Week 102

28th November, 2010 

We went back to a development that we had been monitoring for over a year. The Pinnacles, ironically built in the grounds of the former St Peters Convent, Maybury Hill, Woking. It quite appeals to me – the fading away of religion being replaced with modern property.


The apartment, which will not be ready until February/March, is a two-bedroomed duplex with underground parking. It is in gated grounds with lots of huge trees around. It is just out of but not far from Woking centre. It represents easy access to London and to Folkestone. It is five miles from Pauline’s sister who will keep an eye on it while we are away.

29th November, 2010 

Today we are organising our finances and preparing to make an offer. By looking at quite a number of developments in the past few days, we know that their prices are starting ones. It is possible to negotiate up to 15% off  and, as cash buyers, we intend to do exactly that.

After sitting throughout the morning with our accounts, we decide on our strategy. The apartment has three toilets and two bathrooms each with a bath but no separate shower. We decide to offer £30,000.00 below the asking price plus insist a bath is replaced by a walk-in shower. On that basis, we go over to the site office and stress our credentials – cash buyers who are prepared to move quickly. Actually, the apartment will not be ready until February/March and we should only have to put a £2000.00 holding deposit down. The sales assistant gave cause for a fair degree of optimism. She said she would put our offer to the company and get back to us within the next 48 hours. We will be in France tomorrow, weather permittting so she will have to phone our mobile. We haven’t decided what we’ll do if they reject our offer.

30th November, 2010 

Today we were supposed to be going on a wine buying trip to France. We left West Byfleet at 5.00 am for an 8.00 am crossing on the Tunnel. By 6.00 am, we were in a blizzard and the traffic was crawling. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we turned round and headed for Huddersfield. Thank goodness we did. We went through two or three absolute white-outs on the M1 but, on each occasion, we emerged into sunshine. Huddersfield had had plenty of snow. The motorway is the highest one in the UK. During the evening, more fell. We feel rather trapped. The Property company phoned to say our offer had been agreed in principle. They wanted to move money around to increase the headline value of the property but pay all the Stamp Duty for us. They’ve also agreed to our requested alterations. The deal, to all intents and purposes, is done.

1st December, 2010 

My white rabbit’s turned black!


Today we have another blizzard. The television news confirms that we did the right thing by turning around yesterday. People were stuck on the M25 and M1 for hours last night. We managed to get home before the jams really formed.  We are supposed to be picking up our new car today. We have already posponed from this morning to this afternoon.

We had a window when the snow abated and we picked up our new car. Chris, the dealer, reminded us that it was the 20th new car we had bought from him over the years. It is still lovely to drive out with the new car smell in one’s nostrills. We went and bought Sainsburys up in case we got snowed in again. We just got home and the heavens (or whatever) opened and the world became white out for two or three hours.

We received an email with official confirmation of our purchase of the duplex in Woking. Family members might see the delicious irony in the fact that, not only is the property built on a former Convent site but it is next to St Columba Retreat.

2nd December, 2010 

Another freezing day surrounded by feet of snow. I stayed in all day because BT were coming to install a phone line and Parcelforce were delivering Homehub Broadband equipment. When it got to 5.00 pm and neither company had contacted me, I was getting very annoyed. I tried a phone in a socket just on a whim. It worked. The line was set up without entry to our apartment but they had failed to tell me. Thank you BT. Our lovely Post Lady struggled through the snow drifts and arrived at our door just before 6.00 pm with my Broadband hub. I will spend the evening setting up a desktop and a laptop. Oh joy!


Transferred a deposit for the purchase of our new Duplex in Woking by internet from our Bank to our builder’s bank. The deal is sealed. Chris, my Honda dealer, emailed me to say that in the past 20 years we have bought 20 brand new cars from him – an Accord, 8 Preludes and 11 CRVs. If we have another Honda in the future, I will almost certainly come back to Huddersfield to buy it from Chris. He has been a real friend as well as a salesman.

3rd December, 2010 

We fought our way back up the M20, the M25, the M1 and the M62 to get back to Huddersfield on Tuesday afternoon. We have been surrounded by metres of  snow and in temperatures constantly falling ever since. Last night Yorkshire reached a record breaking -19°C. We have remained in doors. Our new car has still only done 4 miles but we intend to enjoy our last few weeks in the North.

