It was a real struggle to open my eyelids and as I slithered reluctantly out of bed and across to the window I was praying that the weatherman had got it wrong. I wanted to hear rain lashing on the windows, a gale force wind blowing, the ‘mother’ of all storms unleashed so that I could crawl back to the comfort of my nice warm bed. Yes, it was 6am on yet another Sunday morning. As I pulled open the bedroom curtains and saw the blue sky and hazy early morning sunshine waving at me with a wry smile on its face, there was no escaping that another car boot sale beckoned us !
Normally, once I have been washed and dressed and accepted that we are going to stand for another 5 hours, watching people rummage through our possessions and then want them for next to nothing, I am okay and raring to go. I set myself personal challenges on what ‘items’ I intend to sell and at what ‘price’ I wanted to get for them and this is quite fun. However, for this car boot we did not have many ‘newer’ items to bring to the table and I was doubtful whether we would even reach our self-imposed minimum takings. We have always said that anything less than £50 was not worth the effort of getting out of bed and I had a feeling that this may have been one of those occasions. My unease was not lessened when, upon arrival, there were far fewer ‘car booter’s than normal and we were positioned on the second row, whereas we would normally be on the fourth or fifth. After the initial ‘traders flurry’, this is what we call it when anyone first arrives, before they have even got sorted the regulars (professional car booter’s) are crowded around and for the uninitiated (the Newbies) there goods are already being rummaged through and picked over before they have been removed from the vehicle. We on the other hand are now old hands at this and the regulars have got to know me and the palm of my hand. As I get out of the car I do not open any doors or the boot, I position myself at the rear of the car where they have started to mass, my hand goes up with palm facing outward in the good old-fashioned ‘STOP’ gesture and I tell them to give me 10 minutes. They wander off to the next ‘victim’ muttering under their breath. However, after this initial flurry, and the picking over of our goods by the traders who wanted them at next to nothing prices to then re-sell for a much larger sum on their own stalls, things went extremely quiet !! However, as the morning progressed we were selling our ‘cherished items’ at a steady pace and by the end of yet another car booting Sunday we had nearly made three times our minimum figure.
No rest for the wicked as they say ? Who first said that ? When did they say it and in what context ? Damn another one of those ‘hand me down’ sayings again.
It was now getting to the phase of the ‘home de-construction’ that neither of us could put off any longer. We needed to start sorting through the personal stuff we had intentionally left until the last possible minute, and that time had now arrived. I don’t care what people may say, but you do get attached to material possessions, well I suppose it is more the memories attached to those possessions, where you were when you bought them, whether it was linked to a special occasion or memorable holiday, perhaps a gift received ? We both knew that this moment would arrive though and had agreed to be quite ‘ruthless’, however, it was still going to be one of those ‘lump in the throat and a tear in the eye’ moments. Even worse would be watching strangers ‘pick over’ some of these items with no knowledge or regard of the personal meaning or sentiment attached to them, they just wanted a bargain !
Isn’t is strange how when you have to be at work you rely on the alarm clock to wake you up in the morning yet, when you don’t have to be at work, and the alarm is turned off you still somehow wake up at the time that the alarm would have gone off had it been turned on ! The difference being that when you suddenly realise that you don’t have to get up for work you can just look at the clock and then turn over and go back to sleep. Shazza and I have often spoken about what it might be like when we are ‘on the road’, no need to get up until lunchtime if we don’t want to ? However, I actually believe that we will probably find that with all the fresh air that we will be getting, and with the activities that we plan to do e.g. sightseeing, walks, swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, bicycle rides etc. that we will probably be so tired by the end of the day that we will end up going to bed early and get a proper undisturbed nights sleep, awaking early and be up and ready for the start of a new day. However, I may of course be proved wrong and we may just end up staying in bed, drinking coffee and discussing what we can do with the little time that there is left in the day. Either way, it sounds as if it is going to be a hard life !!
After my morning coffee and kick starting my lungs with a couple of cigarettes I set about finishing the job on the van that we didn’t manage to complete whilst away at Warwick. It was a simple enough task in theory, just fit some extra spring catches on one of the under seat lockers and two of the galley cupboards. I say simple in theory because there was very little room to manoeuver. The additional catches, all four of them, that needed fitting on the under seat locker entailed lying down on one’s back and trying to screw in eight separate pieces of very small plastic components, with sixteen very small screws and a very small short-handled screw driver. The first one is always the worst, it is the one that you make the mistake on but hopefully the one which you learn from so that you don’t repeat the mistake with the others and this thankfully went exactly to script. Once the first mistake had been made, followed by a few choice words of “Oh Eric you silly boy” or words to that effect, the mistake was rectified and I sailed through the installation of the other catches and was quite pleased with my handiwork once it was all done. I was rewarded with a nice hot bacon buttie !!
