Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Sale Tale

It isn’t just us who will miss certain parts of our current house.  Yesterday I spotted the cat in the fish pond. Well, not totally in it you understand, but definitely partially in it.  Front paws fully immerged.  Neck craning outwards.  Eyes looking full of mischief as they focussed on the twelve remaining goldfish nibbling serenely at some green stuff welded to the liner.  It’s a race as to who gets the goldfish.  Dolly, or our visiting heron that swoops and flaps off with three tails hanging out of its mouth.
          When we move to Stone our cat will have to content herself with a rectangular grass strip and tormenting the dog instead of a pond full of fish.  I, for one will rejoice in the rectangular grass strip. Previously I used to lug a hefty lawnmower complete with iron roller up and down the steps to the lawn.  And then I succumbed to a young pair of gardeners who now do the job for me.  At least in the new house I will be able to simply wheel the mower out of the shed and push it up and down the lawn with ease.
          Meanwhile I’m slowly taking the house apart and selling furniture and belongings in preparation for the imminent downsize.  This week a wardrobe and desk went under the eBay auction hammer.  Getting the wardrobe down the stairs wasn’t too bad.  The desk was another matter.  I remember my father originally assembling the desk in the bedroom that it has spent the last eight years within.  I assumed it would fit through the door if and when it came to moving.  Wrong.  As my buyer and I huffed and puffed turning the desk this way and that to get it through the doorframe, it became apparent it wasn’t going to happen.
          ‘Do you have a screwdriver?’ asked the lady.
          ‘A screwdriver?’ I repeated, somewhat stupidly.
          In this house that is a bit like asking if we have a spaceship tucked under one of the beds.
          ‘Yes, could I borrow something from your husband’s toolbox?’
          My husband doesn’t have a toolbox.  A lunchbox, yes, but not a toolbox.  The last time my husband was armed with items from a toolbox (my father’s) he destroyed the flat pack furniture we’d bought.  Instead we ended up selecting a knife from the cutlery drawer and going to town on the desk’s screws.  When we finally hoiked the desk out onto the driveway, the next problem was trying to get it into the awaiting car.  I felt like a contestant on The Krypton Factor as we tried to fit a rectangle into a square.  We needed that screwdriver.
          Fortunately my kind neighbour came to the rescue and removed another panel from the desk.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief when the damn thing disappeared into the bowels of the waiting 4 x 4.
          Meanwhile I have more desks and some beds to shift, along with kitchen cupboards full of pots, pans, bowls, blenders, juicers and all manner of paraphernalia bought when I decided to emulate Nigella Lawson in a brief moment of madness.  And I need to get my eBaying skates on, because the clock is ticking.  Which reminds me.  How did I get my pooch to stop begging at the table?  I let her taste my cooking...

Sunday, 22 September 2013


I’m trying to persuade my husband to be as enthusiastic about our impending new home as me and Eleanor.  In an effort to instil a sense of excitement, I took him along to see how the house was progressing.  As we drove through the electric gates (well, they will be when the electricians do their magic), I felt a thrill ripple through me.  I sneaked a sideways glance at my husband.  His mouth was set in a grim line.
          ‘Doesn’t the setting look fab!’ I trilled.
          No response.
          I parked the car, and had barely opened the driver’s door when Mr V was out and striding off, head rotating 360 degrees as he took in the surroundings.  A ferocious looking builder with a Polish accent materialised from nowhere and demanded to know what we wanted.
          ‘Um, we’re buying Plot 129,’ I said nervously.  ‘Any chance of looking inside?’
          The builder was instantly all smiles.  ‘In you go,’ he gestured with one hand, ‘and ignore mess.  Soon it be perfect.  No worries.’
          ‘I’m sure it will be,’ I gushed, resisting an urge to bow and scrape.  After all, I didn’t want him doing a dodgy job on the place.  No wonky light switches or leaking showers thank you very much.
          Mr V stepped over the threshold, into a hallway littered with paint pots and strode straight through to the lounge.  A pile of workmen’s paraphernalia was positioned where I was roughly envisaging a coffee table.
          ‘It’s certainly coming along,’ I said and gave my husband an encouraging smile. His mouth remained in the same grim line.  ‘And look at the kitchen!’ I waved a hand expansively at bubble wrapped units.  ‘Quartz worktops!  And a built-in microwave.  And a fridge where the door shuts properly.  And a decent sized freezer, and–’
          But I’d lost my audience.  My husband was taking the bare wooden stairs two at a time.  I scampered after him.  On the first floor a sink was in my son’s future bedroom.  In the master bedroom lay the emersion heater.  I poked my head around the en-suite bathroom.
          ‘Tiling looks beautiful,’ I purred.  But Mr V was off again up the next flight of stairs and ducking under a precariously placed ladder.  The loft room will be ours.  The skylights look out upon nearby Grade II listed buildings, recently renovated and displaying a skyline of chimney pots, roof terraces, wrought iron balconies and gables.  ‘When I’ve finished revamping my bureau, it’s going to be placed just here so I can look out on all that,’ I gestured, ‘while writing.’
          Mr V gazed at me, his face expressionless.  Suddenly he was off again, clattering down the two flights of stairs and out into the newly landscaped grounds.  Dismayed, I dawdled after him.  My husband has been the same every time we’ve moved house.  Even when moving to our current house – a move he was more enthusiastic about than me – when it came to The Big Day he was having the jitters.  ‘Are we doing the right thing, Debbie?  Have we made a financial bind for ourselves?  What if it’s all a monumental mistake?’
          When my husband moves into a house, he’s like a sapling putting down roots.  And when it’s time to move on, it’s like trying to fell an oak.  I caught up with him and, together, we got into the car.
          ‘You really don’t want to move here, do you?’ I gazed ahead at all the beautiful mews houses behind an avenue of freshly planted trees.  Trees that, even as I stared, were no doubt putting down their roots.  Finding their new home.
          My husband gave a huge sigh.  ‘I’m moving here for you.’
          ‘It’s a stop gap,’ I shrugged.  ‘Two or three years.  As soon as Eleanor has flown the nest, and then we’ll move again.  To your beloved Penshurst.’
          Mr V nodded.  ‘Come on.  Let’s drive to John Lewis.  We’ll look at house stuff.’
          I put the key in the ignition and started the engine up.  I have no doubt that when the time comes to move to Penshurst my husband will be resisting all over again.  Oak trees are difficult to shift.
          Which reminds me, what’s the difference between an oak tree and a tight shoe?  One makes acorns, the other makes corns ache...       

