The van turned out to be just a medium sized one, since the big van had been nicked. And the several strong men I was expecting turned out to be slim, wiry Dave and stocky, stolid Jason, bless them both. As for removing every last stick etc., well... read on.
It was a cold and dreary day; around 13 deg C and drizzling. With both front and back doors of the house open, to let Jason carry junk from the garage in the back yard through the house to the van parked out front, a cold wind was blowing. I sat on a chair in the corner of the empty lounge, laptop on my lap, chatting on Google Talk with Nurit and Patricia in Israel, and -- as soon as she got out of bed -- with Shira in Canada, simultaneously. I chatted and tried to ignore the unpleasant sound of hammering and wood splintering, as Jason broke apart the beautiful old wardrobes upstairs.
Not all went smoothly. The screws holding the washing machine pipes put up a fight, as did the nuts and bolts of the chair lift. I thought some WD-40 would help, but Dave got the job done somehow. The kettle was left to the very end of the proceedings, naturally, in order to supply all involved with reviving tea.
By 4:30 in the afternoon, the van was completely full, but the house was not yet empty. Dave's big van had been nicked, and he had to make do with a temporary vehicle. We said goodbye and agreed to meet gain the following morning.
Michael had made a reservation for us at a nearby B&B called the Toronto Hotel in Sidcup, just a few minutes' drive from New Eltham:
Pleasant looking place. Very basic accommodations. Very lumpy mattress, at least in Room 5. Keep that in mind and avoid Room 5 unless the owners assure you that they've invested in a proper new Ikea mattress.
In the evening, we walked up Sidcup High Street, considered the choice (Pizza Hut, some other pizza place, a trattoria, a Chinese, an Indian, and a Caffe Nero) and walked into The Portrait. Why on earth would a typical English pub be called The Portrait and sport a portrait of Van Gogh as its emblem I don't know, but who cares. It was lovely. Make a note of it. Roomy yet intimate, warm low lights, mouth-watering menu, very reasonable prices. One mixed grill, one chicken salad and two pints of Foster's later, and only 21 pounds poorer, we walked back to the Toronto.
Met up with Dave and Jason again on Wednesday morning, which turned out sunny and blue-skyed. They did a very thorough job, in case you're interested. They're based in Bromley and are aptly called Complete House Clearance. One of these days (soon, I hope!) I'll download the pics from my camera, so you'll actually be able to see them.
Update: "One of these days" has come. See Dave and Jason, and the van: