Wednesday, 22 February 2012

We're selling my likkle house :o(

The next day we put our house on the market officially. It’s priced for a quick sale, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the valuation – I was expecting a lot less. We bought at the height of the market so I knew we wouldn’t get back what we paid, but it could have been a lot worse. A major sticking block is going to be the change from the English system to the Scottish system of house-buying. In Scotland, you have to make a “clean” offer. Basically, if you make an offer and it’s accepted, you have to pay up. There’s no backing out like in the English system, which is only binding once the contracts are signed. So we need a quick sale and quick completion so we can make an offer in Scotland. Our estate agent has benchmarked us with a 3-bedroom ex-council semi, which was on for the same price and went within a couple of weeks. I’m glad – I’ve been keeping an eye on a 2-bedroomed terraced house down the road, which has been on for about a year. Our agent puts my mind at rest though – that one isn’t really comparable as it’s on 3 floors, so the bedrooms/bathroom are tiny and there’s not as much outside space. Ours has good sized rooms, a lovely big garden (which I’m really going to miss) and lots of character. It’s a lovely little house, and I’m gutted to be leaving, but happy now knowing what we’re moving to. The “For Sale” board goes up the next day, and our agent sends through the particulars for approval. I’m really pleased – she’s used the photos that I took, used the words “oozes character and charm” and mentioned the strawberry patch in the garden. Who could resist? Hubby spoke with the agents in Scotland and finds out that there’s been another viewing of the farmhouse, but they’re not in a position to put in an offer either. It’s a race against the clock. Fingers crossed for a quick sale!

The reccie ... Day 3

The morning of Day 3 looks a bit scary … the roads are covered with snow. Our B&B is up a little road from the main road, and it’s a fair gradient. We pack up, get brekkie and head out to brave the weather. Fortunately it’s quite sunny and no longer snowing, and we make it down to the main road without skis. Despite Hubby’s mum’s insistent texts that we’re practically going to have to live in Scotland from here on in, we’re fine. Once on the main carridgeway it’s fine, one lane is still snow-covered but it’s a fairly sedate drive back. Until I say that I’d like to take the turn-off through Keswick, then Hubby actually heads towards Ullswater (there’s a reason – our friends are getting married there soon so we’re having a nosey), but when I realise that it’s added half an hour to our journey, I’m not a happy bunny. I want to cuddle my babies. They apparently haven’t missed us one bit, but I need big squashy cuddles. I’d gotten used to Scotland, to the different air, the laid back drivers, the breathtaking scenery. Coming down through the Lakes, through Skipton I feel a sulk coming on. Once we hit Bradford it’s settled in for the rest of the journey. I really don’t want to be here. The thought of living and dying in Birstall really depresses me. No offence to all the lovely folk who love Birstall, but it’s just not for me, and this weekend has confirmed it. We spoke to lots of people, native Scots and English “immigrants” alike, and all of them just cemented our reasons for wanting to move. The cost of living, the way of life, everything. Apparently we can knock 25% off our food bill. Hubby had a look at car insurance and can more than half it. And, of course, it's beautiful. That’s it then, we’re moving to Scotland!

