Category: J

Destruction is progress

We got the house on Wednesday. The house which we’ve been waiting for for six weeks. It was surreal walking to get the keys, knowing that we now owned this whole house and yet we weren’t going to live there.

Unfortunately J had a work meeting on Wednesday afternoon so we had a really quick look around then off we went. Feeling like we were visiting to decide if to buy again but also talking with real plans for the first time. ‘Tomorrow we’ll…’

Thursday was our first chance to really get our hands on the place. Tools in hand, working clothes on we trotted off to discover and explore what it actually was we’d bought. Starting with peeling back the carpets. Unfortunately one floor is rotten, we think they didn’t vent it properly when they laid an extension slab out the back. Still better to know now…

Otherwise just getting the carpets up and beginning to get rid of some of the dust and actually airing the house! I don’t think the previous owner opened it up quite so much… Or vacuumed. It was a good day with a lot of progress, pulling carpet up is surprisingly satisfying.

By Friday morning the previous day’s exertions were making themselves known, a grizzly back, sore arms, dusty eyes. Thankfully the excitement of finding more and pulling more back was stronger. This time we started at the ceiling, the ceiling in the room where the roof is leaking… And yes it is definitely our roof which is leaking. Leaking roofs are not cheap.

The rest of the weekend has been spent meeting neighbours, pulling wallpaper off, ripping up the garden, we had a 6ft bramble in there along with *a lot* of ivy. Today we burnt a lot of it, I do enjoy a good fire. We also knocked down the odd concrete wall in the back garden with the help of some good friends.

There is so much more to do, but as we progress I need to make sure I remember where we started. And that the key thing now is that ‘destruction is progress’. So destruct we shall.

In the middle time

I realised last I left the house purchasing stuff at waiting on paperwork. Well the paperwork went through and we exchanged contracts, so we are now in the middle time between having committed to buying the house but not owning it until a few more months because we agreed on a delayed completion.

Time to worry, plan, fret, dream and such like. It is an odd time, one where there is impending work but the exact details of which we don’t actually know. So many decisions to come. It is exciting of course, but scary too, like standing on the edge of the precipice and looking down and not being able to see the bottom…

So Pinterest has become a good friend for ideas. I have begun perusing websites I hadn’t seen before, begun looking at magazines in dentists waiting rooms which are *all* about kitchens. Who am I turning into?! We’re getting there, taking tiny steps in the right direction, zig zagging a bit here and there and inching closer still to being home owners. Exciting times.

Allotment!

Embracing the true spirit of now living in the suburbs we have signed ourselves up for an allotment. This it would seem is either going to be madness or genius. Yesterday to show our intent to actually do something to this allotment we went down there and started to discovery what it is we have actually signed ourselves up for. One short hour of digging and trying to pull out the weeds and grasses which had covered the raised beds and we were beginning to feel like we might be making a little progress. I imagine by next weekend it will look nothing like how we left it, the space we made will likely have been devoured by the weeds we didn’t fully remove but the fight has begun.

To be completely honest we have no idea what we are going to do with this or how. However now we have it we shall have to learn!

When we arrived it looked like this

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After the hour it looked a lot more like what you would expect from an allotment (or to our eyes at least)

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Both photos taken from approximately the same angle. One of the more exciting discoveries at our allotment was some rhubarb! Which is one of my favourites. So now to decide what to attempt, to clear it up even further and to work out what the hell we are doing!

If anyone knows of any good allotment blogs please point me in their direction!

Next steps

We’re currently trying to buy a house. We said that when we came back to the UK we would buy somewhere that was ours and was somewhere that we wanted to live and we could paint the walls and make it look and feel like *ours*. Then between April and the end of September my work travel went mental again and I was hardly ever around to even try and look for a house.

We kept getting asked about when we were going to buy a house and we kept putting it off. Until one weekend we finally got to go and look and realise what we could afford and what this all actually meant.

Now, we’re beginning down the long journey. Offer accepted, solicitors involved, survey done, ticking things off one by one. I’m learning something new practically every day and having to work out what all this new language is. That and having to spend the most money we’ve ever spent in our lives. It’s going to be a journey. We have very much made it that in our decision to purchase somewhere which is quite the project. Way to take the easy road.

I have a feeling this little corner of mine might become more about house renovations and trials and tribulations of such than anything else. However that will be my (our) life for the next many months so apologies in advance. If, and when, I manage to get to this space I apologise now that it will be considerably focused on houses and DIY.

It is both equally exciting and terrifying to be embarking on this next step.

Six suitcases and a rescue package

We have been living out of six suitcases and a rescue package since early January when we landed back in London. At first it was fun, it was like an adventure camping in our own homes then the reality of not having more than two plates begins to set in…

There are pluses, like the peace you get from having an uncluttered home without heaps of stuff everywhere. Having a very minimal wardrobe which forces you to wear everything you have and makes you realise how little you really do need. (This one is a huge bonus and is making me think I need to keep with the cutting down of clothes and moving towards an ever more streamlined wardrobe).

On the minuses cooking with two saucepans and a frying pan does rather limit one. That and only having one kitchen knife, two plates, four mugs and a few knives and forks. The things I have really missed have all been to do with the kitchen and cooking and eating. I cannot wait to eat at a dining room table again. Nor to have my recipe books or my kitchen gadgets, like a really good grater, it is surprising the things you miss. Or to finally be able to invite people over for dinner and hosting dinner parties again.

