Packing Up


Attics are not among the top 100 places to spend a hot sunny day… and that’s where I’ve been for most of the this afternoon.

Planning a year’s travel hasn’t only been about the fun stuff – the countries and the activities – I had to decide on what to do with the house and more importantly… the cats (usually referred to as the Furry Little Shits).

Some people rent out their homes – giving them a monthly income – others simply sell up. I want to come back to my home.

I cleared the mortgage some time ago so I knew that I didn’t have to worry about maintaining monthly payments (and didn’t want what I perceived to be a complication in renting the house out). So, then there were two choices: mothball the house or find a housesitter.

Mothballing wasn’t an option for me. Theoretically, it’s straightforward enough: arrange insurance for the vacant property, service the boiler and heating system, leaving the heating system running so the house doesn’t become damp and lock the door securely behind me when I walk off into the sunset.

Two problems with this… while I don’t want to get a monthly rent for the house, I did object to spending £2-300 a month on the utilities bills while I was away. That’s a fairly chunky unnecessary expense. The other problem, the FLS – the cats.

Catteries are not cheap and my two don’t like them. They went to one once for a fortnight. By the time I went back for them they were hissing at me. They had not enjoyed their stay. The huff lasted days.

Cattery for a year? I think not.

So a house sitter was the best option, preferably one that likes cats and is available for the full year. There are a number of websites available to assist. While a friend regularly uses one of these for her house and cats, I couldn’t find any that offered a year or more as an option.

Networks are the answer. One of my friends is a professor who works with several PhD students and, even as late as June, not all of them have found accommodation for the following September.

1.5hours after an initial text message: “You don’t know any students in need of digs do you? X”, I had found the woman who became my house sitter.

I’ve sorted out a legal contract to ensure expectations on both sides are understood – payments, care of the cats and when I’m planning to come back. The most important detail has been taken care of too – the FLS like her.

The house sitter is the same build and height as me. She’s been around a few times to move her stuff in (while I’ve been out) and texted me with updates on feeding the cats – I don’t think the FLS have realised that she is NOT me.

The beauty of having a house sitter is that I don’t have to pack up every single one of my belongings. Wardrobes and cupboards need to be clear for clothes and personal items but everything else, at my discretion, can be left out for use. It’s saving me a fortune in storage hire fees too.

So I’ve spent the afternoon lugging clothes, towels, bedding, knitting gear and assorted junk (that I actually use, rather than hoard) into the attic. It has been warm work.

All of the stuff in the loft will be great insulation in the Winter, as long as it stays up there… creaking floorboards make me glance up at the ceiling of the bedroom.

*Featured Photo: Smokey relaxing on the yard wall.

Categories: Preparation, TravelTags: , , , ,
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