648 Moving experiences, part 2: One last heave

6th January 2014. If I have to record a date for it, the decision was taken today. At a date to be announced I shall, with great regret, move house from Bedfield to Letchworth or somewhere very near it. How has this come about?

Let’s start with the village itself. Over the years Bedfield has suffered the same decline as most of the English countryside. The average age of people living here has risen faster than the national average and I would guess it is now in the upper fifties. The village school is short of pupils; the village shop/Post Office has closed; the local bus service has been approximately halved. The number of people employed in the village is probably counted in dozens. This makes local life more difficult than it used to be, and arguably more difficult than it ought to be.

Then there’s the house. It’s a lovely house with a good-sized back garden. A couple with one or two children would be very comfortable (and safe) here – provided they owned a car. For that many people the running costs of the house would be very acceptable. Council Tax is reasonable. The local crime rate is near to zero. There are shops not too far away in Framlingham and Debenham, and probably work opportunities in Woodbridge, Ipswich, or Stowmarket. And there’s a church, a pub, a sports ground and a school, all very near.

I took on a house which was much larger than I needed because I liked it and could afford it. I still like it and I can afford it, if anything, more easily than before. Having plenty of bedrooms was useful because the whole family could stay here comfortably. Now that the family is larger there really isn’t room for all of us, but on the other hand it’s too big for me on my own.

Thus many of the reasons for coming here have disappeared, and, however reluctantly, it’s time to move on. This takes us on to the positive side of things, and Letchworth.

My daughter Debora already lives there and my other daughter Leonora intends to move there soon. If I go there too I shall be near to them, their partners (both very likeable young men), and not least five grandchildren. I shall at least see more of all of them and might quite possibly make myself useful. There’s a practical reason too; it makes sense to be within walking distance of shops, buses, trains, and a doctor.

So that’s the plan. At the moment it’s vague and scary, or perhaps scary because it’s vague. To start with there will be a lot of clearance and cosmetics to do in and around the house; and frequent visits to websites to see what there is and what it costs. Then people will start coming to see the house, and I hope they’ll be a bit more positive than the miserable bunch I dealt with fifteen (nearly sixteen) years ago.

Progress reports will appear here, if only for the purpose of reminding myself that progress is required.

16th January 2014. Ten days have gone by and, yes, I do have something to show for it. I have drawn up a plan of action, and something a little like a schedule.

The first priority is things that take up a lot of space; and the second is things that take up a lot of time. In terms of space, the main target is Esperanto library material.

In the first part of “Moving experiences” I mentioned the arrival of, if I remember correctly, 80 boxes of library material following the departure of the Esperanto Association from London. Now, depending on how big the boxes are, I have counted the equivalent of about 130 boxes in various places around the house.

Naturally this isn’t the original 80 boxes from 14 years ago plus fifty more. A very large amount of material has come and gone in the meantime. At the moment I have three boxes (about 30 kg) ready to go off to the Esperanto Centre. At that rate it would take me 430 days to clear everything.

I’m not expecting to have that long – 14 months – for the preparations, so it is clear that a lot will have to go to Letchworth; and I fully expected that, as I’m not aiming just to twiddle my thumbs when I get there. So I’ll press on at a brisk pace and see what I can do.

The time-consuming part is much more fun; it’s my music collection. One thing straddles the two groups, which is the transfer of an audio Esperanto collection from cassette to CD (and website), a couple of hundred cassettes in all. Then there’s the transferring of my own cassette collection to CD. I have been at work on this for a long time and the end is in sight; it makes sense to crack on and dump the cassettes, as CDs take up much less space. I can’t help noticing that last time I moved I said much the same about my LP collection; plus ça change

Also listening to the recording of radio shows which are on my Freesat recorder; this matters as Letchworth is fully cabled, so I’ll be using different equipment there, and this is an opportunity to clear out the Freesat equipment, which has seen better days.

The aim of the scheduling is to avoid too many days of physical effort close together. Today has been a rest day (one day in every six), tomorrow (Friday) and Sunday will be Library days, Saturday will be home office and paperwork, and the next heavy lifting will be on Monday. Then another Library day on Tuesday, and a day off on Wednesday.

And I haven’t forgotten the “cosmetic” work; I’m planning a Polyfilla Day for Thursday 23rd. Think of me and check whether YouTube has a wonderful old music hall song called “When Father papered the parlour”.

26th January 2014. Somebody shoot me if I talk about doing anything “in industrial quantities” but some of this is beginning to feel that way. In particular, I’m making sure that the black rubbish bin is full to the brim whenever the men come to empty it.

Since the last report there have been four library days, some housework days, one day off, and assorted others.

The main part of the library work has been cataloguing and removing duplicates. About 300 books have passed through my hands in the last ten days; but there are still plenty left.

On the music front, ten cassettes have gone into the bin, and the satellite recorder, which a few months ago was 92% full, is now down to 66%.

This brings us to the physical activity. The Polyfilla Day didn’t go as planned, as I couldn’t find the tools. But while I was searching for them I discovered a box of items that I had put in a safe place in advance of Christmas 2012 [yes, I do mean 2012]. These included the hand drill which I had been looking for for several months, so now I can get on with improving the kitchen; having started work before the decision to move I’m now committed to finishing it.

In the next ten-day period I should be able to start working my way around the house packing some rarely-used items, and putting some others in the queue for the black bin. I’ll concentrate on jobs that can’t be rushed, such as packing crockery and glasses. Later on, some conspicuously ancient parts of the lighting can be updated; and eventually I’ll get outside and cut the grass. Some of the furniture won’t be needed, so I’ll have to decide what to do about that; there are some things that have been in the family for a very long time, but I’ll try not to be sentimental.

As there aren’t 36 days in January, the next report will be due on 5th February. In the meantime there will be three library days, two days off, an office day, a music day, two housework days, and a Kitchen Day replacing the Polyfilla Day.

One thing remains; the box count. Currently 5 boxes (48kg) are ready for the Esperanto Centre and eight are ready for Letchworth, which means, so far, 1.5 days per box. A recount of the remaining boxes still comes to 130, which is strange, but means it would take 195 days, about 7 months, to pack the contents. This is just Esperanto stuff and my own books and music scores; but packing equipment and suchlike will only take a few days, if I ever get that far.

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