648 Moving experiences, part 15: September/October 2015

1st September 2015. The more observant among you will notice that this report comes to you one day late. One reason is that my internet connection is running at only 6% of its usual speed; I don’t know why. I could say that this meant the upload took 24 hours, but I don’t think you’d believe that; but out of solidarity you’ll maybe read this extremely slowly.

What really happened is that yesterday evening, deprived of my usual internet entertainment, I set about networking two computers and a printer together. I’d never attempted this before, and Windows Help was, of course, unhelpful, but I got there in the end and felt quite pleased with myself. I then began experimenting, learning to use each computer to do things that were in fact on the other computer. This went quite well, and then it was midnight, and I went to bed.

This morning I have to put this aside and look back over the events of the last two weeks. Plenty has happened, but, not for the first time, little of it has to do with the house move. As mentioned at least twice before, I have made a visit, probably the last one, to the Esperanto Centre in Barlaston. The journey there and back was more difficult than expected, mostly due to the effort of hauling myself and a heavy suitcase on and off three trains each way. Once I was there, things went very well. Over the last year I had sent a great many parcels up there; in fact I was very surprised to see how many there were. In the course of four working days (three full days plus a half day each end) I unpacked about half of these, sorted the contents, and put a large part of this in its intended place. Everything not put away is clearly labelled as to what needs to be done; and now there is plenty of room for the last one or two consignments either side of the house move. [N. B. against the odds I have dragged in some house move relevance here].

I said above that this was probably the last visit. Much as I would like to get up there again, I have no excuse. The library is clearly in safe and competent hands, and although there is still a great deal of sorting, clearing, tidying, cataloguing and so forth to do, in the longer term a lot of the work can be done on line, and I would hope to play some part in this.

So the visit went well, but none of it would have been possible without a great deal of practical help; thanks are due to family, friends, colleagues, staff, three taxi drivers, and numerous unsolicited total strangers. As the cliché says, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Before and after that excitement the house move rolled on. It’s now at the stage where vast amounts of paperwork go back and forth. One particular piece of paperwork has now come to me three times, twice by e-mail and once by post, but I’ve managed to answer it only once. Various fees and costs are beginning to be incurred, so far about £400. A further £3000 or so will later be needed for Wissen Drive. I’ve had no further contact with agents, buyers or sellers, though doubtless this will follow when we get to the stage of setting up practicalities (moving day, handover, what’s to go and what’s to stay, etc.) There will be all sorts of little things which will, I hope, all be remembered, such as returning some hospital property, getting rid of the patio junk, disposing of some larger items such as the piano… Best not to think too much about all that until the time comes. Last time I moved house I had to get my father’s garage cleared out, which went well, but as I was moving to a larger house (the present one) there was little discarding to do. The move before that – Leyton to Enfield – was more untidy but I think I’ve described that in an earlier set of “Moving experiences” or possibly “Home sweet Home”.

The next couple of weeks will include 4 housework days, three days off, two each of library, office and showroom, and a Music Day.

And now it’s time to attempt the upload; if you can’t see this you’ll know it hasn’t worked.

17th September 2015. Once again this report comes a day late. Yesterday the whole day was taken up with a hospital visit, the second of two outings in as many days. Admittedly the earlier excursion only involved posting a letter, but it’s been a while since I walked a total of 400 yards in one go.

The hospital visit didn’t advance things very much, so we can turn to the house move…

…except that very little has happened. The expected torrent of paperwork has in fact been only a trickle. Doubtless all sorts of things have been going on behind the scenes and will come to light as matters progress.

So perhaps it’s time for another guided tour of the house, though there’s much less to see than previously. The garden is getting untidy and overgrown, so perhaps we can leave that out, except to say that fearsome strands of bramble and ivy are beginning to grow over some of the windows giving a spooky impression of some abandoned, possibly haunted, house. Bramble is also growing over the junk on the patio, making it less unattractive but also more difficult to clear.

