A (house) moving experience

Border Removals van

Wow! Well that was one long, tiring and emotional roller-coaster of a week. For the last six days I’ve been in Selkirk (in the Scottish Borders) helping Mum move house; I got back late last night and pretty much went straight to bed.

Here’s how my week has been:

Monday 20 August

I spent all morning, and much of the afternoon cleaning our house (in Anstruther) from top to bottom. I wanted to leave a tidy, clean house for Jane so that she didn’t have much to do this week — I knew that it would be a long, tiring week for her.

So, I arrived in Selkirk at 17:00. Mum had spent the day communicating with lawyers, estate agents and the Halifax building society trying to make sure that the bridging loan would come through in time … it was a nervous wait overnight.

Mum suddenly realised that she needed buildings and contents insurance for her new flat. When I arrived she was on the phone arranging it.

We finished as much as we could in preparation for the removals firm coming in at midday on Tuesday to begin the packing.

Tuesday 21 August

I phoned the removals firm to confirm when they’d be arriving. They confirmed 08:30 … on Wednesday!

The Halifax phoned to say that it was looking unlikely that the bridging loan would go through in time for a move on Wednesday, but they’d do everything they could … the snag was that there were a few things that would need to be looked into by both of Mum’s lawyers (buying and selling).

I telephoned the removals firm and made contingency plans should the loan not come through.

Mum went to a funeral just before 11:00.

During the following 90 minutes the phone rang endlessly: lawyer, Halifax, another lawyer, Halifax again, repeat.

Mum returned a began chasing up one of the lawyers, who still needed to confirm something with the Halifax. If he could do it before 14:00 then there was now a good chance that the loan would go through in time. The Halifax sent them a fax around 11:30.

Mum got through to the lawyer’s office. He was on a call, he’d phone back. He didn’t phone back.

Repeat that last sentence.


Mum eventually spoke with him around 15:00 (too late for the loan to complete). “What fax?” he said. And then laughed, “Oh! Oh! There’s a fax on the fax machine from the Halifax.”

A nervous wait.

The phone rang. It was the lawyer, he’d sent the required information to the Halifax. Oh, and the sale of the house had just been completed. The missives were signed, there was no way that the sale would fall through now. Mum and I both visibly breathed a sigh of relief.

It was doubly good news: now that the sale was completed it meant that Mum’s bridging loan would go through as a closed rather than open bridging loan, because there was a guaranteed limit to the length of time required on the loan. That’s a saving of about £700 for Mum.

The phone rang again. It was the Halifax: Mum would have to go to the local branch of the Halifax Bank of Scotland to sign the papers. The money would be queued for processing the following day, anytime before 17:00.

On Tuesday evening I took Mum out for a meal to celebrate, and then a drive around the Borders countryside. We needed to get out and away.

Wednesday 22 August

Removals day. At 08:30 sharp Border Removals turned up with two lorries and six men. They had most of the house packed and cleared in 90 minutes, when one lorry and three men disappeared to attend to another job.

Mum’s lawyer phoned around 11:00 to say that the money was in. She’d have to write a cheque, deliver it to the estate agents and then she’d call back to say that the flat was Mum’s.

After Mum went up to the lawyer’s office to sign the papers, I went down to the flat with the vacuum cleaner to hoover the carpets only to discover that the floors were up and Mum’s gas supply was being fitted to the living room.

Gas pipe under the floor

The removals men arrived just as the joiner (carpenter) was hammering down the last few nails. The lorry was unloaded and by 14:30 they had gone.

Jane arrived around 17:00 and we set about transferring all the boxes from the guest room to Mum’s room, building the guest bed, and transferring all the boxes back again. Mum went to bed with her room as normal and uncluttered as possible:

Bedroom with orange curtains

Thursday 23 August

On Thursday a couple of men arrived from The Fireplace, Hawick to knock a hole in the wall.

Hole in living room wall

Limited unpacking today: I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Besides we couldn’t do much until the gas fire was in (Friday) and the carpets down (Monday).

Friday 24 August

The fireplace men came early (08:15) and began to install the gas fire and limestone fireplace …

Jenni and Jane in front of the new fireplace

… which looks fantastic. Roll on Monday when the vinyl (hall and kitchen) and carpet (living room) are laid. Then the unpack-proper can take place.

But already Mum’s new flat is beginning to look like a home.


Praise the Lord for

  • the good weather
  • the masses of love and support that Mum’s had from friends and family
  • the wonderful people at the Halifax Bridging Loan department
  • the diligence of her lawyer
  • a new start for Mum

More photos…

See all my photos of the move on Flickr: Mum moves house (August 2007) collection.

Comments have been disabled due to the amount of comment spam I’m getting from removals firms!

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

3 thoughts on “A (house) moving experience”

  1. That’s a nice limestone fireplace!

    Is it Agean Limestone – it’s quite hard to tell from the image?

    Buck Richards

  2. Wow that was one hectic week to say the least. I’d just moved to Norwich and I thought that was stress, it was nothing compared to yours! I must admit removals Norwich were amazing, they were spot on with timing and even helped me unpack most of my stuff. I don’t know how you and your mum dealt with the last minute panic. Thanks for the post it was a great read and is the fireplace limestone?

  3. Such a nightmare isn’t it?! Still, it looks like you landed a nice place, that’s the main thing. How did you find the conveyancing side of things?

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