Moving is never easy
Sarah: To make things worse, I moved twice within twelve months (I know, madness, but we had A Plan… more of that later).
Liz: Aargh! I have just downsized from a five bedroom, four reception house to a two bedroom flat. I had too much of everything and what I’d have liked to have kept was mostly the wrong size. Where on earth do you start!
Sarah: I know exactly what you mean! We had a dream of moving to the west coast of Scotland but we had no property in mind when we moved out of our old house, so no idea what we would need to keep. All I knew was that we would not need much
Liz: I began with emptying my wardrobes. There was stuff that I’d forgotten and clutched with joy and the never-worn mistakes. The charity shops did very well and Ebay became my new best friend.
Moving : why does the furniture never fit?
Furniture was more difficult. Some I waved goodbye to with joy. I never liked my dining room furniture! My daughter had her pick – a very fine break-front bookcase, a hall table and a revolving bookcase made by her father are family pieces that have a new home. Some went to charity but not everything. Hang on to your fire safety labels, people, or the only place that will take perfectly good furniture is the recycling centre. It did mean I was able to buy some new – I especially love my new desk!
How was it for you, Sarah? Did you have to dispose of furniture that wouldn’t fit your new home? Or did you use it as an excuse to go for a new look?
Sarah: I found disposing of “stuff” the most painful part of the whole moving process. We had been in our old Pennine farmhouse for nearly thirty years and had to dispose of so much that held family memories.
We had always had the space to put off getting rid of anything, so the outhouse, cupboards, loft and garage were all full. Our Grand Plan was to make an interim move while we looked for the house of our dreams (with a sea view).
We crammed what we could into our teeny townhouse and put some things into storage, but even some of that had to go. Most of it was old and had little value to anyone but ourselves – like you, Liz, we made numerous trips to the tip and the charity shops.
Moving out : but what about the books?
Liz: Yes, books… Sigh. Having written more than seventy books, my own archive takes up a lot of space. My research books, dictionaries and probably more thesauri than anyone would ever need were must haves.
There were books in which I’m either mentioned or are dedicated to me which have their own shelf space. We packed up a lot of non-fiction for the grandchildren, I sold more on Ziffit and took an awful lot of fiction to the local charity shops – a major reason to be thankful that these days I read on a Kindle.
The hardest was parting with my husband’s huge library.
Sarah: I parted with hundreds of novels, but justified keeping my history books etc because I needed them for research (and it’s true, honestly. Some of the information I need just can’t be found easily on the web).
…and the pictures?
Also, there are pictures – I have some fabulous Waterloo prints that I bought when writing A Lady for Lord Randall, part of Harlequin’s Waterloo Brides trilogy (written with Louise Allen and Annie Burrows). I doubted I would ever have wall space for them again but I couldn’t bear to part with them, not until we made the final move and I was sure they wouldn’t fit. Thankfully, our dream house has plenty of white wall space, so my pictures are on the walls again. Hurrah!
Liz: I have stacks of pictures, too. So far I’ve hung eight. China and glass were a big problem, too. The 12-piece dinner/tea/coffee set given to us the year my daughter was born is boxed up and stored in her home for when she needs it.
Moving in : with all those boxes…
Liz: My second bedroom (now my office), was so full of furniture I couldn’t move in it. I had kept my good glasses and my wedding china – six months later they are still in boxes. There are all kinds of bits and pieces perched on windowsills and on the top of bookcases.
The ottoman didn’t fit in the bedroom and has to go, along with a storage unit that I hung onto temporarily until I could buy wardrobes (the house had all fitted ones). Worse, despite having too much furniture, I had to buy more. Cupboards in which to store files, six years of accounts and photograph albums going back a very long way. I’d say hooray for external hard drives but they take up a shelf all by themselves. I need to go through them, delete the repeats and downsize them onto one. Or maybe two…
Sarah: Our bed had a wooden frame that added inches all round to the size of it, and it was just too tight a fit in our interim house, so it had to go (sharp wooden corners were turning my shins black and blue). And boxes of family photos – yes, yes yes, I know it would be sensible to scan them all onto a disk but Life, as they say, is just too short….
Liz: Scanners and I do not have a happy relationship!
I had to get rid of the huge super king sleigh bed that the dh and I treated ourselves to one Christmas. I did treat myself to a new desk, though, which I absolutely love.
Moving in : but where does an author work?
Sarah: I bought a new desk, too, once we had made our second move last September. We managed to find our dream house in the wilds of Scotland, right by the sea. I had had to get rid of my huge desk when we left the farmhouse and had been managing with a tiny computer desk in an equally tiny box room,
so when I finally had an office again, I bought a new desk – nothing huge, but big enough for my laptop, second monitor, keyboard and still room for a notebook or two. It feels like luxury! One point, though – the room I chose for an office has no sea view. I thought that would be far too distracting!
Liz: My office is still a bit of a dumping ground. I need shelves. I need to put up more pictures, I need a towel rail in the main bathroom but, with a lot of help from my daughter, who is the DIY queen, I’m getting there.
Sarah: My new office has a huge cupboard in one corner, complete with a light, so I can sort all my boxes of notes, old accounts etc. In the farmhouse, the second reception room had doubled as my study and a sitting room/guest room. Now I have the luxury of a proper office, where I can keep all my writerly things and shut the door on it (or indeed shut myself away in it if we have visitors. Bliss). AND I have these views on my doorstep!
So, Liz, you have been in your new home slightly longer than I have, what do you think? Are you settling in now?
Moving : was it worth it? Really?
Liz: I am, Sarah. It took a while, but I’ve discovered I really don’t need so much stuff and I’m getting less sentimental about “things”. It’s people who matter. I’m close to my family now and that’s a lot of fun. Christmas has been crammed with child-related events, including the local pantomime. I’ve joined the local Book Group, I’m going swimming at least once a week – I have a gym with a pool very close — and there is always something going on in East Grinstead. I am also able to get to London to Romantic Novelists’ Association events now. And then there’s the garden, but that’s for another day.
Your dream home has meant a much bigger leap for you. How are you finding it?
Sarah: We feel very much at home here, now and have already made new friends. There is a strong local community but we are taking it slowly and not rushing to join too many clubs etc. That will all come in time. The important thing is to get the house straight. It is bigger than we expected to get and right by the sea.
The views are spectacular, even from my bed – once it is light, of course – there is a resident otter on the nearby rocks, and we regularly see seals and a heron in the bay. We had the family joining us for Christmas and that put pressure on to get everything straight – deadlines are great, and not only for writing, don’t you agree, Liz?
Liz: it certainly concentrates the mind, Sarah!Sarah: So we have both done it. We have packed up, downsized, moved out and set up another home. I think we both deserve a pat on the back and perhaps a glass of bubbly to celebrate. Cheers, Liz!
Liz: Cheers, Sarah. Here’s to a really productive 2019 minus cardboard boxes.