House Hunting

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You’d think it would be easy. All we wanted was a 2 or 3 bedroom house within 30 minutes of the University, with a modest fenced-in garden and a garage or drive in a safe area without breaking the bank.

Estate agents are not nice people I think.

Catherine had given up trying to sleep considering it to be a waste of valuable time. Why would anyone want to lie down with their eyes closed when there are babies to be fed, washing to be done, vegetables to plant and houses to find? The fruit of her previous night’s house trawling would arrive in my Newcastle  inbox each morning and I would short list the ‘possibles’ before going out at lunchtime and again in the evening to view them. It’s a very time consuming process and I discovered that I could see on average one house every 40 minutes.

When an 8 year old offers to “watch your car for you Mister?” it immediately belies the agent’s description of “located on a quiet estate”. And yes indeed, the camera does lie. On some occasions it tells absolute whoppers. What I ask, is the point of taking a photograph so carefully that it must have meant climbing a lamp post to get the right angle when the result becomes a complete misrepresentation? Did they think that I would not notice the derelict house on one side, the scrap yard on the other and the bus stop six feet from the living room window? Other properties? Well let’s just say there’s a level of hygiene below which even I am not prepared to stoop.

Also, as much as I tell people that Zippy is a good dog, there are those that will not entertain the idea. By ‘those’ I mean about 95% of the rental market. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. So he scratches a little paint off doors, bites people, barks at…well everything, likes digging and has the odd little ‘accident’. So what – the lovable little scamp.

We agreed to take the first acceptable property that came up, no matter what, but unbelievably the house hunt dragged on for a couple of months. The weeks merged from one to the next but somehow we survived, sustained only by the promise of somewhere suitable just around the corner. As it happened, the first acceptable property that came up I had to let go. It was immaculate. New conservatory, white leather sofa, cream carpets, mood lighting in the bathroom floor, I just couldn’t do it to the guy. The infants would trash the place over the course of 6 months but I’d give the mental Border Collie about 10 minutes.

It’s bizarre how suddenly things can change. We went from no suitable houses to 2 suitable houses in the course of an afternoon. I had two houses to view, the first of which was on a quiet modern estate in Prudhoe. It ticked all the boxes and for a view out of the back there was nothing but fields and a stunning castle nestling amongst some trees. I nearly didn’t bother going to see the other house but as I was in the area…The second house was in Stocksfield, 100 yards from the toddler group, 200 yards from the idyllic rural station (Georgie loves trains) and had some woods and a babbling stream at the bottom of the garden. Typical! You wait 2 months for a house…

We chose the stream.

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