Tag Archives: moving house

Bothered by Boxes (or an account of, hopefully, my last move for a long time)

Finally, I am back in the Land of the Bloggers.  For the first time in I don’t know how long, I am actually sitting at my desk writing a proper blog and I can’t tell you how good it feels.

One reason that it feels so good is that it is a physical demonstration that the house is becoming sufficiently ‘home-like’ that I’m not fretting 24 hours a day about how many boxes are still waiting to be unpacked.  I admit that there are still three boxes whose contents await redistribution but when one considers that I have taken my Escort to the recycling centre four times now, absolutely loaded to the gunnels with flattened cardboard, the remaining three are there merely for me to toy with. “Shall I open you?  Shall I not?  You want your tape off?  I’m not taking your tape off.  I know what’s inside and I might open you today, but there again I might not.  I’m fickle that way, you little cardboard minx”.

As my longstanding readers will know, moving house has become something of a regular habit in the last few years.  This is my fourth move in five years, not through choice, and I am well and truly sick of it.  My friends are sick of it, as are my family, as they are the ones who have consistently been asked to do the moving and, as I may have mentioned before, I have a lot of stuff and more books than my mother’s local library.

As you are an interesting bunch of people, I’m sure you will understand that, if one is interested in lots of things, one automatically acquires the accoutrements of those interests and even if, like me, you put those things into carefully labelled boxes that potentially stack neatly in corners and cupboards, they nonetheless stack up and the only way to get rid of them is to relinquish the interest.  Which is out of the question.

So, once again, my team swung into action and moved my stuff – this time from Great Bowden to Desborough.  The Aged Parent came up the week before the move and I set her to work packing up my glass, silver and china – all fiddly stuff which she did absolutely brilliantly as I discovered when I came to unpack it and found not a single breakage in the carefully labelled boxes.

On the Friday I got the keys, my friend Jo and her son arrived and between her Mini and my Escort we shifted more books than any humans should be obliged to do.  Sister the Second and her husband Byron reported for duty on Saturday , along with The Father of My Children in a van, Mrs Grable (my sister in law), Mr & Mrs Medbourne (her son and daughter in law) and their son Dylan.

There has never been such a jolly bunch.  They managed to move a phenomenal amount of stuff  in an efficient and good humoured way and teamwork doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I had hired a big van (which I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed driving) and they worked away filling it and TFOMC’s Transit over and over again.  Even when we discovered that we’d have to take the sitting room window out to get the sofa in, the spirits never lowered and no-one smacked anyone.

The following afternoon, TFOMY and I crept along to Mr Medbourne’s house, cap in hand, and begged him to come back for a bit longer to move The White Goods.  The poor bloke had only just finished his Sunday lunch, but he put on a happy face and clambered once more into the breach.

I do still have some stuff stored in a barn behind my last house, but other than that, the old hovel was empty and as clean as it was ever likely to be.  However, it didn’t stop my bastard of a landlord taking fifty quid off me for a small stain on an already disgustingly stained carpet and  for absolutely refusing to believe that the bathroom was so damp in the winter that it had completely disintegrated the fittings on the lavatory seat.  I weighed it up; if I challenged him I wouldn’t get the deposit back for months or I could accept it and cut my losses.  I cut my losses and may I take this moment to wish a plague of biting things to fall upon his house in perpetuity and that he gets septicaemia from the bites.

Desborough would not have been my first choice of location.  I have been utterly spoiled since coming to The East Midlands nearly fifteen years ago, in that I have lived in beautiful rural spots and mostly far from the madding crowd.  But Desborough is cheap, has real shops within walking distance and is that bit  nearer to Boy the Elder’s new school.  It is also incredibly friendly, my new neighbours seem very pleasant and almost everyone who passes the house says good morning or smiles in greeting.

The house itself, a red brick Victorian terrace, is a good size and in nice condition and even has a kitchen big enough to put a small table in, at which I and my shining faced boys can eat breakfast and converse pleasantly at some abominable hour in the morning come term time.  Best of all, it has a cellar that is equipped with carpets and electricity and in which I have made my office.  Outa Spaceman has already dubbed this ‘The Bunker’ and that is how it shall continue to be known.  And from The Bunker shall come forth great things.

