After a whole 9 days in the Loire Valley
, I can confirm I have consumed more red wine since arriving than the previous 4 weeks before leaving London. The busy life of a volunteer HelpXer
! Thank you for following me and an apology! I know!! I have to apply myself more to blogging and less to drinking red wine, I promise I will but its so hard when the sun is shining and the delicious nectar is only 2 Euro a bottle.
I feel the need to set the scene a little for my first on the road blog, well this is more of a ‘the week before the road’ blog. A heads up to most of you that have not moved house. It’s a nightmare, not impossible just busy, really crazy busy. No matter how much I planned, I thought my last week before leaving London would be hectic but I honestly don’t know where my last 7 days in London went.
“It’s ok, it’s fine, I don’t have much to do.” I told a friend. “I’m organised and logical, how hard can this be?”
Just 4 simple tasks:
1) sell stuff on eBay and give the rest to charity
2) throw out stuff I’ve not missed after 2 years in storage
3) rip my DVDs, CDs then sell on Music Magpie
4) pack backpack
Talk about oversimplified and underestimated! By Tuesday, with 6 days to go, oh lordy I still had lots of ‘stuff’ and it was multiplying.
No chance of doing the activities that I’d never got round to – Houses of Parliament tour, take a Thames boat trip from the west, Hampton Palace, all the way east to the Thames Barrier, the Highgate Cemetery Tour; and of course, I would have liked to have squeezed another theatre show in. Hey ho, now something to look forward to as a returning traveller to my favourite city.
That said, I definitely had the travelling gods smiling on me 4 out of my last 6 days.
Firstly, no offence to my landlady and house-mate Estelle but it was super fortunate that she was on holiday while I was away. I have no idea why I keep the ‘stuff’ but I do and Estelle’s house looked like I’d tipped my belongings out of a skip into her dining room and kitchen. I always wanted to downsize my storage unit as I did a couple of years ago moving into Estelle’s spare room then further again when my sister Bernice took my furniture off my hands but it’s time to admit it. My name is Rowan and I am a hoarder. I am very good at arranging items in neat aesthetically pleasing piles!
I found tops and boots I bought 20 years ago, a laughable amount of clothes that I hope to slim back into, and for those who know me – too many cardigans, scarves and shoes for one girl to own. Thankfully being ‘homeless’ results in a more brutal approach to – “keep, charity or bin!” Well, it does the 3rd time of reducing the huge ‘keep’ ‘aesthetically pleasing pile’.
Second-time luck was on my side. I had a double blow up bed that I remember deflated when used last by my friends Karen and Kit. Let’s not touch on why I’d kept a possibly broken blow up bed in storage. Plus I had lost the cap in transit somehow so no way of testing before I donated or chucked. Instead, I took a jaunt down to the local shop for treats to keep me going and what should I see on the pavement just before I reached the Co-op? Exactly the right screw cap for the blow-up bed!! What are the chances???? No really, what are the odds of that happening!? Almost a little spooky.
Thirdly, the UBER
taxi drivers stacking up my ‘life’ with each trip to my Bermondsey storage were actually nice and helpful. An unusual and very appreciated surprise. I nearly hired a ZipCar
for the day. A great idea for city dwellers not needing to own a car all the time. With a quick map search, it transpired I’d walked past a ZipCar at least 3 or 4 times a month for the last 2 years, clearly with my eyes closed. But in this instance, with the amount of trips back & forth plus the sorting of ‘stuff’, there is absolutely no way I could have achieved everything in one day. Using UBER 4 times was cheaper by comparison to the daily hire of a car. It would have been a great experience to get back behind the steering wheel after 7 years; little did I know that I would be driving on the wrong side of the road from Vernantes
just 7 days later.
Back to the storage unit, it reminds me of the TV programme CSI, the characters found many a dead body left to rot in a storage unit, however I relate filling my storage unit to the game of Tetris Basically row upon row of various sized bright yellow doors, a corridor maze of 100s of units and usually no people.
The latter, no people, is important as invariably the ‘stuff’ to throw away is at the back of the unit.
