Change All Round
I now know why people say moving is the most stressful time of their lives. I guess that's what older people say - i.e. people like me! I have changed home quite a few times in my far and distant past, but the biggest move was in 1979, when we left an idyllic house in Portugal to bring our entire stable of Lusitano schoolmasters to England. The reason? It sounds rather pretentious, but it was considered madness at the time - to introduce the art of Classical Riding to the UK!
Not only did the paperwork and form filling take over a year (it was post Revolution Portugal) to research and complete, there was a yard to build, an Olympic indoor school requiring planning permission, and the small matter of making the family home in Suffolk liveable in again- especially for clients. Exciting times! Yet, despite all the frequent overseas trips, the endless drives long before motorways - Algarve to Lisbon - the packing up, the jabs, vets certificates and passports, the travel plans - 10 days by train for the horses, lorries from Calais to Suffolk - we seemed to sail through it! But I was younger then.
This latest move involved only one horse - so that was hardly an issue. But downsizing is something else and in its own way just as revolutionary, at least to the heart. Without realising it, I was dealing with the collections of a lifetime. Then there was the CRC Office... that certainly did not exist in 1979, neither did the Lusitano Breed Society of Great Britain. With a wardrobe full of newsletters, minutes, and 10 years worth of fascinating correspondence as Lusitano Chairman - I could only ask, why oh why had no one from the present day come forward when I offered these up for reference purposes?!
Moving onto the remnants of 8 books and 25 years worth of articles - what did other authors do? I felt protective of each and every one, as well as the carefully ordered files for every DVD. Instructions for each half-second of footage, voice-overs, illustrations and...and .... I heard my voice cry: 'Yes, bin it!' - or a moment later 'no, keep it!' Looks would pass across the room and I have to admit, making those decisions to pack or chuck, almost floored me.
Space was an issue. Everything I needed immediately was going with me in the car, the rest going into storage - until I could find a house! I had two large dogs to accompany me and a very opinionated 19 year old cat. At the last moment, I had found a one bed-room holiday cottage only 5 miles from where Prazer would go to livery ... I was going ahead of him in order to greet him when he arrived at Water Farm. His stable arrangements had been planned forever and I knew it would all work out. What was more hastily arranged was where I would go, the house I had hoped to buy - having just fallen through!
I am quite happy now to admit, I found the last few weeks in Scotland grueling in the extreme. Despite lots of wonderful help in the weeks leading up - Angela and our last Admin, Melanie - doing sterling stuff, I felt as though my brains were frying. 'How can I not keep that? Surely someone might need this one day?...' and this was only the paperwork. Nevertheless, with their patient support - plus a gun held to my temple! virtually - we reduced the office from roughly 90 large crates (tea-box size!) to just 45. And I'm talking about only one room. With several others still in the throes of dismantlement, that last day was manic. The removal men had been there for three days and I was supposed to have left at lunch-time. The last minute stuff seemed to go on forever and I only got away at 4 pm, having of course forgotten to eat. The thought of then having to drive south for 6.5 hours was not brilliant.
I waved goodbye to Eden Hall but as dusk came down and we'd left the Cheviots far behind us, I knew it was madness to proceed. As usual, Allegra and her mastery on the internet came to the rescue and she managed to book me into an animal friendly B&B just off the A1 in Yorkshire. Taking one look at my face, the landlady was knocking at my door just half-an-hour later with a large glass of red wine and cheese on toast! The kindness of strangers.
After that, things could only get better. The animals settled beautifully in the car the next day, Prazer would soon be on his way, the sun shone, and miracle of miracles - I had actually managed to leave! I knew in my heart of hearts it was all going to be OK from now on. I had done it.
Thank you to all of you who sent such wonderful cheering messages and cards. My tiny cottage bear witness and I love it.
My next Blog - apologies for delay - will be all about Suffolk!