house – day one – a new beginning

Today, we took possession of our new house, the culmination of a year’s endeavour.

Anyone who has bought a house in England will know that buying and selling property here is an uncertain, tense and intensely fraught process. So when we finally got the keys from our estate agent, you might have thought we would be anxious to get into the house for which we’d waited so long (ten months after putting the house up for sale, to moving in). Perhaps we had spent so much time getting to this point, that putting off the big moment a little longer would not make much of a difference. Whatever the reason, Fiona and I didn’t feel the urge to grab the keys from the agent and rush over to our new house. We put it off for a little while longer and, instead of walking the short distance to our new house, we made our way the shore. Standing atop the low bluff of Tankerton Slopes, with a group of shivering seagulls, in a bitingly cold north-easterly wind, we contemplated what we had just done. Big events don’t ever seem to go the way you anticipate and, right now, we had very mixed emotions about the deal. We turned back from the sea and still didn’t go on to the house, but had lunch in the Orangery in nearby Whitstable Castle. Finally, we walked over down the hill to inspect our purchase.

Walking into a cold empty house on a frigid day in February is not an ideal introduction to one’s new home. This was the first time we felt could inspect the place in detail – we’re far too polite in this country to start rooting though peoples’ stuff to inspect the fabric of a building. Now we were unconstrained by such niceties, we were free to poke around the house, discovering more oddities and yet more things to be fixed, we snapped what we could just for the record.

The fabric of the house is well made and apart from a leak in the roof (which we knew about and had an estimate for) it appears to be in good order. It’s an Edwardian house, built about 1910, pleasantly proportioned, close to the sea and considerably larger than our previous home in the East End. When we first started looking for a house, we had no fixed idea about what style of house we wanted. We had a list of functional requirements and locations, but that was about it. It’s safe to say, though, that we didn’t anticipate moving to an early 20th Century Tudorbethan pile. So, will this house the answer to a lot of our issues (or a source of new problems?) – only time will tell.

sales versus reality

This is how the house appeared in the estate agent’s brochure …

… and this is how it looked when we walked in today …

.. we clearly had a lot of work to do.

There were quirky features we hadn’t spotted on previous visits …

… and, doubtless, there are more for us to discover.

After a meeting with a guy from the alarm company (who sold us a new control unit and some upgrades) and a fruitless, freezing, wait for a BT engineer (turned out I’d missed the email postponing the appointment until the following week) we returned to our London flat.

It’s safe to say our mood was sombre on the drive home.