That’s when the days jobs started, although there were no list of jobs we each knew what had to be done and set about our individual tasks. Shazza sorted through the battlefield that was, in a former life, our second bedroom but which was now filled with boxes that had been rescued from the loft, primarily boxes of Christmas decorations containing tree baubles and decorations, free-standing ornaments of all different shapes and sizes, several lights and all the other paraphernalia that goes with transforming a house into a Christmas Grotto. There was also a box or two of Shazza’s personal stuff, so after helping her decide what we would keep and what we would discard, on the Christmas side of things, I left her to be ‘ruthless’ with her personal
From day one of taking this decision to sell up our entire lifetime’s possessions Shazza has been the one to keep using the word ‘Ruthless’, however, I have a sneaky suspicion that her ‘verbal’ use of the word and putting it into practice may be two quite different things. For example, Shazza’s ruthless appears to be to re-distribute her ‘treasured items’ as opposed to disposing of them, “Oh, I will give this to my mum to look after” she informs me, or “I think I will put this into ‘my‘ personal storage box”. But the one that takes the biscuit is her quite blatant attempt at psychological blackmail. We had also started sorting out our clothes, it is quite obvious that we cannot take all of the clothes that currently fill our wardrobes and drawers so it is a matter of deciding what we will need for a life on the road and what we can discard. The first part of this clearing out exercise is straightforward, no requirements for Suits, Dress Shirts, Ties, Cufflinks or any other associated ‘best dress attire’. I would be keeping one ‘Grey Suit’, White Shirt and two other dress shirts, Black tie for funerals, Wedding tie just in case either of the kids decide to tie the knot or we get invited to other family weddings, which is probably very unlikely as they may not wish to associate with us ‘travellers’. I can just picture it, being introduced to the relatives extended family “And this is Eric and Sharon, they gave up their very well paid professional careers, sold their house and all their worldly possessions to become Gypsies” ! Oh yes and one nice silk tie for other ‘formal’ occasions. These would be kept in a suit carrier at Sharon’s mums. My dearly beloved by this time has now begun looking into the spare wardrobe in bedroom 3, this is where she keeps her additional clothing like evening dresses, jackets, coats, shoes, handbags …………. well I guess you get the picture !! You will also note that I only said that she was ‘looking‘ and not actually physically do anything with them. As I am sorting through my wardrobe, my beloved slinks into the bedroom with her ‘come to bed eyes’ and ‘mischievous grin’, she puts her arms around my neck (not my throat on this occasion !) and pulls herself close and whispers into my ear “If you loved me you would let me have ‘your wardrobe’ space in the van” !!! So that is what she meant when she said she would be Ruthless ? It’s not as if we are starting on a level playing field as she already has one extra cupboard with two shelves in the van !!
I had given up trying to decide what clothes to take, I had started with very good intentions by putting what I was ‘definitely going to take‘ to one side of the hanging rails with the intention of putting the soon to be ‘discarded items’ onto the other side, however, when I ran out of space for the ‘What I was definitely going to take’ I decided that I may have to re-assess my choices but that I would leave this task perhaps for another day ! Instead I went back outside to assess what remained in the ‘spiders lair‘. Now, on a manly ‘macho‘ basis, this is not a big space in the grand scheme of things measuring a measly 8ft x 6ft x 4ft. Regular readers of this blog will recall that I have already ventured into this unwelcoming place on two previous occasions and recovered lots of ‘hidden treasures’, after bravely fighting off the eight legged monsters of course that lay in wait to ambush me from above and below. Surely there could not be much left within this miniscule place, could there ? Well, 3 spades of varying sizes, garden fork, rake, four pronged soil ‘thingamejig’, turf cutter, branch loppers, grass edger, shears, 2 brooms, brand new pair of Wellington boots, camping chair, garden tool tidy, grass rake, large plastic dustpan, watering can, 2 x shrub pruning shears, large trowel, small trowel and a vast array of other nondescript garden tools and finally one electric lawn mower !!! I spent the rest of the afternoon washing and cleaning said items and then temporarily re-homed them in the garage ready to turn them into ‘travel fund cash’ at next Sunday’s car boot. I had to tell Shazza that we may well be taking both cars on Sunday and taking up two pitches as we had once again filled the garage with more ‘Cherished Items’ !
