So here we are, back from our house hunting jaunt and we are both feeling pooped because we didn't half do a lot over the space of a day and a half. And here is the official First Stage House Report:
House 1: Rose Cottage. The owner informed us it had been updated...in the Sixties! The Sixties??!!! Good Lord! Anyway, although it was a good solid cottage and had a big garden with many ancient apple and damson trees, and was in the perfect location of a quiet village, it would need a lot of work doing to it e.g central heating, rewiring, double glazing, new bathroom and kitchen, possible extension etc etc. We were there for over an hour; the owner, it has to be said, was DESPERATE to sell it to us, to the point where she chased us down the drive as we returned to our car shouting, 'I hope you buy it. Please buy it. You'll love it here,' and we backed away as politely as we could and drove away before she could fling herself onto the bonnet of the car. We felt a little guilty because she had insisted we sit in the sun on her dear departed brother's favourite garden bench and it was a teeny bench not really built for two sunstantial middle-aged folk such as ourselves and one of the wooden slats snapped and it was a bit embarrassing. So a nice house with a cosy priest hole, but not for us.
House 2 - Damson Cottage. This was nice. Just right for two. Gorgeous garden - exactly what we were looking for really. I so wanted this to be 'The One' because it had been one of the first houses I had 'Ooohed' at when I saw it on the interwebbly, and thus I was a little disappointed when I didn't get that 'zing' I had been anticipating when we set foot through the door. Yes, I could live there. I could definitely love the garden. A little too close to the main road, but it wasn't an overly busy main road. But...I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that was stopping me from saying a big, fat excited 'YES!' to this lovely home and putting in an offer there and then, and I still can't. I just don't know...
We had to execute a thirty two point turn to get out of the driveway. Nearly took the five bar gate off its hinges. But didn't. Phew!
House 3: High Heath.If ever there was a case of estate agent smoke and mirrors, then this was it. 'Why is it soooo cheap?' we asked ourselves. Beautiful renovation, Aga, stone floor in the kitchen, solid oak floors elsewhere, a third of an acre, a pond, several outbuildings...and a dual carriageway with pretensions of being a Grand Prix racing track right on the doorstep!
'You soon accommodate the noise,' yelled the owner across the sound of cars racing along the tarmac.
Yeah, right. Inside, the house was very quiet but outside...well, all I could think was, 'Could I plant leeks to this racket?' And my answer was, 'No, I could not.'
The owner had three dogs. A goodly dollop of dog poo found its way onto the bottom of Andy's shoe and travelled a couple of miles up the road with us before we could find a layby to stop in and clean it off. Bleuch!
House 4: No.3, a barn conversion. Oh my goodness! I was all a-tremble and a wobble the moment I stepped inside the entrance hall which was big enough for a Christmas tree. At Christmas, of course - not as a permanent feature.
Large living room with a log burner to put ours to shame. Dining room with half-vaulted ceiling, lovely kitchen with French door opening onto a vegetable garden that was the size of our old allotment. A huge lawn you'd just round and round in circles on shouting, 'Wheeeeeee!!!' A big greenhouse. Potting shed. Garden shed. Tree house. Pond. An old Anderson shelter that had been built over with a massive rockery which made it look a bit like a Telly Tubby house! Andy went to explore the inside and found himself up to his ankles in water.
'We'll need to get a pump for that,' said I in my sagely wisdom.
Upstairs, a main bedroom with full vaulted ceiling and an en-suite shower room with massive showerhead. Another two double bedrooms and a family bathroom. HUGE vaulted landing...am I sounding a bit enthusiastic about the barn? Am I?? We are likely to put in an offer. Just a bit excited.
House 5: No. 12 - the only detached. Lovely. Big garden. A well in which, apparently, the resident feral cat had given birth to 5 kittens. The unferal cat, Freddie, was sitting on the driveway when we arrived and made no attempt to move as we reversed carefully around him into a parking space. He escorted us for the entire viewing. The house was my second favourite but the owner was odd. She kept telling us they'd had two cash offers and had already got another house that was having work done on it before they could move in. I kept thinking, 'Why aren't you going with one of the cash buyers then?' Something fishy going on here, I reckon. Plus she was the only owner who didn't suggest we wander around a second time by ourselves. In fact, we weren't even offered a second wander around. Freddie saw us off the premises.
So there you have it. Our buyers still haven't got buyers themselves so we are having to rethink their offer. We may have to move quicker than originally anticipated because of Andy's unexpected job interview and our new love affair with a barn, so although we want them to have the house because we like them, we shall have to steel ourselves to be a little more ruthless. Did we make a mistake in turning down the equivalent offer from the first time buyers? I am trying not to think too hard about that possible error.
But good news - Heather has got herself a flat sorted out so I shall feel happy that she is settled before we go.
And so we continue to travel forwards on our journey to the countryside.