Or, the story of how we became homeowners once more.
You know I love beautiful things and pretty pictures. But this blog is also about real life, so if you're looking for dreamy images of domestic loveliness: Look away now. And if you want to read on, just be grateful they haven't invented smellivision yet.
Friday was Completion Day. We received a call from the solicitor at 9.10am to inform us the house was now ours. The keys would be available for collection around 2pm. Well, the keys were still with the vendors at 5pm. By 5.30 we were waiting at the estate agents (who had kindly agreed to stay open late). Eventually, at 6pm, said vendor - who I do actually know from my school days - came rushing in, full of apologies and excuses. It had been a hard day. Unfortunately 'a few things' had been left in the house: fridge, cooker, dining table and chairs, chests of drawers.
The house was sold as 'vacant possession', i.e. - according to the estate agents - emptied of all furniture as well as people. A hurried call was made to a house-clearance man. He agreed to empty the last few things. The vendor gave us the money to cover his fee.
We then went on our way to see our new house. Oh dear. Outside on the pavement: washing machine, stereo, speakers, boxes of rubbish. All left for us to dispose of. Inside: cupboards still full. More furniture. Piles of unwanted stuff: an old hoover, iron, sewing machine. Clothes. More speakers. Out of date food. Dirty ashtrays. And the most awful smell of stale booze, nicotine and dirt. The place was absolutely, stomach-turningly filthy.
You're probably wondering why I didn't notice the lack of cleanliness when I went to view the house. I did. But the extent of it suddenly became clear. It was supposed to be left in 'broom clean' condition.
The garden didn't fare much better: piles of dog crap, old traffic cones, broken toys. Luckily we have a great solicitor who, at going on for 8pm, advised us that the vendors would have to cover the cost of disposing of all the abandoned stuff. She told us to take pictures. We did. And you, lucky reader, get to share.
And to top it all off: we only received one set of keys. This is because the sellers sneaked back into what was now our house late that night and took some cutlery from a drawer, then posted the keys they'd used back through the door. This is a Very Naughty thing to do. And a bit odd. You see, what is to be my workroom has a safe in the wall. Inside that safe are personal things. Old Parker pens in a case, photographs, someone's Last Will and Testament. All left behind. But they came back for a few spoons.
This house belonged to a lady and her husband who passed away four years ago. It went to their children, one of whom has been living there ever since (with her partner and children). It's extremely neglected. But it will be lovely. I have faith.
And fortunately we didn't need to move in on completion day, as the builders start work tomorrow.
What's keeping me going right now is the garden. It needs clearing but we have lovely views over the fields behind. We have a birch tree and a twisty hazel.
I really don't understand how these people could have left everything in such a state. They had a month between exchange of contracts and completion. That's quite a long time.
Still, we have nice new neighbours (who all seem relieved to have seen the back of the house's previous occupants). And there's a lot of potential. It's why we were excited in the first place. Also, we did manage to salvage a few treasures hidden amongst the junk - things which have been in the house for years and years. Some old drawers which can be painted and hung from the walls for quirky shelves. Victorian-looking technical drawing equipment which will be polished up and displayed above my desk.
And a box, from the attic, containing some vintage blankets. They were buried away so don't smell of dirt or cigarettes. I've already washed them. I'm a little bit in love with them.
After all the drama and initial dismay, a walk alone this morning on the moors. It was needed and it reset my calm levels.
Fresh air and a lively breeze, a look at what's happening as the summer moves slowly towards autumn...
A few oddities (we're miles from the sea and a whole lot further from Stornoway)...
I do love to examine what's growing. I also picked a few leaves of this and that as I like to press them. Pressed leaves and flowers are very useful reference tools when I'm drawing.
Other good things: I bought a beautiful old dresser for the house. It's sitting in our current living room and has transformed it. I can't wait for the builders to finish at the new place (it'll take an estimated 4-6 weeks) so we can get in and make it feel loved again.
Jay's off work tomorrow so we can meet up with the builder before the renovation begins. And we need to show the solicitor the photos of the House of Horrors. After that I'm going to see a friend for coffee, just for an hour or so, to catch up.
My drawings are coming along nicely and I'm almost at the finish line. Next stage: watercolouring them. I'm looking forward to that bit.
And we're having duck tonight, with greens. If that's not a reason to be cheerful then what is?
Thank you for reading such a lengthy
rant post - if you're still here, that is. Have a lovely week.