I promised in my last post that I would let you know why I have been writing fewer blog posts recently. Well, for the last few weeks I’ve been tackling practical jobs and to-do lists, while trying to get ahead with deadlines for commissioned articles in order to create a few weeks’ breathing space for myself. The thing is, I’m moving house next week. Not just moving house, but relocating to the other side of the country.
When I left Somerset some years ago to move in with my partner, I didn’t imagine I’d be going back any time soon – but life (and my partner) had other ideas, and earlier this year the decision was made that we would relocate. We’ve always been great at timing – for example, we booked the Registry Office and only weeks later realised that we’d picked a Bank Holiday weekend, thereby condemning ourselves to a future of trying to book anniversary dinners and weekends away at peak holiday time. In this instance, no sooner had we decided to start a long-distance house hunt than lockdown was announced. However, despite all the obstacles and frustrations, and with a lot of help along the way from Robert at Robert Bruce Relocation, four months on we have found our new home and are preparing to move.
For a number of excellent reasons, I have moved house quite a few times since the turn of the millennium. This is what I have learned about moving house:
- If you can avoid moving, do so. It’s expensive, stressful and time-consuming. You need to be very convinced that the benefits of your new location are worth the upheaval.
- If you can’t avoid moving, it’s great if you can keep the move local. Long distance moves are exponentially more stressful and fraught with complications.
- Ensure that you have the following items in your possession (not on the lorry):
- toilet roll
- emergency chocolate
- a kettle and/or whatever you need to make and drink hot drinks of your choice, including at least one teaspoon
- cleaning materials (your new home will never, ever, be as clean as you’d want it to be when you get there)
- keys to your new home AND to your old home (you’ll need to lock it up after you!)
- the keys to your car (sound obvious? Maybe, but a friend of ours managed to leave their car keys in the drawer of a dresser which was loaded onto the removal lorry…)
- if you are as paranoid as we are, all important personal documents, your passport and driving licence
- phone chargers
- hand soap and a hand towel (to go in the bathroom when you arrive, together with the toilet roll)
- a toolbox (there will always be something which needs tools in the first 48 hours, while your stuff is still in boxes)
- a doormat (saves a lot of floor cleaning)
- at least one bin bag
- a meter key (you’ll need to take meter readings at both ends for the benefit of the utility companies)
- hand luggage (a couple of changes of clothing, your daily toiletries, and a bath towel) to tide you over until you can start unpacking
- a mobile phone, for guiding the driver of the lorry when they get lost, photographing the meter readings, and using as a torch to find the stopcock in the back of the cupboard under the sink.
- Find out (ideally before you get there) where your nearest hardware shop or DIY store is. You will need at least 5 things in the first 48 hours.
- Find out where your nearest takeaway is. You’ll need it for several days. Make sure you know where your plates and cutlery are (or add a picnic set to the list in point 3 above). Eating egg fried rice out of the carton with your fingers is not recommended. Trust me on this.
- You will need to leave your fridge and freezer to stand for a while to settle after their journey. Just make sure you remember to switch them on at some point BEFORE you do your first large food shop.
- Write your new address down somewhere or store it on your phone. You will go blank when asked for it. For several weeks, possibly longer.
- There will always be at least one Really Important Contact whom you forget to notify of your change of address. Just make sure it’s not your bank.
- The spare light bulbs from your old home will never fit the light fittings in your new home.
- It is a universal law that the more you spend on curtains, the less likely they are to fit in your next home.
Despite all that, I am excited as well as apprehensive, and very much looking forward to being back in Somerset. It’s the place where – notwithstanding a mixed heritage and a nomadic childhood which left me feeling rootless – I have felt most settled and at home. Thanks in no small part to the decluttering process which I have written about in a previous blog post, this move isn’t as daunting as some have been. Wish me luck – I’ll see you on the other side!
(Can you guess from the photograph where we are moving to?)