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How to move house without stress

So I’m at that stage where I need to go through and start on the p word.

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Waste not, want not. Well, you can’t take it with you! Photo: Wade Brooks via Flickr CC

Packing.

There’s only one thing I hate more than packing and that’s doing the accounts, but as I have to file an annual return (or something) and the last year’s train tickets are currently paper-machied to the computer desk with coffee dregs, and I need to get rid of the computer desk, doing the accounts is tantamount to packing.

I’ve packed so many times in my lifetime that I have finally learnt a few things about what not to do. Listen up world travellers, I’m going to share these with you now.

First, take a deep breath and consider your alcohol collection. Now, most countries will stack big duty on imported alcohol, even if it is imported for personal consumption. You have two choices – either give it away to friends, or drink it.

It’s an obvious decision really isn’t it.

You should start with an apertif, it’s only good manners. Take your bottle of Sandeman’s White Port and scour the  cupboards for tonic. No tonic? No matter. It tastes just as good neat. With port glass in hand, next consider your family’s collectibles.

Aka – junk.

Should you bin or frame the artistic expression in technicolour pasta shell?

Are the kids still at school? Yes? Quick, chuck it. Don’t do it in front of them as I once did with Son’s plastic trike, when we were packing for our move to Australia. I dumped it in the wheelie bin. You could hear Son’s indignant screams from outer space, and we’re still paying for the therapy.

Have another swig of Port. All gone? Ah well, there’s a nice bottle of Shiraz that needs a look-see.

Now empty the house of animals, as well as kids. Especially kids who see the artistic expression in technicolour pasta shells as the pinnacle of their school careers. Animals can be unsettled by packing (aren’t we all!) and will often ensure that they are not left behind.

The number of times I’ve gone to put my suitcase in the car only to find the cat fast asleep inside it!

No. You cannot just put the pets in your suitcases. They have to go through a six month preparatory programme of jabs and tests and then a 30 hour flight in the cargo hold, that costs more than a business class ticket…and they don’t even get to see an inflight movie!

Empty the house of pets, and come to think of it empty the house of husbands too. Especially ones who have pack rat tendencies and a stubborn determination to re-home broken electrical goods, in the vain hope that he will be able to restore them to their former working glory! We currently have two ascilloscopes, three computer units, six screens, two stereos, six bikes, a broken car steering rack (in the front yard! When is it ever going to be useful again? When?)  and an ammo box – thankfully empty of its previous contents (grenades). Imagine explaining that one to the customs officer!

Tidy the workshop  house, when he’s at work and take another swig of Shiraz. The guilt will get you eventually, probably in two months’ time when he is looking for the receipt for the blow-torch he bought from Wickes in 2010!

But don’t let the guilt worry you! You have a job to do. And I bet you’re feeling nice and warm and fuzzy about now. There’s a bottle of Scotch that needs seeing to over there behind the Baileys. Don’t drink the Baileys, it expired in 2009.

You’re now ready to handle some more difficult packing decisions.

Cassette tapes – binned or kept as reminders of simpler times, when a pencil could restore your musical listening pleasure?

Retain ugly china given by well-meaning relatives? Or accidentally drop it. (“Oh dear what a terrible accident!”)

What about birthday cards from the husband? Or the cute little ones made by the kids and illustrated in biro pen depicting you as a stick figure with big boobies and frizzy hair that would rival a ‘fro? Save or chuck?

Hillary Clinton’s autobiographical tome (that you haven’t actually read) keep it in the hope you’ll one day read it, and if you don’t it’s an effective door stop isn’t it?

Does your future life require the use of two potato mashers and four corkscrews?

It’s all too hard isn’t it. Have a little break. You’ve earnt it. It’s hard work rifling through the metaphorical underwear drawers of a family’s life.

Oh dear, will you look at that!

You’ve fallen fast asleep. And aren’t you snoring! Must have been all that booze you drank. At least you won’t have to pay any duty on it.

Sweet dreams maniacal mover, you’ve cheerfully achieved moving house without stress, though not without moving headaches….and the inevitable hangover.