It is a new year, a new house and a new beginning. In some ways, I feel like a new person too, because although my house still has the same problems it had last year (which came up in the survey six months ago), having survived a move to Land’s End and back, I feel more able to tackle them.
It’s surprising, though it shouldn’t be, how having a roof and four walls changes things. I no longer fall asleep – like I did in the caravan – terrified I’ll be crushed by a tree. It’s easier practically now I’m not worrying about where to live, where to get post delivered, which doctor I can see or whether my laptop has enough charge to last the day. The catastrophes that used to keep me awake have evaporated and – as yet – new ones haven’t taken their place.
More surprisingly still, my ex offers to let me have our dog for three months when I move into my house, while he goes away. We spend nights cuddled by the fire, her tucked like a furry hot-water bottle under my feet.
Everything about having moved into my new home is exciting – like a child moving into a Wendy house, even the most prosaic things are a thrill. Each day brings another first: the first post (a card from friends up the road), my first bill (for the agonising high council tax), my first row with BT over why the internet doesn’t work.
My plan for tackling work on the house is boringly practical – first, I’ll focus on things that will keep it standing, and save shopping for toile de Jouy curtains for last.
Having enjoyed being surrounded by women since I moved out of London, when I move into the house, the men come into their own. My friend Nick turns up to help me put a bed together that I’ve bought on eBay. Martin arrives to advise on interior design and plumb in the washing machine. Rob, in true Princess Margaret style, buys me a deep clean as a house gift, so two women spend four hours sweeping cobwebs, vacuuming carpets, scrubbing kitchen cupboards and dousing the bathroom in bleach; ‘my Chanel No 5,’ as Rob says.
Among the urgent work that needs doing is gable ends strapped to the roof (although I have no idea what this means, the insurance company has insisted on it because of former subsidence issues), having the chimneys swept, and sorting out the damp work and woodworm.
Although I was warned about cowboy builders, I get lucky with the workmen of Somerset, who not only manage to squeeze me in despite being unusually busy, but also call me ‘my lover’ in their lush Somerset burr. ‘Are any of them hot?’ Martin wants to know. But he’s disappointed. My favourite builder is old enough to be my dad, and has only come out of retirement after his wife died because he found himself bored without work. He’s working with an assistant who, he tells me, started as his apprentice at 17 and is in his 70s now.
He turns out to be a goldmine of knowledge and help, turning up when I move in and spending three hours investigating the house, establishing where every pipe leads, where the stop cock is hidden, and how to get the boiler going (all of which I could have lived here 20 years and never worked out).
Not for the first time on this journey, I feel that although I’m doing this alone, it isn’t at all lonely.
You can read Katie Glass’s column, What Katie did next, every Saturday from 6am on telegraph.co.uk
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