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Sunday, 29 November 2009

D-10 Stocks

For months we've been trying to calculate how much we need to keep in the house, in terms of cleaning products, food, toilet paper etc.

With just 10 days to go, it's fair to say I won't be using the six or seven tubes of toothpaste I seem have stocked up, and our last bottle of washing-up liquid has been purchased. Soap, shampoo, shaving items, all have been counted and the excess packed and stored for shipping to the US. As there's a cost involved we've tried to minimise our stocks, and a lot has been thrown out.

I't's rather thrilling to know that this is the last pot of Marmite I'll be buying for the forseeable (I won't be eating Marmite in the US), and even the pound of butter in the fridge will probably see us through.

I've laid out the clothes I'll be wearing for the next 10 days, ready to wear, then wash and pack, in the knowledge that once it's in the suitcase it won't need to come out again. As we've been living out of our suitcases for months that's quite a relief.

Of course in another 12 days we'll be out at Winco or Costco or Target stocking up again, but the difference will be that we'll have a car to carry everything back from the store, and won't worry about having to be tidy at home.

It's all good.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Just back from a wet and windy week in Dublin. My wife and I wanted to get away from the house for a while now it's almost stripped bare, and leave it free for viewings.

Dublin is very easy and cheap to fly to from London at the moment, and for accommodation we rented a one-bedroom apartment in Christchurch Halls. The apartment was very comfortable, but lacked the Wi-Fi access we had booked it for, so slightly disappointing but overall good value.

During our trip the West of Ireland and the North-West of England suffered massive rainfall and flooding, with many businesses and houses flooded to a depth of several feet. Heartbreaking and mostly unpredicatable and unavoidable, though building at least 20-30 feet higher than the nearest river would seem a good idea. Dublin got a share of the rain but really nothing in comparison, and probably no more than Eugene would get this time of year normally, the difference being that we had to walk everywhere in it.

The Euro is unfortunately strong at the moment, and prices are already high for eating out, so we alternated with sandwiches or eating in to reduce the food bill. With limited luggage space we bought only a few souvenirs, mostly books in Irish for my wife to read, which are hard to obtain even in Dublin.

We now have just two weeks before the big day. Our Estate agent managed to get in eight or so viewings while we were away, but no offers on the house yet.

With the house almost bare, and due to be even barer in a couple of days as the last few things we can't carry with us go into storage, we've a few outings and a party lined up to keep us amused, and packing and re-packing of suitcases. After the storage unit is emptied on Monday, the contents being collected for shipping, we'll be sitting on the futon or bed reading books, watching TV and playing Nintendo DS for amusement in the evenings.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Nets & Bulbs

Net curtains are a feature of most English suburban houses that appear to be missing from the American scene. Nets are thin white lacy curtains that you hang permanently inside a window, to prevent the neighbours from seeing your goings-on.

Their success in this regard is limited, they cut down vision but do not prevent it, especially at night if you forget to draw the real curtains. However their success in collecting dirt and dust is legendary, and I've recently washed all our net curtains, changing their colour from grey to off-white.

I shan't miss these ugly things in America, and am looking forward to blinds, which do the combined job of nets and regular curtains better than either, and are easier to clean and less bulky.

In this house we have six different types of light bulbs. In England the bayonet fitting used to be universal, but we now also use screw fittings, and thanks to the peculiarities of this house we have 100W big spotlights in the kitchen and bathroom, plus a small fluorescent tube over the hob, 60W smaller spotlights in the stairwell, a 60W screw-fitting regular bulb in a standard lamp, and 12W and 20W energy-saving bayonet-fitting light bulbs in ceiling lights in the bedrooms and through lounge respectively.

I don't know if US houses have to deal with this huge variety. We've actually cut down by getting rid of all our table lamps, which would add a couple more types, but I'm hoping we can reduce a little. Of course, we'll also have more space to store spare bulbs, which currently reside in the cupboard under the stairs.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

D -28

Only 28 days till we fly out, pick up our hire car and drive down to Eugene to settle into our rented apartment.

My wife has stopped working so we have some time together to finish the last few bits of clearing and packing, and have a short break in Dublin to get away from things for a while.

I'm now thinking everytime I go shopping that it might be my box of teabags, jar of Marmite or packet of Digestive Biscuits that I buy in the UK. Of course I can get all those things in the US at a price, but it won't be quite the same. We're also organising a few things to ease our arrival, like a US laptop and cell phones, which we're ordering online and timing to hopefully be there when we arrive.

We're also anticipating a necessary but delightful shopping spree in the US, getting the necessaries for apartment comfort, and filling a proper freezer for the first time. We've never had the luxury of buying in bulk, so shops like Winco and Costco will be getting our business soon.

Our house in London is now officially taking viewings, and should appear on our estate Agent's website in the next day or two. There's so little left in it that all the rooms appear very spacious, and we're hoping for lots of interest in the next month.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

D -38

Things have been moving quickly, and it's now 38 days until we fly to the US to being the new phase of our lives in Eugene.

The house is still in minor chaos, mainly because we now have the entire kitchen ripped out, and the new units (in pieces in boxes) and old appliances are standing in the back of the through lounge, waiting for the kitchen intallers to start work tomorrow.

The three bedrooms also have a lesser degree of junk piled up, as we sort through our remaining piles of possessions, making the familiar keep/sell/give/ throw decisions.

The next week will see the kitchen fill up with units and appliances, thus emptying the through lounge, which should then be the site for the few remaining boxes of items for shipping. If all goes well, in a week's time we will be ready for the house to officially go to market, and it will be as empty of traces of us as we can make it while still living in it.