Indoors, as ever, the first thing you see is the hallway, which is completely clear. It’s hard to imagine how cluttered it was just a few months ago. The Snuggery/Packing Room now contains little else but cardboard boxes; some full, others collapsed for possible future use. Looking in there I was surprised to see that nothing has been added to the collection in at least a month.

You’ll know from recent reports that the kitchen is the current hub of dramatic activity The cupboards now contain mostly boxes and parcels marked FRAGILE. The under-sink cupboard has been cleared of all collections of screws, nuts, bolts, washers and suchlike. Various tools and tins of paint remain to be dealt with. After that it will be the leftover bits and pieces strewn on the worktop; and then that will be that until the panic packing of the last few days before the move.

This brings us to the lounge. During the Barlaston trip I missed a rubbish collection, so until two days ago the bin was completely full. It now contains an unwanted computer screen and 40 audio cassettes. As a result the round dining table looks much more like a round dining table than it usually does. There is still a certain amount of library material, such as two boxes of stray periodicals – very nearly the last – and a couple of thousand catalogue cards which I’m working through to see which are still needed. Other than that it looks pretty much like a normal lounge/dining room.

Halfway up the stairs you’ll notice that the CD/cassette shelves are about half empty. More precisely it’s about 55%. As I’m now giving myself the luxury of listening to the CDs before I pack them, this is slowing things down; if I knew how long I still have I could adjust accordingly, but I don’t. So I continue until told otherwise.

The four bedrooms are now more or less clear. Bedroom 1 contains a bed, a bedside table, a chest of drawers, part of a wooden bedframe, and some surplus library books. Subtract the bed and you have the contents of Bedroom 2. I’m using Bedroom 3 so it looks pretty normal. Most progress is to be seen in Bedroom 4, which now contains no books or periodicals of any kind, and also no furniture. All that is to be seen is some empty cardboard boxes, some spare bits of carpet, and a box of angle brackets.

Finally there’s the bathroom – well, it’s a bathroom, what would you expect to see?

And that’s about the shape of it. There will continue to be packing and discarding, but all in all I think, provided I can get rid of the piano, the sofa, and the other dining table, that I’ve already got things down to an amount that can fit into a two-bedroom ground floor flat in Letchworth.

The next couple of weeks will feature a very welcome visit by my daughters, as well as a Music Day, two each of office and Clearance (successor to the Showroom Day), no fewer than three library days (but one of them is today and it’s already half over), three days off, and four energetic housework days.

2nd October 2015. Downsizing isn’t just getting rid of things that there won’t be room for. The piano will not go to Letchworth, but the electric keyboard will. The three-seater sofa, which should have been pensioned off twenty years ago, will probably be replaced by a two-seater. In particular, individual pieces of equipment can be downsized. The heavy old television can be replaced by a modern flat-screen model, probably with internet access. The massive old-style computer which I inherited from the Esperanto Centre has gone, and in its place I now have a laptop, which has already travelled with me to Shallowford in August. The departing computer was the last Windows XP equipment which I had, so I had to replace the big old scanner for which there were no Windows 10 drivers. The new one is, of course, much more compact.

The aim is plainly to keep on doing the same things as here, but in much less cumbersome ways. Even so, a certain amount of wanton destruction is still needed. I’m still working away at dismantling various pieces of furniture that won’t be going anywhere. The wooden bedframe in Bedroom 1, of which very little still remains, has yielded a large amout of clean, useful timber which could be positively used to make things, or less positively cut up for firewood. There’s another similar bedframe in Bedroom 2, which I hope to get to before the house move.

Ah yes, the house move. My daughters paid another visit a week ago, and we were able to do some forward planning. There are still a number of unanswered questions, such as quite how much I must disencumber the house and garden. I may yet have to call in house clearance people, or the local Council, to remove the unwanted furniture and the assorted junk on the patio; on the other hand, if the new residents intend to enlarge the kitchen they may be willing to combine my rubbish with the mass of bricks, concrete and who knows what else that they will have to get rid of.

