I’m absolutely itching to tell you all about our new to us beautiful house. But before I do, before the avalanche of house makeover spam descends, it’s time to close the chapter of the place that was home for the last 11 years, and tell you about the big move out. Even if it was in June.
As house sales go, it felt like ours was a really really long one. Even once we’d found a buyer there were mortgage surveyors and home buyer surveyors, and then more to-ing and fro-ing, and then we went from questions going back and forth to “will you complete next Friday?”. It was Thursday evening (“Um, no!”). All of a sudden things started to move at whirlwind speed, we were completing on the first day that the removal company could come to empty the house and getting ready for life in a tent.
With John driving the children 40 minutes each way on the school run, me working the kind of crazy hours that I do, and just the reality of life with three small-ish children underfoot we decided to have a full pack. It was the best money we spent on this move, and I can only imagine that left to ourselves we’d have been throwing things in boxes on autopilot and still not being ready in time.
And so one ridiculously hot Wednesday morning our packing crew turned up, and in no time at all things were heading out of the door and on to a shipping container on the back of a lorry. Because the boxes go out as soon as they’re taped, and the furniture follows as soon as it’s empty, the whole house started to empty out really really fast, and suddenly it all became real.
The girls had school that morning, but they pitched in to help in the afternoon, packing up all of their dressing up clothes into a box that was nearly as big as them and ensuring that the supply of biscuits and squash kept flowing. They did go out and about with John to run a few errands over the course of the moving days, but they were there as well to watch things being packed up and loaded, and to eat the first ripening strawberries in the garden. Having never moved with children before I don’t know if it helped or hindered to see the move in progress, but it definitely gave them the chance to realise for themselves exactly what was happening, and while they’ve been a little unsettled from time to time, as we adjusted first to life in the tent and then to life in the new house, they’ve never been homesick for our old house.
On that first morning of moving I sat each of them down to ask them a little bit about what they would remember of their very first house, and this week I’ve finally got around to putting it together as a little film. If anything got me emotional that first morning, it was hearing loud and clear from all three of them that home is not a house, it’s the five of us:
By the end of day one we’d filled one lorry, moved a car load of camping things over to the farm, and were more than ready for fish and chips at the pub, and then a walk up to our most favourite spot by the windmill to watch the sun turn everything golden. It was the perfect farewell supper.
Day 2 was all about the last bits and pieces; duvets went into boxes, beds went onto the van, the bolts to the girls’ beds went somewhere very safe which we still haven’t found, and another load of cushions and quilts went to be added to the glamping pile. If I’d thought that the Wednesday had flown by, Thursday was even faster, punctuated by the roar of packing tape screaming off a roll, the steady hum of cricket on the radio, and the scrumple of paper wrapped around yet another mug. Seriously, how many mugs can one family own?
The biscuit breaks turned into ice cream rounds as we ate up the contents of the freezer, and then it was time for the freezer to go, and everything except the kettle, and suddenly the lorry was loaded, the tail came up, and almost all of our worldly goods disappeared off to live in a storage yard for what we thought was only going to be a month. Oh optimism my old friend, how you do like to mess with me!
And so we cleaned, and cleaned some more, and wondered how on earth we’d been living in what now seemed such a dirty house, and cleaned again. Giving it that last careening made it at once feel so very much our house, and so very much ready to be handed on to someone else. It’s a house, and a chapter of our family that we will always look back on with fond memories; the house were we built our life together, where we brought the children home as tiny bundles of pink faced knitwear, where they first sat and walked and talked and a hundred other firsts, how could we not love it; even when bits of it broke.
I thought that I would find moving hard, that for all the excellent reasons for moving, and the excitement of the new house, it would be hard to say goodbye and yet in the whirlwind of packing you don’t get time to overthink things, it’s all about doing, and doing as fast as you can. Only when we’d finished cleaning, written a happy new house card, fed the children a very nutritious McDonalds supper, sat in the garden because we didn’t have any chairs, and done our final walk around, only then did the idea of walking out of the door and not coming back start to bring up the lump in my throat. But it was late, and we still had a tent to pitch before it got dark, and so we said our goodbyes, loaded the last little bits into the car, and headed off down the motorway.
And we haven’t looked back. But that’s a story for another time.