The reccie ... Day 2

Apparently black pudding comes as standard on the Full English brekkie in Scotland. Eurgh! Hubby apparently has high hopes for today’s room-hunting. We’ve just got two rooms to look at this morning, then we’re going to spend the afternoon driving around the area, using the sat nav to its full potential. First on the list is a room in a little village. I wish he’d asked people if they smoke. You just don’t think about it when you don’t smoke I suppose. They’re a nice enough family but seems a bit too “Coronation Street” for Hubby – apparently the grandchildren are always round as they live next door, and their son’s always popping round and staying over too. No quiet days for sleeping off a late shift there then. Next is “The Palace”, as it will henceforth be named. The Palace is in the middle of nowhere. One of those that you can see from miles away because it’s the only house in the area. It’s also named very appropriately, and spookily – I won’t say what the house’s name is for their privacy, but it’s obviously fate. So we drove up the track and into the sweeping gravel driveway, and Hubby wants to put dibs on the hammock we spot in the sun room. We’re welcomed with open arms and spend a lovely morning being shown around the room (with en-suite), the extra room that the children can use when we visit (this is not an “if” we visit house, it’s definitely a “when”), the kitchen, lounge, sun room, Granny’s quarters, master bedroom with an en-suite bigger than our entire house, and last but not least, the double garage, huge garden with amazing views and the hot tub, which is so big you can do laps in it. Needless to say Hubby’s smitten, and we have a long chat with the owners who are a font of information about the area. We say our goodbyes, and the owners suggest that we find the local castle, Delgatie Castle, which is just a walk through the woods, or a short drive.
Off we tootle, we have a drive into the village then follow our noses to the castle, which is fab. It’s privately owned and until recent years was still inhabited by the Laird. The housekeeper, who has been there 17 years, is now one of the trustees and welcomes us in the little cafĂ©, the Laird’s Kitchen. Fortunately she can take card payments – there’s very little cash in our wallets, and far too much yummy stuff on the menu! Halfway through our very nice lunch (I had a beef open sandwich and carrot cake, and Hubby had some kind of skink soup, I can’t remember the proper name, then coffee & walnut cake), Hubby’s new family arrive after walking their dogs through the woods.
They’ve been thinking of activities we can do with the children bless ‘em, they seem such a lovely couple. After another long chat with them and the housekeeper (they know each other very well), we realise it’s started to snow, so we have a look in the gift shop, get the children a lovely rag doll and a sword & shield, then set off back to the B&B. It’s a pretty hairy ride – the snow’s coming down in massive flakes that seem to bounce off the road and disintegrate, but fortunately it doesn’t appear to be sticking. Hubby scares the heck out of me by announcing that he doesn’t think we’ll make it back with the current tyres … what, so we’re going to camp out in the car then until a kindly passerby tows us to the nearest Kwik Fit are we?? But the snow stops, we pop in to Morrisons for some tea and go back to the B&B to hole up for the night. Now feeling much better than yesterday … positive about the house, ecstatic about the room we’ve found for Hubby, watching the snow fall outside and laughing hysterically at Winter Wipeout. Oh, and I pop down to ask for beans instead of black pudding for brekkie. Now all we need to do is get home to our babies.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The reccie ... day 1

