English Dentistry

I confess, I was biased against English dentistry after years of living in the US. I had a dentist I’d loved for many years who never did anything to my teeth except nag me to floss and with a thorough cleaning twice a year, I was good to go.

For the past two years I’ve worried about finding a dentist.

Would they claim I needed work in the UK which I’d never needed in the US? Would I end up having a root canal and missing teeth (why do so many people in the UK seem to have teeth missing?) Would the hard London water with its limescale build up on my teeth the way it does on the inside of the kettle?

So many questions and so many recurring dreams of crumbling teeth!

And so all my fears were finally laid to rest last week when I discovered the amazing talents of my new dentist, Dr Gaynor Langley. I had a blissful cleaning with a water jet followed by a consultation and a very nice chat. 

My teeth continue to be fabulous (hooray!) I need to floss more (floss the teeth you want to keep – it’s a great motivator) and for an exorbitant fee but one which I’m happy to pay, I was out of the door and heading off to work, shiny white teeth intact.

I have declared my undying love and can only say I wish I could see her more than once a year. We could be friends, except I can’t afford it!

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

As we rode along the Embankment, we were passed by a vintage motorbike rally. 

Hundreds of tweed-wearing enthusiasts astride their Royal Enfields, Triumphs and Nortons zoomed past us, most of them in suits, some of them with pipes. It was The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and was to raise money for prostate cancer.


It was a very dapper group and a sight to behold!

In the little tiny lift

After a long bike ride around London, we made our way back to the little flat in Chalk Farm and prepared for the obligatory trek up six flights of stairs, bike over shoulder, exhausted by the top step.

Only this time was different. 

The lovely Ms Cooper was so svelte she actually managed to squeeze in the tiniest lift in the world. I crouched down by the front wheel (just about room for two) and there we sailed up the six flights together in style.

Arriving at the top without a hair out of place, we waited as Letad huffed and puffed his way up the stairs.

Bike riding has been revolutionized!

Snakes and Ladders

It was a very rough week. 

After having the highest offer received, signing a lock-in contract and paying a 1% deposit on the flat in West Hampstead, things went tits up. 

After our flat hunting experiences, we weren’t entirely surprised but we were so disappointed.

We had a phone call from the estate agents to tell us that the seller was having problems as he was facing an enormous tax bill in Germany where he’s based. They said there was a chance the whole thing would fall apart as he hadn’t done his research and we would know by the end of the week.

I was at the bottom of the snake.

After everything we’d been through, I couldn’t go on. I was devastated. Tears were shed.

The rest of the week passed in a haze. I tried to distract myself with work, the arrival of the lovely Ms Cooper and my sister came to stay.

By Friday afternoon I’d had enough and I was too upset to concentrate. I left work early and came home to ride my new bike. Before I left, the phone rang, Lionel the estate agent had a Plan B.

Would we be willing to put down a 3% deposit to secure the property and move in as tenants for six months to enable the seller to make the sale in the next financial year? 

It would mean we wouldn’t be able to buy it for another six months (next April is forever away) but it meant that if the seller pulled out we would get the seller’s 3% as compensation which would be a nice lump sum.

We discussed the pros and cons. We would live in the flat we wanted, hopefully at the end of six months, we would buy the flat we wanted and if not, we would get compensated and would start looking all over again. It was a risk but sometimes a risk is necessary. We agreed it was something we would do and phoned the estate agent to discuss the options.

It’s certainly not the most conventional way of buying a flat and we haven’t discussed it with our solicitor yet (he will be most disapproving) but we think we’re prepared to take a punt on it and hope it all goes through.

At this stage I have absolutely no idea where we’ll be at Christmas!
The fun continues…

The Lovely Ms Cooper

And so my lovely Cooper Oporto arrived. My gorgeous new bike. I rushed home from work to sign for it and immediately unpacked it in the living room.

Oh the bliss, it was beautiful. A lightweight ivory frame pristine in its loveliness with shiny chrome mudguards, a black leather Brooks seat and black and chrome leather handlebar grips. It was the bike equivalent of my beloved Mini Cooper. It was stunning.

In a city where a car is unnecessary, the bike becomes the car. This was the Ferrari of Old Lady bikes. This was bike porn.

I went for my first ride. I felt a little wobbly at first as the frame felt so slender compared to the Duchess. The handlebars were much more narrow and the gears (five of them) were inside the back wheel. 

I changed gears, up the hill, I changed gears, down the hill. Along the canal to London Fields and back through Islington. 

