I had lulled myself into the (extremely) false impression that this move would be less complicated.  I recognised early on how blessed we are to be able to do this at our own pace, to have the luxury of not having to be out of one place and into another in one day.  I thought it would be better to get the stuff from storage in, and then move ourselves in.  This, in the theoretical part of my brain, seemed to make sense, it would give us the opportunity to unpack some boxes before moving in thus making the transition slightly more painless.

With this in mind, I called the moving company (and keepers of our stuff) to try and arrange for delivery to the new place. 

“We’re very busy catching up with all the people who need to move for the first day of term.” Was the response from the lady there.

“OK, so when do you think you can come and deliver the stuff?”

Having made the decision to move I wanted to start as soon as possible.

“Well it is a lot of stuff, so you will need a large van, so we’re talking in about a month, maybe 6 weeks?”

“Er, no, that doesn’t work for me.  How can we do this so that I get my stuff sooner?”

“I’m looking at the diary, and there really isn’t anything sooner than that for a lorry that size.” She stayed calm and cheery, after all it’s no skin off her nose, it’s not like I can use another company. 

The calmer she stayed, the quicker my heart raced.  Keep calm, I kept telling myself, you catch more flies with honey.

“What if we split the delivery into two lots.  You have 10 containers of stuff, you could deliver it five at a time.”  I felt like a negotiator in a hostage situation.  Let a few of the hostages go as a gesture of goodwill, and then we’ll send in pizza, $5 million and the jet fuelled and ready to take you over the border.

“Let me get back to you, I’ll do some checking.” she said sunnily.

I resumed the waiting.  I think people don’t appreciate the amount of waiting one does when one is moving. A few hours later, I get a call from the lady.

“OK, we have two dates for you we can move the stuff in two lots.”  She named two dates about two weeks away.  I wasn’t happy, as I like to get on with things, but since she held all the cards (and beds, and furniture) I thanked her and accepted.  Within 10 minutes I had the estimate and an acceptance letter to sign (no waiting necessary there).

I then picked a date not long after that for them to collect our stuff from our place and some stuff we had at my sister’s.  Here is the problem.  We have a lot of stuff this we know.  The problem is that this stuff is actually in eight different locations.  This not only makes keeping track of things a challenge, but the logistics involved every time we want something we don’t use every day are hugely complicated.  Anyway, the dates were set, and I had something to work towards.  The flat was clean (or so I thought, more on that later) and so I was able to start taking things over there.  Every day I leave my flat here with two suitcases, and come back in the evening with the same cases empty.  It works, but I am getting strange looks from the neighbours…

On the Saturday before the first containers were being delivered, I went to the flat with my brother J, my brother-in-law A and D and R.  There is a storage room downstairs (I don’t want to hear it) and it is crammed full of the furniture that used to be in the flat when my Grandmother lived there.  It is lovely antique furniture and has been wrapped carefully, and is still in good condition.  Mindful of the fact that we have 10 containers and a vanful of stuff to come onto the flat, I wanted to see what was there and bring up one particular item of furniture – a large console table for the front hall.  We went downstairs through the bowels of the building into a labyrinth of passageways and corridors and found ourselves at the room.  Needless to say it is a bit musty in there, and D and I were armed with bandanas (because you never know where there are spiders lurking, and I don’t want them in my hair).  We started to move stuff about, looking for the console.  Because it is old, everything is topped with marble, and this is no exception.  We found the base, wedged it into the elevator and got it upstairs.  So far so good.  The boys then proceeded to lug four different pieces of green marble upstairs.  Something about that didn’t sit right with me even as they huffed and puffed.  While they were upstairs depositing the marble I realised what it was.  Firstly, I remember that table being pinkish, and secondly I thought the top was all in one piece.  Whilst downstairs, I found a wrapped parcel, about my height which said – MARBLE TOP FOR CONSOLE.  Oops, I was going to be popular. 

After the boys had brought down the four heavy pieces they had just taken up, (really, truly sorry guys) J&A started to try and move the marble top.  I reckon that thing weighs in excess of 60kgs, no word of a lie.  They made the slow progression upstairs, and finally got it upstairs.  In the meantime, we had also had a look round, seen some other stuff we like and taken it all upstairs.  D&R went off to get lunch (sometimes only Mcd’s will do) and we set about putting the items into place.  I am glad the piece is there, and it is a beautiful piece of furniture, but I hope we don’t have to move it for a very long time, because that marble top is a backbreaker if there ever was one.  Anyway we had earned a break and we sat in the living room on the available furniture (two camping chairs and a stool) and had our lunch, trying to plan where to put all the furniture.  My brother is very opinionated as it turns out, but you know, we like to let him go on about things and then do what we want.  He was very offended by my (beautiful) new kitchen counter because he felt it was too big.  He’ll get over it I’m sure, and I LOVE it.  I am looking forward to spending hours cooking with my nieces and nephews and a big countertop is helpful and makes it a fun experience for all as they aren’t crowding around one small spot.  There was a momentary panic when A got trapped in the lift with a desk, but he managed to sort it out without us alerting the draconian porter and getting us banned from the lift.

