At last… Broadband… Hello again, 21st Century

So. The move went pretty well.

The removal company arrived bang on time on the Wednesday and beavered away all day loading about ¾ of our worldly goods onto the lorry, leaving us with the sofa, a bed and a few bits and pieces. Not that these items constitute the other ¼, but you get the idea. And yes, the kitchen was cleaned to within an inch of its life, so it was one last trip to The Marsh Cat on that Wednesday evening. We were touched by the generosity of two of the waitresses there who bought glasses of Prosecco for us, which was very nice of them indeed.

Thursday brought that situation where the lorries (a second one was required to complete the task) were full and the crews raring to go. But we hadn’t yet completed… After several calls to the solicitor, we were told that the monies were moving up the chain and that we were OK to leave the keys with the agent and head off. I did not look back and surprisingly had neither a tear in my eye nor a lump in my throat as I drove away from the house we called home for 22 years and the lovely village it sits in. Such is life.

At exactly 1 o’clock, while driving to the new house, I received the call in the car that we had all completed and I could now collect the keys.

We had taken the opportunity on the Tuesday before completion to clean the new place as best we could, given the short time available (more of this later). The carpets were vacuumed and the kitchen and bathrooms cleaned, but to see the place without the old lady’s furniture was a bit of a shock. The rooms were smaller and darker than I had remembered them.

I am going to insert a cheeky “Top Tip” in at this juncture. If you are downsizing – do it properly.

Get rid of the things that you think you don’t need. That’s the easy bit. Then get rid of half the stuff you think that you do need. You don’t need it. If you miss out the second step, on trying to fit a 3 ½ bedroom house with two receptions, a big kitchen, a decent sized utility room and a large garage into a smaller 2 ½ bedroom bungalow with a smaller kitchen, no utility and a smaller garage, you will find that your stuff doesn’t fit. It’s bleeding obvious really, but worth repeating.

Our situation is exacerbated to a certain extent because we have been keeping some furniture ready for our daughter who is about to move into an unfurnished house. If only she’d done so LAST month… Still, we should see the wood for the trees by the weekend.

On moving in, and looking more deeply than was possible on the Tuesday, we actually found that the kitchen was in a disgusting state and required the intervention of a far more accomplished cleaner than me, armed with those Brillo pads with the soap in the middle. (It took Ann 4 hours to make it bearable). We daren’t use the oven, which would probably kill us, so the replacement kitchen has become an imperative.

We have been in only 10 days now, but we have achieved quite a lot. The living and dining room are tidy and arranged properly – just need redecorating. It’s amazing how quickly you can turn someone else’s living room into your own when your furniture is in it and your photographs and paintings are on the walls. The main bedroom is currently being redecorated. The old shed has been demolished and a new one ordered. A shelving system is waiting to be installed in the study. A start has been made on the garden, gutters and drains have been cleared. A skip is half full. Work will being on the utility room at the weekend. Quotes are in the process of being obtained for the replacement kitchen and for electrical work that is required. Choosing a new kitchen is pretty good fun, but a bit overwhelming, given the choice of styles and options, but I think that we have settled on a style – will maybe go for a bit of colour in the cabinetry – who knows!? I have been getting some very good advice from those that know about these things at work, so that has made a big difference.

Finding a garden clearance firm that isn’t a joke is proving difficult though.

And finally, today, BT plugged in the broadband. (Hurrah!!!)

They managed to get the phone itself working last week, but it required three visits from “engineers” to work out that a wire needed to be attached to something in the green cabinet at the end of the road. Oh well – phone calls to the Mumbai call-centre into double figures, working through the lies and the falsehoods given by the operators there and staying in while someone didn’t need to gain access to the house at all, finally paid off.

Now, I can finally catch up with The Archers and stop having to buy extra data from EE on the mobile.

Back in the land of the connected.

Oh, and this is the view from the kitchen window…

The next door neighbour

.. and I can be home from the office in less than 40 minutes.

When all the to-do list items are done, this is what it’s really all about.

And now, the end is near…

We are moving home on Thursday and I have got into that “This will be the last time that I…” frame of mind.

This will be the last time that I wake upon a Saturday morning in the house I’ve lived in for 22 years.

This will be the last time that I take Betsy for a walk around the village on a Saturday morning. I told her that next week she would have a new walk to look forward to, but she just ignored me.

This will be the last Saturday that we have supper at The Marsh Cat (although we are booked in on Wednesday night so that all the kitchen can be packed up during the day)

But, on Monday, it will be the last time that I do a round trip of 100 miles to go to work. And that is partly what this past year has been all about.

22 years is a long time. The children have grown up in and moved away from this house. But it’s no longer their home – they have made their own lives. As things get packed away, curtains and poles taken down, pictures and photographs taken off the walls, the house is slowly changing from “our house” into “a house”. It is an interesting experience that I had forgotten since the last time we did this. How your home can un-become so quickly. I have driven past our previous home several times over the years, when I have been in that area, and it is just another ordinary bungalow in an ordinary street. This house will be the same come Friday, I’m sure.