And yes, Peter, there is a gas mask hanging by the kitchen door.


Filed under Family and Friends, Life in general

Midland Clearances

I’ve spent the last three days (and many days prior to this) clearing an outbuilding of stuff which has been there for two and a half years.  Some of it will go into the Household Sale at Great Bowden Village Hall on Sunday at 2pm, much of it has gone into the bin and a small proportion is going to auction.  It has been dirty, greasy, back-breaking work, made all the nastier by the copious amount of cobwebs and long-leggety things of various sizes and densities.

There is, undoubtedly, a tremendous sense of purging when one clears out.  I have lots of interests which all need ‘stuff’ in order to carry them out and books on practically every subject under the sun; Boy the Elder and I can research almost any subject we choose without ever going outside the house or onto the internet.

However, having moved four times in five years, if I want to keep any of the friends and relatives who regularly turn out brandishing screwdrivers and flexing muscles, I need to shed some stuff.  My dining room is bulging at the seams with excess possessions and, once they’ve gone, I can start the onerous process of packing up all the stuff which we don’t actually need on a daily basis.

The next task is the boys’ rooms.
I’d rather have the spiders.




Filed under Life in general

Coming soon…

I’m really sorry that I’m being so shoddy about my postings at the moment.    I am trying, but I have so much to do in order to make the impending move as painless as possible that my mind is full and my hands are dirty.  Would that it was the other way round.

I was researching an article for you yesterday morning,  but A Man came round to mend the broken window pane in my front door.  Boy the Younger had found a piece of wrought iron, which Boy the Elder had found and kept because he liked the shape.  Boy the Elder made one sarcastic comment too many, so Boy the Younger hurled said piece of iron down the stairs, narrowly failing to inflict serious head injuries on his brother, but absolutely succeeding in smashing through the front door.  I would usually repair a broken window myself, but there was beading involved and I have so much to do at the moment, that I called in a local professional, thus supporting the local economy.  The window took half an hour, the stories about his daughter took considerably longer.

I was going to finish and write up the article last night but … well … I fell asleep in my comfy wing-backed armchair, with little Jeremiah snuggled up in my arms.  By the time I woke up it was time for bed.  Said Zebedee.


Filed under Children, General DIY, Life in general

I got the house!

I cruised into the estate agent in Kettering this morning (now there’s a funny old place, Kettering), I was accepted as the new tenant and laid down half the deposit there and then.  I really can’t believe how easy it’s all been which suggests to me that I’ve done the right thing.  The agents were really most accommodating…..

I shall be moving in on 29th July so there’s a lot to do, including having a big sale of all my surplus stuff in Great Bowden Village Hall on Sunday 3rd July from 2pm – in case there are any locals reading this.  I shall also be serving tea and cake, so come on down!

Hurrah!  Harroo!


Filed under Life in general

The Wartime Housewife is moving house again – again!

Sincere apologies for the dearth of articles but life has temporarily overtaken me.  As Boy the Elder will be going to school some considerable distance from here in September, we had agreed that we needed to move a little further south – not much – but the other side of Harborough at least.  I had started looking in a fairly cursory way but was going to hold off an intensive search until I’d off-loaded our surplus stuff in a garage style sale in the Village Hall on 3rd July.

But life has an interesting habit of making one focus when one least expects it.  I received a visit from my landlord on Thursday evening giving me notice to quit.  The Fernie Hunt has sold the land on which my tiny cottage festers to a developer and I have to be out by 24th August.  I had been warned that this was going to happen but we didn’t know whether it would be six months or six years.  It’s now.

The hunt is on, ho ho.  I have been rather spoiled in that, for the last fourteen years, I have been fortunate enough to live in lovely areas and although my present cottage is ghastly, the setting is divine.  However, I visited a property today which, although the location wouldn’t be my first choice, the house itself  as perfect as I’m going to get within my budgetary constraints.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And if I don’t get this house, please could you all wish upon me a large, period domicile with five bedrooms, two receptions, a giant kitchen and a study, half a mile away from my nearest neighbour, for £500 per month.  Oh and a cleaner thrown in.  Surely not too much to ask!

