Tag Archives: moving house

A Bath is Not A Photo Booth

Good morning!  How the devil are you?

It’s been – crikey, a whole week!  Whoops – since I last wrote a blog post.  Sorry about that.  I moved house this week, which has taken up a fair amount of time.  The upshot is that I am writing to you now from the kitchen of my lovely new flat.  Isn’t the garden pretty?  Ignore the boxes of books and saucepans.  I’ll finish unpacking later.

Moving house is incredibly stressful, but it also has a lot of perks.  Here are a few that I’ve experienced over the past few days:

  • Rediscovery – Ash and I packed up our possessions and vacated Bag End almost a month ago.  Getting my stuff back out of storage was quite good fun, because I’d half-forgotten about some of the nice things we have, including an owl cushion called Archimedes:
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    Hands down the most important thing I’ve unpacked so far.
  • Wonderland – I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this area of London before, but now that I live here I am finding out all sorts of things about what the area has to offer.  My favourite pub in the entire city is a ten minute walk away, the coffee shops look amazing and there are charity book shops all over the place.  It’s opposite a massive park AND an indoor climbing centre.  Bring on the adventures.
  • Team Work – my lovely, kind and wonderful friends are a very helpful bunch, and moving house has been a lot easier because of them.  It has also been a lot funnier because of them.  Spending time putting furniture together has given us the chance to reminisce, with some surprising stories – “Have I not told you this story before?!” – and a lot of nostalgia.
  • Bizarre Rules – my friends and I have also decided that the first time someone visits my new house, they have to sit in the bathtub (not filled, obviously) and have their photo taken.  That sound weird, doesn’t it?  I know.  I have no defence, except that the bathtub is weirdly small and we all found it hilarious.  I’m not explaining this very well…
  • Bear Grylls Complex – when you’ve only had time to unpack a fraction of your possessions, you have to sort of make do with whatever comes to hand.  It might just be me, but the whole experience makes me feel like a scavenger living on the fringes of society.  For example, when we left Bag End Ash and I threw the kettle away, because it was a bit old and scummy.  I forgot about this when I moved in to the new flat.  I assumed the kettle was hiding in a box somewhere.  I have coffee, sugar, milk and teabags, but no kettle.  If you’ve ever met me, you will know that this is a Very Bad Situation.  We dispatched someone to buy a kettle yesterday afternoon, with no success.  This morning’s coffee has therefore come from water boiled in a saucepan.  I feel so primitive.  I feel like I’ve EARNED my coffee.
  • Building Blocks – last but not least, a new house means a new start.  Distributing your books and belongings around a new space is a very exciting thing to do, and it’s how we build somewhere up from being a house/flat into a home/hobbit hole.  There is, as Dorothy Gale would tell you if she weren’t fictional, no place like home.

Have a glorious Monday.  I’m going to go and buy a kettle.

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Skip to the End

Skip to the end

Hello there, and welcome to a brand new week!  I hope your weekend was extremely restful.

So, Bag End has now been vacated and Ash and I have both returned to our parents’ houses.  We are very lucky that our families are so understanding (and that they’ve kept bed space for us), but I think it’s safe to say that we both feel a bit deflated.  We’ve just had a year of living independently and building up our own home.  This next bit of our lives is going to be a bit tricky.

I wouldn’t mind so much if I had something concrete to focus on: a new job or a new flat would be great right now.  Anyone who has experienced job or flat hunting in London will know that both are extremely demanding, difficult and headache-inducing.  I’ve done both of them before and I’m sure I can do them again now.  The only thing is that I really, really don’t want to.

I have some very wise and sympathetic friends who have experienced similar situations, and the advice from all of them has been not to get bogged down in my current circumstances, because they won’t be forever.  Living at home and being unemployed can be demoralising, but they are temporary states.  Being less mature and more prone to whining than my sensible friends, my instinctive response to their sagacity is basically “but I want to have a new flat/job now.  Why can’t I skip to the end of this bit?”

It’s very common to wish time away when we’re going through a difficult patch.  We know that we’ll get over our break-up eventually, or that if we keep sticking to this diet we will see results at some point.  We just hate waiting.  Putting all of your energy into something and then having to hang about for the results is extremely frustrating.  

It’s actually a good thing to have to wait for what you want.  If we got everything we desired as soon as we wished for it, we would never learn to be patient.  If our dreams materialised as soon as we thought of them, we would never experience the satisfaction of pursuing and genuinely achieving them.  If we had magic lamps to give us what we wanted whenever we wanted it, we wouldn’t have anything to be proud of when we looked back over our lives.  Plus, where on earth would you keep a magic lamp?  Can you get magical knick knacks covered by home insurance?  The whole plan is riddled with extra problems.

