Tuesday, 16 July 2013


We weren't going to sort through all our worldly possessions before the move. God no, that would be such a waste of time. Or so we thought.

Four days, a purple toe and some painful lessons later I look out over my new garden, filled from hedge to hedge with furniture. Bookcases, tables and nondescript shelving units that we could have dealt with before we had them all loaded into a truck. But really, we should have chucked out most of the stuff years ago
It's a nice enough house, our new place in the Netherlands, but it isn't very big. Or, more to the point, we've become quite spoiled, living in some very nice houses and appartments abroad, courtesy of our expat status. The fact that all of our foreign living quarters came with spacious basements, meant that getting rid of surplus furniture never seemed all that urgent.
Panick strikes Wednesday afternoon, when shortly after inspecting the new house, the massive removal lorry turns into our street. It finally dawns on me that measuring your new space and trying to fit your existing furniture into that space, is something you need to do weeks, or - even better - months before you move.
As it turns out we are bent over the hastily sketched floor plans till well past our bed time. At long last husband W. declares it is all going to be just fine and he is going to go to bed. Within minutes a familiar snoring exudes the new master bedroom. I on the other hand, lay awake for hours and when I finally doze off I have the most disturbing dreams featuring loads of furniture and a merry-go-round.
After a quick peck on the cheek, W. goes off the work early the next morning, leaving me and my mother in law, who - unaware of impending disaster - has kindly offered her support, to deal with a couple of German speaking movers and precisely 273 boxes.
The first hour or so of carrying stuff into the new house is relatively uneventful as the movers work their way through piles of boxes filled with books, plates, bowls, glasses and kitchen utensils. Our bookshelves fit, that much I know, so as a result, the books will all find somewhere to live. And the kitchen, the lovely new kitchen, is way bigger than the little Swiss galley kitchen. Finally I can fill three cupboards with tupperware, without feeling the slightest bit exessive.
Just as I start to relax a little bit, the movers come rushing in with scores of boxes labeled with the ominous 'Keller' (basement). Since we don't have a basement in the new house, we designated one of the bedrooms as (permanent?) storage space, deliberately overlooking the fact that this room is half the size of our former Swiss basement.
When this room is filled to the brim, I have to change tactics. The garden shed, I decide, will make another fantastic storage space. I could even lock the door and throw away the key. I can't imagine that I will ever have the slightest urge to look inside boxes and boxes of stuff that has been breeding in our various basements for the past eight years.
After the movers fill the shed, I send them two flights of very steep stairs up to a tiny bedroom in the attic. About ten boxes filled with fabric, pretty ribbons, buttons and other treasures find their way up there. I know I need to sort through my fabric stash and throw some of it away, but really life is too short to not give in to one or two addictions. Buying fabric is my addiction of choice. I am a bit of a magpie, what can I say?
By three in the afternoon, the constant decision making is taking it's toll. I can't think where the movers could possibly put down any more boxes, let alone two beds designed to go into guest rooms we no longer possess,  an old dining room table, four Ikea bookcases, six garden chairs, a coffee table, two carpets and an assortment of brightly coloured hat boxes that I haven't opened for the last three years. I let the men put it all down in the garden. Credit to them, they don't bat an eyelit.
Four days of absolutely glorious weather later (it must be the best summer since Napoleon invaded the Netherlands) and the furniture is still piled up high in the garden, spoiling the tiny, but once very pretty lawn. I have put all my cards on the local second hand furniture store who are despatching a few men and (hopefully a large) van. In order to tempt them to take my scruffy decade old Ikea furniture, I make husband W. carry most of the things back into the darkest part of the house. There I treat all the furniture with a bit of soapy water and/or a vacuum cleaner. It doesn't look half bad.
As I see it the second hand furniture shop assistants either take it, or we'll have to wait till New Year's eve when we can spray the stuff with petrol and strike a match or two.