The poor purple Duchess, she’s the old lady dressed in a tweed suit wearing lady brogues while the lovely Oporto is Bridget Bardot in a bikini on the Riviera. There’s just no comparison and so the old Duchess has been relegated to the balcony while the lovely Ms Cooper takes pride of place in the living room.

Never to be out of sight as she’ll be stolen immediately, a high maintenance bike indeed!

The baby orchid

A year ago I was given an orchid by my work colleagues. It was my birthday present and while I’m not a lover of orchids (I’ve ended up with a stick in a pot before) I took it home and sat it on the kitchen work top.

It had two stems and bloomed prolifically. It seemed to like the ambient light and temperature in the little flat in Chalk Farm. So we watered it occasionally and left it alone.

I named it Octavia. Letad named it Barbara. And so Barbara-Octavia flourished all winter.

And then one stem withered and died. Octavia (or Barbara) continued to thrive as she flowered and grew new leaves.

And then in recent weeks, the flowers faded and a new green leaf started to grow at the top of the stem. Another leaf joined it and two roots sprouted. It would appear that Octavia (or Barbara) is having a baby!

We googled it last night and the correct term is Keiki – Hawaiian for baby and it is indeed a baby orchid. We now apparently have to feed Octavia (or Barbara) as she’s eating for two.

Hmm, that’s all we need, an expectant orchid. In a few months the baby can be weaned and put into its own little pot and it’s all very high maintenance.

And now we have to decide on a name… so far we have:
My choice: Olivia or Olga (continuing the O names)
Letad’s choice: Tracie.

The highest offer

The phone call at last, we were on tenterhooks, would it be or could it be? It could be!

We had the highest offer, our offer was accepted. We’re in and this time it’s different. There’s a contract in place where both buyer and seller put down a 1% deposit to confirm the deal.

We’re absolutely delighted and while we’re slightly gun-shy, we’re positive this will go through. I’m convinced this is the flat we’re supposed to buy and supposed to live in and so far, so good.

And in the meantime, I’ve worked out my bike route to work!

A new bike

In order to distract myself, I rashly ordered a new bike… without even riding it. Oops.

I’ve been looking and looking for a bike just like the one I own except it doesn’t weigh the same as a baby elephant. 

Me in a hat?

Hours of diligent research paid off when I discovered Cooper Bikes. The same company as the original Mini Cooper, they make a stunning women’s bike. I saw it and knew it was the bike for me (umm, memories of the pincushion?) And so without trying it, I ordered it. This should be interesting!

The most perfect bike

 It has an aluminium frame and weighs only 10kg. That’s six whole kilos less than the Purple Duchess. Imagine carrying that up six flights of stairs!

But wait, could that only be two and a half flights of stairs??

Best and final… again

And so back to Flat Hunting…

We made our opening offer on Monday and were told there were four other offers on the table, all at asking price and so we were going to best and final offers by 2pm on Wednesday.

This is where one makes up a random number and emails it blindly to the estate agent having absolutely no idea what the other bidders are doing. It’s incredibly frustrating but the only thing to do is decide how much one can afford to pay rather than getting swept up in the moment and offering above one’s means.

We emailed our offer this morning. It was our best and highest offer on anything so far and leaves us with 1p left in the bank. Luckily the flat doesn’t need much doing to it.

And so having prayed to the housing gods, done a visualization of us living in the flat, imagining the oasis we would create on the roof terrace, we now leave it up to fate (or the estate agent) to determine if this one is indeed meant to be.

Hopefully we’ll know later this afternoon.


After a nice Sunday lunch at The Washington on England’s Lane, we hopped on the C11 bus to West Hampstead where we thought we’d do a little reconnaissance before making an offer on the new flat.

West Hampstead, in particular, West End Lane is a lovely road with cafes, restaurants and pubs, plenty of choices and a nice crowd of people. Not too many prams, no rowdy types, and so we were feeling quite positive!

We walked up Mill Lane where things became a little quieter but still, a twee Cath Kitson-inspired tea shop, a pub in need of a little gentrification across the road and a selection of small, independent shops, cafes and it seemed, a community.

We still felt positive. The flat (The Mansions) is above a row of shops and looks a little bit tatty from the outside. Not a bad thing as it could put off other buyers (we hope) but we know what the inside held and above all, an absolutely spectacular view of London.

Reconnaissance done, we hopped on the bus, came home and typed up our offer ready for tomorrow.

Here we go again. We are nothing if not persistent!