Knowing no one

The problem with moving somewhere new and knowing no one is knowing no one. I work from home and my kids are staying at their old schools back in a neighbouring town, so my opportunities to get to meet new people are somewhat limited locally.

For me, one obvious way to do so was to pop along to the local WI. I’ve been a WI member for four years now and I absolutely love the Herts Belles back in St Albans. In that time I’ve made some brilliant friends, learnt some new skills and had an amazing amount of fun. I realise not every WI is quite the same, but talking to this local one they seemed friendly enough on Facebook when I enquired about meeting details.

So last night I went along, trying to ignore the slightly nervous feeling in my stomach. With it still being school holidays locally they weren’t meeting in their usual venue, but instead at a local church. I knew roughly where I was going and pulled up in the car park outside slightly surprised to see quite so many women heading towards the church. I’d looked at their photos on Facebook and whilst they seem to have a healthy number of attendees I didn’t think there were quite this many.

I followed them towards the door of the church where I met three women who instantly asked “are you here for WI?” I uttered the word “yes” and before I could say any more the door was held open for me and one of them said “excellent, we can follow you then”. I quickly explained that that probably wasn’t the best idea, seeing as I’d never been there before, but it seems the only hall these women they could find in the church was for Slimming World!

After a quick discussion as to whether or not this was some sneaky NFWI ploy to get us all to lose a bit of weight, we tried several doors before venturing down a dark corridor and finally finding a room in which they at least recognised most of the women inside.

Once there everyone was delightful and incredibly welcoming. They were all very keen to find out about the Herts Belles and where I was living locally. Space was made for me to sit next to someone and I was given a quick run down of how they do things there. I’ll be honest and say it is a much older and traditional WI that I am used to, but I was made to feel so welcome by everyone there.

The official part of the meeting was done much more formally than I’m used to (I’ve certainly never had a set of minutes read out in full before) but I was surprised to find that they don’t actually sing Jerusalem, as I’d expected them to do so.

It was also interesting to hear about meetings that they’d had previously and also about future meeting and trip plans. I realise that with the kids I’m not going to be able to attend all meetings but it still seems like they have a nice bit of variety throughout the year.

Tales of a recent Gyles Brandreth event (that I think was a county event) and his advice for public speaking (“always make sure you have your nipples pointing forwards at your audience”) led our speaker for the evening into talking about how he was once researching Victoria vibrators and came across “nipple jumpers” which were apparently a thing to give people the look of erect nipples that you might get on a cold day, even when the wearer was warm. It was quite a start!

What he was really there to talk abut was Victorians and death. They way that they mourned the dead, what they did with their dead and how Queen Victoria pretty much ruined the whole mourning “business” by choosing a white funeral for when she died. All this with the occasional background noise of screams from a drama group that were rehearsing in a nearby hall. It certainly set an atmosphere!

It may all sounds like a bit of a morbid topic, but was actually fascinating. So much so that a few of us from the Herts Belles are now wondering about booking a little trip to Kensal Green cemetery in London for a tour.

Talk over, vote of thanks delivered, it was time for a cuppa. Being polite I held back a little and chatted to a few people before getting my (excellent) cup of tea and a nice biscuit to go with it. I then sat down and continued my conversations with a few of the women I’d met whilst slowly drinking my tea.

I noticed the President sat back at the table wearing her coat and looking a tad concerned. Also, a couple of other women who had headed off after the vote of thanks seemed to have returned to the hall. News soon spread around to tell us that there was a slight problem. We were locked in!

Yes, it seems that as we weren’t regulars there on a Thursday evening, and were tucked away down a dark corridor, we’d been forgotten about and locked into the church complex. I knew some WIs can be a bit “wilder” than others, but I certainly hadn’t been expecting a WI lock in at my first meeting!

I dropped my boyfriend a text to let him know that the meeting had finished, but saying that I wasn’t quite sure when I would be back as we were being held captive somewhat. “Well at least you can drink tea whilst you wait” he replied. Well, not really. There I was taking my time over my cuppa and enjoying chatting when a woman appeared at my side and told me to drink up quickly as there was only me and one other woman still with cups and they wanted to be able to finish the washing up. Well that told me. I don’t think I’ve ever drunk hot tea quite so quickly.

Apart from the rushed tea drinking and being held captive it was a lovely evening and so nice to actually meet some local people. It was also my first step towards becoming a bit of a WI tourist too. I find it fascinating just how different WIs can be despite working towards the same aims and goals. I’ll be becoming a dual member when I go back, but I’m also looking to broaden my WI horizons a bit more and find out what other local groups there are so I can see if there are any more meetings or activities that I can join in with in the area.

Finally… we moved

Finally, finally, finally the waiting was over. This whole house buying process has made me realise that I’m no where near as patient as I always thought I was. From an admin point of view, I had absolutely everything in place for us to be able to buy this house, but for a while I felt so utterly helpless as other things (out of my control) held us up.

