farewell to buckingham

Well we’re back in Italy at last. It’s been a chaotic couple of weeks and I simply haven’t had chance to spend time on the blog recently. We decided in the end to cut our losses on our Buckingham home after 2 and a half years of trying to sell it whilst covering mortgages/running costs on two homes. We reached agreement to hand the keys back to our bank at the end of February and left it with no regrets; it’s been a difficult period for us but we’re moving on, a little bruised but happier now.

The last few days there just seemed to typify how difficult life had become. For example C called BT on the Thursday to confirm that we needed our phone and broadband service terminating, effectively at midnight Friday, the following day. We still had lots of calls to make plus all my invoicing for the business etc. But what did BT do? They only cut us off straight away and it took hours and many calls to get them to re-connect us. We then had to go through the whole process again on the Friday because they couldn’t accept a request to terminate on the same day they had ‘connected’ us. This is the company I spent more than 30 years with – they were just so unhelpful and difficult. By contrast Zen, our broadband SP, were great – although they had been notified by hopeless BT that the termination date for the BB line was 5 March for some reason (which cost me another week’s BB line rental!).

Then the guy who had agreed to come and buy some remaining items of furniture etc didn’t turn up until late on Thursday, having promised us he’d be with us Tuesday at the latest. He took what he wanted, left us with a load of stuff still to clear and gave us less than he had initially indicated. We couldn’t be arsed to argue. We actually should have had the house cleared to be honest. So on the Friday I was dismantling beds and taking them and a fridge, tons of crockery and shed stuff up to the tip. It took all day to clear the house before we could begin to start packing the car for the journey home.

We also discovered that we couldn’t fit all the things we wanted to take with us in the car. So at 8pm we called some local friends and asked them if we could drop some things with them until I could return to collect it. So again before packing I was lumbering a huge bay tree up to Cindy and Keith’s and a leather chair and some garden furniture up to John and Sue’s. Thank Christ for good friends. One moment summed up the day. I’d managed to drag the bay tree in this huge and heavy pot to the car which was parked some 50 yards down the road. I was just about to try and lift it into the boot of the car when a guy who was walking by just stopped and asked me how I was going to manage to lift it. I said ‘with difficulty’ naturally expecting him to offer to help. He watched me for a while then just said ‘good luck mate’ and walked on by. Prick.

So at 9pm we started packing the car for the journey and by 10pm were on our way, tired but completely unmoved by saying goodbye to Buckingham and our family home for more than 20 years, for the last time. We got to our hotel down in Kent a little after midnight, pretty whacked. Next morning whilst checking out we asked the girl at reception for the best route to Dover from the village we were staying in. She asked us if Dover was in London! Say goodnight Gracie. For f’s sake.

We headed off to find a Post Office – we needed to mail the bank with the house keys. We found a village shop-cum-Post Office and C popped in to sort things out. It was about 8.50am and we were running a little late for the ferry as it was. The woman behind the counter told C that she couldn’t serve her postal items until after 9am. Carol said OK and bought a few things for the journey. At 9 she went up to the counter again, placed the jiffy envelope with the keys in on the weighing machine and asked again for a stamp. Unbelievably the woman now said that she couldn’t help because the computer was down. But, C explained, she only needed a correct value stamp. What did she need a computer for? Well Kent’s Miss Congeniality wouldn’t serve her the stamp so C stormed out frustrated, still clutching the envelope. We’d just have to post it Italy. And people are complaining about local Post Offices being closed down in the UK because of the vital service they provide in the community. Yeh right: computer says no…

We drove like lunatics to the port to be told that SeaFrance, the ferry company, was in the middle of an industrial dispute. It had been on for a week apparently though nobody had seen fit to notify passengers of the likely delay. It was starting to feel like the Gods of Fun were having playtime with us again. Anyway we got re-scheduled to another company and by 11.30 we were heading out of Dover (by the sea, not the one in London) later than intended but en route at last. A long and uneventful journey lay ahead. Would things be OK at our home in Italy? What, with our run of luck? Check out the next thrilling installment in the roller coaster life of pasta paulie….


ps just as a quick postscript it seems that our links with our former home are taking time to sever. I ended up back in the UK shortly afterwards (see next posting) and whilst at my daughter’s received a phone call from C back in Italy. She’d been contacted  by Anglia Water to say that the local agents acting for the bank’s legal/repossession company had instructed AW to switch off the water to our house but in doing so they’d disconnected the supply to all our neighbours. I don’t think they’d entered the house – they’d just switched it off at the mains. Now all our neighbours were up in arms. This was actually no longer our problem but of course we then made calls to the legal company imploring them to  arrange with AW for the supply to be switched back on for our neighbour’s benefit. We believe it was resolved but yet another example of bungled administration grinding us down. Ironically it wasn’t the only water torture we were having to endure – see next posting!

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