Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BUY me!

Sought-after location; beautiful, quirky yet cosy cottage feeling (no trace of the abattoir); recently fitted kitchen; lovely relaxing garden with chalet/workshop; fantastic conservatory; en-suite to master; three reasonable bedrooms (well, wouldn’t want to boast…); dual-aspect bathroom with plumbing, talking-point kitchen…

Last week, we viewed 27 such properties in four days in our quest to buy before the chuck-out date on the one we’ve just sold (utterly charming, two multi-functional cellars and some very attractive gravel). After nine splendid years in France it’s time for a new adventure in an unexplored part of the Old Country. And this initial exploration has revealed a friendly, bustly place we love already.

Agents’ details are fabulous these days aren’t they - floor plans, photos and street views, but at the end of a Nine-House day, you can easily forget which one had the handy-hatch-through-to-kitchen, or the fire that was welcomingly lit. (Yes OK – well it worked)!

So I started scribbling surreptitious notes on the details as we went round, like a burglar making an inventory… owner was reading in deckchair;  

couple watching X-factor on big-screen TV; hideous sheep wallpaper; outside loo - filled up with lawnmower

Later we couldn’t decipher these essential reminders at all, so have probably made an offer on the wrong house.

There were of course, some properties you couldn't forget, like the haunted one (rumour has it that ghosts abound in the vicinity). This particular phantom had been a solicitor, apparently, and can be glimpsed on the stairs – certain members of the family have refused to sleep upstairs for fear of his ghostly legs.

The agent related this calmly and neutrally, but said that by law, they have to tell us. Surprising, I thought – and it made me wonder if before leaving the parental home, I should have divulged the seances we used to hold in Mum and Dad’s dining room - SOMEthing was pushing that glass…

(I might mention here that I searched youtube for ghost-on-stairs clips and frightened the Hell out of myself - hence somewhat unsatisfying yet appealing sketch of blue man holding ball of fire, but with nice Wispy Legs).

Another vendor was selling because of divorce - perhaps her heart wasn’t in it when she said, ‘Oh yes – that forest across the road is going to be built on soon, with a Whole New Estate!  Have you got cats, by the way? They’ll love it here – loads of cats. And rats…’

I'd definitely like to put in a word for the agents we met, who were delightful, dynamic and diligent. And their Secret Lives were fabulous: we met an ex prison governor (who would have thought that the most realistic prison drama is Porridge?!); a singer/dancer/actress; an eight-stone female bouncer who bounces by wordly persuasion - it paid well at uni and she loves it;  and a horse dentist!

But possibly the most surprising agent was the one who'd won the office prizes for selling, who surrendered his free time to phone us or drive us round, who worked frenziedly to find exactly what we wanted and then, when he delivered us to a house, said Absolutely Nothing as we looked round.  He stood silently watching us with neither smile nor frown nor utterance - it was most disturbing...  In fact I think his presence may one day linger on in the odd property or two...

And oh god - we're moving at Christmas!