Monday, 10 June 2013

New horizons

We did a two-day house hunting trip over Friday/Saturday and saw 10 houses plus explored various areas. We were truly gobsmacked by some of the luxurious huge houses which our money will buy us up north, considering we are only selling a 3-bedroom new build down near London.  It really shows the price differential between London and other areas.

We started out in Bedford, which is the area we were most interested in as it's an easy drive to DH's work from there.  We saw four houses, one of which was a possibility (two others were very 'smile politely and go through the motions even though you know from the second you step in that it's not for you). We also drove all around the town looking at various areas, and stayed overnight there.  My gut feeling after all of that was that it was a bit too urban for my tastes, very built up, lots of traffic, some areas where you wouldn't want to be walking at night etc.  So I think Bedford is now off the list.

Then on Saturday we saw six houses, all as different from each other as they could be.  We started off with an ancient half timbered former pub in the small village of Potton, which was fascinating inside but not big enough.  It did have the original two storey brewhouse in the back garden which would have made a superb sewing room.


Then we saw a house outside St Neots that had been extended from 3 bedrooms to four by its owner who is a builder.  For the fourth bedroom he created a spectacular master suite with juliet balcony looking over the garden, a walk-in dressing room and huge ensuite.  Unfortunately  here there was no obvious place for a sewing room nor a study.  I liked it but it all felt a bit smaller than we wanted.

Then we saw three houses in and around Wellingborough.  One didn't look like much from the outside but inside had been hugely extended and beautifully done, all so luxurious that I can't believe it's on the market for less than ours.  I would have to convert the garage in that one for a sewing studio, but the view from the garden was over rolling fields which my Canadian upbringing just loved but DH thinks may be too isolated.  Another one was quite cheap and had an entire granny flat next door with a big rectangular living room which would work great for sewing, but we didn't like the neighbourhood.  The third was a huge house, almost a mansion, with plenty of room but in an isolated estate and unfortunately the outlook was away from the nice houses and out over the rubbishy affordable housing further down the estate.

But the piece de resistance was this absolutely mad Victorian mansion complete with adjoining ballroom with roof lantern on the outskirts of Kettering.
Yes, we can actually afford this palace as it is absurdly cheap, but it was a real diamond in the rough.  Huge amount of work needed, the current owners have apparently spent almost £100,000 on it and you can barely tell.  Walking around the house and the wreck of a garden behind it was like being on one of those television programmes where the mad people rashly buy a period home and then spend the programme pouring everything they have into restoring it.  DH loved this house with a passion but it would terrify me, even though the ballroom would make the world's most amazing sewing room.  We don't have a lot of money beyond the equity in our house and this is the kind of property where just drilling into the wall to fit a shelf could reveal all manner of lurking horrors.  Also once again the neighbourhood is not great and the view from the grand windows is of an ageing 60s housing estate, and apparently the house is freezing in the winter and there's only one bathroom for the entire house.

So Sunday we sat down at the kitchen table for over two hours and talked through each house's good and bad points and what we thought of the locations.  We're going to go up again soon and look more around Wellingborough and Kettering.  We also quite liked St Neots.  We're not in a position to buy any of these houses until we sell our own in any case, but I think the trip helped us to fix on our destination area which will be the triangle around St Neots / Wellingborough / Kettering.  My favourite of the lot was the luxury extended house with the view over the fields, I can see myself living there even though it's four miles from a station so I would probably have to get a car and start driving again (I almost never drive here as public transport is so accessible where we live).

Meanwhile, during the longer drives on the motorway and in the hotel room, I've been sewing down quilt binding.  I've finished these ones now and will look to sell them to someone who loves them.



I've also finished the Kaffe Fassett Star quilt but haven't photographed it yet.

On the knitting front, I've dabbled on a few UFOs but also started two new portable projects: the Allotrope hat and The Noble Cowl.  



1 comment:

Daisy said...

Adjoining ballroom?!

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