Mental maths

You know those inane maths problems? “9 people got on a bus. They had 3 cakes each. 2 people got off at the first stop, but 1 person left his cake behind on the back seat. 2 people got on at the next stop but 1 was wheat-intolerant… blah blah… How many cakes were eaten that day?” Well here’s my version, in case you’re ever waiting for a real bus and you’re bored. It’s about boxes and cases instead of buses and cakes.

It started last Easter with car boot sales. We haggled with the kids over keeping or chucking – Evie said she HAD to keep the rocking horse as it has feelings and deserves to be passed down the generations. Yep – it was tricky. Liberating but tricky.

October: all 5 of us packed 1 case each and moved to Central Worthing. The nice men came and took everything else away and we sold our house.

A week later: moved to Dubai to stay with relations. We had already accumulated a few birthday DVD box sets and a goodbye scrapbook within that short week. Once in Dubai we accumulated a ton of toiletries, 2 pairs of cheap-y trainers and a kindle.

Mid-November: Packed down into 2 suitcases and ’popped back’ to the UK with our waiver letter to apply for our visas. Left 3 cases behind in Dubai plus a couple of skateboards.

Got stuck in the UK, as we had to hand in our passports. In their place we accumulated 2 faux fur coats and another ton of toiletries. Our Great British Winter Nomadic Project began. We stayed in Goring, then moved to a seafront flat (2 cases), went up to Penge (1 case) then back to Goring (2 cases). I also packed my overnight case a couple of times – for Swindon, then Brighton. (That’s half a case.)

After a while, back in Goring it became apparent that we were staying around for an English Xmas. We began accumulating quicker than you could say “no crib for a bed”. A Playmobil nativity set, a homemade stocking and a Make-your-own-Unicorn set. We moved up to Storrington for Xmas week. 3 or 4 cases, borrowed. Baileys eased the way.

We packed down into 2 cases and went to Bedford then Orpington. By the time we got back to Sussex we’d accumulated a whole extra case, a set of juggling balls, a bargain swimsuit, the Guinness book of Records and a Rubiks cube. Oh and 5 visas but they didn’t take up any room.

We ditched 1 car, collected 2 cases from Storrington and had a re-shuffle. I created 1 winter case which included 2 faux fur coats, a playmobil nativity set and a Make-Your-Own-Unicorn set.

On 7th Jan we went back to Dubai, collected our original 3 cases and 2 skateboards and the original ton of toiletries… and accumulated 1 Playstation from the relations for Xmas! It was VERY BIG. But YEYY ANYWAY!

On 12th Jan we arrived in SA with 6 cases and and numerous plastic bags that had been stuffed up our jumpers at check-in, bulging pockets and hand luggage, plus a guitar and a stuffed dog on a lead. We kissed the WALL-TO-WALL WARDROBES that greeted us in our guest house…… Ohhhhh how I unpacked…. every earring, every Xmas card, every receipt even, it all got unpacked and spread around the place (except the special winter case which remained untouched of course).

Within 24 hours we had accumulated a mountain of school uniforms, bags, and equipment. By the time we moved on a month later, we also had a mountain of HAWAIIN PROPS – extraneous grass skirts, chocolate sprinkles and plastic flamingo plates etc.

In Totius St, our rented house, we accumulated bedding for 5. A sharp knife (no comments thank you), a bracelet made from a vintage fork (sent with love from England), squash racquets, a lawn mower, a sandwich toaster and telly. Last but not least, ONE BELOVED PUPPY!!

When the Easter break arrived we packed into 2 cases and went to a conference in Clarens. This necessitated me dipping into my “one winter case” which caused much angst. Ouch, it hurts me to remember.

By the time we came back we had a whole load of medication for dogs (a future blog for a rainy day) and a package of puppy-themed fabric sent out by a mate via a heroic fabric-smuggler.

Then we packed down into 2 cases for a sunny holiday. We had accumulated 2 fishing rods, snorkels and 5 jars of soil with beans in – an experiment for a very untimely school project. Everything else went into Nigel’s garage: Hawaiin garlands, lawn mower, un-made unicorns, Playmobil Jesus, the lot.

We stayed overnight on the way so did a partial unpack in a place called Mountain Shadows. The Easter Bunny visited. Then we stayed in Umgazana lodge for a night (partial unpack), then a beach house (full unpack), where we accumulated driftwood, seashells and sardines for fishing – stinky. Then back to Umgazana lodge (another partial unpack).

On 3rd April we drove back to Bloem with 2 cases plus extra plastic bags, and moved into Nigel’s spare room – again, a partial unpack. Emotional reunions with the sandwich toaster and Make-Your-Own-Unicorn set etc etc in his garage. School started the next day so all school stuff was ready and waiting (which involved a swap from summer to winter uniforms don’tcha know – we got this whole school thing nailed this time).

Back to the maths problem: How many times did I pack and unpack in total? And where’s my cakes?!

Who cares! On 6th we moved to our house! Like, an actual HOUSE with doors and rooms and everything, called “SPRINGS”. As the Pickfords van rolled up (with more toiletries inside) I experienced a wave of emotional weirdness – a silent acknowledgment that “This_has_been_a_total_nightmare” and a massive sense of relief. It’s over.

But wait. You remember I said this house was a ‘do-er up-er’? The other day our builder was wandering around, sizing up his task in the open plan kitchen/lounge/dining room. He eventually said nonchalantly, “Look… it’s probably best if you move out of this half of the house. Maybe you can camp out in the other half for a while? What do you think….?”

You may like to enter a competition in my comments section. It’s entitled “What DID Pam think…?” The winning entrant will receive an item from the toiletry department and a Hawaiin garland of your choice.