Journal – December 2016 (Moving Preparations)

Welcome back. We’re literally on the home straight now with these journal posts, as Mum and I have been getting ready to make the move to London at long last, and arrangements are being made for me to start homeworking. So I hope you enjoy reading about our final preparations!

Thursday December 1, 2016

This has been quite an eventful and somewhat mixed couple of weeks.

On the downside, our third attempt at a sale has fallen through. The lady was all ready to sign the contract, and had already started making mortgage arrangements, only for her buyers to pull out at the very last minute with no explanation. All our estate agent knows is that the survey on her place was done quite late in the process, so perhaps they found something there they didn’t like. She wanted to tell them that she’d be happy to negotiate and do any work needed to guarantee the sale, but her attempts to contact them have failed. So she and us are now back on the market again. We had a viewing straight away last Saturday as a result, but nothing’s come of it yet.

However, as a result of that, and because we don’t know how long we’ll be waiting, we’ve decided to move anyway, and give the keys to the estate agent. We discussed it with the guy at Bettesworths on Monday, who was fine with it. He’s advised us to leave the place furnished and they can arrange a house clearance when the place is actually sold. That way, people can see what it’s like with stuff in it. They’ll keep an eye on the place every week, which fits in with the requirements of the house insurers, as that’s what they ask for. We also need to drain the water before we go, and arrange for the phone lines to be disconnected. We’ll leave the other utilities on though, and tell the water, gas and electricity people when the place is sold. The water and gas can be turned off at the house to stop it coming in until then.

So today, we had a man called Bob come round from Perryman’s Removals. They’re one of two firms that the estate agent had recommended to us. He was really nice and was very happy to help us out, and as they’ve been around for 66 years, they seem to have good experience. There are no bad reports about them online either. He had a look round to see what there was – not a lot ultimately, as we’re not taking any furniture, apart from the CCTV desk and chair so I can use them for homeworking.

Then, just before I went back to work for half a day, he rang with a quote of £940 + £188 VAT = £1128, which we felt was very reasonable. If they had already been going up to London with someone else, then we could have got it cheaper, as it’s big enough for a partial load. But as it’ll be just us, we have to pay the lot. But it’s still reasonable. So I rang up from work this afternoon and paid the 50% deposit.

As a result we now know when we’re moving at last, so I’ve booked our train tickets, told my Aunt and work, and booked our post redirection. Perryman’s will come round to pack our stuff and take it away on Friday 16th December. Mum and I will then get a straight-through train to Paddington on Saturday morning. Our stuff will then be delivered on Monday 19th. In between that, Mum and I are planning to pop out to Westfield on the Sunday to see if we can get a new cooker and a fridge, to hopefully be delivered on Tuesday, or at the latest before Christmas.

It’s so nice to finally be going after all this time. It would have been nice to have sold the place first, but we don’t need to, given that we have somewhere to go. We can afford to live in London while waiting for the sale to complete, which hopefully won’t be too much longer. There’s been plenty of interest – every time we go on the market, we’ve always got viewings quite quickly – it’s just finding a buyer that isn’t forced to pull out when the chain falls apart, or preferably a buyer who isn’t in a chain at all.

Work have made good progress on the homeworking preparations too. They have the computer set up that I’ll be taking with me, and the router. The company sent the router to our London house first, which they weren’t supposed to – it was supposed to be sent to a guy in the IT department in Torquay so he could configure it, then I would take it with me. So they’ve sent him another one to the correct place, and they also sent a returns bag to our London house, which my Aunt has used to send the router back. A minor mix-up though, no big deal. We’re also going to test out the new computer that will be on my desk in the Torquay office before we go, to make sure I have the relevant software available on it.

Logging in will be simple enough too. I’ll have a fixed password for the computer in London, and then I’ll use a remote desktop to log in to my network computer in Torquay, using my network password. I won’t need to use Google Authenticator on my phone or anything like that, which would have been necessary if we’d done it over Citrix. The only thing I need to do is contact Access To Work, not only to cancel my taxi payments from them, but also to see if they’ll pay for the new version of the magnification software.

