Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Moving house - easy peasy lemon squeezy

The last week has been mental. We could sleep for another week.

Last Monday brought further trips to storage, trips to the tip, trips to storage and trips to the tip. There were forays in to the loft, avalanches of boxes out of the loft, trips to the tip and rooms stuffed with boxes. It turned out that 15 years of Dawn storing anything that she wasn't sure what to do with in the (rather large) loft was a very, very bad idea. Half of the stuff we've eventually sent to storage or taken to The Lodge is still destined for the skip.

Boxes. Everywhere.
The days before and after last Monday all blur in to one, if I'm honest, but they involved at least two days shifting two of the most enormous monolithic garden ornaments the world has ever seen - a five-foot rough-hewn slate water feature weighing-in at half-ton that I neither like nor want, and the one-ton base of a rough-hewn stone table that I like but never sit at. The hefty table top and its five lardy stone stools were manhandled to The Lodge's garden in the days before we got the keys with the generous assistance of our friend Andy, his Landy, an engine hoist and a bouncy trailer.
Andy and Dawn slay giants.

Two days were spent burning to a crisp in the sunshine as I demolished what had been a chicken enclosure in The Lodge's front garden but was left to rot for many years afterwards. I ended up with a lovely pile of rotten firewood, big bundles of lethal chicken wire and a dozen sheets of long corrugated iron that I've put to one side for a future project.
This former chicken paradise, which is now overrun with stinging nettles and bricks, is earmarked for our 20ft x 10ft workshop and I wanted to get some of the knackering time-wasting work out of the way early.

I'm now going to introduce you to Trevor. 
Bokbokbok. The ex-chicken enclosure.

Trevor is Dawn's 73-year-old dad and Trevor is a machine. Terminator Trevor.
Despite having 30 years on me, this man can drive anyone to the point of exhaustion and still keep grafting after the ambulance has left. He had me in tears.
It started gently with a lads' day out at The Lodge before we got the keys, securing the garage doors so we could safely store bits and bobs when moving day finally came. It was a grand day, just the two of us in the sunshine and lots of boob jokes and farting. That's not true, but there were ham sandwiches and KitKats.
By the end of the third day together we had a Luton van and Terminator Trevor, undeterred by the previous two 13-hours days of lifting, carrying and throwing things around, had loaded almost the entire contents of the garage - aka The Loft Overflow - along with the contents of the garden, including two sleepers, eight half sleepers, piles of breezeblocks, left-over stone driveway blocks and blue bricks, a cast iron chimnea and God knows what else. When Dawn came home from work Terminator Trevor was sent home shortly before I asked if he was on speed, and we headed to The Lodge where we unloaded and went for a Maccy Dees.
Then came more loading and unloading, with Terminator Trevor charging valiantly forth - he's got a long caravan holiday coming up in a few days and he's ODing on Jobs To Be Done NOW. And, lo! Jobs were indeed done.

Somewhere in the melee of Jobs That We Did there were keys and exchanges and completions and stuff and me and Dawn moved in to our now-old neighbour's house - right next door to the house we'd just sold. Which was somewhat awkward. And we plan to stay a week at least.
Having been forced to store some things that we couldn't fit in to the Luton for its third trip in our neighbour's front garden, we found ourselves in the peculiar position where we were loading a van on the driveway there while, at the very same time, our buyer moved her things from a van in to our old house. Life just doesn't prepare you for situations like that. She even put an ornament on our old spare room windowsill that said 'HOME'.

