It had all been going so well.
Rented house packed up and removal van on the road a good two hours early. Mike and I stayed back at the old place for a couple more hours, giving it a last minute clean before dropping off the keys. There was even time to break the long journey down to Devon, grab a bite to eat and admire a beautiful sunset. A good omen perhaps for a new life to come?
Any feeling of optimism and calm was to last, oh, a good twelve hours. Just through to breakfast the following day in fact, when the removals men arrived back on the scene. Gone were the smiles of the day before. Because now there was “a problem”.
As it turned out, when they’d got to the cottage early the previous evening they’d decided to do a bit of exploring. Now, one of the more challenging aspects of our new abode is the access. As well as the 84 steps down to the house there’s also a vehicle track which winds its way down the slope. It is steep. There is a wicked hairpin bend halfway down. And what was once tarmac now has the alarming ability to shift about under your tyres, making the whole experience something more akin to a descent from Everest Base Camp in a Mini. It is not for the faint-hearted.
Obviously we had alerted the removal company to the nature of the terrain and they had brought along a Sprinter van, as well as the pantechnicon which currently held all our worldly goods. It was the Sprinter that had been used in the previous evening’s reconnoiter. It seems our intrepid adventurers had reached the bottom of the track without incident, wandered around a bit outside of the house and then turned the van around ready for the trip back up. It wasn’t until they reached the hairpin bend for the second time that things began to unravel.
Even in a car, it’s not easy to get round without stopping. One three point turn is more or less obligatory. This particular night it had been raining. The van slithered backwards down the slope.. closer and closer to the edge of the track. It’s not a sheer drop by any means, but unless they were lucky and got stopped by a tree there isn’t much traction between the track and the river.
The mens’ voices took on a bit of an edge as they recounted this part of the tale. The sound of the water had been getting louder and louder but every time they tried to move forward they just slipped further back.
Common sense prevailed. There was nothing else for it but to abandon the van and go for help, three quarters of a mile away up the road to the nearest farm. The neighbour whose tractor eventually pulled them out is still laughing about it to this day..
And did it end there? Part 2 follows..