A week after we dumped a van load of letterpress gear and furniture in our friend's barn, they returned to help us move the bulk of our things over to our new - and temporary - home a few counties away. That morning we found a mysterious bag of cheese scones on the doorstop and I nearly wept, thinking of the good friends we were leaving behind. Getting the garden dug over and pots ready was also hard, remembering the many happy summer harvests we'd enjoyed there. But not so sorry to leave behind the barking dog next door.
My poor studio - look away now, if you are ever contemplating moving your creative space after ten years. It hurts. Did you know that book cases whimper softly as they are emptied?
Our friend the fantastic Frank also gave up a day and loaned us the use of his van to help us. He is brilliant; a stylish cricketer, meticulous furniture restorer and all round good chap. He's shifted a lot of my junk around over the years, including helping me to collect my letterpress studio a few years ago.
This next shot describes why we are never again living in a 'character' cottage with twisty stairs.
It is amazing how a huge pile of boxes...
...can go down so quickly...
...when there are many pairs of helpful hands...
...to clear it all...
...within less than half an hour! It was reminiscent of the famous Amish barn raisings, which have always made complete sense to me.
Naturally it was one of the hottest days of the year, but better than rain.
Strapping the futon base to the van roof.
And off we went in convoy, Custard the dog leading the way by nose.
Finally - our new base for the next few months. We made it!
While the vans were unpacked, we went off to collect the keys from nearby Market Drayton. We have left behind honey coloured Cotswold stone and gained black and white half timbered architecture.
We returned to this. Oh dear. That was just one van load.
And then we opened the doors. That's Andy's dad down there - more helping hands.
Look - a corridor! Not had one of those before. And see the height of that ceiling - no more bumped heads.
Of course, I have the biggest and brightest room for my makeshift new studio.
Andy's lovely parents were there and his mum provided tea, served on my proofing press. They were splendid and stayed behind to look after the place.
While we drove back to the cottage. Again. Across the winding River Severn -
- to collapse with the cats. Still confused, but maybe not as confused - or anxious - as we were.