Sunday July 30, 2006
It’s probably as well to describe the state of play as it is now, more or less stable, between houses, living in temporary accommodation, and working hard to render our new house suitable for occupation. In a month or two this episode will be fading into memory and its transient concerns forgot as the process of settling into a new house exercises its magical healing properties.
Moving from the little house on the Lincolnshire fens was a long, drawn-out process, finally achieved on April 27, when we sent our chattels off into storage, packed ourselves, necessary clothing and equipment and one Mega-cat into the sparkling new Ford Fiesta and hit the road back to Somerset where we moved into temporary accommodation in a holiday caravan sited on the holiday camp where Graham works as bar manager. That last prase expresses most of the reason why we moved but it was more complex than that. Too involved to express adquately in a single sentence. Put it down to restlessness, and you’re most of the way there. Season it with a strong desire to return to Somerset and you’ve got most of the flavour.
The caravan was not a new experience for us. We’d stayed in the same van on the same site when we moved away from our first Somerset home, pursuing heaven knows what, and ending up in West Wales. Dolly was with us then, too, along with Harry Cat, of fond memory. It gives us an equipped kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, and a store-room. Freezing when the weather is cold, and baking when it’s hot, a holiday caravan is not the most comfortable of accommodation but it is secure and, most important, Dolly the Mega-cat rather likes it.
A few days after we moved into our caravan, the house sale up in Lincolnshire completed, and we had our house equity fund in cash form in the bank, putting us into a powerful buying situation. Powerful, but not powerful enough.
Our target was to find a small, cottage-style house in a rural location, not too far from the holiday camp at West Quantoxhead where Graham works. We’d researched Somerset properties thoroughly on the Internet and it had looked hopeful right up to a few weeks before we made the great leap. As luck would have it, the market shifted under our feet and, when I actually got to do the actual house-hunting on the ground, the prices of the types of house we wanted had leapt ahead of our budget. Way ahead.
So, we had to cut our coat according to our cloth and buy a house that would at once secure our house equity fund and provide us with accommodation suitable to our needs. Employing the power of our cash status, we purchased a three storey town house in Bridgwater at a very good price, reckoning that it’d give us not only a decent place to live but also, because of the dynamic improvement going on in the town of Bridgwater, give us a good return on our equity fund against any future move.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t much like the house on first sight. It is a little less than three years old but it had seen some hard use by a young family with peculiar ideas of what constitutes interior decor. The result was a house that was grubby, over-worn, and coloured in shudder-worthy, lurid paint finishes. Graham argued away my misgivings, promising that it was a house that would not only give us optimum opportunity to maximise our equity fund but would provide a stylish, inspiring home in which to live. I set my immediate reaction on one side and agreed to the purchase. Graham has a good record on this kind of decision.
The plan was that we should stay living in the caravan for the remainder of the season while Graham works through the busiest period of his working year, and I should, best I could, clean and repaint the house room by room until it was fit for us to live in. If that happened before the end of the season, Dolly and I would move in and start the business of establishing a home for all three of us, with Graham helping on his days off, and joining us full time in the Autumn.
Now, I’m not the fastest of workers. My physical condition isn’t really up to the job of painting and decorating. Even so, I was happy to do what I could, at my own pace, day by day, gradually consigning the grime to memory and getting ready to paint over the lurid colours with a more civilised light cream. That is still the plan, but two almost contiguous periods of heatwave have obliged me to slow down all of the time and stop altogether when the heat was too much for me.
The second of the heatwaves has just finished and I am now only one day away from finishing the task of cleaning and preparation. I hope to start the paint job, far less arduous, on Tuesday next.
So, summing up, our present position is that we are all three of us still living in the caravan. Dolly is happy as the day is long, living full time in her little holiday home. Graham works most of the time, but visits the house with me at least once a week on his day off, doing the hard labour jobs that are beyond me. I travel over to the house every day to pick up the post and to upload my journal and, heatwave permitting, to put in a few hours of work on the refurbishment. Slowly but surely I’ve scrubbed the walls ready for redecoration and today, working on the last room, got to the position where one more day will see the job finished, leaving me free to pick up the paint buckets and my trusty paint pad and start obliterating the colours with which we cannot live.
One concern that’s been frequently expressed is that I shall find the two flights of stairs in the house to be too much for me, especially having regard to my disability and after living in the bungalow in Lincolnshire. I’m happy to report that, after a month of working in the house, on good days and bad, I find them perfectly manageable, well designed, and safe. I’m optimistic I shall be able to cope. I’ve learned to live with my disability; currently, I’m not of a mind to let it dictate the way I live. As to the long term future, well, as the blonde lady said, it’s not ours to see.