The paperwork, which in this internet age still involves a good deal of paper, has hit something of an impasse. The buyers’ solicitor thinks the exact boundaries of the property are not well enough defined. The doubts concern a triangle of land sold to my neighbour, just about big enough for a garden shed, which has not got through to the Land Registry. Eventually a survey will surely be needed, but in the meantime my neighbour is trying to get it dealt with via a solicitor. Personally I’d rather get on with calling in the surveyor, but this view has not [yet] prevailed.

While they were here my daughters did some very useful work in the garden, mowing significant parts of the lawn, trimming the bushes (including some pesky bramble), enabling me, or anyone else, to get to the patio from front or back door, and to walk reasonably safely down the garden to the back gate. It will all grow back again to some extent before winter sets in but it is a great improvement.

They also made sure that the rubbish bin was crammed right up to the top in preparation for Tuesday’s collection; I have already made a start on the next binful, including a very modest 10 audio cassettes. Next Tuesday will however be the recycling, and there’s plenty of that.

The next couple of weeks will feature a visit from a hospital nutritionist as well as 5 housework days, three Office Days, three days off, two each of Library and Clearance, and a Music Day.

19th October 2015. Not for the first time this report comes to you one day late, but there is a good reason. While lying in bed on Saturday/Sunday (17th/18th) night, I had an idea for a seventh page in the “Esperanto in my life” series and worked out the broad outlines before going to sleep. Then yesterday I spent the morning finishing it off and posting it; read e-mails all afternoon; burned a CD in the evening; and so today I have the much harder task of writing this report.

Not that things are going badly, or stalled, or going very slowly. There is real progress but it’s all formalities and paperwork, and it’s not easy to make this interesting.

Let’s start in Letchworth. A suitable flat has been found, I’ve made an offer, and the offer has been accepted. The new development is that on Wednesday (21st) a surveyor will visit the flat and make the usual checks. I’d be very surprised if he found anything seriously wrong, but these things have to be done.

Another surveyor has been at work here in Bedfield. This was last Friday (16th). I should perhaps start by saying that the future owner of the house is a very affable and unassuming young man who has done his best to be helpful at every stage. His solicitor is slightly more demanding, as solicitors rightly should be, and was unhappy about the inaccurate and confusing ground plan that was at the Land Registry. All concerned agreed to start from scratch, and accurate measurements were made on Friday which should correct the plans made 17 years ago, which were themselves based on plans drawn up decades before that. I await the results, which can only be a big improvement. At the same time the surveyor made a plan of my neighbour’s property, thus ensuring that his plan neatly matches mine.

Back in the real world, there is now not much preparation that I can do before D-Day. Further to what I said last time, the future owner has said I can leave behind as much junk as I like. Even so I am pressing on with the wanton destruction. It’s good exercise, as I get very stiff if I sit around too much; it gives me a feeling of doing something useful; and, as autumn marches on, I may yet need some firewood before I leave.

Although it only makes a marginal difference to the house move, I am still clearing and copying the cassette collection, and listening to my CDs before I pack them. There’s no chance at all that I’ll finish this before the move, but half of the cassette shelves on the half-landing are now empty, and yesterday I put away CD number 175. Another 20 cassettes have gone in the bin. On the Esperanto side of things, some time ago I finished copying the Sound Archive cassettes and all of these have now gone either to the Esperanto Centre or in the bin.

As you can perhaps tell, there is plenty that I can do between now and the house move, but there is less to choose from than there used to be. I’ll be very happy when I arrive in Letchworth and start unpacking things that, in some cases*, I haven’t seen for nearly two years. Before all that, the next reporting period will consist of five housework days, three library days, three days off, two each of Clearance (formerly Showroom) and Office, and a Music Day.

*or, of course, boxes or parcels. Sorry for that.

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