Moving house in the time of Covid!

Well here we are, today is the day, moving day.  How and why is a long story and I haven't wanted to write about it until now, some funny sense of maybe jinxing things maybe!   So for the various people who have asked about it here is the story.


We have been here for fifteen years and have loved it deeply but there is only one life and one of the things which has always interested us is building a new house from scratch.  Lots of people watch Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces.  That might have been all we did too but we began to feel that doing something about that itch might be a way to resolve the question of whether we would at some stage want to move from here.  There are two houses here - an ancient farmhouse and a holiday cottage, many outbuildings, two acres of land.  It is high up on a hill.  Probably at some stage we would need to leave. Perhaps we might build something?  Did we have another adventure in us?  It hung around as an idea but building plots are few and far between.

Three and a half years ago we were driving through the Vale of Clwyd with our heavily pregnant older daughter.   We had been out for a pub meal and it was a beautiful summer's evening.  "Shall we drive along the Vale?" we said.  We chose the back roads which we did not normally use and that is how we came to be driving through Gellifor, a small village about seven miles from here on the edge of the Vale just before the hills begin to rise.  

"Look, there is a for sale sign", I said.  "It looks like a building plot."

When we got home we looked at it on Rightmove.  It was a building plot, reasonably generous but an odd shape and with a huge lime tree on the boundary with the road.  Up here we have got used to big views and the privacy that comes with no immediate neighbours.  This plot was right at the end of the village with views up towards Penycloddiau and Moel Arthur from the side and back of the plot.  Those are our hills, the hills we look across to every day.  From the plot you look across the fields and up to those same hills.  We mused.  We looked at it again.  In an odd sort of way it felt right.

It took a while to buy it and then in spring of the following year we put our house on the market.  Various people wanted to buy it including a family who seemed very serious but were ultimately not able to raise the money.  While our house was on the market we found an architect.  Again that odd feeling of serendipity:  we wanted to use someone local but it was only when we went to see him that we discovered exactly how local he was, living only about a hundred yards away from the plot!

So life went on.  The architect designed a house which we really liked.  Our house stayed on the market.  More lovely grandchildren were born.  Life was full and busy with family and friends and choir and yoga and learning Spanish and Welsh but there was a bit of a sense of being in limbo.  Until the house sold we couldn't afford to build.  Still things kept on chugging along.  We found a builder we liked.  Ian went through the extraordinary hoop jumping exercise which eventually led to our being connected to Welsh Water's sewers.  

Then Covid 19 struck.  Particularly in the spring of last year we were glad to be locked down here.  The sun shone and we threw ourselves into making things grow.  If you can't go anywhere then to be here in the hills with the daffodils blowing, the buzzards flying, the garden throwing off vegetables at a rate faster than we could eat was a good place to be.  In the summer lockdown eased, the housing market reopened and we were overwhelmed (in a good way) with people wanting to buy our house.  We chose someone who seemed to have the same feeling for the house we had.  It is beautiful up here but there is work and commitment in living in a place like this which feels much less like work if you love it!  

And now the legal process has ground through its slow and tedious way, not helped at all by coronavirus, and the next stage of life begins.  We are renting a house in Caerwys, our most local place so that we can keep all our  local connections, for eighteen months or so while the new house is built.  Ian is down at the rental house supervising the removers with their first van load.  I have been packing and cleaning and now I am looking out across our view.  Will I miss it?  I expect so.  Am I excited at finally beginning to see the new house emerging?  Yes I am.  Mixed emotions.  But a new day.  I like a new day. 



Comments

  1. Darling Elizabeth,

    How very exciting all this is.

    We are great believers in serendipity and things working out often through chance and good luck rather than planning too hard. This seems like it was meant to be and the time is as right as it ever is or ever will be.

    Whatever, we wish you joy and happiness in your new home. You will make it a happy place, of that we are sure.

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    1. Thank you. What a lovely comment! I do agree entirely about serendipity. Sometimes things just fall together and everything works! Here's hoping for more to come!!

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  2. How exciting and brave. Congratulations. I look forward to more chapters on your adventure. xx

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    1. Thanks Lou! I never did get down to see you and covid put paid to jaunting about like that for a while. Maybe things will open up again!

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  3. Wishing you all the best today in your move and to your future house. B x

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    1. Thank you Barbara. So far so good today. The problem with moving house is that the house you are leaving gets tidier and tidier while the one you are moving into gets full of stuff!!

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  4. Oh what a marvellous adventure! I hope all goes well over the coming months and we get a glimpse of your new home at last. It's going to be strange not to imagine you perched up on high in those hills, which I do often.

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    1. Thanks Michelle. I shall blog a bit about the new house as it progresses. It will be good to have a record!

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    2. Yes, please, we would love to share in the adventure and see the progress.

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  5. Wow! I'd been wondering how these plans were going. Selling property seems to have been a slow process for everyone lately, so you've done really well. Looking forward to seeing the new house in progress.

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    1. Yes it has been amazingly slow but we get there in the end! Quite often it didn't feel real but it sure does today!

