Ad Lib House Move

Gosh, has it really been seven months since I wrote a blog post? Part of me can’t believe it’s been such a long time, and another part of me can’t believe it’s only been seven months. It’s been a busy summer and I’ve crossed more than one thing off my bucket list!

So last time I checked in, it was February and I had just had my 26th birthday. I’d recently started a Masters course in Child Welfare, we’d had our anxious rescue dog for six months, and I was rehearsing for the local light opera group’s spring production. We were settled into the cottage and Naomi was in the swing of her clinical psychology training. Paige was still wary of the dog, but we’d put up baby gates and everyone was fairly comfortable. I even remember musing that it would be nice to have a period of stability where I could catch my breath and put down roots after several years of constant change.

But of course such a state of stability could not last! In April, we were visiting Naomi’s parents for Easter when we got a slightly odd text message from our landlady, asking where we were thinking would be a more suitable place for us to live long-term. I assumed this was something to do with the conversation I’d had with her about how we’d like to make the front garden a bit more wheelchair-accessible by returning what had once been a gate but had been blocked up by a trellis to its former state, and a passing comment I’d made about living somewhere less hilly. Naomi wasn’t so sure. Either way, we didn’t reply immediately as we were on holiday.

Two days later we got another text: the landlady had decided to sell the house. She wasn’t going to renew our tenancy and we would have to move out.

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Yoga with my dog

Benny is a natural at yoga – his favourite resting position is one we like to call “froggy doggy”, where his back legs are splayed out behind him and his pelvis is flat against the floor. Sometimes he lies down and carefully maneuvers his legs into this position, but other times he begins in a downward dog position, then raises his head to stretch his back legs right to the tips of his toes, and allows his feet to slide out from underneath him.

christmas-froggy-doggy
Christmas froggy doggy – he likes unwrapping presents

I’m not nearly as flexible as that, and I don’t particularly want to be able to swivel my hips 180 degrees and lie flat on the floor, but I would like to be a bit more supple. I’ve also got ongoing discomfort in my shoulders and upper back; this is partly due to a tendency to tight muscles that I’ve inherited (hi mum! Hi granny!) but also thanks to my terrible posture. Add to all of that the fact that my brain goes 100 miles a minute and I am not very good at simply being, and the upshot is that yoga would be great for me.

I’ve looked into going to a yoga class several times. When we first moved here, I found there was a Ballet Fit class at the local sports centre. The idea of combining ballet techniques with yoga seemed intriguing, but also terrifying. When I think of ballet, I think of tall, thin, beautiful young women with perfect poise and grace. That’s not a description I would apply to myself! Yoga brings to mind athletic, bendy, healthy-eating overachievers who get up at 4am to meditate and wear Lycra at every opportunity. That’s not me either.
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So, what are you all about?

I met someone today who asked me the question that’s become this post’s title. We were meeting with a view to me becoming their occasional babysitter, which is always an odd mixture of relaxed and casual, and job interview formality. I have profiles on various childcare and tutoring websites which set out the rough details of my work history and current situation, but without exception I have always been asked to tell the prospective client family what I do (which seems only right, if they’re considering entrusting their offspring to my care).

I liked this turn of phrase particularly, though. Not, ‘What do you do?’ or ‘What’s your real job?’ – I was once asked that, immediately after I’d told the questioner what my jobs were; apparently they weren’t real enough for his tastes – but, ‘What are you about?’ It seems to take the focus away from paid employment and onto purpose. For some people they’re one and the same, and that’s great, but for many of us there’s more complexity to it.

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Our Colourful Cottage

Welcome to our cottage! It felt like home pretty quickly, but we’ve been steadily putting our stamp on it and it’s really feeling like our nest now. As you’ll gather, if you hadn’t already realised, we’re both big fans of bright colours and pretty things. We mainly use the back door which leads into the sunroom, so that’s where we’ll start our tour.

sunroom

Our little cottage is a bit topsy-turvey, with the sunroom that houses our dining table and white goods (and the dog crate), a tiny toilet off that room which doesn’t have a sink so is being used as our coat room and storage, then a little galley kitchen. It has a window through into the sunroom which is an extension, so there’s lots of light.

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Putting Down Roots Down South

I bet you’re all on tenterhooks to find out how the move went! I’ve been online a lot less frequently than before we moved, simply because there’s so much else to do (and also because we didn’t actually have internet in the cottage for the first two weeks). However, this evening it is raining outside, Naomi is studying statistics, the cat is in the garden, the dog is asleep and I am catching up on blogging.

