My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Washing away the past!

So, I wrote quite a bit last year about moving home. About finding somewhere more suitable for our (not so) little family to live and how excited we all were at the whole idea. And we really were excited!

Well, I've written very little about it since. In fact, I've written very little about anything since, and I'm hoping that this post can explain one or two of the reasons behind our absence from our little blog space, as we've missed being here very much. But sometimes, for reasons way out of our control, life throws stuff your way and you have two choices ... 

Fight or Flight ...

In May, 2014, we got a call that a suitable property had become vacant and we had the opportunity to arrange a viewing. Not wanting to delay proceedings, we planned a viewing for later that day. The Man appealed to his boss for an early finish so that we could all go together. We bundled all 3 kids into the car and made our way to the house. The agent that was waiting there for us stated clearly as we arrived that, if we were wanting to accept the property, that we would be expected to pay a deposit and sign the official paperwork there and then in order to secure it. We looked around the house, and although it was far from perfect, it was better. That's all we wanted. We were never in search of perfect. The Man and I discussed it between us whilst the girls tap danced across the bare floorboards in the upstairs bedrooms, Munch getting excited as she planned where all her toys would go in her new bedroom. We stepped outside the front door just to take in the condition of the exterior once more, and that's when we met the neighbour for the first time. She came towards the fence and asked if we were planning on moving in to the house. When we told her we were, she warned us against it and told us we'd be making a big mistake if we accepted it. She went on to explain that the previous tenant, an elderly lady, had been forced to move out some 6 months previously (on Christmas Eve) because the house had flooded, leaving the lower floor of her home beneath several inches of rain water. She also added that no correction work had been carried out since she moved out and that the house had just been left to 'dry out'. Shocked, we challenged the agent about this and he claimed to have no knowledge of this situation and that he would have to investigate when he returned to the office.

Surely they wouldn't knowingly allow a family, with 3 very young children, to move into a house that is probably riddled with damp and one which flooded for some mysterious and unexplained reason ... Would they?

At the end of August 2014, 10 weeks later, we were finally doing it. We were informed that all issues had been dealt with and all necessary work had been carried out. We were moving into our new home. It wasn't perfect, and wasn't going to give us as much space as we had wanted, but it was a million times better than what we'd had, and we decided we could make it right for us. We were all very excited, and in just one very tense, extremely busy week, our lives had been moved from one town to the next, into our new home. The Man had taken a week off work and worked late into the night on a number of occasions, trying his hardest to prioritise and organise as he went along, the whole time watching as the hours ticked by bringing our tight deadline closer and closer. Without him, this move would never have happened, as moving home with 3 children in tow, along with their tantrums, demands, their ridiculously large toy collection, the bursting sacks full of clothes ... Oh, and the cuddly toys (Note to self: NEVER buy any more cuddly toys! Ever!) is no easy job. Munch was 4 and bubbling with excitement about starting school in September 2014, Beastie had not long turned 2 and I could already write a book on the Terrible Twos focused purely on her, and Plum was just 8 months old and fully dependent on my constant close attention. This was tough, but so worth it!

A couple of weeks down the line, and we had started to get the house into a more habitable state, just as we had promised to do before Munch went for her 1st day at big school. It was an exciting time for her. A new home. A new school. A new start. Slowly, we were working towards a better home and a better life. We became friendly with our new neighbours, feeling happy that we had friendly faces that would look out for us all as we were settling in. These neighbours had had our best interests at heart from the start, after all, making sure we were fully informed about the property's history. 

Shortly after our move, The Man changed his working hours. He went from working 7.30am-5pm each day to working 6am-3.30pm. This way, he would be home soon after we were back from the school run and he would be able to spend a bit more time with the children before they wind down for bed. And thank goodness he changed his hours when he did!

5.30am on Monday, 13th October, 2014, a very wet morning. It had been raining for quite a few hours through the night, and it was a dark, miserable start to the week. Little did we know at this point, that the week wasn't going to get much better! Plum was sleeping in the lounge following quite a rough night, so The Man left the house via the back door as we had open access from there to the front. As he left, he realised that the drain on the side of the house was overflowing and causing quite a deep puddle to form at the side of the house. "It might be worth ringing them about that later this morning", he pointed out, and I agreed I'd call them after the school run. Unfortunately, events weren't about to wait that long. 10 minutes after he had left for work, I was phoning The Man with a panicked tone. I'd gone into the Utility Room which was on the same side of the house as the overflowing drain and noticed a small trickle of water was creeping in through the wall. Less than 5 minutes later, the Utility Room was filled with around an inch of water, as was the secondary utility room and the back door area.

 I was in a mad frenzy, trying to get everything I could up off of the floor whilst Plum started to wake and demand my presence. Another 2 minutes and half of the kitchen was also under water. I was on the phone to Emergency Maintenance who told me someone would be round within 4 hours with some sandbags. I won't repeat what I told her she could do with her sandbags ...! I watched with pathetic, useless tears rolling down my face as the bottom of my large kitchen appliances started to disappear under the water. Another few minutes, and the entire lounge was also immersed. Plum sat in his travel cot, watching as me and The Man (who had rushed straight home again) fought this losing battle against the rush of water that just kept coming. Eventually, I decided we had run out of options, and realised we had no way of stopping the damage that was being caused right before our eyes. So I dialed 999 and asked for the Fire Brigade. 

