My last day at work seems so long ago now. It would be nice to say its been one long holiday since but that would be a big fat fib. We did have a few days up in the Lake District in Keswick at the 'holiday house' as DD calls it, but it wasn't as restful as normal as we knew we had lots to do back in London to get ready for the move. So what was originally meant to be a 10 day holiday turned into a very short 4 days at the house and two long days travelling.
I know that the general feeling is that house moving is one of the most stressful times of your life and I have to agree. It's also a little like childbirth, in that your memory of the trauma fades pretty quickly so you think "we only moved 18 months ago, how stressful can it be?" - well let me tell you it was STRESSFUL! From the moment the removal company we first went for emailed to say they suddenly couldn't move us, to that first week of being overwhelmed by brown boxes and where everything was, it's been one long headache.
So we are NOT moving again for a very long time!
To add to the normal stress I threw in a couple of parties - a leaving London BBQ on the bank holiday Sunday. This was the day after the heaviest rainfall we'd had all summer, but turned into a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon with a nice number of friends helping us say goodbye to our fab house and garden. And then once we moved I thought we may as well have a housewarming party the weekend after we moved in! Insane! But more about that later.
We had packers come and pack us up the day before we were due to complete. We went with Aussie Movers in the end and they were really good. All uniformed, polite and quick at packing. Sometimes a little too quick as no sooner had I put something down to keep to one side, then it was packed away and I had to shrug my shoulders and think "I'll cope without that for a day". Not realising that a day would turn into almost a week until I found my toiletry bag containing my make up and other essentials! Yikes.
Everything got packed up on the Thursday and after I'd picked up DD from her last day at the childminders (cue tears at the thought) we headed over to stay at a friends. DB came and had dinner with us and then headed back to the empty house to calm the poor traumatised cat and keep her company overnight.
DD and her best buddie had a great time together and I also appreciated the time I got to spend with my friend. But then DB arrived the next morning with the cat ensconced in her cat basket and it was time for us to leave London.
I'd come to London in 1997, which still seems like yesterday, and had planned to stay for a fun 6 months to earn some money before heading back to America where I'd spent the previous 2 years. But as those who live in London know, no sooner do you start earning money in London, there are ample opportunities to spend it, which meant I needed to earn more and so the treadmill begins!
So almost 16 years later after a lot of fun, a lot of spending, and a lot of friends, I was giving it all up! I sobbed quietly in the car as we pulled away from my dear friend and started our very long journey north.
And what a long journey. We came across four accidents on the motorways on that journey. It was very slow going for us, but for the removal company, who'd sensibly set off at 5am they arrived almost as we were leaving! I had originally wanted a removal company who could deliver our furniture on the Saturday so we didn't feel we had to rush up North, but we couldn't find anyone who would do that, that weekend (apparently the busiest weekend for moving across the UK - who knew!). So we had the stress of trying to get up to our new home in Country Durham to be there to open up and direct which became quite apparent wasn't going to happen in good time. Thank god my mother in law is now living not far from this house. She was dispatched to pick up the keys, let the removal men in and suggest places for furniture to go.
We arrived stressed, tired and hungry at 6pm - about 8 hours after we'd left London. It wasn't quite the romantic image I'd had in my head, of DB, DD and I all smiling as we turned the key in the front door and entered together for the first time as owners. It was more rushing around, changing long over due nappies on DD, me going in search of food and drink for every hungry person and DB helping shift furniture (despite paying someone else to do this, but time was of the essence, only a bed and table had been unloaded - we had a whole life left to unload!).
At one point we didn't think we'd be able to stay in the house on that first night, there seemed like too much to do, but almost miraculously beds were put up quickly and we all flaked out once the removal guys left. Up early again the next morning, the chore of unpacking began and went on and on and on and will probably still keep going on for a while yet.
We had a great interlude however last weekend when some family and friends came from all over to help us warm the house up. It was a great day - ample food, lots of laughter and the drink flowed. The kids both old and young had a great time in the garden and it was lovely to see DD playing so happily with her cousins.
Up until then DD was 'coping' by surrounding herself with imaginary incarnations of all her buddies in London. It was breaking my heart and I was feeling so guilty about ripping her away from the happy life she had. But seeing her showing her cousins around 'her' house and around 'her' garden reassured me we'd done the right thing. She has started at the local nursery this week, just two days a week, but after her first full day she was buzzing! So I think she'll be ok. Her imaginary friends are lessening, although her imaginary version of her best buddy is with her constantly! To the point I have to make her imaginary meals, hold her imaginary hand and have imaginary conversations with her! I guess my blog is my imaginary friend so I need to keep on top of checking in more often.
As we approach the two week mark now, it's all beginning to feel very normal, very much our home, as routines are formed and the brown boxes lessen and I start to get organised. I feel very fortunate that I've survived the last month and I hope that my 'normal' is a happy one, where I'll make new friends, form new connections, but still get to keep in touch with old ones.