Tuesday 31 May 2011

Waiting time

Sigh. Fidget. Shuffle. Sigh again. Roll eyes. Mutter. Find something useful to do. Sigh some more. It's waiting time.

For a fairly patient person, I am coming to loathe waiting; after last year's fiasco, it winds me up to an intense state of nerves, in which I become the ultimate prophet of doom.

Buying a house (and, believe me, I'm dying to show you which house!) has its own arbitrary timescales, I know, and one is at the mercy of so many other people that it calls for a long loud scream every now and again so as to avoid bursting.

My Vendor the Upsizer, in reality a very pleasant young woman, was told after her second viewing of a desirable property (on the market a while, owners desperate to move away) that...  er... there may not be water in July and August unless it rains copiously, and soon. But never fear, the owners of the property are having a test bore hole dug next month.... And then any water found will have to be tested....

In the meantime, sensible Vendor the Upsizer and her partner are looking elsewhere.

And we wait.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Almost a feather in my cap

(No, this isn't what I saw! This is an internet photo of an Owl....)

Dog-walking past the perimeter fence of my old allotment the other day, I was amazed and delighted to spot, perched atop a pole on the neighbouring site, this (squint at the shape in front of the trees):

A decidedly huge owl.

I fumbled excitedly for my phone, failing miserably for a minute or two to find the camera setting without my specs.

It wasn't easy, standing on tiptoe to reach over the fence, to snap this magnificent bird.

Then I watched it for a while, awe-struck and thrilled to my core..... until.....

...I realised that it hadn't moved a millionth of an inch since I first spotted it.

Fake Owl, guardian of the neighbouring pigeon crees, I salute you.

Go on, you may jeer. Everyone else did.


It's that lovely time again.....

Friday 27 May 2011

No, you can't

John asks if you can all uncross fingers and toes now; Hazel asks what's happened with the house check? Well, the survey of my house was carried out yesterday, and the report won't reach the buyer until at least next Wednesday. Until then, I can't allow myself to imagine that we are out of the woods; in addition, a survey needs to be carried out on my prospective new property. So keep crossing those fingers; you've done pretty well so far.

But the solicitors are busy doing their thing, and I have to notify the removals company - the ones who last year were so hopeful about having enough room on their biggest wagon to transport all my container plants from the back yard - that the move is on again. The buyer has indicated that he is no gardener (and in fact sounded totally uninterested in anything in the yard; I noticed that he ignored his mother's hint that the retractable washing line would save money on electricity bills) so I shall feel no guilt at all about leaving only the permanent planting behind.

I wish I had the nerve to dig up the Zepherine Drouhin, planted 3 years ago, from beside the front door - she who needs watering in dry weather, and is flowering beautifully just now. Does anyone know if I can do this without causing the death of a delicious-smelling rose?


Offer accepted. 

All systems go.

Caaaaaalm..... caaaaalm...............................

Small dog to vet now to have her stitches out. Daily life goes on, regardless.

Back soon!

Ten months ago

It's easy to self-blame when something goes wrong with your health. I have been castigating myself for letting my blood pressure rise unnoticed and unchecked for so long, but then I spot a post that I wrote last July, and realise how much stress I have endured over the last year. And I forgive myself a little.

But I stay on the healthy diet, do the slow breathing thing (very soothing!) and try not to think about Hamish much. He is now stepping into the crate to reach his favourite bed when the door is only open 4 inches; there's progress for you.

Stay close; I need all the encouragement and support I can get, and your comments are comforting. I may have to inflict a post on you several times a day so that you get the full flavour of how tightly-wound up I can be if I don't!

Thursday 26 May 2011


Hot off the press:

The seller (and partner) have emailed to inform me of their lowest-acceptable sum for their house, which tallies exactly with what I was happy to offer.


But the email was couched in slightly confusing terms:

....I spent all evening talking to (partner) regarding the sale of (house) and want to be fair to you but we also need every penny that can get due to the fact that we are upsizing.  Due to the fact that we love it here I feel that the lowest we would accept is £xxxxxx (my stated limit unless extremely pushed!).  This is also due to the fact that we haven’t really been marketed yet.


*Does anyone remember that silly thing that went 
"We are building a house. Boo! 
A public house. Hurrah! 
It has only one bar. Boo! 
A mile long! Hurrah!" 
No? Pity.

So while part of me wants to be elated, and will have enough money spare to do something with the horrid bathroom, another part of me is aware that she isn't saying yes, we will sell it to you, lovely first viewer/cash buyer, for that sum, and take it off the market at once.

