Nearly a Year

Wow.  A year almost.  1 month shy.

How do I feel about moving to the country?  Best thing we have EVER done (excluding having our children of course).

From the wonderful social village friends we have made, the constant stream of visitors, the country walks, the gardening and the wildlife it has truly been a magical year.

If I’d ever realised on this day last year what a great decision it was going to be, but I was so nervous, I doubt I’d have believed myself.

My massive garden has been hard work but I have enjoyed it.  We’ve managed to get tomatoes and cucumbers growing in the greenhouse, potatoes, onions, shallots, carrots, lettuce, courgette and broccoli, all from seed,.  I’ve also got some sweet peas growing (and starting to produce flowers) and the garden already has a herb garden, strawberries, gooseberries, red currants, blackberries and raspberries.

There is also an orchard of approximately 12 trees growing different sorts of apples, pears, plums and cherries so we won’t be short of a bit of fruit over the summer.

I grew a lot of patio veg in my previous gardens but not on this sort of scale and fruit is a bit of a new thing for me but we seem to be muddling on.

On top of all the food growing we have tried to stay on top of the rest of the garden, sorting the pond out, raising tadpoles/frogs and fighting the never-ending battle with weeds.

I now know why there is more light needed in the summer, without it my garden would have gone to rack and ruin.  I generally get home from work and get out there straight after dinner.

I think we may have to crack open a bottle of champagne on our 1 year anniversary and toast the best decision we ever made.

Cheers

Making Friends

When you move to a new area a lot of people will ask you how you will go about making new friends.  As an introvert (and as a 40 year old that knows myself as I do) this was of no particular concern to me.

Where I lived in London before was not particularly near any of the friends I made.  A lot of my work colleagues that became friends were littered all over London and I only had one family nearby who we spent any time with anyway.  Being close to friends has become less of an issue as I got older, had children and the chaotic business of my life stepped into overdrive.  When I wanted to see friends, we would make special plans to visit (mostly) and in quite a number of occasions a full weekend of staying over each others houses with all children in tow.

I had, however, started to make some school friends through our local school just before we left and I’ve made a concerted effort to stay in touch with them all.  We have been back to London twice since we moved (and about to make a flying visit on Saturday) and with each trip I’ve tagged on a cup of tea with one of Pickle’s old school friends or one of my NCT friends.

Making friends in The Village here has not been very difficult at all, even for an old introvert like me.  I think part of the reason is that a newbie sticks out like a sore thumb and partly because I have a daughter at a school so small, everyone knows EVERYONE.

It’s happened much quicker than I thought, but it’s still be a slow build.  I’d never chat to someone and immediately invite them over or invite myself to their house.  I generally wait for someone to make a suggestion to me.  Not sure if that’s a fear of failure issue on my part or not.  I guess I just don’t like imposing myself on other people unless I absolutely know it is wanted.

Pickle has now been invited to 2 birthday parties that I’ve stayed around at which has given me a much bigger timeframe to chat to people than the school drop off and pick up (I only have 1 day I pick up).  As a result I was approached by one mum suggesting I may be interested in becoming a school governor and another to ask if I’d like to be involved in the PTA.

As a result of the first suggestion I went and had a cup of tea with a mum before school pick up and although I’m now not going to be a school governor (someone put in their application and was voted in within days of my conversation) it was lovely to have a chat and also to ask about social events in the village.

Having children in a local school has made a big difference to my ability to make friends here and I’m hoping it will go from strength to strength. Especially as The Monster is due to start next year and there will be more parents to get to know.

In the meantime we’ve had a steady influx of visitors since we moved.  One or two a month so far and have tried to do lots of visits down to London too to keep our ties with friends in place.

I certainly don’t feel isolated here.

A friend at the end of the garden

A friend at the end of the garden

Getting to Know Our Village

The last of the boxes have been packed away.  There has been a trip to Ikea and the purchase of various pieces of furniture and we’ve started to draw up both short and long-term plans for the house and garden.

I guess we’ve settled in.