This'd do...


Filed under Life in general

No article today, for today my articles start moving!

No deep, meaningful and yet pleasantly amusing article today.  For today Sister the Second and I begin the removal In Earnest.  The kitchen is sparkling and my books are jiggling in their boxes.  I can just hear them, through the thick cardboard of the banana boxes in which they are packed – three and a half thousand little voices crying “Take us to the New House, for there we shall take on new life and be read voraciously.  Just make sure the sun doesn’t shine on our spines and fade us!”

Oh alright then.  Allons sie Allonso!!


Filed under Uncategorized

Relocation (but not very far)

3 bedroom country dwelling

Excellent news, dear friends!  The Wartime Housewife has found new Headquarters.  It’s bit further than I would have hoped, being nearly 20 yards from the current homestead, but I must be brave.  I have cancelled the pantechnicon.  I entered deep and meaningful negotiations with my landlord and we have agreed that I should move into the house opposite with barely an increase in rent. 
AND it has three bedrooms.  Hurrah. 
I move in ten days.  Hurrah (tempered with Aarrghghgh!)

Thank you all so much for all your good wishes, you have genuinely helped to keep my spirits up.


Filed under Family and Friends, Household Hints

Pack up your troubles: Advice on packing when you’re moving house

As you probably know, I am in the process of moving house.  I don’t have another house to go to as yet (pause for silent, anguished wailing), but the packing-up must start regardless.  I have moved house many times in recent years and it is a miserable, soul destroying business.  I am a person who has a lot of ‘stuff’.  I also have over three and a half thousand books; some of which are particularly dear to me – I even keep them hidden behind a decorative cloth in case the sun fades the spines.  I certainly don’t trust anyone else to pack them – they may not have clean hands. Or be pure of spirit. 

I digress.  My purpose in writing this article is to offer advice about packing.  I am the best packer in the known universe and my house moves have resulted in very few breakages, (those that have happened have been the result of other people’s carelessness) and the unpacking has been as swift and painless as it is possible to be.


  • If you can possibly afford to pay professional removers, DO IT.  Why torture yourself? 
  • If you can move at the weekend, you stand more chance of getting a discount from a local firm of removers, as most house buyers move during the week due to the exchanging of contracts. You can also do deals where you do the packing and they do the moving.
  • Make sure they are properly insured and that you understand the terms of the insurance.  Some companies insist that you have to report damages within a certain period of time.  If you are unlikely to unpack some boxes for some considerable time, (eg if you are decorating or undergoing extensions or renovations) negotiate with your remover for an extension of that clause. 
  • Have a good chat with them so that they understand exactly what you want them to do.

If you can’t afford removers then the packing and logistics are down to you.  Plan it like a military operation and you’ll spare yourself a lot of anguish.


STEP 1:  Assess your possessions

  • Look around your house and make notes about the type of things you have, books, glass and china, pictures, DVDs & CDs, plants, toys, soft things, electricals, kitchen equipment, collections etc.
  • Ask your friends to start saving their newspapers for wrapping.  Bubble wrap is great but newspapers are cheap and recyclable.  Have both.
  • Ask your supermarkets for their used, flattened boxes.  Also ask them for banana boxes which are incredible strong and have lids.  Keep going every few days as they use an astonishing amount of them.  Banana boxes are perfect for books or heavy things are they’re not too big.  Crisp boxes are also a very useful size.
  • Buy a stock of sellotape, parcel tape, different colour marker pens and paper for labelling.
  • Buy some large binbags for transporting soft things and smaller ones for rubbish as you will inevitably get rid of some stuff as you go along.
  • Buy a medium sized notebook just for moving.  You can keep lists, notes, packing lists, lists of helpers, details of who you have to inform about your house move and when you’ve done it.

