Step 1 sell the house!

We are currently living though a global pandemic and stuck in our homes due to lockdown. We’ve used this time not only to protect ourselves and others from covid-19 but to put our house in order ready to go on the market. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on the 10th May that estate agents were allowed to carry out property viewings as one of the ways to get the economy going as lockdown measures are eased. Although we haven’t put out house on the market yet we intend to in the next couple of weeks. The reasons why we haven’t yet got to this stage is because quite simply it’s mission impossible getting our house photo ready with two little boys making dens in every room of the house! There are also a number of diy jobs that need to be completed by my husband who is currently working long hours in the medical industry. The worst part is the gardening, as soon as I’ve removed the weeds they seem to reappear within a couple of days. It’s been tough!

These are the things we are focusing on in order to make our house market ready:

1. Front door presence. We’ve repainted the front door, pressure washed the brick work, bought a fantastic artificial hanging basket. (I’m totally against artificial flowers normally but I’ve put my principles on this to one side as I know if I bought a real one I’d fail to water it and people would be viewing a house with a dead hanging basket outside! Further to this our porch roof was rotting, our porch needed to have its timbers replaced and this was an important repair especially as the house is grade II listed and will be heavily scrutinised by a surveyor.

It was rotten
All fixed

2. Plant some screening. When we moved to our current home 4 years ago it was mentioned in our survey that the Leylandii trees that surrounded the perimeter of our property hand grown out of control and were at risk of falling. The trees also took up a large area of the front lawn which meant we had less green space for the boys to run around on. When a new property to the side of our property began its building plans we were approached with an offer to have the trees removed in order for them to have better access when building, as our unruly trees would obstruct their access. Reluctantly I agreed that having all the trees cut down and starting from scratch would be the best thing to do. The problem was however that there is a bus stop behind the trees at the front of the property and a brand new commercial building being built behind the trees at the side of the property. We’d now have no screening from either! In order to think long term in regards to screening we have since planted a fast growing laurel hedge in place of the trees at the front of the property which should hopefully give us privacy from the buses. Have added two decorative trees in front of the hedge at the point where the buses stop to further ensure privacy needs are met. For this we choose a Malas Sun Rival and a Pear tree. To offer screening from the large commercial building to the side of our property we have purchased some fast growing silver Birch trees which have already taken well. Hopefully we will have done enough to ensure that any would be buyer will be happy with the efforts we have gone to, to provide adequate screening.

These trees had grown too tall and were not healthy. Sadly they had to go
Replaced with a laurel hedge, much better for our lawn. (weed membrane still to be laid at the bottom)

3. Touching up paint work. It’s amazing how much impact a lick of paint can have. With having two boys and two labradors doors and skirtings can get grubby and paint work can get chipped. Be ensuring all door frames and skirting boards and heavily used wall areas such as around light switches are touched up with a fresh lick of paint it’s amazing just how much of a difference it can make.

4. repairing timber windows. Our house is over 500 years old and the process of replacing windows is a painful task that requires listed building consent (LBC) just filling in the application gave me a headache. We were due to spend a small fortune having our windows replaced before we decided that now is the time to move back to our real home of Yorkshire. We had a good look at our windows and stripped them back to access the damage and actually they were able to be repaired. My husband has painstakingly stripped the windows down, filled them with putty, sanded, primed and painted them and they are looking pretty good. We have considered the fact that someone purchasing the property may wish for a slight reduction should the surveyor point out that these windows have been repaired and may at some point need to be replaced.

Before
All fixed

5. Removing artex. Since moving into our property in 2016 my husband has declared war on Artex. My goodness it has been awful to remove. Thankfully my dad is an experienced builder and plasterer. We’ve managed to remove the majority or the artex in places where it will make the most impact and we are currently waiting for lockdown to end so my dad can visit firstly for lots of cuddles with us because we’ve missed him but also to do a tiny bit of plastering at the top of our landing.

Waiting for my dad to come and plaster between the beams.

6. Cleaning grout. I recently purchased some cleaning brushes that attach to the end off drill. I can report that this has been a game changer when it comes to getting the grout on my kitchen floor super clean. It looks like it did when the kitchen floor was laid. It’s particularly good for cleaning around the shower area. There’s nothing worse than visiting a bathroom where there is black mould growing in the grout. With a little help from my friend cif and a regular spray of astonish mould and mildew spray I feel happy letting people view my bathroom. Nobody wants to buy a house with a grotty bathroom.

Before

After
End result!

7. Carpet cleaning. Having two boys and two labradors and a cream living room carpet is pretty much a recipe for disaster. I’ve enquired at our local Homebase store about hiring the rug doctor cleaning machine however this is not possible due to covid 19. The store explained that the risk of contamination was deemed too high a risk. I’m now looking at other ways I can revitalise my carpets. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions.

