So another year has gone by and more so than ever before, it feels like it has flown by. Following last year’s structure, I have broken the year-up by month and called out the top highlights (of varying degrees of interest!) for each. I decided to start this entry with a new section though – some ‘Of the Year’ callouts – it’s the sort of information you quickly forget and I wish I had for the last 4+ years, but better-late-than-never in starting to capture this stuff! As always, this is a long blog post, but it would have made for a dull year if it wasn’t.
I was browsing twitter after tea just now and procrastinating from writing my end of year blog (it’s voluntary and for my own benefit but yet still I put it off!) when I came across an article which referenced something that intrigued me; What the article (‘No Girls Allowed‘ – I didn’t make it through the whole thing but what I read was interesting) referenced was a video of a young girl in the U.S. named Riley who, faced with a ‘girls’ aisle full of pink in her toy store was forced in to a rant about, effectively, gender equality.
The video is only a minute long but is absolutely worth a watch. Whilst the film itself is two years old, the situation is still the same today. It begs the question, if a four year old is asking why we have ‘Girls Toys’ and ‘Boys Toys’, why do we have them?!
After my last blog post, Room 101: Christmas Craziness, it felt right to do a blog post which showed I am not in fact all ‘Bah Humbug’ about Christmas. So I have had a think and here is my top 5 for the ‘Best Things About Christmas’:
2. A long break from work – (or if you have to work, a time when you can actually do some work rather than spend 70% of the week just fielding emails). I find it easier than almost any other time of year to switch off from the stresses of work. This year is better than ever – I have two whole weeks off!
3. Being able to sit and not feel guilty for doing nothing – some people might be able to do this all year round but I am always thinking about various tasks I haven’t done. At Christmas though, my view changes and it becomes totally legitimate to make a brew, grab some mince meat based accompaniment (mince pie or cake) and then sit and watch telly / read / browse tinterweb / do a combination of them all.
4. Catching-up with friends – either in person, by phone or by email, it doesn’t matter. Arguably it shouldn’t take Christmas to force me to get in touch with people but both the previous 2 points combined with the general festive cheer / family focus of Christmas allow the perfect opportunity to catch-up with those I haven’t been in touch with for far too long.
5. Presents – both giving and receiving. The cost and trying to find gifts can also be a negative but once the shopping is done, it’s always lovely giving people gifts that they like and also getting some things you want in return!
Happy Christmas Everyone!
It’s been a while since I have done a ‘Room 101’ post, mainly because I was trying to grumble less (me being me, I haven’t done well and have just grumbled more verbally to people / myself instead). But something has happened to the British nation in the last fortnight which has prompted me to revive the ‘Room 101’ posts: they have all been hit my ‘Christmas Craziness’. I am typing whilst working from home, safely tucked away from the insanity which seems to be hitting the nation. But for the last couple of weeks, my commutes, work days and weekends have been heavily impacted by this sudden change in behaviour affecting the British Isles.
“What do you mean by Christmas Craziness?” you might ask. Well, it is a number of things. It started at the beginning of December with more obvious erratic driving, especially in the early morning; People driving faster, cutting past me on my bike even closer than normal and not bother to de-mist or de-ice their windows and effectively rendering themselves partially blind. Then the levels of traffic just rocketed, both morning and evening – I have struggled to get out my road end for the last two weeks where for months (at the exact same time of day), there was barely a car. Why people need to go to work at different times, I’m really not sure. Moving on to the shops, people have become far more pushy and completely unaware of those around them. Even more than normal, people keep stopping in the middle of shop walkways to chat and debate gift ideas (or stand glued to the spot looking bewildered and slightly scared) whilst everyone else piles-up behind them. Then, on the flip side, my commute has become full of people who seem have be almost devoid of energy. Commuters dawdle along through the tube veering from left to right all over the place (KEEP LEFT people!), walk out in front of traffic because they are paying even less attention to the road and generally look miserable even more than normal (Yes, that seems to be possible even in London!). The other day, two women even had a bit of a verbal altercation because they were fighting for a seat at Finsbury Park – the chap next to the free seat offered up his before there was any blood shed as I was too busy watching in amusement (I know, that’s not very nice of me).