Another morning arrived and with it another round of jobs to do, I decided to get stuck in to sorting my clothes once again. I needed to decide what would go into my one wardrobe, one overhead locker and one bedside drawer and what would go into my storage bag which would be kept under the bed and then what was left I would be parting company with (apart from the items that would be stored at Sharon’s mums house, namely my ‘all-purpose‘ suit and associated accessories). When I first thought about this task it was simple, winter clothes into the storage bag and summer wear in the everyday storage as it would be winter in Spain/Portugal but a winter in Southern Spain is still warm enough during the day for summer wear with perhaps a sweater and jeans for the evenings. However, when I started to give it some real thought I realised that we would be in this Country until the middle of October ! Even when we got off the ferry in Northern Spain it would be chilly and we could even be faced with Snow until we got further South. So now the dilemma was ‘what’ winter clothes to keep out. The other dilemma was how much could I pack in to the available space that I had within the van (and that does still include ‘my wardrobe space’). Needless to say this is still an ongoing task !
I was relieved when the time came to leave the house and go into town, first port of call was to the Solicitors to make our wills, then to see Debs as I was due my monthly No. 2, then a quick stop at the rail station to pick up my train tickets for my forthcoming work related trips into London and then finally a quick stop at Halfords to purchase a bicycle pump.
It didn’t seem strange making wills at our ages, in fact it made good sense as Shazza and I would literally be travelling and living together 24/7. Although we sincerely hope that no disaster will occur that would entail us both ‘popping our clogs’ at the same time, we had to consider the likelihood that this may happen. I guess some people ‘of a certain age’ are reluctant to make wills as it associated with death and they perhaps consider that by making a will it is an acknowledgement that time is running out. So, reverse psychology is employed, if they don’t make a will then they don’t have to think about the grand reaper arriving anytime soon ! Giving our instructions to the ‘Probate’ Solicitor was an easy enough process, there were no complications and so another job ticked off the very long ‘To Do List’. Then it was a walk to my hairdressers to have my ‘penultimate’ No.2 and as always Debs did a good job ! Debs also being one of my faithful blog followers managed to squeeze out of me some advance information on the content of this weeks blog, well how could I refuse when she was the one with the cut throat razor strategically positioned across my ‘Adams Apple’ “!! Before re-uniting ourselves with the car and onwards to the third task on our job list, we had a saunter around the pedestrian shopping precinct. It was a lovely sunny day and although less than a twenty-minute drive from the house into the town, we rarely came into this area as we had the ‘District Centre’ right on our doorstep which housed all the shops we ever needed. Although we were not planning on any purchases today, other than a bicycle pump, I did come away with a new set of sandals. I justified this expenditure to Shazza by pointing out that they had been reduced dramatically in the sale, so too good an opportunity to miss and ‘yes’ of course I needed a new pair ? Sharon on the other hand didn’t buy anything but give it time !!!
Train tickets collected we headed to ‘Halfords’ Car & Bicycle accessory store to purchase a new pump for the Bicycles. When I say new, it wasn’t that we were replacing an old one, we just didn’t have one in the first place. We had a 12 volt inflator which was great when we needed to inflate the tyres at the van, but we had nothing if we needed to re-inflate when on one of our many future bicycle rides. We were stood looking at the wide choice of said tyre inflators and I saw one that caught my eye, now I know that it wasn’t exactly the cheapest one in the store, however, this one, as I attempted to explain to Shazza, would inflate tyres up to 120p.s.i. and although the tyre pressures on the bicycles only required inflating to 40 p.s.i. it meant that it would do the job with relative ease, as a bonus it also had a built-in pressure gauge. Sharon on the other hand doesn’t understand these ‘man things’, boys toys and all that, but not realising what she was saying, when she saw the price compared to ‘others’ that she had been viewing she exclaimed, in a rather loud voice, “I just want something to pump it up so that it is nice and hard” !! The poor chap stood behind her just could not contain himself and without him having to say a word I just knew where his mind was at that very moment. Realising what she had said, and trying to recover from her embarrassment she then announced that she was going to go and look at ‘helmets’ !! The poor guy, in his haste and with tears of laughter streaming from his eyes, almost fell down the whole flight of stairs on his way to the ‘pay point’. We had spent the last 6 years cycling around the country lanes and roads of UK and Europe without any kind of head protection, we both agreed that this was rather stupid and so, after trying on almost every style of protective cycling helmet they had in the store, we eventually chose two that suited. We got a nice surprise when we arrived at the ‘pay point’ with our items, apparently there was a special promotion on, buy 3 items and get the 3rd (the cheapest) free !! It just so happened that our ‘expensive’ bicycle pump was the cheapest of the three items and as it turned out, it was a much better bargain than the one that she would have had us come away with ?
