Got back from my curtailed Danube Cruise in late June and then set about some major downsizing in preparation for my move to Devon at the end of August. This also involved some gut wrenching decisions regarding my canine family as I realised that realistically I can only cope with one dog when I get to Flete.
June though August involved daily trips to the tip, and local animal charity shops as I discovered just how much “stuff” I had accumulated over the course of the past 50 years. I had to be totally ruthless as I got rid of LPs, CDs, DVDs and Books etc. Not to mention all of the Gardening and Workshop machinery (JCB, Trailers, Mowers and a plethora of “Boys Toys”) which all had to go.
I had accepted an offer for VLS from an Anglo/Polish family who were planning to move in on 1st September. I also managed to sell one of my two apartments at Selwo One. So more furniture and “stuff” to get rid of !!
Meanwhile my new “Home” at Flete House in Devon was being transformed by the tireless Susanna who had undertaken the job of total redecoration and overseeing and coordinating various other contractors. Daily WhatsApp calls and photos galore as I tried to make sure that everthing would “fit”. No mean feat in a Grade One listed building and the challenges of a 7m high vaulted ceiling with original William Morris Wallpaper etc. Scaffolding and Access Towers for months. The Estate Agents brochure shown below gives an idea as to what was involved !!………….
August involved much box-packing and many more trips to the tip. I knew that I was in trouble when I had packed and sealed the 80th box! More of that later……….
My old mate Roger Tompkins flew in from NZ, on his biennial world tour to lend much appreciated moral and physical support as the September deadline loomed. The Spanish removals company did an amazing job of packing all the furniture and boxes while Roger and I got on with preparing for the handover of VLS to the new owners and our impending trip through Spain to my new life in Devon.
Now about those Dogs
I had made a gut wrenching decision that I would realistically only be able to accomodate and deal with one canine companion in my new life in Devon. After much debate and vacillation, I decided that Max (my male Spanish Mastin) would accompany me on the journey into the next chapter of my life.
This prospect caused me endless sleepless nights as I struggled to imagine losing the other three and having to find new homes for them.
My mate Louise agreed to take Bella (from whence she had come originally 10 years ago). Tragically she crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” a few days before the handover, not totally unexpected as she was 15 and had been a core member of my pack since my Bull Terrier phase.
RIP Bells. You were much loved and will be sorely missed.
The new owners of VLS had fallen for Hurley (my most recent “rescue”) and agreed to take him as part of the deal.
Finding a solution for Daisy (my female Mastin) was the hardest to cope with as she and Max had both been rescued within a few months of each other and were seemingly inseparable. I put the word out and my very old mate Charlotte (who lives 20 miles from where I was heading in Devon) offered and agreed to take Daisy. Posh Pets (my Spanish Kennels) agreed to deliver her to the UK. A huge relief !!!
Having taken Hurley and Daisy to Posh Pets while VLS was dismantled, Roger & I set about stripping VLS back to the bare essentials before we set off with Max for the road trip through Spain to the UK. Max seemed to take it all in his stride as he had never been on a lengthy car journey before. A few pit/pee stops on the way and 700 km later we arrived in Salamanca and checked into a wonderful 5-star dog friendly hotel. Max was impeccably behaved and introduced himself to every tree and lamppost that he could find.
The next morning, we set off for Santander to catch the 24 hour ferry across to Plymouth. I should mention at this point that I couldn’t have picked a worse weekend to travel, as not only is it the end of the Spanish August shutdown but also involved a UK Bank Holiday and the end of the school holidays, so the ferry was full to capacity. Max oversaw the canine mayhem on the Dog Deck with am imperious look on his face and 24 hours later we were back in Blighty. A short detour to drop Max at a kennels outside Salcombe and Roger and I headed to Flete where the removals truck was due to arrive the following morning.
Arrival at Flete House
Susanna had done an amazing job !! The apartment was painted and clean and the removals truck arrived on schedule. 10 days of mayhem ensued while everything was umpacked, sorted and installed. Pretty much everything fitted. Max moved in, Roger headed off to London, onto Canada and back to New Zealand, and slowly but surely the transformation of the old Music Room/Chapel was complete.
Before and After….
So here I am and its 2023. So Happy New Year !!
A much delayed (Covid etc) trip to North Vietnam and Laos with Pandaw along the Red and Day Rivers (Vietnam) and the Mekong through Laos starts on 12th Jan (next week !!). As usual Wi-Fi will doubtless be sporadic but will do my best to issue Blog updates when possible