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  6. Elizabeth

    Enjoy every minute of building your new house. We’ve built twice now and hopefully will do it again at some point. You’ll sometimes wonder ‘what have we done’. Hopefully you’ll only have a few of these moments. Then you’ll be thinking what a fantastic opportunity we’ve created and how fabulous our new house is going to be. Create many happy memories as you build and create what you want. Good luck with everything. Jo

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    1. Thanks Jo. I am sure we will wonder what we have done at various points! But it does give you a chance to make something which is really yours and we are looking forward to that!

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  7. How exciting. I was wondering what was happening with your move. Covid has thrown a spoke into many a plan, glad to know it's all coming together. xogail

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    1. Covid really slowed things down and on to of that there was an explosion of house sales here in the UK, but we have just about got there!

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  8. Wonderful. I look forward to reading about and seeing photos of your new property, the build and the new views. It, definitely sounds as though it was meant to be. Good luck with it all. Hugs from New Zealand.

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    1. Thank you! We are having very cold weather here. Yet another reason to think finally off new Zealand!

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  9. wonderful and so very exciting.. so much to look forward to ..

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    1. It will be fascinating to set the new house emerge! Really looking forward to that!

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  10. We have built twice. And when we moved here, renovated to suit. In a strange way - you have to build three times - has made THIS house fit us best.
    Nothing beats the excitement of watching a new house come up. SO slow as you watch your own, but other new houses pop up overnight like mushrooms ;~)

    Delighted that we will have a fresh view of your Welsh Hills.

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    1. I'm looking forward to building a house that fits us. The whole process of spending time with the architect was really interesting and the design he came up with was not at all what I was existing but way better!

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  11. Oh gosh. I haven't commented in a very long time and have gotten behind reading posts. I celebrate your move, as a former interior designer and ex-spouse of an architect, who knows how exciting it is to build a place of your own. I will miss your view, but I second what Jane and Lance said above - I'm confident you will make a happy place in your new home. Your posts got me through some really tough times, in the depths of the recession, facing my own divorce and having to sell the only house I've ever owned. May your future be bright, Elizabeth. Thank you for your words and your inspiration.

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    1. What a lovely thing to say Frith. Thank you. I hope you have arrived at a contented time in your life. It's good to know that you are still reading. I really like that!

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  12. We (in western Canada) also sold and moved during covid, in June of 2020. I was so worried the movers would not come! But they did. What we learned from doing one renovation to the master bathroom in our new (to us) home, was that we had to pace ourselves in regards to our expectations. That one bathroom took 7.5 months, which was 2.5 times the projected timeline. Various tradespeople were impacted by different quarantines, which was one of the factors in the lengthy delays. Another was selecting fittings and product which had to be shipped. Our wall and floor tiles showed up, but the plumbing fixtures were very delayed. We would try to design around local, on hand, items if we did it over. But we are now gun shy so are indefinitely postponing the kitchen project. But your new build will probably be much faster than a reno! Best of luck, maybe you should sign up for Grand Designs so we can all see it?!
    Bonnie

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    1. How interesting! We have heard about builders having trouble sourcing materials here too. Let's hope it is not too much of a problem. I think Canada has been very strict with its coronavirus rules so maybe that accounts for some of it? Sounds like you have made something lovely!

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  13. Having (almost) renovated a very old cottage with the all the constraints and compromises that involves I've always said that given the chance I would love to build from scratch. I am very envious!
    I hope it all goes to plan and please do document it here on the blog. I for one will be fascinated.
    The very best of luck to you both!

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    1. We have been very much the same. We have loved living in and looking after a for hundred year old house but we are quite excited by the idea of something completely new. It has allowed us to say that we will have the things we can't have in an old house, so we can't have beams and character and that sense of being a temporary custodian but we can have huge windows and light and underfloor heating and a house which uses very little energy. So that will be fascinating partly simply because it is so very different! We've loved our 1610 house but I hope this one will be another one to love!

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  14. Congratulations on getting this far - no mean feat in these challenging times.
    Having failed to visit you in your old home we will look forward with great anticipation to seeing you in your new one when it’s finished!
    Lynne

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    1. Would love to see you and David in our new home when it's finally built or, as it will probably take about eighteen months, before that! Just need to be allowed out!

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  15. How interesting and exciting, building a new house!. A fresh breeze in your life.
    I´m looking forward to reading and watching more news and pics on your new house. Congratulations.
    Luz

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    1. Thank you Luz! After such a long time planning it is now a reality! Amazing.

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  16. Wonderful and exciting! Wishing you all the best and looking forward to reading and seeing updates.

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    1. Thank you. Now we come to the bit where you have to stop dreaming and start making things happen!

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  17. Pleased to hear the move went well and look forward to following the build of your new home.

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  18. Belated bit of blog catching up here.....I remember you writing about the proposed new house and the plot. Was that really 3 years ago! So pleased for you that the adventure has begun and like others, I look forward to seeing the progress. Enjoy the adventure.

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