16th January, 2011
After Sunday papers, we had to give ourselves over to the apartment Legal Pack again. It is a massive 200 pages of legal jargon. This is nothing like buying a house. An apartment is so complicated. We actually HAVE to become part of the Management Company. It is Leasehold – 125 years – and we have to pay Ground Rent as well as Service Charge which is about £2000.00 per year. Fortunately, that is off-set by providing our power and heat. It also covers our Buildings Insurance.
17th January, 2011
Before we go off to the Health Club, we have to push the Builders to let us on site this week. Pauline phones and we get an appointment for Friday morning. We will drive down there on Thursday. All the work on the property can now be put off until we return from Surrey. We are planning our Greek trip in parallel. We have booked our crossing through Eurotunnel at 20% of the cost it would have been from Hull. And there is no better way to get to France.
18th January, 2011
Our solicitor has strongly advised us to insist on seeing our new property, whatever state of development it is in, before we despatch signed paperwork. The builders were trying to stall for the end of January but, as soon as we insisted, they caved in and we have agreed this Friday. One of those days you dream of at the Health Club. We arrived at 1.00 pm, changed and went to the pool. It was deserted. We had it completely to ourselves for 30 minutes swimming and then on to the jacuzzi. It was delightful.
We spent sometime speaking to our solicitor about financial transfers because we have money in at least three different banks for security. It is a lovely feeling not needing a mortgage or to sell a property BUT it is less than comfortable having huge amounts of money in banks when financiers are advocating allowing failing banks to go bust at the expense of their creditors.
19th January, 2011
We drive 6 miles to the Health Club but it only takes about 5 minutes because it is all motorway: junctions 24 – 25 of the M62. Unfortunately, today it was blocked solid we suppose by an accident. We turned straight round and went home. Tomorrow we are off to Surrey.
20th January, 2011
We are up especially early today. I have to have my haircut – Pauline says – before we set off. I hate it but it has to be done. We then check the car – oil, tyres, washer bottle – and load it up with things we want to get down there but not via the Removal Service. My huge, desktop computer, monitor and laser printer are going today. We have survived with a couple of laptops for the past 9 months so it will be nice to get back to a proper machine in the new apartment.
We are late setting off for the M1. It is a beautiful, sunny day which has already reached 11.00 am and we haven’t set off yet. Set off at 11.30 am and, with one, short break, we arrived easily within 4 hrs. The motorway was absolutely empty and in clear, strong sun. It was a joy to be travelling.
21st January, 2011
We are up early because we have to be on site for 10.30 am. When we got there, we had to where builders’ boots and hard hats before we were allowed on site. We were introduced to the site manager who turned out to be a Yorkshireman called John. We got on well immediately. He came from Thirsk where I did my first teaching practice.
It was exciting to see the apartment for the first time but it was dificult to judge it properly because it had so far to go to completion. Somethings were better than we thought; some things not as good as we hoped. The bedrooms are going to be fine. The ensuite is really lovely. The Lounge has a couple of awkwardly placed features which would make the settees we were going to buy less easy to fit comfortably. We have decided now to buy nothing until the keys are handed over and we have spent a little time there on our own. This may well be October when we get back from Greece. For this reason, we don’t stay on in Woking but drive straight back up to Yorkshire to our shoebox. The drive to and from Woking were entirely M1 & M25. Both ways the sky was clear and blue with strong, low winter sun that turns gloriously red in the evening. The motorways were so quiet that we wondered if mankind had been hit by some deadly disease wiping out 90% of the population at a stroke. Were we the only ones with immunity? We mulled over the idea as we drove. We decided that it was likely to be the infectiously high petrol prices which had slaughtered a nation of car drivers. The Coalition will pay for this too.
22nd January, 2011
We went to Sainsburys to do our weekly shop. We also filled up the car. The cost, in petrol of driving to Woking was £53.00. The cost of driving back was £52.00. I know we are excluding wear and tear and depreciation but the journey was really enjoyable and cost £105.00 up front. I looked at the cost of a rail ticket from Huddersfield to Woking and back at the same times (which are condsidered off-peak) and it would have been an incredible £385.00. I don’t even like trains or the smelly people who travel on them. All those MPs in economy – Brr! The stench of corruption pervades the whole train even if you do get to sit down.
We have been surviving on instant coffee since October. It has been a nightmare. We were trying to avoid unpacking everything that would just have to be packed up again shortly. Today, we could stand it no more. We attacked the stack of 37 huge boxes stacked neatly in bedroom 2 of the shoebox and finally repatriated our coffee maker. We bought some fresh coffee this morning and, after spending half an hour inhaling it, we brewed two, huge cups and hugged ourselves as we gulped it.