Lockdown Pickup mooring
On Tuesday we moved Oleanna to the Lockdown Pickup mooring, well almost, we stopped a few boat lengths away from the busy road to moor for the night. Then mid afternoon Mick cycled into Crewe where he picked up a hire car. Enterprise did a socially distanced hand over and they have cleaning regulations that they follow. So on Wednesday morning the alarm went off and we were setting off in the car at 9am for a day out.
Back on the 16th of April I wrote about what a crap day we’d had, but not mentioned why. Well a few days before hand we’d heard from our lovely next door neighbour in Scarborough that our tenant looked like she was subletting as there were new faces around the house. Another neighbour from across the road thought she’d seen lights on in the rooms at the top of the house, this is where we store our possessions and it is kept locked up. She’d also been making note of a car driving up the road several times a day and transactions taking place. This was all hearsay, but if Andy thought it was worth calling us then he believed it, we suggested that the lady across the way should call the police if she suspected drugs were involved.
Then we heard more over the Easter weekend. Three people had been sat on the roof of our bay window drinking from the early morning. Someone on the street called the police who arrived mob handed. Then a few hours later the police returned even more mob handed I believe with sirens etc. They were at the house for quite a while.
Messages were left for the agents who look after the house. They tried calling our tenant, but got no response.
Then on the 16th we heard more. I could say ‘the shit hit the fan’ but a more accurate description would be ‘the TV hit the bench and then the bay window’. Although we have conflicting reports as to whether it was a TV, Computer Monitor or a Hifi. But what we do know is that an item had been thrown out from a window, bouncing off our garden bench and smashing into the bay window. this is why the police were called out the second time.
We tried calling the police but due to data protection they couldn’t give us any information, we would have to ask our tenants! As if they’d tell us anything.
Instantly we were both of the same opinion, we’d heard enough. Our hand had been forced, we instructed the agents to give our tenant notice as soon as possible. Who knew what was happening in our house. Who knew what was happening to our possessions, mostly things of great sentimental value.
Our agents advised us that normally we would have to give two months notice, but due to the pandemic this would be three months. Then they doubted that they would leave. We’d have to get a court order which post pandemic would take sometime and then it would likely take until bailiffs arrived on the doorstep to actually get rid of them. We felt sick.
Over the last few weeks our agents in Scarborough have done their best to contact our tenant and somehow she decided to make a move before her next months rent was due. Last Thursday we heard that there was a van and cars clearing things from the house. Then there was peace and quiet and four wide open windows.
The following day, VE day, the street had a party to celebrate. We suspect our end of the road were celebrating more than the 75th anniversary. Andy managed to push closed the windows for us, but we still had to wait to hear that the house was empty. This came through on Saturday, a big relief. We set about arranging an essential visit to the house.
The agents took photos on Monday. The tenant had said she’d not had time to finish clearing the house and would pay for it’s clearance when she could afford to. The window had been mended and she signed the bond over to us straight away as she was already in arrears.
With the announcement from Mr Johnson on Sunday, which by Monday had more clarity, we knew we could go on a day trip to somewhere, the seaside even, just so long as we didn’t stay overnight. I have to say we would not have been doing this trip if the circumstances had been different, but for our own mental health we had to go.
The M62 was the quietest it’s ever been, mostly lorries and we didn’t get held up going past Leeds, a straight 70 mph apart from through road works. Just under three hours later we called in at the agents to pick up keys and for a chat. Scarborough was busy, just like normal.
Everyone stood at a distance. Their impression of our tenant had been good when she first moved in, smartly presented, five kids. But lockdown has affected people in different ways. Yes we’ve all found it hard, but some more than others. She’d also got a new fella in her life, which we suspect was the main catalyst.
The house looked like they had been given half an hour to leave. Things left where they’d been dropped. A guitar, half an eaten pot of chocolate ice cream, the residue from a hamster or rabbits cage. Coats, shoes, pants, socks, food, a freezer full. Bikes, barbecues. Toys, cupboards full of the kids possessions. A mattress on the floor that had been slept in and just left. I’m so glad we’d seen the photos before hand so that we could detach ourselves.
Mick headed straight up the stairs to the attic door which showed no forced entry, but cracks in the paintwork suggested the lock had been removed. We already knew from one of the photographs that someone had been upstairs upstairs, I would never have left my gramophone open and certainly wouldn’t have had a go at playing a 45 on it!
We checked round the piles of our possessions. Things had certainly been looked through. As far as we could tell everything was still there, we’ll know more when we come to empty the attic. What a huge relief!
Our furniture needed sorting from everything else, which we did leaving labels on ordered piles. All food items that could go off were bagged and added to the already filled wheelie bins. The rest will be cleared by someone else.
We’d taken with us a picnic, under Mr Johnson’s guidance and sat out on the front garden wall to eat it in the sunshine, the blue bells that border our lawn still evident just not in quite the number we used to have. The house was starting to feel like ours again.
Time to acquaint and reacquaint ourselves with the neighbours. First up was Shoes, an ever so friendly cat who seems to like ham. He wouldn’t tell us if his brother Yoda (or Shithead) was still around, we kind of hope not.
Andy was out in his garden with the kids so we got to have a good chin wag with him. Then we went and knocked on the other neighbours door to introduce ourselves. Damian guessed who we were and came for a chat too. He was the one who’d called the police the second time, a lovely chap who knows old work colleagues of mine.
Another new neighbour had to be shooed out the front door, a ginger white pawed cat. Nobody knows it’s name. Then I disturbed Alan lazing in the sun on a table in our back yard. He apologised for having a Patsy look as I’d just woken him up.
Most of the locks are now changed and that will be finished tomorrow. We arrived feeling detached from the house but left feeling like it was still ours.
A drive up onto Southcliff to see the sea, castle and lighthouse was needed, otherwise we couldn’t say we’d been to the seaside for the day. I miss that view. Then we called in at Frank’s house to wish him a distanced Happy Birthday, he was out, but we had a chat on the phone instead. It took him quite a while before he asked how come we were in Scarborough. Word passed on quickly as we got a message from Duncan (see you get another mention!) asking about our visit.
The trip back was just as easy and we decided to head into Nantwich to get a takeaway curry before heading back to Tilly and the boat. All was in order, she’d looked after Oleanna very well for the day. It was nice to be back home.
0 locks, 4 locks changed, 0 miles, 322.8 miles by road, 1 day trip, 1 hire car, 1 bottle of disinfectant, 1 bag of keys, 1 serious mess of a house, 1 family evaporated, 1 chip pan of oil spread across the kitchen, 1 broken wardrobe, 2 boaters possessions still there (we think), 1 new window, 2 much stuff, 2 lovely neighbours, 1 calm quiet street again, 1 house to be cleared, 1 house to be cleaned, 1 house to ? 2 many decisions, 2 poppadoms, 2 currys, 1 side dish, 4 glasses of well earned wine, 2 relieved boaters.