The Move, a Week On

We’ve been in Devon for a little more than a week now.  It’s been an incredibly busy time, and, even now, a third of our possessions are still in the Pickfords boxes, awaiting unpacking.  The diary was something like this.

Tuesday 4 Jan

The Pickfords tornado returned to our house in Woking, picking up and loading the rest of our possessions and furniture.  You really got the feeling that, if you sat down for more than 30 seconds, you would be packed in a box and loaded on the van!  The Pickfords crew worked incredibly hard, and by 14:30, the house was empty, and the two trucks headed off for Devon, to spend the night in Pickfords Exmouth depot.  We followed them round the house doing a final clean and gathering up the odds and ends that would go with us in the car.  The last job was to sweep out the garage, but that had to be abandoned as they had packed and removed all the brooms!

We took off about 15:30, trying hard not to look back, with the Merc A-Class loaded to the roof.  Who needs to see what’s behind, anyway?  About 4 hours later, with a brief stop at the Mall in Bristol for coffee and to hit John Lewis (again), we arrived at the Lifton Hall Hotel, where we spent the night.

Wednesday 5 January

We arrived at our home for the next year or so at about 8:30, and Pickfords pitched up about half an hour later.  First the “small” truck threaded backwards through the narrow gateway, and was unloaded at the standard Pickfords tornado speed.  Then some very impressive driving, as Bernie backed a 40-foot truck up the narrow driveway, (not quite) avoiding the beech tree, and climbing though a hole in the hedge to get into the house.

By lunchtime, both trucks were unloaded and the house and garage were full of boxes.

Thursday 6 January

Boxes, boxes, boxes, boxes.  Then John Lewis (mattresses and tumble dryer) then more boxes.  Discovered the showers had no cold water.  Bob the Plumber coming tomorrow.

Friday 7 January

Boxes, boxes, boxes.  Then John Lewis (again) (Bed, wardrobe, chests of drawers, more boxes).  Then Jane and Geoff, for emotional support, then Bob the Plumber.  Basically sorted the problem (sludge in filters), talks for England (and Scotland and Wales and most of the EU), but reassembled one shower mixer a-about-f, hence no hot water to it!

Lit the (bloody) Aga.  [Aside – Mark Brinkley, author of ‘The Housebuilder’s Bible’ refers to the Aga as “£7,000 worth of cast iron on which you can’t even make chips”.  He’s right, but doesn’t go far enough.  Not only will it not make chips, it will take 24 hours plus to reach its (random) operating temperature, and it will consume the entire oil production of Saudi Arabia in the time it takes to boil an egg.]  You can probably discern that I’m not unduly impressed with the essential element of the country kitchen.

Saturday and Sunday.

A weekend off – only a few boxes. Actually cooked dinner on the Aga.  Turned it off soon after to avoid penury.

Monday 10 January

A few boxes.  Took the John Lewis Cardboard Box Mountain to the dump (Launceston, no cardboard recycling “Chuck it in the General”).

Tuesday 11 January

Barnstaple to collect the new 4×4.  It’s a Land Rover Freelander and fits in just fine here.

Wednesday 12 January

House is basically civilised now, with clear living room and kitchen/dining room, plus 2 usable bedrooms.  Don’t look at the boxes, and open the door to bedroom 3 very carefully!

The Move – Day 1

Today we actually started on the physical move to Devon.  The removal contractors, Pickfords, arrived at 9:00 this morning, and went through the house like (a) a tornado; (b) a plague of locusts or (c) a dose of salts.  Four guys moved all the possessions and furniture from three quarters of our house by 15:00!

After all the anticipation, the trials of selling the house under our wonderful English legal system, and the hassle caused by our purchasers’ purchaser (described, aptly, by his stepson as “a bit of an arsehole”), it’s good to get on with the actual move.  And of course, all this was compounded by some of the worst December weather in living memory, and the total joy that is Christmas.

Pickfords are back on Tuesday to finish off, then we are all off to Devon.  By Wednesday evening, all being well, we will be in our home for the next year or so.

Moving to Devon

We’re pretty much all set up for our move to Devon now.  We have rented a house for at least 12 months – possibly long enough for our new build, but we shall see – about 12 miles from our plot, in a village called Broadwoodwidger.  We have the removals company teed up to move us in early January, and we’ve done things like transferring the phone and broadband accounts, buying heating oil (ouch – 70p/L!!!).

We’ve decided that, as we shall be in Woking for Christmas, we might as well enjoy it.  This evening, we’ve decorated the Christmas tree that will be our only decoration for the holiday.

We both have a feeling of great relief, now that the uncertainty around the house sale is over.  There are plenty of war stories to tell about the outrageous and unreasonable behaviour of our buyers’ buyer, but those are for another time.  For now, we’re happy and excited to be moving.

We’ve sold our house

Finally, after a long, anxious and frustrating time, we have exchanged contracts on the sale of our house.  This is a key step in the new build project, as it provides the money!  We move to Devon on 5 January, into a rented house for about a year.

At least, now, we can start to plan the new house in earnest.  To this point – aside from owning the plot – it’s all been a bit of a fantasy. But now, it can become real.


Welcome to my blog.  I’ve created this for a couple of reasons, but mainly to keep track of the self-build project that we’re starting in Devon.  I’ll aim to use this as a project diary.