This is not uncommon for this time of year, but it’s the thing I enjoy the least about Christmas. Everyone is trying to fit in shopping amongst their already busy lives and are out for bargains too as money is still tight. Then, once the shopping is done, the shining light of Christmas holidays means a large proportion of the population are in ‘hanging on’ mode from early December, struggling through each day at a time until they reach those days of lie-ins, lazing in front of the telly and binge-eating chocolate. At no other time of year you get so many people taking holiday at the same time, so we are never subjected to the compounded effect of so many people longing for some time off from the daily grind.
So, roll on Christmas for so many reasons. When it finally arrives, we’ll all be on holiday, the shopping will (obviously) have been completed and everyone can sit back and have a rest. Of course, I’m not expecting it to get any better afterwards because, of course, the ‘January Blues’ kick in. But at least after a fortnight off from work, I’ll have more energy to tolerate people again!
Back in May, Sam and I decided to put our house on the market and look to buy our next house. We started the process at the start of June and I blogged about the process along the way to act as a ‘reminder’ of everything it took. However, being the private people we are, I held the blogs back until such a time as the process was complete.
Just when we thought we were getting close to exchange, something we weren’t quite expecting happened: our vendors took their house off the market. It was a horrible shock, not least because we’d had no indication (and the signs were their Estate Agent hadn’t mentioned it) and we thought we were so close. We considered renting and even went to view some places; After living in your own home for over 6 years though, the thought of moving in to some of the places we saw was just too depressing. The Monday after our weekend viewings, we decided to take our house off the market. It wasn’t a nice feeling doing to our buyers what had been done to us. But as Sam put it ‘that’s the rules of the game’ when it comes to the English conveyancing system and ultimately, it was our house!
So this blog finds us in the same house but happy about it. Things really do happen for a reason and buying and selling a home is one of the most inefficient and stressful processes I have seen. But what it has given us is a renewed appreciation for our current home and a lot of lessons learnt for when we eventually try again!
So, from the beginning:
On the move – part 1: We’re selling-up
On the move – part 2: Viewing some houses
On the move – part 3: The Open House
On the move – part 4: Viewings
On the move – part 5: Progress
On the move – part 6: A considerable amount of paperwork
On the move – part 7: Feeling out of control
On the move – part 8: And it drags on…
It has been a while since my last update and we are now well in to September (Thursday 19 September). Things have progressed but perhaps not as fast as we might have liked. After the survey came back, we found there were some damp issues with the property. So, we requested a follow-up survey which identified some work that needed doing. After some to-ing and fro-ing, we agreed a price reduction and it felt like we had reached the final stretch…or perhaps not.
We tried to put some timeframes round it to put some pressure on everyone in the chain to complete. Our vendors seemed to have a similar idea so we said we wanted to target exchange by the end of September. Only then our solicitors ‘server’ went down meaning they were without email (this has happened twice before already) or access to any of our files. Very, very frustrating. It has now been almost two days and the response to our sellers was due to go back at the start of the week.
It is getting quite tedious and it astonishes me how slow this process can be. Of the four groups of people I know going through this process, only one has got through the process in only a few weeks. My sister has just bought a house with absolutely no chain and it took about 6 weeks end-to-end. For our neighbours and our friends Lou and Graham, the process has taken even longer. It astounds me how a process that has to happen so often is still so incredibly slow!
We are now in to August, Wednesday 7 to be precise, and things are ticking along. Our house (as in our current home) was surveyed on Monday as was the house we are looking to buy. This resulted in an ‘acceptable valuation’, thus allowing the mortgage to be confirmed. There is something weird about being happy that you can borrow a scary amount of money which you will pay back a gut-wrenching amount of interest on, but anyway…
We’ll have to wait for the survey to come back so we can see ‘what the deal is’. But, as an aside, I did follow-up with our solicitor to see if they’d had any enquiries from the buyers yet about the contract. After a couple of days of to-ing and fro-ing, including getting the Estate Agent to help (which they didn’t seem to really!), we have established that they have ordered searches and plan to email queries shortly.
