Have you moved house as a family?
As a 7yo I always remember travelling to my new house in the back of my Mum’s Renault Five with an old biscuit tin labelled ‘Miscellaneous’ and my teddy on my knee. I don’t remember leaving the old house, but I remember the excitement of the new one.
Last year we moved from a Victorian semi in suburban Nottingham to an old farm house on a hill overlooking the Peak District. My kids were 8 and 10.
I feel like I need to catch up a little on the whirlwind of last year. Partly I was too busy to blog much when we first moved, partly I was too in the thick of trying to settle to know what to think or write. But I stumbled on some phone snaps from moving day and it struck me how much they capture just how much moving house strips everything back, and what a huge thing it is.
I wasn’t sure whether to share them after all this time, but then I think moving day is an interesting one to see inside.
Moving has been a hugely wonderful thing for us, we had been toying with moving to the country for years, and eight months on I am pleased to say I still feel we did the right thing. Some things are harder, some are easier, I miss people dearly, but I feel like I am in the right place for me.
I have such fond memories of our old house, but I do think we’d reached the point where we were ready to move. We’d given up trying to own the space years ago.
The night before Moving Day
Looking back at these pictures, I wonder if we should have gone to a hotel the night before, as we were left with just mattresses on the floor, pets and rucksacks. It was a very surreal and quite stark way to finish a chapter but also a fitting one, it definitely sinks in this way that something very big is happening in the morning.
Under the kids’ beds was all manner of treasure…
We were still left with lots of utterly random stuff to sort on the last night, L’s old crutches from her rugby injury, a cardboard skeleton…
We underestimated how much stuff was left to pack towards the end. It just kept on coming. This room had been many things over 10 years, a playroom, second living room and eventually a guest room.
Ideally Max the dog would have been out of the way during the packing, but I was in denial it was happening I think, the sale was so close to the bone – excuse the dog pun – so he simply moved from room to room, or to the garden, mainly lying right in the path of whatever room was being packed.
On the whole he adapted really well to the move, he’s happy as long as he has company and a sofa or two to lounge on.
Our bedroom seemed strange stripped of everything but the mattress. I remembered how much we’d been impressed by this attic room when we first saw the details on Rightmove. I’ve chopped it in half here, but it runs the length of the house.
No matter how much you have cleaned for viewings, when everything gets moved out, the house looks like a complete tip.
Our last teatime was enjoyed on camping chairs, we had takeaway pizza and a chance to look at the kids’ amazing Good Luck cards from their old classes and try not to cry.
There were quite a few things the kids wouldn’t part with, including this skeleton. He disintegrated in the boot room of the new house, but travelled to Ashbourne in the passenger seat of my car.
Amid the chaos of cleaning as the removal men removed the last things, I made time to say goodbye to the apple tree I planted with my Mum. I found some fir cones from another tree, where her ashes are scattered, on a windowsill, so I decided to leave them under the apple tree. I had been dreading that moment of saying goodbye to the tree, so I was grateful for that little gesture appearing and making sense of it all.
Now I think back I don’t feel sad, I know I will always have the memories of our old home.
The garden feels tiny looking back.
Another thing I found in my old office was a tiny red notebook, long forgotten on a top shelf. In it were a list of goals I had written many years ago, one of which was ‘Move to the Country’ alongside a shortlist of villages we had explored. Given it was the only thing left in the room I took it as a sign I was absolutely on the right path.
The house was suddenly completely bare. It took me back to moving in 1o years earlier. Moving is a process and takes you full circle in ways you don’t expect, as well as onwards.
There’s a strong sense of closure in seeing your home stripped back once more. A new beginning for a family similar to ours, a couple with a young baby.
There was lots of scrubbing and hoovering on a sweltering day.
Madly collecting last bits.
Then suddenly realising we had nothing else to do. That it was time to leave.
A poignant moment of walking through each room, just the four of us and spotting a few things we missed. No chairs were left so we were forced to put G on Mr A’s shoulders to reach L’s mobile. This also didn’t survive the move, it reached it’s end in the garage of the new home where it fell apart, but it seemed wrong to leave it.
Balloons left over from a goodbye party had to be popped, or left as a welcome?
Then comes that moment when you stand on the threshold, nothing prepares you for the energy required, the will power needed to shut that door for the last time and the courage needed to say a final goodbye.
Or that moment of watching the last of your possessions make their way. We had two trucks, the first left the day before so this small van was just mattresses and garden things.
I hovered for a long time at the door before I could shut it, but once it was done a whole new energy began to run through my veins, the excitement of setting forth with my family and all our possessions for a new life.
The sun was baking hot, my daughter was stood there with her hamster in a cardboard box, my son just wanted to go, my Dad was eagerly texting to find out if we were on the way so he could meet us. I clutched a bag of cleaning things, Max’s lead and a cardboard skeleton, the removal van had left already. Mr A was trying to confirm plans with me.
I think I was probably crying in the driver seat as I took this last snap.
I drove on my own, as my MIL had the kids and Mr A had his car. And I cried some more. But not for long.
Suddenly the pull to our new life was huge…
Writing this eight months on I am struck by our bravery and also reminded how much change itself can simply be a good thing.
To see where we moved to, read Part Two, you may also like my other stories about life since then!