STEP 2:  Start Packing

  • Start well in advance with the things you do not need on a daily basis.
  • If anyone offers to help, take them up on it – a job can be found for absolutely anyone, even if it’s only keeping everyone fed and watered.
  • Put a layer of crumpled newspaper on the bottom of the box to reduce impact when packing fragile things.
  • Work on one area at a time so that items will come out of the box in a logical order.  For example, start in the Sitting Room and pack your ornaments, well wrapped in newspaper.
  • Clean or dust items thoroughly before packing – you don’t want to start in a new house with dirty stuff.
  • Put  the heavier things at the bottom.
  • LABEL THE BOXES.  This is so important.  You don’t have to list every item, but write on the label “Dining Room: Glass and China from Dresser” or “Sitting Room: Family photos & vases from Mantelpiece”.  This will make finding things and deciding in what order to unpack ten times easier.  Put a label on two sides of the box – Never on the top as the label will not be seen in a stack.  May seem obvious, but you’d be amazed what people do!  I do labels on the PC as it also provides an accessible record of what you’ve packed. 
  • If you need to spread a collection of things over several boxes, eg. a dinner service, add at the end of the label Box 1 of 2, Box 2 of 2 etc , this way it’s easier to establish if something’s missing.
  • Finish the box with a layer of crumpled newspaper to protect from impact damage.
  • Tape the box up firmly and stack it with the label showing.
  • Make sure that a box with basic kitchen equipment is moved into the kitchen early on, including a kettle, milk, tea/coffee, biscuits, a saucepan, mugs, a few plates etc to keep you going on the day
  • Put a set of bed linen, inc the favourite toy, for everyone into clearly labelled bin bags
  • Make sure that wash things and medicines are put into clearly labelled and secure bags to stay wherever you are sleeping. Include an alarm clock.
  • If anything is going to have to be stored in a garage or loft for a while, pop a couple of dessicant sachets or mothballs in the boxes or bags, just to be on the safe side.  A drop of peppermint on the cardboard of a box helps to deter mice.

STEP 3:   The Actual Move

  • If you can get a friend to take your young children for a few hours, do it. There will be plenty of time for them to get involved later.
  • If at all possible, try to have someone supervising at both ends, to direct the people actually moving the boxes.
  • Where appropriate, mark the boxes in red or a different colour to show which room they are destined for.  This will save time later.
  • Put labels on the doors of the rooms of the house you’re moving to.  Your helpers won’t know which is The Sitting Room etc or particular people’s bedrooms.
  • Ensure you have plenty of tea breaks. Moving is exhausting and you will easily get dehydrated and low in energy and spirits if you’re not sensible.  This is an ideal job for the older or not so strong helpers. Also have a radio or CD player going with light, cheerful music. 
  • Try to get as much cleaning done before the move as you can.  If you are cleaning the house you’re moving out of yourself, try to move boxes from one room at a time and have someone on final cleaning detail as each room empties.  This is an ideal job for clumsy people who can’t be trusted with boxes.
  • Make sure that the beds get in as early as possible and that you have put bed linen into marked bin liners so that beds can be made up quickly for your first night. Or sleeping bags.
  • Don’t attempt to empty the contents of drawers from chests – take the drawers out and move them as they are, taping some paper or plastic over them if necessary.
  • Have some spare lightbulbs to hand.  Some scummy people even take those with them when they move.  Also, have a first aid kit to hand; I know from bitter experience that injuries happen during house moves.
  • Buy some microwaveable meals or be prepared to get a takeaway for your first night. Cooking is not an option!
  • Leave a folder in the house for the new incumbents with information about how things like the boiler work.  In rented places it’s a nice courtesy and good karma.

STEP 4:  Settling In

  • Be realistic.  Only unpack the things you need immediately at first. If you’re planning to stay in the new house for a while, it’s worth taking the time to think about where things go.
  • Label the kitchen cupboards with their contents – just a Post It note – or the kitchen will be a bewildering place.
  • If you have decided to store some things in the loft, an outbuilding or a friend’s house, make a note of what has gone where. This saves time when you’re looking for things.
  • Introduce yourself to the neighbours, if appropriate.  Not only is it courteous and friendly, they can be a great help if you’ve moved to a new area.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything and I’ll add it in.
I’ve tried to put spaces in between the bullet points but it just won’t let me – I hope it’s not too hard to read.


Filed under Household Hints

Moving House. Again.

What a good thing I did an article urging people to put a brave face on things as today I have been obliged to take my own advice. 

