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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Moving stories

When was the last time you moved house?

With the property market still reeling from the recession; you might be quite happy keeping your feet under the table, thanks very much, and ignoring the des res pages in the local paper.
But even when you`ve got no desire to up sticks; sometimes, you end up surrounded by packing cases anyway, helping someone else.

That`s happening this week. And it`s bound to be a moving kind of  moving.

It seems only months ago that we were helping our eldest daughter into her university hall of residence in London. It was a manic day, in many ways. We`d been warned there was `no parking`. So, on double yellows,with wardens watching; we belted up and down three flights of stairs, dozens of times, with a hundred and one boxes,leaving them piled high in the tiniest student room for Juliet to `sort out later`.

Then suddenly, we were on the pavement ; ready to leave. I`d prepared for that moment for 18 years. But when it came to speak, no sound emerged. I could only hug her, try a brave smile, and climb back in the car. Then we were gone; blowing noses noisily up most of the M1.

In fact it was three years ago, and for a while now, `student life` has revolved around an impressive four storey town house in East London (with her own balcony and a view of the Thames. No, I don`t know, either.) She`s had a complete ball,and is heading for a summer`s work at Camp America. So this week, way more stuff than she ever started with, has got to be squashed back in the car and whizzed home to Shropshire for three months. Until she returns to London in September (hopefully with a van driving boyfriend ).

The day`s going to mean seven hours of motorway driving; a huge amout of lifting and shifting, a sizeable pub lunch and more fond, and emotional farewells for the summer (Go away, Brian Hyland, not NOW). But it`s another landmark, isn`t it? And I`m so chuffed that she`s independent and confident enough to head across the pond; negotiate a promotion; and then organise an eight day trip round California after that, solo. Go girl!

Anyway, all this got me thinking about how exciting...aswell as traumatic...moving days can be.
My sister and I were only four and six when we left our London flat for a brand new life, and a brand new house in Kent. I can still remember touching and smelling the just dried paint, opening and shutting the kitchen cupboards and drawers  that I could reach. We hammered up the stairs to bounce on the beds in our new rooms, and belted back down again and out of the door into our first garden, stepping  gingerly on the still spongey squares of turf , then running to the end to discover our very own conker tree. 

Fast forward twenty years. Several houses later, dad sold up and prepared to move out of suburbia deeper into the Kent countryside, into something smaller. He`d smugly told us he`d barely have to lift a finger, because he`d paid extra for the `wrap n` pack` service.
Nevertheless, my sister and I took the day off work and breezed round to make sure the move was progressing well, armed with a selection of chocolate biscuits, as you do.

Instead of the bustling hive of industry we expected; everything looked frozen. Someone had pressed pause. 

Here`s why.

Outside dad`s, blocking the small cul de sac where he lived, was the sizeable removal van he`d booked. With three brown overcoated men in the driveway, hands on hips. One was shaking his head at us; lost for words.

At the end of the road, that`d be just about twenty metres away, then, engine running, was another, huge removal van--different firm--containing the goods and chattels of the family of four who`d bought dad`s house. He`d assured them that the `wrap n` pack` deal would speed things up, so had advised them when to show up.

Huge miscalculation.

Inside the house....was dad, also with hands on hips, looking perplexed. My sister and I looked around in horror. There, at the kitchen table, was his still steaming mug of tea.Beside it, a fairly full ashtray; one fag still burning bravely on. And; to underline his apparent nonchalance, an open copy of `Police Review`. Beside the table,on the kitchen counter, a not very neat pile of `Police Reviews`; going back five or six years, we reckoned. And a fairly random assortment of mail. You know...bills, flyers; invitations to answer. Further down, on the draining board, a couple of plates and dishes from breakfast, and `one or two` items in the washing up bowl. Upstairs, the damp towels from his morning shower lay draped over the bath, and his dressing gown was hanging on the bathroom door. Beds? Yep; pillows and duvets all still in place.

He`d taken the `wrap n` packers` at their word, and had made virtually no preparation. And with the engine of the van belonging to family 2 still running outside, admitted to us that.... well hadn`t really factored in any cleaning time at all.

It was a complete disaster in the making. 

And it took some nifty sprinting between van A and van B , sharp negotiating and mediation skills, several trays of tea , and our entire consignment of biccies before we managed to placate the removal teams and get Dad out; the house cleaned, and family 2 in, before nightfall.

I`m hoping this week`s move will be a little easier on all of us. Even though we`ll have a car boot load (now there`s a thought...trestle table, anyone?) of stuff to `accommodate` when we crawl back home late on Wednesday.

Everyone needs to know their assigned tasks. And after years of perfecting my skill at this; I will avoid all heavy loads....and appoint myself head of beverages and biscuits. And Kleenex.

Wish us luck.

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