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We moved down into the Chilterns to be closer to London.

Mulberry House, 8 Couching Street,
Watlington, Oxfordshire OX49 5QQ

This was an interesting house, originally a 17th century cottage with flint walls and tiles laid directly onto the soil, it had a mid-Victorian extension roadside that provided a beautifully proportioned lounge and bedroom above, then a 1960s extension at the rear added a dining room and utility on the ground floor and a master bedroom and en-suite above.

The previous owner had been a high-flyer in business but was felled by drug-taking. He was off to Goa running a tented-hotel and left friends to house-sit, who shared his enthusiasms. Jane had taken our daughter-in-law Ruth to view it, and at one stage commented on the lovely smell of incense, Ruth disabused her of its source. I took a large skip and two days to clear the house of all sorts of equipment and material before we moved in.

The actual move had to be the weirdest. The owner his girlfriend and some random guy had walked up the road to the local Co-op and garnered half-a-dozen small cardboard boxes and proceeded to load a small open-back pick-up. The guy then sat on top of the small load like Old Ma Clampett from the Beverley Hillbillies. It was slow so after they had departed for the nth time I got our, by now very frustrated, movers to pull their truck up the drive and shift all remaining outgoing stuff into the front lounge so they could take their boxes out through the sash windows.  Impolite but they would have taken days if we had let them.

To sum up their lack of practical nous, his girlfriend could not work out that he had removed the dishwasher and so if she ran the water it came straight out onto the floor. She did this three times – give me strength!

Our preemptive strike turned out to be fortunate because at the eleventh-hour someone had tried to take legal action to seize the property against his debts, but by then we were in and not for shifting!

I realised that they had a coin-op electricity meter so arranged for this to be changed, when the engineer arrived, he pointed out that they had in fact by-passed the meter, si I could have saved some money by not being so prompt with the upgrade.

We kept getting odd people knocking on the door to reclaim their stuff and it became clear that the hut at the bottom of the garden had been lived in by a number of transients. More insistent were the bailiffs who insisted on not believing we were not in some way connected with him. One was determined to come around, though promised not to be in any sort of uniform. We showed him the paperwork, he backed off. Another phoned and had Jane in tears, because having no forwarding-address and beginning to recognise the style of envelope, she had opened his mail. Jane called this bailiff to appraise him and he took a very aggressive line, assuming this was a lie and then threatening legal action for her opening the letter. They were real darlings! Once this had all subsided, we really loved the house, moving there coincided with moving our office to Marlow giving us just a 13m country commute – or 16m M40 and A404(M) trip.

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