Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey Rectangle And My Bonkers Moving Tips

Apologies for the rather longer hiatus between posts than intended. I am happily installed now in the new house, which I love to bits, but it is only fair to say that nearly two weeks on, facilities at Bonkers Towers II remain on the rudimentary side. To give you an idea, I am typing this atop a makeshift "desk" fashioned out of apple boxes - well, more of an island than a desk - two islands in fact, as you can see in the photo, with leg room in between. A small rope bridge might not go amiss. I note with interest that one box is labelled "perfume stuff and jewellery bedroom (any)". I had been wondering where my jewellery went as I got ready to go to London earlier this week.

Anyway, the move went pretty well on the whole, though it was not without incident. On gaining access to the house for the first time, it was obvious that the whole place needs redecorating: this is because the previous owner was a bit of an art collector, and when she took away all her paintings she left behind a forest of picture hooks at irregularly spaced intervals, exposing fifty shades of grey rectangle on the walls beneath.

It is an Edwardian house as I mentioned in an earlier post, and its wealth of period features include the original cast iron bath, together with a set of period household appliances. Okay, I am exaggerating shamelessly, but for example the fridge struggles to reach a cooler setting than 10 degrees; while this may be the optimum temperature for keeping perfumes cool, it is of course not recommended for the hygienic preservation of food.

Consequently, shortly after my arrival in the house my perfume collection was exiled to a downstairs shower cubicle curiously located in the utility room, while one of my perfume fridges was immediately pressed into service as emergency storage for the perishable stuff from the old house, Mr Bonkers having only been interested in securing custody of the milk, margarine and a couple of pizzas.

So that was one infrastructural setback I needed to deal with as soon as I moved in - and there were others involving cheeping smoke detectors, blown light bulbs, sluggish taps and a possibly perished expansion tank. So between the state of the house as I found it and the events of moving day itself, I have compiled a shortlist of my top tips / learning points from the move - which I hope might have some entertainment value even if they are not of imminent use to anyone reading.

Incorrect labelling is a surefire recipe for moving mayhem

The making of my bed was delayed 48 hours by the non-appearance of the mattress protector, only for it to surface in a box marked "kitchen", cosying up to the missing stash of Kettle Chips I had just fancied snacking on on my first night. In my defence, this was one of the boxes the removal men packed on the day, its comedy combination of contents doubtless prompted by haste rather than a sense of mischief.

Do the moving men mug maths

On the day of the move, the alarming realisation quickly dawned that I only had access to two mugs to be shared amongst three thirsty removal men. Consequently, more mental energy was expended on the organisation of an elaborate mug usage roster - "If Stewart and Tony just had a drink, it must be Vin's turn...so where is Tony's mug, then?" - than on almost any other aspect of this complex logistical exercise.

Get the measure of the place before you move in

By which I specifically mean the room measurements really, to enable you to gauge what furniture goes where. Sounds easy enough, but even with the best laid scribbled dimensions on a piece of file paper you can't quite put your hand on on the day (along with mugs 3 to 30), a couple of bulky upstairs items are bound to end up temporarily sidelined in a downstairs room. Here they await the moment when (with any luck) a sudden access of spatial awareness may strike you and their final resting place will become apparent.

Think of your computer as just a glorified colourful jigsaw

Okay, so this one didn't really wash with me, and the photo key didn't help much either.

Assume an indefinite procession of visitors with dirty feet

On moving day, after the removal men have effected the elaborate swaddling of your new house using giant rolls of sticky cling film in a bid to minimise the traipsing in and through of dirt, it becomes unthinkable that anyone visiting the house in future will ever be allowed to make direct contact between shoe and carpet again.

Pets will play on your conscience by holding out for premium food

Yes, since Charlie Bonkers was successfully transplanted to the new house, she has been on selective hunger strike, by refusing to eat her normal fare of IAMS crunchies. The unspoken message appears to be: "Look, I have been fairly adaptable through all of this disruption and upheaval, so if you don't give me top of the range foil pouches instead of this gravel stuff that hurts my five remaining teeth, I shall start chowing on down on this cheese plant, poisonous or not."

