Downsizing Dos and Don’ts

As most of you know, we are (still) in the process of doewnsizing. It isn’t something done in a twinkling, because buying a smaller house is only part of the story which also includes lowering one’s horizons, downsizing one’s lifestyle.

Crown Cottage July 2017But that first, visible part of the process we have achieved and mostly happily, with the purchase of Crown Cottage, so we keep being asked for advice by friends who may well be looking for polite excuses not to contemplate the idea any further.

Anyway, here goes with some personal and far from expert thoughts that may or may not be relevant because very obviously everybody’s situation is different. So much will depend on personal priorities of health, family and financial situation and of course personal lifestyle but the general How, Where and When may apply to all.

MAKING COMPROMISES. Before we start, It is worth pointing out an awkward obvious. Many compromises are called for. If you are lucky enough to still have a partner their priorities may surprise you, and be rather different from your own. It is no good making decisions that one of you is never going to be happy with.

WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES? Town or country? Two cars or one? What possessions can you do without? Do you still want to have friends to stay or perhaps you may like an excuse not to? What will their needs be if one of you is left living on their own? What are your children’s thought?

WHEN TO DOWNSIZE? Being practical/pessimistic, I’d say, do it sooner rather than later, while you are still in full control of the situation. Downsizing is difficult, physically and emotionally, even when you’re basically fit and healthy. You really wouldn’t want to be doing it feeling old and frail, or because circumstances had forced it, through ill health or bereavement, and none of us knows what is round the corner.

My sister Ruth’s devastating stroke at 70, when she was still fit, healthy and full of life and far from ‘old’ was my wake up call, and the realisation that we had to face a very reluctant decision to move from Orchard Farm, a big(ish) house and garden and two very successful holiday cottages all of which we loved, while things were still going really well.

HOW TO START DOWNSIZING? Having thought long and hard about your future needs and priorities, the first big step is selling your current house. Don’t start looking for your new one unless you can afford to buy it before you’ve sold your existing one otherwise therein lies inevitable disappointment and despair.

Make enquiries about good and reliable estate agents. They aren’t all either good or reliable; if you don’t know any ask friends and contacts for recommendations. We were very lucky to be able to choose one whom we already knew slightly personally who proved to be totally honest and upright and who guided us wisely throughout the whole process.

In our case initial tentative enquiries to local estate agents about valuations and a possible sale in a year or two led unexpectedly to a very quick sale, wonderful in many ways but handing over a successful holiday cottage business and packing up 30+ years of accumulated clutter in a few months was a nightmare.

A mountain of cardboard boxesWe simply couldn’t have done it without significant help from our young, and the many friends who at the end were physically wrapping and packing things up for us almost as we moved out.

WHERE TO MOVE TO? Next, you need to think long and hard about where you hope to move to. If you have family, they need to be part of the discussion because the time may come when you may need to rely on more support from them, and they will inevitably be busy people with demanding lives of their own.

If you’re lucky you can stay in the area where you already live. Your network of long term friends is important. It isn’t always easy to make new friends in a new place and it can take a while to feel accepted. And embarrassing as it may be to acknowledge it, driving may become a worry or a real problem eventually, so really you want to be within easy reach of a doctors’ surgery, shops and public transport and, ideally, a support network of good long term friends.

Crown Cottage gardenWHAT SORT OF HOUSE? The really brave may consider a retirement home, or a small flat. We couldn’t face that, as we felt we had to have a garden, even a tiny one, and we wanted still to be able to entertain friends and family. We made a clear check list of essential needs, and of course the house we fell in love with meets very few of these! It does have a lovely little garden though.

HOW? Fitting the proverbial quart into a pint pot doesn’t work.
We know, we’ve tried and failed.

Decluttering...Selling, giving away, charity shops, auction houses, car boot sales, Mari Kondo, skips, skips and more skips… This needs – and will shortly get – a whole blog post on its own.

I hope that gives you a reasonable idea of what to expect (or reject!). Good luck!

Saluting the ‘older’ generations

Ravenscourt Park 26/03/2017Happy Mothering Sunday on this wonderfully sunny spring day to all mothers, grannies and great grannies, young and old.

Remembering of course that soon as one becomes a parent, one automatically moves into the ranks of ‘the older generation’, however young one feels or might actually be in years.

After all, what does age matter? Old age is what others attribute to you, not necessarily at all how you feel inside. Continue reading Saluting the ‘older’ generations

Dressing the Mother of the Bridegroom

With Nick and Sam’s wedding in December suddenly looming nearer, I thought perhaps I ought to start looking for a suitably fetching and above all role-appropriate outfit: not too glamorous, not too expensive, and hopefully not likely to embarrass anyone (least of all the bridegroom). Continue reading Dressing the Mother of the Bridegroom

It’s like Lord of the Flies all over again, but with adults

Won’t we all be relieved when the Referendum is over?

I said I wouldn’t ever bring politics into the Marionfs blog. And this isn’t politics, it’s much more serious than that. It’s a reflection on the sheer nastiness that the Referendum has caused. It seems to have released so much anger and viciousness, ridiculous threats and wild promises in a country that has prided itself on democracy, fair play and decency, and hopefully producing leaders one could look up to.

It’s like Lord of the Flies all over again, but with adults, many of whom are our country’s leaders, and with whom we have entrusted our future. If behaviour like this had broken out on the school playground heads would have been knocked together weeks ago, and stern lectures delivered about growing up, about kindness and consideration for others even if they don’t agree with you, and never thinking you can bully and insult anyone who does not wish to join your gang.

One hopes the dreadful shooting of an MP going about her business supporting her constituents might be a wake up call to all concerned. So I was rather disillusioned to read just now that MPs were instead discussing their own security.

Naively (and maybe they are) I would have liked them also to be discussing together how they might conduct themselves these last few days before the 23rd, and then how they can possibly try to restore some sort of an equilibrium afterwards when so much lasting damage has already been caused by both sides.

Here endeth my heartfelt rant.  Forgive me, but like so many others, one feels so helpless and frustrated, and anxious about the future, which ever side ‘wins’.

You’ll have to wait until the next post to hear about our own little dramas…