First, the good news..........
My mother has moved up to London and is now 5 minutes drive from me. The sale of her house went relatively smoothly. Exchange of contracts was 26 September with a completion/moving date of 25 October. I had labelled the move in three phases:
- Moving out of her 4-bedroom house on the coast
- Staying a week with me while her furniture was in storage, so that we could have her retirement flat decorated and double-glazing put in
- Moving in to the retirement flat
Known for my good organisation (I have lists for everything and even lists of lists) I planned it meticulously like the Cabinet Office sorting out World War II. Not a detail was left behind. Gradually over the first few weeks of October, it all fell into place like a well-rehearsed play with nobody forgetting their lines or missing a cue. Even the weather behaved itself. It had been rain, rain and rain for most of the month, but on moving day, the sun shone, it was dry and we saw the furniture and 37 boxes of possessions off onto to the big van. (The removal men were heard to say "Doesn't your mother have a lot of china"!) Phase One was a success.
Phase 2 went relatively well. In fact, apart from Hurricane Jude, it would have been a roaring success. Over the weekend preceding Phase 2 week, the news and weather reports had been heralding the arrival of Jude with all sorts of dire warnings and predicted mayhem, so our double-glazing team rang me to cry off their appointed installation on the Monday 28th and to regroup instead on the Tuesday. With that being the only minor blip in the timetable, all else proceeded smoothly. The painters turned up on the Monday in storm conditions and had the flat completely painted by the Wednesday. On Thursday, I vacuumed the carpets to within an inch of their lives and we awaited Phase 3.
On Friday 1 November, the start of Phase 3, my mother and I stood in the empty flat bathed in sunshine and watched as the removal firm brought in her furniture and possessions. As I had suspected (and tried in vain to warn my mother several times) a four-bedroom house will not fit into a 1-bedroom flat. We had done some serious down-sizing, off-loaded many items to charity or left them behind in the house at the request of the new owner, but still there was too much to fit into the tiny flat. So far as furniture was concerned, we had a mahogany bookcase and a wing chair that seemed to be lacking a place to settle. (The former has now been donated to charity along with the books it once held and the wing chair sits determinedly squashed between two other items, making the lounge look like a doctor's waiting room! There were 37 boxes altogether to unpack and they were all clogging up the little space between the furniture, so there was nothing for it but to start unpacking with gusto. The removal firm had been paid to do the packing (but not unpacking) and had used a whole forest of paper to wrap even the smallest of items. Very soon my mother and I were standing head-height in scrunched-up paper and we still had thirty or more boxes to unpack! Over several days, we managed to unpack the possessions and find a home for most of it. We carefully folded each sheet of paper for the removal firm to reuse and it (and the boxes) were collected yesterday.
My mother is happy in her new home, has made lots of new friends already through an organised coffee morning and afternoon tea. There are other events scheduled over the coming weeks and her social life has improved 100%, not to mention the fact that I pop over most days. She wishes she'd made the move a lot earlier.
And now for the bad news. The very bad news.........
My beloved Snoopy has gone to the big park in the sky and I miss him terribly. I'll write more about that another day, when I feel I can, but his death on the Tuesday of phase 2 could not have come at a worse moment in some ways, although was a blessing in others.