Monday, 10 September 2018

Back in the best British summer since '76

God damn, it's September already! Last blog was March when we were heading back to the UK and, guess what, we're still here. How did that happen? Well it's a bit of a story so if you're sitting comfortably I'll begin. Circumstances meant that when we came back we had to do some serious considering of our finances. Now, when I say circumstances what I really mean is we've been burying our heads in the sand, gadding round the world, pretending to work a bit, spending money, having a lovely time and haven't thought about 'the future'. And to be honest ' the future' is a  mildly dull concept that, bearing in mind our rapidly increasing ages, we perhaps should be toying with. "Ah ha", I hear you say. "At last they've decided to grow up and stop their gallivanting." And you would be correct. We have decided when we grow up we want to be Property Developers. I googled it and there are several definitions but the one I like best is: 

Property Developer. noun. A person whose job involves buying buildings and then making improvements to them so that their selling price exceeds the price paid for them.

Note two key points. It's actually a job and it apparently should mean we make money. Yay. 

So we have started this venture but have yet to actually buy a property. Unless you count doing up the flat, a gargantuan learning curve that has hopefully prepared us for some of the pitfalls that will strike when we do find a project. We attended a couple of auctions locally and in London. How bloody scary is that? The first one in London was a case of spot the builder's bum, hoards of them. And plenty of red trouser, yellow shirt wearing types that have way deeper pockets than us. The last group of competitors were of the Asian ethnicity and they were bidding on anything north of Watford. So we waited and watched the action, getting tips, not daring to scratch our noses for about 4 very long hours until our lot came up. We had a budget in mind and had to stick to it. We were optimistic as our cut off figure was well above the 10% over guide price. I felt sick and bravely nominated Chris to do the bidding. I kept checking he was ready. I asked which hand he was going to raise. I checked, double checked and treble checked that we had a bidder number for when we won our new place. I was choosing the colour scheme, mentally visiting IKEA for the kitchen, getting samples for the floor coverings. But before we even knew it the bidding started, it catapulted past our limit and continued going up without us so much as even twitching a hand or shouting out a bid. Gutted. Lesson learnt, have a few lots you're interested in and completely ignore the alleged guide price.

Just a few pics in the middle - weirdly didnt seem to take many:

Kitchen at flat tiled, built and plumbed by us
Drunk Howard waking us in the middle of the night for a chat 
Grandad duty with Teddy
Birthday Celebration with the in-laws
(apparently they come with for free with a wife)

We have since then acted as though we are far too busy and important to attend anymore and have tried our hand at online bidding. Great but you have to send a huge deposit in advance and they drag their heels in returning it.

Enough of our giddy ejection into the real world of high finance and on to another of our favourite topics that has held us here in good old Blighty, the world of motorhoming. I am not even sure I can explain how it reared it's head again but Crawlie and our adventures, both good and bad, have been lurking around in the background and whilst Ron has been a spectacular investment we felt the need for something else. That something else was another campervan. I'm going to digress a little here. At what point does a campervan become a motorhome? That's a bit like that ever perplexing question of when does a burp become a fart? Sorry, back to the van thing. We have enjoyed housesitting and the truly gorgeous dogs we've looked after, Ethel, Archie, Maddox, Zorro, Roxy and Mabel just to name a few. But looking after these delightful critters is a responsibly and a commitment which hasn't allowed us the freedom to travel further afield and view properties so I think that's how this notion of a van came about. Chris was like something possessed updating all his searches every hour on the hour. I don't know how but a couple of perfect ones slipped the net and we missed them. Then our budget crept up, possibly out of desperation, possibly because the idea of spending more time in it grew so we wanted something a bit grander. Anywho, we finally acquired a rather neat Crawlie #2 (still waiting for a name because we will never replace Crawlie!) which involved a drive up to North Yorkshire, via Northampton to check out another one on the way. An overnight stay which had us traipsing the streets of Whitley Bay, a lovely seaside town that is worth a visit, looking for a room like Joseph and Mary because we had overlooked the fact it was the Great North Run this weekend and rates were doubled and even trebled and rooms were all booked. We eventually happened to knock on the door of The Alcatraz guest house, I know, not exactly our first choice, and they had just had a cancellation. I wanted to kiss our saviours feet, the room was clean , bed was comfy, we had a shower and the breakfast was truly gut busting and all for the regular rate of £60. Next day we picked up our new part time home and drove the 5 hours home tagging each other to take the lead. It was exhausting but satisfying. Now we have to make it our own, give it some Rachris TLC and get on with whatever is coming next. That's still undecided, however, it has been suggested we should learn the art of tarmacing so we can earn a crust wherever we do end up next. Aw be Jesus, whatever next!

Bit of a p.s./ footnote. Our family and friends have been overwhelming generous in allowing us to stay with them, entertaining us, feeding us, washing our clothes, etc.  Although we try to earn our keep we still appreciate your hospitality. Please don't stop inviting us and you never know, we may leave you a shiny new drive with white flecks in next time we are at yours!