ImageMoving day three dawned finally, and what a miserable day it was.  We had been lucky with the weather so far and the two previous moving days had been dry. This meant that the furniture came in dry and the boxes weren’t soggy, always a plus.  I was up at 05:45 (not by choice) and started putting last minute things away, stripping the beds etc.

The men arrived at 08:30.  The first guy, an extremely young looking lad called Reece. I knew him from Moving Day 1.  He arrived on my doorstep panting. 

“Are you alright?”  I asked.

“Yes, thanks Maria, I am fine.  I’m just afraid of lifts.”

“Oh, Reece that is unfortunate, we’re on the 7th floor!”

“It’s ok, I don’t mind the stairs.” (His lungs did, judging by the way he was panting.)

Following Reece was Robbie, the guy who had moved us out of our family home 5 years previously. 

I got a big hug, and we spent a few moments catching up on the last five years or so.  I remember that as he left me on the doorstep of my family home that day with the last of the stuff, he must have seen the lost expression on my face.  He hugged me then too and said “Everything will be ok”

That was the only time I cried when we were moving. 

Anyway.  Robbie, Reece, Tony and a big bloke with loads of tattoos whose name I didn’t catch were going to do this last move, and it seemed fairly simple.

You have probably guessed where I am going with this.  It seemed fairly simple.  And it was in theory.  There were only four large items of furniture going, a filing cabinet, a bed, a vanity and an armchair. Everything else was in boxes.  We also had to stop by my sister K’s house to pick up some stuff from theirs, and then wind up at the new flat and put everything where it went.  Piece of cake.

The first hurdle we had to overcome was lift-related.  The flat we were moving out of is on the 7th floor.  It is in a big building with four lifts.  The two bigger lifts (and I use the term ‘bigger’ extremely loosely here) are located in the centre of the building.  They lead out to the back of the building where the movers were going to park their vans.  One of them is a normal lift with automatic doors complete with the tinny female voice that says

“Doors opening, please mind the doors. Doors closing, please mind the doors.”

When the movers arrived, she was speaking and the doors were opening and closing.  There was a scrolling sign on the light display.  OUT OF SERVICE.

No problem they thought, we’ll just use the other lift.  The other lift is a goods elevator with a door that you open yourself.  They stepped in and pressed 7. Nothing happened.  What they didn’t know was that that lift doesn’t actually go to the 7th floor.  You can either go up to the eighth and walk down a floor or up to the 6th and walk up a floor.  Not really an option with all of the stuff.  They turned to the lift nearest me.  This is the lift I have spoken of at length, the one where I fit in comfortably alone only and which takes at least three minutes to get up or down.  This lift was working, but it meant that they were taking twice as long to do everything not only because of the speed of the lift, but also because they were having to walk halfway down the corridor in the wrong direction, go downstairs and then cross the building again to get the van.  This really didn’t improve their moods, but we got there in the end.  It took 3 hours for them to do everything, including take down a tree that was on my balcony.  Ah, my tree.  It was called Bailey and it was a bay tree.  I may have mentioned this before but it is without a doubt one of the best and most thoughtful presents I have ever received, and no other tree or gift has eclipsed it.  I got it while I was living at home with my parents, carted it to Cricklewood when I moved there and then, when my sister moved into my flat with her husband while I lived in Greece, she killed it.  And there it stood, lonely and twiggy on my balcony for years.  Every time movers came or went, I would ask them to take it away, so that I wouldn’t have to keep seeing the sad little bare branches, but something would come up or they would forget.  This time, I said “Don’t forget the tree” about 1000 times.  The conversation would go like this:

“So it’s just the boxes and the bed left to go Maria?”

“Right. And the tree on the balcony.”

“Oh, yes the tree.”

“Just the vanity and the armchair now”

“And the tree!”

“Oh, yes the tree.”

“Ok we’re all done!”

“Did you take the tree?”

“Oh, yes the tree, I’ll just go and get it now.”

Eventually Bailey left the building.  I will always remember and miss you, Bailey xx.