4th December, 2010 

Just an ordinary day – snow bound. At least I have the internet to reach out to the world. It does appear a little warmer today and there might be a little bit of a thaw this morning.

Week 101

21st November, 2010

Sunday papers and then packing the car to go down to Surrey. In order to do that, we had to go back to the home of our old neighbours Jean & Perry (aka Dusty Springfield & Rod Stewart). We didn’t want to put our large and expensive television in store. Jean and Perry put it into one of their unused bedrooms. With a bit of manoeuvring and a lot of laughing, we managed to get the huge television and its stand into our 4-wheel drive. We are missing those lovely neighbours already and really hope we find people just as nice.

22nd November, 2010

Anti-coag. check at the hospital at 8.45 this morning. The results were fine. Set off for Surrey at 9.45 am.. The M62, as usual, was horribly busy but the M1 was great all the way down. The weather was cold but mainly dry. We arrived in West Byfleet at about 1.30 pm.. Phyllis and Colin have already done some research for us and got some properties lined up for us to see.

23rd November, 2010

Internet research for properties this morning and then touring locally – Byfleet, Weybridge, Hersham, Woking, Walton on Thames, Cobham, etc – this afternoon. This evening, we will go and see the little boys because Daniel wants to beat me up. Saw a really nice new apartment in Woking today, ironically built in the grounds of an old monastery, convent and retreat. We will bear it in mind. It is called The Pinnacles.


We went on to visit our first Waitrose supermarket and I immediately walked in to a very tall, thin man dressed in scruffy jeans. I looked up and there was Peter Crouch staring down at me. I’ve never met anyone like that in Sainsburys.


24th November, 2010

Glorious morning, wonderful drive down the M25 / A22 to Hailsham in East Sussex. I was amazed to find how close every where was to every where else. Hailsham was just an hour away from West Byfleet and very near by were Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing, etc.. The trees were glorious in the sunshine. Hailsham environs was delightful. A four bedroomed, three storey, brand new house was very reasonably priced.


We may go back on Friday to have a second look. Tomorrow we have to take Colin to Croydon. I seem to be retracing Mum’s childhood.

25th November, 2010

Mum used to live in Purley, Croydon. I actually remember going there in 1954 to stay with Nana & Grandad. I remember because I was playing a game in bed and got stuck the wrong way round under the blankets. I panicked because it was dark and had to be rescued by Grandad. I remember flowering cherry trees on her street. Fifty six years later I have returned. What a terribly depressing place it is.


We were taking Colin to the Hospital to see a skin specialist. The hospital is terribly antiquated and, like the rest of Croydon, has seen better days. It was a very cold day all day today – rarely rising above 1°C.

26th November, 2010

Another beautiful, bright but cold day today. We went off to Hampshire to look at some houses They were rubbish. I shall never feel the need to visit Basingstoke again. It isn’t a place but more like a housing estate. We went on to Andover but that wasn’t much better. They are illustrated in that order below:

baisingstoke.jpg  andover.jpg

27th November, 2010

The temperature was -2° when we left the house this morning on our next search. We were off to Canterbury, Sittingbourne and Ashford. It is a long time since I have been to Canterbury. In fact, I think I was mentioned by Chaucer. The town was interesting and pleasant if a little run down in places. We were offered a brand new three storey, four-bedroomed house with a garage for the price we wanted to pay and, when we pressed them, the price was reduced by £20,000.00 immediately. We were sure there was more to get off the price if we go for it. We left the site office distinctly upbeat and moved on to Ashford. Even the old Ashford is pleasant and there is a new and exciting Ashford rising. Unfortunately, the new houses were in a Victoriana Toy Town. When we arrived, there was even a staged dusting of snow.

ashford_1.jpg  ashford_2.jpg

Week 100

14th November, 2010

We become centurions this week – maybe alone but we’ve managed it. Pauline and I are desperately unhappy at the moment. We have moved in to a shoe box and, although we know it is temporary, we hate it. We feel like we are in student accommodation. We always knew it would be difficult but now we are dealing with the reality. The pictures below are the reality:

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The main bedroom is described as a good sized double. As you can see, we can only just get our bed a two little cabinets in. It is totally unacceptable and the sooner we find somewhere to buy the better. However, it is important that we don’t feel stampeded in to it.

