Right, to action! But carefully.....
I've read all your varied comments attentively. Thank you!
Today I started with a long talk with the estate agent's chap, who seems sensible and quite unflappable, about the options open to me. We have looked at 'the competition' as he terms the others who are also selling their houses in this street and the neighbouring three, and I decided to drop my price to match theirs - not that they have been having much success either, but worth a try. Last time I suggested a price reduction, I had been dissuaded, but times are grim and buyers are cautious....
I also decided firmly against renting out this house and leaving it for sale at the same time; my nerves couldn't stand it, and I would become obsessive about every chip in the paintwork or stain on the carpet that wasn't caused by Margery's enthusiasm with the vacuum cleaner or one of the team's little offerings. Actually, I don't want to rent it out at all.
So I shall sit tight here and see how things go over the next couple of months, and if the new price makes it more interesting to potential buyers. If nothing happens sale-wise, and I still feel the same longing then that I do now, i.e. to move south regardless, I shall do my sums, and, with focus and determination, pursue a move to temporary rented accommodation. Then I will be in the area where I want to be, and if things don't work out, I'll still have my own house at my disposal. Meanwhile, the estate agent can market and show it in my absence, and what a relief that will be!
I think that pretty much covers most of your views and recommendations, doesn't it? It's only a small step, I know; I'm not a great risk-taker by any means, but I know that feeling trapped, stuck, or powerless leads me all too easily down very dismal paths to depression and despair. A measured approach to taking control of this situation, so far as I'm able, should maintain my equilibrium, and who knows - maybe it will all work out!
And wouldn't it be lovely to see these two outdoorsy types in greener surroundings?
And, Isabelle and anyone else who worries about moving the cats twice, I share your concern, but not so much that I could invite paralysis on their account. The girls are adventurous, true, and will require care and attention when settling somewhere else, and the boys - well, they're almost housebound by choice anyway; our familiar furniture to hide behind should do the trick for those two little scaredy-cats!
Small steps indeed, but maybe that's enough for now. The path remains wide open for future striding.