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Castle or fleapit? I’m moving house… again

By On Apr 21 2012, 1:00 am

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I'm moving house today! Okay, really I'm writing this a few days before, surrounded by piles of cardboard boxes and dust bunnies, but it's scheduled to go up on moving day. What I'm really doing right now is shifting boxes and trying to decide where on earth everything is going to go, and then stressing about where the important things are that we need unpacked straight away. You know: toothbrushes, pjs, teaspoons, drinks cabinet…

The timing isn't brilliant as I have my second novel coming out on Tuesday: Handle with Care (see picture on left – even my moving boxes are joining in with the promo!) I'm still not sure if I'll have my broadband connected by then, but thank God for smartphones and cafés with wifi!

I've become a bit of a pro at moving house now, as I've moved fifteen times in the last sixteen years. Some of those moves were planned; some were forced on me. This particular move is strictly voluntary, but this tiny two-bedroom cottage is bursting at the seams with the three of us, and we can't wait to get in somewhere with a proper garden so my daughter can have a paddling pool this summer – assuming we get a summer here in England!

Despite the trauma of moving I'm glad I've lived in so many different homes as it's given me excellent fodder for writing. Here are my top five best and worst places I've lived:

The Fleapits:

  1. The bedsit – This was the very first place I lived after moving out from my parent's house. It was a lovely Victorian house and I had a great upstairs room with a huge bay window, but I had to share a bathroom with two dodgy old men, one of whom used to let his dog pee all over the communal stairs. Enough said.
  2. The student house – All the rooms were rented out independently, so I had no say about my housemates and was the only female in the house. Not only did the boys not bother cleaning the kitchen, but one of them used to play drum and bass so loud the whole house shook.
  3. The shared house – Imagine this: a heat wave summer, and you're sharing a shoebox-sized house with someone who owns a new kitten, and who yells at anyone who dares open a window, accusing them of trying to murder her sweet little kitty. The whole house stank of the litter tray. Disgusting.
  4. The in-laws – This was a nice enough house, but my husband's childhood room we had to stay in was tiny, with only a single bed. Okay for one night, but not much fun for a couple of months.
  5. The damp cottage - This lovely little ground floor flat in a 17th century stone cottage seemed wonderful at first, but after one winter we were ready to leave. The bedroom had inadequate heating and a leaky roof, and everything turned mildewed if you didn't keep it spotless.

The Castles:

  1. The haunted pub – Although the interior had been ruined by modernisation, the upstairs of this 18th century inn was a charming rabbit warren of rooms. According the manager, both the top floor and the cellar had resident ghosts. I never saw anything supernatural, but I did enjoy being able to get a full English breakfast cooked for me at the weekends by the pub chef. It also happened to be right by the railway level crossing, which I found exciting because I'd never walked over railway lines before!
  2. The Georgian flat with a view – This was from the brief time my husband and I had a mortgage. Our very first proper home was a first floor (that's second floor to anyone from the US) flat in a Georgian townhouse in Bath. It had twelve foot high ceilings and huge sash windows facing south, which looked out over the River Avon. Just gorgeous.
  3. The narrowboat – There's nothing quite like living on a narrowboat on England's canals. Despite all the hardships of life off the grid, I thoroughly enjoyed my time when ducks were my neighbours. The early mornings out in the countryside with the mist rising off the water were magical.
  4. The Edwardian house – For a couple of years my husband, daughter and I lived in the top two floors of a beautiful Edwardian house, with my parents occupying the ground floor. The house had so many period features, including stained glass, terrazzo flooring, sash windows, and fireplaces. The garden was wonderful too, with mature fruit trees giving dappled shade and a hammock underneath them. Sheer bliss on a summer's day!
  5. The 1930's semi – After a couple of years in another damp, 17th century cottage, my family and I are moving to a 1930's semidetached house. I've never lived in one before, but I've always wanted too as they built the best family homes back then. There are bay windows at the front, and the whole place feels warm, light and airy. I hope this is one we can stay in long term, as I'd like my daughter to grow up with a bit more stability in her life.

