4 Mar, 2011 @ 17:39
4 mins read

Remember when…

… moving house meant plying your mates with beer and getting them to throw all your possessions into the back of a pick-up?

Now it’s crates for valuable pictures, an inventory for insurance (how many knickers?) and overalled men invading the house for four days.

Ah … youth.

It was more fun.

I’m beginning to feel like Alfred P. Doolittle in the musical “My Fair Lady”, when he sings: “There’s just a few more hours, that’s all the time I’ve got …”

I’ll soon be boarding the ‘plane that will take me from my life over the past seven years in the (big) city of Johannesburg, South Africa, to our retirement home in a (small) mountain village in southern Spain.

Before I find myself knocking back champagne in the Business Class lounge, I’ll have to endure four days with an army of professional packers in the house.

In our youth, moving house meant throwing everything into cardboard boxes or plastic bin bags, and getting your friends to help lift things onto and off of a pick-up truck. Unpacking all of your possessions usually took about half an hour.

Nearly 40 years and 13 moves later, and we need a professional moving company to pack and transport everything we’ve accumulated. This next weekend, husband Kevin will be taking an extra day off, and we’ll therefore have three days in which to move things around the house before the packers arrive on the Wednesday morning.

For instance, I’ve bought new towels that are presently in a storage cupboard, together with the picture albums, board games and (believe it or not) 8-track tapes (do players for these even exist any more?) When a box marked ‘albums/games/music’ arrives at La Otra Casa, I will shove it into storage for a while, which means I’ll then be unable to find the new towels. The difficulty, as well, is that some of our furniture pieces and crockery are to go up to the old house, Casa Alta, so I need the cartons marked appropriately; for every box incorrectly delivered to LOC, I will have to pay 10 Euros a trip for the duper to take it up to CA. The packers are coming over a four-day period – only two of them, plus a supervisor (who does nothing but watch … nice job!) – and I need to keep my eye on what they’re putting into which box, and how they’re marking it.

I have also made ‘to scale’ floor plans of all of the rooms and furniture, and know exactly where each piece will go when it arrives at the front door of La Otra Casa. (I’m just not exactly sure where I will put the boxes marked ‘photo albums/games/music’, or where to store Kevin’s 38+ Michelin-logo shirts). I’ve been planning and sorting, selling and chucking stuff, and renovating furniture and making cushion covers, since last August … and I’m still not quite done.

Regarding the stuff I cannot put on the shipment, I have had an idea for my ‘swan song’: on Saturday afternoon, March 26th, I’ve invited 40 girlfriends to a “Yours for the Taking” party, when they’ll have the chance to take home any or all of the following:

Half-full jars of Branston Pickle, Heinz Ketchup, HP sauce, Dijon mustard, olive oil, etc.
Possibly all of my jars/boxes of herbs and spices, if the movers won’t take them;
Cans of paint, pots of glue, bottles of thinner and wood-stain, craft supplies, etc.
Oven cleaner, Vim, Handy Andy (i.e. assorted cleaning products);
Garden and pool items: rose spray, chlorine, grass seed, plants in pots, etc.
Books, maps, tour guides for South Africa
… and any other stuff I’ve put aside that I can’t take or don’t want to see in Spain (e.g. Kevin’s Michelin-logo shirts?!)

The moving company’s inventory for insurance purposes has taken me HOURS to compile. I had created it a month or so ago (actually with photos, measurements and valuations of all of our belongings), and had, for example, estimated 5,000 euros for ladies’ clothing/shoes and 4,000 Euros for men’s. The actual inventory list wants to know how many suits, shirts, ties, socks, lingerie, blouses, skirts, dresses … etc., etc., etc. And mathematics is not my strong suit; can I really place a value of 100 Euros on my knickers? By the time it comes to packing them, will I have managed to consign some of Kevin’s eight suits to a local clothing store, or donated them to charity?

And how much will it cost me in Spain to replace my knickers if they get lost en route? The declared insurance value of our goods has to be for their replacement value in the destination country. We lived in Indonesia for nearly five years, where we bought gorgeous and very inexpensive solid teak furniture. Ten years ago, our antique dining table and six chairs cost us about 100 Euros; but it would surely cost at least 2,700 Euros to replace the suite if the transport ship went down?

Taking up a great deal of room in the shipment will be the 30-plus paintings, pictures and prints that we’ve accumulated over the past 34 years (some of them were given to us as wedding presents). A few unframed posters of our ‘heroes’ of the day were all that we took with us in our youth. Now we have limited edition prints, some original artwork and a few sculptures and antique pieces. These all require careful wrapping and crating … and individual itemising on the bloody inventory!

On a positive note for me, my Dad (living in the south of England) decided a month ago to ‘down-size’; his house sold in three days, and he now has to move before I do. I’m feeling quite smug about the pre-move preparations that I have made over the past six months. I’ll bet Dad doesn’t have the time to do an inventory of his Y-fronts.

On the other hand, he can take his half-full jars of Branston pickle and balsamic vinegar.

Carolyn Emmett

Am an inveterate traveller. Born in the UK and spent teen years in Stratford-upon-Avon. Emigrated to Canada in 1976. Married 33 years, with three children and two grandchildren. Have lived in Jakarta, Indonesia (1997-2001), Botswana (2001-2003) and Johannesburg, South Africa (2003-2010). I'm a perfectionist, very organised, typical Aries; as Purple Ronnie would say: I would be good at being Queen of the World because: I love bossing everyone around and telling them what to do; I am great at making clever plans; I am great fun to be with 'cos I love action and adventure, and I always think up crazy ideas.

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn knowing you all will be fine and before you know it you and kevin will be totally immersed into the village way of life and your knickers will not be a problem! So looking forward to June and seeing you both in Monte.

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