So, to sum up, they are doing it but are just a bit behind where our solicitors are by a couple of weeks. Sure it’s not the end of the world. But, I cannot help but get frustrated in any situation by this sort of delay. There may well be a valid reason but it has furthered underlined something which has been unsettling me for most of this process: we have no control. Over anything. At all. The last bit is a slight exaggeration I suppose but the ability to ‘nag’ people isn’t really control. We are just in a process now and we have to just wait for it to play out. I hate this sort of situation..!
A couple of weeks since my last moving related post (18 July) and the chain on our sale is now complete. Last week we got all of the forms from the solicitor and I spent numerous hours over a few nights, with help from Sam of course, completing them and collating supporting documents. Tedious but necessary of course. The purchase forms were much shorter and easier to complete. Of course, the purchase will come with a lot more reading.
We went on Wednesday to deal with the new mortgage. We had forgotten how long it takes to go through the process. We had done an awful lot of prep. work but yet we were still lacking information that was necessary! However, it was done in just over two hours and we then headed off to work (at home for me) a bit later than normal. Next step is to book in a survey – need to do that tomorrow. Oh, and I need to try and get some removal quotes.
I had a bit of a ‘meh’ moment on the way home though. A combination of the heat, being busy at work and all of the paper work and money starting to go out have made it quite real but in a very ‘high risk’ way. I don’t like risk, it upsets me greatly. But, this is how the moving process works so I just need to grit my teeth and keep getting through it all. It’s something Sam and I both want so all of this stuff is a necessary evil!
It has been a few weeks since my last post (it is now Friday 4 July) and things have progressed since then. After my last post, we had further viewings in the week and in to the weekend. On Saturday 22 we even had a couple mooching round for a good 20 minutes. Come Monday morning, we had not one, but two offers. Two offers! Unfortunately, for different reasons, by Wednesday neither we go-ers so we were back to viewings again.
We only had one viewing in the week, but we had a couple of viewings on Saturday. However, after getting more and more wrecked with anxiety over the course of the week, I made a deal with myself on Friday night to ‘stop caring’. I wanted the house to sell I couldn’t cope with another weekend of worry. Instead of stressing over it, we headed off to Hatfield House for Saturday afternoon. Then on Sunday, we spent an enjoyable day cycling / doing stuff round the house.
Monday morning arrived and I just got on with work. Then mid-morning, Sam called me and we’d had an offer from the first time buyers which we were happy to accept. Woohoo! So, on Tuesday, we were ready to move on the house we had our eye on. I let Sam loose with his negotiating skills – 4:50pm today, our offer was accepted.
The moment I stopped worrying, things started to fall in to place. Of course, it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings of course, and by that I mean successfully exchanging. That is some time away and now I have to switch my mind to what to do now. Had stopped myself from thinking about this bit! Fingers crossed and deep breaths all round…
Now the Open House is done, we are in to normal viewing mode. It’s Wed 20 June and we had our first ‘normal’ viewing today. We dropped the key at the EA yesterday and it felt quite strange giving my key to some random people. It also felt odd knowing that at some point when we were heading home from work, people were in our house. Having viewings in the day is slightly different to the Open House because there is always a ‘lived in’ edge to a house when you have had to head off to work that morning. No matter how much you faff and tidy, work calls so…
Had some ups-and-downs this week because the stress of it all was getting to me. The market we are looking to buy from is not growing at all. It makes me quite anxious knowing that we could now sell and not have anywhere to offer on. There is something we like but anything could happen with that before we have a buyer. Even then, we might choose to offer but they don’t accept. We have said we might rent if we have to, but the thought of doing this freaked me out earlier in the week. As often happens, it’s the little things which push you over the edge; This time, for me, it was the thought of having to change addresses multiple times. Haha!