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…Well, of moving.

Remember last year when I had to move house and I promised I’d never do that again? You don’t? Well, that’s because most of the words I used only had four letters and this tries to be a family-friendly blog…

But seriously—why is this my life again?

When we bought the island house, we downsized to a tiny little place in the city, but neither of us ever liked it enough to unpack.  So we’ve been shopping for a small pied-à-terre for the Hub to stay in when he’s working. It wasn’t going well…

ME: Here’s a nice little studio.
HIM: I need space to play my cello.
ME: Okay, this one’s a one-bedroom.
HIM: LOTS of cello. And parking. And walking distance to the office. And the gym.
ME: How about a one-bedroom and a free-because-you’re-a-geezer bus pass?

Only… somehow the Hub and I must have WAY different definitions of “small” because while I was in LA at the Emmys, he put an offer in on a three-story Georgian townhouse listed as a historic building. Apparently, his cello needed a mess of bedrooms and bathrooms with (I’m SO not making this up) a TV in each and every room—including built into the shower and the jacuzzi—for the woman who never watches TV.

ME: W.T. effin-F???
HIM: But it has parking! And I can walk to work! It’s perfect.

The Good News:

So the good news is I’ve been adding up his life insurance policies and realizing just how lucrative widowhood could be, and he’s getting pretty fervent about assuring me he’ll never again buy anything bigger than weekly groceries without consulting me first. Oh wait… I meant to say, the good news is that if people visit me in Scotland, there will be PLENTY of room on the Glasgow side too, which makes a nice base for excursions to Edinburgh, the Highlands, etc. Plenty of empty rooms probably, because thus far most of the furniture consists of several pieces of the Taub Memorial Cello collection.)


The Bad News

The Hub has a secret ninja superpower at which we mere mortals can only marvel. Whenever we have to move, he somehow has an iron-clad reason to be on another continent. Thus, six months before the new parking place (with attached 3-story townhouse) was even a gleam in our estate agent’s eye, he agreed to a trip to Australia. There were contracts. So as he’s sending me pictures of holidays down under, I’m looking at mountains of cardboard and realizing it’s my karma for IDK…murdering small animals in a previous life or maybe even voting Republican.

The Worse News:

On Tuesday, the day before the big move, I got carpet cleaners in for the new place. They got right to work. Then the yelling started. The three carpet guys showed me how their vacuuming was actually sucking up piles of carpet…er…pile. They explained that the carpets we had owned for less than twenty-four hours were infested with carpet moth eggs, and had been eaten from the bottom up. So when they turned on their vacuum, the carpets literally disintegrated. It looked like three floors of carpet got really bad mange.

I had them fumigate overnight, but it was too late to stop the furniture movers coming next day. So I had everything moved into the only room with wood floors and started trying to figure out how I could replace a couple thousand square feet of carpet stat.

The Totally Worst News:

In my nightmares for the rest of my life, I’ll be seeing the head carpet cleaner guy holding out a handful of carpet shreddings FULL of moth eggs. Like he was going to hand it to me. LIKE I WOULD ACTUALLY TAKE IT… I screamed. There might have been some swearing, and promises about how many degrees below freezing hell would have to get before I touched that sh*t.

But the carpet guys had their revenge. They claimed they couldn’t risk contaminating their van and all their equipment, so they were going to strip down and do the birthday-suit-dash out to their van. They assured me that it happens on a fairly regular basis here in Glasgow, and all my neighbors had probably already seen them.

Now, let’s just say these were very nice carpet cleaner guys, but they were NOT the Scotsmen who would ever be recruited for Kilted Yoga. I grabbed the dog and we took off.

The dog and I camped out in the old house on an air mattress, while I added up the Hub’s life insurance policies. (Hmmm… If he has any sense, he’ll just stay in down there with the kangaroos.)

Are you packing a deluxe tape dispenser or are you just happy to see me?

Then, of course, I did what anyone who has a moving van coming in less than 24 hours would do—sat down at the computer and read my posts from my last move to see if there were any useful tips from my blogging past. Sadly, the answer was yes. Below is the post from a few years ago. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether I’ve learned anything since.

Before moving to The Hobbit House in Glasgow, the last couple of times I moved involved one suitcase. One. Really. (I have a shopping list on Ikea to furnish an entire apartment in flat pack. At last count, I’d bought the Ektorp sofa at least five times.) But that was before I discovered online furniture auctions.

PSA Tip: bidding on fabulous online auction bargains while on serious pain meds could be dangerous. You might end up with a pink living room set. With fringe…

So when I found out we’d be moving to Scotland, I looked around my fully-furnished and pinkly-fringed four bedroom tower in the castle in a northeast corner of England and thought about options:

  1. ‘Accidental’ fire
  2. Full flat charitable donation
  3. GFC (Google Fact Check)

The first option was tempting but burning down a medieval castle that belongs to friends is probably not an avenue for karmic growth. The second was out because charities turn out to be remarkably resistant to climbing narrow circular stairways to retrieve my pink fringed crap generous donations, especially when they need to carry them back down said narrow circular stairways, across a courtyard the size of a football field, and out the portcullis gates. Who knew?

