I promised to write about the National Gallery in London, but I hope you will find this description of the last week and half amusing.
Buying a new residence and moving in, should be an exciting exercise but we all know that the stress levels for a house move, or in this case setting up a second home, are up there with death of a loved one and divorce. Well, believe me, having experienced both, it’s nothing like that bad, but despite my determination to have everything organised to the nth degree, because something always goes wrong on such occasions, it wasn’t exactly a smooth and simple operation.
Settlement was arranged for Wednesday of last week. Forgetting that possession is not officially until midday the day after settlement, I planned to arrive at our new abode, along with the truck delivering our bed, at 2pm on Wednesday.
Fortunately the seller’s agreed to have the place empty and ready for us, but the agent couldn’t be there to hand over the keys. Plan B, take a detour to the real estate’s office to collect the keys after leaving home in my car loaded with essentials like clothes, linen, laptop, the new kitchen ware, kettle and toaster, television and two plastic chairs at the same time as the truck.
‘You’ll need to stop for lunch, won’t you?’ I asked, by way of suggesting they not rush straight to the new place.
All went well, bedroom set up very nicely, I went shopping for food at a recommended local IGA (very good quality) and we sat down to eat on our green plastic chairs in front of the telly, (which perched on one of the empty boxes from the bedside units.) Reception was so poor, we gave up. Generally late risers, we’d been up and busy since six that morning, so we hit the bed at nine that night and hardly moved until the phone pinged at six thirty the next morning.
‘Your furniture from Amart will arrive between seven and nine this morning,’ the message said. Great; just what one needs after a strenuous day. No-one to argue with, we were up, dressed, plans in place for positioning of the sofa and chairs for the lounge room and space cleared for the small table and chairs for the kitchen, by about seven thirty. They arrived an hour later.
Here I must digress to tell you about the problem of buying furniture, any sort of furniture, for an apartment, flat, villa, any building smaller than the four bedroom, two bathroom, three living spaces that are common for today’s families in the suburbs. All dining suites seat at least eight big people and all sofas are at least 2.5 metres wide. Trying to find the bedroom suite with side cupboards that could be accommodated in our adequately spacious (but by modern standards apparently tiny) bedroom, took several days of inspecting everything available at our four local bed stores.
Oh, and in today’s world, everyone is assumed to have the skills and the strength to put it all together after getting each piece (and half a lounge chair is pretty heavy) out of the heavy duty cardboard boxes. Fortunately we have a garden shed here, which is currently full of boxes. Stomping on them to sort of flatten them, was also hard work for an old couple, but the only way to get the forest worth of material off the back patio.
Forty Winks co-operated on the assembly issue. I think we would have been sleeping on the mattress on the floor if they hadn’t, but we had to assemble the lounge suit. It was described as simple, and certainly looked pretty straight forward in the Amart shop. Perhaps our chairs were made on a Monday. (Poor, tired post-weekend workers), because, despite being in the upper price range, the prongs sticking up from the bases, to take the slots coming down from the backs, did not line up. With my dear partner patiently holding the heavy (and slippery) back piece above the prongs, I had to push them out together, to meet the sliders, while instructing him to move the top part up, down, left, right and don’t drop it on my fingers, until the slides met the prongs and it all fell into place. I had asked the delivery guys to help us, with the offer of a cash bonus, but they claimed to not know how (this included just removing the boxes which they had wheeled into the room) and that it was against the rules for them to give any assistance. Fortunately the second delivery from the same store was done by a couple of more co-operative men who put the sofa together for us in about five minutes. We were all happy; them with the bonus, and us with a couch we could sit on.
The kitchen setting which they delivered was a flat-pack deal and again, looked easy in the shop. After about two hours and much swearing, the four legs were attached to the table top but at strange angles. I don’t dare lean on it and when Mr Flatpak arrives to assemble the rest of our ‘easy to assemble’ items, we’ll ask him to have another try with holes that don’t currently line up. The chairs came assembled in more of those delightful cardboard boxes.
Some shop assistants have the sense to look at us, note our age, and suggest that we pay for assembled items and/or assistance with setting things up. Harvey Norman’s guys came into this category. Fridge and washing machine, (at great sale prices), arrived at a reasonable hour on the Friday and when the guys left, all I had to do was turn on the power.
The dining room suit was probably the most difficult item to find. After wearing out a couple of pairs of shoes, wandering around every furniture store in Osborne Park, and asking the sales staff in each one, what other owners or tenants in the thousands of apartments, villas and flats in the area do for moderately sized furniture which will fit into such moderate and even small sized accommodation, a chap in Harvey Norman led us to the back corner, where the perfect setting was hidden.
‘One of our most popular items,’ he confided, and ‘Yes, we have one in stock.’
‘No assembling required?’ I asked, hardly daring to believe that our search was over.
It arrived later on that same Friday, and except for a few more boxes, we had no trouble placing it in the dining area. Two extra chairs should arrive in about another two weeks, so we will be able to have friends and family around to eat in a civilised, comfortable manner.
The other items to arrive that Friday were the outdoor setting and barbecue. Barbecue’s Galore were very helpful, set it up for us, just leaving us with more boxes and a ton of plastic, but the only assembly needed was finishing off the barbecue and attaching the gas bottle. Too easy. After rain almost every day, Sunday was the perfect time to try it out with our first visitor for lunch that day.
We had further deliveries yesterday (after arriving here on Thursday so as to be on site for the possible 7am threat of delivery again.) Amart do have the facilities to have some items made up. More big boxes, but our coffee table and tv unit, arrived as finished items and the empty box supporting the television joined the rest of the forest in the shed. Now, we just need to organise for Mr Flatpak to assemble a chest of drawers and fix that kitchen table.
One can expect a few minor problems with the actual building, and the major ones were listed for us by the building inspector. However, none of us checked the television and when it didn’t work we assumed some silly fault on our part. One new aerial and new connector on the wall and we have perfect reception. Curtain rods don’t come under the list of major problems but when the support in the main bedroom fell out of the wall on the second night, we did have a minor problem. The constant leak from the hot water system was on the inspector’s list and eventually replaced yesterday. The reticulation is still to be resolved but as it is winter and raining almost every day, we can sort that out later.
For now, I took delivery of a very comfortable office chair yesterday, hence I’m able to write this, and the desk is being made to my requirements and should arrive in a couple of weeks. Again, every store in the area was searched, but the desks were either flimsy white flat-pak varieties for children, or massive, dark timbered varieties (again in flat-pak form) for home offices. The fellow at J&K Hopkins took one look at me and offered to have made whatever I chose, at a price of course, but I’m too old to learn DIY skills and some sales staff can see that.
Eleven days later, we are almost there. The carpenter is booked to make repairs to the roof, the gate and fence, as listed on the inspectors report, and hopefully when he’s finished all the urgent repairs resulting from our unusually wet weather, the roofing plumber will be here to sort out the flashings, tiles and anything else needing work on the roof.
We have enough garden areas to not feel claustrophobic, which also need an overhaul. The gardener in both of us has already started buying tools and planning the changes and maintenance; creepers to cover the bare fences, roses moved to a sunny area, lemon tree needing a good feed and spray to treat those blackened and yellowed leaves. Next week perhaps.