As I sit here in a vast bed at Babington surrounded by comfort and luxury, I find it hard to think back to yesterday, or even look ahead to the future. Or realise that we are now officially homeless, with all our worldly goods in storage.
Awake ridiculously early this morning, I took the little dog for a walk around the lake, watching the sun come up behind the cornfield. I didn't dare to let him off the lead, and we both struggled with the new restrictions. He would have preferred to chase a deer or two or at least run free around the 3 acres that used to be our home. I would have preferred not pick up his poo into a little (scented of course) bag, or struggle with the new lead that refused to do what it said on the tin, ie retreat into itself when loose. Instead the poor little terrier's legs kept getting caught up with the long line. Stupidly I'd not taken a handbag and juggling the room key, phone (obviously), poo bag and glove in one hand and the unruly lead with the other felt like a complete prat. I'm only glad there was no-one around when at one point the full scented bag,as well as the dog, got caught up with the lead. The scene would have made a good YouTube clip.
But back to yesterday. The day didn't start well when the three removal men arrived half and hour late and the first thing one of them said was 'Can I use your toilet?' Now we did live quite far from anywhere, still, surely a grown-up man could plan to go before arriving at a client's house? The next thing they said was, 'What? Your stuff is going into storage?' When we explained that yes, we had indeed agreed with the kind man from their removal company that one lot due for NW3 was going into storage for a few days and the rest for a longer, undefined period of at least 10 months, there were three pairs of raised eyebrows. 'You're going to LONDON?' At this point we gave them the silent treatment, mainly because we really couldn't think of what to say and partly because I at least was too angry and by this stage so stressed I was off any scale. After a short Mexican stand-off, with the three Amigos wearing shorts and matching grey t-shirts looking down at their shoes, Husband said, 'Were you not briefed at all?' It appeared they'd been just jesting with us. Neither Husband or I found this kind of joking on the day when we were moving out of our home for the past fifteen years funny.
The general complaining about their job, and the contract that was our Big Move became the feature of the day. They were supposed to pack for us, but we'd done most of the work for them. Even so, they kept saying that it was 'really a two day job', something the nice man from their removal firm hadn't even mentioned as an option. I kept worrying the vast lorry that looked as tall and wide as our house wouldn't be able to take all of our stuff. If the man had been so wrong about the time, would he not have been wrong about the space required for our stuff too? As room after room was cleared, I kept thinking that we had filled two skips with rubbish since he'd given us the quote, so even if the estimate was wrong, there was a lot less to move than he'd seen when he came around to have a look.
Husband decided to start helping the removal process by running boxes from the sauna cottage to the lorry with our lawnmower tractor, which helpfully has a small trailer on it. By three o'clock when I was at last able to start final cleaning downstairs disaster struck. Having (incorrectly) been told by the estate agents that we were clear from the house, the new owners turned up. Closely followed by three removal vans. At about the same time the head removal Amigo told me neither of our sofas would fit into the containers. I was beginning to fantasise about ways of brining an early death to the kind man from the removal company. I'd seen with my own eyes how he measured both sofas. 'But I think they'll fit at the front,' said our Amigo. 'Good,' I said, icicles dripping from my voice. He obviously didn't notice my mood as he, turning to look at various boxes marked either, 'NW3' or STORE' in large black marker pen, said 'I've been having bad visions about this job all week.' He mopped sweat from his face with the hem of his grey, stained t-shirt and continued, 'And now I've no idea where which lot is.'
'WHAT DO YOU MEAN?' I said as calmly as I could.
He looked at me in alarm, 'It's just that with the sofas out at the front, I' not quite sure where everything is.'
'I didn't need to know that,' I said and gave him my most murderous look. A second Amigo passed me carrying a box and said, 'Don't listen to him.' I actually managed to smile at him.
But by now the new owners' removal men had emptied their garden furniture onto our lawn (correction their lawn) and were talking about additional time and money. If we were stressed, this man was going totally crazy. Pacing back and forth, he shouted at our removal men, at the new owners, at Daughter. I think only the dog was unaware that he wanted us out NOW. Luckily the new owners of our house could not have been nicer. When our removal Amigo told Husband he'd not been told that the new people were moving in on the same day, we all actually laughed. Because surely that must have been a joke too, right?
Eventually the lorry was packed. Painfully slowly the three Amigos packed away their ramp and sack trucks. We accepted that we had to leave behind all our potted plants, even the lemon tree that the (soon to be dead if I ever set eyes on him again) kind man from the removal company said he could store for us. The new owners said we could come and collect all of them whenever we wanted. They were so kind. Too kind. Now it was time for us to get into our car and drive away. I turned to shake hands with Mrs New Owner and meant to say, 'I hope you'll be as happy here as we have been.' But the words got stuck in my throat and I mumbled something and moved quickly away, putting on my dark sunglasses to hide my tears.
We made Babington just in time for our treatments, but as we unpacked the car, there was one little suitcase notable by its absence. Somehow, even though I'd designated Son's empty room (where he'd moved away from a few weeks ago) to bags for Babington and told the three Amigos not to take anything away from there, my suitcase had ended up on the lorry. Which container it's in, the NW3 one or the STORE one, I have no idea. All I hope is , as I plan today's shopping list for my stay here, that the removal company Amigos do.