Tag Archives: house-hunting

Bleak Future: Animal Farm

There comes a point in every summer when you weather watch. Last time I did this was for my outdoor concert. Today was for outdoor theatre. The day leading up to the evening was dismal; grey and wet, like all the colour had been washed out. My parents arrived mid-morning and we made a visit to our new house to show them around. We measured up a few gaps in the house and checked out a few details, then came home for lunch of Em’s Vietnamese spring rolls.

In the afternoon we went to look at beds and found a very nice oak one in Touch of Pine (?!!), and then headed on to Oxford to see Creation Theatre’s production of Animal Farm. As we sat waiting for it to start enjoying a prequel to the story set in a prison (appropriate enough after all we were sat in the former exercise yard) the rain really started.

The prisoners became animals via clever hand gestures and body positions, or they way they strut, or the tone of their voice. The production went off with terrific pace and energy only to be halted twenty minutes in by a downpour. It was supposed to be just a pause, but the weather was relentless, and with much resignation we called it a day, retreating to a restaurant to warm up.


~ According to the Chinese the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year is supposed to represent prosperity and wealth.

~ On the eighth day of the eighth month and the eighth year I finish revising Part Five of my novel.

~ It looks like we shall be moving by the end of the month. Eeep! Better get my skates on…

Rest Day

We had a little bit of a rest today. I took some time in the morning to phone and engage the services of solicitors – deciding in the end to go with the bods at Wantage who came recommended by Natasha. I also completed some necessary admin with Ian Smith over my mortgage application.

With jobs done, we went for a bike ride round the neighbourhood, picked up some food at the farm shop and returned home to curl up in front of the tennis. Rediculous I know, but I brought my TV on holiday with me so as to make use of the considerably bigger screen to the one that my parents have (and mine is only a 21 inch LCD…). Well, at least you can see the ball!! *grins*

Offers, Shopping and Stately Homes

First things first, I phoned Alexander’s and gave my response to yesterday’s offer, asking for something a bit higher, maybe in the region of 142k. Then we headed out to Salisbury, Emma to return a couple of wedding dresses to Monsoon, and me to seek to seek out a CD of Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite from the classical music shop ‘upstairs’.

By way of these shops we were lured by Hawkin’s Bazzar and found ourselves down the memory lane of toys and games. Then we went to the cathedral close and to Mompesson House.

Mompesson is a lovely, small, homely place that you really get the feel of actually living in. I was very taken with the faux doors to get the feeling of a larger vista through the house. It’s all gorgeous, and when we go and sit in the garden, so, so tranquil. With some reluctance we pull ourselves away from the oasis in the city, and return home for lunch, and to enjoy a spot of day one Wimbledon.

After the heat of the day has passed, and the sun has eased, I venture out into the garden to cut the grass. It’s not a difficult task in itself but it is time-consuming in the negotiation of trellises, rose arches, walls, circular beds and beehives. It’s also interrupted by phone calls and answerphone messages as estate agents pass offers backwards and forwards. By the time I have mown my last patch of grass, I have accepted an offer on my house, and we have had our offer accepted on Spruce Drive. Now the offers will continue to rumble up the chain…

Finally, it looks as if things are coming together. All I need now is a new job…

Sun, Wind, and an Offer

I get up and set about packing for my holiday; the cats are very much unimpressed (one could say purr-turbed) that they are forbidden access to the outdoor world. As I begin my drive, with my bike strapped firmly to the antlers, I am sure that I have forgotten something. South of Newbury I remember: bread! That nice new loaf I made is sitting in the breadbin… 🙁

I arrive at my parent’s house in the New Forest and install Bella and Arthur inside to begin *exploring*. Then I check for messages to discover one from Alexanders: they have an offer for me! I phone them back straight away. It’s a low opening offer of £138,000, but it is at least an offer.

