Contingency planning

Wednesday March 23, 2005

To IKEA today, trekking across Lincolnshire, a bit of Leicestershire, a corner of Derbyshire, and ending up in Nottinghamshire. It’s a long drive but since we worked out a route via Melton Mowbray, avoiding the city of Nottingham it’s far less stressful, running for the most part through attractive villages and towns and over increasingly rolling hills. The route even avoids all but a corner of Grantham.

We were in search of dressings for the house and a couple of small pieces of stained pine furniture to permit the final removal of ugly office storage in the study. Oh, and some tealight lanterns. We’ve come to delight in having a few tealights burning of an evening but it’s essential, given the majestic unconcern with which Dolly wields her fluffy tail, to protect the flames inside a glass lantern. Otherwise, periodically, there rises a sudden stench of burning hair, a startled “What?” from Dolly as Graham and I leap up in panic, and a frantic pursuit around the house as we seek to assure ourselves that the silly besom isn’t actually on fire. She never has been, of course, and it’s extremely unlikely she ever would be, but…

I wasn’t on best form, still suffering a little from my recent attack of the wearies, so I began to flag about half-way round the store, seeking places to sit for a while as Graham rummaged. It was a considerable relief when we got to the end, entering the cooler warehouse part of the store where you wander through towering canyons of flat pack furniture, seeking the boxes that contain your choice. A trip round any IKEA is close to my physical endurance limit and for reasons of darkness, distance and heat, the store in Nottingham is particularly taxing. It doesn’t help to discover that the staff seem to regard the bench seats distributed through the store for weary customers as being the best place for the temporary storage of cardboard-packed goods, either.

I dunnit, though. And, apart from a spot of leg bother and general weariness, I enjoyed it. We both enjoyed it, particularly because we managed to find something to fit everything Graham had on his list. Which may mean that this was our last trip to IKEA in Nottingham and that our next IKEA will be some other IKEA, whether in London or somewhere out on the fringes of the Kingdom should the London venture prove impractical.

My entry yesterday seems to have given rise to some minor confusion so perhaps a recap of our present situation is in order.

As a starting point, we are readying our house here in Lincolnshire for the market, planning to sell it and move elsewhere. That much is definite, and decided.

Currently, our sights are set on London, where we would plan to live in a rented flat close to the centre, placing our house equity in an investment fund against some future house purchase elsewhere. The London venture is, however, dependent on a number of factors outside our control so, being cautious and feeling we need a bit of contingency planning, we’re exploring alternative destinations and lifestyles, mostly of an intensely rural nature.

Keeping a vehicle, any vehicle, on the road when living in Central London is foolish, impossibly expensive and of limited utility. And, let’s be honest about it, anti-social in these increasingly polluted days. If we do move to London then we will dispose of the little blue Ford and rely on a combination of public transport, taxi cabs, and rented cars to get about.

The alternative destinations we are considering as a contingency are all in relatively wild parts of the UK mainland, where some kind of private transport is essential and where the combination of severe winter weather conditions and narrow, winding, mountainous roads taken together with the more utilitarian needs of a semi-isolated rural lifestyle tend to dictate the use of an all-weather vehicle like a modern Land Rover. We’re looking at European and Japanese alternatives to the all-British Land Rover, of course. We’d be daft not to. I’d prefer to buy British if possible, though.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, all of this is at the planning stage. Our prime target is London. We feel the need to have a contingency or six however, and so we’re exploring and updating our thinking on such things as transport, ways of earning a living, cooking, heating… The list is not endless, but it is extensive, and we enjoy chatting and thinking about it all. Some of that speculation is bound to spill over into my journal. It’d be a very strange personal journal that didn’t reflect life’s planning, uncertainties, hopes and fears. Leastways, that’s my feeling.

So the best approach to all this is to take it as it comes, just as we are doing. There will be detours, dead-ends, bumps and pitfalls along the way but there’s nothing new in that, and we’re enjoying the ride. You’re welcome to come along. A bit of company is always welcome.


IKEA, Nottingham, Mar 23,'05
Flat pack canyon



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