It hasn’t really been a very bumpy start at all.  Getting about to visit parts of the village has been the hardest thing, but (thankfully) I discovered the most amazing chocolate box walk as a result of having an argument with Hubby and needing to clear my head.  I discovered it Friday night, visited again on Saturday to show him and the kids and then took friends around there on Sunday. I’m not sure I’ll tire of it. chocolate box house

We’ve also met the locals.  We obviously know our neighbours now (our attached side looked after the chickens and cat when we were on holiday) and we are on waving terms with the pub owner (obviously).

We have also got to know two families in the last week.  The first was a woman and her daughter whom hubby met at the school sports day.  Her daughter and Pickle seemed to hit it off and once we discovered that there are only 3 girls from the infants department at school who actually live in the village I can see why she was so keen for them to be friends.

On Thursday afternoon she took Pickle on a playdate and when she dropped her back, we both ended up gasbagging for about 40 minutes about all manner of things.  That was a pleasant surprise.

We also attended the local pub’s event which kicked off with a farm visit and we happened to have the other village girl on that trip. She recognised Pickle immediately and I was able to strike up a conversation with her dad as a result. Later in the pub garden I got chatting to the mum as well.

At least 2 families I can wave to on the school run.

Other than that I’m getting to grips with the new job, the commute (15 minutes – what a joy) through the winding scary country lanes and our massive garden.

We have a housewarming planned in a couple of weeks and are trying to work out how we are going to be able to accommodate everyone that has wanted to come.  All the local B&B’s are booked up and if the weather isn’t nice, we won’t be able to have campers.

Somehow we are going to try to squeeze them all in.

4 weeks in and we have yet to have a single regret to moving out.  Quite frankly, the best thing I have ever done.

 

We’ve Moved

Sorry for the delay folks.

The madness of me leaving my job, the packing, the planning, my daughter’s rehearsals and 5 night show and then once we’d moved having no internet.

I’m here now though.

Wow. What a mad couple of weeks we’ve had.

Hubby moved with the moving men and the cat on Friday 25th, The Monster made it down on Saturday after he saw his sister’s show and Pickle and I got here on the Sunday.

I was a bit all over the shop to be honest. The house was a state and although hubby had managed to empty a few boxes, it was barely noticeable.  Hubby got quite fed up with me because I wouldn’t revel in the delights of our new house and garden, but I just need some clearing to happen.

By about Day 3 I started to see the light.  I also had a friend pop by on her way to Bristol and we talked storage and shelving and she helped me rearrange the Atrium (yes – I’ve been calling it a conservatory, but it’s actually not).

This made me very happy and I was finally able to enjoy the home.

On Monday just gone I started my new job, which was daunting, but I think I’m going to like it in the new company.

There’s been a lot of getting used to things.  I’m sure we are going hit a few bumps in the road yet, but I’m ready to face it.

 

My Bedroom View

My Bedroom View

The view from the front of the house

The view from the front of the house

The Atrium

The Atrium

TM and Pickle on the walk to our pub (pretending to jump)

TM and Pickle on the walk to our pub (pretending to jump)

We’ve Exchanged

On Monday we finally exchanged on the sale of our property and the purchase on the one in Wiltshire.  It was a huge relief as we had hoped to exchange on the Friday but things (I don’t know what things, it’s all voodoo to me) conspired against us.

It was so lovely to exchange just 3 days after being up in the little village re-visiting the house, the pub and the nursery and giving Pickle the chance to spend a day at the school.

She enjoyed it.

We are so excited for the move now as it’s now REAL so we can talk where we are putting things and the plans for the garden without adding the caveat “IF” so as to not jinx anything.

We are moving on the 25th and have now booked our removals company and started to get all the last minute jobs done.

I look forward to sharing our moving journey with you.

Saying goodbye to School Friends

It’s never an easy moment when you make the decision to move your children from their school.

We’ve tried to discuss it little and often and play up the excitement and pluses to moving house.  However, we have still had to deal with a fair amount of tears, although usually at night when they have lots of time to think.

In the last month when we’ve felt the likelihood of the move was more concrete, we’ve been slowly letting parents know at the school gate.  It’s been a bit of a drip feed and inevitably some people found out via other people, but I’ve tried not to get too upset about it or worry that some of those people were put out by not being told earlier. I’ve just apologised that I hadn’t had a chance to tell them yet.

