We are now home in NZ (arrived on Thursday) after a wonderful 4.5 months on the boat, followed by a lovely weekend with the grandsons up in Scotland.
|Karol on the hills behind Dalry in Scotland|
|In one of Olek's dens in the forest above Dalry|
|The woods in the UK are SO different from in NZ - no undergrowth for a start!|
|Olek has beaten David at Monopoly and Karol looks on in a bemused fashion|
|Home made waffles for breakfast - that's our lovely daughter in law Marta at the bench|
It has been slightly strange coming back to the house. For one thing, it is huge – it’s quite a big place anyway, but after being on the boat with its approximately 270 sq ft living space, we rattle. And we are not in the same room all the time now – the boat is not open plan but has no doors between spaces, apart from the bathroom. This house is definitely not open plan and David spends a lot of time in his office/studio. It feels strange not to be close by and within hearing of each other.
Another aspect that feels strange is that, for the time we were on the boat, David and I did pretty much everything together – this Sunday though I went off to do the supermarketting on my own. It felt weird – and a bit lonely. One bonus was that I could fill the trolley to the top knowing I’d be loading the stuff into the boot and driving it home instead of having to pack it carefully into the granny trolleys for us to wheel it back to the boat on foot. And having a BIG fridge and a BIG freezer to put things in was a pleasure. And not having to kneel down to do so …
The strangest of all though is that we have sold the house – we have had it on the market since January, and had pretty much given up on it selling. When we were moored up in Stone back in late August, we were lying in bed one morning and discussing what we would do as it seemed no one wanted to buy it. We had decided that we would get our holding deposit back from the retirement village we’d found a lovely sunny apartment in, possibly take the house off the market, or leave it on TradeMe (NZ’s version of eBay). Those decisions made, I got up to make a cup of tea and opened up the email and found an offer – well, cat among the pigeons time, and a huge amount of ambivalence.
We bought this house when we were 29 and 31 respectively and are now 63 and 65, we have brought up our kids in this house (they were 3 and nearly 5 when we moved in), and have changed it from an absolute tip to a lovely home – when we had finished the renovations, my dad said he’d thought when we bought it that it was a concrete chook house he wouldn’t put chickens in … not far off, to be fair. We left it rented out for 4 years while we lived in the UK doing our OE (overseas experience or silver gap) in our 50s (2004 – 2007), then came home and set up as a B&B which we loved, as did our guests.
However, given David’s experience of having to get his Dad into residential and then hospital care when Alzheimer’s took over, and seeing the grief that John suffered leaving his home and how David’s mum is now unable to contemplate leaving the house, we decided that we would forestall that happening to us later. We thought it was best to make the decision while we are young enough and healthy enough to have the choice.
Also, we bought the boat late last year and realised that when our boating adventures come to an end through loss of health, fitness or strength, we will also not be in good shape to manage a 2 storey, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 3 reception room (lounges to us NZers) house with garden all round it and, as David crucially notes, gutters to clean! So it seemed sensible to find a place to live that we can lock and leave for 5 months of the year, enjoy being in when we are home from the boat, and that has the safety net for when we are infirm in body or mind. When looking for a villa in a retirement village, we found an apartment (off plan – it is due to be completed this month) and paid a fully refundable deposit, put the house on the market and waited, and waited, and lost heart, doubted the beauty of our home and the work we had put into it. I had decided (on the basis that pessimists are never disappointed) it wouldn’t sell and was actually pleased – I didn’t really want to leave, even though I had participated in the decision to do so.
So getting the offer raised all sorts of feelings in us both - lots of tears and a measure of excitement about yet another adventure! And some trepidation about reducing our belongings, packing and moving.
BTW, house buying/selling here in NZ is a much more civilised affair than in the UK – once the offer has been accepted and the conditions of it are met (finance, survey etc), a non-refundable deposit is paid and, in local parlance, the offer goes unconditional, ie it is binding and it is the contract. The settlement date is usually a few weeks after the offer goes unconditional and is when the remainder of the money is handed over and the house is vacated. See, much more civilised and stress-free, eh? So we have known since early September that the sale was unconditional and have had a bit of time to get used to it. I did a fair amount of looking at the rooms in my mind’s eye while on the boat and thinking about what we needed to take, needed to ditch.