By this point, the whole downstairs was under 4 inches of water, and within minutes, blue lights were flashing right outside the house. Four firemen came straight over to investigate the situation immediately, and another fire engine was called carrying another four firemen. We had firefighters outside, digging holes and pumping water away, some inside operating huge water vacs to reduce the water level indoors, and some with giant squeegee type mops, pushing the water back towards the entry points. It was chaos! All three kids were awake, the girls were forced to stay upstairs and were confused about what was going on and Plum was watching us pull soaking wet carpet up from the floor and frantically shifting belongings upstairs to keep it away from the water, some of which we suspected were already damaged beyond repair. At about 8.45am, around 3 hours after I made that panicked call to the Emergency Repairs Department, a man turns up, looking quite confused, asking where he should put the sandbags. He realised quite quickly, from the look on my face and the mayhem that was happening around him, that the horse had long bolted and we were way way beyond sandbags! "I'll just leave them here by the front door, just in case you need them ..." he muttered as he carefully backed away to return to the safety of his truck. 

This is the part where I praise the amazing work of the firemen that attended. Their quick reactions, their clear communication and their sheer hard work was above and beyond on that grim morning. Not only did they reduce the water inside our home and do everything they could to rectify whatever was causing it outside, they kept me calm and collected, they comforted Plum when he was looking scared and confused and they reassured The Pooch when he was going crazy with the fear of the unwelcome water and the crowds of strangers in and out of the house. They spoke to our neighbour so she knew what was happening, and she quickly came to our aid, taking the girls into her house to keep them warm and dry. She fed them, played with them, and even sent her son to the shop to buy them colouring books and crayons! With that and her Netflix subscription, they were able to relax and remain relatively ignorant to what was happening next door.

The Man and I spent the rest of the day regularly mopping the water entry points (of which there were 4 or 5) as the rain was light but relentless all day and the water just kept coming in. We made calls to the water company, to the council and to the local newspaper. We had visits from the council, 3 in total on that day, as they wanted to come and 'look' at the aftermath. Lots of these people spent a lot of time 'looking' at the mess. But no one was actually 'doing' or even planning to do anything! 

It would seem that the work that was meant to be carried out on the property to prevent this from happening again, indeed was not done. Or, at least, was not done correctly or sufficiently!

The coming weeks were filled with battles. Battles to get us moved, as the only offer we were made originally was to be moved temporarily whilst the dried the house out, and the move in again. Battles to get the offending drain inspected and dealt with, as despite the flooding, nobody had been to look at the drain once. Battles to get to the bottom of why this had happened and who was responsible, which is a battle that is very much still ongoing. Battles to determine whether or not it could have been avoided. As a result, during the 5 weeks that followed the original flooding, the 5 weeks that we were made to stay in the damp house with the children, we flooded another 2 times. The first time we caught it quickly and were able to act quickly enough between us to prevent the horror from before re happening, but the last time it happened, we weren't so lucky, and we were forced to call 999 again. 

Whilst we were battling the second incident ourselves, The Man, with a pair of my small sized Marigolds pulled onto his hands, reached down our drain himself. He hadn't had his arm down there for more than a few seconds when he pulled out a huge lump of concrete. The solid piece of rock had clearly been in liquid form when it was poured down our drain by the very contractors that had been employed to fix our problem, judging by the way it had shaped itself to the pipe and collected shingle stones that were also down there. To say we were shocked, angry and wanting answers was an understatement! We still haven't had any explanation for this.

In this time, the council sent a huge, noisy, smelly, expensive to run dehumidifier round for us to get the house dry ... 5 days after the flood! I sent it back the following Monday, telling them that they were welcome to dry the house, but they needed to shift us first. I have small children, and these machines were far from suitable devices for us to have in the living room!

Our story was published in the local paper, and we received some sporadic support from our local MP, although they didn't actually do anything that I hadn't done myself and seemed to have, at most, very little influence over a single proceeding regarding the council! I fought, daily. Emails, phone calls, letters, and to this day I continue to fight. 

I am happy to say, we did eventually move. Just before Christmas we moved to a new home that is more ideal in size and location and we are happy to be free of that place. I am happy, the children are happy, but I feel I should be happier. I've struggled a lot. I didn't like to admit it, as people around me urged me to keep fighting and never to give up. That was my plan. But I got tired. The fighting seemed fruitless and my cries appeared to be falling on deaf ears. The flooding took a lot away from us. Belongings, important documents ... But for a time, it took something away from me too. I'm still not sure what, but I just felt like giving up. I wanted to settle, but felt nervous doing so. I wanted to be happy, but felt guilty for what had happened and for the fact that we were, once again, being uprooted and moved, when just a few weeks earlier we had promised it would be our last move. I wanted to be excited about new beginnings but was just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. I wanted to share in the kids' joy but felt responsible for the weeks that had been wasted and the things that had been missed or delayed as a result. I just felt really sad and so very tired. And no, I didn't talk to anybody about it. Not even The Man really. He's probably reading this now and learning one or two things himself.

Am I feeling better about things now? I'm getting there. I have days where I think about what happened and it gets me down, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for the wonderful things I have. My family and friends are what have kept me strong these last few months. Without them, things would have been much darker. I'll pull myself out of this. I have to ... Apparently I have a Disney Frozen bedroom to decorate ...!!


  1. oh my days its so awful! what a crappy time to have to go through over and over again, we had a huge flood and it takes a lot to cope with you have my every ounce of empathy, hopefully your time for rainbows and sunshine is now and you will feel brighter and happier than ever xxx

    It was a horrid time but the new house is fab and you will soon have it just like home xxx