In almost all the cases, parents had opted not to break the news to her friends until the last possible moment, but thanks to one particularly outspoken girl, pretty much her whole class now know she is going.  Her boyfriend is devastated.

I’m planning to write each of her key friends (about 6 of them) a little note in an envelope along with 1 or 2 stamped self addressed envelopes so over the summer and into the new school year they can drop her a letter or a picture.  This may seem like prolonging the agony, but it’s an immediate kind gesture and might help to soften the blow in the long run, not just for Pickle but also her friends.  I’ll be sure to make sure that there is no obligation to use the envelope.

One of her friends is Polish and her and her mum have a limited English vocabulary.  Me and another mum are usually left at the class door doing convuluted actions and sentences to explain Non Uniform days, Inset days or the Summer Fair, to ensure they know in advance.  As a result I found a polish woman at work who has translated my letter for me. I didn’t want anything to get misunderstood. Nothing worse than turning up to Year 2 to find your closest friend isn’t there and you thought she went on a holiday.

As for The Monster, being only 3, I’m not sure his departure will be a terrible wrench for anyone but his closest friend and even then, I’m sure he’ll just find another boy to hang about with. I may not do anything for him.  Or maybe supply the nursery with an envelope so they can send some pics or something.

How well the two of them adapt to their new village, school and nursery, only time will tell.

Poised for Contract Exchange

Hadn’t realised how long it has been since I last wrote about the BIG move.  Again, I probably didn’t want to say too much in case I jinxed the whole thing.  I’m not even superstitious *touches wood*.

Since we last wrote we had our survey back and it was littered (24 in total) with issues.  Upon our 3rd read of it though we had calmed down a bit and isolated 3 things we thought the sellers should rectify and 2 things we needed to have investigated further.

Through out June we had some toing and froing with our sellers and they agreed to make one change for us, which is all we could really hope for and then had someone go around to look at the roof timbers in the loft (all ok) and a drain inspection.  Everything was fine in the end and we have some nice pics of our drains, something I’ve always wanted. (I’m kidding).

I also applied to Pickle’s new school.  There was no requirement to apply with proof of address to the council as this only becomes an issue if more than one person applies for the same space at the same time, so the application was processed in mid June and after a few frantic phone calls to the Admissions team and the school it all got sorted and we had our place confirmed.  Pickle is there for a settling in day tomorrow and back in 2 Monday’s time for sports day.  She won’t officially start until the beginning of September though.

We had also used an online service to get a few quotes for moving which actually ended up being a bit of a disaster.  Once I had put all our details in (size of house etc) I had the forethought to change a digit on my telephone number which was a mandatory field, because that same day I had about 6 companies email to say they had tried to call me.  I was NOT ready to be dealing with that.  As it is I had been inundated with quotes, follow-up emails and lots of annoying offering since doing it.  The quotes ranged in price from £800 (too low) to £1700 (too high) and none of them appeared to provide me with the necessary comfort that they’d turn up with the right truck.  Trust me, we had a similar incident in our last move but the company was local and we were only moving half a mile up the road so I just told them to go and get another one.

In the end we got a quote for a full packing service and move from a local company for £1300.  This fitted neatly in with what I thought it would cost and as they had come to our house and seen our unusual items (trampolines, slides, chicken run) I feel that there won’t be any surprises.  They are coming over the day before to do half the packing and the rest on the day.

I have dug up quite a few “loved” plants since the house was sold and after they visited last week and showed little interest in the plants we had, I may dig up a few more.  They’ve been in a flat all this time so aren’t gardeners and as long as I don’t make it look like I’ve robbed the lot, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I take the plants they I finally bought when we moved to that sunny garden.  They’ll still have some lovely ones that I’m not taking, not least my beautiful passion-flower that my Aunty grew.

We had a hiccup with our buyers having a document lost (again) by their mortgage company but got confirmation today that it’s all been received, so we are literally waiting for that phone call now.

Tomorrow Pickle goes to the new school for the day, we go to the house for measurements and we check out the nursery again (finally got a “good” Ofsted last month).

Fingers crossed.

The village pond

The Village Pond

 

The Waiting

We’ve been very guarded of late.  We were worried that if we talked too much about our plans then they might not come off.  There is still a danger it may happen, but no major issues have been raised yet, so we have our fingers crossed.

