You know where you are in an apartment. Specifically, you're on the north-facing corner of a building, 15 floors above ground level, sandwiched between neighbours southwest, southeast, above and below, all of whom are living in and, importantly, heating their own apartments. Winter is, basically, something that happens to other people.
Houses are another matter. Particularly here in Auckland, where building standards are laxer than a prostitute's knickers and about as insulating.
We moved our stuff in, with the help of the in-laws, over Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday night we slept on the living-room floor in front of the heater.
Oh yes, the house has a gas heater. It's the envy of all our friends, it has a timer and a thermostat and it gives out hot air like a session of parliament, but even so the room was colder than a charity for penguins. Have I mentioned Kiwi building standards lately? There is a special room in Hell for New Zealand builders, it's cold and draughty and noisy with an uneven floor and leaky windows. We were extraordinarily fussy - our house only has two of those defects.
Monday morning we returned the van, then went shopping for a washing machine. Buying stuff was to be a recurring theme of the week. By the end of the day, we had a working phone and internet connection (although no space to set up a computer), a high-quality TV antenna, and washer/dryer and fridge-freezer scheduled for delivery Wednesday.
Tuesday, we manoeuvred the bed into its rightful position upstairs, then I trekked back to the flat to finish emptying it, including the old fridge and freezer. We decided to store the food overnight in the dog kennel - sorry, I mean wine cellar. I don't think the food even noticed it was no longer in a fridge.
On Wednesday we slept in - lulled by the comfort of a proper bed, deceived by the heavy bedroom drapes, and not least, deterred from setting foot outside the covers by the numbing temperature. I awoke only to answer my mobile phone. It was the washing-machine guys telling me they'd be here before eleven. Checking my watch, that meant I'd better be getting dressed. A few minutes later the fridge people rang, giving an estimate (wildly optimistic, as it turned out) of between 4 and 5.
Thursday was our first morning in a Fully Functional House, which I define as one where you can both take a hot bath and make a proper cup of tea in the morning. We spent most of the day unpacking and tidying, then had the In-Laws over for a dinner to celebrate our new fridge.
Friday, we now have a large shopping list. We need bookcases, light bulbs, secateurs, dishrack, slippers and bathrobes, stepladder and so on and on and on. Much of the weekend we spend looking for all these things. A storm in the small hours of Saturday morning causes me to prioritise the stepladder, as - lying awake and listening to the weather - I conceive a strong urge to take down the canopy that covers half the deck, before the wind whips it clean away and takes half our roof with it.
By Sunday we're running out of steam. We've already spent many hours shopping and cleaning and unpacking and arranging, we've done the jobs that seemed most urgent, and now it feels like diminishing returns are setting in. I'm almost looking forward to going back to work the next day, just for a change of pace.
And that brings us almost up to date. It's still cold, but we're learning to cope with it. Pretty soon, I'm hoping, we'll be back to something like a normal life.