I do not know how to put into words the actual stress that both Shazza and I have been under during the last week or two. Self-inflicted I know, after all nobody has forced us to take the decision to retire, sell our house and all our worldly goods and to drive off into the sunset in our motorhome. We knew that it was not going to be completely stress free, however, I have to say that it would have all been going to plan had I not failed to take into account the ‘People Factor’, the unreliability of some and the lack of honesty with others. There is one important exemption to that last statement however, and that is to those whom I work for and with. Without their support and understanding then this could have been a total nightmare but I work with a damn good bunch of people both within our small team and some particular people within our London-based ‘Business Management Team’.
Although the Purchaser of our house had confirmed that he had signed all the relevant papers, we had still not ‘Exchanged Contracts’ on the house, more delaying on the part of the Buyer’s Solicitor. Enough was now enough, we were at the end of our tether and so instructed our Solicitor to issue an Ultimatum, Exchange by Monday 2nd September or we are pulling the house off the market !! We also contacted ‘van man’, regular readers of this blog will know that he was, what appeared to be, our saviour in respect of telling us that he was interested in buying ‘all’ our large items of furniture and that he would collect when he came to pick up a modern glass top set of computer desks that he was interested in purchasing. We sent him an Email to confirm that he could collect this and enquired as to whether he was still interested in purchasing the other larger items. Of course, and as we suspected, he had just been paying us lip service and now stated that he was no longer interested in ‘any’ of the other pieces of furniture !! Now the pressure was really on, less than four weeks before we intended to move out but we still had some large and expensive items to dispose of. There was nothing left to do except to get them photographed and advertised on ‘Gumtree’ and ‘Ebay’ and trust that we could sell them in time. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to have to virtually give them away. We had placed the advertisement for our 25-year-old, hand-crafted, solid oak dining table and 6 chairs on ‘Gumtree’ and within minutes of the advertisement being published we had an enquiry and a request to view the following day !
It was Friday lunchtime and Sharon went to do the weekly grocery shop. She left me to deal with our viewers with the instruction to make sure that I sold the Dining Room Table and Chairs. Thank you beloved, no pressure then ? The door bell rang and I answered it to a lady with a young child who was accompanied by her brother, who she informed me just happened to be a Carpenter (No, not a former member of the 70’s band !!). These people were not British although they spoke excellent English with a foreign accent. I suspected that they may have been Polish based solely on the assumption that we have a large number of Polish immigrants in our local town. I was however informed that they were Latvian and that her husband had lived here for 8 years, she had lived here for 3 years and her brother had only been here since April. I showed them the table and chairs, her brother made a brief inspection and then made the right noises. They confirmed the price that we were asking and then he asked why we were selling it so cheap as it was obviously worth a lot more money !! I explained the situation and they said that they would have it and would it be alright for her husband to collect it when he got home from work that evening, although that wouldn’t be until around 8pm. “Would it be alright” ? I thought to myself, I was just so elated to have sold it at the asking price, no haggling that I would have strapped the thing to my back and walked it to their house !! However, I contained my elation and said that was no problem. Having explained what we were going to do in the very imminent future they asked if they could have a look at what else we were selling and so I gave them the grand tour.
Sharon returned from her shopping duties and the first words out her mouth were “Did they buy it” ? to which I replied “Of course”, then the next question “How much did you let it go for” ? and she appeared shocked when I told her that it was at the asking price. “That’s good” she said. Then I put on my serious face and told her that there was a small problem. “What’s that ?” she said cautiously, “Well I also sold them the 25-year-old solid oak roll top desk, and the Glass TV/DVD Player table and they may be interested in the coffee table”, a big beam came across her face and I think she may have been considering giving me that school teacher pat on the head followed by “There’s a good boy”. However, before she could even consider doing that, I then broke the news to her, “Oh yes ! and as from tomorrow we will be sleeping in the Motorhome because I also sold them our bed !!”.
Friday evening arrived and as arranged the ‘Latvian’ lady and her husband and her Carpenter brother arrived with a van to collect the Dining Table, Chairs and the TV Cabinet and asked if they could collect the other items on Saturday evening. I of course proceeded to help them load the said furnishings into the van. I hadn’t bothered to change out of my Flip Flops, well it was far too hot for shoes and socks and my feet were clean, Madame had inspected them before our guests arrived !! I was carrying two of the solid oak chairs out to the van and had just reached the pavement when one of my Flip Flops got a puncture, not sure whether it was the ‘Flip’ or the ‘Flop’ that went, but as if in slow motion I could see the ground getting closer and I could do nothing to prevent a rather too close encounter with a rather hard tarmac surface. This was cushioned by me falling on top of the two chairs that I was still holding on to ? By the time anyone realised what was happening I was sprawled on the road, cuts and grazes to my ankle, knee and elbow. The ‘Latvian’ lady came rushing over to see if I was alright, she was concerned that I may have broken some ribs as I had fallen on top of the chairs before hitting the ground, I on the other hand was more concerned with the damage that may have been sustained to the chairs that I had just sold to them, they may decide not to have them or worse, a substantial discount !! Fortunately, I think that I must have cushioned their fall as there was only a very small scuff to one of the chairs. I explained that it would probably be covered with some proper wood wax treatment. The ‘Latvian’ lady was still more concerned over me and whether I had suffered more than just dents to my pride. I rushed inside, still wearing one of the Flip Flops and re-appeared with a tin of said wood wax and gave this to the ‘Latvian’ lady, don’t ask me why I didn’t take the flip-flop off but I would suggest it was more out of embarrassment and a need to make sure that I did something to prevent the request for a discount on the damaged goods !! We waved them goodbye and confirmed that it would be okay to call again the following evening to collect the bed.
