Three weeks ago we handed in our notice for our little flat. We completed the sale on our new house the following week. It is the end and the beginning of an era – we will soon be moving out of our first rented home together and into our own little house.
I haven’t written anything on my blog for a very, very long time. After our wedding and honeymoon, we plunged into life together with gusto. We were both working full-time, visiting parents and friends at weekends and trying to have fun as well. We had gardening to do, and at the beginning of Spring this year, we got a half-plot at a local allotment.
But it soon became apparent that we couldn’t keep this up for long. We had no time for ourselves. My husband Seth got cross after a week of chaos in the living room and late meals because I was trying to sew a dress together in less than six weeks – I’d been doing fifteen-minute chunks of sewing tasks over a period of months to get the first bits done and I really wanted it to be finished! We were both tired all the time, and the number of take-aways and ready meals we were eating was increasing. I had long, complicated projects to complete, which resulted in working through the evenings for weeks on end. There were so many evenings that ended with me in tears because I was so fed up with chasing my tail. I was constantly reacting to events and circumstances, usually too late and in a panic, rather than making my own decisions about life.
We’d been saving up for a deposit for a house since the wedding. We had just about enough so that we’d be able to afford the mortgage repayments each month, and we made the decision that we’d come far enough. We didn’t need more money – we wanted more time.
So I gave up work and became a full-time homemaker. Now this, in the UK, is a very odd thing for a graduate to do. You are generally seen to be lazy, or a ‘dropout’, or unambitious – an attitude that I am determined to change, but more on that at another time. I have an undergraduate degree and a Masters degree. I have trained in my profession and had a (reasonably) secure job. But changes in planning policies meant that my work was changing in a way I didn’t like, and I decided that to continue to do research that was challenging and rewarding, I’d have to do it myself – my manager had made it clear that the company would not be able to pay for any non-commercial research. At the same time, Seth’s job was becoming more and more involved. He needed more support than I was able to give him when I was working full-time, and as he is the main breadwinner, and his career is more important in a world-changing sense, and can only be done as a job, we decided that he would stay at work and I would become the homemaker, doing all that we needed to do (cleaning, paperwork etc etc) and everything that we would like to do (making our own bread, cooking from scratch, growing our own vegetables….).
And now that his job is the only factor in our location, we decided to move somewhere closer. And we had a deposit, so we could buy a house. Our own little house o’dreams.
We started looking when I’d finished work, in May. Almost immediately we found one that we liked – a little distance from the train station, so Seth will have to cycle for 15 minutes to get the train – but it is right on the edge of the town, almost as close to a footpath leading into the countryside as we could be. It has front and back gardens, quite small, but we can do some edible landscaping and be ingenious with our planting schemes, at least until we get an allotment, and there are beautiful, mature oak trees at the front and rear. It felt like the right house. So we put in an offer…..and have only just got the end of the process. It was agonising, and has stretched our patience to the limits. But we are finally in!
First there was the cleaning to do. Boy, was there a lot of cleaning. There was a small animal’s worth of hair down the back of the living room radiator, dirt caked on to the floor and skirting boards, nicotine staining on every wall and ceiling, filthy, stinky carpets and even some dried cat-sick in the bedroom. The front bedroom carpet was saturated with urine (this was the seller’s elderly mother’s room) and it was just too much for the poor old carpet cleaner. So the carpet had to go, as well as the underlay. But a surprise was waiting for us when the carpet came up – lino tiles in a lovely blue and cream mosaic pattern covered the floor. These were easily disinfected, and the smell has gone – at least from this room. The animal smell on the landing carpet might take a few scrubbings to clean out.
But my mother and mother-in-law came to help, and between us we managed to get most of the cleaning done.
Then there came the painting, and hanging of wallpaper in the living room. This was essential painting – the living room is waiting for its top coat until we’ve had the woodburner fitted, and it has been impossible to find a nice green colour for the kitchen. Then we hired a van and in a weekend, moved most of our stuff. I’m back in the flat now, sorting the last things and cleaning before we hand the keys in. It’s very strange, living in two places at once. The same bags of clothes and paperwork get loaded into the car each time I switch houses. The carpet cleaner and hoover have gone backwards and forwards depending on which house needs cleaning. I am looking forward to being in one house, and getting back to the old housekeeping routine, with the fun new tasks of garden preparation and curtain-making to add a bit of spice. The best part is that it will be ours – the colours of walls and fabrics, the furniture, the plants. Our choice. Let’s just hope that it will have our smell soon, though!