I know she's out viewing (upsized! it means land and stables in her case) properties for herself and partner this afternoon, so I have time to consider my response. 

And to gather myself, as it were. It has been 31 years since I bought a house, and I've never sold one before. Perhaps I never shall again; it's been horrible. The surveyor has been round my house today, giving nothing away, and the buyer and his mum are coming to look round again after 6 p.m. so gathering of myself and my jangly nerves is going to be essential.

A cup of tea is called for. (If I wasn't so allergic, I would drink something stronger!) You have one too, go on. This is very stressful, so maybe you should have a biscuit too.

I'll be back!

But as Lizzie said to me, I may have bought a house without being aware of it.....

Oh, the hours! the hours!

Yesterday: hours spent in getting to and from a house-viewing in Somerset.

Airport/planes: 8 tedious hours

Inside the house (twice; once to view, later to talk money): 1 hour 15 minutes

With friend Lizzie (having lunch, walking in the woods): 3 lovely hours

Driving hired car: 3 hours 30 minutes

If Easyjet had only updated their website's Flight Status page to reveal that the 7.10 a.m. flight was so delayed because the plane wouldn't even be reaching Newcastle airport to pick us up until 9 a.m. for the one-hour journey to Bristol, I and willing friend-taxi Lynn might not have had to get up at 5....

And the outcome of this very unbalanced day?

I don't know!

The house is owned by an estate agent, and has just gone on the market in the last few days. The vendor, who knew months ago that I was stalking it and planning a very costly trip down to view it, wants to think about whether or not to sell to the first viewer who makes an offer (me!) or to test the market.

She will Let Me Know.

(Blood pressure? What blood pressure?)

Tuesday 24 May 2011



Gales and intermittent lashing rain put paid to archery tonight.

Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano might yet have the final word on flights from Newcastle tomorrow - today's were cancelled.

Mother Nature - you have to admire her refusal to get drawn into our petty affairs.

Monday 23 May 2011

Just in case...

...you think I've died of stress or over-excitement mingled with terror in case It All Goes Wrong Again, this is what's on the agenda for this week.

Tomorrow: Nothing much until it's time to don thermals and winter coats for our 4th and final archery for beginners class. Gales permitting.

Wednesday: Very early flight to Bristol and 50 miles beyond for house-viewing; late flight home. Gales and Icelandic volcano permitting.

Thursday: Cleaning and primping-up of house for young buyer and his mum to look round. Hopefully the last viewing I will ever have to conduct. Before they arrive, the surveyor will have been round too. Fingers crossed that he doesn't spot anything that I've missed in the constant round of home maintenance.

Friday: Small dog to vet to have two stitches out from her little operation last week to remove various lumps, one of which, at the side of her neck, kept getting knocked and injured. Chances are that she'll bite the vet - she who has never bitten anyone but him.

Saturday: Nothing. Nothing at all. No-o-o-o-othing planned. At all.

Oh all right then, maybe I'll write a little post about my house-viewing trip to Somerset....

Saturday 21 May 2011


Am I worried about moving house? Yes, a bit.

I worry that my sale might break down before completion.
I worry that I won't be able to buy the house I want.
I worry that my friends won't forgive me for moving away.
I worry that they will grow distant with time.

But mostly, I worry about Hamish. In the 17 months that he has lived with me, he has never been picked up, let alone placed in a carrier and taken to the vet for vaccinations and microchipping. I swear he can read my thoughts ("Hamish is asleep on my bed; his collar is next to us both. Maybe I can get his collar on... no, he's just sprinted down the stairs....")

Even being looked at through the window is enough to make him flit out of sight.

How I am going to catch this most wary of little cats in order to travel to our new home is something that keeps me awake at night.

So we're back to last year's preparation for entrapment: Hamish's bed inside the puppy crate. He still flees if I get too close.

Next step will be to cover it with a blanket, then to  close the door a little more each day till he is used to a narrower opening to get in and out.

And then,  Heath-Robinson style, I will rig up some kind of door-pusher so that I can close the door at a distance... I will need to practice when he is outside and can't see me, but I bet he will know....

Edit: Some of you have mentioned sedation. It's possible, but my vet insists on examining any animal before he agrees to sedating it. The problem with this is obvious. (And I hate the idea of it.)
Rescue Remedy will certainly be tried, although it hasn't worked before. 
Feliway will also be used.

But I fear that Isabelle's suggestion of Low Cunning and a degree of ferocity of spirit is going to win the battle.... I just hope I'm on the winning side.

Friday 20 May 2011

Well, enough of that flowery stuff

Now for the real news.

