My new husband and I decided to sell our charming period terrace cottage with ships beams and open fire place. It had been fine for me when I was on my own but now it had become a bit of a squeeze. We successfully found a replacement secured a price and put the cottage on the market. Back in the early 1980’s doing it this way round was the norm. Thinking things would not move to quickly we went on a belated honeymoon never imagining what was to follow. We arrived home to find that the agents had found a buyer for our cottage within a day of us going away. They were first time buyers and desperate to complete and move in as soon as possible. This suited us fine as was the owner of the property we were buying as their daughter was starting a new school and they wanted to get settled before the new term began. Great we thought we are on our way.
I remembered when I had bought the cottage and all the work that had to be done as it was almost derelict with no electric or running water and it was many months of grants and building regulation before I had proper sanitation. They were fun times if hard work as I and a friend did as much as we could ourselves and the thought of moving into a ready made house was very exciting. With Solicitors and agents notified we waited for progress, we were told that as everyone was in a hurry to move that completion should be at the most 6 weeks. We made plans on how we were going to move and what extra furniture we would need as we were now going to have two extra bedrooms and a dining room.
Four weeks passed and our solicitor went on holiday! The building society did there bit with the survey and we had our mortgage offer which we duly accepted. The surveyor for the cottage that we were selling had to come from the City, I was out at work during the day and so asked my long suffering neighbour if she could deal with it and make sure the dogs didn’t get in the way. He arrived down our muddy lane in the pouring rain in his city suit and handmade shoes. He was most put out that he was not allowed to wander round the house on his own and he informed my neighbour that he had met plenty of dogs and he could not understand the fuss. He was not impressed with the exposed beams or the open fireplace or that it was beautifully rural and in an area of outstanding natural beauty. In all he was there about 10 minutes, and although valuing it properly, he managed to be quite rude in his report.
Everything seemed to be moving along well until the house that we were buying was found to be surrounded by National Trust land meaning we had to get legal right of way to get to our front door, although the house was one of twelve and had been around for eighty years with the same access. We then had to wait for the National Trust to have a committee meeting which would not happen for at least a week. By this time our completion date had been moved back another two weeks, we still had no actual date so we were in limbo. Our solicitor was still away and it was now the Bank Holiday so his poor Article clerk was bombarded with phone calls and letters from all sides (no emails or mobile phones then) as we were all getting impatient.
Then we were informed that the vendors of our new home were moving out and leaving the place empty which filled us with horror. So on to the Solicitor again before someone dug up my new garden or squatted in the living room. Finally the National Trust had their meeting and as we knew there was no real problem, a letter was duly written and sent to all parties concerned. We started to relax but it was too soon as the property market is never as easy as it is made out to be.
Our solicitor returned from holiday and things started moving, we had a date and I started to collect boxes and packing and list making. By this time we had accumulated some extra bits of furniture and with the packing cases we were a little squashed in our little house. I arranged to borrow a van from work to save on moving costs and enlisted help from all and sundry. Forty eight hours before moving day arrived the solicitor rings, they cannot proceed with completion the vendors whose house we are buying have not been using a solicitor and so will not complete until the full purchase price is in their hands meaning the deeds cannot be released. Delay completion another week my solicitor says (alright for you I thought). I have to agree and then think about a week of sitting on boxes and the obstacle course every time I want to get upstairs. The fact that all deliveries had been cancelled and meter readers booked was immaterial.
Eventually we had confirmation of a move date, this was it. The morning arrived and our helpers were ready, we moved everything downstairs and rolled up the carpets (we took them with us in those days) and mother in law was armed the vacuum cleaner and dusters. I jumped in the car and went to collect the van it was midday and as on all moving days it was pouring with rain. On my arrival I was told I couldn’t have the van as it was needed for deliveries. Here I am all ready to move everything packed contracts exchanged everything completed and money handed over. Up until this point I had kept my sense of humour but this was the final straw and for a few minutes cracks started to appear. I found a phone (remember no mobiles then) and rang around everyone I knew that might have a vehicle we could borrow, I rang the van hire companies and they could all do it tomorrow! Then I rang a removal firm who said they would see what they could do, and would ring me back. This they did but they would have to do another job first, there was no choice so instead of trying to save money it was going to bust the budget.
We waited and waited we were on our last can of beer and sausage roll, we were exhausted and wet from rushing in and out the house. Then at 5p.m. they arrived just as time and a half started. When they realised we had no wardrobes but two willing helpers they were nothing less than a miracle. We arrived at our new home in the dark to find mother in law who had been waiting since early afternoon as she had been and collected the keys for us. To my relief there were no squatters in the house but the children had been in the garden scrumping for apples.
The men were amazing they connected the washing machine put up the beds while I dealt with the man to measure up for a new kitchen, he had got the dates in his diary muddled and was a day early. Finally we said goodbye to the removal men at 9pm.
We were all shattered by the day. You may wonder where my husband was while this was going on, well, he had been newly promoted recently and was unable to get time off. I am still wondering about that. On arriving home he found me sat on a chair surrounded by packing cases, what a good idea it was to move into a house opposite the local pub.