But now we are home I am doing it in reality: eyeing up the furniture, the paintings, the ornaments. I collect chickens [in one bathroom], cups and saucers [in the lounges], cows [in the kitchen].
|to left. There are more cows but you get the idea ...|
|Georges and the brood from Bruges, in the upstairs bathroom|
|The two Flossies from Foxton, NZ|
|This one watches as men pee - I love the expression of surprise ...|
|The china cabinet in the TV lounge|
|Two of them in the conservatory - there are more cups and saucers in the other lounge ...|
And I have loads of books - there must be about a thousand in the house - 27 shelves with between 30 & 40 books per shelf. And B&B linen – we don’t need as many sets of sheets and duvets and towels as we have currently! We don’t need gardening equipment (apart from a trowel for the pot plants that’ll be growing on the apartment terrace) or a lawnmower. We will have no shed to store stuff in, so what we keep will have to be in the apartment. What do we really need in the apartment (840 sq ft as opposed to 2400 sq ft)? What can I get sell? What will I put aside to take/send to the kids? What can go to Women’s Refuge? I’d have to say, living on the boat has certainly helped fit us for this move!
So first thing is a garage sale is and soon – the settlement date for the house sale is 14 November – a month away.
My lovely sister is coming to stay on Wednesday and will help me get things sorted for the garage sale scheduled for Saturday. I am sure we won’t have everything ready but it will be a good start.
When I got home from a shopping expedition (bed settee for the apartment's 2nd bedroom/office) ...
... I started looking through the kitchen cupboards at the stuff they contain. Strangely enough, I have been able to cull the contents by about 30% without even stressing. After all, exactly how many wine glasses do we need, and how many platters, trays, jugs, tumblers, ramekins, vases, stockpots, teapots … (Just investigated another cupboard and found we have 6 - yes 6 - coffee plungers! One into a case to come to the boat next year, 2 to go to the apartment, the rest to sell.)
The lounge floor is filling up nicely with stuff that is definitely surplus to requirements. Frankly, the stuff has been STR for ages, but I've just gathered stuff as I've seen it and this is the first time I've culled.
I need to prime David that he needs to do a cull of the cords he has for techie stuff – I am clear that the way he stores them, like snakes coiled around each other in a pit, means they procreate and multiply. At $2 for each one there’s a fortune already. However our son Tim suggested that he strips them down for the copper and gets them to a scrap metal merchant. I think there's a better chance of him giving me some for the garage sale, myself.
David is over visiting his mum for a couple of nights before he gets stuck in to the 10 or 11 Weaving Memories jobs he has scheduled, Dee arrives Wednesday and Joe is back on Thursday or Friday – a nice full house again will be lovely.
Tomorrow I must call the dentist – I still haven’t sorted the tooth that I broke at The Swan in Fradley. I must call about getting some work sorted – have to earn to keep the life style going. I also need to arrange a haircut – I am very shaggy looking!
By email, I have arranged with Ed that he will go and change the coolant in the boat engine in early November. We don’t want to take the risk of waiting till May to change it, as Ed had noted that there isn’t much anti-freeze in it at the moment. Tony on nb Holderness mentioned in one of his recent posts that when there are lots of berries in the autumn, the winter is likely to be a hard one. There were heaps of berries everywhere this season – I picked 3lb of blackberries in the space of about 600 yards near Yardley Gobion, and that was after Jaq and Les had got the same amount in the same stretch a day or so before me. And the rose hips and hawthorns have been prolific and crab apples trees have been fully laden. I sense oncoming snow and ice, ladies and germs!
The sun is out here at home (well, not at this moment as it’s dark) but the days have been warm, sunny, and today was also a bit breezy. The moving air reminds us we are home in Wellington which almost always has at least a slight breeze - that is, if it doesn’t have what anywhere else would be seen as a gale force wind.
Time for sleep – I am still coping with the lag of the jet, so another early night for me. I still wake up though wondering where I am …
PS If you haven’t read it yet, go to Firefly NZ’s blog and read a recent post called Splish Splash. I defy you to keep a straight face.