When we first moved down to Cornwall in 2007, we were besieged by visitors. OK, besieged is a slight exaggeration, but, needless to say, our spare room had its fair share of occupants for about a year.
After that, people began to realise just how much of an effort it was to come down to us. Five and a half hours by train, six and a half in the car… and that was just from London.
We ended up meeting most people halfway. Or not at all. Occasionally people would be holidaying in the area and pop by to see us, but no-one would really stay. Even my mum has started booking a room in the pub next door after my slightly senile dad got trapped in the bathroom and I just couldn’t work out why he couldn’t unlock the door until I realised, some 10 minutes later, that the kids had inadvertently switched the bathroom light off from the outside and so he couldn’t see it. I suppose it didn’t help that I found this hilarious.
Anyway, no surprise then that the spare room has become something of a dumping ground over the years. I doubt your average house clearance firm would have encountered anything more cluttered.
So when an old schoolfriend of mine finally announced he was up for a return visit, it was panic stations. Where on earth was he going to sleep?!
Luckily, we had a few weeks to prepare and so for the last few weekends it has been Operation Sort Out, not just in the spare room but other areas of the house that had accumulated masses of cack. Which, let’s be honest, pretty much every room.
Cupboards were cleared, bags of rubbish and bags for charity piled up, we did a few visits to the tip, strategically shifted about various bits of furniture to help with storage and finally we had a spare room that could be used as a spare room again.
Job done – with an added bonus… For months now – nay, years – we’d been promising the kids they could have the spare room as a play room, the theory being it could become an organised place to keep their toys. The cupboard was clear enough to store all the things they wanted to keep, in stackable boxes which is quite an achievement because we’ve never been a household that has managed to store anything in stackable boxes quite so well. We even plugged in an old television to accommodate the Wii console. And then there was the comfy sofa bed for the obvious dual purpose.
The kids loved their new space and even agreed to abide by three vital rules. 1) Keep it tidy. 2) No fighting. 3) Don’t jump and thump around because the floorboards are slightly unstable.
So all Sunday afternoon, they were barely out of there. It meant the lounge remained reasonably tidy and the wife and I even had the option to watch a black and white film in peace. We didn’t, but the option was there, as was the one of playing with them which we both did. And even though by teatime the kids had broken rules 1 and 2 and, ok, maybe 3 a bit, it didn’t matter. Peaceful moments outweighed the fraught.
So here’s to more people coming to stay in order to inspire further extreme, life-changing clear-outs. Maybe not too often, though. I’m not sure the spare room floor could take it…