I think that one of the best things to do when we’re going through phases of enforced patience is to think of other times when this has been the case, and to take lessons from them.  You got over that last break-up, didn’t you?  Exactly.  Your A Level results were eventually released.  The latest series of your favourite television show did eventually start.  And while you were waiting, I’m sure that you did and experienced things which may have been serving as distractions at the time, but which have now become important parts of your life.  For example, the last time I was in this situation I wrote a play.  That play has just done a great run at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is soon to be a short film for Sky.  

Life is like that: if we concentrate on what we can get done while we’re waiting, we will surprise ourselves with what we’re capable of.  Instead of wanting to skip to the end, we should try to enjoy the possibilities these difficult times contain.

Have a fantastic day.  Make sure your lunch represents all the food groups.

Moving Mountains (of Books)

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Hello, dear reader!  How are things?

Just in case I haven’t complained about this loudly or frequently enough yet, I absolutely loathe and detest moving house, mainly because of the packing.  Packing for a holiday is great, and even packing for the Edinburgh Fringe is ok (as long as someone remembers the props), but packing up an entire house is just ridiculous.  Here are some modern moving woes which I think we can all relate to (and some nice bits as well):

  • “Whose is this?”
    It doesn’t matter whether you only live with one other person, or you put your name in all of your books, or you have an excellent memory: there is always at least one household item which has disputed ownership.  For example, I cannot remember for the life of me who owns the cheese grater, and that’s a very serious concern in our house.
  • “No, seriously, whose is this?”
    Ash and I reconciled ourselves a long time ago to the fact that our friends see us as an elderly married couple, despite (or potentially because of) our best efforts to behave like normal girls in their mid twenties.  However, it has resulted in the other ownership issue that arises when you move house: what do you do with presents that were given to you jointly? Is it fair to call dibs on something that you both have an attachment to?  Ash has already said that I can have the beautiful cheese board our friend gave us for Christmas, so that’s ok.  And yes, everything in this household really does come down to cheese.  It would be sort-of funny if it weren’t so very true.
  • Furniture Tetris
    During the last twelve months, Ash and I have both tried to move the furniture in our bedrooms.  I say “tried”, because one of us got stuck between a wardrobe and a bed, and the other got halfway through before realising that it was past midnight and the neighbours might complain.  Trying to move furniture around and have somewhere to keep your clothes, books etc. and clean as you go is like playing four different levels of Tetris at the same flipping time.  I’m genuinely worried about how we’re going to get all of our furniture out of the front door and into the van.
  • Boxing Days
    You can never have enough boxes.  Every time we’ve left the house in the past week, we’ve stopped at our local Asda to ask the lovely produce staff for cardboard boxes that used to house melons and cabbages.  We now have approximately seven crates of books each and no floor space to move around in.  My main regret about this is that we didn’t even make a fort before we filled them.
  • Sweet Charity
    Moving house is a great time to have a bit of a clear out, whether you swap possessions or do a massive charity shop run.  This aspect of moving is characterised by questions like “Do you want these shoes?”  “This belt doesn’t fit me, do you want to take it?” and even “Do you know you look like one of the seven dwarves with that bin bag over your shoulder?” (Answer: yes.  Yes I do.  And I’m ok with it.  Cue singing “Hi ho” all the way down to the Cancer Research shop.)
  • Hostesses with the Mostest
    By the time we have our house cooling party tomorrow night, the flat will basically be empty apart from emergency coffee-making equipment and the magic internet box (which I think proper grown-ups refer to as a modem).  This is going to make hosting a party a bit of a challenge, but with a bit of luck and a lot of plastic cups, I think we’ll be ok.  

Right.  I’m going to go and tackle the kitchen.  Wish me luck, and have an exceedingly joyful Tuesday.

Bye Bye, Bag End

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Hello, you lovely thing.  Are you excited about your weekend?

This post is one that I’ve been avoiding for a while, because I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to write.  The subject matter makes me want to cry and stamp my feet, so do bear with me.  If I start getting hysterical just throw a biscuit at me or something.

At the end of this month, Ash and I will be vacating our beloved flat.  We’ve been living in Bag End for a year, and we’ve had an amazing time here.  We have had lots of lovely friends round to visit, hosted parties that defy the (minuscule) proportions of the floor space, danced around the kitchen to cheesy music, spilled coffee everywhere , had heart to hearts in the middle of the night and eaten unholy amounts of cheese.  It’s been bloody brilliant.