Soon all our stuff will be shoe-horned into the new one and our stuff will make that old lady’s bungalow, ours. Our things probably won’t all fit, but we will manage. We will have to live with a compromised home for a year or so, while everything gets renewed, rebuilt or improved. But as soon as the removal men leave on Thursday evening and the front door gets closed and the bottle of fizz gets opened and the hard work begins, it will be “home” again.

So, this might be the last time that I write something on this blog in this room.

If it is, I will see you on the other side.

Oh Lord, don’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

For the past 14 or 15 years, I have driven BMWs (apart from a dalliance with a VW Golf). Back in the spring, when I changed my car, I decided to have a complete change and bought a Mercedes C-Class estate. Over my million and a half or more miles, I have had VWs, Audis and lots of BMWs, but never a Mercedes. Being in my mid-50s now, despite the advice from the salesman in the BMW shop, who told me I wasn’t old enough yet for a Mercedes, I thought that the time was right.

I wish I hadn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad car. It’s quiet, comfortable, more economical that my last BMW, despite being bigger and more powerful. It is safe and takes the dog cage in the boot easily. It’s well equipped, with, for example, the first sun-roof I have had for decades. But, it has so many annoying niggles that it will be my last one.

For example:

  • The built in satnav will download traffic information to allow the system (and/or me) to choose an alternative route if there is a hold up ahead. The problem is, it takes about 25 minutes for the data to download from wherever it comes from, so I often find myself in an avoidable traffic jam by the time the system says “traffic delays in 0 miles”. No shit Sherlock.
  • The handling around corners is dreadful, with far too much oversteer for my liking and a lot of body roll.
  • There are creaks and groans from the rear nearside interior bodywork or seats. I can’t work out exactly where, but to have a creaking car after so long is a novelty – and not one that I really wanted.
  • The car uses a product called “AdBlue” to clean up the exhaust emissions. The tank, adjacent to the fuel tank, is supposed to hold enough liquid to last between services. But it doesn’t. The dashboard gives a warning that it’s going to run out about 1500 miles before it does. If you don’t refill the tank, the car won’t work. At all.
  • Today, it had its first service. At 15,400 miles, some 3,000 miles less than the BMWs. This service, which is basically an oil and pollen filter change, just cost me £325. Now, if I wanted a car that was cheap to service, I would have bought a Ford Mondeo. But that is just taking the mickey. The BMWs used to be around £220 for a similar oil service.
  • Oh, they check the tyres at the service too. I need all four changing very soon – two are down to 2.5mm tread. This is after 15,400 miles, don’t forget. I don’t drive this car any differently from the BMW I had last time, yet that would give me 30,000 miles or more on a tyre. This is ridiculous. My first Golf GTi would give me more miles than this and I used to throw that around like, erm, a Golf GTi.
  • Then there are the minor niggles, like lack of little cubby-hole spaces in the dashboard, or the really shiny black console trim in the middle that picks up every fingerprint.

So, I have got Mercedes out of my system. I always fancied one and now I drive one. But I won’t be next time. There is a reason why so many people drive BMWs…

Gino in Chester was right. I am not old enough.

Never again. Moving house is just no fun at all.

They say that alongside divorce or the death of a spouse, moving home is one of the most stressful things that you can do, and of the three, it’s often one that is done willingly. Unless you’ve been planning to divorce or kill your husband I suppose…

Never having experienced the other two events, I can concur that moving home is not really a very pleasant experience. Last time, 22 years ago, we “sold” the property four times before actually moving. We had a buyer pull out the day before exchange of contracts. The woman that bought the house gave us an ultimatum to complete, such that we were homeless with two young children for a fortnight (she was a teacher too…). Part of our contents that had been in storage never quite made it to the new house, taken away from the storage in my Granddad’s old wheelbarrow.

This time, however, is on a whole new level of complete nonsense.

The house will have been on the market a year in August. The couple buying it first saw it in November and made an offer in the spring. We viewed the property we are buying at the beginning of April – 4 months ago – after receiving a second offer from our buyers, the first offer only lasting 2 days.

We have only just exchanged contracts.

At the request of the people at the very bottom of the chain, we agreed to a completion and move date in August. I was pushing for a mid-July completion, but others in the chain were not willing to accede to that. We have been in a position to exchange contracts for over three weeks now. It could have been done if the will were there, but we agreed to go with the August date.

It is difficult to describe the stress that this ridiculous situation puts you through. There is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. You have to let the chain move at the pace of the slowest member, even if that appears to be deliberately slowed for reasons that our solicitor cannot understand. He has never known anything like it in nearly 20 years of conveyancing.

We have now put in motion all the necessary arrangements with removal companies, gas people, electricity people etc. and started to put valuable items in boxes. But to have got to a fortnight from completion and actually moving home and only just having the contract in place strikes me as a completely unacceptable situation.

This will be our last move. Next time, I will be the one in the box.