Twelve days we have been living in our own house. I love it. I am a grown up again. I wander around the rooms in wonder that this is the place I now call home. I have told my Mum that I will have to be carried out of this house, she is not amused and thinks I have now jinxed this delightful pile of bricks and mortar (I had my fingers crossed the whole time so of course I didn’t).
I think, yep, I think I can say this. I think, I have cleaned every inch of the place. As I like to say if it’s your own sh** you don’t mind it – if it’s someone else’s then obviously it’s gross. I never used to think I was that house proud. I am not OCD about cleaning, I will let germs party on the window sills and I do go a week without vacuuming. However, I have moved a lot in the past two years and I am amazed at how ‘other people’ live. If you are about to move house please, please consider the people excitedly moving into your property. Please, don’t leave them a calling card of anything other than the cardboard variety. (I am about to have a rant so if you would like to skip down a paragraph or two I’ll let you know when I have finished).
When we left our home in Frome, we rented it out to another family so we duly called in the professional cleaners, spent close to £600 and by the time the lovely team of four people at Busy Bees had finished the place was immaculate. Not a single cobweb, food spatter, condensation drip or flake of skin had been left behind. It was beautiful. It was in a better state than when we bought it yet it still reminded me why we had bought the property in the first place. The rooms were light and airy, large enough to give you space to breath and small enough to be cosy on a chilly winter’s evening. Lovely…
When we returned to the UK, just eleven months later, the tenants had moved out. I popped round to check all was well. Oh. My. God. Wallpaper had been ripped, carpets had holes in, door frames had gouges taken out, skirting had been ripped off, cupboards had been wrecked, the oven was vile and, we later discovered, the carpets had fleas. We had supposedly let our home to a nice young family and left it in the ‘capable’ hands of a management agency.
Even the house we have just bought, the day we got the keys we didn’t get in until late in the afternoon and for some reason the estate agent was telling us it was because ‘the cleaners were in’. Well the cleaners weren’t at this property. When we arrived none of the floors had been washed, the oven was gross, the freezer was caked in ice, the fridge was disgusting, the dishwasher – oh my, the dishwasher had slime in every corner and a clogged filter, I shudder to think of the germs travelling round the previous owners crockery every time it was put onto a ‘wash’ cycle. I have only just managed to bring myself to use it and that has been after extensive cleaning. Of course, once you spot one pile of dirt then you start seeing it all. Whether it’s a grimy skirting or dusty window sill once you spot it, and knowing it’s someone else’s skin bits, it just has to be removed.
(Rant kind of over, almost). When we vacated our apartment in Switzerland we had to leave it in exactly the same state as it was in when we took the lease over. This meant that a chimney sweep had to clean the wood burner, a cleaning company had to jet wash the balcony (as well as do the routine cleaning), the washing machine and tumble drier had to be serviced. The air conditioning filter had to be changed. The lights we had installed had to be removed (leaving not just an empty light fixing but bare wire sticking out). The place had to be exactly the same. No ‘fair wear and tear’. Imagine that people! Inspiring (until the agent tried to knock money off our deposit for a shower head that was loose – because it hadn’t been tightened after being cleaned. Oh and a kitchen tap that had become slightly calcified!). Yes, yes, whilst this was a bit of a pain in the derrier in many ways it did have massive benefits for the incoming tenants. The place was immaculate and there was definitely no one else’s sh** to deal with.
(Rant definitely over now). The irony of all this isn’t lost on me as I was the one who rented a flat in the second year of Uni complete with mushrooms growing out of the bathroom carpet and a kitchen that must have been breeding E.Coli strains never before discovered. “Sarah, I can’t believe you’ve done this,” were my father’s parting words as he left me. Anyway, now I have (almost) finished cleaning and I have found the table-cloth, and the various treasured items that make me feel I am home. Now, I am ready to feather my nest. Every room needs to be, and will be decorated, even if it takes ten years to do it. I am ready to luxuriate in the decisions that will need to be made on colour schemes, paint finishes, tonal fabrics and quirky accessories. The place will look like an issue of Country Living by the time we’ve finished (maybe).
I do however promise that no matter what trivial upsets we might come up against (wallpaper with air bubbles or paint not quite the right shade of ecru) I promise to count my blessings. I am aware that we are in a privileged position. I mean, we own our own home! We live in a country that isn’t disintegrating under the onslaught of bombs for a war that we don’t want and don’t understand. We can flick a switch if we feel a little chilly. We have a castle to which we can retreat from the world.
We are home.