Whose idea was it to move? I confess it was mine, so my repeated moans about 'never again' rang hollow.
Trying to run Hobeck AND move house during lockdown felt like epic folly. Unleashing chaos, our already ramshackle farmhouse turned into a demonic jumble of boxes, bags and clutter, put Rebecca and I under enormous stress. There were moments of despair. 'Will we ever get this done?' Or plaintive cries of 'Why????' It was if we'd unleashed a beast that would devour us, a malevolent genie let out of a particularly dark lamp.
The move date seemed to accelerate towards us. We had three boys to cajole, and a cat to keep out of the moving boxes. (Aki was sealed in more than once!) Initially, we tried to pack everything. You could make a case for keeping random old empty wine bottles as if they contained the residue of happy evenings past. Then there were the kids toys. I only entered their lives less than three years ago, so I didn't have the same sentimental connection with these objects as Rebecca. Refreshingly, the boys showed a ruthless streak, and streams of middle-grade books and toys made their way to charity.
That ruthlessness rubbed off on the adults, and I began a fortnight of trips to the local recycling centres (AKA the dump). There's a certain etiquette in play during the pandemic, a balletic and unspoken dance of strangers giving way as they allow each other access to the 'non-recyclable waste' silo. There's a nobility and civility that echoes an 18th-century Regency ball - all curtsies and head bows behind PPE masks. At last count I'd been 23 times in a fortnight, most of them after our move.
Our new home, a converted barn overlooking a medieval moat and open fields is a delight in many ways, but storage is at a premium. We have a very large reception room that has absorbed the majority of the 4000 books we moved here, and my makeshift recording studio occupies one corner. But we lack cupboards. One modest shed doesn't cut it, so the cull of belongings has been brutal and swift.
This enforced de-clutter has been both a pain and a pleasure. Deciding what to discard and what to keep forces you to challenge your values and beliefs. It has helped us both re-evaluate what's important to us, and allowed us to be more forward thinking and focused on the future, rather than clinging onto fragments of the past.
Above all, the process has given us renewed energy. We launched Hobeck from the farmhouse, which while characterful always felt like a compromise. Our new setting feels sleek and modern and more suited to our needs. It also has vastly improved internet - vital when you're running a business with three knowledge-hungry boys all on their daily zooms.
We thank the old place for what it gave us, but it's time to look forwards: to our second year in publishing and we hope, the end of this dreadful pandemic.