Things They Don’t Tell You About Moving House


Greetings from my new home! It’s my first night and I have all my furniture in place, while piles of stuff sit unsorted at the old house. It will come, but you might guess correctly that I’m not remotely qualified to post as a guru on all things practical for moving (I just have one purely practical tip below) – and there are plenty of great resources for packing hints and beginning to approach the mammoth task of getting everything you own from A to B in one piece (or at least in less than or equal to the number of pieces there were originally). I can, however, tell you ALL about being blindsided by the very normal things that don’t make it onto the lists that are actually helpful.

Disclaimer: it’s possible I’m actually insane. Results may vary.

So you have decided to move house! Congratulations. You are now a basketcase.  

Some of this is a no-brainer. And I have no brain, so I can verify this. I didn’t want to move. Of course there will be conflicted emotions. I miss my flat. But I am also excited about my new home. But it is new. But it is new! But it isn’t home yet. But it has so much better accommodation! This is all natural and normal. I was less prepared for the complete inability to get anything done because my mind was somewhere on a cushion-related Pinterest board, or emailing utility companies about whether their website is working properly and it’s just my details that are wonky, or trying to work out when I can talk to friends and family around all this nothing I seem to be doing.


The sneezing. Oh my goodness, the – ACHOO! – sneezing.

Dust. Dust everywhere. You can be houseproud and keep your shelves and electrical equipment shiny and dust-free, but unless you have a compelling reason to keep your home hospital-fresh those little particles will get everywhere. As soon as you start moving everything around, it will fly up in clouds from surfaces, textiles and your family members. Things you just dusted will be dusty. Things completely hemmed in by other things will be dusty. There may be things you have never unpacked, sealed in plastic and stored in containers; somehow they will be dusty. To add to the emotional trauma, every childhood allergy will cram itself in your face and wriggle around in your sinuses. You will sneeze for no apparent reason. There will be a constant gritty feeling in your eyelashes. Then, when you think the worst is over, your belongings go into a dusty van filled with dust from everyone else’s dusty house and they have a big dust party. You get everything into your new house and suddenly your new house is dusty, too.


It’s exhausting.

So you’re dusty. Let’s add sweaty to the mix, too. And that’s just from the exertion of bossing around your minions. Then you will have to move everything you brought home in individual shopping bags over the past decade. At once. Into boxes, into trucks, out of trucks, out of boxes… Things need to be rationalised, while you live with stuff around you all the time, in piles, in boxes, in huge towers of debris topped by the cat. And this is how it looks even if you’re semi-organised. Packing up takes a while. Planning to pack up takes a while. Then at the very least you have to travel to the new house and make up your bed just so you can recover a bit.


Your past comes back to haunt you.

Remember those awful jumpers you decided really suited you back in 2003, despite the fact that they were hideous to everyone else? No? Well, you will. Shoes with four-inch heels will remind you that your ankles are not what they were. Cringeworthy letters and pictures from long lost friendships that you shoved in a drawer will re-emerge like a Phoenix of Awful, cardigans you swore you would fold properly later wrinkle at you in judgement, and those hideous passport photos will remind you why you used to have such a self-esteem problem. Your old home feels rejected. Spitefully, it is spewing out all of these items just to kick you when you’re down, exhausted and have dust in your nostrils. Hang in there.


It goes on forever. 

I could be projecting here. Clearly, other people move house and don’t spend the rest of their lives unpacking boxes. My parents last moved house twenty-six-and-a-half years ago and I’m fairly confident they have had the past four or five months just to relax. But from where I’m sitting here, tonight, I have just finished a huge move after weeks of planning and a few fairly taxing days, and tomorrow I get to go back to the flat and continue working, except now without the comfy chairs? Le sigh. I am just going to be stoic and make like a Weeping Angel (“We have no need of comfy chairs“)


Finally, a practical tip.

So, you sat through all that nonsense. Well done. I mean that. Reward yourself with an actual hint for moving. Despite the complaints, this move has not been a total nightmare to organise as my mother and I collaborated on a Trello board. I don’t know how the Trello people would describe it, but it’s like Pinterest for organising junkies. We love making lists, and right before I got notice that I had to move, a member of a web team showed the site to a friend and me. She claims she has never seen such a look of joyful contentment as the one on my face when I saw his Trello board. I started playing around with it and when we had to plan the removal it was perfect – we can each access and edit our board with to do lists by theme, moving sets of checklists around and keeping track of what we have still to do. I would definitely recommend it to anyone planning anything with lots of bits, especially collaboratively.

So there we have it. My sole practical contribution. That, and remember to make up your bed right away. Speaking of which…

4 (Rejected) Strategies for Petty Vengeance


Since my estate agent announced that I am expected to be available for viewings at the bare minimum notice, or look forward to repeated entry by prospective owners guided (I hope) by a representative at any hours when I am not actually unconscious, I have tried to be pure of spirit and take it all in my stride. Occasionally, however, one is only human and may find one’s mind wandering to less lofty pastures.