The day that our solicitor phoned to say that we’d finally exchanged I’m not sure that I actually believed him. We’d been ready and waiting for a week – even with our deposit money sat in the solicitor’s bank account – yet there always seemed to be some reason why it couldn’t yet happen. Then when it did I didn’t really know where to start.

There was quite simply so much to do. We had a week between exchange and completion, but luckily were planning to have a long overlap with our rented flat, meaning that we at least had time to clear that properly and clean it before handing back the keys, rather than having to rush. Moving house requires quite a bit of organising, as does juggling kids during the process. There were vans to hire, things to move, a storage unit to clear, plus all the general admin that goes with it. Utilities companies to talk to, address to change, things to organise. Lists, lists, lists.

It meant that the week between the two went in a complete blur and to be honest I’m not sure I really remember any of it properly.

We’ve now been home owners for three weeks. And whilst I’m still looking at a pile of boxes filling up my living room, I do at least feel like I have a proper home again.

So much of my efforts have gone into making sure the kids feel at home and have bedrooms that were ready for them and as a result of that I’m still living with all may clothes in a suitcase, but at least they’re in a suitcase in my own bedroom. One day soon I ┬ákeep promising myself that I’ll sort them out, but in a way they seem so irrelevant compared to everything else.

The house itself has turned out to be an utter delight and everything that we hoped for. Despite having been empty for so long it hasn’t really taken long to make the place warm and homely again. We were also incredibly relieved to discover that (nearly) everything in here actually works. With the previous owner no longer around to ask, it was all a bit of an unknown when we bought the house, and we were slightly concerned that we’d end up having to fork out for a new boiler soon after moving, but a quick service (from a lovely local man that we were lucky enough to have recommended to us) has shown that it’s working perfectly and should last us for years yet.

I constantly feel like I’ve still got tonnes to do and at times it can feel incredibly frustrating that things aren’t happening sooner – especially when it’s things that I’m waiting for others to do for me – but I need to keep reminding myself that there’s no mad panic to get it all done instantly, even if I want to. The only person setting deadlines is myself.

The kids have been with me for a fair chunk of the Easter school holidays so far and so my efforts have been concentrated on them, but now they’ve gone to their dad’s until they go back to school it’s time for me to get organised and try to get everything else finished off so I can properly crack on with life again. So much seems to feel in limbo at a time like this and I’d discovered that I’m someone who finds that limbo position difficult and quite frustrating.

I’m also keen to try and get some balance back in my life again. The last nine months have been treading water and making do. I feel like now we’ve properly moved on and can actually live life to the full once more. It’s amazing the things that I’ve missed over the last few months. Simple things like having a home for my possessions, being able to open a cook book and have space to properly make a family meal from it and having time (and space) to craft again.

Expect this blog to be my happy place once again. Somewhere where I can share all the things that make me smile. I’m expecting it to feature a fair bit of crochet, lots of news of what we’re getting up to at home, and also a fair bit of tea drinking. You have been warned!

 

The waiting…

I’m sat here today unable to concentrate on anything. Every time my phone pings I jump in the hope that it’s a message or email from either the estate agent or our solicitor. I am literally on the edge of my seat and getting nothing done as a result.

I’m someone who likes to be in control and get things done. When a job needs doing I crack on and do it. No faffing around. But, I’m utterly useless when things are out of my control. And that’s exactly where things are now.

We’re in the middle of the house buying process. Our offer was accepted, our mortgage is arrange and we have the deposit all in place. The searches have all come back without any problems and even the full building survey failed to tell us anything that we didn’t know already. ┬áThe property is empty. We’re in rented accommodation. It’s a probate sale and there’s no chain.

It should all be straightforward from here. But it isn’t. And right now there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I am desperate to move. Utterly desperate. This flat is far too small for all of us and I’m simply sick and tired of tripping over stuff when ever I try to move in here. I want to be able to give my kids a bedroom each again. I’ve had enough of paying money for storage for most of my furniture and boxes of stuff and I really, really want to be reunited with some of my possessions, that I haven’t seen for months.

Emotionally I’m also ready to move on. Staying here was only supposed to be temporary and I need to move to the next chapter or my life. Of my new family life.

The school Easter holidays are fast approaching and we need to have more space by then. Need to. I’ve told everyone that. The estate agent and our solicitor. There’s just one person that I have no control over and that’s the vendor’s solicitor. And that’s where the whole process seems to be stuck at the moment.

I can see no reason for any legal hold up. Nor can our solicitor. The estate agent can see no reason for any logistical hold up, and he says neither can the vendors. We’ve signed all the contracts and other paperwork and our deposit is already with our solicitor.

Waiting.

That’s all I feel I can do at the moment. Wait. Patiently.

The problem is that I’ve discovered I’m not very good at being patient.

I want to crack on and do things. I want a definite moving date in the diary so I can pack boxes, plan electricians and get quotes for replacement windows. I want to get in there and start cleaning and decorating. I want to start exploring the house and garden and start making plans for what we want to do with them. I want to move.

But all I can do is wait And hope that it won’t be for much longer.