8. Internal plants, flowers and greenery. Again, being a lover of nature and greenery in general this is against my usual principles but needs must. I’ve invested in some artificial tulips to go inside vases around the house. Cut flowers are expensive and they can really be a pretty asset and brighten up a room. If we are to have regular viewings it will be more cost effective to have artificial flowers and there will be no need for a mad dash to the supermarket (despite its close proximity) to buy some if someone wants to view the house at the drop of a hat. I also plan on getting some green plants for the bathrooms.

Artificial tulips in the utility room

9. Bathroom makeover. The people who previously owned our house were not on the same page as us regarding colour schemes. Our boys are luckily enough to have a shared bathroom between their bedrooms at our current house however, it’s a blue bathroom suite. It just looked a bit tired and dated. If we were staying we would have eventually had the bathroom completely gutted and replaced. Given we are moving however we have gone with the cheap makeover option. With left over paint from when we decorated our kitchen I have repainted the bath panel, doors and skirting, we’ve replace the light pulls with more hygienic metal ones, replaced the shower screen and shower head, added a more modern light fitting, a new toilet seat and bought a few new towels and a bath mat. Overall it’s been a cheap makeover but has made quite a difference.

Before
Nearly finished just a few finishing touches to add

10. De cluttering with the help of Marie Kondo. Although I think the process of sitting holding my belongings close to my chest and seeing if they spark joy and thanking me old tee shirts for their years of service absolutely bonkers, I do agree with her tidying and decluttering methodology. Kondo’s approach is to discard items due to category rather than going room to room and store all items of the same type in the same place. It’s amazing how simpler life is when we have less stuff. Also, it’s brilliant being able to have things to hand and reduces the risk of going out and spending money on replacements of things you own but can’t find. (Also reduces rows with the other half)

A lovely organised pants and sock drawer for my son!
All folded the Marie Kondo way.

Final note! Sorry about the purchasing of artificial flowers! I’m a terrible person 🤦🏼‍♀️

We’re moving back to Yorkshire

I grew up in rural Yorkshire, it was an idyllic childhood. Most weekends were spent riding horses and taking picnics on a hack, going to barn dances with my parents and chatting with villagers in my parents shop. As I approached my late teens I became disgruntled, I found it boring, the bustle of big cities called to me. I met my husband when I was 19 and together we moved to the bright lights of London, 4 years into life in London we craved a quieter life so we could enjoy married life and someday have children so eventually we settled on Essex and here we have stayed for 9 years. Don’t get my wrong Essex has a lot going for it, we’ve welcomed two sons in our time here and there has been a wealth of activities, attractions and groups available for us to enjoy with them. Everything is so convenient here train links, shops, airports etc and the countryside is always in reach….but I just feel like a fish out of water. Over the past few years as the boys have got a little older (6 & 7 years old) I’ve yearned to live back home in the Yorkshire countryside. Although the boys attend a little village school in a rural part of Essex I still crave them attending a little Yorkshire school adopting the same accent as my husband and I. I’ve discussed my desire to return north with some friends and a few have commented on the lack of warm weather in the north compared to the dry hotter summers we have in Essex but to me that’s part of the appeal. I love the idea of watching wild winds rip through the dramatic hills of the dales whilst rain lashes at the window. As a child I remember deep snow and dramatic snow drifts, woollen gloves drying on the kitchen fire guard, and ice on then inside of my bedroom window. It sounds a tough life of misery to some but for me it feels like home. In this blog I hope to write about my progress of returning to Yorkshire forever. Our reasons for wanting to return north are as follows:

A beer at Reeth country show 2019

1. Remote working is now an option. if lockdown has taught us one thing it is that working from home is much more of a possibility than people realised. (Unless you’ve got rubbish internet) before lockdown remote working was becoming more popular as offices wanted to cut down on office space associated costs. With technologies such as zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams this makes it all the more possible. My husband already worked from home 3 days a week and his company now are looking at allowing working from home becoming more of a permanent possibility. This allows us the freedom to be more flexible in where we choose to live.

2. We miss our family. Both my husband and I were born and breed in Yorkshire. We left in 2005 and have maintained a close relationship with our families. Every 6 weeks my parents make their way from their sleepy village in Yorkshire to the busy roads of Essex to visit us. Our boys love their grandparents and are really fond of all their cousins. Although we keep in touch with FaceTime and visits it just feels there is too much space between us.

3. A rural life for the boys. I grew up breathing in the lovely aroma of the Countryside. Country shows were a highlight of the year, entering my best hand writing or artwork into the neighbouring village show. Sometimes I’d hitch lifts on the back of trailers fitted to tractors, we’d sit on hay bales in fields, wake up early to bleating cattle or the rattle pea viners making their way through the village at 4am. I’m not saying this isn’t possible in Essex but for me personally Yorkshire is where I associate this happening and want me and the boys to be. We aren’t planning on moving to one of Yorkshire’s market towns or cities but remote areas of the Yorkshire Dales or a small village off the beaten track.

