It’s been 10 days now since we left the known and familiar in favour of an adventure into the European countryside. So far we’re having a lovely time. We’re busy – it’s not a holiday, as such – but crammed into one room, albeit a decent sized open plan room, it’s nice, after the last few months of craziness, to spend time together, just the four of us. And then there’s the weather. I’m quite sure that we’ve spent more time outside in the last week than we had all summer in the UK. DD is so happy – she loves it outside, as do we. There are a few things getting in the way of our progress but no show-stoppers, just inconveniences; the main inconvenience being no Wi-Fi! Consequently, I have written about five posts for the blog, documenting the three-day road trip and first few days here, but have not yet had chance to post them. Since we’re getting a bit more organised now (and getting a handle on sources of free Wi-Fi) I hope to post them over the next few days and weeks starting today. So here’s part 1 of the journey. Enjoy!
Our journey to France from our soggy little house in Hollingworth took three days in all. We were on the road until late every day which meant no time to blog along the way, so here’s my retrospective report.
Day 1: Saying Goodbye to Garden Cottage (Hollingworth to Uppingham)
The big day: leaving! As James predicted, there was still a tonne of stuff to do and far to much to go into the car. We got up early and set to it. James took the final load to the tip, taking DD along to try and keep her occupied, while I stayed at home to give the upstairs a final clean, sweeping and mopping. It’s at this point that things started to go wrong! James returned soon after to say DD wanted to come home, so instead of going straight to the garage and taking her with him, now she was home with me. I hadn’t managed to get all my cleaning done because DS decided today was the day he would no longer tolerate lying down alone on the floor and now I had both of them. It was only 9am and already our schedule was going to sh*t. I plugged DD into Shaun the Sheep (which she must know by heart by now) and pottered around holding DD, who was still put-down-resistant.
Next my friend Anna popped round to pick up some furniture we’d been trying and failing to deliver hers for over a week! She arrived to a screaming baby and me in a bit of flap so popped the kettle on. We did the only thing to do in that situation and sat down for a coffee. While we were chatting there was a knock at the door. No, it wasn’t the letting agent (due at 10.30 and now 20 minutes late). It was our neighbours, who’d come to say goodbye. As with all the neighbours, we’d had our ups and downs but it was sad to say goodbye as, neighbourly spats aside (don’t get me started on the hedge!) they are good people and we’d all looked out for each other. They gave DD a teddy (another one!) and had a book for her too and some homemade biscuits for us.
James came back then, singing the praises of the Polish garage up the road who’d just done a knock out job on the car, cleaning it inside and out. After the inevtable bit of Brexit bashing and another coffee, Anna was off, DD was onto her third or maybe fourth Shaun the Sheep and DS was asleep, which means I was no good to anyone either. We decided to head to Dukes for lunch, as we’d promised to see our friend Karl there before we go.
Lunch was, unfortunately, rather leisurely, which meant we got back later than planned and were now well behind schedule. The landlord was coming at three and now, having spoken to the letting agent (who’d forgotten ever mentioning 10.30), we had an enormous amount to do. Not least James wasn’t happy with the car packing and pretty much all of downstairs needed clearing and cleaning. After a short while it became apparent that there was no way we’d get it all the car, so we decided to throw some high value things, like our lightweight, technical sleeping bags, into a box and post them to our new address. By now we were wishing we’d packed a few more things into boxes and sent them on their way with the removal company, but it was too late for that and the 50 quid it cost to send one medium sized box focussed our minds on the task at hand.
But by now I was in a flap. It was almost 4, which is when we’d planned to set off to my parent’s house, and we were still nowhere near done. Then the landlord arrived, closely followed by the letting agent. When the landlord’s daughter came in to see how I was doing I burst into tears! How embarrasing!! She was lovely though and asked what she could do to help. Since both DS and DD were screaming their heads off, I asked if she’d take DS and DD while I cleared up and she was more than happy to, as she’d brought her kids with her anyway, so they headed off into the garden leaving me to finally get a few things done. Within about 40 minutes I’d managed what probably would have taken another 4 hours flying solo with the two littlies to manage too. There was still alot to do but we got on top of it and by 7pm we – littlies, cats, and a smattering of our possessions – were on the road. It was a huge relief to be on our way. A few paranoid tickets-passports checks later and we were driving over the moors towards our destination. But it wasn’t over yet!
Once at my parent’s we released the cats into the back room, fed and watered them, passed the kids onto the grandparents, and set about getting the car repacked. A few weeks earlier, knowing we’d have reduced boot space because of transporting the cats, I’d dropped two huge bags at my parent’s and now we had to find a way to fit them into the car, which basically involved repacking many of the bags to try and reduce it all down. Needless to say it was gone midnight before we were in bed, almost too exhausted to sleep. Now all we needed was for the littlies to play along and give us a relatively good night but that was almost guaranteed to not happen since they’d both slept on the way down and woken up as we pulled into the drive. James took to the camping mat on the floor to make sure he’d get the best night he could since he was default driver and I curled up with the littles. Day 1, done. We’d left Manchester!!