Suddenly in Suffolk Day zero arrived and we were moving. On a scale of 1 = disorganised and 10 = very organised we were about minus 52.
Suddenly there was still lots to pack – elusive stuff that you don’t really notice like coat stands with coats, stuff you use everyday etc.. Luckily the removal guys had had their ‘dealing with neurotic customers’ training and calmly packed the remaining bits with a smile.
As each room was stripped bare leaving dusty floors and walls marked where paintings had hung it stopped feeling like home. It’s funny but you are so used to seeing everything in its place from day-to-day that you almost assume it belongs to the house. There was one light fitting in our bedroom that I’d never particularly liked and when I saw it still hanging there on my final look round I decided to keep shtum. Unfortunately The Grey felt differently and he rescued it from an empty room – not easy when you have high ceilings and nothing to stand on! – and so it turned up later that day at the Wendy house like a bad penny.
Our lovely neighbours, Jolyon and Diana, had invited us round for coffee and croissants and when it got to midday I decided I’d had enough and we knocked on their door. It proved to be a very welcome piece of calm in what was an emotionally and physically exhausting day!
Just as I was leaving, which was hurried in the end (no time to say goodbye to the house) but I did manage a final hug with Annie from number 3 whilst we vowed to stay friends. I had thought that when the moment came I would be tearful but actually just getting into the quiet sanity of my car and knowing there was a long road ahead was quite a relief.
We changed our minds several times but in the end we didn’t get round to getting Gracie sedated for the day and we decided she would travel with The Grey in his smell-mobile. On arrival at the Wendy House he reported that she had been as good as gold and slept most of the way.
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The Grey marked up: SIS (Suddenly in Suffolk) 12 on the blackboard the day after we got back from holiday. As each new day dawns the current number is rubbed out and replaced with a new number minus one day. This way we’re in no doubt as to how little time we have to pack our whole life into boxes. Day zero is the day we move out of Risden.
Sad to be leaving…
A note on that. Our home at Risden Clockhouse is elegant and beautiful with spacious proportions making it a lovely place to live. The sole reason I have to leave is the excessive road noise which rules out sitting in the garden in the summer or even opening a window in the house. Kent is becoming increasingly overcrowded and the roads congested and this has pushed up house prices so that for any house we would consider on a quiet road is now way out of our reach.
We have chosen Suffolk which is much more rural. There are few dual carriageways let alone motorways and so it forces a slower pace of life. It also means that there are many more detached houses in peaceful settings sometimes with lovely views.
Anyway, back to packing. Even though
I’ve been here before I obviously haven’t learned the lessons. A big house equals lots of room for possessions which quietly and slowly accumulate over the years. To be fair we have had a lot of downstairs at Risden, ideal for entertaining, and have bought furniture and many objet d’art to fill it. The prospect of getting it all into the Wendy house is not one I relish.
Packing started calmly, carefully marking up the boxes with their contents and intended room at its destination. We even had the neighbours round for a farewell party which was a great fun evening; they don’t make it any easier for us to leave!
I had one of my ‘Who needs possessions? They are so overrated; I’ll become a Buddhist monk and meditate in an old T-shirt every day,’ moments. Meanwhile The Grey adopted the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall approach, namely don’t ever throw anything away – even mouldy fruit can be made into jam. As if I have time to make jam!! Needless to say the two philosophies didn’t gel together particularly well. But to avoid argument The Grey simply hid everything he knew I’d want to chuck while I slung out any item that didn’t pass the: ‘what the hell is this and will we ever have any use for it ever again?’ test. Believe me, not a lot of thought came before the answer was ‘No!’ and the item gone.
The process ended fraught, exhausted and carelessly marking up boxes ‘stuff’ and ‘garage’ before reaching for a glass of wine. Our fate was sealed or at least the fate of the garage at the Wendy House was.
Gracie, the cat, meanwhile found it all a bit disturbing at first but as she got used to it she decided sitting comfortably on the highest possible box and surveying her domain wasn’t bad.
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Arthur, aged 4, is enjoying St Ronan’s school (a stone’s throw from our Hawkhurst home in Kent) but is desperate to move in to a proper home where he can have all his toys. Hence his mother decided she would ask, even though we had expressly said we couldn’t, if we would sell and move out of our home at the beginning of October. This, dear reader, leaves us with two problems:
1. We will be in Kusadasi at a Spa resort forgetting our cares (!) and enjoying a relaxing break at the same time as moving out of our home
2. We will be homeless on our return.
Now, The Grey felt we should take this all in our stride. ‘These things have a way of working out,’ he says cheerfully! Meanwhile I am having sleepless nights, panic attacks and decide to seek therapy. I also go into my ‘danger prevention’ mode and frantically start trying to find somewhere to live in Suffolk. Very reasonably I start screaming tales of woe at estate agents, solicitors, friends, my Alexander Technique teacher and anyone else who will listen. In short I am going mad and the indicator on the stress-o-meter has pinged off into space and down a black hole never to return.
Two frantic darts up to Suffolk to look at short term rentals and we reluctantly decided to go for a house in Hadleigh mainly because we can get a six month let on it while most rentals are 12 months minimum these days. Apart from that, and some vain hope of fitting all our furniture and paraphernalia in, it did not have much to recommend it.
On viewing the house it looked like the drug squad had just ploughed their way through the place leaving no drawer unemptied and no piece of flooring showing. The kitchen was something else. This family clearly only ever eat from food that has been immersed in a deep fat fryer. The smell of stale fat was disgusting and much dirt held by a layer of grease covered every surface. It was at this point the agent looked apologetic and said that the house would be cleaned throughout and redecorated before we moved in. Stupidly I believed him. The Grey laughed nervously.
Was there a carpet in the lounge? I asked myself after viewing this four bedroomed Wendy house. Whilst I might be away with the fairies at the moment, I’m certainly not a shrunken Alice in Wonderland and the mad hatter’s tea party have already trashed the joint.
I spent the next few nightmares trying to cram oversized beds into undersized bedrooms and working out that the lounge would need to house, at the very least, two sofas, one large dining table, a large dresser, a chest, TV and an armchair, leaving it looking like Furniture Village on a sale day.
Meanwhile The Grey has been moved by the plight of the Syrians pouring out of their war torn country and felt we should do our bit to help. ‘Perhaps we could accommodate a family?’
So let’s sum up where we are:
- One Wendy House
- Lots of furniture and ‘stuff’
- One Syrian family
- Me and The Grey (hardly worth mentioning)
We did consider getting a smaller house to rent and putting some of our life baggage in storage. But the cost of storage varied from astronomical (the removal company quotes: ‘yes, it will all be safe and secure at our Rye depot, many miles from where you actually are..?’) to very reasonable from Farmer Giles in Sudbury (who’s got a bit of a side-line going: ‘I’d tell you more missus but I’m standing in the middle of a field at the moment. But don’t worry, if we’re still full up when the time comes my mate Bill will help you out.’) All so reassuring.
Anyway, never mind all that, it’s time to pack for our holiday. Now where are we going?
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