It’s hard to believe that this is something that started almost five months ago, and I still haven’t got around to commenting on it. But there are good reasons for most of the delay (apart from the last month, perhaps).
It began with a letter from our letting agent, telling us that the landlord wanted his house back (so his son would have somewhere to live). This was rather bad timing – we had guests coming to stay in just over two months. Luckily, we were given two months’ notice, which should have been plenty of time to find something suitable. Except that a similar situation arose to when we were looking last time: the usual batch of 5 – 10 suitable properties (I’d been keeping track of this on and off over the year) suddenly dried up to 2 or 3.
Also, we would have liked to move closer to Hockley Heath, where the kids are in school. It would save a lot of driving back and forth, and would allow us to integrate more fully into one community. And as far as that sort of thing goes, Hockley is much more of an ordinary village community than Dickens Heath, where there’s more temporary short-term people living in a commuter setup. But of course, there were no suitable properties available there at all.
So we settled for a nice house on the other side of Dickens Heath, and it is fantastic. The house itself has slightly less space (the spare bedroom is a lot smaller, and has no en-suite, and the lounge is a little smaller as well). But the garden is an order of magnitude larger, and it came with a nicely-sized trampoline. The kitchen has lovely wooden cupboard doors (better than whitish melamine) and the open-plan dining room is large enough for our rather large table and a new desk. Fabulous.
But the best part is the location – it’s just a block away from the main thoroughfare through the village, but it’s a self-contained close, where there’s no traffic at all except for residents and guests. The neighbourhood is full of children of a similar age to our two, and they rove up and down the street not entirely unlike a pack of stray dogs. At least two or three times a week, there’ll be a knock at the door, with someone asking “Is Anna home? Can she come play?” and off they’ll go. Now that school is in full swing, and it’s getting dark a bit earlier, this tends to happen slightly less, but it’s something that was completely missing from the previous house. It finally feels as though we’re living in a community – we know our neighbours, leave the house unlocked all day unless we’re not in it, and our children have free reign to wander about the immediate area looking for playmates.
So much so, that the kids now know a critical mass of children at the Dickens Heath school. And so, instead of thinking about moving ourselves across to Hockley, we’re in the process of doing the reverse – moving the kids into the Dickens Heath school. It’s rated as a better school, and it’s just so much easier being able to walk there instead of driving 4-5 miles each way. The problem is the same as at the beginning of last year – there’s place in the school for Anna, but not for Alex. But this time, he’s at the top of the waiting list, and so we need to check on space each term to find out when we can move them in.
And so, our previous landlord has done us quite a favour. By lighting a fire of sorts under our butts, we’ve ended up landing with them in the butter.