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Adam Lee-Potter on the stress of moving house

PUBLISHED: 16:02 03 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:02 03 December 2014

Illustration by Claire Jelly

Illustration by Claire Jelly


Sixty plus boxes, five sofas, a child and a Labrador - moving still feels as stressful as divorce or bereavement even when your new home is just down the road

The Daily Mail has, this week, been telling us how to anti-age our memories.


A benign touch of forgetfulness is one of life’s little, under-rated gifts. An overly-keen memory is the enemy of optimism: when you blindly trust the statistic of experience over the shimmer of hope, you blunt the joys of life.

You would never dare go walking without a map, you would never risk getting married or having children and you would certainly never move house.

When we last moved - from London to Dorset - my wife and I both swore a tight-lipped vow: never again.

Exactly three years ago, I wrote, in the grip of horror: “Moving is famously as stressful as divorce or bereavement. And it could still easily lead to either, or both. We have 47 boxes yet to unpack and those we have unpacked have unearthed an unenviable trove of tat, flotsam and broken glass.”

But our memories are happily shot. And that is why we have just found ourselves – in the comfy fug of amnesia – doing it all again, only now with 68 boxes, five sofas and a dog.

We had at least – or so we thought – learned some fundamental lessons in the interim. Last time, we took on the move ourselves, angrily hauling wads of furniture into a rented, terror-inducing Luton van that gave me sleepless nights for a fortnight.

For this outing, we instead booked a recommended removals firm to do the job, hoping to save our glass, our backs and our marriage.

We were duly promised four men and a lorry. But no. Thanks to some glitch, just three turned up on the day with a transit no larger than a family saloon.

“Oh,” said the boss airily, “you’re only moving down the road. It’ll take us three shuttles, no more. We’ll be done by 1.30pm.”

Ten shuttle-runs later – and gone 10.30pm – we were finally done. Well, almost.

Our buyers were understandably horrified when - popping round for a glimpse of their new house prior to moving in at the end of the month – found me in the kitchen, wildly dragging a mop across a still-grimy floor, cursing – and worse, reeking – like a navvy.

A flimsy bag of wet tripe – the dog’s dinner – had just slid from a hurriedly-cleared top shelf and exploded on my head, a toxic water bomb.

Our daughter Dory has, however, absorbed it all in her eight-year-old stride, taking to our absurdly-grand new gaff with a proprietorial gusto that has kept her parents on their toes.

“They,” she wrote in her diary with feeling, “haven’t even unpacked all my boxes yet. It’s been FIVE days!!!”

Meanwhile, I feel about 12 years old, an utter fraud in a palpably grown-up house. The former owner sized me up in a jiffy when he very sweetly popped back to explain the NASA-complex central heating, Aga and septic tank. As I trudged after him into the boiler room like a naughty schoolboy, my eyes glazed as he uttered the incomprehensible, dread words “valve schedule”.

He immediately and very sensibly turned to my wife - her pen and paper already in hand - as, with relief, I fled to put the kettle on and read up on Mary Berry’s recipe for drop scones.

Now that’s worth remembering.


Read on

Adam Lee Potter - If you love someone, tell them today

Adam Lee-Potter on the pitfalls of the posh dinner party

Adam Lee-Potter on the pressing need for a family holiday which doesn’t involve bikes


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