Then came more unloading and more jobs, with able assistance - and often great leadership - from Terminator Trevor and Andy with the Landy.
In no particular order:
Trevor lets the young 'uns have a go
  • The removal and ritual burning of all of the manky, damp rubber underlay from throughout The Lodge. The very much mistaken idea was to obliterate mould, germs and other nasties rather than have it all hanging around before we're ready for a skip. To punish me for the billowing black clouds that are still giving orangutans a chesty cough in Borneo, karma sorted me out. I'll mention injuries in a moment.
  • A cat flap was installed in the back door inside the courtyard. We didn't put one in the gate in to the courtyard, however, because we want to give SausageTheCat a bit of a challenge.
  • The chicken enclosure area was dragged with a JCB digger, driven by yours truly (and a bit by Andy), creating a level-ish weed-free-for-now section of garden on which the workshop will go.
  • Two new soft-close toilet seats were fitted and the loos were bleached and scrubbed to within an inch of their lives. Old bum germs be gone.
  • We unearthed a well (full tale below).
  • A leaky radiator valve was changed in the kitchen.
  • Removal of concrete mortar pointing was started towards the back of the house. Done by hand, this will be a long and time-consuming job that may as well be done piece-meal until we can dedicate some time to it. It's a start.
  • Removal of the non-breathable paint from above the external window lintels was started. Again, done by hand. Chip, chip, chip, chip.
  • The side entrance door to the garage got a new lock fitted.
  • The damaged breather from the septic tank was rescued with chicken wire to prevent external crap from getting in.
  • Door handles were fitted throughout because much of the door furniture had mysteriously gone missing.
    Man tools are for men.
  • SausageTheCat started making trips with us to The Lodge to get him out of our old neighbour's house and start introducing him to his new home. He's found his place on the living room windowsill already but he doesn't like stinging nettles. He also doesn't like it when Andy's SamTheDog comes around. I'll mention injuries in a moment.
  • The kitchen cabinets were moved along one of the walls to accommodate our new induction Rangemaster when it comes in a couple of weeks. It's the one luxury we're affording ourselves now because we'll be able to incorporate it in to whatever our kitchen later becomes.
  • The water standpipe in the courtyard was moved.
  • Kitchen pipework was reconfigured for the repositioned sink.
  • The bottom of the back door was planed down to save it from sticking on the floor and having to be booted for a full minute before it would open.
  • All of the useless woodwork on the outside of The Lodge was removed, namely the rotten wooden planters along the side and the trellis work at the front which was supporting a ton of dead sticks that were invading the roof joists. Terminator Trevor wasn't happy about that because, apparently, they weren't dead after all and would come out nice in the summer. All they needed was a trim. Meh. But they looked dead in the meantime.
    Where the workshop will go
  • Some slates on the garage roof were replaced and some rotten beams in the outbuildings were repaired.
  • We took delivery of the workshop. We just need a few more things and we should be ready to go mid-week.
  • We made friends with the neighbours along the track (they've loaned us their digger!), chatted to some neighbours from a bit further afield and some random strangers and got to know our postie and bin men - important allies!
Finally, today we started levelling the tiles that'll form the base for the workshop. They're grids that hold decorative gravel which will double as drainage, on which will go sleepers and then the structure.

The eagle-eyed among you, dear readers, will notice that we found a well. We did.
Well I never, etc.
I unearthed the edge of a metal disc with the digger when my bucket caught on the rim, let go suddenly and catapulted me forwards in to the windscreen. I'll mention injuries in a moment. Careful digging a-la Time Team revealed a large and heavy wrought iron well cap, about 5ft in diameter, attached to which were the footings for the pump which is probably in the overgrown grounds somewhere nearby.
We dropped a stone through a small hole in the centre, heard it hit bits of metalwork on the way down, then... silence. Then a distant sploosh.
I found a heavy Varta Indestructible torch and all the rope, gaffa tape and zip ties I could get my hands on and started lowering it down. I ran out of rope. So I attached the plug end of a 20m extension lead and lowered that down too. It wanted to keep going. So I pulled the whole lot up and measured it - a whopping 250ft in total, with the final 50ft having been submersed in freezing cold water. Superb!
We're booking Andy for help with the workshop on Thursday and, being a search and rescue hero, he has lots of rope. Smiley face.

More details when they come in...


Dawn - 0
Trevor - 0
Andy - 0
Muz - 4

  • A slice down the pad of my left index finger when a flake of paint I that I decided to rub off the engine hoist turned out to be a razor-sharp piece of steel.
  • A scratch along the length of my left thumb, suffered when I tried to save SausageTheCat from SamTheDog.
  • Minor concussion and moderate whiplash (probably) when an incident with a wildly-flailing digger saw me catapult in to the inside of the windscreen.
  • Multiple burns up the side of my left forearm. This is what happens when you flick burning underlay upwards, trying to get it in the burny bin properly. The molten rubber underneath tends to melt and set fire to anything it touches. Sad face.

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