Moving around, moving in

by Anna Parsec
Updated: February 18, 2024
10 minute read
James at MSSL view

When I sat down to write this journaling post about week 7 of the year 2024, I felt an urge to turn on another symphony to listen to, like we did last week. Tchaikovsky came to my mind, and I went for a symphony I know the least if at all – The Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, often called ‘Little Russia’ apparently, which I’ve never heard of before (or rather forgot because I definitely studied all of those symphonies in the music school). This symphony uses three Ukrainian folk songs which I actually didn’t recognise but it’s an interesting fact to know.

While I am creating this content, James is developing and organising everything on the website to make this post happen (and many other things on this website). So, this symphony is for both of us.

Just before starting to write, I need to put my hands on the table and think. I am not necessarily thinking about what to write, but I am tuning myself for this type of activity. Interestingly, Tchaikovsky comes to my mind again with his approach that no inspiration comes until you sit down to work hard. Indeed, there is no point in waiting but rather sitting down and starting. That was one of the recommendations from former PhD students regarding how to write your thesis ‘Don’t think, just write’. That’s good to know too. Happy to do so!

This week was all about moving here and there, cycling 72 miles (in James’ case), moving everywhere and moving into our new rental house. Let’s dive into the events of this week.

Monday 12 February 2024

Sunny Beginnings

It was a beautiful sunny day when we actually took it easy because I used the Surrey Connect bus to get to the Lab rather than cycled. It’s a bus that you can book for £2 to get around Surrey. Usually, other MSSL staff and PhD students coordinate between each other to make sure that there is only one bus booked for a solid number of people, but it is usually around 2-3 people only on the bus (200 people working at MSSL).

That was a good morning for one more reason. Our estate agent Molly confirmed that our references were accepted and we could proceed with the move on Wednesday 14 Feb. We felt relieved and happy as we would soon have our stable environment after not having that luxury for the past 5 months.

Anna on the way to MSSL via Surrey Connect
Tuesday 13 February 2024

Fatigue Kicks In

We started getting tired on that day. Probably, the feeling that the house is almost sorted made us relax a little bit, adrenaline dropped, and we started to realise how tiring everything actually is. Most of our day was spent sorting out paperwork for everything and doing business. We do find it easier working when all the clients are quiet and not emailing us so our work lasted into early hours of Wednesday.

James cycling
Wednesday 14 February 2024

Key Moments

The mission of the day was to collect the keys for the new house and that was done. James did some 30 miles of cycling because he traveled with me to MSSL first to make sure I was safe, then to our new house. After sorting all the inventory with the agency clerk, he cycled back to MSSL, managed to get lost in the woods but still got to me pretty much on time and cycled back.

The second mission was to celebrate St Valentine’s day which we did in our usual manner: went to the supermarket (we love this activity), I chose flowers for myself and bought ingredients for the mushroom bourguignon. We also chose a card for each other. We do one card but alternate sentences without looking at what each other wrote. We haven’t read it yet because we wanted to post it to our new address which we didn’t get round to just yet.

James making Valentine's dinner
Thursday 15 February 2024

Boxed Out

Our stuff from the storage was delivered to our new house. It was meant to be £49 for the return but because we are outside their standard zone we had to pay £200 (we were paying £104 per month to store all our stuff). Well, at least it was delivered pretty much the day we wanted our stuff back rather than giving a 2-4 week notice.

I did only half a day at the Lab that day and cycled to the house which was easy at first but became increasingly hard by the end. James was meant to stay put in the house but he wanted to make sure that I was okay so he cycled towards me and we met pretty much by accident in a place where we could have easily missed each other. Our luck!

It was surprisingly challenging to carry all the stuff into the right places after it was delivered. We felt exhausted and hungry. Once all the boxes were in the right rooms, the local pub opened (6 pm) and we went to have our dinner. It was great but next time I want to sit by the fire. 

Anna and James moving into a new house

Friday 16 February 2024

New Beginnings

We woke up in our new house to the most beautiful sunrise we’ve seen in ages. It was a lovely sunny day and we decided to cycle back to the Airbnb place instead of cycling first to MSSL and only then home in the afternoon. It’s just we were on edge of exhaustion and we needed to stay put for the foreseeable future. However, that 1.5-hour cycle added so much tiredness to us that it was really hard even to use our brains after that. We have our Airbnb place booked until the end of February so we figured that until we sort Wi-Fi and the car to move around with more ease, we should stay in the place which is easier for now.

sunrise West Sussex England
Saturday 17 February

Concerns and Solutions

One of our biggest concerns about our new places is: cigarette smell and high electricity bills. That’s what made me wake up on Saturday morning and I was googling how to get rid of the cigarette smell and why on earth is the electricity so damn expensive. By the way, I called my grandma in Russia and she said that she pays 3.4p per kWh and we pay 34p per kWh – 10 times higher! The cigarette smell is another big topic for us these days.

We were a little naive about that and thought that a simple draft would sort it all. The carpets were changed so we thought that it would sort the issue massively. However, when we got back to our Airbnb place, we sniffed our clothes and it smelled like we spent the whole night in the club in the 90s when people smoke inside. Also, James is especially sensitive to the cigarette smell. Hence, we outlined a plan for the mission impossible to sort this issue by 1st March 2024 when we start residing in our new house.

Sunday 19 February 2024

Lazy not Lazy

We craved lying in which we fully enjoyed this day. This weekend we tried not to do anything major. In reality, that means that we are not cycling around Surrey Hills. We did lots of housework and laptop work too. It was nice not to go anywhere though (despite James’ suggestion to go for a walk every 3 hours but I couldn’t bear the thought). We concluded this week with a parsnip cream soup which was delicious.
James working on Sunday

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 7 of the year (12-18 February 2024).

Deposit for the house, one week of rent, and Airbnb place for this week with a monthly discount of 30%
One journey by bus (we pay with exhaustion for this category)
Shopping and a bit of eating out
Storage delivery and an Amazon purchase
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