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The money pit – episode 2

November 12, 2014

The drawers and wardrobes were too dusty to unpack clothes at first, but relatively easy to clean.

The kitchen drawers and cupboards were a different matter; more grease and muck than just dust and the closer we looked the worse they appeared. We had visited the house only twice before as it is nearly 200 miles from Yateley and each time only the vendors showed us around. No Estate Agent. As polite English people, we didn’t put on our reading glasses and pause to run a finger under cupboard doors, crouch on the floor and peer inside the oven or lift rugs to inspect the pine flooring.

Oh, we should have done.

The weather was very mild and we thought this was the reason for an invasion of assorted flies in the porch and that side of the kitchen. Wrong.

Opening windows revealed ancient muck. Sue was pulling her hair out by now so we decided to pay someone else to give the house a proper deep clean before we unpacked any more or started on our plans to make some alterations.

On the Sunday we took Kerry on a long walk down to the closest village pub, The Cross House Inn. A pleasant lunch in the sunny garden was followed by a long chat with a nice young family of whom the father was a builder ! He agreed to pop around in the week to give a quote for the work we wanted doing. The long walk back up to our house wasn’t quite so nice.

The vendors had “winterised” the swimming pool as the weather had turned cooler in early September and the solar heating was no longer sufficient. The hot tub was still working though and we spent an hour in there with a bottle of bubbly someone had given us at our leaving party.

We were promised a phone line and internet connection for the Tuesday and it happened as promised. So far, so good.

The money pit – episode 1

November 11, 2014

Ideally, I should have written this in real time. I managed to upload brief updates to Facebook but, as you’ll discover, events prevented any lengthy submissions.

The first week was mixed. My tablet and our main TV had both broken in the week before the move: not a good omen.

Due to horrendous traffic jams on the A303 we were very late arriving here. Too late for the removal lorry and too late to collect the keys from the Estate Agents. Luckily, our contact there was good enough to drive out here and leave the keys in the unlocked hot tub cabin.

On entering we immediately noticed the kitchen sink had several inches of murky water, trapped by some slices of bread in the plug hole; another bad omen. We unpacked some essentials from the car: kettle, tea, milk, etc and the new electrically inflatable air bed. We switched on the immersion heater as the owner had not left the Rayburn lit, as earlier promised. The night was uncomfortable but uneventful. The morning began with discovering that the shower couldn’t cope with the low water pressure and kept oscillating between very hot and very cold.

It had taken four guys to load the removal van but only two were there to unload. It took a long time but at least most things were in the right rooms. Most, but not all. The freezer (half full of food) had been left in the middle of the dining room, instead of in the kitchen next to a mains socket. Cue our wonderful next door neighbour, Mike. Not only did he help me move the freezer, he tested the shower then drove into town, bought us a better one (he is a builder), came back and fitted it.

Only when we started some unpacking did we discover the big lie in the Estate Agent’s brochure: “fastidiously maintained”. Remember that phrase as you read the rest of this saga.

My (first) flying lesson

September 13, 2014

At 68, the voucher was about the most unexpected birthday present Sue could possibly have bought me. It was valid for six months and the weather was rubbish earlier in the year but as the expiry date and house moving date got closer, eventually I decided I had to book it.
Blackbushe airfield is only 10 minutes up the road. When I worked at BCA their planes constantly took off or landed just over our heads. Now I would be reversing the situation.

Instructor Barry

It was a one hour lesson – with aerobatics which, to be honest, I really didn’t fancy despite the fact Sue had paid extra for it. As it turned out the only available instructor (Barry) for the day I chose wasn’t qualified to do it. He did do one ‘severe’ dip, swerve and climb, which was quite enough for my stomach. I never did enjoy most fairground rides.

Nice plane DadThis is the plane: A Cessna C-152.

Sue would try to watch my progress from the garden seating area to the cafe but, as it turned out, Kerry started pining the moment we moved to taxi in the plane, dragging Sue three times to check I wasn’t in the car and then hadn’t come back in the plane.

The moment we did land and began to taxi back to the place we had started from Kerry was lunging on the lead. She knew I was there.

Anyway, back to the flight:

BCA

Sue wouldn’t have seen much of us, as we headed off towards Bracknell, then back over Blackbushe towards Farnham, skirting to the east of the busier Farnborough airport, before eventually returning.
Surprisingly, I was in the pilot’s seat and Barry sat to the right. Barry got me to put my hands on the controls from the very start, to feel what was needed to take off and make the first turn. I had control for about 15% of the time, mostly on straight flight but also on gentle turns. He even got me to join him in folding my arms away from the controls for a while to show how stable the plane could be in level flight. I could rarely follow anything said between him and the control towers but that was his responsibility.
I did discover it wasn’t to difficult to hold a straight and level path while watching the horizon but a different matter altogether trying to do it on instruments alone.

The last photo is us coming in over BCA to land. He did a ‘hop’ the first time, which must have surprised Sue, then did a circuit to land normally.

If I was younger, a bit wealthier and likely to remain living close to an airport I might have been tempted to embark on a series of lessons, leading to a private pilot’s licence. But, with lessons (just in 2-seaters), landing fees, club membership and examination fees approaching £10,000, I thought better of it. That’s an expensive hobby.

I’d recommend it, though. If you know anyone you could treat on a birthday. Go for it.

Click to enlarge photos or see more on Flickr, as usual.

House move – nearly there

September 13, 2014

Contracts have been exchanged. Halle-bloody-luja.
As I said to a friend, a triumph of common sense over solicitors’ red tape. In the end Sue and I had to instruct them (in writing and by almost shouting on the phone) to put any caveat they liked about the sodding little triangle of land which didn’t have proper title and the wiring to the hot tub which didn’t have a buildings regulations certificate; just finish and let us exchange !!!!

So they did.

We move next Friday.

Moving House – go,go,go,go – STOP!

July 30, 2014

Eleven documents, electronically, and one letter in 3 days from our solicitors. Boy, it looked like they’d finally got their act together. Exchange of contracts imminent, we naively thought.
But, no, it turns out our vendors bought two small portions of adjoining land over the years from a neighbour, then sold one to another neighbour. The problem is the Land Registry doesn’t seem to know about 2 of the 3 transfers of ownership. So now we have to sit and wait while it’s all sorted out.
Sigh.

Moving House – stop, go, stop, stop, go …

July 24, 2014

For a month we’ve been worrying that, noting so little progress from our solicitors, despite paying for a survey and submitting all the necessary paperwork to them as promptly as humanly possible, perhaps the chain was about to collapse due to either our vendor or purchaser pulling out.
But, no. It turns out it’s just that the solicitors (well, ours anyway) work very sloooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyy.
They charge a high hourly rate. Why do they act as if their time is not only worth more than most employees but actually more important?
Everyone in the chain has conveyancers, removal companies etc waiting around. In a bigger chain there would also be mortgage companies and banks, decorators, cleaners, kitchen fitters etc etc. All hanging around, waiting for a possible move date because of one company of overpaid paper-pushers.
If they have so much work they can’t cope why don’t they employ more workers?
Isn’t that what most companies do?

Rant over. Fingers crossed for an improvement after they get a rocket from someone I know who will have some clout with them.

Really bad parking

June 28, 2014

In the long running thread on this topic on the Pistonheads forum, I think we have an outright winner:

Image

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