Clearing and cleaning

Russell’s parents bought this house in 1928 and we moved here in 1986.  The house had been emptied, but not the outbuildings and we’ve done nothing but add to the stuff in there.  It was all manageable for a while, but I’ve realised recently that Russell had a bit of a problem.  He’d always been a collector and something of a hoarder, but it went way out of hand some years ago and he went to great lengths to hide the extent from me.  Three and a half years ago, I realised how much stuff he’d stacked in one room and I spent a good three months sorting the house out, much against his endeavours – I cleared each room systematically, putting things that didn’t yet have a home into one room, with the aim that it would end up being the final room to be cleared and cleaned, but he sneaked boxes of Stuff behind my back, first to my distress and then to my fury.  I was working so hard and he did nothing but undermine me. “This room has been CLEARED AND CLEANED,” I’d say – “nothing is to be put in here unless it’s going to furnish it” – and yet, within days there would be a box of tat or a pile of pictures stacked against a wall.  But I did it in the end and he agreed that it was much better, and we moved the dining table into the big room (that had been so full of boxes and other stuff that you could hardly get into the door) and we have loved having that room back in use, as those of you who have come to any of the last three blog parties will know.

So now, we have to do the same in the outbuildings.  It’s not a job I’m landed with myself, because of my lovely family.  Weeza and Phil have spent the last two Saturdays helping – well, I wasn’t here last weekend, so it was them with our dear friend J – and huge amounts of stuff have been sorted out and looked through.  One pile is for the skip, another for the scrap metal man, a lot of things have been burnt (papers were not necessarily rubbish in the first place, but haven’t ever been sorted through, so were way out of date) and the rest has been put back, ready to be dealt with in due course.

I also looked in the big barn, for the first time in many years, and discovered that there was a whole extra car that Russell had never told me he’d bought.  I’d not have minded, I’ve no idea why he didn’t tell me.  I’m just not the controlling type, I have respect for other people’s point of view and don’t expect to impose mine.

I did find a few old corkscrews, which I like very much and will keep.  We also found three bottles of brandy and several of champagne (though they may be ruined by now, I hold out little hope for them), which was cheering.  There were two prints of an adorable photo of Russell on his first birthday, looking remarkably like our youngest grandson, Gus.  I gave one to Weeza and sent the other with her for Ro.  I hope we’ll find a third print for Al, but I can always get a copy.

9 comments on “Clearing and cleaning

  1. Dinahmow

    I would dearly love to turf out the accumulated rubbish from here…sadly, much of it must be kept, but dear god! it takes up space! (And rather a lot of it is mine!)

  2. kipper

    I’ve been going through family heirlooms, keeping the things I truly love and can use and passing along the other items. .One big box of heirlooms will be mailed to a cousin before Christmas. I just gave a dear friend a large tablecloth hand crocheted by my Grandma. She was delighted to receive it ., I’d never used it and it was stored away. Now the tablecloth has a good home and will be used and appreciated even more. Clearing things out really eases a lot of stress.

  3. Z Post author

    Not years, AQ, I don’t mean to have my life ruled by this for longer than I can help. Those three months turning out the house broke me and I have to get it all done as soon as I can.

    I know what you mean. Di, I’ve got a lot of stuff myself, but I have to take control. I don’t want it any more.

    That’s just it, Kippy – if I love something and want to use it, that’s great, but otherwise it can go.

    Another Morris Minor, BW. That makes three, including Al’s. I rather love them myself, but I now own six cars and have another two on the premises, and it’s a bit much.

  4. tim

    In principle I’d gladly take one of the Minors off your hands, Z, – my first car (well, my mother’s to be exact), which I loved – but sadly my garage is full of the same sort of Stuff you’re working your way through.

  5. Z Post author

    My first car too, I’m immensely fond of them. And the old Rover in my header picture was R’s first car, though 25 years old when he bought it, so that would cause an awful pang to dispose of – but I’m not staying here long-term and I don’t suppose any of the children will be able to keep them either.

  6. Liz

    Having visited your house on several occasions, I can guess the scale of the job in hand and I do not envy you. I can’t get over Russell managing to hide an entire car from you.

    When Sir Bruin’s mother died 3 years ago, she left him a house full of junk. Some of the stuff she kept was astonishing – for example, whole boxes of empty used envelopes and a drawer full of old wine corks! We started trying to go through stuff ourselves but once we had extracted the paperwork we were looking for, we conceded that it was too big a job for us. At that time we were both working full-time and just doing it at weekends would have taken months. This is clearly a different situation for you because you live in the house that needs sorting. The late Mrs B’s house was empty so we had the option of calling in a house clearance firm, which Sir Bruin did.

    Anyway, good luck with it all and I’m glad that you are getting a bit of extra company from Roses.

  7. sablonneuse

    My goodness, it sounds like quite a task so I’m pleased you have help. An elderly friend of mine had the job of clearing a small house that belonged to her stepmother recently. She is 84 and the eldest of three sisters. The youngest is a nun in Africa and the middle one simply took all the best stuff and left my friend to do the rest. We helped a bit and so did other friends but even that small house seemed like a major undertaking.
    At least you don’t have a time limit on your clearing so can be a bit more relaxed about it.
    Still can’t imagine how Russell managed to hide a whole car though. Was it because you didn’t go into that particular barn or was it covered with other stuff?


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