Anyway.  Once we had loaded up the vans, it was time to go to my sister’s house to pick up some boxes there.  She had told me to ask the men to take their shoes off.  I mentioned this to Robbie, and he shook his head. 

“We’re not really supposed to take our shoes off.  If we slip, we aren’t covered if we’re not wearing shoes.”

K insisted, and the other three refused, so Robbie took off his boots and went up and down 15 or 20 times and brought everything down.  Everything was the 7 boxes of Christmas decorations, and 12 boxes of clothes that D thought she might need access to during our stay in Cricklewood.  Needless to say, she only ever needed access to one of the boxes.  It all fit into the van and off we went to the new flat.

There was a short break while the guys had lunch, and we just got the place ready.  We had piled up all the empty boxes and I was amazed at how much space was created with the removal of these things.  My happiness was short-lived however, because when the guys started bringing up all the stuff, it became clear that the only place for a lot of it was in the space recently vacated by the empties.  The front hall is now piled high with boxes of Christmas decorations which are going to go into the downstairs storage room when I have finished sorting through that and deciding what to do with that stuff.

At some point, I heard a woman’s voice among the guy’s voices.  I went outside to investigate.  A very spritely old lady was outside waiting for the lift and talking with the moving men.  I approached her, arm outstretched.

“Hello, do you live across the hall?   My name is Maria, my sister and I are moving in today.”

She shook my hand robustly.  “How lovely to meet you, I am Antoinette, and I have lived in that flat for 61 years.” There was the faintest hint of a French accent.

“Well, then you must remember my grandparents.” I told her my full name.

Her eyes misted over, “Of course I remember them, I remember them all so well.  I was friends with your grandmother.  How lovely that you should be moving in!”

Just then, the lift arrived and it was packed to the rafters with our stuff.  She had already been waiting for about 5 minutes for the lift. 

“I am so sorry for the inconvenience.” I started to apologise.

“Not at all.  Just move those two boxes young man,” she said to tattoo guy, “I’ll squeeze in there, and take your stuff for a ride.”

As she squeezed in with the stuff, she said,

“It’s a good thing I don’t weigh 120 kilos.”

And she disappeared behind the doors.  I made a note to myself to have her round for tea and a chat as soon as possible.  She seems like an amazing lady, and at 93, she’s still in possession of a full set of marbles and the personality to match.  Fun neighbour number one, sorted.

As they came in and out, moving carting and generally working hard, they got progressively hotter and hotter.  At one point Robbie said:

“Do you feel the cold Maria?”

I explained that I didn’t control the heating and that in fact, the radiators were mostly off.  We opened as many windows as possible, which helped a little.  At some point we heard an almighty crash from the lounge.  An ornament had been blown off the windowsill and fallen loudly onto something else eminently breakable.  Fortunately no damage was done, but a lesson was definitely learned.  The windows are sash windows, and we will just open the top half.  You live and learn.

By about 3:30, the guys had left.  We had officially moved.  When D came home, her room was extremely full.  The bed was in and all the furniture, but you couldn’t actually see or get to the window for all the boxes.  Her challenge was to empty as many boxes as possible so that she could clear a path to the window to close it and lower the blinds before bed.

She did, although we are currently in negotiations about whether she can use the old flat as a storage location for some of the clothes she isn’t ever going to wear, but just feels better owning.

After I had emptied the boxes in my room thus creating another two bags for charity (“Who’s Charity?” My niece G, asked us yesterday) I set about emptying the boxes in the lounge.  Everything was going ok until I opened a box that had been underneath all the other boxes and it was chock full of – yes you guessed it – albums.  My shoulders slumped.  I got my tape gun and sealed it up again.  That one is going back to storage.  I just can’t handle any more photographs – we’re a regular family not the Kennedys for goodness’ sake, we haven’t done anything momentous enough to merit all the tonnes of photo paper.

By the end of the day, we were tired but feeling pleased with what we had achieved.  The adventure in the new flat begins, and we are feeling hopeful.  And warm, very, very warm….  

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