A Moving Experience by Angela Caldin
Last year, in July, I wrote about sorting through the myriad paraphernalia that had accumulated during 31 years of life in our family home. I confidently expected that we’d have completed our downsizing move by the time the pears had ripened on the beloved pear tree in the garden. Well, you may not be surprised to learn that this was not to be.
Soon after I wrote so optimistically, we heard that our cash buyer had withdrawn his offer because we could not exchange contracts soon enough for his liking. Several other offers fell through for one reason or another. The estate agents continued to show people round, so that we were constantly tidying and cleaning. People smiled politely and nodded, but nobody made an offer. The house seemed hollow and soulless; I hated living in it; depression reared its ugly head again. Finally, in late October, just when we thought it would be best to take the house off the market until the spring, an offer came through at the right price. It was all go, except now we were in a chain of eight, with a multitude of hitches occurring on an almost daily basis. We eventually exchanged contracts on 11 January, by which time we were in New Zealand.
The completion date was 25 February and we flew home on 14 February, leaving about seven working days for us to get organised for the move. Despite assiduous decluttering over the past months if not years, we still had quantities of furniture to dispose of: some went to the auction rooms, some to the ever-vigilant subscribers to the local Freecycle group, and some, failing all else, to the neighbourhood tip. Once you start looking online, you find there are people who will take away almost anything, though sometimes at a price. Difficult to understand how one could accumulate about fifteen extension leads and almost as many hole punches, but there is always someone on Freecycle who will come and take away the surplus.
A team of five tea-drinking removal men descended on the house on moving day and went through it like a swarm of locusts, efficiently packing what was left. At the new house, the remaining furniture fitted in beautifully apart from a chest of drawers which one of the removal men was happy to take for his new flat. We were in; we had done it; months of living in limbo were over.
It didn’t take long to unpack; we are lucky to have built in cupboards to house everything. Even so, we are still weeding things out and going to the tip – in fact, I went there this morning with a rusty old tool box and some antiquated tools. Not for the first time, I thought about all the stuff that we accumulate over a lifetime and that we don’t think about until we have to move. Then those pictures of refugees trudging through the wet and cold with only what they can carry came to mind. Presumably, they don’t have the luxury of sorting things out; they can only take the absolute essentials, sometimes in a plastic bag. The whole experience of moving from one side of Chiswick to the other had been difficult and stressful in the extreme; how much more so must it be for those who have to cross a sea and a continent.