Minutes later, when Emma arrives with a car full of food, I give her the news. It’s a good way to start our holiday; that something might finally be moving in the right the direction. We have a leisurely afternoon unpacking, going for a local walk and a chilli con carne supper before we phone my mum and dad for some advice about what to do next house-wise. Then, its off to bed, and to try and not lie awake with minds going over house things…

Careful of the ants that bite

Em and I were having a nice walk through Burnham Beeches and considering houses. It was at the point when Em had just asked me whether I preferred the house in Spruce Drive or Stratton Audley when my phone rang. Pulling it from my pocket, I see the words ‘Alexanders calling’.

We had good reception at this point in the woods, and so we had to stop as I talked to the estate agent. Today’s couple liked my house (!!) and wanted to ask a few questions, which I answered, and it didn’t seem to put them off. Apparently they are going to talk to their financial adviser after the bank holiday on Tuesday. So yayy!! I’m going to try and not get to excited, but yay! someone has at least liked my house enough to ask other questions and go and talk to someone about mortgages!! Even if it comes to nothing, that’s got to be encouraging hasn’t it?

Em was more than relieved when we were able to continue our walk, as she had been doing a merry dance around the woods where I stood, avoiding and shaking off, the killer ants of Burnham Beeches…

Oh, and to answer the original question. I think I do like Spruce Drive over and above Stratton Audley. It’s still got potential for ‘a print room’ and it has a nice feel about it. It’s also undoubtedly a more practical kind of house with room for us to grow…

Productivity is what you need

Last night I never really got round to having dinner. In order to save time today I made sure I cleaned my house last night, and by the time I finished I really wasn’t all that hungry, so I just pigged out on humous and crisps and a yogurt whilst watching Have I Got News For You. This has meant that today, I:

1. Got to Bicester Glass after remeasuring my bookshelves and managed to get the 6 doors trimmed down by 4 mm.

2. Driving back through Launton, I passed a little old guy selling plants from his front garden. Drawn to good quality, cheap plants I bought a large tray of petunias and some runner beans for six quid

3. Back home, I discovered – yay! – that the glass doors now fitted, perfectly. My Folio Society books are now Ronald-proof.

4. I then spent a happy few hours, planting out petunias into my pots, and tidying up the back garden, moving later to beginning an attack on the ground elder in the front. Its a long job, but I have made the path to front door more acceptable.

5. Em arrived for a quick lunch before we wandered around the corner to see House #1 in Spruce Drive. On paper, we weren’t too enthused about this house but its actually pretty nice. Three good size rooms with a spacious ground floor and large garden. Definitely in the top two or so, and not just because they are with the same agent as myself and Alexander’s have a plan. We then wandered home, and collected the car to head out to Langford Village for House #2 – a larger than average 2-bed house – actually the master bedroom is enormous, but the downstairs accommodation whilst nice is small, and it fronts onto a busy-ish road.

6. And so to Homebase. The plan was to buy (on my parentals instruction) my birthday present – a barbeque – sadly though the one we liked was out of stock, but they were able to put one by for me at their Aylesbury branch. Em did select and buy me a toolbox for my birthday. We then went on to the garden centre for fishweed, and I ended up buying compost, gravel, and birthday presents for Ben, and naming day presents for Jonas, and some nice wooden salad servers for myself.

7. After a dubious weather forecast for today, we’ve actually been really lucky, and the only rain to speak of came whilst we drove over to Aylesbury, and collected the barbeque and then drove home again.

8. I cooked a nice toad’n’the’hole meal using both meat and vegetarian ‘toads’ and then, had great fun arranging all my tools and screws and nails and stuff into my new toolbox. Oh what fun! 🙂

The Cutest Old House…

We have just been to look at the cutest old house ever. It’s a little two-bedroom cottage of Cotswold stone, south-east facing big, walled garden, and situated in the centre of Bicester. The downside of it is that being in the centre of Bicester its immediately opposite the proposed new Cinema/shopping complex, and it is in desperate need of renovation. The windows are new but everything else is … well, pretty much how it was left sometime mid-last century.

Such a shame because its a nice house but impracticable in just about every way… :-

The housing market conundrum

The housing market does seem to be a bit stuffed just at the moment. This is not ideal, particularly if one is trying to sell one’s house in order to buy something bigger with your girlfriend and wife-to-be. So wouldn’t it be great if the pressure could be released; if they could find some way to gently bring the cost of buying a house down?

