For those who don’t know the history:
I was made redundant from a well-paid job, decided to take 3 months off to concentrate on my studies and get over the devastating blow and half way through that break, discovered that I was pregnant at a point when we’d come to believe that we couldn’t have children.
We were so happy.
Then things went onto a rapid decline. I discovered that in my high-stress, well-paid career, I was no longer employable – who wants a Quality Manager who won’t put in the 70 hour weeks and puts her baby first? Then Mr PinQ lost his position in the charity that he worked for and had to start temping whilst his dream job application failed to be processed by one particular organisation’s HR department. I started a little business doing sewing, including working for a local (then) shop one day a week and taking their alterations home and with the help of some very generous donations from friends, was able to buy a sewing machine capable of doing the work and a pot besides for building the business further (buying fabric, creating a website etc). Then we were given notice to leave our home because the landlord wanted to sell.
That gave me an idea and I talked it through with Mr PinQ. We could go North.
After every visit over the previous 6 years, he had said, “When are we moving North?” because he always loved it and we knew that one day we would, which had been part of the decision not to buy a house when it was just my wages coming in back in 2011. The funny thing is,one of our biggest deciding factors was walking our pup. We looked at walks within an hour of (our then) home and a specific postcode in the North-West and spent 10 minutes on each. We managed to get 12 walks in our bit of the South and 58 in the same sized area in the North! So it was decided, we would both apply for jobs in Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire and whichever one of us got accepted first would decide where we would settle and who would stay at home with our precious baby girl.
It was a logistical nightmare with a rambling old 3-bedroom Victorian terraced house worth of “stuff” to move as well as a baby, pup, cat, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchilla…
If that wasn’t bad enough, the purchase of the new house by our landlord was delayed and we found ourselves a week away from the move with no home to go to! We were again rescued by kindness and a lovely couple who are good friends of friends, allowed us to rent a house from them in the short-term but we couldn’t even tell them how many weeks it was going to be!
If that wasn’t enough, Mr PinQ didn’t have a start date for the new job so with no money left to live on and no job to go to, we moved. Within a week, he had secured himself a job as a labourer for a landscape gardener whilst out walking the dog! He loved it and by late summer, his boss was very sorry to lose him when the start date came through.
We were still on the bones of our collective arse and I walked around Lidl with my calculator to make sure that I didn’t go above the £30 a week for the family shop and Mr PinQ was living away on training.
Whilst he was away, I managed to re-decorate most of the house during the night when Baby-Girl was asleep (one room left to go, plus I still need to gloss the woodwork on the stairs and landing!) for less than £40 – because I already had paint etc that I’d bought for the old house.
Those 13 weeks were particularly difficult for Baby-Girl because the same week that Daddy moved away, Nanny and Grampy went on their lollibobs for 2 weeks. In both cases, she was with them, she fell asleep and when she woke up, they were gone. It devastated her and for a while, she didn’t want to go to sleep. Especially when Daddy came home at the weekends!
Since the end of the training and Daddy’s return, her separation anxiety has gone and she’s a happy little monkey again.
In addition to which, we have a little spare every month now and can go ice-skating once a month. Okay, I know, it’s not the once or twice a week that we used to be able to do but compared to not being able to go at all, it’s brilliant and baby-Girl has astounded us with her ability to stay upright on her toddler skates at 18 months old and her pure joy at being on the ice! It also means that I can cook more varied meals rather than the bulk/batch style of cooking that I had to do on limited ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I made sure that Daddy and Baby-Girl had all of the correct nutrients and he never once complained at eating the same meal for 4 or 5 days in a row but it is nice to be able to have a roast dinner or to do a small pan of soup for just a couple of lunches rather than for the whole week. We’ve even been able to have little treats such as Lidl’s basic tortilla chips with a dip on an evening when Mr PinQ isn’t on shift!
Mr PinQ is doing his dream job – and in an organisation that actually cares! With the difference in the cost of living, that means that I have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mum until Baby-Girl is old enough for a free nursery place. Once the house is done, I’ll be able to split my nights (when Mr PinQ is on shift) between my studies and building my business and it doesn’t matter if it takes time to get off the ground because I’ll be home-based anyway.
