On Recycling And Moving Home

How is house moving for you? It’s stressful for most, if not all people. In the case of a minister, you are not just moving home but work base, too, if (like me and probably most British ministers) you work from home. In our forthcoming move, we are bringing together the following factors:

There are minimum standards for a Methodist minister’s house, but they vary hugely (that’s inevitable). When we moved here, we downsized from an Edwardian house with six bedrooms, two reception rooms and a huge kitchen that had once belonged to a Navy Admiral to a small three-bedroom house with a lounge-diner. We became Mr and Mrs eBay as we prepared to move. Now, we are moving back up the scale to a four-bedroom house with separate lounge and dining room, plus a conservatory. Whereas here it has been difficult to offer hospitality, in the new manse it will be eminently possible, and we need to kit ourselves out to that effect.

To do that, we need to rid ourselves of certain items, such as the small sofas we bought to squeeze into this house, a redundant wall unit, the current dining table and chairs and several other smaller things. We need to replace them with a new three-piece suite, conservatory furniture, a sideboard, and miscellaneous other items. How can we afford this? We have been given some generous financial gifts by the churches here, and we are sourcing good second-hand pieces on eBay. In some cases, we are using an excellent website called Shiply to arrange economical transporting of them. So this morning, we took delivery of the conservatory furniture we wanted, which came 150 miles, and which we could not reasonably have collected.

Next, we tried the local branch of Freecycle. If you don’t know Freecycle, it’s a great way to offer items you no longer need, or request things you do need. It’s all done by an email to a list that circulates around people in your geographical area. With our local branch, however, all emails have to go through moderators and can take up to two days to appear. When you do get rid of something, it also takes that length of time for the email you circulate telling people the item has gone to go round. In the meantime, you have to tell maybe ten other people that what they want is no longer available. However, most of the people who have collected from us have been grateful. Only the odd one or two have expected us to dance to their tunes.

In fact, Freecycle was so slow when we first started using it that in our frustration I rang the local council and booked a delivery slot for them to take away some of our stuff. I didn’t want to do that for two reasons: one, it would go to landfill, and two, I had to pay! Thankfully, as of tonight everything I had asked the council to come and take next week has finally gone on Freecycle. Tomorrow I get to ring the council again and see whether I can get a refund.

I can’t help thinking all this could be a lot simpler. Maybe you could strip the moderation out of Freecycle and just ban those who break the rules. All I do know is that I’m glad we have a three-week break between me taking my final service last Sunday and our actual moving date! Right now, I wouldn’t have time for ministry!

So – do you have any tips to share on successful ethical disposal of possessions? Do you have any stories about moving to share? I hope nobody has had incidents like this one.


  1. Many charity shops also take furniture now, and they will collect it.

    I won’t begin to scare you with our experiences of removal firms moving manses, but it makes hiring a transit and lugging it all yourself look very attractive!!

    Hope the move all goes well


    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Pam. We had bad experiences of charity shops when leaving the last circuit: anything less than perfection and they didn’t want to touch it. And that was in an inner city area, not the largely middle class professional area we’re departing from this time!


      1. They’re obviously not so fussy here! Took some very well loved book cases that they saw next to the stuff they’d come to get. Maybe says a lot about different areas of the country…


  2. Rather “interesting” that one circuit apparently doesn’t think it’s necessary to provide the minimum four bedrooms. I will say no more.

    We actually got rid of our living room suite in a roundabout way via freecycle. I actually felt a bit guilty because it was over 20 years old and incredibly ratty. But a woman who took our dryer (can’t take big electrical appliances to the US!) had an uncle who was getting a divorce and needed furniture. He was crying when we gave him our living room furniture, so we didn’t feel so guilty after all. And then we got my parents’ living room suite from *their* last move.


    1. Great story about Freecycle, Pam. As for the three bedrooms, that’s allowed if there’s a study, ‘if desired’, CPD says. Desired by which party, the wording doesn’t make clear. However, we had not wanted to be pretentious about the manse as some ministers we’ve known have been.


  3. People only find out how much (pretty useless) stuff they have when they are moving. It is amazing of you that you want to give what you don’t need anymore to someone. Most of the people simply throw it away without a second thought. Charity shops came to my mind, too, when I wanted to give you an advice but since you say you have bad experience, I don’t really know. Internet always saves the situation, though.


    1. Hi Ellie,

      Welcome here and thanks for commenting. You’re certainly right about clutter! Even with being in a much smaller house, it’s surprised me how much we’ve got rid of.

      As for the Internet, yes indeed, although I truly wish Freecycle wouldn’t insist on every email being moderated. It slows down the system. They could ban someone retrospectively for abuse.


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