Moray No More

Unless you’re on my Facebook friends list, my sporadic writing here over the past 3 months means that I’ve not really explained why we’re not living at our beloved Moray coast anymore. For the past wee while I’ve been far too busy and felt too low to write, even write in my paper diary. However, life has now returned to its normal rollercoaster levels; the black dog is still howling outside the windows but I’m not letting the fecker in; I now actually have time to do something during my waking hours instead of unpacking, moping and cleaning; and I now have broadband.

So: you might remember that I told you in June that The Boss got a new job. It started right away, so we immediately started house-hunting and got our home on the market very, very quickly. We spent a few weeks with him commuting home at weekends and having absolutely zero viewings on the house. Hmmmm, all our cunning plans relied on the house selling quickly; time for a re-plan.

Taking a big deep breath, I decided that we should go ahead and squander our life savings on taking away the misery and stress that we’d been suffering over the summer. We’d rent a house roughly in the area we intended to buy in, we’d all move over (including Foster and Killer Cats), start the minxes in their new school at the beginning of the new school year, and just sit tight until our home sold. I reasoned that if we’d have accepted a drop in house price of £x for a quick stress-free sale, then that £x was the value of getting a stress-free life. We’d gamble that leaving the house on the market would give us a better chance of getting its full sale price, and instead we’d spend the amount on renting that we had been prepared to drop the house price by. No more stressing about keeping a busy family home in constant viewable condition; no more worrying about when the girls’ schooling would be disrupted; no more tears and tantrums about having our family split up during the week. (Of course, the gamble could crumble and we’d lose twice as much…)

So, I took the minxes over to the campsite nearest their Daddy’s work for a fortnight and we had a camping ‘holiday’: they saw the Boss every night, and during the day we did a bit of local-area exploring and I did a lot of rental house-hunting. By the end of the fortnight, our home still had had no viewings and we’d only found one property up for rent that was big enough. It was far *too* big. And it wasn’t exactly perfect.

Now, I had a weekend Dad for most of my childhood, so I know kids do get used to anything. And I know lots of people deal with that kind of commute, whether because it doesn’t bother them or because they just have to get on with it, no choice. Well, none of us were getting used to it. And I felt guilty watching my children and husband cry every week when we had the means (just) to do something about it. The older minxes frequently sat on my lap for hugs, and told me how much they missed their Daddy. Mini Minx outwardly seemed unchanged, but was prone to sudden tears and chin-wobbly “I miss my Daddy!” wails whenever she stopped racing around. They were so bloody miserable, an dI wasn’t a barrel of laughs either. Oh, sod it…

Decision made, we actioned it immediately: we viewed the big house and moved in 2 weeks later, with school starting the week after that.

TWhateverhe house is a farmhouse right on a very busy dual carriageway, between Dundee and Aberdeen. The landlord and landlady are really lovely, helpful people. The Boss’s commute is a very acceptable half-hour. But… God, and I really feel guilty having a whine about any of this! Poor me and my very First World problems, eh? The cats hate being indoor cats. I hate them being indoor cats. But I’d hate them being ex-cats more. The girls struggled hard to settle in at their new school and only now in week 4 are they seeming a bit happier. I hate not being able to walk anywhere. Seriously. It’s on the dual carriageway. There are no paths or tracks anywhere. You have to drive. I hate having to get on, off or cross that dual carriageway a few times a day to get anywhere: there’s no run-up lane, so I have to trust my old car to get from 0-70mph as fast as I can in whatever gaps I can find in traffic. If I need to turn right, I have to nip over to a little gap in the central reservation and manoeuvre the car so the tail and nose don’t stick out and get hit by oncoming traffic. When slowing down to get off the dual carriageway, I have to be in the overtake lane, and have huge problems with people speeding right up behind me despite my obsessive indicating, use of brake lights, and me trying to aim for the emptiest stretch of traffic on the run-up to the turn off. And the worst bit for me: my need to live somewhere with nearly OCD-levels of cleanliness have meant I’ve spent 4 weeks of deep, deep cleaning and constantly feeling ‘ick’. I must stress, it really wasn’t a dirty house; it was just what you’d expect with a huge house that’s about 200 years old, on a farm, beside a busy road, that’s housed dogs, had an elderly couple living in it, and never met a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Also, with only 10 days notice that we wanted to move in, there wasn’t that much the landlords could do (though they tried very hard). It would have been absolutely fine had I had normal dirt tolerance levels, honestly! I am my own worst enemy.

Anyway, after a few weeks of spiralling into a black hole of constant cleaning, hating the smell of dog and tobacco that arose once the air fresheners were removed, missing the sunshine (our move coincided with a period of thick fog almost every single day for a fortnight) and not being able to see the sea all the time, my friend took me in hand: “Man up! Go for a walk in the sunshine!” So I did. On Mini Minx’s first half day in nursery and my first non-clinging-child halfday in around 7 years, and on my friend’s recommendation, I discovered Lunan Bay. And that marching about for an hour when you’ve not really walked for weeks is kinda sore on your hips… I also discovered that I still get vertigo looking out to sea that doesn’t have a far coast.

That walk really helped. Every step and breath of sea air gave me a renewed, more real perspective. I finally got a grip. How bloody lucky were we that I hadn’t spent my retirement lump sum on fags, beer and yarn? How lucky were we that The Boss got a new job at all? How lucky were we to find somewhere else to live at all?

The biggest de-stressor, though, was my Dad getting through a long operation to replace a crumbled hip and repair his pelvis. He’d had 2 hip replacements years ago and they’d needed redone years ago. With lots of medical complications that hung a shadow of doubt over whether surgeons would even attempt to rebuild him, I was hugely relieved that he emerged in one piece (eventually), spitting and cursing, at the other end. Phew!

So, with that pathetic and overly-long whinge out the way, back to normal blogging and grumpiness!

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