Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Gratitude

Another post on practising gratitude for the little things in life today (the first one is back here). Just because sometimes it's nice to reflect on the things this week that I am thankful for. I started writing this last week then we got some pretty bad news, hence no weekend post sorry, but I think it's good even when times are bad to think about the little things that make it better.

  • My messy flat, because it is filling up with all the kit and detritus for Kilimanjaro and the wedding. Kili is 2 months away now! Also because we are too busy to clean it we are now running on a reduced housework 'as long as we have food and the floors are hoovered, the kitchen and bathrooms are sort of clean and we can sit on the sofa and get in the bed then it'll do' system. So yay no dusting. I joke, but the standards are low at the moment guys, do not come round unannounced you are likely to have to climb over backpacks and tents to get in!
  • We have been doing less climbing (boo) because Tom is resting his ankle, and I need to focus on kili training so cardio and gym and walking. The unexpected benefit of this is that we now get Tuesday afternoons/evenings together. Tuesdays are often Tom's day off, so I get home at just gone 4pm then we have the rest of the evening. It's nice in a busy week to get some uninterrupted time, even if we usually just watch Heroes on Netflix. 
  • Last week on Tuesday afternoon we went for a picnic on the park which Tom prepared, bless him he bought all veggie stuff and a bottle of wine and had it all ready when I got in from work. Plus he'd been researching honeymoon flights and dates all afternoon. It's little things like this that are the reason I'll never have cold feet about marrying him, anyone can buy a bunch of flowers or spend money on presents but the thoughtful things are what matters. 
  • I got 2 free £200 bridesmaid dresses! My dress shop had an offer on that if I bought my dress in July (was going to anyway) then I would get 2 free dresses. So my 2 sisters now have dresses on order, and when we have the money for them we will order the next 2. But £400 worth of free dresses!! Plus my dress is ordered and paid for. Can I have a girly squeeee moment?! OK done promise to not do that too often but this wedding malarkey is turning me into a right girl :)
  • All the walking has really got me out in the fresh air and I am thankful to live in such a beautiful place and be able to enjoy it like this in the nice weather we have been (sometimes) having.
  • On a more materialistic note we got a Sonos speaker and it is amazing! I was all 'but we have a stereo, why do we need a new thing, I don't understand it, it won't play my CD's and what about radio?' yes I am old and not convinced about digital music and I want radio and disks. However, Tom gets points at work and can then order stuff out of a catalogue for them...so it didn't cost us anything! At the cost of them we would never have bought one (probably, although we now want another play:1 for the other side of the living room and are contemplating buying the 'bridge' so we can move it from room to room wirelessly - amazing - and maybe a Play:3 for the dining room as we could then hear that through the back of the flat) but I would recommend them if you have a spare few hundred quid (also sponsor me if you do). If we got 2 more and built up to getting the playbar over time (it's £500 so a looong time of Tom saving his points!) we could double them up as surround sound. And yeah, I'm converted, and grateful that we didn't pay £169 for it. This post was not sponsored by sonos I am just kind of amazed by this little speaker!
I am aware that in comparison to a lot of people in the world my life is pretty awesome, and even when I get bogged down in the mundane (and not so mundane) sagas of modern life I sometimes have to check my attitude and remember that I am thankful to live the life I have.

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Moving House – Part 2 – Viewing

Time for part 2 in the moving house series (you can find part 1 here), again I'm not an expert or a letting agent, I'm just someone who has rented a lot of different places and has some experiences to share. If you have any questions or tips of your own leave them in the comments!

You’ve found a place you can afford, accepts whatever you need accepting (pets, smokers, children etc) and you like the look of, time to go and see it! What should you bear in mind when looking around?
  • It’s a good idea to take someone with you even if you’ll be living there alone, as it’s good to get a second opinion, Tom often asks questions I wouldn’t think of and vice versa. Definitely don’t go alone if you’re meeting someone from the paper etc (i.e. not a reputable letting agent) as you do not know that this person is genuine so meeting them alone in a strange house is not a sensible idea.
  • Don't be afraid to take your camera or to ask to take photos on your phone, if you are viewing a lot of places it helps to compare them if you have some pictures (real ones not the agent ones that sometimes make rooms appear larger or miss out not so nice parts).
    Pictures from our viewing, trying to capture the size and shape of the rooms

