Last night, I came back from London early. The course had pretty much fizzled out, so I took an early train. I arrived in Reading before my girlfriend, who was on her way back from Southampton (it's complicated). As such, I managed to spend some time hanging around the railway station - I noticed an advert for a local Madza repair specialist and contacted them, as I reckoned they may be able to make some sense of my poorly-running car.
After being picked up, we all went out for something to eat. A good meal can make a big difference. It was a reasonable meal, so it made a reasonable difference. An early evening out, was followed by a night in, in which we watched some TV. In particular, we watched the movie Sliding Doors. I quite enjoyed it. It shows two parallel versions of the same story, depending on whether a character managed to get a train. The message, I think, is that fate will play its hand eventually. Also, I think the message is that "If you go blonde, you're going to die".
Bed was required as I had a busy weekend ahead. I was going back to Newcastle to sort out my house.
Sorting it out
The original plan for sorting out the house was to do it at a leisurely pace in the spare time between quitting my job in Newcastle and starting in Farnborough. I left the place in December, expecting to go back for a few days in December and about a week in January. During that time, I'd empty out the garage, box all my stuff. Pack some of it away in the loft, give some away and work out what I needed to take to Farnborough.
Some of this was contingent on getting a place in Farnborough. The size of the place and sort of place would dictate what I needed/would be able to take with me.
In reality, I spent a couple of hours in the house in December, getting the stuff I needed for Christmas away from Newcastle. Then I spent about 2 hours in the house in January, picking up essential items for my move to Farnborough. That time was enough to give me a car full of stuff. No particular advance was made on the packing, though.
I had gone through some of the rooms in the weeks before I left work. I'd given away an amount of stuff that I couldn't envisage ever using again. I'd even ebayed some of the stuff. Overall, though, the week or so I needed to spend just didn't materialise. It was partly down to a lack of motivation on my part and largely down to circumstance. The urgency of other matters was greater.
However, I have tenants due to take possession of the house in about 4 weeks. There is no room for hanging about. That house won't clear itself out. In addition, I'm missing some vital ingredients for my bedroom/office/recording studio in Farnborough!
What do you need to move
My weapons of choice were, a small-ish van and a skip. The van from was SIXT and the skip was from ineedaskip.co.uk (or something like that), but was subcontracted to the amusingly titled local company - Barney Rubble.
Assuminge each would be where I'd planned it to be, then the weekend would have a chance of working out. This was also contingent on me finding the energy to get up early for a couple of mornings and drive/sort/carry/lift my heart out.
Typical! I wanted to be at the hire place at 9am and I woke up at 8.30. I wasn't running to time at all. However, I was only a little way out. My original hope was to get to Newcastle at around 2 or 3pm. This later-than-planned wake up would seriously challenge that. In fairness, I think 2 would have been out of the question anyway. I zoomed from my bed (well, my girlfriend's bed) in Reading and tried to make up for lost time.
Let's all hire a van
The van hire place was a little tricky to find, even with Sat Nav, as it was from a different company to the one I'd hired through. SIXT use local agencies and this one was not mentioned on the paperwork. Still, I was only delayed a few minutes working it all out. Then, an insurance form delayed me a bit further. Still, I eventually got my van.
I moved my sat-nav equipment into the van. I hate disconnecting it from my car as it's just a faff to undo the wires and the rubber-suckery thing from the windscreen. However, not having the device would be fatal, given that I'm not that good with the local geography in Farnborough or, indeed, London where I'd be visiting on Sunday.
After some messing about, I was ready to get to my place in Farnborough. I had to pick up some ladders, along with some clothes for the trip, some empty boxes and also my tools, in case anything in Newcastle needed electric disassembly. (Good phrase.)
Down the road with Radio 2
So, I eventually got to pootle up the motorways of our great land. I had our nation's best radio station - Radio 2 - playing on the, er, radio. It had a CD function, but I didn't get to use that. The time passed by reasonably enough. I managed to buy something to eat as I left Farnborough at 10.30ish. I was running later than planned, but would still have some daylight in Newcastle to work with.
First stop: Ikea. I had to buy a double bed for one of the soon-to-be tenants. Ikea do reasonable furniture. I didn't buy the cheapest possible option. bought the bog-standard one, which is fair enough. Sadly, it was complicated to buy. I had to speak to a member of staff, who gave me two sheets. One was a pick-list from the self-serve warehouse, the other was instructions to the till person to get the warehouse in Blaydon to prepare me the non-self-serve items. Eh? Ok. I'd run with it.