Discourage your pet from tombstoning from an upper landing

Yes, a cat that is reckless enough to chew on the leaves of a cheese plant in a fit of pique is capable of launching itself off the landing through one of the generous gaps in the banisters, much like the generations of thrill-seeking babies that went (head first) before it.

And finally, although I didn't capture the cheese plant-eating incident on camera, I did witness Charlie Bonkers' close encounter with a bed of cat nip during her first supervised outing in the garden. At least I assume it was cat nip, though I am not very hot on plants as we have established.


Anonymous said...

Your cat is beautiful, I used to have a cat that looked just like that but mine had a white bib. I hope you and your kitty enjoy your new home.

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! Bonkers Back: Battling Boxes, Bedding, Banisters AND Cattitude.

Good to hear you're surviving, even if is among fifty shades of grey (now for sale in boxed 3 volume sets at my local Costco warehouse grocery store).

-- Lindaloo

Undina said...

A month or two and everything will be back to ... regular programming ;)

Are you sure Charlie Bonkers would jump? Rusty would look down from there and I was afraid he would try to jump but he never did.

Have all the perfumes survived the move?

Olfactoria's Travels said...

Good to see you are (somewhat) settled in.
I appreciate your moving tips, even with no immediate relocation on the horizon, it's good to have them on hand. :)
Charlie Bonkers is highly intelligent, holding out for the good stuff surely shows that.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your good wishes - your cat sounds pretty too! Charlie is a sort of messy tortoiseshell, if I had to describe her. : - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

My semantic twin - or should that be semantic sibling? - strikes again! That is one of your finest summaries and I may have to quote it on Facebook... : - )

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is on offer - and a recommended read - in my local Sainsbury. Not so much a case of "Live Well For Less" as their slogan goes, but "Live Dangerously For Just £3.99".

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I like "regular programming"! I have been wearing your Fig Tree quite a bit lately - its extreme sappiness feels so right in summer (or what passes for this season over here).

I am probably worrying unduly about Charlie's ability - or inclination - to scale walls, but am naturally a little overcautious in these early days, I suppose.

I haven't dared check the perfumes in the shower yet - they are cool but not as cool as before... : - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

I am sure I will have more moving tips by and by where they came from! : - )

I do feel very at home already and am surprised and pleased to be taking all these infrastructural setbacks - which befall me on a daily basis, pretty much - in my stride.

And yes, you are probably right about Charlie's discerning taste - that's the way to look at it, even if the wet food costs significantly more!

Lady Jane Grey said...

What on earth would we do without...cats ?! I was scared to death seeing "50 shades..." as title of your post - am quiet again : you have far better things to do right now, than reed rubbish...

Vanessa said...

Hi Lady Jane Grey,

Have no fear - the title was merely another of my shameless excuses for a pun. : - )

And you are quite right that I have no time for such frivolities - today, for example, I was mostly buying paint, self-levelling flooring compound and a float. Before today, I didn't even know what the last two items were!

Anonymous said...


I'm back from the Emerald Isle and you're back from Manic "Moving Mayhem" Month too.

Good luck with the Allocation of Appurtenances in your new abode - and please give Charlie a hug from us here.

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

Anonymous said...

Alright -- Anna's Actively Alliterating Also. :-) Now we have triplets!

-- Lindaloo

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

Lovely to hear from you and hope you had a good holiday. You are indeed in tiptop alliterative fettle!

Charlie thanks you for the hug. : - )

Vanessa said...

Lindaloo, we do! You two crack me up... : - )

odonata9 said...

Yay! Bonkers is back! And with timely information, since I just found out we will have to move out of our home in 2 months (landlord is moving back in). I think this may be the first move where we will use some sort of professional movers - we will surely pack the boxes and maybe move those as my hubby has a truck, but don't want to deal with the big furniture items.

I had to look up cheese plants and tombstoning. I was pretty sure they didn't grow cheese, but you never know ; ) Be careful with Charlie around that plant - one of the sites I found noted that the leaves were poisonous and may be dangerous to pets (but only one site, so who knows how accurate that info is). Good luck with all the moving and decorating fun!

Angela said...

I'm glad you survived the move--at least well enough to have a sense of humor about it!