15th November, 2010

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day today but the car was covered in frost. That’s another thing we hate about here. We can’t put our car in the garage. We nearly bought a new car last week but decided we didn’t want to expose it to these conditions. I am off for my annual diabetic review today. I am bound to be told off for not losing weight. I am taking Pauline with me for defence. We hope to discuss the possibility of a gastric band with  the gorgeous Judith, our doctor.

We are going down to stay with Pauline’s sister in Surrey next Monday. We will be there for almost a fortnight and we have incorporated a trip to France in that. I’ve booked a return trip through the tunnel for £20.00. This is one of the perks of being retired.

16th November, 2010

We woke up to a beautiful day. Unfortunately, it was also going to be a very sad one. Today, we were saying goodbye to Mum’s cleaner, Cath the Maltese Falcon. She has cleaned for Mum for ten years and adopted her as a Mum herself. She cleaned for me in school for twenty years. It is a massive wrench saying goodbye to her. We are also saying goodbye to Margaret, the warden for the past twenty years. She has been so wonderful. Worst of all, we are saying goodbye to Mum and her flat which still contains furniture that Pauline & I bought and built in June 1981. This is becoming a nightmare.

A response to our meeting with the Oldham Hospital came in today and we think it is reasonable:

Dear Mr and Mrs Sanders
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and Mr Hadfield on Thursday 4 November to discuss your concerns about the care your mother received from the surgical team. We were very grateful for your description of events and the dignified and professional way that you articulated some very upsetting experiences. Since our meeting I have met with Mrs Sara Renwick, senior nurse/matron in charge of F2 and other medical wards at the Royal Oldham Hospital and reflected on what happened. I was concerned that nursing staff had felt unable to escalate their concerns to senior medical staff (including the consultant on call) when they did not feel they were getting an appropriate or timely response from junior members of the medical team. On my behalf she has reminded the nursing team of the agreed and expected escalation procedure. She has also provided positive feedback to Lorraine and the team about the nursing care that they provided and your appreciation of the support that they offered to the family.

I have also spoken to the manager of the General Office to discuss the problems that they have experienced. We have agreed that when difficulties arise that they feel unable to resolve promptly that they will contact me for advice and support. I can also confirm that Mr Hadfield has spoken to junior medical staff about the image they portrayed on this occasion. He has reminded the whole medical team of the Trust’s dress code and the importance of presenting a professional image to patients and their families. As we explained surgical services across the Royal Oldham Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary are to be reconfigured at the end of November and from the 1 December all acute general surgery will be carried out at Oldham meaning that two medical staffing rotas can be amalgamated into a single rota enabling a greater on site presence of junior and middle grade doctors. This will prevent the delay in securing a medical opinion that you described.

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with us. We appreciated that this was a very sad time for you and that you were extremely busy in planning and preparing your house move. I hope that everything went well and according to plan. I would normally have chosen to write to you at your home address rather than email but am aware that you will now have moved to a new address.
Very best wishes
Diane Brears

17th November, 2010

We went to see our friend, Chris Woods at Hepworth Honda this morning. He had phoned us yesterday to tell us about excellent offers and free financing on new Hondas. Our car is now £30,000.00 to replace and we wanted a like for like replacement. He had a silver one in. He knew we had been less than happy with black. Ours is four years old and has done 43,000 miles. He wanted £14,000.00 to replace it. With that we would get two years 0% finance and three years free servicing. They would also pay the road tax, full AA cover for three years and the cost of transferring our cherished number plate – NIL 9299 – which we’ve had for more than ten years and sums up how much money we’ve got. We pick it up when we get back from Surrey in a couple of weeks.


18th November, 2010

A quiet day today and we need it after that England performance last night. We were going to have Christmas Day with Mum in her flat. Now we will be in Surrey. We are joining a family meal at the Cafe Rouge but it is strange choosing a meal in November. Fortunately, Pauline & I love the traditional meal anyway.