When we leave Bag End Ash will be moving home to save up for her trip to New York, and I will be moving to South London with one of my sisters.  Both of these are excellent and exciting things, but they are big changes.  I freaking hate changes.

Change is difficult for a lot of people to cope with because it involves uncertainty, which is something that humans are not wired to cope with very well.  We fear things like death and the dark because they represent obscurity: we have no way of knowing what they contain.  It’s the same with big changes.  How on earth can we be happy about them when we don’t know what they’ll entail?

It also comes down to a control and participation issue.  When we voluntarily make decisions that affect change, we can be happy because we’ve elected them.  Booking trips abroad, starting a new job and getting into relationships all fall into this category.  Being forced into change by other people’s decisions or circumstances beyond our control creates the opposite feeling: why should we have to participate in changes that we never wanted?  Why should we be forced into changing jobs, moving house or changing our relationship status?  If I may paraphrase William Ernest Henley’s poem slightly: “I am the master of my Facebook profile; I am the captain of my post code.”

I have realised that the trick to dealing with unwanted change is to look at it as an adventure rather than a crisis.  Bilbo Baggins didn’t want to leave Bag End any more than I do, but he went on to have a very jolly time.  (You know, except for the orcs and the massive spiders and stealing treasure from a dragon and everything.)  If we are never forced out of our comfort zones we never get to explore who we are or challenge ourselves, and both of those are very important things to do.

The other thing is that if we choose to look at enforced life changes in a negative way, it won’t affect any of the outcomes.  When we choose resentment over optimism we are only hurting ourselves.  Universal justice, fate, God or whatever life-affecting force you believe in probably doesn’t respond to sulking.

With that in mind, I’m going to start packing up my stuff.  I am choosing to look at this as an opportunity to re-alphabetise my books (which may sound like a pretty tremulous silver lining, but that kind of thing genuinely matters to me, because I’m a nerd).  Have a glorious weekend.

Qualified for Life

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Hello, you marvellous creature.  How’s the world been treating you this week?

One of the consequences of working on a play like Chris is Dead – “an awkwardly funny, shamelessly honest story about love, loss and splitting the phone bill”, if you’re interested- is that it reminds me and the cast of how unprepared we feel for life’s big events.

As we get older we are more and more likely to come across situations that require a lot from us, whether that’s mentally (“oh dear God, A Levels”), physically (“oh dear God, Freshers’ Week”) or emotionally (“oh dear God, the Friends finale”).  The bizarre thing is that, A Levels aside, we never feel that our qualifications actually qualify us to deal with what life throws at us, do we?

When I was doing a Paediatric First Aid course a couple months ago, I freely admit that I never expected to have to use much (if any) of the information.  When I ran into a genuine First Aid issue at work a couple of weeks later, I felt pretty sick.  I knew I had the know-how somewhere in my head, but what if I forgot something really important?  What if I got it wrong?

I did remember what to do, and the child was fine, but the point is that I felt shockingly under-prepared, even though I had technically been trained.  How much worse is it to have to deal with emergency situations that we can’t possibly be trained up for?

You can’t take a course in Guiding a Friend Through Their Spiritual Epiphany (Diploma) or do a GCSE in Moving House Without Getting Completely Destroyed by Stress (and Inexplicably Losing the Kettle).  There are no night schools for those of us who don’t know what to say to a bereaved loved one, and no one has yet thought to suggest a degree in the whys and wherefores of navigating a tricky divorce.  This seems impractical, unfair and, frankly, a perfectly decent enterprise concept gone to waste.

Everyone is afraid that they are under-qualified for life.  For example, my mum has five kids, a mortgage and her own food mixer, but she would be the first to admit that she doesn’t feel like a grown-up.  Even so, she has always managed to handle scary/difficult life situations brilliantly.  As long as we are doing our best, we’re probably handling the situation as well as anyone could expect or require of us.  In a way, life experience and ageing in general is our nebulous equivalent to gaining a foundation degree in Responding to Crises Without Completely Losing It & Actually Coming Out of the Whole Thing Pretty Well.

It might not be as reassuring as a bona fide certificate with signatures and foil seals and whatnot, but trusting yourself to be up to the challenge is a massive part of dealing with whatever the issue is.  Even if you’ve somehow lost a kettle.

Have a truly splendid Wednesday.