Since March, it has been a case of “Operation House” and little else. I viewed the place on the 2nd March, viewed it again on the 4th, made an offer on the 5th and had it accepted on the 6th. I finally picked up the keys on the 23rd June… three and a half months! Don’t ask!
On the 25th June I hired a VW Transporter van and, with the kind help of my housemate, Gabor, I moved in. One load to move my stuff in, and three loads to the tip to remove junk! The executors had kindly left behind the things I had asked for but, in addition, a whole lot else they thought would come in handy. But, to be honest, it was very dated and very “tired”, so it had to go. Two beds, old sideboards, dressing tables and cupboards, 3-seat sofa and armchair, a threadbare carpet and a whole lot more all made their way to the local recycling centre.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve stripped four rooms and cleared out the sheds. There’s now a big pile of bags full of wallpaper and, once-trendy, polystyrene tiles and covings cluttering the patio area, along with paint-pots, woodworm-ridden old timber, ancient deck chairs, rusty tools, old wall cupboards, and the estate agent’s sign. I took an electric storage heater off the wall yesterday and narrowly avoided being crushed as it smashed on the floor. (God knows what the neighbours thought that was!) It’s now been dismantled, with the twisted metal and bricks in their respective piles.
The garden is very overgrown but it has a lot of potential. It has a greenhouse, a big old plum-tree and fruit beds. Oh yes, and four snakes! Rubber ones, about a metre long and very realistic! I have yet to figure out what they were for apart from scaring new owners! The old guy who lived here must have been a bit of a gardener when he was able. It probably all became a bit much for him – he died when he was ninety-eight after all! Just breathing was quite an achievement at that age, let alone looking after the house and garden! He had some strange ideas about decoration (and snakes) and, probably, not a lot of money, but he kept the place as tidy and clean as he could. I would have liked to have met him – I think we might have got along. It turns out that I have met his son, 73, who was a local barber. In fact I regularly sat in his chair, had my hair cut by him, and talked about why I wasn’t at work and where I was going for my holidays!
I feel very comfortable here – it’s a good, solid, well lived-in house, and it has a lot of potential. The area is quiet and the house looks out onto a tree-fringed green. The neighbour parks his unsightly big van in the front but, if that’s my biggest bugbear, then I think I can cope. I’ll probably have a word with him anyway…
So, four rooms stripped and more to go. Today I plan to remove the main fireplace but may also tackle the other three. It needs new wiring, heating, plumbing and will all have to be totally re-plastered, re-decorated and re-furnished. The kitchen and bathroom both need replacing, and the garden needs blitzing.
I’m working all my spare hours on the place – I can see that I’m going to be very busy for a long time but, as my friend Edna observes, I’m happy.