Sunday, 15 September 2013

You Can’t Curry Love

Last night Mr V took me out for an Indian.  As we sat there dipping poppadoms into spicy chutneys, we couldn’t help ruminate over the last twelve months.  In a nutshell, it’s been awful.  So much has happened.  Mostly cr*p stuff.  But you know, I’m not really a negative type of person and try and look for the silver lining in every cloud that comes along.  And boy, there have been some dark clouds.
          First off, life is short.  And terribly precious.  Last year, like so many others, I took my life totally for granted.  It’s only when your life is threatened that you take a good, hard, very long look at everything – and from a totally different perspective.  If somebody used to hack me off, or wind me up, or upset me, I’d silently rant, ‘Well one hundred years from now it won’t matter, because we’ll all be dead!’  Which is true enough.  But the important thing is, while our two feet are still firmly planted on terra firma, things that get on top of us do matter.  And it matters how we deal with these things.  We shouldn’t let these things fester inside us, otherwise it can make us ill.
          Today I’m going to come face to face with something that I’ve been reluctant to recently address – for many reasons.  But the important thing is, I’m doing it.  Not for me, you understand, but for a person I love.  And also because I don’t want the unaddressed situation otherwise festering away.  It’s not healthy.  So despite my reservations, I’m regarding it as a therapy of sorts – regardless of the outcome.
          Meanwhile, on a lighter note, last night’s curry is lingering in my hair and upon my breath.  Which reminds me.  Have you seen the Top Ten Curry Charts?
Poppadum Preach – Madonna
2. Korma Chameleon - Culture Club
3. Dansak Queen – Abba
4. Tikka Chance On Me – Abba
5. Tears On My Pilau - Kylie Minogue
6. It's Bhuna Hard Days Night - The Beatles
7. Brothers in Naans - Dire Straits
8. I'm a Bhaji Girl – Aqua
9. Dansak on the Ceiling - Lionel Richie
10. Love me Tandoor - Elvis Presley

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Home Sweet (New) Home

The weather is changing, which is no surprise given that summer is drawing to an end.  All over the country, children have returned to school.  My youngest, now sixteen, starts college on Monday where she will study Performing Arts.  Time, like the birds gathering for migration, flies.  And in no time at all, I am sure, Moving Day will arrive.  Just like those birds packing their bags for warmer climes, I will be packing boxes to downsize from a family home which has almost become an empty nest.
          Will I miss this family house?  No.  It’s a place that’s seen an awful lot of drama, one way or another.  Will I miss the people around here?  Yes.  I have good neighbours and made some smashing friends, but hopefully we will keep in touch, although I will miss my walks with fellow pooch pals around the local meadow.
          But change is as good as a rest – so the saying goes.  And, boy, do I need a rest.  Mentally, that is.  The last twelve months have been...well, both challenging and emotionally exhausting.  So it is with great hope and a sense of anticipated joy that I will be embracing the new abode (if all runs to plan, please God) at the end of next month or very shortly thereafter.
          The new kitchen is in, the tiling to the bathrooms complete and everything is brand spanking new.  A new start on every level!  Next week I’m choosing the carpets, fitted wardrobes and size of garden shed.  Yes, it’s true, size matters.  So does colour.  The daughter and I have pored over soft furnishings, pastels, shades and light tones.  It’s been exciting and uplifting. We’ve leafed through furniture directories and trawled on-line websites for ideas, and already tempted fate by purchasing two things for the house before exchange of contracts!  We’ve also taken to swinging by the building site that has, in the last few weeks, so rapidly taken shape in order to check out ‘our house’.  When we stopped by at dusk earlier in the week, we both sat and gasped.
          ‘This place looks almost magical,’ sighed Eleanor.
          And it’s true, it did.  We feasted our eyes on a handful of lit-up dwellings crouched at the base of the main building – a dominant Grade II listed conversion.  At twilight it looked a bit like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
          Meanwhile I’m hoping to find time to facelift an ancient bureau my sister gave me.  I’m thinking Farrow & Ball posh paint and jewelled handles.  Which reminds me.  A blonde decided to impress her husband by redecorating the lounge while her husband was at work.  When the husband came home, a tell-tale smell of new paint hung in the air.  He walked into the lounge to find his wife very hot and bothered.  She was wearing a ski jacket and fur coat, both at the same time.  ‘Why are you decorating dressed like that?’ he asked.  The blonde put down her paintbrush and said, ‘Because the instructions on the tin said for best results, put on two coats...’