Cornwall Today features a regular slot called Moving Story, in which recently arrived subjects share their experiences of relocating to the county, usually in pursuit of a convivial environment a stone’s throw from the beach. Many are professionals who have left behind a secure city job in order to live what was once called, somewhat patronisingly, “the good life”. Far from retiring to a life of relaxation and/or feeding chickens, most of them come armed with good business sense and start up successful companies of their own, while throwing themselves into community life to boot – arguably the kind of people that Cornwall, or any county, needs.
It’s a long time since I moved house. I had barely left studenthood when I moved in with OH. He often jokes (I think) that my most significant contributions to the household were the tiny milk pan my gran sent with me to university, and the cheap, red-handled forks we now use to feed the cat.
How different things are today. Fourteen years later, we seem to have covered every available surface with possessions of varying quality. Moving house is a prime opportunity to cast one’s eye one’s collected worldly goods. It is often illuminating, and frequently exasperating.
We have enough books to open our own library, were anyone interested in the contents (me: foreign languages and pop music; him: cars and world dictators). Looking through them has been fun; I have planned my reading for the next six months, focusing on disposable chick-lit and period novels which can then be consigned to charity shops. Mind you, this does rely on me staying awake after a day of work followed by an evening of toddler control.
Our CD collection has grown exponentially – and when I say “our”, I should note that merging our separate collections last year was as big a sign of commitment as any marriage ceremony. I alphabetised it for a second time upon moving into our rented flat, only to see it trashed and strewn the very next day by a toddler with no respect for Fairport Convention or Fairground Attraction.
The flat was initially an uncluttered, peaceful haven, free of toddler hazards. This notion has evaporated since the contents of our three-storey house have been transferred to this ground-floor, two-bedroom accommodation.
For many months, I flitted between flat and house, which seemed less like home every time I visited. Living out of two places reminded me of growing up, when my mum worked nights and I would stay with my grandparents three nights a week. I would invariably find that some vital item was in the wrong house, and so it was this time.
No matter how many sippy cups I bought, there would never be one in sight in the moment of need, so off I’d trot to buy another. When we move to a bigger house, I will dedicate an entire room to my EU sippy cup mountain. I’ve also acquired several pairs of baby nail scissors – one for each abode and one spare, rather like tea bags in a pot.
We moved most of our furniture a few weekends ago with the help of Jonathan, a friend who possessed the brawn that we both lacked. He also had a good line in phrases deemed suitable for removal men: “Just let me get a purchase on this,” or “Let the weight take the strain,” delivered with a theatrical wink. Contrary to my expectations, there were no Right Said Fred moments of pianos falling through ceilings, or endless cups of tea.
A couple of weeks later, Stephanie helped us paint a room and took charge of cleaning. She handled the hoover with nifty expertise, and cast a discerning eye over our remaining possessions. Everyone has them: wilting plants, items that have “sentimental value” or “might be mended”. Every time I fill a box with yet more of this junk, I ask myself whether I should be taking it to the tip rather than paying good money to store it. Alas, they hold me powerless in their grip.
When she visited us in Truro on Easter Monday, Stephanie was amazed to discover that OH’s parents lived right next door. “I thought you meant figuratively – like up the road,” she said as we walked the few steps it took to say hello. It’s a real boon, not only for us but also for our beloved cat. Regular readers may remember my concerns about moving Polly. Fear not, she is as happy as a pig in muck, having quickly worked out who our friends and family are and which doors are open to her. She currently counts three houses as fair game – as the other two are considerably tidier and quieter than ours, I can’t say I blame her. I sometimes feel tempted myself.
Recommended storage: M-Store are just off the A30 at Roche, easy access 24/7. www.givemesomespace.org
Do you have a Moving Story, or know someone who does? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org