648 Moving experiences, part 3: February 2014

5th February 2014. So that’s the first month out of the way. It’s hard to believe Christmas was less than six weeks ago; it seems a lifetime away.

These last ten days have produced moderate progress. About a week ago, in an unwonted burst of decisiveness, I brought the blue trunk down from upstairs. You may recall from part 1 of “Moving experiences” that the blue trunk accompanied me to university in 1965, so it’s nearly 50 years old. Despite a few bumps and bruises along the way, it’s still in pretty good condition. When I brought it down, I found it still had a tie-on label attached, bearing the text “Blankets, Curtains”. That was the instruction in 1998, and in 2014 it’s still good advice. I can’t pack curtains until I know what shape the windows in the new house will be; but the blankets have started going in, along with some summer clothes, some towels, and anything else that takes up a lot of space without weighing much. It’s already about half full.

The two days off and the music day were just as intended, a spot of light relief. The four Library Days have mostly been online work, necessary but not producing much packing. Even so, by tomorrow I should have six parcels (58 kg.) ready to go off to the Esperanto Centre. There seem to be some other boxes which just happen to be ready to go, either to the Esperanto Centre or to Letchworth.

A couple of days had to be devoted to ordinary housework, which was falling behind, so the Kitchen Day didn’t produce very much. I’m concentrating on the cupboard under the sink, which is the most unfinished of the unfinished business.

The next ten days will bring two days off, another Music day, a second attempt at the Kitchen Day, four Library days, and a Office day. During the last Music Day I began packing audio equipment, and I shall continue packing, or in some cases junking, equipment this time around.

And so we come once again to the box count. We can count the 6 boxes for the Esperanto Centre, as above; and there are 13 ready for Letchworth, which maintains the pace of 1.5 days per box. The count of the remaining boxes remains obstinately at 130; this is no surprise as the things I’ve been packing weren’t in boxes to start with.

And yet this feels like progress; it just goes to show that adding up numbers doesn’t always tell the whole story. On the other hand, if the totals change dramatically over the next ten days, I won’t hesitate to make the most of them.

15th February 2014. You might not think that the weather would have much to do with getting ready for a house move. In particular, this part of Suffolk usually gets off pretty lightly. Last October our coastal areas endured flooding, clifftops collapsing, houses falling into the sea, nature reserves badly upset, and severe damage to the piers in Cromer and Lowestoft. Meanwhile life went on pretty much as usual in Bedfield. Now there is even worse flooding and damage through a swathe of England and Wales stretching from Aberystwyth in the west to the outskirts of London in the east, not to mention Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and much of the south coast. Again we have been exempted; but it has been windy and wet. This doesn’t matter too much in the daytime, but at night the howling of the wind in the treetops and occasional rattling of the roof tiles (which all stayed in place, by the way) made it hard to get to sleep, and for that reason also hard to wake up in the morning; and consequently led to rather short working days.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that not a great deal has happened. Even so, some of the long-term work is moving on. A parcel of library books has gone off to France, a big box is ready to go to Germany, and six others will shortly be sent to the Esperanto Centre. The stuff on the Freesat recorder is down to 63%, which suggests the recorder will be going with me to Letchworth. Seven audio cassettes are ready for discard. More items have gone into the blue trunk.

The Kitchen Day was again mostly stolen by ordinary housework, but the Music Day helped with the cassette clearance. I’m doing what I can to gather things in Bedroom 1, the kitchen, and the lounge; bedrooms 2 and 3 are largely clear. The Snuggery and Bedroom 4 are the big challenge, but about a quarter of the items in those – mostly books – has gone.

The next few days will mostly be taken up with preparations for visits to Letchworth and to the Esperanto Centre, and, time permitting, the next report will be written in Esperanto House and possibly posted from there. It should put a different perspective on several things.

So that only leaves the boxes. Despite the short working days, the boxes keep on coming. In addition to the six boxes for the Esperanto Centre and the one for Germany, 11 are ready for Letchworth and 7 others are ready for either destination, depending on how things turn out. This adds up to 25 boxes in 40 days, with the equivalent of 125 boxes remaining.

Three of the next ten days will be taken up with travel to Letchworth, being in Letchworth, and travelling on from Letchworth. The tenth day will be a library day actually in the Library. Before that, the two housework days will probably be needed for getting ready. The other two library days and the Office Day should be business as usual; and I certainly hope the one day off (Fri 21st) really will be that – apart from at least one parcel collection, that is.

25th February 2014. As I tentatively mentioned ten days ago, I am writing this at my desk in Barlaston, which is a supersized village a few miles outside of Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a pleasant enough place to be in, but my reason for being here is the Esperanto Centre; which is a rather grand name for a building consisting of an office, a library, and three bedrooms upstairs.

It turns out that weather matters here too, although it hasn’t made the national news. In particular, big old trees came down in many places, our office manager had to make a major detour to get home, and the power went off for several hours. There really is a lot to be said for living in rural Suffolk.

I mentioned last time that some parcels would be coming this way, and sure enough they were here to greet me. Their contents will take up most of my time on this visit. Putting the books where they need to go is not a long job, but there were also several thousand catalogue cards which will need to be filed away; I certainly won’t get through them in one visit. All this is a lot of work, but it’s entirely routine and predictable, and I don’t expect to need any quick thinking or careful planning, so it’s a refreshing change from the strange goings-on at home.

At this point I should, I suppose, take stock of what got done in the seven days before I came here; but home is a world away and I’m quite happy not to think about it for a while. I can at least confirm that the Day Off last Friday was as restful as could be expected, at least from lunchtime onwards. Saturday and Sunday in Letchworth with the family were, predictably, pandemonium, but great fun. Next Saturday, 1st March, will see me staggering home, and the Sunday will be a rest day. If my mental arithmetic is correct, I’ll be reporting again on Friday 7th, by which time I shall have had two library days, a housework day, a Kitchen Day, and a day off. It’ll be as if I’d never been away.

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