Alone in London

Letad has taken his kidney stone on a trip to the South of France while I soldier on alone in London… poor me!

Actually I’m planning to meet up with family for coffee on Saturday, catch up with the parentals and friends on Skype and spend a weekend being extremely organized. There will be juicing involved, Autumnal cleaning and the great wardrobe clear out.

Now if that doesn’t sound like a party, I don’t know what does!

The Sabotaging Solicitor

Things have been progressing with the flat purchase and despite my feet being firmly planted on the ground, Letad has already moved in and redecorated… in his head that is.

This week we had a valuation by the bank to complete the mortgage. Tick. The application is now with the underwriter and we should hear back early next week. If all is good, we can move to exchange of contracts and then we’re locked in. After that, the final step is completion. We’re hoping if things go well, we’ll be bashing down walls (and having slug races) over the Christmas break.

We also had a full structural survey this week. It cost a lot of money and we haven’t had the results yet but given that the flat is a repossession and in need of complete renovation, better to be safe than sorry.

So things were moving along nicely until our solicitor went postal and threatened that we would pull out of the purchase if he didn’t receive papers from the other solicitor. Hang on a minute? Whose idea was that?

Our Sabotaging Solicitor has a history with the other solicitors and there’s definitely bad blood. After all the agony we’ve been through, this is not going to fall through due to the stamping of a tiny foot. 

I wrote a succinct email to him stating that we did actually want to buy the flat. I think the message was understood however if he doesn’t behave, he will suffer the wrath of a year and a half of flat hunting… be warned!

A Rolling Stone

All’s well that ends well it would seem. 

The pain passed and after a couple of good nights of sleep we’re all feeling much better.

The outcome… Letad has become born again and is now taking up yoga… again. He’s questioning the meaning of life having faced a “near-death” experience.

I, on the other hand, am now juicing anything green I can lay my hands on… and I must say the super-deluxe new juicer is a very impressive piece of kitchen equipment. 

For those who know (or care) it’s a masticating juicer which means it doesn’t heat the juice so you get more nutrients and by being a vertical model it takes up much less room and is extremely quiet. At the risk of being a juicing nerd, it’s also very easy to clean. Dare I say, I might even foresee a juice fast in the near future.

Of course it goes without saying that as Letad is born again (at least this week) we’ve given up drinking alcohol and with the end of daylight saving, we are now officially hibernating.

Off to the A&E

Letad was in extreme pain, almost equivalent to having his leg cut off apparently when asked on a scale of one to ten and so we decided to take advantage of the NHS and called an ambulance. 

It was 4am. Dark and cold. We sat outside in the ambulance for a long time as Letad was questioned, examined and eventually given morphine for the pain. 
It sounded like a kidney stone from his description or it could have been wind from the rather delicious but wind-inducing combination of Brussels sprouts, kale, chickpeas and goat cheese (with hot sauce) I’d made for dinner. 
Either way he wasn’t very well at all and so the ambulance crew (who were brilliant) took us up to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead to Accident & Emergency, an experience indeed. 
As I write this it’s 5:45am. We’ve been waiting for half an hour so far and it seems busy and disorganized. The hospital is filthy with dirty linoleum floors, a broken toilet and stinks of stale booze. It may be socialized health care but this seems pretty substandard. 
Eventually we saw a doctor and now at 7:25am we’re waiting for the urologist to arrive at 8am so we can book a CT scan. 
It looks as though we might be here for a while…

Survey and valuation

Today we have the final step in the mortgage application on the renovation project in Queen’s Park.

The bank are going in to survey the property and do the valuation. Hopefully they won’t notice the holes in the floor, mould on the walls, snail trails (or slugs ugh) on the carpet…

We will be getting a full structural survey to determine if it’s a money pit (I have my feet firmly on the ground with this one) but otherwise we’ll wait to hear the outcome of today.

Back to Whamps

Monday and I left the office at a fast clip. I was heading to Camden Road to get the overground to West Hampstead. It was time for a second look at Mill Lane.

Twenty minutes later I shuffled off the full train and walked ten minutes to the flat with a view on Mill Lane. It seemed like a very long walk at the end of the day…

How different a second impression can be. A tired communal entrance hall with astro turf led up three flights of sticky brown spiral stairs with old brown lino and then finally into the front door.

The view was still there but the flat seemed smaller and needed more work, new flooring, new tiling and the noise of the traffic filtered up through the windows.

We looked around perhaps a little more carefully than before and then we headed back to Belsize Park to our familiar surroundings to discuss our final decision.

We had concerns about a delayed purchase, about moving in and paying rent for six months and about being locked-in to a flat we may not like if we live there and discover the pitfalls.

And so we have decided to have a survey done on the other flat, the renovation project, the winter of extreme discontent. If there are problems, we’ll call it a day and start again next year as we don’t want either a money pit or mill stone, but that’s a decision, at least for today.

Our solicitor will be most disapproving but then again he shouldn’t complain, he’s the only person making any money!

Clifton Nurseries

After a delicious and rather large lunch we waddled back to the car and set off to Clifton Nurseries.

Octavia/Barbara the Orchid has given birth and we were thinking about weaning the new baby (now named Orinoco).

Clifton Nurseries is a fabulous garden centre set among period terraced houses and the land value must be in the millions. It was a beautiful setting.

Close to Blomfeld Road (former residence of Nancy Mitford, my most admired author) and the Little Venice Canal, it was a lovely place to wander round and think of ideas if one ever had a garden.

We were going to buy some bark and a pot for Orinoco but upon the advice of the enthusiastic assistant (who congratulated us on our kei-ki, apparently it’s quite rare and something of an accomplishment in the world of orchids) we were told to wait until spring.

We left the garden centre and set off to do another drive-by, this time Saltram Crescent, the first property needing the complete renovation.

And after that (and it did look good in the sunshine) we set off back to Chalk Farm for freshly made madeleines, a nice cup of tea and a debate about the merits of the two flats.

Sunday lunch in Maida Vale

It was a glorious Autumnal Sunday. Sunny, surprisingly warm but still, with leaves on the ground and a change of season in the air, time to fatten up for winter (or not) but certainly time for Sunday lunch.

The Dad of Letad kindly came to collect us and we set off to Maida Vale. We did a drive-by of Mill Lane on the way (con: it’s a long walk to the station) and then we arrived at The Truscott Arms.

Recently awarded “Best Sunday Lunch in London” we though it would be worth a try.

The pub itself was a gorgeous refurbished Victorian grande-dame. Enormous windows flooded the dining room highlighting high ceilings and period features to create an elegant space. The only negative, bad art but then that’s subjective.

We sat near the window and enjoyed the October sunshine. Leaves blew past the window but with the sun pouring in, it was a little corner of warmth and we settled in for a couple of hours.

A good choice of reasonably priced wine and a menu to please most. The usual meat options, beef, lamb and pork; fish, a veggie option and all the trimmings. The only thing missing, a good chicken.

The food arrived in an unusual serving for London, a large platter with everything on it. Green beans, parsnips, carrots and roast potatoes, crispy light Yorkshire puddings, meat of choice and small jugs of gravy.

We served and began and had to agree, it certainly was the best Sunday lunch in London!