  • Ask for measurements or take a tape measure with you, also measure your larger furniture (if you’ll be taking it with you) before you go on any viewings and take those measurements with you. If you are really set on taking a certain piece of big furniture (for example our sofa is quite huge so if we moved now we’d need a good size living room) see if there is a place it would fit.
    Me measuring the bedroom at our second viewing
  • If you find somewhere you like, ask when the next viewing is before making any snap decisions. For example we often view places quite late in the evening so are likely to be the last viewing they have that day – giving us the opportunity to go away and think it over and call first thing if we want to take it.
  • If they have another viewing straight after you or have someone else interested you might have to think a little quicker, if you really love the place and are sure you want it then it’s your decision to go for it if you want to. I’d recommend at least going away and thinking about it for a little while though, even if it’s just an hour!
  • Walk around the local area after or before the viewing, to see what’s near to the property like shops, bus stops etc. It also helps to get a feel for the area and how safe it is and what the neighbourhood is like. You could use this as your time to think it over, just an hour wandering around to make up your mind.
  • Don’t feel rushed on the viewing, I have experienced this in some places where you get a 2 minute walk through of the property then you feel like the agent or landlord is waiting for you to get out! It might be that they have another viewing booked or just don’t allow enough time, but make sure you have a good look around and ask any questions. Book a second viewing if needs be.
  • Some agents might ask for an ‘administration fee’ or some other name for a non refundable deposit which stops them showing anyone else the property and pretty much just holds it until you sign the contract. I paid this on my first rental and have never done it again. It’s better to have the deposit ready and be able to confidently say ‘I’ll take it, cancel your other viewings’. I have been asked for this fee again and said no, I’d rather just get the deposit paid and the contract signed rather than pay them £200 to not show it to anyone else when I’ve already said I’ll have it! You do hear stories as well about unscrupulous agents taking this payment then still showing the property. Really if you have said you want the property, you have the deposit ready and are ready to sign the contract then there is no reason to pay this
  • Ask questions, it seems like loads of questions to ask when you’re there but it’s better to know everything before deciding on taking a place rather than moving in and finding something you really need isn't there, think about things like:
  1. Look at the heating and cooling systems and energy efficiency, where is the boiler? Is it pretty new? Are the radiators new or do they look old? When were they last replaced and serviced? Does it have night storage heating (I hate night storage heating)? Is there air con? Are the windows double glazed or single? Are there any draughts around the doors or windows? You don’t want to move into a nice affordable place just to find it costs a fortune to heat or cool!
  2. Think about amenities and services - can you change utility provider (this should be a yes by law in the UK)? Who is the current provider? Is there a phone line and internet? If so where are the plugs for them? Is there cable/satellite/freeview? If not could you get it installed if you wanted to.
  3. Think about questions other than the physical aspects of the property, like when would they want the rent (monthly usually) and how do they want you to pay (usually direct debit)? How often do they do inspections? What is their policy on repairs (timeframe, amount etc)?

Next in the series will be signing on the dotted line, some tips on signing the contract. I also am working on finishing the bedroom up so I can show you some after photos, and we might be finally getting our damp solution fitted next week!

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Weekend Inspiration

I have had a wonderful weekend, a training walk yesterday around local hill enjoying the views and sunshine...then a day at the local outside pool today with my sisters and niece. Also had a personal training session Friday and another booked for tomorrow so feeling good. Just over 2 months until Kilimanjaro now and starting to feel ready!

A photo from the top of the hill, the path is steep but not very long (not many mountains locally that I can practice on unfortunately!) so I went up and down a few times to really work my legs out, this was taken while I was quietly dying after the last go!
Still been pinning of course, although I actually tend to do most of my pinning and other web browsing in the week, like on the bus to work so most of these aren't actually from this weekend but I'm sure most of them have been on the web for months or years anyway!

Like this pin which has been around in various guises for years...but I like it and I love a good map (last week we had maps in weekend inspiration too!) plus me and Tom love to travel and have lots of plans for places to go. I like that you could add to this over the years, either by adding more frames or extending it to a larger one.
This started as a wedding pin, but doesn't really fit in to what we're going with (I went a bit inspiration crazy at the start and just pinned everything I liked but now trying to narrow it down!) and it would be nice in a home. Especially if you are the kind of person who changes d├ęcor for the season, it would be a nice autumn/winter item for a mantel or table layout. So cheap too, just some glasses and some twigs!
I don't actually know where this is because the pin leads to a warren of Tumblr reblogs...and the source is not quoted on half of them...but just look at these houses! I'd have a little greenhouse/sunroom going on in those glass windows!
Have a lovely Sunday evening all, I'm off to shower and put some leave in conditioner in my hair and apply some aftersun...I love the feeling after a weekend of being outside in the sunshine but my skin and hair disagree!

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