Long story short, my boyfriend was offered a funded a Phd at Exeter uni in June 2014, and just like that we were moving 150 miles away! My Dad suggested that we buy a house with his help rather than give all our money to a landlord via rent, so we started our house hunting.
Buying a house is stressful at the best of times, but we didn’t know the area, we were on a time scale of two months, and a budget which was not our money to squander.
In the end we got one of my favourites that we’d seen – but not after a lot of stress due to the vendors not dropping the price after the Estate Agent had assured us there would be wriggle room, and really it was £10,000 over it’s real value, the searches taking 5 weeks instead of 5 days because the council had just sacked 4 people in that department, and finding out the house was not empty as the vendor had stated but in fact her son was living there, and that’s why they were delaying on signing the final contracts to set the moving in date.
These delays also meant that rather than the 2 weeks in mid-late August we’d planned on settling in and pootling about together, Pat ended up travelling backwards and forwards, staying in his Mum’s friend’s Auntie’s house (thank goodness they were lovely people) and I ended up packing up our house by myself. It wouldn’t have been so bad were we not incredible hoarders. I ended up throwing out 18 bin bags of rubbish and in the end I didn’t have time to sort through everything. The fact we were moving to a house that had almost half the floor space of where we’d been living did not help.
3 lonely nights of 2-3 hours sleep on a mattress on the floor surrounded by crap was not conducive to healthy stress levels, and when, finally, at 1am. on 18th September I loaded the last box into the van and went to my parents house for 4 hours sleep before getting up at 5.30am to go and pack the very last of my stuff into my car, to say I was exhausted was an understatement. When I finally arrived at the house at 2pm my Dad and Uncle who had driven the Van down had already, with the help of Pat, unloaded the boxes into the house. There was no room to move, boxes piled high and furniture in it’s place but looking cramped, and I knew I didn’t have long to wait before I had to undo all the packing all over again, although at least this time I had a lot of help from Pat.
The one good thing through this was that my boss at Arundel Castle, where I was working, was fantastic, and would at the beginning of each week ask me if I thought I’d be there next week, letting me carry on until the 12th September. I was so very sad to leave that job, but it was not full time all year round, and I only got it because we were moving and I couldn’t stay in my permanent job at a Homelessness charity, so it’s swings and roundabouts really.
This meant however that I arrived in Exeter without a job, and ended up temping at the local council. What was meant to be some simple temping to pay the bills ended up being a high pressured job dealing with School budgets and teacher’s wages, the position vacant only because they hadn’t been able to re-recruit during a restructure. My excel skills rocketed (exciting!…or not.) and the people were nice enough but I became more and more stressed and it was not the job I needed at the time, and so once the restructure had taken place and they could advertise for the job again, I decided it was time to leave.
In this time, poor Pat had been enduring what is probably one of the most unsettled starts to a Phd in the entire history of time. Back and forwards not just between Chichester and Exeter (Oh the money we wasted on petrol and train fares!) but also between the Uni and Sandy Park in a city he didn’t know, trying to divide his time between them and help me at home as well.
The hardest part was probably that we argued a couple of times. Pat and I never argue, and I know lots of people say that but we really, really don’t. And to be honest, we didn’t exactly argue, but I felt like we’d become a bit distant, Pat was stressed and worried that he’d moved us here just for his Phd and was letting me down by not finding everything easy (not that he’s hard on himself or anything, and completely disregarding the fact that I’d wanted to move to the South West since I was 9 years old!) and in the end I had a few choice words about how going into himself was the opposite of what would make me feel better and that perhaps actually telling me what was stressing him out and allowing me to help him organise stuff might be useful – as I am excellent at time management (but only when it comes to work, my day to day life is generally a shambles that seems to just about come together more by luck than anything I’ve done), and Pat is not, not to mention the fact that he was being pulled in every direction with everyone believing they were the most important and deserving of his time, probably myself included! He seemed to believe he must accept no help from anyone or everything was proven to be a catastrophic failure, thankfully this is no longer the case, and we are back to our normal, disgustingly happy selves. 😀
If anyone is going through a big move away from home, I feel your pain. I also have some tips on how to badger estate agents, solicitors and vendors to the point where they just do what you ask – if interested do let me know, although it’s basically passive aggressive persistence….
So to sum up, it was a pretty stressful time, I think especially because neither I or Pat had moved away for Uni, I was missing out on my sister’s new baby, when I had seen her first little girl 1-3 times a week for the first year of her life, and we knew exactly 0 people in the area, as everyone we knew was somewhere between Chichester, Brighton and London.
However throughout all this, we were actually having some really lovely times, and all of those lovely times will now follow in the form of blog posts on http://www.thedevonianperiod.wordpress.com – some 6 months too late, but it’s only now that I’ve finally set my mind to writing it down.
Basically I promise that not all my posts will be this full of moaning and pessimism…
Hopefully I’ll catch up over the next week or two and it’ll be in real time from then on. I’ve found so many amazing places, eaten so much good food and met so many nice people, and cats, many cats, and I am very excited to share them with you. 🙂