When I first met the word discombobulation it was with mocking disbelief that such a motley and improbable collection of syllables could amount to a real word. It means a confusion which is perhaps stretching a point as my life is rather more of a disarticulation but that don’t sound half so quirky.
We moved into Winterborne K on 10th September since when (it now being the 29th) I have slept 8 nights in our new home. I’ve been see-sawing between the old homestead, France and the old homestead and with luck I will tip up in Dorset on Sunday and bed down for a few weeks during which I expect to cross the final frontier and unpack all that is necessary to commission my Shell – this being the work-room which is a separate annexe and to which all items conchological will be banished.
After my first spell back at 88, culminating in a Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration in Oxford we spent 4 days in France with Maddy and Andrew. Long-planned, this trip took place and the house was still in good order, the dry rot treatment works as yet unstarted. We managed a musical soiree with our neighbours for which Andrew had brought his squeezebox (accordion), a day visiting some of the D-Day Landing sites and dinner on the last evening at Hotel Fuchsias where the ‘plats’ were as beautiful and toothsome as ever.
Guests like Maddy and Andrew make you feel you have been on holiday and early on Friday morning Nick drove them to the west Cotentin whence they took a ferry to Sark, where their daughter is working. We had had a fiasco with a mislaid pet passport which turned up before Nick got back, but too late to reinstate Plan A, so Rooney stayed in France where he will continue to be fattened up by our very caring neighbour 😦
On Saturday we are Dorset-bound to whisk the house into order before the Hackneys arrive after the journey from hell. As Dan ruefully commented on Facebook that day, “London is broken.” Katie and the boys came out on Sunday morning then after a very early lunch we drove out to Canford School to watch a rugby match played in memory of my nephew Max.
On Sunday evening the Hackneys had another protracted journey home and have resolved that future trips to Winterborne K and home again should take place very early in the morning. I drove to Heathrow to pick up the new owners of 88, fresh from a week of sun and fun, and am staying with them now, till the weekend when I might just be able to escape to Winterborne K. Not before time my spouse would say.
After a flurry of unpacking in Dorset I drove away on Thursday morning, Surrey-bound. I have appointments with my dear friend Susie, Ted, Book Group, my coiffeuse…. culminating in a large family gathering in Oxford to celebrate a Golden Wedding on Sunday.
Ted and I went to Birdworld on Friday and he enjoyed refinding his favoured exhibits and activities. On this occasion the larger of the two Toucans must have been feeling more sociable as he was willing to come out of the shelter of his conifer and pose for the camera. There are two species in the collection, the smaller one being the Rainbow-billed Toucan who must have been holing up in his box. Our guy is the Toucan toco, the largest of the 12 species described. I think the bills of Toucans and Puffins are a joy to behold, the arcs of vivid colours contrasting gaudily with the dark plumage of the bird.
The next day the Perrymans went off for the day to do stuff and I walked into Godalming for an overdue session with my hairdresser. On my way home I glanced up and spotted a swirl of colour against the clear sky. In the summer months hot air balloons often drift across Godalming, along the Wey valley in the late afternoon and may fly quite low. You frequently see, and hear, the flares of flame which look terrifying from below, so how must they appear to the people in the basket, whom you can often see too? It all looks so flimsy and precarious. But the balloon itself is beautiful, it is like a rainbow that has been picked up at one end and whirled into a sphere.
Day 5 in the ‘Big’ Dorset House finds me in my virtual diary room compiling a short (for me!) post. We’ve been unpacking boxes and boxes and our approaches are different but symbiotic. I’m taking the boxes as I open them, like so many fences to jump. Nick peers inside boxes and decides if immediate unpacking is appropriate or whether the low priority contents should be removed to the garage for temporary storage. Harmony is maintained 🙂
Since we moved in we have had visitors every day and two supper evenings: Stuart and Angela came on Monday night bearing a cornucopia of allotment produce, a posy of late summer flowers from the garden, a Dorset apple cake and profiteroles for pud. Maddy and Andrew, who welcomed us to Dorset last Thursday evening by treating us to the Lobster Evening at Le Petit Canard, came yesterday evening bearing an apple crumble. Rollo gave us a Dorset apple cake, my sister brought a bottle basket, a stilton and walnut quiche and peanut cookies. Katie brought her 3 boys on Sunday with a miniature moth orchid. Thank you everyone.
And now back to the box mountain…….
….. pictures of an almost very nearly empty house.
I’m Dorset-bound today. I’ve a lunch date with my mother in our village pub at which Nick will join us, hot-foot from the Channel ferry. A day before contract completion we can do no more than drive past our new house, but it won’t be long before we can begin to colonise it.
But I’m making an early morning detour because Dan has asked that I photograph a house in waiting. So this slide-show is a tour from the bottom of the front steps up to the top of the garden, by way of the house, glancing into each room and stopping to take in the views from some of the windows. Very soon now the house will be claimed by its new owners.
