Sunday, 7 March 2010

Martin's Name is ---

It was just at Christmas that Martin was talking like a runner: about his routines, his goals, what was hard and why he kept at it. Boring, to any but another runner; I was really pleased to see his enthusiasm, especially as one of his Christmas gifts was a pair of technical running socks. He mentioned a 10k race he was going to do. Not thinking about, going to do; he was aiming to get in under an hour. Bill thought it would be good to encourage Martin and so we put this race, near Manchester, on our calendars and duly entered it.

In the intervening time, in fact for the last year or more, Helen and Martin have been redecorating their house in Swinton, a suburb of Manchester. You saw the building of the deck and the acquisition of two dogs. Dogs and decorating seem rather at odds to me, but Martin assures me they are only maniacal when we’re around. It was good fun to visit periodically and admire the lovely new colour

schemes and the new, or improved arrangement of existing, furniture,

the impressive all-new and re-arranged bathroom installed with the help of brother Simon.

It was an increasingly cute house but when they started thinking about extending the kitchen, Simon pointed out that they might not get a return on that investment, maybe they should just look at buying a bigger house. I think he made the comment partly in jest, but that is just what they did.

From a house built in 1920-30s with three small bedrooms, living

and dining areas, a tiny kitchen and a garden shed, they expanded into a new one with four bedrooms (one en suite with shower), living and dining rooms, breakfasting kitchen, utility room, a downstairs toilet (and sink), another full bathroom upstairs, a back garden, a garage, and off-street parking for two cars. I thought it was rather an extravagant way to get out of doing the trail race, but that’s exactly what Martin did: he managed to organise moving day to fall on the race day.

I normally love off road races, but now realize I’ve not normally done them in winter. It was a partial two lap course and so there were large human torpedoes shooting past for a while. I’d not realized this and it took me a long while to come to terms with having to do the course again. Steep and deep are the applicable words: hills one can only tippy-toe up, ankle deep mud that sucks at one’s shoes. I told you about the race where my main goal was to finish without falling down. The aim here was to keep both my shoes. Bill’s GPS indicated that he’d run an extra tenth of a mile, probably in avoiding puddles of unknown depth and seeking slightly more traction-able mud (as if). It would have been a beautiful course through woods and fields in summer, but my money says they don’t do it in good weather; Brits are like that.

Though I’d changed shoes, by the time we drove to Helen & Martin’s old house, the caked slime on my tracksters had dried and there was no way not to leave crumbled mud on the bathroom floor. A nice cup of hot tea had done a lot to restore me and by the time I got out of the hot shower I felt nearly human again. Martin and Helen kept apologizing for the state of the house, but I just told them to give it a rest; I know of no way to move and be tidy for guests at the same time. We went out to a pub for dinner.

The next day we helped Helen unload the loft while Martin went to get his big rental truck with the electric lift on the back. Simon and Rhiannon drove up to assist; Simon didn’t trust them to be able to re-assemble their furniture properly. We sent Helen off to buy some rope or laundry line as the truck company didn’t supply it. Martin had a friend about his size along for help loading the furniture. Martin was clearly excited about the move, bouncing around from this to that. With both H&M very busy at their jobs, there had been little time for preparation and nothing was labelled. I don’t envy them their unpacking. They’ve only taken 2 days off work, the pair of them, and not even the same two days, so the settling in will be gradual. I gather Helen had moved the priority stuff more carefully, ie her clothes. Makes perfect sense to me.

Once I owned Grandmother’s furniture all my moves were planned out with lists and labels, sketches and room measurements to save movers having to do more work than necessary. Before that everything pretty much fit into the back of my 1972 VW Karmann Ghia.

When we left with Bill’s car full to follow Helen and Rhiannon to the new house before we were on our way home, the truck was about a third loaded, an odd mix of furniture and shopping bags with no securing ropes in sight.

I could only hope that Simon’s engineering sense would save them from shattered furniture, but having watched him and Martin move a washing machine full of wet clothes, I wasn’t certain. I have heard of this being done, but thought it a comedy sketch. I never expected to see it in real life.

Starting over again with re-decorating didn’t seem to daunt Helen in the least. She said they’d live with the neutral magnolia walls for a while until inspiration struck (I see purple in their future, that being the colour of the upstairs carpet). Plenty of work to do with getting the garden sorted. The garage will be a playpen for the dogs (at a kennel for a few days) until that is paved, turfed, whatever.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Martin’s Man-Utd posters, relegated to the loft at the old house. I will admit that I witnessed Helen promising Martin a Man-Utd room in the new house before the deal was done;

true, she had a funny smile on her face. I still think she should have left the posters in the loft. By the time he missed them, it would have been far too late to retrieve them...then again, maybe not the best. She'll know better than I what she can get away with.

Oddly enough I remembered having enjoyed moving in the past (I did it 9 times in 11 years once, or was it 11 in 9?). Never more than when moving do I feel so wealthy: one comes face to face with ALL one’s stuff. Also, there is a peculiar sort of nesting pleasure gained from arranging one’s possessions in a new space. It occurred to me that I could replicate this by just removing everything from a room at a time and re-organising, but I don’t have the heart to inflict this on Bill just for my own amusement. We move stuff in and out of the loft on a continual basis as it is. (I just sent another bag off to the RSPCA yesterday).

So, leaving Helen and Rhiannon to await the arrival of the truck, we made our weary way home by way of the Lake District.

I dumped the filthy running shoes on the garage floor next to the washing machine to wait their turn after the running clothes. It’ll all come out in the wash, as they say, but meantime, Martin owes me a hard race. Come to think of it, two excited dogs, bare soil in the back garden and new carpet might even it all out…but I wouldn't wish that on Helen. He'd just better keep training, is all I've got to say.


TKW said...

The new space is lovely. But I sort of love that old quaint and the bathroom is to die for!

Jo said...

I like their new house, it seams very light.

Gary (long time ago) went to help a friend move and found "smelly" wet clothes when the went to move the washer. Things like that just seem to stick in your mind.

You are really into running to run in a mess like that. Don't think I have heard of any off-road running races in our area,

Struggler said...

Yuk, sounds like a grim race indeed!
Am in awe of the thought of moving wet clothes inside the washing machine. That's either very efficient, or very nutty, or both!