I was so excited on the drive up to the ‘Shire (as apparently Aberdeenshire is known – correct me if I’m wrong!). The drive back home was a killer. I feel like I’m a country bumpkin trapped in a city with no possible means of escape. And we don’t even live in a city! You probably couldn’t get more suburbia than Birstall! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice area, convenient, green bits here and there and of course close to family, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately I’ve married a guy who feels exactly the same, and we’ve talked about moving oop Norf for a couple of years. Well we couldn’t get much further north than Aberdeenshire really, so that’s now the plan. Hubby works with the UK Border Force, so he’s quite limited in terms of where he can work. So we’d kind of resigned ourselves to the good life being a pipe dream – after all, what were the chances of a job coming up in the sticks? Well, quite good it turns out! So, he starts work at Aberdeen airport on 5th March, leaving lil ol’ me and the kids in good old Birstall. Hubby's just read that Scotland is the best place to find a job in the UK, and Yorkshire's the worst. Aberdeen has more jobs than people seeking them, result!
Our first “official” trip to Scotland was a reccie – Hubby needs a room. He did very well, organising viewings of five potential houses over the course of the Friday and Saturday of the 3-day trip. Friday was interesting – a farm, a smoking (suspected) witch, and a very quiet geek. The farm was nice – idyllic scenery, beautiful horses, but a bit smelly, and in the middle of being renovated. The witch’s house was OK – seaside (well, cliff-top) village, but she was a smoker with another tenant and no outside space. The geek was OK, new-ish house and he liked rugby, but the room was very small. All would be hard work and potentially smelly. We found the B&B, feeling a little despondent. On the other hand, we’d found the most amazing house to buy!! It’s perfect! A four-bedroom farmhouse right on the edge of a village, so I wouldn’t be in the middle of nowhere on my own with the children. I won’t go into the background of the sale, but basically it’s an absolute steal. Hubby was getting really annoyed on the trip up – we got to Aberdeen with loads of time to spare (according to the good old sat nav, newly purchased for the occasion). Then, of course, we hit traffic. Well, specifically, a round-about. Hubby was getting more and more frustrated with every minute that was added to the arrival time. The viewings were apparently being very strictly managed and we only had 20 minutes from 1.30pm to look around the inside of the house. When we finally got to the other side of the roundabout, the sat nav decided to take us through the city centre, which of course added about 45 minutes to our trip. Aaaargh!! Hubby had gone from pretending to be a gentleman’s appendage (don’t ask!), to a snapping, defensive idiot. He doesn’t handle stress well!
Anyhoo, after a couple of phone calls to the agent and a couple of wrong turns (it turns out the postcode covers quite a large area, beware!), we finally arrived and met the builder that Hubby's been in touch with. The guy works with the Agent so he's already got to work when we get there (only 20 minutes late!). Fortunately, unlike our imagined conveyor-belt of potential buying-competitors, it's just us! We can't believe it! The Agent is lovely, and swaps with her colleague when she has to be somewhere else, so we get lots of time to wander around. The pictures on the agent's website really don't do it justice at all. All the windows and doors are new, as are the kitchen and bathroom. The only thing really that's wrong is that it's been empty for a year or so - there's damp where they've blocked the fireplaces but not capped the chimneys, and there are a couple of slates missing from the roof. Oh, and they've taken the oil tank, how bizarre! There are steadings on the same land which originally belonged to the farmhouse, and they're up for sale with planning consent, which is, according to the Agent, only going to increase the value of "our" house. The lane up to the house from the "main" road is literally up the back of the houses on the edge of the village, which is perfect because I was worried about being out in the sticks on my own with the children. It's just a 5 minute walk into the village, which has a little school and everything but a pub, which is fine by us, we don't really do pubs.
So we wander around for quite a while before we realise we need to get a wriggle on to get to the first room that Hubby's set up to view. Thank goodness for the sat nav! So, back at the B&B we decided to turn the weekend into a bit of a Valentine's Day treat so we popped along to the local Indian restaurant - The Spice of Life in Inverurie. Very nice! We forgot it was Friday night and it was packed, and of course we hadn't booked, but they managed to tuck us away in a corner. Hubby had chicken shahlik and I had a yummy lamb kashmiri, and a shandy (I can't handle my beer anymore!). So we sat and ate and chatted, then e-mailed the builder with a list of the jobs we wanted him to price up. Got the bill, had a little mosey to the taxi rank but the first driver decided it was too small a fare to take, so we got in with Sheila of Sheila's Taxis who was a little bit scary - I couldn't decide how serious she was about the first driver being a lazy goodfornothing - at least I think that's what she said! I need to get a Scottish to English dictionary ...!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

We're home :o(

Uch, we're back in Birstall! No offence to everyone who lives in Birstall, but the thought of living and dying here really depresses me! Got soooooo much to tell you about our trip, but I'm going to get all the pics uploaded first and do it properly later :o)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

So, this is blogging then ...?

So then, this is blogging is it? You'll have to forgive me ... this first entry is going to be very rudimentary!! We're now on our first recon mission to The 'Shire - Aberdeenshire :-) So many people - friends, family, clients and complete strangers - have so often said "Oh my god, I wish we could do that" in conversations about our relocation plans that I thought I'd write about it, the good, the bad and the ugly. In true me-style I've gotten impatient about starting the blog and I don't want to wait till we're home and I'm back at the PC to get started, so this is my little "hello" to blogging :-) Can you say hello back? I don't know how this lark works!! Need to investigate!! Right, this is not so great on my phone so blogging-off now, will be back ...! Ta ta!!