Springtime

The first thing I saw when I got up this morning was a spring. On the floor. Ah, a metaphor, I thought, Spring has arrived. And indeed, the sun was out, the sky was blue, it’s significantly warmer than last week and it was quite pleasant to walk around Chessington and Kingston today. spring in bedroomBut it’s a bit worrying, finding a small spring. Where did it come from?

Well, the house continues to fight back against being taken to the knackers’ yard. In our bedroom, there is a built-in wardrobe. One of the doors hasn’t closed properly for years, not since the last time thse doors were painted. There’s a little catch that should click smoothly and keep the door closed. With a bit of a slam, the dried-up paint flaked off, and that door managed to close properly and satisfyingly.

Until today. The little catch has broken. The spring sprung loose and the rest of the plastic must have shattered. I don’t think there’s any way to fix it.

Unlike the stay at the top of the front door. I replaced that, after the estate agent had problems last weekend. So unless there’s (again) a very strong gust of wind, the front door should no longer swing open and bash into the window sill outside the fron room.

Probably tempting fate but the door bell is still working a week or so after I fixed it and sealed it in again, despite the snow and rain. Touch wood.

No more news on the home front.

“Wheels of Time” is an exhibition aiming to document the story of cycling past and present in Kingston upon Thames. An important part of this will be people that cycle as part of their job.

I was invited to be interviewed in my capacity of ex-postman. I used a bike for the job, and they wanted me to talk about it. So I visited Kingston History Centre in Kingston’s Guildhall for the first time where I met Alex, the Heritage Services Officer, and Jarek, who conducted the interview.

I don’t think I slagged off Royal Mail management too much for the decision to replace bicycles with trolleys. Big, fat, red High Capacity Trolleys. But it was fun to talk about why I liked the job using the bike, and not so much with the trolley. The changing nature of the job over the years, especially with regard to online shopping resulting in many more parcels and packets being delivered by Royal Mail, is I think not recognised by most members of the public. And dogs came up. Like the one that didn’t like the noise the bike made. Or the one that didn’t like my helmet.

The exhibition opens towards the end of the month and I’ll put more details up nearer the time. I think this is the first time I’ve potentially been a museum exhibit.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t cycle into Kingston today: it was quite nice outside but I didn’t want to turn up looking bedraggled, with helmet hair and stinky.

Oh, alright: it was too cold. I’m a wimp. Turning into a fair-weather cyclist.

 

Winter Draws On

Yes, it’s cold. Paris was cold and windy. Now back home and it’s cold, windy and it’s snowing as well. It probably won’t last long but we don’t really need it at all. We don’t need people looking around our house in this weather. We wouldn’t want to to and look at other people’s houses either.

It’s rotten timing for sister Pauline, though, coming over here from the warmth of a New Zealand Summer, she’ll definitely be packing her Winter drawers.

And rotten timing too for the crocuses, daffodils and snowdrops that are beginning to bloom.

Back to the house: We’ve had a few offers, which is good, but none match the bottom-line figure that we’d agreed on.

In the post on our return were two unsolicited letters from other estate agents that basically said: “When your current agent has failed to sell your house, come to us, we’ll sell it for you, quickly, and for a higher price”. If only we’d known.

I haven’t been on the phone so often in one day since I worked in an office. So many calls to make, so I addressed them all in one go. We haven’t had one for a while, so here’s the list of people I called:

  • The man to come around, look around the house and provide its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). He’ll be nicely frozen when he visits the loft.
  • The man to look at the garden fence with a view to moving it back to where it should be, on the boundary between our house and the neighbours’.
  • My dentist to cancel my August appointment because we won’t be living here then.
  • The hospital to cancel the second, now unnecessary, follow-up appointment after my eye surgery.
  • Our estate agent here to say that despite his best efforts, our doorlock still appears to work and we were able to get into the house when we returned from Paris. And to discuss the lastest progress.
  • Our flat vendors’ agent to report on our progress so far to to remind the vendor that she was going to send us some further information.

Liesel made a big decision this week. She Shook me Cold. And not just because of the weather. Well done, Liesel!

 

The Weather

It’s been a few days now and I don’t think I’ve mentioned the weather. As I write, it’s raining again and there’s a cold wind. I was hoping to run all my errands outside in one trip, but that didn’t happen. I’ll probably have to go out again later. Oh well,  you get wet, then you get dry again.

It is, of course, Tuesday. I’ve commented several times over the years that it nearly always rains on a Tuesday. That’s because it’s bin day. We put the bins out and we have to bring them back in, wet, full of water.

I used to think it rained on Tuesday because traditionally, Monday is laundry day. The housewife would hang the washing out to dry, the water would evaporate, clouds form, and then the water would come down again the next day. I’ve since learned that there’s a lot more to the hyrdological cycle than meets the eye.

We’re planning to move to somewhere near Manchester, which is famous for rain. It rains more there than anywhere else in the known universe. Although someone who’s lived in the area for fifteen years has assured us that it doesn’t have higher rainfall than we southern softies experience in Surrey. Huh.

Over the weekend, we looked at at some potential new abodes. Or, in the parlance, we viewed some properties. One flat had experienced damp problems because the previous occupants had dried their clothes indoors without opening the windows. Well, possibly, but the amount of mould in more than one room would suggest that they’d been drying clothes in there for many, many years. We really don’t want to take on a place that requires so much work.

It was also on a fairly busy road and the sound of traffic indoors was very noticeable, much more so than where we currently live, which is quite busy.

Because of that, we cancelled a viewing at another property further along the same road.

Another viewing was cancelled by the estate agent because they couldn’t gain access to it.

We looked at a terraced house in Marple, a lovely little village on the edge of the Peak District. We hadn’t realised that a mid-terrace house would be so dark, having fewer walls available to put windows in. Obvious, really. Although the house looked out over a cricket green, and way over there, you could see the hills, we decided it wasn’t for us. The scented candles barely disguised the stench of dog. And nice as it is, Marple is just a bit further out from the big city than we would like.

One flat, oops, apartment that we looked at in Northenden was very interesting though. It’s on the second, top floor in a block of 5, in a little cul de sac, so no through traffic. Close to two motorways, we couldn’t hear the traffic as much as we currently hear the noise from the A3. It’s a well decorated flat, smaller than our 3-bedroom house of course, but we both think it would suit our purposes for a couple of years.

We’ll go back and measure up so we can work out how much of our furniture would fit. No gas, so we’d have to learn to cook solely by electric. The nearest railway stations are a bit further away than we’re used to. There is a cycle parking facility but that’s not much use if there are lots of wheelie bins there. Much less storage space in the apartment. But we think all of these problems can be overcome. Fingers crossed for A Better Future.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Our present house will be put up for sale today. Photos have been taken, blurbs written, clutter decluttered, the last couple of walls have been painted, stuff hidden away and it’s raining. In our experience, it always rains when you’re looking at houses, oopsie, when you’re viewing properties, so there’s no reason to suppose it will be dry when people are asking to look at this house. Form an orderly queue!

Our Chessington House

Things are definitely moving now. As will we be sometime during the next few months.

Yes, it will be very strange for me, moving on from a house that I’ve spent more than half my life in. I know I’ll miss London and Richmond Park and the Surrey countryside. But equally I’m sure that once we find our way around, we’ll find plenty in Greater Manchester to keep us interested, not just the family, grandchildren.