I handed in my notice at the end of April but everyone was very understanding and happy for me.  No attempt was made to keep me, because obviously we want to move out of London and it would have been fruitless.  My legacy will be interviewing and hiring a new project manager and ensuring some of my more senior work is passed on to one of the team who will take on a bit more responsibility, but not taking my job as such. I’m irreplaceable………not really. I just think this was easier to recruit for.🙂

Our buyers had their mortgage paperwork go missing, so that’s been a hold up. They haven’t got a survey of our house yet but our solicitor has anticipated every possible question, so hopefully we can deal with anything that gets asked.

So now it’s just a waiting game.

And while we wait, we dream.

Where the furniture will go.  Imagine ourselves in the garden.  Laughing with our neighbours as the sound of the brook tinkles in the background.

Fingers crossed.

Plans Afoot

We went back to see the house that DIDN’T need work.  It was further afield than we had planned to live but the pictures that had lured us there in the first place did not disappoint.

We took the children and the in-laws to visit the house, not least because we may require a bit of help with moving costs as this house was at the top (well, actually it was over) our budget.  We wanted them to tell us we were making a good decision.

Thankfully they did and we ended up at the local pub for lunch, a few stiff drinks and a Kirsty and Phil moment putting our initial offer in.

It was rejected.

We knew it was cheeky so as it was 3pm and Good Friday we headed off back home to prepare ourselves for further battle the next day.  Hubby was at a very noisy racetrack on the Saturday, but he got given the job because a race car can never be as noisy as my two children can be.

By the end of the day, we had bought a house.

Back to work today and I contacted my new employer and requested a formal offer (even if it said “subject to checks”) and they emailed something over.

I rang the local primary and discovered they were at capacity for Pickle’s year (in fact over) but she suggested I came and saw the Head anyway and later called me back that she had heard that a child may leave in that year. Promising, but we won’t hold our breath.

Tomorrow I hand in my notice.  Eeeeeek.

pastures new

A B I G Update

It’s been such a long time since I last posted which gives you a bit of an idea of the head space I’ve had available.  I’ve been incredibly stressed about lots of things, but let me give you the update.

I went for the interview in Swindon.  It lasted 4 hours and I was pretty sure it went very badly.

The following week they called back and offered me a job.  YAY.

The week after that, they called back and offered me a lower paid job.  Not so YAY.

I went back to negotiate a little on the salary.  They came back, via my voicemail and met me half way. YAY.

We ummed and ahhed and weighed up the pros and cons and I finally decided to take the job.  YAY.

So straight away we had to switch our search area. The negotiation had taken place on the Friday, the day before we were due to go on holiday, but by then we had started looking for houses to visit. We cancelled 2 we had planned to visit en-route to holiday and threw in a different 3.

On the Saturday we packed up for our hols and headed off early to view the properties.  One was just outside Newbury and was really lovely, very detached, big garden, but it was very isolated with no community around and a drive to a primary school, the noise of the busy road behind.  We had a nagging feeling about it, not least because the family selling were doing so to be closer to Newbury, presumably as they weren’t in a good catchment for schools (we looked it up).

One house in Malborough was just very unsuitable. On a busy road and the garden had been photographed to look bigger. Grrrr.

The final house was just lovely. Big house (5 bedroom) with lots of receptions and a decent garden. However, it was in Pewsey which we thought might be ok, but after chatting in the car, decided it was just too far out from family.

So we went off and had a lovely holiday. I accepted my job via email whilst away and we did a couple of planning evenings, picking houses to visit on our return visit.  Hubby headed up to a higher place to make all the calls (we had no mobile) and booked 7 visits.  arghhh.

So we left our holiday on Friday and after a visit to friends en-route and a tyre blowout on the M4, we spent the night at family near Newbury.  My Mother in law came over the following morning to take the children and we began the mammoth task of visiting these houses.

I can tell you a valuable lesson.  If a garden has more than one photo and doesn’t look big, it’ll be big.  If a garden is shot in 1 photograph and looks massive, it’ll be tiny. TINY!  Bloody estate agents.

The two houses we liked the most were the surprises as far as gardens go.  One would require a big building project and the other none at all.

One of them is getting a second visit on Friday.

house drawing