So, I paid at the till and then asked for the address of the wareshouse. I got directions - there were about 12 steps in the directions. That wasn't helping much. I went to the customer services. They had printed instructions. I took this, assuming it would have the address on. I have a sat nav. I just want to know where I'm supposed to end up - the machine can do the rest. With instructions, if you miss a bit, then things go wrong.
Ikea fun 2 - and Blaydon's one-way system
I missed a bit. Ended up driving past the warehouse - at least, I could see the warehouse from the road I was on. But there was no means of connecting from it to the kooky one-way system that got you there. Aaagh. I got angry and resentful. It had been a long day already, what with some 300+ miles of travelling, and visits to various places in the South and North before this irritation set in.
I swore a bit while simultaneously using a reasonable level of local-knowledge/sense of direction to have a second go. I got there in the end.
The van seemed barely big enough to fit the mattress. Good job I wasn't trying to do it in my car!
Home on the strange
So, I eventually arrived back at the house in which I lived for over 7 years. I moved in there while I was still engaged. I went through the DIY years, the breaking-up weeks, the slimming year, the stand-up comedy and musical years, the birth of The Musical!, the loss of my hair and the realisation that it was time to move on - all in that one house. Quite a formative place. A lot of hours spent doing a lot of things in those walls.
It felt familiar and yet estranged. It was rather odd. The purpose of the visit was to further disconnect myself from the place. In some ways I wanted to bemoan the loss of an old friend, but it's just a house and I am moving on. People do that all the time. Perhaps the hard part is the elongation of the process. There would still be some of my stuff stored in the place after this trip, but the house would be in a state where my tenants can take over and call it their home. They're not going to be just visitors or guests - they're going to be tenants. So, this was the swansong of my relationship with this building as a home.
Things to achieve. Empty the garage and fill the skip. Pack up clothes, books, CDs, videos, electrical equipment, kitchen items and paperwork.
The skip was smaller than I imagined it would be. It filled up quickly. The garage had a whole bunch of things in it that belonged in the skip. The wheelie bin also filled up with junk. Full!
I threw out my first computer.
I threw out a few other computers too. And a monitor. And bricks. Wood. How much chipboard did I own!?
When I'd finished, I even swept the garage. It was still not empty. A huge box of wood offcuts will have to be disposed of by the tenants. The fridge can be freecycled. The tools are on loan to the next folks. And so the list continues. If it looks like I copped out, bear in mind that I filled a large skip and left nothing in the garage which had no purpose to it (off-cuts excepted).
We're on a break
I spent a bit of time inside the house, where the tea-towels (to be left) were on a wash-cycle in the washing machine (where else?) and the heating was on. This time was spent either boxing things up or moving between rooms, throwing my hands up in dismay at how much there was to do. I'd been at the house since about 5ish. The garage took about 3 hours.
At about 9pm, Mal came around. He'll be one of the tenants. He'd come to bring me chocolate. Perhaps that wasn't his principal reason. He came to look around to get an idea of how the place would be when he moved in, and what the rules would be. He also was able to help me unload the van of the bed.
The house was in a bit of a mess. While I'd thrown a load of stuff away from the garage, I'd, rather bizarrely, chosen to keep the boxes that these things were in. Odd, isn't it. I paid so much attention to keeping these things safe in boxes and then, a few years down the line, it was the boxes which were the more valuable entities.
Mal left me to my mess and I got back to work. First, though, I took a refuelling trip to the nearby Tesco petrol station/express. I needed diesel for the van, food for me, and black bags for the house. All three were purchased.
Warmth made me ill - running out of steam
So, back at the house and back on the job. I was feeling quite light-headed. The cold of the garage was quite bracing. Conversely the warmth of the house was making me feel a bit buzzy. I was doing the best I could to separate things into the 4 categories - bin, take, store or give-away.
I was working more and more slowly. I tried to do things a room at a time. Then, I gave that up and started doing things an opportunity at a time. So, I'd work on something in the room I was in. If that required me to change room, I'd complete the room change and then work on something in that room until it required me to move around the house again. That's more variety, but no more effective, and harder to keep track of.
It all needed doing.
I couldn't do it all in 7 hours. So, at 12.30, I went to bed. Perchance to wake up early. I was very overfaced by how much there was still to do.
I didn't mention that I had a visit to the toilet in which I managed to sort all the incoming post into 3 categories. Important, bin and newspapers. The important category was quite small. The bin was quite full. The newspapers would serve as protection from dust for the tops of my boxes for loft-bound items.
Couldn't come quickly enough. I slept deeply.