19th November, 2010

I am having a nightmare with internet use at the moment. I am relying on Vodafone Mobile Broadband at the moment which is bad enough but now the signal is so poor in our flat that it is almost useless. I am having to drive down to Sainsburys Cafe in town to use my wireless laptop. I have to wait another two weeks before BT deliver my phone line and broadband connection. For this reason, my Blog and website are fairly perfunctory.


Week 99

7th October, 2010

A quiet but cold and deliciously sunny day today much improved by confirmation that Woolas is absolutely stuffed. The Labour Party has cut him adrift. We went in to overdrive when we heard the football results:

  • Arsenal 0 – Newcastle 1
  • Liverpool 2 – Chelsea 1
  • West Brom 0 – Man City 2


and all of this after

  • Bolton 4 – Spurs 2
  • Man.U. 2 – Wolves 1

It was particularly heartening to see the continuing recovery Liverpool in general and Torres in particular.

8th October, 2010

Up early this morning because we have to collect the keys for the flat and pay six months rent plus a month’s rent as a returnable bond – £4000.00 – peanuts really compared with what we paid for a mortgage. Six months mortgage used to be £16,500.00. Having picked up the keys from the agent, we went over to the flat to find builders parked in front, the door to the bathroom still to be put on after the flooring was laid, the white goods had been delivered but not installed. Later, we drove to the bank to close Mum’s account.

We had phone calls from people keen to sell us houses in Sussex this afternoon. We are considering East Sussex, Kent and Surrey at the moment.

9th October, 2010

The gradual move to the new flat begins today. We are taking smaller things in the car over the next couple of days before the removal van brings things out of store on Thursday.

One of the things that we do have to get to grips with is our collection of framed prints. They are all large – 36″ x 24″ approximately and we have about 50 of them. We will probably never again have enough wall space for them. Some may have to go to Greece. The Alma Tademawill be the most likely – the most appropriate. We have quite a lot of them following on from our Pre-Rapaelite and Waterhouse collection. My favourites are below:

at_2.jpg at_3.jpg at_5.jpg at_41.jpg

There was a fascinating story in The Daily Telegraph this morning about The Lawrence Alma Tadema painting, The Finding of Moses which was sold by the artist in 1904 for £506.00.


That was the equivalent then to twenty years of a teacher’s salary. In 1960 it was bought at auction for just £900.00 or the equivalent of just one year’salary for a teacher. The person who bought it walked out of the auction, took the painting out of the frame, discarded the painting on the street and went home with the frame. The painting was recovered annd sold at auction last week for over £20,000,000.00. (That must be at least a week’s earnings for a teacher!) Such are the changing tastes of the art market.

10th October, 2010

Started to say our goodbyes to people who have cared for Mum over the years. Many we will probably never see again. It is sad. Drove over to the new flat in Huddersfield. The dishwasher has now been plumbed in but the Washer/Dryer still needs attention. We took bags and boxes of our immediate possessions. We phoned the Management company who said they would be over in the morning to make sure it was done.

While we were in Huddersfield, I went for my diabetic foot check. Everything was pronounced fine by the student doctor and then confirmed by the real doctor. I was offered free chiropody service for life which was helpful. Driving back for our last night in sheltered accommodation, I was moaning the fact that I couldn’t watch the Manchester Derby. Ultimately, as the highlights showed, I didn’t miss much.


11th October, 2010

The delivery lorry brings our furniture out of store to our new flat by lunchtime today. We have a week acclimatising ourselves to the new flat and completing a number of appointments before we go down to Surrey to start property searches again. Members of the family should gird their loins. We have seen a nice house in Farnham near Jane BG, and a wonderful house in East Sussex near Catherine. We will stay with Pauline’s sister but we will also have a couple of days in France as well.

When the lorry arrived and disgourged all our stuff into this tiny flat, we were overwhelmed. We will never have enough room. We built our bed, went out for a lovely Italian meal and came back to watch Newsnight. As we tried to sleep in our new bedroom on the windiest night of the year with gales roaring outside, the exhaustion of the day took us away.

