Monday, 28 April 2008

A Neckshund in the Attic!

We've all been neckling in in our own ways since moving. For our middle child, Necky Becky, this has involved a small feat of engineering. She chose the attic for her room, (top of the house, secret, no-one else allowed), which presented the challenge of how to get her pet neckshund dog, Hals, up there!

I'd been brushing my teeth in the front bathroom, when I heard most peculiar creaking noises coming from the landing. On investigating I nearly collided with Hals who was dangling in mid air in front of me. He was suspended in a little sort of hammock made from a cushion and what looked like a piece of net curtain, and obviously thought this was a great new game.

Necky Becky glared at me from the loft ladder, then hauled Hals up to her attic using a wheel and lever she had attached to the joists next to the trap-door.

She's certainly got plenty of neck when it comes to overcoming obstacles to getting her own way!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Our Dream Has Come True!

What a nexceptionally busy week this has been! I thought the prior preparation and packing was the hectic part of moving, but ever since actually moving in there's been even more to do. It's all been hard work, but great fun, and we're all in gleeful giraffitude spirits because our dream has come true!

I will always remember the journey to our new home. We set off a little later than we'd intended and had to drive quite slowly because of all the ruts and hollows in the little-used Forest Road. At one point Gaffer's van bumped over such a deep set of holes that the back shutter came open and a load of boxes fell out! We had to stop the bus and help to put them all back in again. There was no damage, and it gave us an opportunity to take in the beauty of our surroundings.

By this time the sun was beginning to set in a vivid pink sky dappled with little slow-moving magenta clouds. Above us the slender moon shone. Everything seemed to shimmer with light and pattern, from the new spring foliage to the markings on the tree trunks. There was a mysterious sense of waiting, as if something fantastic was about to happen. After standing still for a while in perfect silence, we climbed back into our vehicles.

I kept glancing across at Maureen as we neared Necky Knoll House. She looked so serenely beautiful gazing out of the window. At the top of one of the knolls a group of wild giraffes stood in the moonlight. Maureen turned her head towards me and smiled, and my heart was full of excitement in anticipation of our future.

I'm being called! We're just about to go out on our first visit to Neckelchester village since the move. It was raining for several days, and today is nice and sunny, so we're having an afternoon off!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Giraffe House Moving Day!

After an incredibly busy weekend running around with 'Moving House' lists and packing boxes, we're just about ready to move.

There was so much to pack. I know some folk like to use a professional packing service, but we really wanted to sort out our own things and enjoy the occasion! It was fun and also quite sentimental going through baby things, and finding old photos and bits and pieces from the family. Nexi found some of her early school artwork and boasted about it so much that Neck Becky stormed off in disgust. There were a few other minor sibling squabbles, but on the whole it was a very harmonious time.

We're putting the fragile and awkwardly shaped items, (of which there are always many in a giraffe house!), on the bus so we can hang on to them on the journey. Our friend Gaffer Giraffter from 'Our Neck of the Woods Timber & Furniture' brought his big old van across this morning. He and two other friends, Rich and Nukkle, have been loading it up for several hours and now it's neck full and ready to go.

We've just been having a last walk round the cottage and the garden. Maureen's been quickly dividing snowdrops so we have some to plant in our new garden.

Must get going - I can hear Gaffer revving the van. There's Rich shouting "Necks ahead!" Time to start up the bus! We're supposed to be leading the way - we've decided to go the scenic route across the Neckmoors and along the Forest Road.

To Necky Knoll House!

Friday, 11 April 2008

"Would you like your bus wrapping, Sir?"

This afternoon we went to collect our new bus. We'd found the type we wanted on Monday at a garage in Raffsburgh. I'd envisaged driving it home then and there, so I was a little perplexed when the sales chap asked if I wanted it wrapping.

"Pardon?" I asked.

I had a mental image of a huge roll of wrapping paper about 10 metres wide, and wondered if they'd leave a gap so I could see out of the windscreen.

Maureen explained gently that the garage had a vehicle branding service, and that a vehicle wrap could be either full or partial and referred to graphics.

