November has been lonnnnnnng and LOTS, but things are finally starting to be a bit more stable.
Losing Chase wasn't as hard as I feared it might be — it was so obviously the right time for her to go (especially when I reflect back and watch videos of how unwell she was), that the knowledge of that takes some of the edge off the grief. But I still miss her every day, and receiving her ashes actually set me off a lot worse than I'd felt at any point thus far, and I had to take a half day off work to breathe and be sad.
Went to see my all time fav Flying Lotus at fun new venue Outernet. Many strobes.
Everyone always says buying a house is one of the hardest things you can go through, and I started out by saying 'NAAAH I CAN HANDLE IT' and ended up... well, not doing so great. You just sort of let everything slide, when you know everything's gonna change soon, somehow. Not having Chase didn't help with maintaining a healthy routine, not to mention the amount of cash I was forced to spend on the place meaning I felt like I had to prioritise work over things like, eating good, self care, exercise etc.
By this point, we had the keys, but were coming to terms with the WAY more work that needed doing to the property than we'd hoped. I didn't want a project flat! But I couldn't afford a non project flat!
Chase didn't like the fireworks. Stood and watched them from the house this year without her. This painting is of how the sky looks after the big display in Battersea Park.
Watching the new very good (very depressing) David Attenborough series
Gotta get those kids to LISTEN!
V came over to co-work and pep talk me
Treated myself to some winter health-goth
I know it sounds like I did nothing but take days off this month but I've been VERY STRESSED okay guys?! Took a day off to go to Margate and sell some records to Keir at Ghost Papa (also to see the sea and have some vegan fish and chips)
One of the most important jobs in the new house was getting the bathroom totally renovated due to a slow leak/dry rot/non functional toilet/horrendous amounts of expanding foam... I've never had to commission builders for anything like this before, and strongly suspect I paid massively over the odds for a slow, average job. One of many stresses was the way they entirely filled the house with trash and tools and dust. Inevitable to some extent but EVERY ROOM of a two bed flat just to do the bathroom?! Tiles looking nice though.
Love 2 meet a good guy on the train
(I do actually love teaching)
We HAD to move on the 25th. The bathroom was stil a very long way from being done. Time to start packing?!?!
One of the other big stresses in the house was the asbestos tiling on the office floor. We'd been advised that the best way to deal with it was simply to lay a self levelling concrete floor straight over it. I was under the impression that it was possible to get a sufficiently good finish on this that we could just use it as it was (as I didn't have the budget to do anything else). The builders doing my bathroom quoted me £750 to do it, which checkatrade said was too high, so I got some other guy to come do it. His van looked like a Dr Bronners Bottle, but plastered with bible quotes, and he said he was 'Also a preacher' and prayed for me and my flooring before he laid it, loudly, in the street outside. (Which I found hilarious but also strangely reassuring). He then proceeded to lay the floor in the most slapdash manner imaginable, and told me it would be fine in 24 hours. Reader, it was not.
Now the students are buttering me up, what do they want (I'll take it)
Decided it was time to pack all my art supplies, so I planned to do all my visual diaries until settled in the new place on my iPad.
Three days later and the concrete floor was still not entirely set. It was possible to easily scrape it up with a fingernail, and it was mottled and discoloured. This was the point where I truly felt like melting down. The bathroom still felt VERY far from finished (no functional suite items yet, STILL tiling), and if this floor was indeed, truly fucked, we'd have to scrape it up. Except we CAN'T scrape it up, because there's asbestos under there. Aaargh!!!! Called out another contractor for a second opinion and he said it was FINE — we just needed to lay carpet over it. But I have no money!
This is when I discovered the wonder of CARPET TILES (all is well)
Meanwhile at the other end, packing more seriously commences, including the challenges of kitchen stuff. (I am pleased to report, nothing broken when arriving at the other end!)
SNACKING THRU THE STRESS
On some level, felt determined not to let the move become entirely all consuming this month (hence the visit to Margate). Took the evening to pop into my co-teaching partner Kalina's book launch, LF5TL GLZ. I don't especially like cars but I did enjoy digitally painting this reproduction of a section of one of her lovely photos.
When we went to visit Dunrunnin the first time last month we fell in love with Barley. Luckily he was still waiting, so we dropped in one more time to see him in readiness for bringing him home once we'd moved in the next week. He likes a cuddle.
Had an afternoon of many trains!
The day before the move, my partner and I went to the new house, where the bathroom was FINALLY done, and most of the trash and tools removed. (I'd been visiting every day that week to lightly cajole them). We then had to clean the entire house (covered in dust), and assemble our new ikea bed, which took HOURS, and left us totally exhausted.
And then, finally, MOVING DAY!
Everything happened so fast I didn't really have time to reflect on saying goodbye to my old home in Battersea, a shared house with 3 bedrooms. I moved in there in September 2019, escaping from an unhappy time in Yorkshire, and the place felt like a salvation. I then spent the entirety of the worst of the pandemic there, lost Charlie, and later Chase under that roof. I built a happy relationship with my current partner there. I saw 7 different housemates pass through during my time. I love that place. I had some of the worst of times in that place. It is a beautiful house on a horrible road. I was ready to leave but it was a real home to me, and I hope it will continue to be so for those who remain there after me.
The move itself?
Not sure why I persueded my partner to let us do it ourselves, next time (hopefully many years from now) I WILL hire movers. The van was too small and we had to do three trips (the new place is around 45 – 60 mins drive from the old place, despite being only 6 miles away, because London). Luckily we had help — Dav and Justin happened to be visiting from Yorkshire, our friend Vaishnavi joined us, and my partner's dad also helped out. We absolutely could not have done it without them, and it was a long, exhausting day. But we did it.
I spent all day Sunday furiously trying to find homes for things. We are lacking some major pieces of furniture — no sofa, but crucially for unpacking, very few shelves. We have ordered some, but until then, some boxes must remain, which deeply irks me...
Did as much unpacking as I could over the weekend because I had to get back to work on Monday! It was a nice day though, as my friend Deb was visiting from the US (launching her new book!), and came to give a guest lecture to my UX students.
Despite the fact that all I wanted to do was stay home and faff about unpacking my house, I went to a gig I booked months ago, and it was great (I was also delighted to discover that it's actually faster and easier to get to East London from here than it was from my old place)
We ran a cute decoration making session with our students, using the laser cutter — I made these festive cheese and sweet combos!
I still haven't started doing my diaries by hand again, a) because my office/desk is still chaos, but b) because I'm kind of enjoying it?! It also coincides with Moleskine putting up their notebook prices from £18 to £25 (!!!!!), and as a result, all of my usual stockists not selling them any more. Is it finally time for my visual diaries to go permanently digital?! I haven't quite decided yet...
I look forwards to sharing more house/Barley/visual diary medium updates next month. I also look forwards to hopefully having some of you over soon to help us lightly housewarm and meet the lovely Barley. If you are anywhere near Croydon/Crystal Palace soon, let me know!