We are moving ever closer to having our stuff again though so this shouldn’t be for too much longer. I’m sure soon enough I’ll be rabbiting on about how much crap we have and how we really need to get rid of it all…

Moved

We made it. After returning from San Francisco we went head first into sorting things out, throwing stuff away, giving stuff away, selling stuff. Anything to try and process everything we had in our flat in Washington. It was both incredibly cathartic doing all that sorting and getting rid and at times hard. There were moments when I had to stop because I couldn’t bear just throwing away things which were still good but we couldn’t fit in our luggage or take with us.

So six suitcases later we arrive at Heathrow, tired, excited and feeling slight trepidation about what happens next. J chose a lovely flat, lots of natural light and space, plus thankfully warm, especially these last few days. The first few days were tough, not so much a cultural adjustment, it all felt very familiar, more a life adjustment. The odd feeling that this was it, we weren’t just visiting like we had been for the last couple of years.

We’re getting there, day by day. Seeing friends, trying to write the long list of people we want to catch up with and balancing it with needing to live a leaner life and within a tighter budget. London thankfully is still the wonderful city I remembered it to be and we are enjoying discovering a new part of it (we’re NW now not SW as we were before).

Now to wait the few weeks (months?!) until our stuff arrives across the ocean and then we’ll all be set!

San Francisco (Holiday!)

We went West for Christmas. It was good, for us both. Although the weather was not all that California weather is meant to be (read pissing rain for many of the days we were there) the enforced inside time and relaxation was a blessing.

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Due to the terrible weather we spent the first day in the California Academy of Sciences. They had an amazing coral reef aquarium with the most beautiful array of fish. I could have watched it for hours.

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Of course there is the bridge, which is as spectacular in real life as it is in your imagination. And it really was that grey for many of the days… Although there’s something about dull, low grey and mizzle which makes me feel so cosy.

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Our friends took us in search of sunshine and find it we did. We even found some Elk. Who knew there were Elks in Northern California, certainly not I. Speaking of Elk we also saw Elephant Seals and hummingbirds (so very amazing).

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And then the last day spent in a blaze of sunshine, seeing the city on foot and enjoying the colours and contrasts that this city provide, old vs new, green space vs urban sprawl, poor vs rich.

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I’m sure we’ll be back.

2012 in review

2012 was a year of travel, a lot of it. It was another busy year, I remember feeling incredibly positive at the beginning of the year, I think because 2011 had been such a tough year in many ways. By mid-autumn admittedly that positivity had dropped, it felt like we were mired in just getting stuff done and dealing with crap.

In short I did the following travel:
2 trips to South Africa
1 to Australia
1 trip to France and the UK
4 trips to the UK
1 trip to Canada
1 to San Francisco
A few nights in New York

All of the above coupled with an incredibly busy work year and no proper holiday meant that by the end of the year I was exhausted, physically and mentally. If nothing else 2012 has taught me how much I really need to look after myself and what a work-life balance is not.

2013 starts with a huge change, we move back to London and have to work out living in somewhere we know so well but which will be different from before. I am hopeful again for next year. I am planning holidays in my head already, we have a friend to visit in Istanbul, we have Italy to explore and we have time to spend together on a beach doing sweet f.a.

I am also looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, keeping new ones and taking the next steps in J and I’s life together. We want to buy a house at some point, we’d like somewhere of our own, who knows maybe that’s what 2013 will hold for us.

Christmas 2012

We spent Christmas together this year, just the two of us in San Francisco. For the first eight years together we went our separate ways for Christmas, it was the easiest thing to do, I saw my family, he his. Sometimes we might visit the other one after Christmas and before New Year but in the main we kept things as they had always been.

The last two years have been different. Last year we were in DC, sharing Indian takeaway with friends. This year we were on holiday, our first holiday which was longer than 4 days since probably last Christmas. It was a quiet affair, the weather in San Francisco was horrid, truly truly horrid and so we didn’t have much of a desire to get out and about. Instead we made one foray to the restaurant for lunch and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, I even squeezed in a two hour nap.

Lunch was dim sum, a big departure from the more traditional Christmas fare, and certainly no pudding, Brussels sprouts or even Port. In some ways it was good to be doing something so different, it made it less odd to be so far away and just the two of us.

As much as it was lovely to be spending the time together and having a very relaxed time, having done things differently for two years I now feel ready to return to more traditional ways and to sharing it with family as well as friends. At some point J and I will get to build our family traditions for Christmas, thankfully this shouldn’t be too contentious as both families are relatively aligned. In the meantime however, I will look forward to next year knowing that it will again be different from the last two but familiar too.

10 years

J and I have been a couple for 10 years now. 10 years of time spent growing up together, learning about each other, working together, celebrating, commiserating and becoming the people we are now. It felt momentous that moment when we ticked over into double digits.

It’s been another whirlwind year, so much going on since last year and more big changes to come. Thankfully though before the changes we get to relax a little, we are heading off to San Francisco for Christmas and some down time. Time to re-connect, to forget all the stress and crap we have to deal with and to get on with enjoying being together and exploring somewhere new.

I do wonder what the next 10 years will hold and I am looking forward to finding out…

 

Nine years

Eight years

Seven years