I have lived here for very nearly 23 years. That is the longest I have ever lived anywhere! The previous best was 21 years in the house I grew up in but 3 of those were only part time as I was at University. I love the fact that at last I have been able to put down proper roots.
But there is a downside. In 23 years you accumulate a lot of Stuff and also in that time life changes. Last year I realised I just had to have a clear out of all the sheds (that is another problem lots of sheds mean lots of space to store stuff and no incentive to stop hoarding!) because it was getting too hard to find anything. I hired a skip at the start of the summer and ended up being surcharged because it was overweight. However the sheds were more usable and it was cathartic. All those ‘might come in useful’ things that never did went.
This year it was time to pay attention to the house. In the past it was easy – we moved! so I decided to play ‘Let’s pretend I’m moving’!
Phase 1 was to go through the rooms taking every item off the shelves and out of the cupboards and ask myself ‘Would I really part with my hard earned money to pay someone to pack this up, load the box in a van, drive it to the new place and then unload it?’ If the answer was ‘No’ it went in the bin or in the utility room to go to the tip or a charity shop. It helped that I began with the overflowing linen cupboard when my daughter was here. Any sign of wavering or ‘but..’ and I got ‘that look’! As I went through I also cleaned everything before it went back and the place looked much better but a bit bare!
Phase 2 really happened at the same time as phase 1 – as I went around I imagined I had one of those TV homes gurus with me telling me what I had to do to make the place easy to sell. No. 1 is always clear the clutter which I was doing. No.2 get rid of dated décor or furnishings and highly personal taste. Forget that – it is not too dated and I am going to be living here so to apply even more bucketsful of Magnolia and then put the accent colours back would be a bit daft! No. 3 Deal with anything tatty. Ah! I now have a long list of little jobs to do, mainly filling damage to the plaster and touching up paint. But some jobs are bigger. The curtains on the cupboards in the kitchen are stained and will not come clean so new ones will have to be made. The carpet in the downstairs spare room and the conservatory is also too far gone thanks to Orchid’s tendency to pee when worried, and as she is rather highly strung she worries a lot, preferably on carpet (so much less splashy than hard flooring!) New vinyl will be laid in 3 weeks time.
Phase 3 is the fun bit. Imagining that I am moving in here as a new home. Just because things were arranged in a certain way when we first arrived does not mean they have to stay there. For instance way back then the PC (it was before laptops) had to be connected by wire to the printer and similarly to the phone line to access the internet. In fact when we came here a fax was the latest thing and the internet not available to the home user! So I have phone sockets all over the place although a lot of them no longer work.
My lovely tech-savvy son came for the bank holiday weekend and set me up with wifi range extenders so I can work anywhere in the house and halfway round the garden if I choose. And he persuaded the printer to find the router. And put in a cable so the TV can move to another corner. All that means that I have been able to reconfigure the office set up.
The overstuffed cupboard in a tucked away in a corner too close to the dining table corner made it hard to do anything. Now I am sitting at the beautiful desk my Dad made me when I passed the 11+ (yes I am that old!). Unfortunately it was so beautiful my Mum refused to let me use it in case I spilt ink on it or scratched it and instead commandeered it as a drinks cabinet! By the time she deemed our home fit to house it we had built an office in a loft space with a huge desk big enough for both of us to sit at and it became a drinks cabinet for us too! No longer! The old cupboard is looking better too and I can find things in it!
This moving house is hard work but I am so glad I am doing it – Virtually!