I'm blaming it all on homemaker

I blame The Journal homemaker. One minute you're sitting in your kitchen on a Saturday morning reading the paper and contemplating nothing more exciting than a trip to Asda, the next you're driving through the streets, trying to read the Newcastle A-Z because you've seen the Perfect House on page 15.

I blame The Journal homemaker. One minute you're sitting in your kitchen on a Saturday morning reading the paper and contemplating nothing more exciting than a trip to Asda, the next you're driving through the streets, trying to read the Newcastle A-Z because you've seen the Perfect House on page 15.

Fortunately, fate usually intervenes to prevent me taking it to the next stage. Perfect House will be next door to a venue for all night raves. Or it's far too expensive and what are you doing even thinking about it?

Then that will be that, and I skulk back to my perfectly pleasant house and resume normality - for a while.

But last month I took things too far and ended up moving 50 metres around the corner. I'm still not sure what pushed me over the edge. I think it might have been that my old house needed a good clearout!

Living with teenagers can get messy. Now that they're all away whooping it up at establishments around the country, this was my chance to achieve a lovely, clean house unshaken by Snoop Dog or the Killers and unscathed by fake tan stains, stiletto heel holes and mouldy cups.

I decided to devote two hours a night after work for a fortnight to pack each daughter's bedroom. Even though they had already had a "clearout", there still seemed to be a lot of junk.

Numero uno daughter had: A level notes; birthday cards from ex boyfriends; broken ornaments and Polly Pocket/Sylvanian family type creatures she'd been given for every single birthday; shoes she'd long grown out of; big fleeces; raunchy underwear; drawers of cosmetics; grungy clothes; teddies; stethoscopes; poi sticks from India; drums from Ghana; a keyboard; mosquito net and hundreds more fascinating objects including the Diary!

I was tempted to have a peek, but thought I might read something nasty - about me - so I resisted.

Daughter Two - she of the mouldering cups - was worse!

I have made a promise to myself that if the day ever arises when my daughters have nice, respectable houses, I will invite myself to stay. Then trash them.

The survey was one of the biggest hurdles. Having fallen in love with the house, we were already spending beyond our budget and were praying the full survey wouldn't find too much wrong. The surveyor charged us more than £1,000 only to declare that there were "worrying" cracks, the ceilings looked unsafe and the house would probably need re-wiring. But he wasn't totally sure and we'd need a structural engineer's report (another £200) and an electrical survey (farewell to another £250).

An electrical survey concluded that the whole house needed a re-wire, but four different electricians all disagreed widely about the extent of the work required. The vendors were getting agitated and the estate agents were putting pressure on us, but I didn't want to be landed with a house that needed so much work that we couldn't afford to live there.

The buyers of our house were desperate to move in and were at the top of a long chain of people whose move date all depended on our departure. I was beginning to think we wouldn't be able to move at all! However, the structural engineer declared the house was perfectly safe and any damage was cosmetic. So after two weeks of limbo, we decided we could - if we were careful with the budget - move on. A date was set for May 29 and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. If you were one of the 10 families moving house in the North-East on May 29 you now know how close it came to not happening at all!

Our kitten summoned the demons

I am sure it's a chronic case of empty nest syndrome but my main concern apart from the budget - was Stan the Man, my kitten.

Stan came from a farm near Stanhope, hence the name, but he's not a man any more since the operation. At six months old, he was only just venturing outside at our old address. They say that cats prefer places to people and I was worried he'd try to cross the main road and return to his old stomping ground.

When the day dawned - cold, windy and rainy - I shut Stan in a bedroom and apart from a small ginger paw occasionally appearing around the side of the door, he didn't object.

We set off at the allotted time following the removal wagon only to find that the vendors' removal men were an hour behind. Finally around 3.30 pm we had the keys. Because of the terrible weather and the long garden path, lots and lots of mud was walked into the carpets. But I was past caring as I was hoovering out the fridge and cupboards before I could put anything away.

We kept Stan inside the next day, but he was desperate to explore so the following day, we relented and opened the back door. Ten minutes later, we heard blood-curdling moaning from the back lane, then an ominous silence followed by terrible shrieking, spitting and hissing.

A small fluffy ginger shape screamed through the gate, closely followed by the most evil-looking black creature who was yowling and howling. Demon Cat even hissed and spat at me!

I'm not sure exactly what I said, but it was loud and involved a few swear words! Nice impression I must have given my new neighbours !

I have discovered there are two Demon Cats and we are attacked from all sides. I've bought two giant water pistol supersoakers - one for the front door and the other for the back. The demons get a soaking if they try to put a foot inside my door. That's quite effective, but they've started peeing on my front step.

So now there is a new aroma in our new homes - of cat pee. No one will ever buy this house from me. But then this house isn't going on the market for a very long time.

Or is it?

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