I don’t know whether it was the adrenalin that had kicked in earlier but I was now beginning to feel the effects of the fall. My ankle was now throbbing and starting to show the bruising, and my knee and elbow were both beginning to let me know that they were not too happy at having layers of skin removed in such a violent manner. Shazza and I were both physically and mentally tired, it had been another long and stressful week and also knew that our next days ahead were going to be jam-packed so we retired to spend the very last night in our bed in the house.
Saturday arrived far too quickly for my liking and my body was already rebelling against the treatment it had received the previous day. But, we were expecting the arrival of our first customer of the day at 9am to collect another bed that we had sold on ‘Gumtree’. Fortunately we had already dismantled this a few days ago so it would just need to be taken the short distance from the garage to the vehicle it was being collected in. Our customer arrived, we exchanged the not so ‘cherished item’ for ‘travel funds’ and that was our first transaction of the day completed. As we were due to move in to the van to sleep as from that evening there was just time to move the van so that I could fill the fresh water tank, hook up to the house electrics and then put it back before the arrival of my daughter with some friends who were helping her collect her garage full of belongings. Sharon was cooking and baking so that said guests could have a nice lunch, we were only expecting three people but Shazza made sufficient food to feed all the refugees in the world !! My daughter arrived with Hayley and Raj, we had heard her talk of them previously but this would be the first time we had actually met them. What a lovely couple, we hit it off straight away and chatted over a buffet lunch as if we had known them for some time. As well as collecting her own possessions, that we had been storing for years, we had also given her some additional bedroom furniture. However, she informed us that she could not take one of the dressing tables as she did not have enough room !! Drat ! another item we would have to try to sell at short notice. A couple of hours later, fed, watered and van packed they left with a cheery wave and as this would be the last time that I would physically see my daughter before we left on our big adventure, she got an extra big hug. We were both beginning to flag a little, partly due to the heat as it was a glorious sunny day and partially due to all the physical movement of furniture, boxes etc. No time to idle about though, before our next customers arrived I had a little matter of packing the car in readiness for car boot No. 13, or was it 14 ? Sharon in the meantime had cleared up from lunch, dismantled what used to be our bed and then, all by herself, had transported the different bits down the stairs so that I could transfer them to the garage in readiness for collection. By the time we had finished we had a couple of hours to sit down and take a breath. Sharon had discovered one of my many redundant headphones and was considering keeping it to use with her iPod. She was listening to music using her small ear pieces and then doing a comparison with the bigger headphones. She asked me which sounded better and so I had a listen through both and declared that the headphones were better than the smaller ear pieces. She put on the headphones again and listened to some more music and then declared that whilst they certainly sounded better they did tend to hurt her ears ?? I thought this a bit unusual and so I looked across to see what was causing her the discomfort. At which point I observed that instead of having the padded ear pieces next to her ears she had actually got them on the wrong way around !! I decided not to make any comment………….. well not until I had stopped rolling around the floor in hysterics and my belly stopped aching !!!!
We were both too tired to cook so elected to wait until our final customers of the day had arrived and departed then we would order a take-away. The clock ticked away and at 8pm we received the call from our furniture purchasers, stating that they had just left to come to us. They arrived and as I greeted them the lady presented me with two lots of Latvian made chocolates, I was flabbergasted but thought that perhaps it was an old Latvian form of ‘Pain relief’, especially for people whose ‘Flips’ had recently ‘Flopped’ and sent them sprawling ‘arse over tit’ into the road ! I had put ‘sensible’ footwear on this time and there were no incidents during this furniture uploading exercise. However, as I opened the garage where we had stored the bed in readiness, the ‘Latvian’ lady pointed at the Dressing Table and I confirmed that it was also for sale, we agreed a price and that too was loaded into the van. Then something happened that quite surprised me, the husband of the ‘Latvian’ lady stated that he needed to speak to me ? What on earth could he want to speak about, perhaps after loading the van he was going to announce that he wanted to negotiate a discount ? What if he had decided that the scuffed chair from my little accident yesterday necessitated a discount ? As we had not loaded the Oak roll top desk perhaps they had changed their minds about purchasing it ? He asked if he could sit down in our leather reclining settee, which I of course said yes, I then sat down on the other settee ready for him to spit out whatever it was that was on his mind. What he had to say was that he wanted to buy the leather furniture but that he only had enough cash to give us half. He wondered if we would let him pay half and take the smaller two-seater with him and then come back next weekend for the other larger settee and the oak roll top desk. Well this took me totally by surprise, they had not shown any interest in purchasing the leather furniture so this came totally out of the blue. I confirmed that I had no problem with that arrangement and he stated that he would first need to take the van and unload it and then return again for the settee. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather !! I think that we just found that cloud with a silver lining !! It was gone 9pm by the time he had returned and we had loaded the settee into the van, it had been a long and tiring day and we were starving, the very nice buffet lunch that we had eaten hours ago was a long and distant memory, but we ordered our take-away meal and it was unceremoniously devoured in seconds !!
It did seem strange getting showered in the en-suite in the house and then going out the back door, locking it and getting into the motorhome to go to bed. It brought back memories of childhood when I was allowed to sleep overnight in a tent in the back garden, what an adventure it was then and it was a similar kind of feeling now.
I do not know where the night’s go to ? No sooner had my head hit the soft pillow and my eyes closed and they were open again, at Stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning, no rain to persuade us to stay under a lovely warm duvet. So it was time, yet again, to make our weary way to what is now becoming the dreaded car boot sale. But we know that each week this activity is rewarding us with our exchange of
tat cherished items for ‘travel funds’. Fortunately, the mountain of tat ‘cherished items’ has now diminished to the extent that the end is now in sight…….