After lunch Nick drives across to Maiden Newton and Mum and I drive over to the coast, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. We park briefly on the cliff top there and I walk down to investigate a pathway that takes one down to the shore. Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic coast and I imagine young legs scrambling down to explore the beach, then back again as a prelude to Sunday lunch in our new dining hall.
The last mile of the drive back to Mum’s home takes us along Weymouth sea front. The tide is receding and the sun glints on the watery surface of the sands. Forty five years ago a young articled clerk and his teenage girl friend were photographed teetering on the platform of a big red public weighing machine. These machines were a common feature of seaside proms. Our combined weight then was 20 stone. Sadly these machines are no more – and we’ve gained a pound or two – but in other respects Weymouth Esplanade is unchanged. You can walk the prom and take your ease at regular intervals in the shelters with seating which faces all four aspects. The Jubilee Clock ticks on.
Down on the sands a couple of some vintage wander across the sands towards the Pavilion end of the bay, barefoot, trouser legs rolled, shoes dangling from the hand. Could be us. That’ll do nicely.
On Sunday the Perrymans have a good bye BBQ. They are masters of the art and it is impossible not to over-indulge – just this once I tell myself 😉 Charlotte and Ted work up an appetite with some horse play. Mark and Emma bring their new daughter Mae, a real cutie who sleeps through the whole noisy proceedings. The evening finds Charlotte, Ted and I slumped in front of the Lego movie: The Adventures of Clutch Powers. I’m not sure why, but I find the name chosen for the ‘Harrison Ford’ Lego leading man mildly amusing! I am going to be living out of a suitcase during the forthcoming week variously based at Sunbury, Gillingham, Maiden Newton.
By Tuesday evening we are finally out. All our things are in limbo. ‘Two Fat Ladies’ have had the full spa treatment and a very thorough shampoo and set 🙂 At the end of the afternoon I drive back to Sunbury in time for the locksmith, Ryan arrives shortly after. Charlotte is on Guernsey overnight. On Wednesday Matthew’s crew will tip up chez Perryman to begin their pack-up.
As I have walked around the old homestead, the roof over our heads these past 30 years and more, I have enjoyed entering the large freshly laundered empty rooms. Each has its own character, driven largely by the colour schemes chosen some 12 years ago. Several of them still have their original fireplaces – solid fuel fires are a labour of love but worth it. It was Charlotte who guided me around a varied and quirky colour palette and helped me choose very different schemes for each room, and she could hardly have imagined at that time that she would later become the beneficiary of her decor advice. Fashions change – it now seems likely that much of the house will end up being painted white.
It could all be a very emotional moment for me, leaving the setting of so much Light family history. Luckily though, it is not good-bye, but au revoir. And au revoir very soon, like next week when I will drive back up to ‘Two Fat Ladies’ for Book Group.
Moving is about a procession of porters bearing numerous boxes and furniture items down flights of stairs, out of the house, down the front steps leaving a trail of empty rooms. All day the removal has been conducted to a soundtrack of laddish banter, whatever station they could find on my very old tranny and the unmistakeable ripping sound of brown parcel tape. Meanwhile I work down my list which includes emptying grates, cleaning appliances to come to Dorset, a trip or two to the tip. I have ducked out of the tea-lady role, preferring to leave a tray of mugs and all requisities available next to the kettle.
Meanwhile in France Dan’s family holiday is drawing to a close after a week of good summer weather. There’s a mixed bag gallery of activities which have included beach-time, fishing, cockling, pool and the occasional meal at Le Debarcadere where the adults (Marian, David, Emma, Dan and I) were entertained by the children who had gone outside to run off steam (Grandpa, Lola, Ruby).
There have been times this summer when we wondered whether it would ever come together. But it has and today the packers have moved in. I think being a removals’ man must be quite a lot of fun. You certainly get to laugh a lot…..
I got back from France yesterday, having spent three days with Marian and David at the end of their holiday and with the Hackneys at the beginning of theirs in St V. After so many uncertainties over the habitability of our house in France (owing to the fact that we have had an invasion of ‘champignons’ which necessitates, in turn, some pretty disruptive investigative, remedial and restorative measures) we find ourselves at the end of August with the work unstarted. So family holidays could still be squeezed in.
Nick has remained in St V, ostensibly to catsit, so the little (big!) darlin’ won’t be too ruffled by the dismantling of one of his ‘pads’. Any case he is not allowed to shed his catness in his English establishment any longer because the new owner is allergic. The fact that Nick is much better off out of it is a minor consideration.
I have anticipated the arrival of Matt and his gang with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. But it is ok. One life is being wound down in readiness for a new one in Dorset. All the same, right now, I’d much rather be frolicking in the waves with Lola and Ruby….