Five loves ~ January

Since I decided to take my blog back to its original purpose, I have been thinking about features I can have regularly here. So here is my first one: five loves. Once a month, on the last day, I will write about five things I loved about the month just ending. It will help me focus on the good things in life – and good things do happen!

January can be a dreary month, with long nights and all the sparkly Christmas lights gone. For us, it was a return to normality after a completely out of ordinary December. A month to relax, enjoy being a family, rest. We didn’t go look at any houses at all (though I am keeping my eye on rightmove and zoopla). As I look back to the month just finishing, these were five of my favourite things *sang to the tune of Julie Andrews 😀 *:

1. Going back to normality

Well, I know I have already mentioned it, but it’s good to go back to some sort of routine. L is back at Brownies – I am not yet, but I will be soon! – and gymnastics, the husband is enjoying the much shorter commute and taking the monster to school every morning and I am getting into the swing of writing and watching BBC 1 all day looking for jobs. We are not there yet – L is missing her music and martial arts, I am missing girl guiding and yoga, I don’t husband is missing anything yet – but it almost feels normal now.

2. Our local beach

We knew the beach. We had been there before. But knowing that we can drive 5 minutes (or walk, in summer, as now the path on the field is not really walkable) and be in the most beautiful place is amazing. I drove down there one morning earlier this month, totally intending to put my feet on the Bristol channel, but it was so windy I couldn’t even get close to the sea. It was still wonderful though. And also had to leave my car at the garage last week for its MOT and I took the bus back and – OMG – what a bus ride! I think I will take the bus more often.

3. Sodastream!

I’ve been saying for ages that I wanted one. I saw one on offer at The Range a while ago and told husband I would buy one. He didn’t seem bothered either way – other than offering the odd anecdote about when they had one in the 80s -, but I love fizzy water and felt horribly guilty about buying yet another plastic bottle. Then a couple of weeks ago, Sodastream had an offer on their website, trying to promote the fact that you would be saving thousands of bottles by getting one, so I got sucked into buying one. It looks ages to arrive, as I think the offer was way more successful than anticipated: according to an email I got apologising for the delay in the delivery, apparently 10,000 people bought one. So far, all I have to say is that it was £20 well spent. I got a couple of extra bottles and some syrups as well, so we’ve been enjoying loads of fizzy water and soft drinks. I fully expect that making lemonade will lose its novelty at some point, but right now, I am really liking the availability of sparkling water in my life.

4. Family <3

I know this was part of the point of moving, but I am finding it wonderful to have family nearby. My own family is very close to us via Skype and we talk all the time, but we met my sister-in-law more times in the past month than the whole of the previous year. It’s such a nice thing to be able to just ring them up and say I am cooking something for lunch tomorrow, would they like to come over – no need to plan weeks in advance, travel two hours etc etc. I am really loving it all.

5. iCarly

I know, I know. I really shouldn’t, but L is really into Netflix and Amazon Prime shows, and she found the Nickelodeon stuff. I couldn’t stand Victorious or Sam and Cat – sorry to all Ariana Grande fans out there but annoying! -, but I got really into iCarly. It was very puerile in bits, but it is a show for (older) children, after all. We adopted random dancing for life – even the husband will break out in dance if someone says random dancing! If it’s good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s good enough for us. 😉

Many other lovely things happened, like my ring story – I told it on instagram – but here is my pick. Hoping February will bring many more joyful things!

Shopping Haul! ~ L’Occitane

I will start by explaining this is an anomaly. I am not into shopping at all – so if shopping hauls are not your thing, don’t despair, as it is highly unlikely I will have another one for a while unless I go to IKEA.

This is actually an anomaly in two senses: I am not a shopper and I don’t really buy cosmetics apart from the very very basic stuff.

It all began in late November. I was fed up of house buying-house selling, our seller had just pulled out, stress levels were on an all-time high. So I decided to treat myself to one of these adult advent calendars filled with fancy stuff I would never have ventured into a shop to search for myself. All the really expensive fancy ones were already sold out, but – as I probably gathered by now – I am not fancy, so I had my eye on either the Body Shop one or the L’Occitane one. Years of online shopping have killed my ability to interact with shop assistants, so I initially just hovered outside both shops, trying to decide in which shop I would be less likely to be embarrassed by my lack of social skills. Eventually, I decided that L’Occitane smelt slightly better so in I went.

I needn’t had worried – the ladies were wonderful – high five to the staff at L’Occitane shop in Windsor! -, went out of their way to help and the packaging – oh my word! -: it was like the Rowan Atkinson scene in Love Actually minus Alan Rickman’s annoyance, tissue paper, perfume, confetti. It made me feel a little bit special, buying that for me, during such a difficult time.

Then December came and every day I was surprised with this little windows of joy. I loved everything and, before the month ended, I had already been to the Cardiff store to get a full sized almond hand cream. I then got a 20% off voucher, to be used within 30 days.