I'm just getting around to expanding my perfume blog from the two I normally read (not counting NST) and am glad to have (re)discovered your terrific blog. It's getting bookmarked pronto.

Vanessa said...

Hi odonata9,

Thanks for your lovely comment, and I am glad to learn that my moving tips may actually be of use to someone after all. : - ) Men practised at manoeuvring heavy items are worth their weight in gold I would say, and I also booked their breakables packing service, but did the rest of the packing myself. If your husband has a truck, that will spread the load - and cost - for sure.

Re Charlie Bonkers and the cheese plant eating incident, I can reassure you on that one - turns out she is as much of a flittereater as I am a flittersniffer, and immediately lost interest after her first tentative chew.

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela,

How kind of you to say so, especially as the perfume content of my posts seems to have been getting increasingly tenuous of late! : - ). And though I will be reporting on the Seville a L'Aube launch do next, even that didn't go as expected...

I am at least holding up pretty well under the circs, as you say. Today, for example, I broke my glasses beyond repair when I fell off a stool adjusting a wardrobe doorl, discovered a broken sash window that won't open, and some severely uneven floorboards and a sunken hearth. These would resist any attempts to lay carpet over them without prior bodging with self-levelling flooring compound - which wasn't even just a name to me yesterday!

Cheryl Quimby said...

Having read your post on bubble wrap a while ago, I have every confidence in your house-moving skills! How nice that Charlie discovered windfall catnip. I hope you'll have time for a relaxing nip of something you can pour into carefully transported stemware.

Wordbird said...

Hoorah! New Bonkers HQ! It looks lovely, from what I can see of the woodwork and floor tiles. Since I made my move in May I'm a bit further along with the process so can advise a tiny bit on what to expect.

I'm currently still living with the '50 shades of beige' picture rectangles in my hall and landing. Can't be bothered to paint that lot just yet, so will most likely just bung some of my own pics up to cover the worst for now. This means I most likely won't repaint the hall until sometime next decade because there's always something better to do.

It's amazing how scary and difficult other people's plumbing can be. I have yet to learn the trick to make my toilet flush properly and have to battle with it regularly to persuade it to perform its function as expected. I wonder if leaving a B&Q Bathrooms catalogue nearby will scare it into submission?

Cats seem to be very disgruntled at first but settle in eventually. Though Louis did leave home for a while to see his old girlfriend Tallulah. I imagine a whole bedful of catnip must be a very good incentive for Charlie Bonkers to stay put and not wander off. Does she roll in it?

My final tip: when you want to move those heavy items of furniture, gentlemen can usually be bribed to help with the promise of food. Apple crumble works for singletons, while dinner is good for paired-up chums who can then be prevailed upon to help move a whole bunch 'o' stuff in return. Friends who can do electrical things and/or put up shelves are worth their weight in gold. Or crumble.

Vanessa said...

Hi Quimby,

Your references to "windfall catnip" and carefully transported stemware" had me chuckling!

And you will be pleased to know that there is a large stock of bubble wrap stashed in the garage, because like towels and teaspoons, you can never have enough... : - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Wordbird,

Thanks for your own take on moving - it sounds as though we have had similar encounters with our respective older properties, and I must say I have felt I was rather following in your footsteps, just with a slight time lag... : - )

I do indeed need a steady procession of strong men to move items, and as soon as I have figured out the oven temperature settings I may deploy the crumble tactic.

Charlie hasn't actually rolled in the catnip as such - she may consider that undignified for a cat of her advanced age - but she is definitely happy to stay put, possibly for that reason.

Am pleased to report that although the expansion tank on the boiler appears to have perished, a number of sash windows are broken and the fridge doesn't work, my loo is a champion flusher!

Suzanne said...

Vanessa! Whew!! You've certainly had a mountain of things to deal with in regard to your move. All I can say is Hang in there: It will take some time, but it will be lovely when all is said and done, and it will be uniquely yours. :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your encouragement! I simply didn't anticipate the endless list of items that needed addressing. I felt I had been quite busy lately, as evidenced by the fact that I fell asleep fully clothed at 8pm on Friday night, and didn't wake up till 6am the following morning...