My goal over the next few weeks is to extricate myself from this situation as smoothly as possible. I know (and part of my irritation stems from the fact) that my agency is being rather free with their interpretation of the law and are appealing to terms that contravene my overriding rights, so I have the moral high ground, but when it comes down to it, I am happy to have lived here for so long and want to get out with minimal fuss and stress. I mean, I have lambing season ahead of me with a field of sheep right outside my new front door. Priorities, people.

I may not advocate vengeful behaviour, and I would certainly never adopt any of the following strategies (and you do not need to explain all the reasons why these would be a bad idea), but to say “I would never dream of it” would not be quite true. My brain can be creative when it turns to such topics. If I had half this vision working on good stuff I would have solved some international crises by now*

*May not be actually factually true.

Nevertheless, here are some ideas my brain has birthed (while drifting off to sleep) about potential ways to sabotage viewings outside agreed hours:

  •  Order singing telegram to greet viewers with a personalised song.

Pros: Come on, it’s a SINGING TELEGRAM!; potential for dance routines, YouTube fame.

Cons: Not actually all that off-putting; Hard to do at short notice, which is kind of the issue here; Where does one get a singing telegram, anyway? Interflora?


  • Hold daily teddy bear yoga class and insist it continue under new ownership.

Pros: Obvious health benefits; straighten out the stuffing; general cuteness.

Cons: My teddy bear is already pretty flexible. Clearly insane.


  • Get seven of my closest friends to join me in the large hall closet, wait for viewing of said closet, invite viewers to join us in game of Sardines.

Pros: Fun for the whole family; make new friends; bond with existing friends.

Cons: Lack of notice for viewings might be an issue as cannot stay cramped in closet all day; would have to sniff friends for potential odour problems beforehand and might discourage said friends from joining one in confined space.


  • Wear robe, hold scythe, stand in garden outside window looking like Grim Reaper.

Pros: Already have scythe (don’t ask); already have garden; ditto window; good practice for promising career as human statue in straitened times for academia.

Cons: Half of scythe on top of kitchen cabinet; estate agent might still have garden key; viewers might want to see garden and would then have to hide behind shrub; possible cramp in scythe hand.


When it comes down to it, it is just possible that vengeance is more energy-consuming than a quiet but speedy drive towards moving. And isn’t that just a perfect illustration of how vengeance works? Although my scythe hand does feel a Reaper moment coming on. Just as well 1 April is not so far away. In completely unconnected news, I would like to invite my parents to join me on their deck for breakfast next Tuesday…

I’ve Got a Lengthy List

My best friend and I once had a lengthy chat about our Myers-Briggs types. I read him mine (which has a section on how I like to organise things and, while I’m mostly a big-picture type, can get bogged down in my own fascinating detail). I plan Christmas in a big notebook with a giant penguin pen – card lists, shopping lists, catalogues of decorations, lists of things for other people to do according to my exacting schedule – and once tried to run a tight ship entitled, appropriately, “Camp Christmas”, I have folders of travel plans, keep a running list of current flight schedules from nearby airports, have every possible helpline programmed into my phone and generally try to be ready for anything, so I probably deserve the resultant laughter. He said if I were in the Mikado the song would be called “I’ve Got A Massive List”. He has clearly forgotten what happens if you put such ideas in my head.  This is what happens.

I’ve Got a Lengthy List (to the tune of I’ve Got a Little List  from The Mikado)

If ever it should happen that a party must be planned
I’ve got a lengthy list, I’ve got a lengthy list,
If a foolish project manager should ask me for a hand?
No detail will be missed, no detail will be missed
Upon many great occasions where a list may be required
I’m known to whip a clipboard out, my penmanship admired
You’re going to need a guest list (you don’t want to get that wrong)
A strategy for that guy who keeps bursting into song
And when it comes to napkin rings I’m sure I could assist
I will put them on the list. See? Right here, they’re on the list.

So you’re fleeing to Antarctica, but please, before you run
I’ve got a lengthy list, I’ve got a lengthy list,
We – before things go in boxes – need a pen and staple gun
So that nothing will be missed, so nothing will be missed
Though so weakly you protest, it’s so much better, you will find
No cat or towel or toastie-maker will be left behind
When drifting off this evening you’ll be organising sheep
Reflecting that my listing is rewarding, and it’s cheap
On pillows labelled clearly (no, I really must insist)
For I’ve got them on the list, I have got them on the list.

At Christmas, such a special time for family and friends,
I’ve got a lengthy list, a twice-checked Santa list
From October through to January the planning never ends
The tinsel must persist! (I tied it to my wrist)
There are Christmas cards and posting dates that must be written out
Who’s visiting with allergies to cheese and sauerkraut
The present list and budgeting massaged to work the best,
And colourscheme transgressors to be scolded and redressed
For certain tasks the amateurs I’m willing to enlist;
I have put them on my list, on my very festive list.

Of course, I see potential widely for a plan or chart
I’ve got a list of lists, a very meta list
Of the varied situations, problems, matters of the heart
Where listing could assist, where listing could assist
There’s the labelling of envelopes, your basic pros and cons,
The colour-coded carnival of naming kids (or swans)
And then the lists and systems there’s equipment to enhance
I’ve box files full of cutlery and binders full of pants,
So if you request the options (though I’m sure you get the gist)
I will email you the list, I will email you the list.