My youngest son enjoying the countryside

4. A sense of community. When I was a child my parents owned a village shop. We knew everybody in the village and nobodies antics went I missed. We’d have bbq’s on the village green and one year my parents invited lots of villagers round to have a huge Christmas dinner with us in the shop. Despite being a tiny village we had a little youth club at the village hall. This was run voluntarily by a kind gentleman named Peter. Kids from neighbouring villages would attend it this was our safe social outlet. I never mixed with kids from towns my whole world was the little village. Again, I’m not saying this could not be achieved in one of the many beautiful villages in Essex but the memories and associations of this for me stem from my childhood in Yorkshire. Where we currently live in Essex is a large “village” which is almost its own little town. School kids are often seen on their bikes at the McDonald’s around the corner. I think back to my childhood! McDonalds was NEVER an option. Although my 7 year old would hate me for it right how. I do feel that a life in the most rural of places in the Yorkshire Dales would be the best place for him and his brother.

5. I’m not glam enough for Essex! The women of Essex are amazing creatures! Well groomed, well dressed and many advocating a healthy plant based diet. Many of my Essex lady friends have a….skin care regime! I on the other hand do not. I do try to make an effort I’ve had Russian lashes and regular shellac nail polishes and I really do enjoy these treatments as a treat but I don’t feel I share the same view of these been essential for my survival as some of my friends. To be honest I’m a little bit scruffy and behind closed doors very scruffy and that’s how I like to be. I’ve a wardrobe full of lovely clothes, shoes handbags and perfumes but the majority of the time that’s where they stay like a museum. You’re most likely to find me in my le chameaus, 10 year old wax Barbour jacket I bought in Northumberland and sporting messy hair in need of a good trip to the hairdressers whilst munching away on a sausage and egg sandwich with no care or the dietary consequences.

A visit back to Yorkshire in August 2019

6. Away from consumerism. Essex is fantastic, we have some brilliant shopping and leisure facilities. We currently live a stone throw away from a large Sainsburys and if we run out of something we can easily pop and get it. We’ve become adventurous with our cooking using ingredients such as Thai basil, Keptap Manis and lemongrass. Ingredients I’m pretty sure will be harder to source up a hill in the Yorkshire Dales. The problem I have with this though is that it’s lead us as a family not to appreciating food. Often we waste food, the kids are fussy they know how easy it is to purchase the foods they love. Meals are often spontaneous and complex and our alcohol intake has soared!! its just too easy to buy wine or take sainsburys up on their 25% off offer when buying over 6 bottles. I like the idea of then kids and us as grown ups learning that you can’t waste food because there isn’t a supermarket round the corner when you fancy something different. As a family I want us to learn how to make do and eat whats available (like a ready, steady, cook challenge) I want the message of if we don’t have it (wine/chocolate) then we can’t have it. The beauty industry is also booming in Essex and due to the large number of expertly qualified beauticians treatments are competitively priced. It’s all too tempting to spent money on things that aren’t important like Russian lashes because the salons are offering it cheaper than usual! Once you’ve had these lashes and look so much prettier you realise your want them forever and before you know it you’re spending money you don’t have to waste having your lashes infilled every fortnight. Car cleaning, oven cleaning, etc are other areas of consumerism I feel have become the new normal of Money spending in Essex. I’ve friends in Essex who happily spend £10 or more every week ensuring that their car is clean and fresh. We still clean our own cars but believe me I’ve been tempted to nip to Mr Suds. It’s not that I don’t agree with paying for car washing, everyone has to earn a living but ideally I’d be happy driving a slightly mucky pick up truck around the dales countryside and treating it to a twice annually spray with a pressure washer. £10 a week is a lot of money to waste ensuring that a sparkling car sits on the drive way and that seems to be the ambition in Essex. Finally, my biggest disdain at consumerism in Essex is the extortionate amounts people I know are spending on David Lloyd gym membership. Don’t get me wrong it looks amazing. It really is a status thing round here. Parking your sparkling Range Rover (sport of course) outside David Lloyd and stepping out in expensive active wear for a luxury treatment or class but I want my work out to be authentic and outdoors. For me I think back to the Rocky movies (4 I think) when he fights the Russian who has access to the fancy gym equipment whilst Rocky gets outside running up hills embracing the elements. I want my workouts to be roar, invigorating and in the fresh air and most off all free.

It’s too easy to buy wine!

7. Pride of Yorkshire. My key ring sports a Yorkshire rose, my wax jacket another Yorkshire rose and a Yorkshire Dales badge. I wear this with honour. When people ask my where I live I say Essex followed up with but I’m originally from Yorkshire. Being from Yorkshire is a massive part of my identity. I’m proud of our accent, our farming communities, our countryside, our delicacies, our spirit. Nothing wrong with Essex but for me it just doesn’t compare. It’s not where my heart belongs.

Tractors heading to a country show