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Real homes: am I the hoarder next door?

If ever I needed evidence that I had hoarding issues, my garage is it. 

But during the August break, its purging is just one of many cleansing activities I've got up to. I shudder to relive the ordeal through this "before" photo, below...

This garage was in trouble before I'd even moved in (when you get to the oven picture you'll see why). But over the years, with different configurations of people living in the house, it had become a monstrous, seething black hole of procrastination: everything I didn't quite know what to do with went into this increasingly frightening holding area, a symbol of my lack of domestic discipline. Redecorating anything became impossible as I'd barricaded in the paints and brushes and Polyfilla, and even using it for bike storage was becoming difficult.

I am ashamed, I'll admit it: but the more space you have, the more you fill it up with crap, right? Oh to be ruthlessly tidy and de-cluttered by nature (any tips?). Anyway, so here's how the clear-out went.

First we had to get everything out and sort it into piles. Which threw up some interesting choices I'd made over the years.

Like to keep buying battered chairs from secondhand shops (including those out of shot, there were, gulp, 13)...

...and never to throw out the hefty dresser left behind by the previous occupants because it was too heavy. One day, I thought, I'll paint it and make it look amazing. Now this task has finally been passed on. Along with the oven which I insisted on bringing from my old flat despite having no intention of ever installing it in the kitchen here. Top grills are just so rare these days, and it's so pretty – how could I throw it out? Who would appreciate it as I had? Good Lord. As if by magic, a man with a junk collecting van pulled up just as I was agonising over parting with this duo. And off they went. Sniff.

With the bulkiest items out, I could start to grapple with what the hell was in all those boxes.

Well, there were treasures such as my English A-level York Notes for WH Auden. (And these, blush, have unjustifiably found their way back into the house – oh dear.)

This black and white TV, already "vintage" when it lived in my teenage bedroom, hammering out grainy re-runs of Cagney & Lacey, went to the electrical recycling place. 

I'm quite glad I kept some letters (though why I had ever felt the need to pad these out with old schoolwork, God only knows). A lovely find was this postcard from my dear gran when I was at university, swanking about some glamorous pensioners' cruise she was on, and noting my fickle romantic fads.

A toy dog hand-me-down dog dating back to the 1940s by the look of it, and once on wheels. For a while he did look good on a shelf but he's lived in the garage now for a good few years. He has such a sad face that I've never been able to chuck him out beyond the garage purgatory, I couldn't imagine those mournful button eyes staring back at me from a bin bag.

One of the scary boxes contained yet more old schoolwork (why!) including this A-Level essay on Macbeth, obviously kept because good marks were such a novelty, as my teacher's surprised tone suggests.

I wrote about some of this cute packaging in the early years of this blog. But the long-since empty boxes, pretty as they are, finally had to go.

These fairy-light lampshades bought on a Thai holiday in about 2007, would look lovely if I'd ever found the patience to open up and fit them to fairy lights. It was time to accept this was never going to happen.

But this was a nice find. It was something I'd come across when clearing out my gran's house after she died – but had forgotten about it since. It was a gift she must have bought when I was a baby, with the intention of giving to me on my 21st birthday. I assume she just forgot about it by the time I was 21. 

Inside was this silver dressing table set, with my initials engraved onto each piece. 

OK, OK. It's about time for the big tidy reveal isn't it?

Obviously in an ideal world I'd whitewash floor and walls and hang strategic squares of pegboard for beautiful-looking wall-mounted tools. 

But nails in breeze blocks will have to do for now.

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