A foggy day at Magpie Mine near Sheldon, Derbyshire

No house, no job, no car (well, only one between the two of us). 2016 has certainly been a year of some big changes in our lives. Haccas Edge was going to be our ‘forever house’ until, all of a sudden, we decided that the time was right to sell it and to move on. In retrospect, there was no single event or moment for the change, just the accumulation of multiple factors – our upcoming trip to South America; Chris settling in Cambridge severing our last ties with Oxford; feeling that the house (and particularly) the garden were too big for the effort we wanted to invest in them; and a general desire to see a different part of the UK.

Haccas Edge as we want to remember itAlthough the first person to view Haccas Edge made a sensible offer, the sale took 3 months and just seemed to drag on through Spring and Summer. We were certainly sick of packing things in to boxes – given that we had a clear out (just) 4 years ago, how is it that we had so much stuff?? If clearing the house was hard work, then saying ‘au revoir’ to friends & neighbours was hard emotionally. Certainly, it was a reminder of all of the good things about East Hagbourne and that we will want to rebuild them once we find a new home.

WP_20160803_11_40_05_ProOur final days in Haccas Edge were all a blur of activity. The removal men came a couple of days before completion and so we once again had the sight of (nearly) all of our ‘stuff’ being loaded in a van to be put into storage. Then it was off to become a white van man for a couple of days – to do a final trip to the recycling centre and to head off to Cambridge with our valuables, winter wear and golf clubs. Completion day was the dash back to hand in the van and hand over the keys – after a final farewell to the house (and rooting around in the hedge to find the water meter!)Bamford Edge, Peak District

And then we were done. Footloose and fancy free for a month before the flight to Mexico. All we have is Janet’s Golf convertible – and more cases & boxes than can be fitted in to it. The priority for the month is house hunting, and in particular to try to narrow down what part of the country we want to live in on our return from South America. Our criteria are to be close to the sea and to be have decent access to London.

The first stop was Woodbridge in Suffolk and for two weeks it was full on house hunting – every day, talking to estate agents, viewing houses, looking on Rightmove, investigating towns and villages and golf clubs (sadly, without playing). The downside was repeating the same story again and again – and getting to understand the shortcuts that some (most) builders take on new houses. The upside was having an excuse to try out the local pubs!

Derwent Reservoir - Where the Dambusters practisedAfter a week in Woodbridge, we moved up just north of Norwich and then on west to near Wisbech. Our brains were mush by the end of the fortnight and we were suffering from house overload. We had seen three or four houses that were very tempting (and we could have been very happy in) but none were both 100% perfect and in an area where we wanted to live. That will all now have to wait until our return, but we have decided that we really like north Suffolk / south Norfolk and so that is where we will be looking when we get back.

Millstones in the Peak DistrictWe were definitely ready for a break, and so headed up to the Peak District to explore another part of the country that we have never before visited and to go do some photography. Surprisingly (or not), we struggled to put house thoughts out of our minds and switch into photography mode. We certainly failed to make even a token effort on sunrise / sunset photography. However, we did get to see some great views and it was good to get out in the countryside and get some walks in. As a bonus, some of the photographs have turned out OK – or will do when I get a chance to do some more processing on our return (in a new house!) [Ed. Most of the photos in this post are from the Peak District]

Then came the bombshell. If Haccas Edge was nearly our ‘forever house’ then Green Gables was definitely Don & Pam’s…

Getting surreal at Magpie Mine…until Janet spots a suitable chalet bungalow in their village on Rightmove, sends them a link and before we know it, they have gone for a viewing and put in an offer. That sorts out the question as to where we will spend the last 10 days before our flight. It is all hands to the pump and we need to be in Cambridge in order to provide support, muscles, energy and advice. While they are excited about the prospect of moving to a smaller and more manageable house, we are all somewhat daunted by the list of actions. There is a lot to sort out and not just 50 years of accumulated ‘stuff’.

Fortunately, we’ve just been through this process and so we all pitch in and try to prioritise actions and we are around to kick off some of the key activities. I just hope that we are forgiven for being away while the purchase process rumbles on and some of the house clearing activities ready to get Green Gables on the market are undertaken. No doubt there will be updates on progress whilst we are way and much discussion as to how best to proceed next.

Silver Birches at Anglesey AbbeyWhilst in Cambridge we rented a small (studio) apartment near the city centre. There was lots to like about city living – not least being close to the river and being able to walk along it to Chris & Lucy’s in one direction or into town in the other. The river was busy with rowers, scullers and canoeists and the banks with runners. Although we have never had a similar flat in Oxford, there really was a different feel to Cambridge. Perhaps it is that in Oxford, the boat houses are further out of the city. In any event, after all the frantic action and much brain-ache with Green Gables (and our house decisions), it was good to be able to walk through the parks and along the river and to de-stress and slow down our racing brains.

And so now our travelling begins. Again, it feels like it has been long in the planning. We are only (?) away for three months this time, I wonder how that will feel. For a long time in our year break, it felt open ended and getting to the three month mark meant that we were only just over a quarter of our way around.

Only one way to find out!

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