The ongoing search by my wife and me for our own home produced its first glimpse of the prize last weekend. Actually, make that two glimpses. We had three viewings set up and began Saturday morning enthusiastic over breakfast (she had the Kellogg's Start, I had the toast and marmalade; we both had coffee).
Our first appointment was at a flat nearby. Although we had been holding out for a house (interestingly, this was the original title of the Bonnie Tyler song), it looked interesting. It was above a florist, which there are worse things to be above.
I was knocked sideways. I loved it. Big stylish rooms, masses of space, nice kitchen, a couple of bathrooms and an array of storage space. This is a big factor for us. The flat we are renting has literally got no cupboards. As a result, our possessions are piled up in the corner of each room, like snowdrifts of clutter.
Anyway, the one problem with the flat was the price. It was a good 25 grand above our budget and we had hoped that there might be some flexibility when it came to the vendor's expectations. Sadly, shortly after we were there, someone flexibly offered the asking price. So that was that.
Our next viewing was short and not at all sweet. And that was just the estate agent, who was a 4ft 10 pillar of fake tan and lupine smiles. She showed us around (although in truth the flat was so small, all she really needed to do was stand and point). Couple the titchiness to a mouldy bath, a bird dropping-encrusted micro-balcony and the aroma of kebab meat mixed with sadness and we were soon headed for the door. "How can people show a place like that?" wailed my wife as we drove away. "They expect you to give them hundreds of thousands of pounds and they can't be bothered spraying some Mr Muscle around!"
Thankfully, our last viewing was much cleaner. It was a lovely brick-built semi-detatched home with two bedrooms, a huge downstairs living area and a mammoth garden containing a pond and a little fountain. It had a story behind it, too. The vendor, an elderly man, was moving in with his sister as the house was too much for him on his own. He had been living there since he was nine years old, in 1945, so it's hard to imagine the emotional investment he had in the place.
I have a lot of time for old people, so made a point of chatting to the old chap, calling him Sir and making a good impression. This place was a few grand over our budget, but If it came down to a choice between us and another buyer with a bit more cash, I wanted him to choose the nice young Scottish/English couple with the respectful politeness. As it turned out, he preferred the nice young Spanish couple with the full asking price. Mierda.