My sister Anne arrived on Monday, and before she could settle herself in for 4 days of extreme soppiness over enjoyment of cats and dogs, there was a viewing of my house requested at short notice. All had been cleaned and tidied for Anne's visit, so we just had to scoot round dusting the dogs and putting the cats' whiskers in curling papers before we could feel truly ready to be Viewed.

A very sweet young graduate and his charming dad-with-cash turned up, liked the house, said they were interested, but had others to view; off they went. We relaxed, allowed the cats' whiskers to go limp and the dogs to acquire a layer of fluff and dust, and carried on with enjoying our visit together. Shopping, walking, meals, conversation, seaside, countryside, plants, cat-and-dog-spoiling; what a full few days we had!

And the next morning, in came an offer on my house. (Not an insulting one like last week's from the couple who had viewed twice with their parents and who had thought that the 5-foot-high bike shed was the original outside loo.)

It was an offer that was a sensible opening gambit, and could, we thought, be slightly improved. Some negotiation later, a better sum was accepted, and today a very pleasant telephone conversation was had with dad-with-cash, ironing out details, assuring me of serious intent, surveys, solicitors, and the possibility of the move taking place quickly....

I seem to have sold my house!!

But that's not all. Next Wednesday I fly down to Bristol, pick up a hire car, drive for a good long way, meet up with my friend Lizzie, and view at least two houses, before flying home the same night. The house on the road where I really want to live is just going on the market, and I may be its first viewer; I would hope to like it enough to be its last. I'll keep you posted.

Meantime, please have some more flowers given to me by Charlotte.

Brussels sprout tulips. Mad, adorable.

Fire, fire!

From my attic window yesterday:

And from people closer to the action, these dramatic pictures.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Poppy unpacks her petticoats

 Ten days ago:

And this morning....

And lunchtime:

This evening:

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Back soon

Busy. Sister visiting; lots to do, all fun. See you soon.

Monday 16 May 2011

Dream on

This post has been prompted by Rattling On's poignant photos and her own comment this morning. It reminded me forcibly of how it feels to be stuck, patiently (or not) waiting while life appears to flow vibrantly on around, but not touching, us.

When I was a young, lonely, single mother with a toddler, living in a backwater where nothing much ever happened, I used to have two recurrent dreams. One was of doing the washing up. Interminably. I swear that this dream occurred at a real-time pace; I washed up for hours, bored and listless, dishes piling up, in a dull grey atmosphere.

In the other dream, I stood at the side of a small rural road, with nothing in view until suddenly a car would race past at impossible speed, to be followed by another, and another, while I watched, wistfully aware that I was at a standstill, going nowhere, while cars/people/life raced past me.

Things changed, thankfully, but oh, how slowly that change came, how patient I had to be!

Thank goodness for this lively, characterful little boy who gave me so much enjoyment and so many interesting things to do in my waking hours!

Perhaps my dreams were too one-sided; in many ways, I am grateful for that quiet, uneventful time that allowed me to grow up, to develop as a mother, and for the first time, to apply some careful thought to my future.

The hours of washing up dreaming were a bit unnecessary, though....

Sunday 15 May 2011

Health food

I'm trying not to be a diet bore while I lose weight and reduce my blood pressure (yes, it's all going well, and my lovely doctor's BP readings aren't nearly as high as those obtained by Nurse Snooty the Stabber. It's diet and exercise for me.) But there's something on the supplements front you should know.

My Nemesis, of course, has been baking, that hobby from Hell, so comforting at times of stress; no more of that for now.  But in my drive to increase the potassium in my diet (lots of nice foodstuffs to choose from) I have discovered amongst the many lists produced by Google a hidden gem.

Snuff and chewing tobacco. Who knew? High in potassium. Spitting, brown teeth and worse come free with regular use.

Better than sponge cake and cheese scones any day. 

Note: If you can't muster up enough enthusiasm for snuff itself, then take a look at these beautiful snuff boxes instead. Read Georgette Heyer. And eat more bananas.

Friday 13 May 2011


I bought some new shoes today - identical, other than a different colour, to the ones I wear for dog walking, and which are uncleanably filthy from kicking a ball for Flossie. These will be kept for non-dog walking. They are super-comfortable, and not as enormous as they look in this picture. They are also not glamorous.

The problem is, I think I have to wear this look with them.


Wednesday 11 May 2011

Pop! 2

Sorry to go on so, but.....two days ago:

And today:

Both in recycling boxes, flowering their lovely hearts out.

I do love clematiseses...es.....
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