Monday, 4 January 2010
Life-change to date:
We seem to have done the impossible. In the worst recession for a billion trillion years, if the media is to be believed, we managed to sell our house and buy another.
At the time it felt as if life was in slow motion. It was the beginning of the summer holidays and my four year old and six year old were released from their usual routine into our custody. They instantly turned feral. It was early July and our buyers had insisted we move out by the close of August. An interesting concept when you haven't yet spied a house you want to buy.
I tore about the Internet looking for property. We were living in Oxfordshire and would have happily stayed had we found dream house with the right price tag. I dreamed of a spacious house, he dreamt of land. I thought the land-thing pretty indulgent until I watched the four year old and six year scrabbling over our perimeter fences to retrieve lost equipment.
Husband works in Staffordshire, a hateful commute from Oxfordshire, so we could afford to be flexible. In Shropshire we found a wonderful school. A story-book school with towers and a lake. Now to find the house.
One very early morning before my brood awoke I found it. Victorian, neglected, huge. Beautiful. When the estate agent phoned me I learned that it was a divorce house and although the previous owners were already re-married the house was still a bone of contention. But it was empty, a quality that greatly appealed bearing in mind that we would be homeless within 7 weeks.
We booked to see six houses that were a reasonable distance from the new school. My 'reasonable' and my husband's 'reasonable' are not the same. With mine you get to hear a lot more of the programmes on Radio 4. All the houses had their merits; lots of land, good size houses, outbuildings and two boasted swimming pools, all for a fraction of the cost of Oxfordshire. Finally we pulled into the driveway of The Larches.
The Estate Agent was delightful, even smiled at our scowling children who had decided they hated house-hunting. 'Wait here please and I'll open up the front door.' I thought we'd never see her again. The house was completely covered in wisteria and Victoria creeper. It obscured the windows and had in fact eaten the front door. The outbuildings looked as if green waterfalls were cascading from their roofs. I loved it. My husband looked frightened. When almost ten minutes passed we set off to search for Marilyn. She appeared looking flustered, a scratch bled down her leg. 'Sorry, I just couldn't get in. I've managed to prise open some doors round the back. This way. The six year old recognised the house immediately. 'Sleeping Beauty's house,' she said.
The inside was far worse. Who'd have thought that white porcelain could turn that colour.
At the beginning of 2009 we pre-booked a summer holiday to Portugal; we'd not had a holiday in two years while we waited for potential viewings. In accordance with the rule of Sod, the holiday coincided with our sale and we conducted final negotiations scantily clad round the pool. Thank goodness it was a private villa, as husband's language was deteriorating by the day, especially blue when he fired our Estate Agent. I distracted the children by hunting Algarve chameleons, picking mulberries and when all else failed allowing the children to take turns pushing me into the pool.
A week after returning from holiday and 18 hours before we would be officially homeless we exchanged all contracts. We were to become The Archers at The Larches. [Update 2014: 5 years on and our new website is launched here come visit us online.]