12th October, 2010

Although we have managed to use bedroom 2 as a store room and most of the rest of our things are arranged around the flat, we are struggling to come to terms with it. I’ve had to order a BT line and total broadband because our mobile dongle doesn’t work here. You have to move close to the window to get a good signal for our mobiles. All three are Vodafone. It would be hard to say we are happy with the situation but we can’t let that push us in to buying too hastily. We have to see it through and, if that means going back to Greece and putting our stuff back in to store, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

12th October, 2010

We are making our penultimate trip to Mum’s flat. Pauline wants to clean it. I have no idea why but she says her Mum was proud and wouldn’t want to hand over a dirty flat. Actually, she has just found a final stash of lovely, old photos including Pauline in the Dancing Troupe/Marching Band – the Oldham Dinkys and one of her aged about five with her cat:

dinkys.jpg  pcat.jpg

Week 98

31st October, 2010

Felt really quiet with Phyllis & Colin gone. There was no Colin to wash up or Phyllis to give me an excuse to open a bottle of wine. Tried to read the Sunday papers but fell asleep.

1st November, 2010


Got up early because we are going to the Crematorium to scatter Mum’s ashes. It was supposed to be raining but was a lovely Autumn morning.

 p_trees.jpg rose-garden.jpg

The staff at the Crematorium were delightfully helpful. Pauline was given a copper kettle (urn) and careful instructions on how to scatter the ashes and where her Dad’s ashes had been scattered 49 years before. We were directed to the rose garden (Area E) and Pauline chose a tree around which to scatter her Mum’s ashes. Pauline was wearing her Mum’s broach and engagement ring.

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Afterwards, we read the book which was open for November 1st but, turning two pages back to October 30th, we found Pauline’s Dad, Philip Nicholson Barnes, who died in 1961. On the same page as her Dad, Pauline found her Uncle Vic who died about ten years ago. Pauline will put exactly the same inscription her Dad had for her Mum and in the same Book of Remembrance.

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2nd November, 2010

Finalised the arrangements for the rented flat. We went to see it. The room sizes are a bit of a shock but it will help us when we go out to buy. We will be trading up by this stage. The accountant lady who we are renting from has bought two two-bedroomed flats for a total price of £164,000.00 and is renting them out at a total of £1,100.00 per month. This more than covers her mortgage. We are quite tempted with the idea ourselves but we must buy somewhere to live first.  I was pleased to find this apartment has satellite tv pre-installed and Virgin cable as well so I will be able to sort out a broadband and tv sport bundle easily.

4th November, 2010

This morning, Pauline and I had a meeting with members of the Governing Board of Pennine Acute NHS Trust. We had asked for this to review Pauline’s Mum’s treatment in the Oldham Hospital. Particularly, we met Matthew Hadfield: Vascular Surgeon and Clinical Director of General Surgery and Diane Brears, Director of Nursing. It was interesting although we never thought greatly productive. They acknowledged that one should never be ill out of hours in Oldham – out of 9 – 5, Monday – Friday – because there was only a skeleton staff of trainee staff on duty at other times. They really didn’t see that changing any time soon.

A card came through the door from the residents of Mum’s apartments. They had collected £71.00 for Mum and donated it, as requested, to the local hospice.

5th November, 2010

Spent the day researching property for sale in the South. There is a large number of new properties on the market currently and the prices are excellent. Even properties that we were enquiring about in April are coming back to us with a 20% reduction in asking price and some are even offering to pay Stamp Duty and Legal Fees. Basically, they are desperate to sell before the market crashes again. Pauline and I have still not managed to narrow our searches down enough yet nor are we certain about the type of property we want. On the internet today we have been looking at anything from a two bedroom apartment to a four bedroomed house in East Sussex, Kent and Surrey. We really are spoilt for choice and, whatever we consider, we will offer the asking price less 20% in cash. If they are not amenable, we will walk swiftly away.

6th November, 2010

It is exactly five weeks since we arrived back in England. It feels like six months so much has happened. Today is a gorgeous, sunny day. We drove over the moors to Huddersfield to shop at Sainsburys. There is one in Oldham but we are constantly on the look out for ex-pupils (and staff) who constantly want to reminisce. We don’t. Driving back to Oldham on the motorway we overtake a car full of Spurs fans. We wish them bad luck at Bolton.