Sunday, 9 December 2012

Material Girl

I was watching the news recently and there was a story that really got to me. I'm still upset by it a week later. The story was about a landslide which had resulted in a number of houses being condemned. They had an interview with a lady who lived in one of the houses and she said she was given half an hour to collect her belongings before the property was closed off ready to be destroyed. Imagine: just half an hour to pack up all the items that mean the most to you.

I'm not really sure why it bothers me so much.  If there was a fire in your house you would probably lose everything and what should really matter is your family is ok. Possessions are just things. I like my possessions though. The idea of starting again really scares me.


If you had half an hour to pack up your house what would you take?

Anything in my loft would be ruled out as it would take up too much time to get to so that's goodbye to all M's newborn clothes, as well as various memory boxes and photographs from my childhood through to University (before the days of digital photo sharing). While all these things mean a lot to me the reason they are in the loft is I don't look at them often.

All our books, DVDs and CDs would be left as they would be too hard to pack.

I love a lot of the items in our kitchen, but I could just about accept that my beautiful sparkly midnight blue Le Creuset casserole dishes could be replaced.

I would also have to say goodbye to all our furniture.


The Keepers

My priorities would be to fill bin bags up with our clothes, my shoes, bags and make up. And I hope I would remember to grab my useful documents (passport, driving license, insurance documents etc). Mustn't forget my daughter's toys either.

I suspect there would be a lot of things I would forget, then I'd keep kicking myself as I remembered the things I had lost like the canvases on the walls (largely of my daughter).

On a practical note one of the things this reinforces is just how critical contents insurance is. Although we have no individual high value items our level of cover is high because we have hundreds of DVDs and CDs which would cost a fortune to replace. Some of my clothes I have owned for 10 plus years and to replace my wardrobe would cost tens of thousands of pounds. I suspect our level of cover wouldn't be enough and the total value of our items probably comes to more than the house.

Clearly the news story bothers me because of the value I place on material goods. I have always been a bit of a nester and I don't do travelling light. My husband despairs of my desire to keep things 'just in case', but you never know when you might need something.

My Inheritance

My hoarding tendencies are inherited from my grandmother who was a crafty lady. All the family knew that she would store items in the attic that she might be able to make costumes or stage props out of. I don't think any of us realised just how ridiculous this had got until we were clearing everything out before the house was sold. On the plus side I inherited (stole) several thousand buttons, millions of beads, about a hundred cotton reels as well as beautiful 1940s Singer sewing machine that I can't work. She had about 40 years of stashing things in the same attic over me, but I can see things heading the same way.

Part of my Grandmothers crowded attic
A box of vintage buttons
Liberated buttons

I find a good clear out therapeutic, but I only throw away rubbish and broken items. It's really a good opportunity to go through my treasures and store them neatly so I have space for more.

Fingers crossed I will never have to start over. One day my daughter might be going through my possessions with her children wondering why her crazy old mum had a box of 20cm long ribbons (they are those ribbons that keep clothes on hangers in the shops). I'm comfortable with that though. I hope she might even want to nab a few things for herself.


  1. I hadn't seen that news story and you've got me at it now. I think I'd go for the practical things that would mean we could get on with life: clothes, documents, etc. The photo albums and the portable hard drive, maybe the computers too. Some of my pictures and ornaments if there was time and capacity.

    1. Most people on twitter said they would leave the practical and take the sentimental. Fingers crossed none of us have to find out in practise


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