Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holiday fun

So this is my week’s October holiday and Mr Life has taken it off too. We did think of going to Florence. But then we realised that we had to clear my confused aunt’s flat so that its owners (her church) can sell it now that she’s in care.

Not a fun activity. Gah. We felt like criminals. Today we got a man with a van to come and take away some furniture and even he said that he felt terrible taking people’s possessions away. Quite sweet and sensitive, I thought, considering that his email address starts "bookurvan@...."

Anyway, it’s done now. We finished by cleaning the fridge and the cooker and wiping all the skirtings and so on. All the time, I was musing that possibly my skirtings could do with a bit of a wipe – or as we say in Scotland, a dicht – also. However, I’ll do that another day.

As well as getting the van man to do his stuff, we took various of the better household items to Fresh Start, an organisation which puts things together for people who’ve been homeless and have been given a flat. And inevitably, though I WASN’T GOING TO DO THIS, I brought a few things home. Things like packets of lentils and cling film and salt and sugar, which my thrifty Scottish soul just couldn’t bear to throw away and, oh, two chairs which are quite nice but we don’t need at all, and the odd plant pot, and – why didn’t I just stay firm and get rid of it all? Now it’s in my house and I need to find a home for it.

However, a cunning plan: tomorrow we’ll take some more of my aunt’s possessions to a charity shop and I’m going in a minute to root out some stuff that I never use and take it too. For example, I have three drawers containing cutlery in my kitchen… no, actually, now I think about it, four – and I really use the contents of only two. The others contain items that I suppose I vaguely keep in case the children might be in a student flat and need them. Which isn’t going to happen now they're 30, 29 and 26.

I also plan to weed out a few books.


Hmm. My mother, however, is now contemplating a move: possibly to a retirement flat but more likely in with us. Her big flat, which has had nothing much done to it since she and my dad moved in 20 years ago, is getting too much for her. My mother, unlike my aunt, has a vast amount of stuff. She has two large public rooms, four large bedrooms, a big hallway which is more or less another room with a huge old dresser in it, a big cloakroom with huge cupboards down one wall, a big kitchen, a laundry room, a boiler room with lots of cupboards… And all those cupboards are full of things; all those walls are covered with pictures; all her surfaces contain objects.

We’ll need a man with a pantechnicon to shift all that stuff. And at least some of it will have to come here… to our considerably less expansive establishment. But even more trickily – what on earth will we do with the rest of it? And how do I fit this around working?

Answers on a postcard, please…


  1. Keep it all, just so's you can have a man with a pantechnicon turn up. These opportunities don't come round often.

  2. Maybe you should move into the big flat with her!!

  3. I was also going to suggest moving into her flat - but then where would your stuff fit? Tricky....
    We also gave lots of stuff to MIND when we had to clear Mum's house, as they also do the helping people set up home thing. Freecycle is great too. But, yes, you do feel like a burglar, albeit one with a conscience :)
    Incidentally, SIL took the job in the States and he goes next week and daughter goes after Christmas. I'm just going to have to be very grown-up about it :(

  4. Oh dear, Ann, I do admire your resolve to be grown-up. I wouldn't be. Oh, how I wouldn't be.

    No, we don't want to move to her flat. It has a very small garden (and yet it's quite labour-intensive, as I've found to my cost) and it needs to be redecorated throughout and it's on a main road and the cats wouldn't like it and it would be dangerous for them and anyway, we have FAR too many books to go anywhere at the moment!

  5. Well there's always those self-storage places while you work out what you want to do with it all, might give you a chance to work out what you'll need and what you can't live without.

  6. We're still getting rid of things M-in-law felt she couldn't live without but haven't come out their boxes since she moved in. Thank goodness we didn't succumb to having her piano - she hadn't played it for 10 years - or we would be shuffling around it in our sittingroom!
    It's not an easy process - I understand now why some people start madly getting rid of things themselves as they get older.

  7. No advice from me, I'm afraid, but I do understand your feelings about it all. When it came to cleaning out my gran's house, I just could not bear to be a part of it. So many memories in that house...I let other family members sort through all her belongings and distribute the stuff they wanted to keep. I just couldn't do it.

  8. ...and now back to your precious week's holiday!!

  9. Oh Isabelle. What a job. I wake up at night cringing at all the junk we've collected that needs to be cleaned out. And my parents have a house as big as ours, chock full of stuff. I can't bear to get rid of all the family keepsakes, and with each generation that pile just grows bigger and bigger.

    Good luck with the consolidation of your home and your mother's. You both have such a beautiful places, but all that moving -- I need to go have a rest just thinking about it!

    On another note, I hope you can manage to eek out a bit of spare time this week for your yourself. Mention of your fall break makes me terribly wistful to be there. {Sigh.}

  10. By your title, I thought you really would be having fun! But not so! I hope it all gets sorted out (your mom's stuff) and yours, too! :) I think there needs to be someone who provides this service like a maid or chef. :) Hugs!

  11. My mother was incredibly neat and well organised, and had cleaned out the bulk of her possessions before the popped off. I have told my children they are not to fret about getting rid of my things. I am afraid I am a hoarder, and have far too many 'things'.
    I realise this does not help you in your dilemma~ sorry.

  12. A neighbour advised me while I was clearing my mother's house, that if I had the slightest qualm about getting rid of something, I should pack it away and revisit it in a year, then decide. I found this to be good advice - trouble is, where to put it while that year passes?

  13. Oh it is a wretched, exhausting job. I remember my brother saying as we went through our mum's clutter that one could surely drown in one's own memorabilia. I wish I could live with less so there's less to deal with.

    Now we find elderly friends dump their stuff on us, presumably hoping we'll have the moral resolve they don't to chuck it out, my cutlery drawer bears witness to this...

  14. You couldn't send me any spare plates you find, could you? We have a country seat to furnish!