This morning, Yorkshire is bathed in pale sunlight as gritty Northerners head off for their daily toil, breath steaming in the frosty air. Meanwhile in their borrowed two-up two-down, the retirees look out on the frozen back yard, sip tea and wonder how to fill the empty hours stretching before them.
Yeah right! In the next few days we have to drive to Shrewsbury to collect Vince (he’s been away for a week for a warranty paintwork fix), then head to Crewe for a 50th party, then to Telford for a night out with friends, then Kemberton for another night out with friends followed the next day by fitting new tyres to Vince & getting him his 2018 MOT. That’s all in addition to the travel we’ve been doing since we last spoke in early January – Dumfries & Galloway in SW Scotland to Fife, Fife to Kendal, Kendal to Shipley, Shipley to Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury to Liverpool and Liverpool to Shipley. We’re imposing once again on our daughter as we’re going to see her rock-god husband’s band Black Moth tonight on the last night of their UK tour. They’re promoting their third album Anatomical Venus (available from all good record shops and online retailers at the end of this month) 😉 Rock-minded readers can hear the first single from the album here.
It’s been a strange old life of wandering after we sold the house last October. Since we returned from our Spanish adventure at Christmas, we’ve had the car with us as well so the logistics are a bit of a nightmare. Sometimes we leave Vince at Gill’s sister’s place where they have loads of room, and take the car when we stay with other family members. We had two blissful weeks house-sitting for our older daughter in Saltaire but the constant packing and unpacking and borrowing of washing machines is becoming a bit of a pain. *big sigh…* It would be really nice to have a house again.
So where are we with finding somewhere to live? Well, we’ve looked at half a dozen or so houses in SW Scotland which is where we’d most like to live. We’re very fussy, as in it must be close to the coast and meet our needs in terms of bedrooms and bathrooms, and good views would be a bonus. We did find a place we really liked with a huge gable-end window looking out to the countryside, and close to the seaside village of Portpatrick. We even put in an informal offer. We managed to negotiate quite a lot off the asking price but when we sat and really thought about it, the house was at the top of our budget but still needed some work. Understandably the owners weren’t too keen to knock off any more cash so we withdrew.
One of the towns we found very appealing during the search was Kirkcudbright. It has plenty of small shops and cafés, a wee harbour and a ruined castle to its name. Unfortunately, and rather predictably there are no houses for sale there within our budget at the moment. Undaunted we fell into a conversation with one of the town’s estate agents who asked a question which has set us squarely on the road to madness.
“Have you thought about building your own house?”
She guided us to a plot for sale in an oak wood just outside a little tourist village. Country setting? Tick. Walking distance to the pub? Tick. Shops? Tick. Houses well spread out? Tick. Good views? Tick.
We’ve visited a couple of times to measure up and get the feel of the place and I have to confess it’s perfect for us. It has a couple of mature oak trees on the boundary which we’d try to preserve, it’s not overlooked but has gas, electric and water services right to the plot entrance. On our second visit we startled a deer in what would become our back garden! The nearly impossible bit is getting anybody to give us an accurate idea of costs. We’ve spoken to architects, building contractors and kit house manufacturers but nobody will give us a straight yes or no to the question ‘Can we build a house on this budget?’
There’s no dipping a toe in here – I think we’re going to have to hold our noses, squeeze our eyes shut, hold hands and just step off the cliff eek! The one thing everybody agrees on is that planning permission can take 12-15 weeks to be agreed so we’re thinking that while that’s going on, a Europe trip in Vince would calm us enough for the stress to come. It’s probably cheaper to live in the van in Spain than it is in the UK. Eventually we’d have to rent something nearby though, as we’re paying for storage for all of our things. That cash could go towards rent and – no offence Vince – we could spread out a bit and have our very own washing machine again.
We have a site meeting next week with our potential main contractor so we’ll keep you posted. And of course, if the right house pops up on Rightmove tomorrow – it could all change again; isn’t life a great adventure!?