Back in the dim and distant past, selling your home was relatively simple.
You chose an estate agent, had a For Sale board nailed to the fence, and sat back waiting for the offers to flood in.
Nowadays, we're bombarded with television programmes telling us exactly what to do, banging on about 'kerb appeal' and the importance of presenting your house in its best possible light to maximise your chances of getting top dollar.
No longer is it enough to simply ensure the beds are made and zip round with the hoover.
You have to ruthlessly de-personalise every room then 'dress' it to appeal to the neutral-loving house buyer, who, naturally, has been watching all the same TV programmes telling THEM what to look out for in a desirable home.
We've got into a little routine which we implement before each viewing.
Well.... I say 'little'....
It's anything but and it takes hours.
I won't bore you with the details but it starts with dusting and hoovering and ends with plumping up cushions before we slump, exhausted into a chair (NOT any of the ones with artfully plumped cushions).
Of course, Small Dog generally has her own ideas as to what constitutes a well-presented room and is always keen to contribute her own doggy brand of help.
If I've carefully made up her basket with neatly folded blankys, she considers it doesn't look lived in and will spend several minutes digging them all up and/or pulling them out onto the floor.
If the fire is lit she considers that no fire is complete without a dog sprawled full-length in front of it.
If she has to go outside, (which she invariably does, about five minutes before viewers are due to arrive) she will come back in trailing leaves and general garden debris behind her and if I'm too slow to intercept her, will take up residence (leaves and all) on one of the recently plumped cushions.
As a result, we've learnt that Small Dog and house viewings are best kept apart. She seems incapable of grasping the fact that people don't come to the house purely to see her and will go to extreme lengths to give them the greeting she thinks they deserve. This generally results in her transforming herself into a wriggling, squirming, whimpering bundle of fur desperately trying to escape from either PP's or my arms in order to wrap herself around people's feet.
So now, five minutes before a viewing, PP takes Small Dog off down the road for a long walk while I show people round. Happily this compromise meets with SD's approval and supersedes any notion of staying at home and being ignored.
As to the actual viewings themselves, it never ceases to amaze me how people will ask the strangest questions which bear no relation to either the house or its environs. It also seems to be 'de rigeur' to remain absolutely poker-faced throughout, giving absolutely nothing away. Some people have been so deadpan I almost felt it necessary to check to see if they had a pulse.
There have been a few people who've been a joy to show round, who have deigned to smile at the picture of Small Dog in the study, or show interest in what goes on in the workroom. Or who have answered MY questions with good humour and grace rather than with suspicion and prevarication.
The process is undoubtedly stressful and extremely wearing, but I suppose everyone who is undertaking a house move has to go through it.
However, we haven't even passed the first (of many) hurdles yet.......