Monday 22 February 2010

The award season

Last week it was the Brits. Last night it was the BAFTAs and soon it will be the Oscars. Nothing so prestigious for me, but I have been given this Circle of Friends award by Carol at Not only in Thailand and Gilly at Winds of Change. So it is a big thank you to both of them. Now I have to post about five things that I like to do, then pass the award on to ten bloggers.

I suspect that the things that I like to do are pretty much the same as every other blogger. Anyway, here goes.
  • Having husband home - at the moment he works away from home Monday to Friday. So weekends are special.
  • Gardening - when the weather is good, reasonable or even just alright I could be out in the garden, 24 hours a day, pottering around, but there has not been much chance of that since the cold weather began in December.
  • Reading - another pastime that I could do all day, but at the moment there are too many other things that need doing and the only time that I have for reading is when I go to bed at night.
  • Cooking - I like to try out new recipes when I have the time, but cooking is not to be rushed and I don't have much spare time. So we live on tried and tested dishes.
  • Blogging - I wouldn't do it if I did not enjoy it and it is always a thrill to read comments. As with most things there are not enough hours in the day to do as much blogging as I would like.
Now I am supposed to nominate ten bloggers to pass the award onto but how could I choose just ten bloggers? I have decided to duck out of that decision. Any blogger who leaves a comment on this post is a friend of mine and may have the award.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Love in the cold and wet

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.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Upping Sticks and Moving On

After the last post, in which I aired some of our dirty linen in public, I thought that I might be asked to pack my bags and go, but I am still here at Muddy Lane Cottage. This post is about different aspect of a long distance move.

When my husband was offered a job in Chester in April 2003, the fact that a house moved was involved was not really a problem. We had been trying to move house for three years. The problem was the 200 mile distance. My husband commuted weekly to Chester, staying in a B&B,while I stayed behind in Surrey. I had plenty to occupy myself. I worked and I had, hopefully, an impending house move to organise.

Shortly before husband started work in Chester the Iraq war began and the estate agent made mutterings about lowering the price of the house to help it sell. We resisted his mutterings. Seven years later the Iraq war and its' consequences are still rumbling on. We were lucky, within a few weeks we accepted a good offer for the house.

One weekend in June I visited Chester for the first time to see where my new home would be and to start looking for a house for us to buy. On the Saturday morning we did the rounds of all the estate agents. Over lunch we sorted out the details and in the afternoon we started to drive around some of the possible areas. It was all very new to us and we did not get very far we things. A few weeks later we looked again and decided that we would be better to rent initially, which would give us a good chance to look around the area.

The move form Surrey to Chester went fairly smoothly. Nothing got lost or broken. We had had three years to organise it, but it was at he end of the incredibly hot Summer of 2003 that we eventually moved house. I had just had to ignore the heat and get on with sorting things out in preparation for the move, otherwise we would have been far from ready when the removal men arrived. It took the removal men three days to move us. A day and a half to pack us up. Half a day to travel to Chester, then a day to unload and unpack. Finding the space for everything in the rented house was a challenge. We had estimated that we would be able to fit into it, but that it would be cosier than we were used to. Then there was the double garage that we could use for storage. When we had viewed the house, the previous tenants had had a sea of boxes in the garage. After a few days we were straight-ish.

The next challenge was to start integrating ourselves into life in Chester. Husband had taken to socialising with his work colleagues which has its limitations, especially as most of them were about half his age. I had decided that I would be a lady of leisure until we had moved into our own house. Hopefully this strategy would give me the time to find my way around the area and maybe to get to know some people. We decided to give evening classes a try. Husband went to woodwork and I went to flower arranging. We had both previously been to classes in these subject whilst living in Surrey. Woodwork was useful for getting things made but doesn't really have social side to it, whereas flower arranging has a flourishing social side and I came home, each week, with a different flower arrangement. This interest has now become a hobby, with my interest in gardening being an extension of it or maybe flower arranging is an extension of gardening. Now I regularly go to the local flower club and horticultural society in a nearby village. Slightly by accident husband has ended up on the committee of our village hall, as treasurer, for his sins. This was something that he had wanted to do along with living in a wisteria clad Victorian cottage. So he is in seventh heaven - well some of the time. Now he has a circle of committee friends plus the crowd that he plays squash with at the local health club. And one of his committee friends has now asked me to take her to flower club with me. At last we feel, as if, we are part of the community.

Now read the prequel.