Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Out of the old and into the new ~ moving house and garden

After we'd seen the new place and decided that we liked it, the question wasn't whether we could afford it, but whether we could afford the move itself.  Moving is costly whichever way you do it: if you interminably drive back and forth you spend a fortune on petrol and take days doing it, whereas the truck comes and goes once and that's it.  We'll pass lightly over the number of extra trips made by car in relation to all my plants and especially fragile stuff...  Long ago I gave up attempting to do the main bit myself, and hand the job over to Conroy Removals, the same reputable movers who have done the job for us on other occasions.  They couldn't do it this time, but referred us to a firm with which they have had dealings for many years and could vouch for.  I went with that and was well pleased with the service of Best Removals.  Both are good value for money and really helpful. 

Moving is stressful no matter how well organised one is.  By the time we had packed over 70 cartons and emptied out cupboards, wardrobes, drawers and shelves I was glad I'd decided to clean carefully one room at a time as I packed.  And to have dug out, crated and removed my host of plants and assorted gear ahead of the main move.  It was all very worthwhile, and minimised the strain of getting the last chores done. 

We moved on one of the coldest days of the year, and since we'd carted most of our household goods into the garage to be handy for the truck my car was outside for the night.  It was covered in hoar frost:

I looked wistfully around my garden, sleeping beneath the frost, and hoped someone else would love it as much as I had, however unlikely that may be.  

I particularly loved these grasses, which I'd planted with such care and thought a couple of years earlier.  There was no way I could take them with me - I'd had to take out one by the gate some months earlier and ruined the blade of my spade in doing so.  I said to my landlord I hoped he liked them as much as I did.  He said he did.  I don't think that's possible, but it was nice of him to say so!  Here they are in the early morning light, something fairly-like about them:

All our things in the garage looked fine to begin with, before we brought out the remainder.  And then the combined efforts of the removals men and the two of us failed to be able to get the big couch out of either of the doors.  We took the front door off its hinges.  How did we get it in, I was asked.  I had no idea as the previous movers had done all that for us and had gone before we arrived!  Finally we got it out, minus some of the surface finish on the back corner of the couch.  Not to worry, we were on our way!

It had been a struggle to get everything into the truck, and with it loaded to maximum capacity the long extending ladder and a piece of exercise equipment remained.  I insisted that the ladder go with the truck.  The mover bruised himself wedging it diagonally in the very back, but got it in, for which I was grateful.  I couldn't possibly have taken it in the car!  So we ended up having to come back for the other, which gave me the opportunity to give the old place a once-over inspection and a dab here and there with a wet cloth, which felt right - and left the keys on the mantle.  Many thanks to Rachel and John for their patient assistance!

By the end of the day we were finished at the old place and stuffed into the new one, and I mean stuffed!

My good friend Penelope brought over a meal for us, and we had afternoon tea together wedged into the table by the bay window.  

However, within a few days things were far more ship-shape.  What a nice place to have breakfast, or any meal, for that matter, looking out over the ocean and idly watching the comings and goings on the street below: 

The cats aren't really allowed on the table, but you know how it is...

In the weeks that followed I rapidly dismissed most of the curtains in the house, replacing them with my own and did the same with all but one of the lampshades.  The light bulbs were upgraded to a decent strength, and a range of electrical and other matters attended to and got into running order.  I am pleased to have many of my own furnishing, picked up here and there and mostly second-hand, as they immediately make any place more familiar and attractive.  Boxes have been almost entirely relegated to the basement where they are neatly folded and stacked ready for the next time, and as many days as I can I make some small improvements to the place to make it function better and be more homely.  It's been hard work but fun.  

The garden is another matter again, and having been rather too busy for comfort as of late, I've been pleased that it's still winter, and not clement enough to spend much time out of doors.  It's a large section, set on a fairly steep hillside, and I'm told it's never had a garden as such. The lawns have been kept mown, but everything else has a neglected air.  This is good in a way as I have carte blanche to do what I like with it.  

Both entrances to the house are somewhat awkward with flights of concrete steps doubling back above the path below.  This made for major difficulties getting things into the house on moving day.  We both fell on them: Rewi on the front steps and me on the back.  Rewi, who was carrying one end of a very heavy wardrobe, had to step into the garden to turn that corner as the turning area on the pathway was too short, and in doing so stumbled into an abandoned portable barbecue complete with charcoal.  While he managed to keep from dropping his load his feet got covered with soot which was trekked to the door.  Fortunately I saw all this in time to insist he take off his shoes...

I fell by missing my step on the unfamiliar risers while carrying a large pot plant.  Only minor damage done, and I can do little to improve that access-way, but I can do something about the front one where I'll extend the path into the garden paving it with loose bricks discarded after building work. This will make it wide enough for future loads to be carried in and out. It will also look very much nicer.  I'm beginning to see how, with a bit of proper forethought and effort, parts of the garden could look a whole lot better.

Three terraces climb the hill at the back.  Already I have designated one of these as a vege patch, and the top one for native plants and shrubs.  It's lovely up there.  Garden seats invite one to settle there and enjoy the view, which is really wonderful, and peaceful:

Five woolly sheep placidly munch their way around the two paddocks directly beyond the fence line.  I like to see them there.  They're companionable in their way.

Gradually I'll tidy the place up doing the most urgent bits as need be.  Already it's looking much better:

This border has become my nursery for the plants I've brought with me.  The day I did this was warm and sunny, and as I worked my way along it on my hands and knees the ground and I began to get acquainted.  By the time I'd finished it both looked and felt much improved.  I felt much improved too, and more at home.  For me, that's what it's all about: establishing myself in relation to the land in a good way - which feels like a mutual liking, care and respect.  Gardening is always a collaboration between gardener, the earth, and the plants we choose to put in and tend.  The earth and growing things require so little of us and work their own magic.  I do love to be a part of that. 

We're in the midst of a winter storm at the moment, but as soon as the weather clears and is a little milder I expect to begin work in the vegetable garden.  In the meantime the crates of silver beet and rocket that I dug up from the last place continue to provide us with fresh greens.  Before the storm broke I lugged them up onto the porch so that I am able to pluck leaves as needed.  The plants are patient in their crates and generous of themselves.  Meantime the winter gales blow, the unusual snow comes and goes, and I enjoy a little leisure while I can.

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