Ever since I signed the contract for our new apartment over two weeks ago, I’ve been devoted to the Gumtree website and the Thursday edition of the Cambridge News which publishes a weekly classified advertising supplement in which used furniture, bikes, garden materials, whatever, are offered for sale at very reasonable prices.  Often there is the phrase “surplus to requirements.”

“Surplus to requirements” means that its owner no longer needs it.  Because the house we’ve rented is as bare as the day it was built, so many things aren’t surplus to any of my requirements.

In fact, I am in desperate need of sofas, beds, a dining room table, and a desk, and badly need just about anything else. Except for our three suitcases, we have nothing. Everything we need to live here must be acquired–quickly and cheaply, because we don’t know if my children are going to be tossed out of the country on December 18th, thereby rendering our acquisition of furniture redundant, not to mention an incredible waste of time and money.

First priority:  beds.  We can sit on the floor if need be, but we do need beds. Mike, our friend from across the road, pointed out an ad for a bed liquidation company in Saffron Walden, a forty-minute drive, which was having, in its own words, a “blow-out sale.”  By the time I got there, most of the inventory had already been blown out, judging by the paucity of items.

But there were a few beds that didn’t feel as if they’d cause lasting back problems and promised “memory foam,” so I ordered two double beds, one for my mother for when she arrives at Christmas, the other for Meg and me to share, and a single for Katie.  I also found an old desk in a back room, with a little cabinet, so I bought them also and scheduled the delivery for the day three weeks away when we would take possession of the apartment.

Saffron Walden is a lovely, historic town with a gorgeous church, and deserves a few photographs.  It is one of the finest preserved examples of a medieval market town, with markets having been held since 1141.

A house built in medieval times

–A house built in medieval times.

The main church in Saffron Walden, built in the perpendicular style in 1450–St Mary’s Church in Saffron Walden, built in 1450 in the perpendicular style

The interior of the church–The stunning interior of St Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden

On move-in day–today–the three beds and desk arrived, carried in by two men:  Daniel, a native Essex man, and Kirin, his helper from Poland.

Daniel, who called me “moy luhvlee” throughout, is a what they call a “wide boy” here in England, and what Americans would call “sketchy.”

He took in the bareness of my apartment and said he could get me anything I wanted, just ask.  I took his details, but I thought, I don’t want anything more to do with you and whatever might have “fallen off the back of a truck.”

I continued to keep my eye on the ads, and found a white leather sofa in the wilds of northern Cambridge for 120 pounds–probably half to three quarters of what it originally cost.  Mike, Meg, and I drove up one night to check it out;  luckily the man selling it had his own van, so he was able to deliver it for us.

With three beds, a desk, and a sofa, and Meg now in school, we’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.  All we need is those visas to come through!

Katie, Meg, and me on our first piece of furniture!