The Wartime Housewife moving house

Just as I was getting The Boys ready to go to their father for the weekend, there was a knock on the door and I was somewhat embarrassed to open it, in my dressing gown, to my Landlord, who presented me with a letter detailing my notice to quit.  My first, rather tearful, question was “What have I done wrong?” as there was a rather stressful Landlord’s inspection just a week ago.  He reassured me that I had been an exemplary tenant but that the Trustees needed my cottage back due to a re-organisation of the company, which I took to assume that it would be assigned to an employee.

Apparently, there is a possibility that another cottage might be available for me in the same village but he advised me to start looking elsewhere just in case it doesn’t come off.  “Not all Doom and Gloom,” he said, “try not to think of it as Doom and Gloom!”.

Rather hard not to though.  I only moved in here on 1st April last year, after an extremely traumatic move from another village five miles away, and I’ve just about got it how I like it.  It’s rather small (only two bedrooms) and it’s a bit cold, but it’s full of character and it feels like a happy house. 

I hate moving house.  Apart from the fact that it’s an expensive and exhausting process, and my friends are sick to death of loading my possessions onto trailers and into cars and horseboxes, I just don’t like being uprooted.  My dream is to move into a house that I never have to leave.  It doesn’t have to be big or swanky (although I wouldn’t turn down big and swanky if it was an option, I’m not stupid) but a spare room would be good.  Oh and a shed. I like sheds.  In fact, I would like Two Sheds so that I could put my train set in one of them.  How’s that for swanky?

On the upside, I had a Tiffin Selection for dinner from Waitrose which came in a box with rather jolly elephants on.  It was really nice – chicken tikka masala, pilau rice and Bombay potato, but there was too much of it and I feel a bit sick now if I’m honest.  Although the pint of Badger’s Poacher and a further pint of Porter earlier probably didn’t help.  I was going to go into Leicester and see ‘My Name is Khan’ at the pictures, to complete my Indian experience, but I can’t be bothered now.  It’s pouring with rain and howling a gale and the lane outside the cottage is like a muddy scene from ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.  Gabriel Oak could well be out there at this moment, tethering my, rapidly disintegrating, portable greenhouse to the wall of the disused Victorian farm building next door.

Perhaps I’ll move into a cottage with a path.  And call myself Bathsheba.


Filed under Life in general

Feline killing machines and how I learned to love one

On Tuesday 10th March this year a thin, manky little coal black cat appeared in our hallway.  She wandered in, looked around the house, miaowing piteously all the while and finally climbed onto my shoulders and drooled gently down my neck.

I am obliged to point out that this is not good for several reasons. Firstly I am asthmatic, secondly I am allergic to cats, thirdly the merest puncture from a cat’s claw has me up in red wheals that itch like billy-oh for a minimum of two hours.  Lastly, but not leastly, I don’t like cats.  I am a renowned cat-hater of this Parish. I am a dog person who likes all dogs indiscriminately and harbours lurking misgivings about my friends and family who keep cats for pleasure. 

She was, however, clearly half starved so I gave her some scraps and a little warm milk which she devoured in seconds. She then curled up on the sofa and went to sleep.  .The next morning she woke up, had more scraps and crapped in Boy the Younger’s bedroom. “Please let us keep her, please, please” wailed The Boys.  “No”, I said firmly, “Her owners are probably missing her dreadfully, we are about to move house, she is clearly not house trained and I don’t like cats”.  This was not deemed to be a reasonable excuse.

I gave her every opportunity to leave, I left doors open and stared at her is a nasty way.   I did all the things one is supposed to do; I asked all the neighbours, I put some posters up and I took her to the vet to see if she had been chipped.  She hadn’t and the vet said that she was little more than a kitten, generally healthy and that it was very common for country cats to snuggle down in the back of horse boxes then wake up 50 miles from home, lost and lonely. “Lost.  And Lonely” crooned the Vet with glittering eyes.  Oh crap.