Option three, Google Fact Check, took 0.28 seconds to come up with “about 2,500,000,000 results” offering tips for packing and moving. (Am I the only one who finds it unnerving that this works out to about one tip for every three people on the planet?) Most took the form of fantasy timelines, like those wedding checklists that start with “Three Years Before Your Wedding Date—reserve venue, interview wedding planner, hire caterer” and end with a suggestion that you squeeze in meeting the groom somewhere in the six months before your big day.


Really? ‘Cause here’s what I did…

Tip #1: Three months before move, decide what will stay and what goes with you.

Two facts made this a speedy process. First: the all-possessions-destroyed-in-tragic-fire option was off the table. Second: we found a new** house and were moving in a week.

**[Translation: And by “new” we mean 200+ year old victorian instead of 1000+ year old medieval]

Tip #2: Two months before move, select movers and book date.

Since the date selected was a week away, mover selection boiled down to some hang-up calls, a few questions about my mental stability, and one moving company who just had a cancellation. Score!

Tip #3: Get boxes and label them

I thought I could get boxes from some of the local shops. You’d think I was asking the store managers to sell their children into a degrading life of sex trade slavery or becoming phone solicitors for roofing products. “We recycle 100% of our boxes,” they protested. “We can’t just give them to you to use again.”


GFC revealed that you could buy used boxes (probably recycled by my local shops). A set of 65 boxes was surprisingly affordable, so I ordered two packages, figuring everything that didn’t fit could be packed into drawstring trash bags. They arrived with one banker-sized box in each package, one slightly larger box, and 63 boxes suitable for packing a mug or two. I went to Costco and bought a crate of disposable trash bags.

Tip #4: Moving Supplies. Buying the correct supplies (paper, foam, packing peanuts, box cutter, markers, mattress covers, etc.) will save time and energy.

Barb’s moving tip: china wrapped in your husband’s underwear ships just fine. When he asks why his underwear has large circular discs stretched into their fronts, tell him you think it’s very sexy.

Tip #5: Order pre-printed labels

What a good sense of humor these list writers have.

Tip #6-Gazillion:How to pack appliances, dishes, pictures, etc.

My personal approach was to pack my china and then get the flu. I highly recommend this plan, and only wish I’d started worshipping at the porcelain throne much earlier.

I also recommend doing this in the north of England, where people are just way too polite. The moving crew looked in disbelief at the neatly labeled boxes of china and the completely unpacked state of the rest of my flat. But my new BFF and owner of the moving company, Mr. Nelson, said, “We’ll take care of all of it for you, Flower.” (He also called me “Petal” and made me a cup of tea.)

I had wasted several days packing the first boxes because I kept looking at the stuff I was putting in them, labeling them and keeping a list of contents as suggested in the Tips.

 But Mr. Nelson, who (his crew informed me) was in his seventies, blew through my flat like a hurricane, sweeping everything into boxes with detailed labels like “kitchen” or “not kitchen”.

Most Important Moving Tip: Pack an Essentials Box

 I looked over several lists of things that were supposed to go into your Open-First box: dish soap and tea towel, small toaster oven, dishes and eating utensils, flashlight, shower curtain, shampoo & conditioner, change of clothes, sheets and towels, trash bags, tool kit, sewing kit, first aid kit, radio—the list goes on and on. Seriously? If you take even half of that stuff, you won’t have any room for the real essentials– tequila and margarita mix, blender, the dog’s food/toys/dishes/meds/treats/bed, and of course, your hotel reservation. Okay, if you have room you can throw in a change of underwear and a toothbrush, but let’s be practical. There’s sure to be a lingerie store in the new city.

So here I am in the new house staring at Mt. Cardboard. And it’s like Christmas. Each box I open could contain anything from my socks to that really hot book that lived on the back of the top shelf of my closet.

My labeling efforts deteriorated as the flu took over. (NOTE: my daughters find these little bears very scary. They cite the presence of a severed head being used as a bucket by one little bear. Clowns, they say, are never good, and somewhere a headless little clown figure is probably wreaking inimaginable havoc on an innocent populace. My bad.

My labeling efforts deteriorated as the flu took over. (NOTE: my daughters find these little bears very scary. They cite the presence of a severed head being used as a bucket by one little bear. Clowns, they say, are never good, and somewhere a headless little clown figure is probably wreaking unimaginable havoc on an innocent populace. My bad.

The good news?

I’ve just found my moving-essentials kit. Margarita anyone?