So it’s all coming along nicely, and everyone is happy that we’re finally going, because they know we’ve been waiting to do it for a long time. We got a chance to have a work social last Friday as well, as a group of us went bowling together, followed by a couple of drinks. So that was good fun. I didn’t stay out too late, because of our viewing early Saturday morning, but I know some of the others stayed out for a while after I left.

I should be able to attend our office Christmas dinner on Friday 16th. The removal people should come in the morning, apparently, and I think the dinner’s in the evening. So I’ll have the day off work to do the last bits of packing of what we’re taking on the train with us, then go to the dinner. I won’t go out drinking after that though, as our train is early the next morning. There was talk of having a separate party of some sort, but unless someone decides to arrange something for next weekend, there’s no chance of us doing that. The Christmas dinner will have to be the main celebration of the move. And that’s fine by me.

So there’s plenty to sort out in the next couple of weeks, which will keep us busy. But all in all things are now starting to get very exciting, even though it doesn’t feel real yet. I don’t think it’s going to hit home, so to speak, until it happens. But it’s going to be a real relief, for sure, and I’m really looking forward to finally exploring the city and meeting new people. Hopefully 2017 will be a nice new start and a big journey of discovery .

Friday December 9, 2016

Preparations for the move are going well – which does make you wonder what’s going to go wrong. We’re used to things being delayed, or scuppered at the last minute, so when things seem too good be true, it makes you a bit nervous as well as happy. Still, so far so good at least!

It was surprisingly easy to sort out our account with BT, for instance, when we phoned them up. We assumed we’d have to cancel our current account, then take over Nan’s account in London. But no – simply by telling them that Nan was deceased and that we were moving, they’re going to close Nan’s account and transfer our account up there. Both our phone lines in Devon will be terminated, with the rental for one of them being transferred to our London line. And, at the same time, our broadband will be upgraded to BT Infinity 1, with an unlimited download limit. The lady on the phone was surprised that we still had a really old package – and we probably would have upgraded earlier if we’d known we’d be hanging around here for long! Still, it’s going to be a lot faster for us, and apparently a bit cheaper. It should be activated on the Monday when we get up there, and we’ll get a router in the post there too. So we could be on the internet just a few days after arriving. I was on the phone for quite a while, as the woman had to read out various terms and conditions, even though it’s going to be in the emails I get sent about it as well.

I’ve also been able to add my name to the account and set up a direct debit for paying it, and have an online account that allows me to check details and get paperless bills. And we’re going ex-directory as well this time, as we don’t need to be in the phone book (which is just as well, because we had a scam call from someone pretending to be BT, trying to claim we hadn’t paid our last bill – but we checked on the website, and of course we had paid). So, assuming it all works out, they seem to have made our switch pretty easy.

We’ve also informed the house insurers, who have told us that the water needs to be drained from the property – which our builder has now told us how to do, by turning off the stopcock and turning all the taps on. He’s suggested we keep the central heating on though, at a low level, to avoid frosting in the pipes if it gets really cold, which could make them burst. The insurers have also said that the house must be inspected once a week – the estate agent will be doing that, as we gave them a copy of our front door key. And we’ve given our builder and solicitor copies of the key as well.

As for work, I now have the computer on my desk that I’ll be remotely accessing, but I don’t have the one I’ll be taking to London just yet. I’ve contacted Access To Work about the upgrade I need for my magnification software, which is only about £180, so it should be ok. And they won’t have to pay for transport costs any more – it’s been quite the surprise for some of the taxi drivers I’ve been revealing it to over the past week.

And talking of travel, I’ve contacted the Concessionary Fares team about our free bus passes, which they’ll deactivate in January. In terms of getting our details transferred to London, they gave me the details of the Torbay Sensory Team, so I emailed them to ask if we were registered with them and if we could get that information transferred to Newham. They replied quickly and were very helpful, confirming that we have been registered for a long time. So they’re going to send us letters confirming that, plus we still have our disability registration cards somewhere I think. They also gave us all the contact details for the Adult Social Care team in Newham, so I’ve emailed them as well, and again they were quick to respond. All we have to do is inform them once we’ve moved, and they can arrange an assessment. They didn’t say anything about transferring our info, which hopefully means it isn’t a problem. It’ll be interesting to see what services and adaptations they offer. And hopefully we’ll get Freedom Passes too. Mum qualifies for an older person’s one now anyway, but I’m hoping I still get one for being partially sighted. That’ll make travelling in London much easier.