Pup-Dog has completely changed since we moved. She gets a different walk every day and now that Baby-Girl is running around with her, I’ve revised all dog-walks to only those that allows both of them to enjoy themselves. When Baby-Girl was in her pram, it didn’t matter what the terrain was like but now that she’s chasing Pup-Dog, it has to be something that she can manage. The walks aren’t too long in distance but because Baby-Girl only has tiny little legs, she’s quite slow (except when you have to catch her!) so Pup-Dog still gets the same amount of exercise because she’s constantly chasing a ball. Of course, that means that when Daddy takes her hill walking without Baby-Girl or a ball, she sees that as an extra-special walk. The best of it is that we have 7 park within 10 minutes of the house that are suitable for both Baby-Girl and Pup-Dog, never mind how many there are within an hour!
We have lovely nieghbours on both sides of us now. Compared to one set of lovely neighbours and one horrible one in our home in the South, that is a massive bonus.
I’ve caught up with (not enough) old friends and met some of Mr PinQ’s friends that live in the North-West that he hadn’t seen for years and Baby-Girl gets to see more of Nanny and Grampy as well as seeing Nan-Bear more often because she’s now only about 100 miles away, not over 300! Baby-Girl and I managed a flying visit to see a couple of friends (not enough) in the South but illness prevented the second planned trip so we have to re-schedule that soon but it was lovely to be able to go down and say hello.
I won’t lie, I’m exhausted. Some of the big jobs that I need to do have been postponed because the day-to-day tasks are wearing me out and with Baby-Girl and Pup-Dog, I can’t afford for the acute ME to return or worse, for chronic ME set in but I’m slowly chipping away at my to-do list.
Being back amongst the hills is so good for the soul. When we’re in the car, regardless of what road you are driving along, you can see hills (unless it’s foggy!) and we live at the bottom of a little hill that we can stroll up, let Pup-Dog run around and play and just take in the views. Bigger hills and hills walks are only minutes away and we have 3 town centres within walking distance whilst being within spitting distance of massive amounts of wild, green space.
Our house is warm and dry. In the old house, I didn’t really dare let Baby-Girl crawl around on the floor because of the damp and I know that restricted her confidence in herself so that it took a long time for her to let go of her walker and walk on her own but here, I just make sure that I sweep or vac every day and steam mop every other day and she has no restrictions. It’s lovely to see her running around and giggling when she’s stolen Pup-Dog’s toy or toddling upstairs and sliding back down on her belly (we are always a couple of steps below her but let her enjoy doing it herself). Of course, having a warm, dry house means a significant reduction in the combined monthly gas and electric bills from £130 a month to £50 a month! That said, just knowing that it is safe for Baby-Girl to run around means more to me than the £80 a month saved.
It’s lovely to get on a bus, take the dog for a walk or go to the shops and find yourself in conversation and laughing with complete strangers – I missed that when we were in the South where even a lot of the dog-walkers could be very stand-off-ish. On Pup-Dog’s second birthday, we were walking in a park and she and Baby-Girl were running around and getting filthy when a lovely elderly gentleman and his friend interrupted their walk and conversation to play with Pup-Dog, then another pair of dog-walkers were throwing her ball whilst their older dogs played with Baby-Girl, it was an absolute joy to see her chasing the beautiful, big, old Golden Retriever and watch him transform into a pup when she had a little ride on his back.
When people ask about the move and I say how happy we are, the usual response is, “Yes, but what about Mr PinQ?” Well, it turns out that he’s as happy about the move as I am, if not more so! As well as the dream job, lovely home, happier Pup-Dog, lovely people and marvellous views – he has an awful lot of exploring to do and the reality isn’t an anti-climax in comparison to the anticipation when new places are discovered. I am loving re-visiting places that I loved as a child but Mr PinQ is seeing them for the first time and things like our New Year’s day adventure to Lytham and finding little reservoirs and paths in the hills or seeing the beautiful old mills are an absolute delight for both of us.
I went into Manchester on Monday and it re-affirmed my love for the city. When I was in the South, I regularly proclaimed that I detested Portsmouth and Southampton because I’d been so spoilt with the likes of Manchester, Leeds, York and Sheffield being close by – but part of me thought that I maybe I was looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses. It turns out that I wasn’t. There I was in the middle of this beautiful, bustling city that as well as the slinky modern architecture and trendy places to be, it still has a proud heritage, beautiful old architecture, independent shops, restaurants and clubs and the really important thing: superb transport links.
I thought that the only thing that I would miss bout the South would be our friends but over the winter, we’ve had a few foggy days and I realised there is something else I miss. When I open the back door to let Pup-Dog out for a wee on a foggy day, it’s silent. It turns out, I miss hearing the fog horns from the ships!
That said, it’s good to be home.