So what about the rest of you? Anyone else out there a compulsive mover like I am? And what are the best and worst places you've lived?

Author Bio:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Jo’s website:
Twitter: @JosephineMyles



19 Responses to “Castle or fleapit? I’m moving house… again”

  1. Cinders says:

    Nope not so much anymore, we moved a great deal when we were in the Army. Worst place I lived…Inez, Ky I lived in a house with no toilet or running water we had to go to the outhouse and get our drinking water from a well in back. I washed the clothes in the creek with a wash board and we heated the place with coal. No air conditioner except a window.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Inez – that sounds even more primitive than living on the boat. I don’t envy you that one, Cinders!

  2. Tam says:

    I don’t seem to be much of a mover. I spent the first 18 years of my life in one place, the moved to go to university. I moved in with my parents for my university years and did spend one summer sub-letting a friends apartment and looking after her cat.

    My first real place of my own was an apartment in what we called the Village, the artsy part of town. It was old but had hardwood floors. I loved the location, the drunks from the sketchy bar across the street being rowdy in the night not so much. When we lived in Prague we had the top two floors of a house. You could see Prague Castle from our bedroom window, we shared a garden and it was a lovely residential neighbourhood. Now I’ve spent the last 10 years in a two story townhouse. It’s been good for my daughter to live in the same place I think, she has very close friends she’s grown up with.

    I would prefer though to have an apartment downtown closer to my work. I don’t have any interest in gardening and am thankful our landlord mows what little plot of land we have in the back (same size as my living room) and front. My neighbours plant flowers but I just don’t care. I’m looking forward to moving in a couple of years when my daughter graduates school and is off to uni, in large part because I want to purge. I’m tired of too much stuff. I’ve been lucky though, I’ve never lived in a really scary or fleabag of a place.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      I spent my first 18 years in one place too, Tam. It’s just since then I seem to have had ants in my pants. I love the sound of your place in the Village and Prague!

      When you have kids you definitely want to be a bit more settled, don’t you? I’d really like Daisy to feel secure in her home :)

  3. Becky Black says:

    The last time I moved was in 2001 – right in the middle of the fuel protests, when fuel was harder to get than hens teeth. It was stressful enough already. Imagine what it was like now knowing if the carpet fitter would be able to get there before the moving day, or if the van itself would even turn up. In the end all was okay expect that I didn’t have a cooker for a week after I moved in, since I decided to get a new one rather than taking the old, somewhat broken one with me, and when it came to delivery day there was no petrol for their vans. I didn’t have a microwave either. I lived on sarnies, Pot Noodles and takeaways for a week.

    I’m not looking to move again for a long time. Am in a nice split level flat in an Edwardian terrace, in a nice area, handy for work and city centre. I’m staying put!

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Your flat sounds lovely, Becky – I don’t blame you for staying put! And moving during the fuel protests sounds like a right nightmare. We’re only moving about a third of a mile down the road, so I suppose we could do it all with a hand-pulled cart if we had to… Wouldn’t want to, though!

  4. Pooky says:

    Hope the move goes well, Jo.
    Worst place I’ve lived was a shared back to back house in Leeds while at university. The bath was still in the small kitchen. The cellar flooded more than once. I shared the attic where the water tank had a constant drip. In winter we got dressed to go to bed it was so cold. Still I did have some happy times in that room!!
    Best where I live now. My own house with a lovely view of the canal.
    My dream house that bungalow with a view of the sea. If only I could win the lottery!!
    Have fun.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Hi Pooky. Oh, a view of the sea would be wonderful, but the canal is a good compromise! That house sounds horrible. Students do end up in some pretty grotty housing, it must be said.