That sentence gives you a peek into some of the things I’ve been busy with: we’ve got a garden! And a dog! Both of those are worthy of their own introduction, so I will write proper posts on each, but for now let’s recap how the move went. Continue reading

Facing the Future

It’s been something of a whirlwind few weeks. Actually, it’s been something of a whirlwind year!

July 2nd was the anniversary of Naomi and I meeting. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year, and hard to believe that it’s only been a year. So much has happened, some of which I’ve blogged about, and we both feel that in many ways it has accelerated our relationship by testing it in nearly every conceivable way.

More tests loom: in August, we will be moving house. Not only will this be the first time we’ve lived together, we’re also moving over 100 miles (or 135, depending whether or not you can fly) to a place where neither of us knows anyone yet. The process of finding ourselves somewhere to live has felt little short of miraculous. Only a few days after I had posted a desperate plea for ideas as we were struggling to find anywhere suitable in East Sussex, we received an email responding to our similar plea on Gumtree. The sender had a cottage in East Sussex, and she was moving for work. The bathroom was on the ground floor and she would be very happy for a cat and even a dog to live with us there. Were we interested in renting it? Continue reading

The Trials and Tribulations of Moving with Wheels

So we’re pretty much up to date around here: Naomi’s got a place on a doctorate, we’re moving in together for the first time, and we’re moving aaalllll the way south. Great!

brighton-pavilion
Sadly not currently available to rent

Except not quite so straight forward as that, of course. I’ve been incredibly fortunate when looking for places to live in the past. I took the first place I saw (twice!) in Birmingham, and then did have a bit of trouble finding somewhere in Cambridge until my school-friend popped up and said, “Hey! Fancy living in our spare bedroom and paying a frankly ridiculously low rent and we’ll feed your cat on the numerous occasions you’re away and not complain too much about the smelly litter tray?”. Turns out this isn’t because I’m an expert flat-hunter. It’s because until now, I have been incredibly uncomplicated to house. One room, running water, a roof, electricity and heating, I was good to go. Not any more! Continue reading

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure – Weekend 1

I’m an avid reader of Apartment Therapy. It’s one of those things that people love to hate – lots of articles with dictatorial titles about how you MUST organise your home, coupled with beautiful photographs and enough genuinely helpful tips to make up for the bizarrely fervent imperatives to hang your artwork at a particular height or light candles at every meal.

The website has inspired me to do a lot of things in my flat, from reorganising all my cupboards and drawers to finally hanging my noticeboard and wall planner properly. I’d say a good 50% of the credit for how nice my home looks now has to go to AT for inspiring and pushing me to get on with things. And now it’s inspiring me to blitz through the entire place and make sure that every nook and cranny is clean, with the January Cure. Continue reading

Reorganising Everything: The Kitchen

I’ve now been living in my flat for six months, which I have to admit I find quite hard to believe! I’ve finally got all the furniture I need and worked out how I use the flat, so this week I started on a big project to streamline, tidy and reorganise everything more efficiently.

The kitchen has a reasonable amount of storage space, but when I first moved in I didn’t really think through what should go where and simply shoved everything into the cupboards and drawers. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal and occasionally I would find myself under attack from things leaping off top shelves.

kitchen
How the kitchen used to look

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If it doesn’t add storage, it’s not coming in

Recently I worked out that my flat, according to the admittedly rather inaccurate measuring method of pacing out the floor and measuring the length of my feet, is about 320 square feet, or 30 square metres. In the USA that would be grounds for articles in Apartment Therapy and maybe a viral YouTube video but I think it’s a fairly common size of home for one person in the UK. I’m always looking out for ideas of how to optimise my space, and realised this evening that I had inadvertently hit on the perfect rule for furniture-buying without ever articulating it.

If it doesn’t add storage space, it’s not coming into my flat

Aside from the kitchen table and chairs, which the landlord provided (along with the chest of drawers, but that of course does add a lot of storage), every item of furniture in my flat stores things in, on or under itself. Some do all three! My bed is not just a sleeping place for me and Paige, it’s also home to all my bed linen, my towels, my spare bedding and airbeds, and still has space for more. My compact desk looks like it was made to measure – my university files fit perfectly on the base, all my paperwork is organised in hanging files in the cabinet drawer, I even have a little alcove for coloured pencils and a clipboard, which I use when I’m reviewing my lectures notes and fancy a change of scene. Continue reading