I’ve now been back in my house for 3 months and finally I’m getting it the way I want it.
Why so long? Well, first to explain that it’s a beautiful, small and old house in a lovely area surrounded by much larger houses, a bit of an oddity really! It’s long and thin with two rooms upstairs and, on the ground floor an entrance area with the bathroom to the right and then a kitchen area which leads straight into the downstairs reception room. When I was first shown the house back in 2007 I had actually enquired about another but allowed the estate agent to persuade me to see this one as well. When I viewed it both upstairs rooms were furnished as bedrooms, it was when the estate agent suggested that it was possible to make the larger room into an upstairs living room that the dimensions of the house made perfect sense to me and I could see how I would live in it, leaving the downstairs reception room to be dining area / office / ironing / other bits and pieces.
So I bought it! To a large extent which I was previously living here I was making do with the furnishings that I brought with me – although neither the bed nor the sofa would fit up the narrow staircase so I had to get rid of them.
(Parenthetical point which is only really a belated rant and nothing to do with the main thrust of this piece: the bed became a bit of a sore point. I needed one which would arrive in a dismantled state so could be assembled in the room. I went to a large retailer, found one suitable, ordered it, and arranged a delivery date, as a University lecturer I could work at home to a point to facilitate this. The day before the phone range, sorry, not possible to deliver tomorrow, can we arrange a date next week? Yes, that’s fine, a new date was agreed. A day before the second delivery date the phone range again, sorry, can’t make tomorrow, can we agree a new date next week? Well, not feeling so cooperative this time, I can make Wednesday but only if it’s the first delivery of the day. Oh no, we can’t agree to that, we have to deliver in order according to post code. Well, yes you can do that, you could arrange a delivery specially from Aberdeen if you thought it was important enough to do so. Eventually reached agreement, only for the phone to ring yet again before the delivery date, sorry, can’t do it tomorrow, can we….. No, says I, I now wish to cancel the order. OK, please come into the shop to do so. No, says I, that is not convenient, if we can’t do it over the phone you can send somebody round to me at my convenience with the paperwork and a bottle of wine as an apology for the appalling customer service I have had from you so far. Eventually spoke to a manager who sounded totally stressed out who agreed to forge my signature, money was returned, I then went to another retailer – John Lewis’s – and everything worked out fine first time through. So, a number of things here. I strongly suspect that there was something they weren’t telling me, maybe a problem with manufacturing, much better I suggest to be entirely upfront rather than string people along like this. But then the customer service in sorting things out when it was clear that the shop was delivering a way below par service was just dreadful. I go past the retailer from time to time in various different locations and really cannot ever imagine going back there again, nor would I encourage anybody else to do so. This illustrates a point I may develop in a future blog post: when things go wrong the important thing is often what happens next rather than the original problem. End of parenthetical rant).
When I was packing up my house to go to Tanzania back in August 2012 I was fully intending to move back here, and so rented a small storage unit and tried to be selective as to what I was wanting to have when I moved back – possibly not selective enough, a point I will return to shortly. So when I returned in April I had already lived here for some years, had some ideas as to what I wanted to do, and was in the fortunate position of having some money saved to facilitate this.
So, three major things. One: I wanted a nice sofa bed for the large upstairs room so that it can be a living room most of the time, but also a comfortable spare bedroom when needed. But of course, it needed to go up the stairs. After discussing this with a number of retailers and being told that it was my responsibility to check, which is really not an easy thing to do, I went to MultiYork in Reading who suggested that I could pay for their delivery people to bring the shop’s sofa bed and see if it would fit, then to go straight back to the shop. This happened and I’m pleased to say that it did fit, cost a bit but well worth it for peace of mind, equivalent to insurance really. So went back to the shop and ordered one.
The other two things I was wanting were a built in office area for the downstairs room and a wardrobe for the smaller upstairs room. Found a company – Hammonds – who offered a service someway between buying furniture from a shop and having it specially made which works really well. Agreed the design and ordered it.
And now the wait. In both cases there is a 10 week period between ordering and delivery, these kinds of things are made to order. Two advantages here: the much reduced need for warehousing space keeps the costs down, and it is possible to order exactly what you want. But the wait! Effectively all this time the large upstairs room has been a storage area and I feel that I’ve been camping rather than living here.
But now – finally – it’s all done and I’m really pleased with the result. I’m writing this blog in my new office area, blends well with the room, gives plenty of working space but leaves most of the room free. Wardrobe is installed, all clothes now in it. Sofa bed is upstairs, with a few other bits and pieces also, including a cabinet for TV and storage of DVDs and CDROMs. Slightly horrified by the number of CDs I have, although I have built up the collection over some years, I suppose. Now intending gradually to listen through the collection, on the basis that there's no point in having something unless it gets used at least occasionally. Also have a new keyboard – left the previous one in Tanzania, has a great piano sound, bit lighter and smaller than the previous one with its own speakers so much easier to carry around when necessary.
So everything – or almost everything – now out of cardboard boxes, an opportunity to take another look at what I kept all this time. This includes my lecture notes from my undergraduate degree and some of my exercise books from when I was in school. Let’s be clear here – I am never, NEVER, going to use these again, nor are they any good to anybody else. But I can’t bear to throw them away after all these years. But it’s pointless putting up shelving to accommodate them. Temporary solution - well, it's SUPPOSED to be a temporary solution - is that the wardrobe was deliberately made bigger than I need right now so am using part of it as storage space, rational self is saying that there is no point but…..
And now out of cardboard boxes are the books, CDs and DVDs I kept all the time. Actually did a fair bit of chucking out of books before putting them in storage so what I have is fine, reading one of them at the moment last thing at night, to realise that, unlike my Kindle, it doesn’t have a backlight or adjustable font size. Yes, yes, yes, I know this is obvious, you have to make allowances for the very slow working of my brain on all matters which broadly come under the heading of ‘common sense’.
So, almost there! Resolving to keep possessions under review, if I haven’t used things within a year then there really does need to be a very good reason for keeping hold of them. But it’s going to be REALLY hard to throw out my lecture notes and school exercise books! Any help in resolving this gratefully received!