This week, as well as confirming the problem with the boiler's expansion tank, I had a water meter installed, the wardrobe in the living room relocated by the removal men and put back together - twice, because the first time it was wonky - sorted two separate problems with the floor of my new office, had the broken sash window fixed, bought a water filter, a carpet, a tumble dryer and some bedding - oh, and some new glasses, as I snapped mine clean in two when I fell trying to sort out the skew-wiff wardrobe! : - )

Vanessa said...

PS But I still love the house, and even though it is not perfectly appointed at the moment, it is most definitely home... : - )

Suzanne said...

Glad to hear it! (Your note in the PS, that is.) :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Yes, I need to see it as a "project" that will take time, but every improvement will make the house more homely. Doing everything on your own is a bit daunting after being part of a couple for 17 years, but it is character building at least, and I did make myself "intentionally single" after all... : - )

Natalie said...

Welcome back! I missed Bonkers, and I'm so glad to hear that you made the move and are at least settled in enough to make a post - that is progress!

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

Thanks! I fear my blogging schedule may remain as sparse as my furnishings for the foreseeable, but I don't want the home improvement waters to close completely over my head, and persevered with the apple box islands to knock out this post.

I am additionally supposed to be working this week, so that could be interesting...: - )

Rose said...

I hate moving but it's always exciting to be in a new home once you're there- hope all is still going well

Vanessa said...

Hi Rose,

Thanks for your comment - you are right about moving being a double-edged thing. I am getting there steadily, but I sense this house may be a "project" for some time to come! It will be worth it though...

Lucas said...

So great Vanessa that your moving houses is close to finale :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Lucas,

Thanks for your kind wishes - I am gradually getting sorted...

Tara said...

Sorry I must have missed your Facebook notification of this post. Too much nonsense getting in the way of the important posts!

It must be daunting to tackle so much on your own but you will get there one step at a time - and from your most recent post, it's happening pretty quickly considering. I have not doubts in your ability to cope with it all.

I hope Charlie Bonkers' selective hunger strike is now over and back on the cheap stuff :)

Vanessa said...

Hi tara,

Don't worry about missing the odd post of mine - I am conscious that I can't begin to keep up with events in Perfume Land in the way I would like to.

I am sorry to report that Charlie Bonkers' taste has shut down to such an extent that she will only eat foil pouches of fish - turns her nose up at even the choicest cuts of chicken! Fortunately, she is due for a check up at the vet's tomorrow, and I will ask him to look at her teeth, in case there is a dental issue here as well as a faddy puss one! : - )

I do feel daunted much of the time, it must be said, not being a particularly practical person myself. Well, I can knit, but I don't think I could knit my way out of any of these particular crises!

And I have moved into older properties on my own before, but this one is bigger and has not been renovated, such that I may be spotting more stuff that needs fixing!

Joseph P. said...

A picture of a messy place before moving out. Very stress and tiring when you see your stuff rearrange plus the garbage. Label the boxes for easy findings and arrange. If your tired to do this, hire removalist for you they will load and unload your things with truck services and even arrange things for your new home.

Joseph @ eastern suburbs sydney removalist

Removal Services UK said...

Take it one day at a time. But so far, your are actually doing pretty well on your move. Keep that up!

Unknown said...

Oh my, you’re witty. Haha! Anyway, the key to moving is to organize using a checklist. Just like you mentioned, improper labeling will lead to lots of mishaps, therefore ending with a headache. But I guess, with this post, you already know what to do the next time you move. How does your place look now?

Elias Madden

Vanessa said...

Hi Elias,

Thanks for the compliment! I think I will know the pitfalls of moving next time, yes. And am hoping that day is a very long time off...

My place looks great now! Okay, specifically three rooms are transformed. In a post I am still working up to, which will reflect back over 2012 (in scented terms and more generally), I plan to feature a few "before and after" shots - for comedy value as much as anything!

Professional Removalist said...

Hi! Welcome back! Glad to know that you had a successful move on your Edwardian house. Thank you for providing these essential moving tips.

Pedro Padro said...

One of the best lessons your readers can get on your blog post is to remember not to put all your stuff on the boxes. Leave things that you will still be using during the packing days. It's so stressful to open a box again just to get a mug, a towel, or a dress when most of the things are set and just waiting to be picked up.