Therefore a need to bring everything out, block a corridor and spill out as a health & safety disaster. I visited four times in five days to blitz either picking up bits to recycle, charity or dump.
Twice I had to navigate around this crazy lady looking for a very specific something within her 8 suitcases whilst she was up a ladder. My unit door was under hers – who hires a locker that you need to access frequently by ladder! The first time I met her I was up against it time-wise so I had to go hard and intimidate her a little. I needed to get in! I felt bad when she sloped off. I don’t think I could really describe how frustrating and funny it is to see only one other person in a huge warehouse and they’re right in the space you need to be. But twice! Poor woman.
Hands-up, I completely failed to sell anything on eBay
! The pain in the bum with eBay is the time it takes to put each item online. If you’ve not sold on eBay, it really is simple but to maximise sales then a seller should always have great photos in natural daylight and an information and extensive item blurb. I managed the photos and then I stalled. I had a proper look at what I was selling and what potential money I could gain vs. time. It was fast running out of the latter. I knocked it on the head.
I was so so happy to find a great charity called TRAID
that arranges pick-up collections of donations
. My eBay loss became the charity TRAID’s gain.
The travelling gods understood I’d have to pay for another UBER to get the items to a charity shop; ideal for a person without a car. I could never get 4 bags of clothes, 20 pairs of shoes, crockery, cutlery, 3 coats, 6 handbags, video player and 30 video tapes on the bus. Hope the charity gets at least a tenner.
I did have success in giving my food away! Food banks
are desperately in need of donations. I’d so many packets of pulses that I bought for one fad or another. A quick local search via the wonder of Google resulted in 3 options of food banks for me near Peckham/East Dulwich
area, I dropped off all my canned goods, rice, couscous, lentils and the list goes on. Don’t waste food! Someone else will make use of it.
Ripping DVDs is harder than expected, I wanted to take a few films with me on my
travels for those quiet nights in plus I thought I could make some money for a dinner or accommodation on travels.
After a few false starts and a friend’s recommendation, I set myself up with Handbrake
– they have the strangest of logos for tech software. Of course, a cocktail and a pineapple!?! I recommend though, its really easy to use.
The ripping took up to 4 hours for some DVD formats, at the end of the day I had 30 movies to take with me. This was over the course of a month, so not exactly quick. Especially when you think you’ve pressed go and the bloomin’ thing hasn’t started.
, on the other hand, is quick, simple and whilst you are never going to get a lot of money from it, I’ve money for at least 2 nights accommodation from selling CDs and DVDs.
By Saturday, T-1, I felt I was nearly there, I had one more visit to storage to drop off the items I couldn’t fit in my backpack. I have definitely packed too much, trying to have clothes for all seasons is hard. Plus the essential selection of shoes, cardigans and scarves. I tried to layout out all the clothing and strip it back but the hoarder in me was alive and well. I’ll see how long I last before I start offloading items as I travel. My recent travels are always holidays in hot locations therefore no need for jumpers or tights. My backpack is the one my folks bought me when I was about 17-18 so I could complete my Queens Scout expedition in the late 90s. A walk around the perimeter of the Isle of Wight and now to explore Europe. Quite a journey for my favourite backpack. It’s worn and starting to fall apart at the seams but I have to give the brand Karrimor credit. Its survived 20+ years of use, so comfortable to wear and I’ve never wanted to buy another just because.
The room at Estelle’s felt strange on Saturday night, the nerves had been gradually growing as was the realisation I was actually doing this. Not the same as a holiday when you tidy up so you can return home to a clean and cosy home. The room was empty, just me, my backpack, a ton of shredding to do and the vac. What a way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday was time to have a little wander in the centre of the city around some of my usual spots. Especially in light of the awful recent terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge, I was unusually off kilter and emotional, I felt almost defiant and jumped on a bus to walk over Westminster Bridge as a two finger salute to the extremists and their actions.
I still had cleaning to finish but I made time, got up early and everything. A few of my favourites London locations that I’ll never forget and will definitely be back to.
I was surprisingly calm on Sunday night, this was it! Time for one big adventure; ready world, here I come. Next stop Chateau de Jalesnes
Oh ok, just one more London pic….