I have absolutely no idea if this is feasible but what if they could introduce differential stamp duty. If they lowered the stamp duty for first-time buyers/owner-occupiers, but then whacked it up second-homes and buy-to-lets (levying a windfall tax on existing properties – possibly in a staged introduction) then might it not be possible to: a) make the cost of buying your first home cheaper, and b) releasing said homes onto the market through owners who want to avoid the windfall tax, selling their homes into a market that is most-attractive and affordable to first-time buyers.

Would this work? Or am I failing to understand the basic principles of business (as usual)?

Twists and Turns

1. Emma surprised me by arriving early on Saturday morning and we headed into Thame to get in some shopping for the weekend. Passing briefly through the market square we discover that there was a French market in town. We got seduced by the Pyrenean Mountain cheese, and then headed back to Waitrose for more goodies

2. The original plan was to take in a walk in the country, maybe at Brill Hill, before the house viewing in Grebe Road. In the end, we didn’t have time so headed straight back to Bicester and to a possible house on New Langford Village. Its three bedrooms, of Cotswold stone, and a nice and big, if odd-shaped, south-facing garden, although the kitchen whilst nice had a ridiculously small amount of storage space to it. Whilst waiting outside for Colin The Estate Agent to arrive

3. Back to Brill Hill for a walk in a bitterly cold wind. The windmill is out of scaffolding now and apparently is open to the public. We make a mental note to return for a visit sometime.

4. In the evening we head into Summertown and meet up with my parents at Cibo! for a pre-theatre meal. They’ve come to the theatre via visiting Grandpa, who, I lean is not well. He’s probably had another little stroke, is a pale shadow of his former self. Whilst we wait for our starters we get the phone call that he has died this evening. I was glad that I was sitting next to my dad at the time that he found out. I’m also glad that we were sitting in a restaurant instead of him being in the car on the way home as he might otherwise have been.

5. Ever since I studied for A-Level I have wanted to see Measure For Measure but it is an infrequently produced play. From time to time over the past few years I have been badgering the folk at Creation Theatre to put it on (well, if they will invite me out for dinner as a result of sending hundreds of Blackwell staff to see their shows…), and finally, this year they put it on. Part of the intrigue was the new venue; a converted Victorian swimming pool, although it proved to not much resemble a swimming pool. The production though was fantastic, clever, and effective. A great production.

Beautiful villages and Barn Owls

My mood is so much better. I didn’t touch the A34 today. Instead, I headed off via country lanes to check out houses in villages. First on my list was Elm Cottage in Blackthorn. Very charming house, but the village was a bit spread out and a bit something of nothing with traffic noise from the A41 (and possibly the M40).

From there, I took a (longer than necessary) drive up the hill towards Brill, turning off before the windmill and headed back down the hill and round the houses woods to Ludgerhall to locate another potential house. Ludgershall it seems is all together more villagey and charming and beautiful, and importantly, blissfully quiet.

Leaving Ludgershall, I was driving along a narrow road, when suddenly; a barn owl swooped down from one hedgerow, and glided across in front of my car to the other hedgerow. I’ve never seen a barn owl before, but this was a really good view. It was amazing. I beamed from ear to ear all the rest of the way home.

From Crumps Butts to Ludgershall via Oddington

A leisurely but productive morning. We had hot cross buns for breakfast and then Emma watched last night’s Grand Prix and surfed the web whilst I finished my cleaning (ran out of polish yesterday), and sorted out filing and the like.

Then after a spot of lunch we headed out on a round trip of Oxfordshire, seeing first the location of a house in Shipton on Cherwell, before viewing a house in Launton (a truly blank canvas, lacking in personality but itching to have some) with lambs next door, and then driving amongst flooded fields to Marsh Gibbon and Stratton Audley.