The weather is doing nothing to cooperate.  I mean, we have had some rain (the first week I was back from Greece was downright depressing), but now things seem to have warmed up.  As in it feels warm, but you can’t really tell because every day we look out of the window and can barely see over the edge of our balcony.  This fog or haze lasts until about 5pm when it starts to get dark.  I have turned off the heating in our flat because – pause for effect – even D was too hot with it on.

Unfortunately however, the new flat does not afford us control over our heating.  A decision is made each year by ‘the board’ and the heating is turned on for the whole building whether it is warm or not.  The flat we are moving to therefore is roasting.  I have tried to turn off as many of the radiators as I can, but it is still extremely hot, and I know I am setting myself up for the micro-climate we used to have in our old family home.  People would arrive dressed for outdoors and get progressively redder and more naked until they were either down to their vests or it was time to go.  I assume it is only a matter of time before my Mum starts requesting air-conditioning in the flat but I also know that Dad and D are secretly rejoicing.  When we moved the first time, the rented house was (obviously) colder than the previous house.  My sister complained bitterly.  I flat out refused to have the heating on all day, it’s an expensive pastime.  Mum would call during the day and chat with her and she would say:

“It’s freezing Mum and Maria won’t let me turn the heating on… I’m so cold…”

I would then get a call at work:

“Why do you have the child [aged 22] sitting at home in the cold, turn on the heating, it’s freezing.”

“Mum, we don’t need the heating on all day, besides which if she would dress for the winter instead of the beach, we wouldn’t be having this problem.”

“Just turn on the heating would you and stop being difficult.  Poor thing…”

I would return from work to find the ‘poor thing’ huddled next to one of the many electric radiators wearing a hoody with the hood up.  Muttering, I would go upstairs and adjust the timings on the heating.  And then there was the temperature.  D adjusts the thermostat to 26 degrees.  26!  Again, we created this atmosphere where indoors it was summer and outdoors it was winter which meant that I would have to spend at least 10 minutes getting dressed and adding layers before going anywhere.

I digress, sorry.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, moving.

So, slowly slowly the date approached and I was as ready as I could be.  The guys arrived on Thursday morning.  I was there waiting for them.  And, glory be, it was Peter.

So Peter and his merry band of brothers started to empty the containers.  Now the thing about these containers or palettes as they call them, is that they fill them like tetris blocks.  This is logical, they don’t want stuff knocking about in the boxes.  Logical? Yes.  Practical?  Absolutely not.  It means that everything is packed according to shape and size rather than geographical location on the house, or anything remotely helpful.  So you may get one container with all of the cushions in the house in it, and then have to wait for the Monday delivery for the chairs that go under the cushions.  Thursday was no exception.  We got our sofas and beds, and a large display cabinet (without the shelves), all of our kitchen knives and pans (but no plates).  We got half a chair, and a lot of paintings and many random boxes,  my favourite of which contains 3 table fans, a trolley with bricks in, two raised toilet seats and a long handled grabber.  Ah this most useful of boxes which I now have to find a home for. 

We moved the furniture around a bit, and came up with a configuration I am ok with for the moment.  The house looks chock full and we have only got half the stuff from storage, not to mention the stuff from where we are living now.

As I was putting things away, emptying box after box of nik naks and cursing our inability to throw/give away/sell anything at all, I realised that none of the high cupboards had actually been cleaned.  I immediately composed an email to the cleaning company.  I know there are a lot of cupboards in the flat, but only cleaning what you can reach is unacceptable if you are a cleaning company.  I was not a happy bunny, especially since I put all my sweaters up high, and now have to wash them all.  Frankly it was all I needed.  I was busy enough unpacking without dusting and cleaning too.

As they were bringing stuff in, the guys were calling out box numbers or describing the items and I was telling them where to put everything.  A pattern emerged.  There seemed to be an awful lot going into the spare bedroom.  The guys quickly cottoned on to the fact that everything that seemed useless or I didn’t know what to do with was going into that room.  Pretty soon, they weren’t even asking me.  For example, we have radiators in storage.  They just took them straight to the spare room.  The baby scales?  Spare room.  Well originally they put them in the kitchen, but really unless I was weighing livestock, nobody’s kitchen scales are that large. 

Also we have a lot of stuff that when on display looks nice but when described sounds downright silly. For example one guy came in and paused in the doorway:

“Upright swan, Maria?” he said trying to keep a straight face. 

“In the lounge please.” I said.  Five minutes later he was back holding another box.

“Stooping swan, Maria?” This time he didn’t try so hard, he was openly laughing at me.

“In the lounge please, let’s keep all the birds together.” I answered straight-faced.  I mean these are pretty glass swans, and look good when they are out, but when he came in with just the description, I must admit it does sound very funny.

So the long and the short of it is as follows: 

We have HALF the stuff from storage.

The spare room is full to capacity.  I have already made arrangements for them to take some stuff back to storage. 

D’s room is also full and her bed is still at our flat.  Today she asked me if she could send some of her stuff back to storage too.

My room has pretty much all the furniture in it and looks as it will (I hope)

The lounge has two sofas, four and a half chairs, eight occasional tables, two shelving units and about ten boxes of books and photo albums.

I await the shelves to house the afore-mentioned books and albums. 

The house is still roasting.

The kitchen cupboards are filling nicely.

I think Moving Day 1 went well.  Monday is Moving Day 2 and we are predicted rain.  Let’s see what happens.

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