Eighteen years ago, on February 14, husband and I moved into our first home. I know that this is the third post in a row about moving house, but I promise that it will be the last. I am posting it today because it is topical. At the time, everybody commented about how romantic it would be, but apart from a few minutes early in the morning, it was just another day.
When we married, in June of the previous year, we each had a small house that we were trying to sell. In fact, husband's house was under offer at the time, so we set up home in my house. Then husband's buyer pulled out. We were comfortable were we were, so we stayed in my house until it sold on January 31. Then moved into husband's house for the two weeks until February 14, when his house sold. The contents of my house had gone into storage for two weeks and everything had gone pretty much to plan, apart from the removal men putting some of my clothes into storage that I had intended to take with me. By the time that I realised that I was missing a bag of clothes it was too late to retrieve them from the removal van.
February 14 was a Friday. I suppose that we got up about 7 am and exchanged Valentine's cards over breakfast and then for me, from husband, there was an orchid, which was a surprise. Since then I think that I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I have had flowers on Valentine's Day. That was our romantic interlude. The removal men would soon be arriving. Long before mid-day we were all packed up and ready to go. First to take the keys to the estate agent then it was off to Leatherhead to our new house, or rather new to us, as it had been built in the 1930s. The vendors had lived there for some time and the internal decoration was a 1970s time warp of a bottle green ceiling in the dining room, dark purple hessian in the living room and a chocolate brown shag pile carpet in the bathroom.
The day had started grey and cold and by now it was raining. We were too early to collect the keys from the estate agent, so we parked in Leatherhead's Swan Centre car park to have our sandwiches. For those of you not familiar with the Swan Centre car park, it is a soulless concrete monstrosity in the centre of Leatherhead. This was a far cry from the circumstances in which we met. From the car park we made several trips to the estate agents in an attempt to get the keys to our new home. This is long before the days of mobile phones. The money had gone through and it was legally ours, but the vendor's removal men were still packing. Eventually the estate agent suggested that we drive round to the house and wait outside for the vendors to vacate the house and hand over the keys. By the time we managed to step over the threshold it must have been at least 3 pm and all thoughts of husband carrying me over the threshold had been long forgotten.
The next few hours passed in a blur of unpacking and decisions about where furniture would go. By about 8 pm we were ready for something to eat and ventured out into Leatherhead with the aim of finding a take away. We didn't know Leatherhead very well and were unable to find a take away, so we eventually decided that we would have to find a restaurant. There weren't many restaurants in Leatherhead then. Since we moved away several have opened up. Any way it was Valentine's Day, so they were all full, which meant that we had to queue, in our house moving clothes of jeans and sweat shirts, among the smartly clad couples out for a romantic evening. By now the date meant nothing to us after the trauma of the move. Once fed it was back to the house for more unpacking and sorting out until exhausted we tumbled into bed at about midnight.