…but we’re home­ward bound

The jour­ney back, bags and all, can be painfree if you plan it well, says Paul Howard

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - HOME&AWAY -

Atrip to France is al­ways a plea­sure, yet it’s a bit­ter­sweet one if the pur­pose is to empty your French house be­fore the new own­ers move in. First, the hire of the in­evitable white van; then a 1,000-mile re­turn jour­ney squeezed into a cou­ple of days; and, in be­tween, the pack­ing. Even the most or­gan­ised among us might balk at the prospect.

But, need­ing to take home our solid-oak din­ing ta­ble, the oh-soFrench side­board and a last con­sign­ment of that de­li­cious lo­cal wine, my fa­ther-in-law and I de­cided to do it our­selves. The ra­tio­nale was sim­ple: no need to ob­tain quotes from half a dozen re­movals firms, or to de­cide in ad­vance what should be brought back and what left be­hind. How hard could it be to spend a long week­end driv­ing through France and putting half-a-dozen boxes and a sofa into a van?

The an­swer, ini­tially, was not very hard at all. Depite the stag party on the ferry that kept us awake all night, our spir­its were high. Af­ter a few hours on an al­most empty au­toroute we were smugly en­joy­ing our de­ci­sion to go it alone.

Our mood sur­vived the dis­ap­point­ment of the keenly an­tic­i­pated steak frites lunch at a Les Routiers es­tab­lish­ment turn­ing out to be a luke­warm burger and oven chips. It even sur­vived a 30-minute de­lay due to the clas­sic nav­i­ga­tional er­ror of fol­low­ing road signs in­stead of the map. With the rain giv­ing way to glo­ri­ous sun­shine as we reached the Quercy re­gion, be­tween Ca­hors and Mon­tauban, we were pos­i­tively up­beat.

Then we re­mem­bered we had only 16 hours be­fore start­ing our re­turn jour­ney — and I, for one, planned on sleep­ing for a good num­ber of those.

What had started as an ad­ven­ture be­gan to re­sem­ble a chore. And it be­came pos­i­tively scary on the way home, when we dis­cov­ered the haz­ards of over­tak­ing in a right-hand-drive van with 100,000 miles on the clock and packed to the gun­nels.

In the end, our stint of play­ing at Howard’s end: Paul (right) is seen off by a cou­ple of his French neigh­bours re­movals was worth it – but I needed to un­load the ship and, if wouldn’t rec­om­mend it for nec­es­sary, to re­ceive cus­toms ev­ery­one. For­tu­nately, there are clear­ance – a process that can other op­tions, even if there is no also in­cur ex­tra costs. “You may sin­gle right an­swer for ev­ery have to pay for rent­ing the pos­si­ble move. con­tainer for longer or pay a port

If you’re mov­ing back to Bri­tain stor­age fee. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, from fur­ther afield than France, peo­ple should an­tic­i­pate de­liv­ery ship­ping your goods may be the within 10 days of the ETA.” only op­tion — but one not short of Closer to home, sev­eral po­ten­tial pit­falls. “Peo­ple are given op­tions are avail­able. The an ETA for the ship’s ar­rival and sim­plest one, al­though of­ten the ex­pect their stuff to ar­rive at their most costly, is to phone a Bri­tish house on the same day,” says Grant re­movals firm and book it for a Bishop, in­ter­na­tional di­rec­tor for spe­cific date. “It’s no dif­fer­ent to Bishop’s Move. long-dis­tance re­movals in this But that over­looks the time coun­try,” says Bishop. “There’s just a ferry in the mid­dle.”

Cal­cu­lat­ing the amount of stuff you have is sim­ple. “Most com­pa­nies have a ‘con­tents of home’ form on their web­site, which a cus­tomer fills in. A quote is based on that,” says Bishop, al­though if there are a lot of be­long­ings, some firms may in­sist on see­ing the prop­erty.

An­other al­ter­na­tive is to book a re­turn load or a part load. If you’re flexible about tim­ing, this takes into ac­count the fact that re­movals lor­ries criss-cross the Con­ti­nent on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. At a cer­tain time, one will pass close enough for you to be able to cadge a ride.

“But be wary of part loads that re­quire trans­fer­ring be­tween ve­hi­cles or com­pa­nies that re­quire stor­age in a de­pot,” Bishop warns. This not only in­creases re-han­dling and break­age, but also makes your per­sonal be­long­ings anony­mous. “The guys who pack it know what’s inside and care about de­liv­er­ing it safely. If it’s passed on to some­one else, it just be­comes a box.”

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