I was still trying to get my neck round this idea, when our eldest daughter Nexi shrieked, "Graphics! Of course - I'll design it! I can do it at college, based on the logo I've created for the business. It'll look fab running in a strip along the side of the bus."

By now I'd seen the light and said I rather fancied the full bus wrap. We could have the logo, 'Giraffe World Tours', surrounded by stars and planets swirling all over the bus. (Guess who has been looking through his wonderful new telescope!)

Nexi threw up her hands in horror and explained witheringly that the whole point of vehicle signage was so that people would notice the name of the business as we drove by, and that we ought to look like a tours company, not a mobile astronomical observatory.

I was rather taken with the observatory idea, and suggested that we get a second bus specializing in astronomy tours.

Nexi turned her back on me and told the by-now-thoroughly-confused salesman that she'd send a file with the artwork and could the bus be ready to collect on Friday please?

So there we were this afternoon, and I have to say that Nexi's design looked superb.

Both Maureen and I got our PGV (Passenger Giraffe Vehicle) licences a few weeks ago, so we tossed a coin to see who would drive the bus home. I called 'Necks Up', and it was, so I did!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Spring Snow Heralds a Speedy Completion!

What a wonderful week this has been!

We had a lovely little launch party on Sunday evening to celebrate the start date of our new business, Giraffe World Tours. It was held at my sister's restaurant in Neckelchester, and we couldn't resist a quick peek at Necky Knoll House before the party began. It had been snowing that day, and we stood outside our future home in the pale evening light. The pearly colours of the snow-clad landscape blended with the emerging spring foliage, and the house looked almost radiant.

We all felt it was symbolic of a beautiful beginning.

On Monday morning we were just about to go out and look for a nice bus for our Tours business, when the phone rang. It was the estate agent. He told us that as everything was going through smoothly with the purchase of Necky Knoll House, we could expect to complete on the 14th!

Only a week away ... (less than four days now)!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Farewell to Accounting - Enter Giraffe Entrepreneur!

Friday was my last day as an accountant! It has been a whole month since I stuck my neck out and handed in my notice at Storey & Tawle.

During the afternoon, I had a real surprise. All the staff came crowding into my office, carrying a large cake and a mysterious package. For me! They lit all the candles on the cake, (seventeen for the years I worked there), hung some garlands round my neck, and told me to open my present. There was a card with the caption 'Stick Your Neck Out For The Stars!', which everyone had signed wishing me success in the new business. With it came a paper hat with 'Star' on the front. When I opened the package, I was amazed to find a large telescope!

I confess I had a few tears running down my cheeks as I stuttered my thanks. Of course, I had to give a little speech. I told everyone they would be invited to come on a free day trip once we have established our new family business, Giraffe World Tours, and that after using my lovely new telescope, we would no doubt be organizing trips into space!

Leaving accountancy amid cheers and fond farewells was a warming experience. My neck feels strengthened, and I'm ready to embrace entrepreneurship with full 'Giraffitude'!

This evening the family and our friends are holding a little celebratory launch of our new business.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Tenants with Twins!

We have tenants for Neckmoor Cottage! Over the weekend we had a visit from an exceptionally pleasant couple who are Neckmoors Rangers. They look after the moorland environment and the wild giraffes, as well as leading guided walks and organizing conservation events. What an ideal location for them!

They brought their young twins with them, and Littl' Nicky was entranced. It was the first time he had seen a double pram with two baby giraffes in, and he spent all afternoon making 'goo' noises with them.

It is marvellous to have tenants who will have a real affinity with the place. The Grangers were delighted with everything, including the vegetable garden! They will take over all the growing. Maureen and I have supplied vegetables to my sister's restaurant in Neckelchester, assisted by our old gardener, Gnarly. Gnarly was here when the Grangers called, and they all got on famously, putting their necks together about different varieties of marrows and courgettes, and prevailing winds ...

As soon as we have completed the purchase of Necky Knoll House, we'll move out and the Grangers will move in. It is very exciting - yet both Maureen and I feel a little wistful.

I stood outside the cottage later that night. A group of wild giraffes had gathered on the opposite hillside and were silhouetted against the windswept sky. As they cantered gracefully into the distance, I knew how pleased Maureen must be to know they will be cared for.