Thursday, February 15, 2007

New housing developments, and Valentine's Day

We've now looked at 18 flats. Today we finally hit the dumpy ones -- we were beginning to wonder where they were. We just looked at a former student house that was *almost* fantastic, save the wretched carpet, completely overgrown garden, tiny cooker (stove), and crummy student furniture. But. It was a huge Victorian row house that, with a few thousand dollars of work, could be really fantastic. Also today, we looked at a furnished two bed, one bath that made me calm to be in. The furnishings are absolutely beautiful, and the kitchen is a dream kitchen. We could move in and not have to buy a single thing. We were hoping to have a bigger place, but we would be happy in this place at least short-term, I think.

So, the new development: Whilst standing on a street corner waiting to look at an obscenely tiny row house, who wandered by but Santa Claus (whose real name is Mr. Day), the owner of the Paradise Street house from Tuesday. We had a lovely chat with him. Turns out he is a retired police officer, and he and his wife are moving out to the country. He was on his way back from listing their house with a second agency because they're quite desperate to rent it out. (You are picturing me telling this story with a British accent, aren't you?)

Anyway, later in the day, I got a call from our agent Raymond. Seems that Mr. Day went back home and called him, saying that they really wanted us as renters, and what could they do. Raymond told him that we were slightly worried about furnishing such a big house. So, the Days have offered to BUY US FURNITURE. Ikea furniture, but still. We don't really need him to buy it for us, it's more the possession of another set of furniture that I'm trying to avoid. If they buy it, it would stay with the house, which is a definite bonus. I'm overwhelmed at the generosity. Really, though, I suppose it's not generosity so much as knowing that they have trustworthy, honest tenants. I suppose that's worth a lot to them, too, and I should just quit worrying about it. Don't overthink a blessing, was what my mom said.

On to Valentine's Day. When we were here in September, we got on the mailing list for the wine shop across the street from our flat. We learned a month ago that they were doing a Latin wine tasting for Valentine's Day. So, not wanting to stress about V-Day plans, we signed up. We had the BEST time. At our table was a very friendly chap from the Royal Society of Chemistry, a PhD student in engineering and her boyfriend, and a woman who lives on Emery Street, where we looked at a house the day before. (The lovely unfurnished Victorian one with the traditional crummy WC off the back of the kitchen. And when I say off the back of the kitchen, I mean 1 foot from the refrigerator.) It was a fun evening of good wine and good conversation. We had 10 wines, a few of which were stellar (and cheap, so even better).

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