  5. oceankitty says:

    I have no idea where to begin. I’ve moved so many times I’ve lost count. I’m forty-three and have moved about once a year in my adult life, and every other year as a child. I spent the larger part of my childhood on a boat, sailing around the world. That would be the best and yet the worst place I’ve lived. Best because ot the adventure, worst because of no running (or hot) water, a loo that went straight into the sea (not fun when the wind was really blowing up through the toilet) and no refrigerator and no shower or bathtub. Really primitive in other words. The best place as an adult must be where I live now, in a modern and really classy flat in a house overlooking the fjord. I have heating in all the floors ! The worst as a grownup would be the 17th century house with no insalution at all. We had icicles in the kitchen and the cat’s water bowl would freeze right through on the floor. I slept fully clothed underneath two feather duvets, with a hat on !

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      I love the sound of your boat, Cathy, but no shower or bathtub is pretty primitive! As is the uninsulated house. The one we’re moving out of only has heating downstairs and that’s been bad enough, but I wouldn’t want to have to go through a Norwegian winter in it!

      • oceankitty says:

        “Ants in your pants”. *LOL* that’s a good one and I’ll have to adopt it. We say: you have quicksilver up your bum!

        And that’s me, always restless. But I have been here at Hundhammeren watching the everchanging fjord for almost five years now. It’s the longest I’ve stayed anywhere in my entire life. And no ants in my pants: If they appear I’ll just shake them out.

  6. Prue says:

    Good luck with the move, Jo — and with your new novel.
    I used to move regularly but have been in this house for 16 years! It’s got a large garden which I love, and was the reason we bought the place. Lots of windows too so it’s light and airy. Worst place was an end of terrace opposite an insanely busy junction. It had an outside loo and the bedroom ceiling fell down one day. It’s no longer there — it was knocked down to build a road…and a good thing too :)

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Hi Prue! That’s great you have somewhere you love. Gardens are really important to me too – I can’t wait to get stuck in with the gardening at the new place!

      Ugh for busy junctions. I once lived in a flat right on a busy crossroads. Buses used to pull up right under the bedroom window and make the whole place rattle.

  7. I think my favourite place I’ve lived was the Edwardian end-terrace house in Sunderland. It was build between two roads that crossed at an 80 degree angle, so all the rooms were odd shapes as well as being huge.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Sounds like a great house, Stevie! I love Edwardian homes – they really seemed to have the knack of creating beautiful living spaces back then. And angles and odd shapes are good too :)

  8. Katherine Halle says:

    As you know, we’ve moved quite a bit. Six times in the last 13 years – not quite as much as you but we’ve lived all over the place. Virginia twice, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, California (two different locations), and now Germany. I have to admit each place had it’s perks and it’s downfalls. No master bedroom in the first place in VA, a concrete slab house with only room airconditioners in Cuba – but I have to admit, looking back on them, I have good memories of each and every place. No real flea pits for me LOL.

    I LOVED your descriptions – and the pictures. All of the places sounded interesting – but yeah, the flea pits sounded not so fun.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      You may not have moved as many times as I have, but you’ve definitely travelled further! Glad you haven’t had any real fleapits :D

  9. Elin Gregory says:

    You’ve lived in some amazing places. Real plot bunny fodder! :)

    I hate moving house so avoid it if I can. Since 1978 I’ve lived in 4 different places, all within a mile of each other – rented flat on top floor of 18th century house in main street [lovely high ceilings, no insulation, hottest/coldest place ever], Council flat tucked under the side of a mountain [no sunshine at all after 10am from November to February], mid terraced 2 bed house that I ADORED [warm cosy, lovely long garden] and finally since 1996 a Victorian stone pile with 3 floors we bought from husband’s dad. Much as I hate moving I can’t wait to downsize and get something small again.

    • Josephine.Myles says:

      Oh yes, those high ceilinged 18th century places are the worst for temperature variation. Our flat was like an oven in the summer, and a draughty icebox in the winter. I don’t envy you the mountain shadowed council flat either.

      I do think living in different places feeds the muse, but I’m really hoping to give us all a rest for a good few years now. I’m sure I can think of other ways to give him a prod if I need to!

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