Well I certainly do not know where the last couple of days have gone as we haven’t stopped. There are still domestic tasks to be done like cutting lawns and washing cars whilst still clearing the house. We are experiencing some frustrations with ‘our’ Solicitors, they claim to have sent a letter that we didn’t receive, funny that every other letter prior to and since the ‘missing one’ was sent have been received no problems whatsoever ! Even the copy they said they would send to us hasn’t arrived ? Good job I got them to Email the original. Then there were more questions raised last Friday from searches by the Buyer’s Solicitor, we had them passed to us verbally over the phone and I answered them immediately by Email, only to discover that our Solicitor was away until this Tuesday. On checking our case updates on the Internet this evening (Thursday), we discover that they haven’t yet confirmed that they have sent the answers to the Buyers Solicitor !! I feel yet another telephone call to our Solicitor coming on, irrespective of the fact that I already know it will be pointless. My advice to anyone thinking of buying or selling a property is do not go with the Solicitor’s recommended by the Estate Agent, they receive commission from the Solicitor’s for the referral, instead, invest in a local Solicitor this is a hard lesson now learnt. So whilst we wait and wait and wait for that elusive ‘Exchange of Contracts’ we continue to do what we can.
Shazza has been making excellent progress in the house, I think she calls it re-distribution because what was in the house is now in the garage although it should really be called our warehousing and distribution facility ! It is up to me to sort through all this re-distributed
tat ‘cherished items’ and stack it in the right car boot ‘product category’. In fact I have just had to hire a forklift to enable me to stack the crates as they are now getting too high for me to reach. My fear is that we may have to postpone the completion date on the house sale until after Christmas. We have so much ‘tat’ that I am seriously considering expanding this rather lucrative business and selling on-line, perhaps even giving Amazon a run for their money !! Shazza said that it wasn’t a good business plan as we would eventually run out of ‘stock’ but I had thought beyond that, all we had to do was to get her Mum down again and then Bonnie and Clyde could diversify from doing just ‘Jewellery Heists’ and include a few burglaries as well !!
We are now just 5 weeks to the day to ‘hitting the road’, in fact this time in 5 weeks we will be having our first night in our new ‘home’ parked somewhere within the UK, how
frightening exciting is that ! It is actually nice to see that the van is looking more like home now than the actual house and, as the house empties of it’s once ‘cherished’ contents, the van lockers, cupboards and any other inch of space is slowly but surely getting filled. I have been a little paranoid ever since the incident last week with the flat tyre so have been constantly checking all my tyres. No problems ! so I guess we perhaps just had a leaky valve. Although it has put my mind at rest for now I will be keeping a check on them on a regular basis.
I am once again sat, in a somewhat empty living room alone with my thoughts as ‘Madame’ has retired for the night. She generally reads for 5-10 minutes before going to sleep. I went to the kitchen to make myself a mug of coffee and just as I was finishing stirring it I heard her dulcet tones waft down from above, “Oh go on then Jeeves” she says, “If you are making one I will have one as well” !! Note for diary, invest in some bloody plastic spoons that do not clink when stirring one’s coffee !!
So, it has been yet again another very busy week, and probably will be for the remaining 5 weeks. Back to work for me next week but on count down now and also time to start getting some of the Administrative stuff finalised. We have just been informed by Sharon’s mum today that she has received our Vehicle Log Books and Driving Licences which we needed to update with the new address. We have to do the same for all our Banking arrangements including Credit/Debit cards, Vehicle Insurances and a whole host of similar type documentation. So, this is where it will now turn from going through the motions to becoming reality !! Tomorrow is Loft clearance day, not our stuff but my daughter’s, we have been storing this for her for the past 11 years !! she used to tell me that it was in a ‘Parents Contract’ to store their children’s tat for an unspecified period of time. I told her that I have now ‘shredded’ that contract and if she doesn’t collect it by next week the next time she see’s any of it, it may well be at a car boot sale……………………………….. !!