Fast forward to last week. January’s end is in sight and my mini products from the advent calendar are slowly ending *sniff!* I remembered the voucher that still lived inside my bag and decided to treat myself again. So this is what I got:

Ha, I don’t think I had mentioned this was online shopping. Yes, this is the box the postie brought me. Beautifully packaged, though the box was a bit too big for the contents, which are:

  1. Foot cream: I have been using this after my shower before I go to bed and my feet feel lovely (but you will have to believe me, no one wants a picture of my feet!). I am normally a bare-footer and have quite thick skin, I feel like all the dry bit have gone really quick. And my 8 year old loves it too, so it thought I would give the full sized one a try.
  2. Shampoo and conditioner: I have curly, curly hair and these make my hair so soft. It helped massively with the frizz – though it might have been Wales’ such softer water, who know! – so I splashed for the biggest size available. Plus I like the idea of being able to buy a refill.
  3. Lip balm: I really really liked the lip balm from the advent calendar, but I saw these little tins and, the price being the same, I picked the prettiest one. I was a little bit disappointed when I opened because I didn’t ready it properly – it’s rose scented, not rose tinted. But I love shea butter and this is really great for these windy days we have been having.

I am really happy with my buys, and even if I wouldn’t normally spend this sort of money on myself, I think it was worth it – I will update you if I change my mind! Now, let me know what are your beauty must-buys here on the comments! 🙂

Back to basics

RESET! And breathe…

Ok, so let’s start all over again (how many time have I written this again?). When I started this blog, I wanted it to be an account of our move: why we wanted to move, the steps we were going to make it happen, tips and inspiration on house hunting, house decor. Instead, it became a dumping ground for all my frustration, with posts so long not even my mother would read if she could read English. So, let’s start again: hi, I am Ana and this is my blog about our house moving adventure.

While I have no intention of re-writing what has already been written – read at your own risk! -, I will focus on writing shorter, more frequent posts about our lives since we have made the move. I will also go back in time occasionally, and talk planning, regrets, things we wish we had known.

Come and join me for this ride – and let me know, is there any thing you would like to know about escaping to the country (#cliché)?

When things go pear-shaped

So. How do I even begin to write this post? Oh well. In house selling and house buying, it seems that things rarely go the way it’s planned – or at least these are the stories the internet tells you. I thought we would be different and everything would go nice and smoothly. After all, there was no chain to speak of – our buyers were renting their old place out, our sellers weren’t looking to buy anything. But, boy, were we wrong!

It all started two weeks or so after we accepted the offer on our house. We came to Wales to look at our first shortlist and apart from one house – which was a bit too small for us -, nothing was right. One house was gorgeous, but had views to a demolition site. Another had loads of space and potential, but also a sewage station in the front garden. The one we did like went under offer on the next Monday, before we could even think about it. So we made a second shortlist. And off to Wales we went.

This time, there were three. One was a bit over what we would have liked to spend, and it really needed doing up. Second one was ugly, so so ugly, but inside it was bright, the garden was massive and it was really cheap. Third one was slightly more than number two, but one of the three bedrooms was really small and we weren’t sure we would fit. In the end, it was a toss up between 2 and 3, and 2 won. It was in a lovely village, just next to the school, a 5 minute drive from husband’s work. It all seemed perfect. Until we started dealing with the seller.

In the immortal words of Janice, OH MY GOD. Everything was a chore. Getting insurance? Nope. Checking the boiler? Nope. Japanese knotweed? No idea. But we really liked it and we really wanted it, so we let it go. At one point, about two weeks after our offer was accepted – another chore, by the way -, I actually told husband that I thought the seller actually didn’t want to sell.

For some reason, they decided they wanted to complete on the 2nd November. I really didn’t want to move on the 2nd November. That is my birthday, for starts. I wanted to spend my birthday having fun, not moving house. But the estate agent insisted that the seller needed 10 weeks from offer to complete. Fine. We really wanted the house, so we went along with that. Then the date started moving. And they needed two weeks between exchange and completion for some. And  then our buyer solicitor, who had been quiet for a very long time, started asking questions and wouldn’t accept the answers for them.

The seller, then, decided on a date, and said that if we didn’t exchange by said date, she would pull out. On the date, everything ready to go, our solicitor ring the buyer solicitor and, ta da, he’s gone home at 2 and wouldn’t be back until Monday. FML. On Monday, everyone ready, seller sticks to her word and says she’s not selling any more. She went and renewed her mortgage over the weekend and didn’t want to pay the early leaving fee. We offered to pay the fee for her. She says no. On exchange day, we are homeless. The market had been really bad in our old area and, to be honest, the house full of boxes to the brim, we couldn’t afford to lose our buyers as there was not a chance I could have made it viewings-ready again without renting an industrial sized unit somewhere. So we went ahead with the sale, the buyers agreed to wait for us to find somewhere to rent.

So, the next weekend, we booked a few viewings, found a house in the same village we were buying, they accepted us and here we are. We ended up moving a week before the completion date, which meant frantic packing, abandoned Brownies pack 🙁 , retrieving child’s school place (we had already told headteacher the sale had fallen through) and transporting desperate cats, child and stuff in a Fiat Panda across the country – originally we would go in two tiny cars, but husband and I both had to sign the rental agreement so we just drove in one car and he went back on the train to deal with the movers and cleaning the old house.

So, here we are. In Wales. Finally. But we haven’t found a house yet – very little on the market at the moment, hopefully it will pick up for Easter. We – finally! – have internet in the house now, so there is no excuse for me not writing now. Child is going back to school on Monday, and we are enjoying the down time, the flipping wind the beach, the community spirit. Let’s see what 2018 brings us!