Today is the thirtieth anniversary of my moving to this house. It was the day before Ro’s second birthday, which is the reason it’s easy to remember – I’m not big on anniversaries, usually.
I want to reminisce about the events leading up to us coming here to live, but I should have started a week ago, to finish with the anniversary itself. But maybe I’ll do that, go back a couple of years, in the next few days. I’ll just remember the first evening.
We had had a lot of work done to the house, including complete rewiring, and we had bought new beds, sofa and chairs and we’d told everyone concerned that this was the moving day. And our builders didn’t believe us. They thought we could postpone by a few days. When we finally convinced them, they started to work really hard but they couldn’t catch up. Nor could we get the beds delivered until the next day. So an electric extension lead was run through from the annexe and we had a lamp on the end of it. The Aga was on, so we could cook and have hot water. We had candles, otherwise – but it was summer, so it was light for much of the evening.
I wish I could remember what I cooked for dinner. Surely it wouldn’t have been a complicated meal, but I do remember standing there at the Aga, learning to use it. I had sickle-shaped scars on my arms for years from the Aga-burns – the oven goes back a long way and it took ages not to catch my arm at the door. When I’d arrived in the late afternoon, because I’d supervised the final packing up at our old house while Russell organised things here as the van arrived, I discovered that the house was almost empty. He’d had much of the furniture put in the garages. I was bewildered. “I didn’t want anything put in the wrong room,” he explained. Um, like the dining table and chairs in the dining room, for instance? I had no idea. We had to haul in furniture before we could do anything at all.
What we had discussed was the sleeping arrangements. We’d kept Ro in his cot until then, as we were getting him a new bed and there didn’t seem much point in moving it. Weeza already had a quite new bed, and we were giving our old double bed to Al. As the new ones for us and Ro were arriving the next day, it was agreed – I’m pretty sure I just said, actually – that Ro had better have Weeza’s bed rather than sleep on the floor, we’d have the double bed and the two older children could have camp beds. So at least they were in the right places.
I had always lived near the water, all my life. First on a clifftop in Weymouth, then by Oulton Broad, then near the sea in Lowestoft. Although there’s a stream running through the garden here and the river isn’t far away, it’s not the same at all and I thought I’d really miss the seaside. But I felt so much at home here straight away that I never did. I do now though, or rather the riverside, which is the reason I planned to buy a riverside house when I sold this house. But plans have changed as you know, and we’re not moving for the time being, anyway. Two years ago, I didn’t think I’d see out thirty years here. But I’m glad I have.