Returning home, we decided to go for a walk back down at Somerton, but on the way got diverted by the picturesque villages of Ardley and Fewcott, and Souldern. Having had a brisk and cold walk by a swollen river we went home via Lower Heyford, and then searched into the evening for all of these places and more on FlashEarth and RightMove. So many weird addresses we could have…

Corncrake Way was nice, and Stratton Audley distinguished, but what of Crumps Butts (I kid you not) or Ludgershall, Oddington – the list goes on, and on…

To live is to dream

There was a time when, despite my good intentions (and desires to fill acres of time with productive novel writing), I would fritter away Saturday’s with too-slow-a-getting-upping and general faffing. Not anymore. Not since almost a year ago. And its great.

This morning I got up, breakfasted (including hot cross buns), nipped into town to deliver a few things to Oxfam and buy some daffodils and then came home and finished cleaning my house – although, doubtless, some would say that I do not clean the house well enough :- Then, around 12ish my parents turned up (with an exciteable Barney dog), and shortly after, Emma, and we all went off to lunch at the pub in Stratton Audley. We got a table by the fire, and enjoyed a nice meal of simple, unfussy but tastey food (my fish pie was delicious) as the locals gathered to watch (either racing at one end of the bar or) Ireland playing Rugby.

Following a rain shower we headed out to have a walk round the village, and then, at 2 o’clock we arrived at the house in Glen Close for our viewing (me for my repeat viewing…). We love it. The decorative order is a little to be desired, but it has so much potential, and the garden has more to offer than I first thought, with three varieties of apples and a cherry tree already its offering just what we want.

Later we go back and talk through the pitfalls and possibilities and decide that if we can get it – that is to say if it is still available when I get an offer on my house then we will be going for it – over a cup of tea and chocolate eggs and bunnies. Fingers crossed here.

Note to self: when one is making tea for one’s girlfriend and one’s parents, and one lays the tea tray with tea strainer, one should use it instead of inadvertantly pouring out three cups of good tea, one one half cup of tea and one half cup of tea leaves!

Oh my…

How weird is that? I hook my phone out of my pocket to check for messages before driving off home and it rings in my hand: Anonymous Call. It’s Alexanders estate agents. They have a viewing for me. Is it alright if they come round at 11:30 on Sunday. Err, yes, I guess go. Right, well we hadn’t decided yet what we were doing on Sunday; now I know. We’ll be going out. A walk maybe? Hopefully. If its nice.


1. commented today that it has been almost a whole month since I last posted. If you are reading this, you will by now know that my threat of mega-spamming my friend’s friends pages has come true.

2. I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with the energy efficiency man to check out my house, and (presumably) count the low-energy lightbulbs. I think I may still have one regular one left… *shrugs*

3. Both Emma and I have been really missing each other today. Neither of us know exactly why today we should feel like this, as it’s not exactly unusual for us to spend the weekends together and the weeks apart. Possibly one reason (for me at least) today, is that now that I have taken the deliberate step of not just talking about it, but putting my house on the market, its not impossible that I will have an offer on it in not too distant a future. And if we decide to go for Stratton Audley then … not having to say goodbye upon a Sunday evening is all that bit closer to now…

And by now you will know that this is indeed true. Sorry!
Admittedly its highly unlikely…

Of interviews, house visits, and valuations

1. Another day, another interview. Just four days since I was there this afternoon I was back down to Milton Park, Abingdon Didcot for another interview. Went well, possibly not as well as the last Thursday’s one. We shall see.

2. A blustery day, but beautiful. Following my interview, I stopped off at the supermarket to do a quick shop, and then at the John Lewis-esque garden centre outside of Bicester for a few bedding plants and some instant colour in the garden. Then I had a house viewing to see at old Langford Village. Three bedrooms, gas-central heating, south-facing gardens – on paper it ticked all the right boxes but somehow, just didn’t feel right.

3. The man from Quadrant arrived and took me through the value of the house. He latched onto my interest in books, and enthused over his collection, and his mum’s collection of Folio Society collection. In the end I got my figure, which was about what I was expecting, and that the plus points to my house are the garden and orientation, the wood floor, and the situation. Onwards to my next two valuations…