How prescient. Over the next week, she relentlessly crapped in every corner of the bedroom and began weeing on the beds for good measure.  Still, at least I discovered where the launderette is in Market Harborough and the quilts probably needed freshening up anyway.  I had earmarked the £25 I eventually spent there for other fripperies like food, but cat wee smells like nothing else on earth and it was marginally cheaper than buying new duvets. All the while I was trying to pack up the extensive contents of my house ready to move. Every time I bent down, she would leap at me and sit on my neck while I tried to work, using needle-like claws as crampons on the Helvellyn of my back, my contorted shoulders providing her very own Striding Edge upon which to torment me.

We moved on 1st April.  How apt.  Realising that she was clearly not litter trained, I bought a litter tray which is the most revolting object in existence. (remind me to fill you in on the comparative merits of cat litter brands – I know them all). I made absolutely no attempt to keep Smog (oh – didn’t I mention that we’d named her?) but she resolutely refused to leave and to add insult to injury, she was getting rather fat.  I’ve never owned a cat so the natural assumption was that I was overfeeding her and Smog was put on A Diet. 

The attacks started almost immediately and a few days later, as I was conversing pleasantly with my new neighbour, she said cheerfully “I see your cat’s in the family way!”.  “What?!” I spluttered through a mouthful of truly horrid expletives.  Surely I must have noticed?  Fat tummy, big nipples, huge appetite, sleeping more, reluctance to go out etc etc. No.  I had not noticed.  I have never had a cat. I do not like cats, particularly teenage, runaway, ASBO, pregnant cats.  Her food was reinstated and a moral lecture was administered, with the threat of the Magdalene Laundries left hanging in the air for good measure.

The 26th of April was a Sunday.  For the Wartime Housewife, this means as long a sleep as The Boys will allow, followed by coffee in bed whilst listening to The Archers.  Smog waddled into the room and sat on my shoulder.  She isn’t normally allowed in the bedrooms (not with her record) but I was feeling magnanimous and mellow, so tolerated her warm little body against my ear. 

I don’t know what made me look, but suddenly I turned my head and there was a tiny, soggy, black and white ‘thing’ the size of a hamster, lying on my pillow.   An ejector seat mysteriously appeared in my bed and I ran round the house calling for hot water, soap and towels but by the time the towels appeared, she had already popped out another one.  Another trip to the launderette loomed large.

Over the next two hours, Smog silently presented us with five black and white kittens.  I have never seen an animal give birth and other than the immediate eating of the placental sacks, I was rather envious of the ease and natural-ness with which it all occurred. The news spread like wildfire and I had a constant stream of local children filing through my bedroom, examining the kittens while I sat slightly awkwardly in my pyjamas like a rather dishevelled duchess granting audience in my chamber.

Smog was an excellent mother.  She and the kittens had a house made out of a cardboard box with a blanket in it and all was well.  Until their eyes opened and they started to move.  It became a full time job just trying to keep them all in the house as doors were constantly left open and they wandered out into the lane where they were abducted by the hoards of children surrounding the house at all hours.  She trained them to use the litter tray but it was always full and stinking and horrible.  I loathed them, and at the first opportunity, an advert was drafted, to at least recoup the vast amount of money spent on food, litter and cleaning materials, to say nothing of the increase in the consumption of London Gin.

To cut a long story short, all five kittens were eventually sold.  A friend, with more courage than wisdom suggested that Smog had given me the ‘gift of kittens’ as a thank you for taking her in.  As soon as they were gone, she settled down, stopped needing the litter tray and became her old cuddly self.  She has grown significantly over the last three months, her coat is thick and gleaming, her habits fastidious.  And she’s been spayed, thanks to the Cats Protection League.

But she has turned into a killing machine.  I kick her outside in the morning and bring her in at night (as naturalists implore us to do) but every afternoon, I find at least two mice outside the dining room window, she frequently takes out wood pigeons and has been witnessed murdering large rabbits in the meadow.  If only she’d take the trouble to learn to skin them, it would be a culinary partnership made in heaven and I would love her even more.  She went missing for three days last month (on a serial killing rampage no doubt) and I was nearly sick with anxiety.

Now, as I type, she is draped across my shoulders, purring loudly into my ear and gently clawing my back.  Strangely, I don’t seem to be as allergic any more.

Smog the Killer Cat

Smog the Killer Cat


Filed under Cleaning, Family and Friends, Livestock