Now, much as I have grown to love the incessant feel and smell of dust and and thoroughly enjoy the company of the non English speaking builders, a girl can get too much of a good thing, and so, in a mad dash for freedom I headed north to see 'the family' (hear Peggy Mitchell). Alas, in the all absorbing world of home improvement no opportunity can be missed and so, after celebrating my Mum's 60th with some cupcake baking, a few days of country air and afternoon teas it was time for mission furniture....
Wonderful friends Debs and Phil very kindly lent us their beloved van to assist us on our mission and last Monday saw us up with the lark to set out on our mammoth day. . .
Step 1: Pack up and leave lovely, dust free, heated, cottage in the Lake District.Step 2: Drive to Coach House Antiques. Now it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that my Mum is obsessed with this place and, thanks to her enthusiasm, so are my entire family, all her friends and the odd stranger who happens to cross her path. After years of admiring her purchases and having catalogues thrust down my neck today was the day I would finally visit the wholly land.. Obviously I was instructed to dress smartly for the auspicious occasion, sporting my best shoes and cleanest jeans clutching my Mum's membership card (semi religious institution, semi private members club) we arrived. I was not disappointed greeted by the enormous ornate mirrors and life size wall hanging silver angels I soon realised that this place is a veritable mecca of furniture. All your furniture desires in a fantastic range of styles for truly bargainous prices (it is trade only).
Obviously I am not yet worthy of the the real shop so I settled for the seconds outlet, entirely predictably, got totally carried away and within half an hour had a van full to bursting. Highlights including distressed leather wing back chair, dresser for the kitchen, and fantastic lamps a plenty.
Step 3: Collect second hand range cooker recently bought on Preloved, load up van.
Step 4: Drive 45mins to home of Mum and sister to collect various donated items - lamps, bedside tables etc, load up van.
Step 5: Drive an hour to Dad's to collect second hand washing machine, load up van.
Step 6: Set off back on the long long mission to London.
Despite the deafening rattle of all our new purchases in the van we were making very good progress. By 7pm we were optimistic that we could get home, unloaded, return the van and thank you gifts to its owner and be back for our first night in the squat by 10pm. When suddenly, as if from nowhere, as we cruised in the outside lane, totally without warning ans quiet as a mouse the van cut out... simple as that, just stopped working. (I am now thinking I didn't pay sufficient respects to the furniture Gods at Coach house).
We managed to glide over to the hard shoulder and stop safely, I assumed it was tired, a small rest and it would be right as rain... 1o minutes later, nothing, 15 minutes later after a chat with the transport police it was clear we needed to take action. The dreaded phone call to Phil... thankfully he was calm and even more thankfully a member of AA! After an hour freezing on the hard shoulder of the M11 whilst wagons zoomed past and shook the van and us to our core, we were picked up by the lovely AA man who towed us back to Stoke Newington. Wracked with guilt and full of apology we returned the now defunct van to await another AA man and a diagnosis.. fuel pump was the general assumption by one and all.
Eventually made it to the squat for our first nights sleep by midnight, exhausted, cold and guilt ridden. No radiator in the bedroom, no curtains and a window that won't shut, a kitchen with no cooker covered in 2 inches of dust, empty handed yet significantly poorer... welcome home!