Yes, here we are, in our new home up on Kingsmere, a move that has been almost a year in the planning. During that time we've investigated all kind of options, been very close to relocating altogether, but ultimately decided to settle here.
Why move? Well. we had been living in our house in Chapel Street for 7 years, and for a further 3 years before that in the house next door to that. Over the course of that decade, life changed in all manner of ways that I could never have envisaged when I arrived there back in the summer of 2006.
Back then I was fresh out of a relationship break up and moved into the small cottage in an attempt to make a fresh start. I was 36, I had a thriving social life, and it's fair to say my new place was my bachelor pad for those first few months.
Within a year or so, things had changed. I met Claire, settled down, she moved in and less than a year later we were blessed with Ollie. The house we were in was barely big enough for two and certainly not three. There was only one real bedroom plus an attic room where baby Ollie went but it wasn't ideal by any means - for a start the roof leaked in wet weather.
But we liked the street. Out friends Russ and Liz lived on one side, and another family on the other. We got to know other people in the street, it was a nice place.
We got to know the family next door and mentioned we wanted a bigger place. When they moved on, we moved in.
|Our home for the past 7 years in Chapel Street.|
Now I loved living there, at least for the first few years. Later, things began to change. The house itself was lovely, but changes in the environment made living there not so pleasant.
New flats were built behind by Sanctuary housing and this led to a lot of problems. I needn't go into details, but it was often like watching a live episode of Shameless through the kitchen window. The noise, language and smell of dope drifting around made the garden a completely unsuitable environment for the kids. Once armed police with sniffer dogs started turning up I knew it was time to move on.
Then St Edburg's School, which we had a pleasant walk to each day through the churchyard, closed down and relocated to a new building on the Kingsmere estate. The new school itself was fantastic, but the relocation left us having to drive the children to and from school every day, something I'm totally opposed to.
It was nice living in the old house with it's open fires and wooden beams, but old buildings have there downsides too - no matter how much housework I did I could never win the battle against the spiders. cobwebs and dust. So we decided to leave. It took a long time to find the right place, but finally we did, a 3 bed town house came up, a mere stone's throw from the school. As soon as I looked round it, I knew we'd found the right place for us.
By the time we'd got our offer in and accepted, we had just five weeks to move. It seemed a lot, but as Claire had broken her ankle, it left me with the lion's share of the physical work - there was no way she was going to be able to lug furniture around.
Packing up seemed to take forever. I've moved several times before but it is amazing how many things we'd accumulated over the past seven years. I was a bit of a rolling stone before I settled down, gathering little moss but having kids had filled out the house with an incredible amount of stuff.
We were ruthless in sorting out and getting rid of things we no longer needed. I took at least a dozen trips to Ardley tip alone with rubbish and recycling. As far as the rest of the move went, I planned it all in meticulous detail (my strong point), only hoping I could make it all happen in practice (a weaker point).
Whilst all of this was going on I was acutely aware that I had not done any proper work since before Christmas and I was not happy about that. Whilst my existing novels are out there happily selling themselves and bringing in a nice income I am not one to sit on my laurels. I've worked really hard to build my writing career up to this point and don't want to let it slip now. At the moment I've got a local team interested in turning The Time Bubble into a movie, a seriously promising idea for a new novel burning away in my mind and to top it all, interest from Hollywood in My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday. But I have reluctantly had to put all of that on the backburner just to get through the urgent business of moving house.
With funds tight, I had to do the move myself as cheaply as possible but I couldn't do everything myself. I scrubbed the old place from top to bottom but had to get the professionals in for some things e.g. oven cleaning. To do the move itself, I hired a van, just for 24 hours. I was relying on a family member for some serious muscle on the day, but due to ill-health he had to pull out at short notice. Thankfully, the son of a close friend agreed to help out, and despite being just 16, he did a sterling job on the day and brought his girlfriend along to help out too. How did it all go? Well, this entry has gone on long enough, so look out for part two coming hot on the heels of this one!