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Sep. 15th, 2014 03:04 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
I'm a bit nervous that everyone is sick of this topic by now, but we finally finally moved in to our house on Wednesday. The actual moving part was relatively easy. Partly because [personal profile] jack has moved three times and I twice in the couple of years we've been married, so we've already done much of the triaging required and got pretty efficient at organizing our possessions. Partly because we threw money at the problem and got professional movers to do the packing and transport. Also, it was a move of less than two miles, and my parents very helpfully stored some of my stuff between moving out of my old house and moving in, and [personal profile] jack's rental contract overlapped by a couple of weeks after we bought the house, and we were in a position to take a couple of days off work to get everything sorted. So we were pretty flexible rather than having to do everything in a panic against a hard deadline, which helped a lot.

What actually happened was that it was about a day and a half from terrified "what have we done?!" to feeling pretty much at home. Wednesday lunchtime the empty moving van drives off, and we close the door and everything we own is half a dozen bare cuboids of rooms with a big pile of boxes in each. Plus the sofabed we had ordered at the weekend wouldn't go up the stairs. The size of the unpacking task was daunting and I think it was just really hard to imagine the end-point of having a liveable home. It was hard not to feel like we'd spent all this money, not just the buying price of the house but all the unrecoverable costs of moving, and maybe we'd made a terrible mistake.

On top of that, the blessed burglar alarm was beeping loudly every three minutes in that I'm a vital piece of equipment low on battery way. So immediately we had a problem that was purely our responsibility to fix, except that it's not entirely clear whether we own the burglar alarm or not. That is, in the initial negotiations about the house sale the vendors had said they were taking the alarm with them, and our solicitor got them to promise they would make good any damage left by removing it. But then it turned out they were not able to do this, so they offered to sell us the alarm, which we refused as we don't in the least want a fancy expensive burglar alarm, especially not if we have to pay money for it. So then they were supposed to sell the alarm to some friends or neighbours or something, but anyway, when we arrived this week the alarm was still in place and still apparently functional, but bleeping for attention. We were also nervous that any attempt to cut the power supply to the alarm controller would result in setting it off, because that would be detected as tampering. We emailed the vendors to ask how to deal with it, and they said they had a special electronic fob for arming and disarming the thing, but didn't offer to let us have said fob. Internet research also suggested that interfering with the alarm while not in possession of the fob might well set off the siren We tried calling the number listed on the alarm, reaching a security company who also said you couldn't do anything without the fob, and vaguely offered to come and disconnect things "in a few weeks" if we didn't sign up to an expensive maintenance contract with them.

By Thursday at about 8 pm, though, totally the opposite picture. [personal profile] jack bravely took the battery and fuse out of the alarm controller and nothing bad happened. We had a functional kitchen with all our cooking stuff in the copious cupboards, more worktop space than anywhere I've ever lived (and it's not a huge kitchen, just surprisingly well laid out), white goods hooked up, places for medium sized equipment like the microwave, coffee machine and [personal profile] jack's grandma's extremely lovely cast iron scales. We had a usable reception room (most of the downstairs is an open-plan, L-shaped living/dining room) with curtains at the windows, a rug on the floor, a sofa and a dining table in appropriate places, arrangements made to remove the unsuitable sofa. And all our books properly in their bookshelves, which is just amazing after so many months of having everything in boxes. My Dad had helped us to identify the boiler (a weird thing called a "back" boiler which is about 2 inches thick and hides behind a gas fire). Our "office" was set up with filing cabinets and our lovely writing desk. And all our games neatly stacked in the built-in cupboards in that room.

We had homes for all our "stuff", everything that even after decluttering we want to keep in our lives, but don't use day-to-day, stuff that has been piled up and stuffed into wardrobes forever but now has actual space. Divided between the loft (which is just roof-space, it's not a usable room), and the marvellous over-stair shelving which really makes the house seem much bigger than its actual volume, and the big deep fitted wardrobe in the main bedroom. There is still some furniture we need to acquire, but by Thursday evening you could see that what we had was a slightly underfurnished house, not just an enclosed space. The master bed is ordered and J had picked up an air mattress to sleep on until it shows up. We need a cabinet or shelves for DVDs and overflow books, and some kind of alternative to the geometrically unfortunate sofa-bed for curling up and watching TV and providing guest sleeping space, and dining chairs. And curtains for the bedroom or at least some means of hanging the curtains I salvaged from my previous place. Long term we want proper fitted shelving because there's no such thing as "enough" bookcases, but what we have is pretty good.

So Friday and Saturday were pretty relaxed, after all that, mostly just usual party prep. We found places to display our ornaments and some of the art we were given for the wedding, most of which has never had a place until now. It really does feel much more like home with some stuff that's decorative as well as just functional, stuff that's personal to us and reminds us of our friends. [personal profile] hatam_soferet's incredibly wonderful illuminated wedding document is back on the wall, probably not in its final place but at least it's up, not languishing in a crate. And in general lots of stuff made and gifted by our friends. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel's stork bookends which snuggle together but have been apart all this time while we've been living on opposite sides of the country. [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo's magnificent fish plates. All the bits and pieces [personal profile] doseybat has found and made for me over the years, including our ridiculous message-in-a-bottle from intense teenage vowing eternal friendship times. [livejournal.com profile] redaloud's papier-mâché bowl. [livejournal.com profile] minipoppy's Firefly cushions. [livejournal.com profile] kht and [personal profile] pseudomonas' hand-made wedding cards. The Buddha statue and archer made of nuts and bolts that [personal profile] jack's grandfather brought with him into his hospice room to look at in the last few months of his life, and his pipe.

So Saturday afternoon our friends started arriving for the housewarming. We had about thirty people over the course of the day. P'tite Soeur made amaaaaaaaaazing snacks and a gluten-free orange and almond cake iced with "Woohoo New House". Parents and Granny dropped by briefly and mingled with our friends, and lent us some chairs and plates to help cope with the numbers. Thuggish Poet showed up in the early evening with his new partner. People like [personal profile] doseybat and [livejournal.com profile] pplfichi and [personal profile] hairyears came all the way from London, and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and [personal profile] cjwatson and [livejournal.com profile] alextfish and [livejournal.com profile] woodpijn brought their respective small children to run around in the garden. [livejournal.com profile] atreic and [livejournal.com profile] emperor showed up straight off the plane from America, which was extremely flattering! [livejournal.com profile] redaloud, a schoolfriend I've always been fond of but often only manage to see every few years, turned up and I took a break from hosting to hide in a corner and catch up with her properly. I was super-excited to see [personal profile] kaberett briefly between other social commitments; somehow hosting them was what really made me feel like the house was properly warmed. [personal profile] rmc28 and [livejournal.com profile] fanf arrived later in the evening and kept the partly lively until midnight.

It was exactly a perfect party, really; lots and lots and lots of good conversation, and I feel really loved and appreciated because so many lovely friends were excited to help us warm the house. People have been really positive about my spending more time in Cambridge and it's really doing me a world of good to feel so much part of that social circle. It's pleasing to know that the house works so well for hosting that kind of event, though we'd worried it might be a bit cramped. And we're looking forward to hosting smaller events where we can actually chat to people properly, now that we're not spending all our spare time on moving house and now that we have a home to invite people into.
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