I’ve also sorted out the redirection of the post for a year, which is important. And I’ve also informed the Council Tax department about the move, so they’re amending the account accordingly. As the property is remaining furnished, the charge will remain the same. We’ve already paid a double instalment for December and January to clear the remainder that we owed, so that’s good. All I have to do is inform them when the house is sold, with the date and the names of the new owners, and they’ll close our account.

We’ve also been doing some packing upstairs, with me sorting out our boxes in the loft, with CDs, coins and other stuff, as well as packing clothes into suitcases and packing a couple of boxes full with hangers! Obviously there will be a fair amount we can’t pack until the Thursday night before the removal men come. And they’ll be packing various things for us anyway, so we don’t need to do it all. But as some stuff in the loft was already boxed up and just needed rearranging, and we wanted to ensure we knew what clothes we needed for the weekend we’re in London without all our possessions, it made sense to do some of the work ourselves first.

As for the sale itself, we didn’t hear anything back from the viewing we had after it went back on the market. However, today we received the news that the lady who was trying before has found another buyer for her property, who also lives in Torquay, so she’s keen to have another go. She’s already done all the investigation work on ours, so that helps a lot. And her buyer has already sold their previous property, and is living in temporary accommodation with their family. So again there’s not much of a chain involved. But it is a similar scenario to last time, so it’s still possible that they could pull out as well. I guess it depends on why previous people have pulled out. If there’s something wrong with her property that needs work, then it could keep putting people off – but if she hasn’t been told what’s wrong with it, it’s hard to fix it. Then again, it could be nothing to do with that, we just don’t know. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that it’s third time lucky for her, and fourth time lucky for us.

So, as I say, it’s going well so far. One week to go, and it’s going to be a busy one I’m sure! Then finally, all being well, we’ll be off to our new home…

Thursday December 15, 2016

This is the last day that I’ll be writing on my computer in Devon, as the removal firm are taking it tomorrow. They’ve already been today to take most of the boxes – they had a free slot this afternoon, and asked if they could pop over to start collecting, which was fine by us. So they’ve taken suitcases full of clothes, lots of boxes from the loft, and all our DVDs. There’s still a fair amount to take tomorrow, but it’ll be quicker for them now than it was going to be. Apparently the week before Christmas is always really busy, so they were glad to have that spare slot to work with.

I had my last day in the office today as well. Nothing out of the ordinary really, I just tried to tidy up various little jobs before I left. I’m now off for 3 weeks, returning on Monday 9th January – assuming no emergencies come up that my manager asks me to log in for. But I won’t be able to do anything until I get my computer anyway. I thought perhaps I’d be giving it to our removal men, but the IT guys and my manager are going to package the computer, monitor, CCTV, router and phone up, and send it to me via the TNT couriers. So that’s fine.

The PC setup seems to be going well, as we’ve figured how to transfer the important software I need over to it. I just need to get my magnification software approved by Access To Work – I’ll have to prod them soon if I haven’t heard anything. And talking of lack of feedback, Human Resources still haven’t signed off my homeworking either, so I still haven’t been able to sign a contract for it. It doesn’t look like they have any issues with it, and we don’t know why they would. They’re just slow at getting around to it!

A number of people have given me their best wishes, via email or in person, which is nice. And I’ll be seeing my colleagues tomorrow for our Christmas lunch, so that’s when it’ll be more of a goodbye than today. Of course, if I get another job in London in the future, there will be a proper farewell. But for now, it’s evident I’m going to be greatly missed in person. I don’t think my section manager’s thrilled about having to come in over Christmas, but I’ve let him have the time off during this period every year, so it’s nice to do it the other way around for a change.

Then I’ll just need to get used to homeworking. It’ll be fine, I know, but I’ll miss being able to chat to people in the office, we have a great camaraderie there. It will never be quite the same. But I hope the positives of London will make up for it.

And the next time I write, that should be where I am. I’m relieved, excited and anxious now that it’s finally happening. It still won’t quite feel real until we’re there, but it’s hopefully going to be so worth the wait!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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