the bath was not fitted properly meaning all the waste bath water ran down the drive. We had some trouble persuading the dishwasher to work and there are several switches which we have yet to work out what they do.

Bit by bit we're getting used to it, learning its little ways and secrets. The water pressure is fantastic - almost French in its powerfulness - and it's great to know you can take a shower at the same time as running the dishwasher and the washing machine. Having a combi boiler means there is an endless supply of hot water for the bath but flinging elbows around too enthusiastically in the bathroom can result in bruises. Indeed, flinging a leg out of bed in the night can result in stubbing a toe on the bedroom wall!

Our spell of settling in and DIY is almost coming to an end and soon we will be heading back to France to begin our house hunting there. Most our new flatpack furniture is built and in use, a good proportion of the boxes have been emptied and their contents stowed in new places.
We are both pretty exhausted, ready for a proper rest and also feeling the need to remind ourselves why we have done this thing - swapped our perfectly nice and comfortable house for something less than half the size with buses thundering past the front window every ten minutes. Moving house has been emotionally and physically shattering and I'm glad we only do it every twenty nine years!

In the meantime, one item we very nearly took to the tip has come into its own after years of disuse - Nick's ancient ghetto blaster that he kept in the garage. When the little one next door is having a tantrum it's so satisfying to be able to drown out the sound with a bit of Def Leppard!

June 13, 2014

A NEW BEGINNING

So we are moved in!
To say we are settled in would be stretching it too far. Having thinned out our belongings enormously before we moved, and thinking we had done a good job, when the removal men carried box after box into our new house and the space for walking between them got smaller and smaller, I seriously began to wonder if we had done the right thing. The house is lovely but it's SO small!

So we have to thin them out even more, that's all there is to it. In any case how many ramekins does a two person household actually need?

Lulu doesn't seem to need a ramekin at all.

Speaking of Lulu, she has coped incredibly well with the upheaval. She spent three nights at her grandad's but we spent lots of time each day with her and we brought her to her new home as soon as the removal van had gone. She had a good sniff round, inspected the premises and then gave us a look which obviously meant "are you completely mad?"
Dogs can be very perceptive and cruelly blunt at times.

One of the challenges in settling in is in finding where to put things. In the kitchen it's just a matter of deciding what should go in each cupboard (except that we have too much stuff for the amount of cupboard space), but elsewhere it's more difficult because we literally haven't got anywhere to put anything as we haven't got any furniture. All our existing furniture has gone into store for future use in France. So with great enthusiasm we went shopping for furniture on Wednesday morning. The enthusiasm didn't last.

There's a lot of nice furniture about for a sensible price but the big, chunky, oak stuff, although beautiful, is way too big for our tiny spaces. Having found a small sideboard that would fit into our 80cm alcove, it had a few cm overhang on the top and very thick sides to the frame so that for our 80cm alcove we would end up with less than 65cm storage space at a cost of several hundred pounds. We were beginning to think that finding furniture for our new house could take up the whole of the rest of our summer. Not to mention a large chunk of the budget for our new house in France - when we find it.

So we ended up in ...... guess where, Ikea. For less than two grand we got four double wardrobes with internal shelves and baskets, three chests of drawers, a two seater sofa, two small armchairs, a glass fronted dresser, a bookcase and a bagful of the irresistible bits and bobs Ikea do so well. None of it is high quality heirloom stuff but it will suit our purpose perfectly well and at this stage in our lives we would rather invest in enjoying ourselves than in furniture!

It reminds me of something my dad always says when I ask him how he got on at his appointment with the doctor. "He told me not to buy any new shirts!"

So while Nick grapples with a mountain of flatpack furniture I am luxuriating in the fact that BT have provided us with telephone and internet according to plan and wondering which box contains our corkscrew!
Thank goodness for screw top wine bottles (and Vouvray, of course)!

Have a great weekend!

June 7, 2014

THE LAST TIME

This is it, moving day.
Well almost. The removal company will fetch the rest of our stuff this morning. Handover day is officially Monday. We will spend three nights in a nearby hotel - Lulu is staying with her grandad.

Some time on Monday we will get the keys to our new house, although being at the top of the chain we will probably be the last to get possession, so it could be quite late. The removal company are booked to bring our stuff back mid afternoon.

It feels odd to have woken up for the last time in the house where I have lived for twenty nine years. All the stuff I had accumulated over those years has now been packed in a box or disposed of.



I once thought I loved this house so much I would only leave it "in a box". Now I can hardly wait!

The computers are all packed away so this is an experimental post using my iPad. It seems to work ok. We'll be offline from Monday, unless we find a BT hotspot somewhere.
Have a great weekend!

June 3, 2014

AT LAST!

at last

Thirteen weeks after we accepted the offer on the house we have at last exchanged contracts and we’re on the move.

It has, as it was always bound to, turned into a mad scramble at the end.  We heard from the solicitor last Thursday that completion day was to be June 9th, so we contacted the removal company we had chosen with much research and deliberation, only to find that they are fully booked this week!  But they fitted us in by doing the first shift on Saturday.  A spot of overtime for the men.

at last2

at last3

So on Saturday they took away all the furniture and other stuff destined for our new home in France, wherever that might be.  Goodness only knows when we will see it all again!

I was fascinated by how they did it.  The huge removal van had inside it several large crates.  Doors in the side of the van were opened to access each crate and the men loaded things in so that every space was filled.   Each item was carefully noted on an inventory and the door to that crate was then closed. 

at last4 

The van was then moved forwards a few feet so that another crate was positioned at the entrance to the drive

at last5

With everything carefully loaded the van headed off back to the warehouse where the crates would be removed by a fork lift truck and stored.

We now have to finish boxing up the rest of our belongings before next Saturday when that will be removed in a similar way (more overtime). Loading it up should be a quicker job as we have no furniture left except the beds and garden chairs! 

We then have Sunday June 8th to clean up the house ready for its new owners and on June 9th we get the keys to our new house, which is all of four miles away.

So that’s it!  Contracts are signed and exchanged.  Most of our furniture and belongings are in a warehouse somewhere in Yorkshire and in under a week we will be living in a house less than half the size of this one. 

The first leg of our grand plan (to downsize here and upsize in France) is at last under way.  There’s no going back now and finally we can get on with the rest of our lives.  It might only be thirteen weeks since we accepted the offer on our house, but the idea has been in our heads for years.

On a practical note, there will be no internet at our new house for a while so the blog will go quiet for a while – à bientôt !!