Transitions: From homebase to suitcase

Hi there. Welcome to Thursday Thort and a new Transitions series.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that this a pretty major year for me: moving back to the UK to live, taking a ‘self-funded sabbatical’ and essentially starting a new life after 18 years in South Africa.

I hope you will join me on my journey which promises to be full of transitions, perhaps some trials and tribulations, tinges of sadness and a host of new experiences.

Why write about these transitions? Because when I did this move 18 years ago (from the UK to South Africa) I had a husband, an 18-month old child, a new job to start and no time to reflect on anything. Now, I am single, carefree and my ‘child’ is off to university. Time is something I have a lot of.

Here’s the Thursday Thort:
Can the things I cannot live without for 6 months, fit into just 3 suitcases?


Today is a Transition Day.
The first of many.

On the whole, I am beyond excited.
The big move is starting to happen at last.
I started a countdown in August last year at 184 days and as I write today it is 22 days.

My year of housesitting for a colleague has come to an end. Today we (me, my 19-year old son and two elderly cats) decamp to a friend’s house for the next three weeks or 22 days.

Since December 2018, I have not lived in my own home. I am immensely grateful that I was able to housesit for a year – it has helped me to save for my return to the UK and to declutter. I settled here and made this house a home as much as I could with someone else’s furniture, decor and kitchenware. I’ve relished the challenge of making certain spaces mine (temporarily) – the bedroom, dining room and lounge. I’ve delighted in the light the house has, the views over the valley and the ever-changing vista in the sky. I will never forget sitting in one of the armchairs in the winter sun watching the insects feasting on the lavender and aloes in the garden outside the window.

But I will also be relieved to move out. It’s a massive house for a family of four with an enormous garden. The cats have loved the space to run around, but both the house and the garden have been too big for little ol’ me to cope with – both space-wise and from a security point of view. Let’s not talk about security in South Africa… alarms, burglar bars, automatic gates and more!

Getting back to the suitcases…

I’ve been brutally decluttering and down-sizing for 18 months. My worldly goods now fit into one-third of a single garage (about 3 square meters). This is what I will ship to the UK when I eventually decide where to live. So the contents of my lockup will not be coming over for at least 6 months. The content is mostly sentimental items (lots of African memorabilia), books, photos, framed wall art and kitchenware. One or two favourite pieces of furniture, 2 armchairs and my bed.
That’s it.

After a massive decluttering session yesterday, I have packed my three suitcases: one of summer clothes and shoes, one of winter clothes and shoes and the third with essential books, craft items, some knick-knacks, an extra backpack and paperwork. My son will have 3 similar cases. Fortunately, we are flying with Emirates who allow 2 x 23kg bags each. I just need to pay for two more.


Will this fit, Mom?

Do you know how hard it is to fit your life into 3 suitcases with a total allowance of 69kgs?

First, the clothes…
I’m pretty good at getting rid of clothes when I no longer wear them / fit into them. So I did not think I had a lot of clothes until I did a Marie Kondo exercise. I took every pair of shoes and every single bit of clothing I own out of the cupboards, drawers, shelves and piled them on the bed. I was horrified by the size of the pile!

I went through each piece one by one: 1) Thanking it if I was discarding it 2) keeping those things that “spark joy” and 3) keeping temporarily for January and then toss it when I leave.

Soon I had 4 bin bags and 2 smaller bags of clothes and shoes to donate.

I did not want to store clothes as I am planning on getting fitter and leaner so the only option was the one I took.

I didn’t count on how wonderful it would feel to not put clothes aside for storage and to shed items of clothing that no longer bring me joy!

Out with all the boring colours!
Out with the bobbled cardis and jumpers!

decluttering clothes

Other items…
Then paperwork. I realised that I might need crucial paperwork in the intervening 6 months.

Then toiletries.
Aromatherapy oils.
Craft items.
Camera kit.
And so on.

Immense satisfaction!
Coupled with irritation and frustration.

My suitcases are a tad overstuffed (still too much stuff!) and perhaps a weeny bit overweight so I will need to do the process again in the next few weeks.

How did I get so much stuff?
I feel like throwing it all away!
And just leave with my carry on bag…


So here we are at the transition…

As of today, we will be in a different space. Physically, without a home. Some of my suitcases will stay packed until we go but I still need to wear my summer clothes until then. So maybe, those can be unpacked and hung up – for a short while!

Signing off with joy!

Debbie blog sign off 2019

Click here for other posts in the Transitions series

11 thoughts on “Transitions: From homebase to suitcase

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    Wow, what a prospect. I haven’t had to move in 22 years and am not thinking of moving any time soon but it is a good idea to declutter once in a while. I will be doing some of that this year if only to make room for more stuff in the next 22 years! Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is interesting to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. josiegrace7 says:

    well done dark horse. i am aiming for wnd March if i can raise enough cash lol. I have been battling thru same process but also have a LOT of sentimental stuff from my kids and mark that I just cannot process yet. Yikes.


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