I’m in!

On Wednesday, the fifth September, I was painfully aware that my course in Sheffield was starting in under a month and was beginning to despair of ever finding a house. That day I saw a new listing on the internet which looked pretty good and promptly rang the estate agent. “Oh no, that’s gone, sorry,” said the girl on the other end of the ‘phone. As I explained exactly what I was looking for – most importantly a place suitable for cats – she said she may have a property to suit, in Doncaster. I didn’t much like the sound of the place but, bearing in mind my already acknowledged desperation, arranged to go and look round that Friday at midday.

The following afternoon I found a whole new button on the main website I was using – “character properties”. Clicking on it hopefully, I saw a great looking farmhouse near Matlock and again rang the estate agent immediately:

“Oh no, sorry, that one’s gone, we’re just about to update the website.”

“Oh right, well, thanks anyway,” I said.

“Have you seen the cottages, some of them are still available,” he added, hopefully.

“No, what’s that?”

“The property is part of a small development with some cottages, some of which are still available.”

After explaining where I lived presently and that having close neighbours wouldn’t bother me overly much, I arranged to look around the cottages on my way back down from Doncaster.

The larger of the two cottages was still absolutely tiny, with an open plan living room-kitchen occupying the loft space and two bedrooms downstairs. I had already been concerned at having to pay for storage, now I was seriously concerned whether or not my bed would actually fit into one of these rooms. Nevertheless, the situation was ideal and I agreed to take it – promising to pay as soon as the banks opened on Monday and asking for dimensions of the rooms, doors and stairway so that I could work out what would fit in and arrange removals.

As the week dragged on, my prospective landlord continually failed to give me these details or the address. On Friday he gave me the address and promised to go up to the property with a tape measure the following day to get me my requested measurements. “By the way,” he added, “the farmhouse is available now, the people who were going to move in have pulled out – do you want it?” The cottage had already been more than I had wanted to pay, and this was £45pcm more again, but thinking quickly, I realised it could work out cheaper if I didn’t have to pay for storage and so agreed to take it pending measurements. I persuaded him to accept the money I’d already paid for the cottage, including the first month’s rent, for the farmhouse and found a website with some internal photos of the property. Suddenly I was feeling pretty chuffed about it.

At 8.30 on Monday morning I began ringing round removal companies – having obtained quotes from some already – and found one who could move me that coming Thursday. Coincidentally, this was also the company who had given me the cheapest quote! Packing proceeded in earnest for the next two and a half days…

I arrived at the house in reasonable time, Ayesha having lost her voice somewhere on the M42, and after having a cursory look around inside with my landlord then proceeded to stand outside and have a chat with him and my new neighbour, Jude.

After a couple of hours, I thought I’d really better ring the removal men and find out where they were:

“We’re on your road now.”

“Excellent,” I said.

“We’re just passing a phone box.”

Jude reckoned this was probably by The White Hart, about half a mile away, and I relayed the information.

“I’ll probably end up down there for dinner at this rate,” I said.

“I don’t think so,” Jude replied, “It’s very posh down there – they do Italian food.”

“Oh right, I don’t suppose there are any takeaways anywhere nearby?” I asked, somewhat hopefully.

“Umm… Not really, no. There’s a chip shop in Crich, about a mile and a half away, they close at 9.30.”

“Fish and Chips it is then, thanks.”

With that, Jude disappeared back into her house as the removal men arrived and, at 8.30, I followed Jude’s directions to Crich and ordered some fish and chips. As I was standing there waiting, who should walk in but the lovely Jude.

“I was going to buy you a bag of chips; I thought you must be hungry.”

“I haven’t paid yet,” I smiled, cheekily.

As the days went by, I slowly began to get everything in the house sorted out:

Friday I got some gas delivered (again arranged thanks to Jude).

Saturday I went out and bought a television aerial in order to watch the rugby.

Sunday my landlord came and removed his furniture, and so on.

At the end of September, I finally had hot water and a working shower and, as I did some work on the car on Sunday morning I took the opportunity to fit a cat flap and let them out since I would be outside for an hour anyway. Ayesha was delighted and slowly explored, periodically returning to rub up against my legs.


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