Jonathan & Denise >
It’s now two months to the day since we both received our first vaccine injection at the travelling immunisation clinic. We were phoned up by NHS Eilean Siar just the afternoon before, for a mid-morning appointment. It was so exciting – a first step towards freedom and the ‘new normal’ – whatever those will be.
J > I didn’t feel a thing at the time – I even momentarily wondered whether it really had been done (irrational, I know), but for a day or so afterwards I did feel a little under the weather.
D > I certainly did feel something – and had a small bruise to show for it. However, I didn’t get the symptoms J mentions.
J & D > The islands are way ahead of anywhere else in the Uk in the race to vaccinate our population. [D > That’s a race with the virus, not other places or countries]. As we write now, it’s people in their 40s that are getting their appointments.
After the inocculations, we drove home for lunch sky-high with hope for better times.
Whilst at our lunch, the day’s post arrived, and a volley of emails for good measure. Amongst the latter was a message from our solicitor in Wales to tell us that the seller off Clover Cottage had pulled out, having decided not to move house after all. <ironic> Great! </ironic>
We were just a week or so from exchange of contracts, and possibly a fortnight from completion : whilst we had no need to relocate immediately (indeed, that would have been impossible, not least because of lockdowns), we had started to plan the logistics – and even dare to make plans for our retirement. We lost well over a thousand pounds in abortive legal work, and our hopes dashed to pieces – and ground into the dirt.
So, from sky-high to the depths of despondency, in less than an hour.
J & D > It took a fortnight at least for us to pick ourselves up and try again.
The first new hope was a decent bungalow on a better-than-decent plot at the hamlet of Bwlch Llan [the church at the pass], but that was bought (without viewing or survey) a few hours after it went on the market and whilst we were talking with Becky about an appointment for her to view it.
Next up, ‘Dolbont’ a plot of land north-west of Lampeter, just a few minutes walk from our daughter’s home. Plots with planning consent, in the country, are in very short supply, and have very long-looking numbers of pounds (as in £££s) attached.
This plot has a wonderful views over the Aeron valley, with lots of public footpaths in every direction, and set beside a country lane. Yet it hadn’t sold, and now it was readvertised at a much lower price – and we agreed a price lower still.
The planning consent is for a 3 bedroom home on 3 floors, which was not ideal but was at least adapted to the context, as the plot consisted of a steep bank at the side of the valley. Unfortunately the costs of engineering the earthworks, retaining walls and sub-structures required, along with very onerous costs of diverting/under-grounding overhead electricity and telecomms lines, was looking to make the project unviable for us. We pulled out just hours before the legal work would have commenced.
Then there was the bungalow at Drefach (a very small place indeed), on the road from Lampeter to Llandysul. The price seemed somewhat high for a two-bedroom property, but we put that down to the spacious layout and the good size gardens bordered by a stream, and perhaps its proximity to Lampeter. We arranged an appointment for Becky to view, and her tour of the property was live-streamed to us, and we were able to message her simultaneously. For some reason a tour of the exterior of the building was left until last, in fact after the agent had left for another appointment (the house was unoccupied). Our hopes having been raised, it was with bitter disappointment that the externals of the house was revealed to have numerous and very extensive and deep cracks. J – as a civil engineer – immediately recognized the clear signs of widespread failure of the foundations.
Should we be surprised that the estage agent’s ‘particulars’ (brochure) for the property made no mention of any cracks, or the extensive damp indoors, corresponding to the cracks, but merely mentioned that the interior would benefit from modernising!
Given the context, quite possibly the bungalow is built on silty clayey soils, which are notoriously weak and prone to failure : a raft foundation is often prescribed rather than strip foundations. As Becky was about to leave, a neighbour called out to her, saying that he was keeping an eye on the place for the owners, and mentioned something about an earthquake. Such an event can cause silty sandy clays to ‘liquify’, which would not be a problem with a raft foundation, but with strip founds … well, think of Christchurch New Zealand!
J & D > This time the rebound was almost instant. We had already noticed that a house we’d been interested in previously, but had been sold to others, was back on the market, at the same price, no chain. We’d dismissed it before because of its distance from Becky (about 12 miles on slow twisty B-class roads), but we were beginning to conclude that property that suited us nearer to her was also nearer to Lampeter, Aberaeron and even Aberystwyth, and so would be too expensive for us. We arranged a viewing, Becky did her stuff, she liked what she saw, we did too, and later that day we received acceptance of our offer. We’re now at the very limit of what we can afford …
… but, alas, this one too turns out to have complications. The property turns out to consist of two titles, one Absolute Title, the other a ‘Possessory Title’, the latter with the benefit of a single-premium indemnity insurance policy – transferable with the property. In 2023, all being well, the Possessory Title should become Absolute …. Ffingers crossed, Daumen zusammen bedruckt, touch wood, we can work through this. Onwards!
J & D > Quite possibly you’re thinking (you wouldn’t be the first) “Have they gone mad? From walled garden and croft plus holiday lets and a life unfettered by traffic and crowds, to a very ordinary and very modest bungalow on the main road from Lampeter to Camarthen …?!?!?!” Well, we’ve certainly asked ourselves the same, time and again ; and yet a very still small voice – and a very persistent one! – tells us that it’s time to let go of these things, to live and to travel through life more lightly. New opportunities – and challenges – that perhaps are better suited to our ages and circumstances, or the needs of our family – or, for that matter, the world about us, will unfold soon enough. And we will not have need of a large house, extensive outbuildings, or land.
We are not defined or limited by what we do now, what we have been doing for the best part of twenty years, no matter that we’ve enjoyed some success in these things, and have thrived doing them. We have new things to learn and do, we just don’t yet know what they are.