water and clouds

Veruca Salt

On Friday morning, Terry and I were woken from our slumbers by the sound of a workman arriving at the house next door. Or, rather, we were woken by the sound of Rubin completely losing his mind over this event.

I’ve no idea what this workman was doing next door (Best guess: replacing the floorboards after Nigel removed the bodies…). What I do know is that a) It was LOUD and b) Rubin spent the entire day sitting listening to the sounds the guy made and pretending that it was THE END OF THE WORLD OMG.

And actually? I kind of know where he’s coming from.

See, this latest event comes after a few weeks of frenzied activity from the International Man of Mystery Next Door, who hasn’t actually been living in the house, but who has been showing up almost every weekend and spending hours mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and…. pretty much just mowing the lawn and working in the garden, actually: that thing was like a JUNGLE.

(It’s now in much better shape than our garden. He doesn’t even live here, and Nigel still totally puts us to shame…)

We can only conclude from this that we’re drawing closer to the time when the house will be put on the market, and as I’ve mentioned before, this thought fills us with doom, because even in the best-case scenario, in which we get lovely, quiet neighbours who don’t even OWN a drum kit, let alone play it in the middle of the night, after all of these years of living in what is essentially a detached house, we just don’t think we’re going to enjoy having The Others living on the other side of our (paper-thin) walls. And actually, given the fuss Rubin made about having ONE PERSON there for part of the day, I don’t think the new neighbours are going to enjoy it much either. Woe!

(Seriously, Rubin flips out at the slightest sound from the other side of the wall. I’m trying to convince myself that he’ll get used to it eventually, but so far… yeah, not so much.)

This isn’t a totally bad thing, though. Well, OK, it kind of IS. But as the Day O’Doom looms ever closer, one thing to come out of it is that it’s forced Terry and I to start tentatively thinking about moving home ourselves: something I’ve been dreaming of for… oh, forever, basically.

I say “tentatively”. We’ve really only just started thinking about the possibility of moving. We’re a long, long way from being able to actually do anything about it, and of course, we’re nowhere near ready to start looking at houses.

So, naturally, that’s exactly what I did.

“Well,” I thought, “It wouldn’t hurt to just take a look, would it? Get a feel for the market, see what’s out there. It’s not like I’m going to find the house of my dreams, after all: or not in OUR tiny budget, anyway!”

Folks, I found the house of my dreams. In our tiny budget.

Well, sort of. It was in a tiny little village near here: one I’ve never even considered moving to, and, actually, have occasionally made fun of any time we’ve driven through it. So there was that. But oh, this house! See, when I say it was a dream house: people, it had a DRESSING ROOM. Like, an honest-to-God dressing room. Not an “oh, you could probably use this spare bedroom as a dressing room”, room. No, we’re talking an actual, “This purpose-built room connected to the gigantic master bedroom is intended to be used as a dressing room: just imagine how all your shoes would look arranged around the walls!” room. THAT kind of dressing room. I just about DIED when I saw it on the listing.

The house also had a pantry. An ACTUAL, walk-in pantry. And it had… look, I could list all of the amazing features it had for you. I’m not going to, though, because the fact is, I don’t want you to get attached to the idea of this house. Trust me, it’s a mistake to let yourself get attached to a house you don’t own. A BIG mistake It’s a mistake that I would never make, nosiree. I mean, it’s not like I actually lost sleep trying to decide whether I’d use the dressing room (dressing room! OMG!) as:

a) A shoe room, with shoe shelves on every single wall


b) More like Cher’s closet in Clueless, with revolving clothes racks, all controlled from my computer, and with enough space that I could have ALL of my clothes out at the same time, as opposed to 50% of them being in the attic, in storage bins, at any given time. And they’d not all be crammed together, like they are now, either. No, it would basically be like having a tiny clothes store attached to my bedroom. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?

Nope, I didn’t even give that a passing thought. And I certainly didn’t…

(I mean, I think I’d use it as a closet, probably? Because, as Terry knows to his cost, you can turn any wall in your house into a shoe wall. But you probably wouldn’t want to turn any bedroom into a ickle tiny clothes store, would you? Or not in this totally imaginary version of my life, anyway, because if I had a house with that much space, (Most of the bedrooms had en-suite bathrooms, and although I DO often think of my clothes as people, they don’t actually require those kinds of facilities…) I decided I would probably entertain a lot, and the house would always be full of the sound of laughter and joy. My house parties would be the stuff of LEGEND. Many years from now, people would still be talking about them. “Remember that glorious summer on West Egg!” they would say. “God, Amber’s parties were THE BEST!” I’d be like the Great Gatsby, only people would actually like me, and no one would end up dead. Well, hardly anyone. )

(A shoe room would be amazing, though, wouldn’t it? Who even HAS a shoe room? Shut up, Mariah Carey, you don’t count…)

(Also: I don’t even LIKE entertaining, and have always been secretly relieved that we don’t have a guest room, because it means no one can invite themselves to come and stay with us. Am a bad person, obviously.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Once I’d finished not-thinking about my amazing dressing room, I certainly didn’t start planning the house-warming party, say. Or start a Pinboard called “Things I Will Buy For My Amazing New House Which I Will Totes Buy, I Expect We’ll Be Moved in By Christmas, Ooh, Let’s Pin Some Photos of Giant Christmas Trees Now!” Nuh-uh, not me.

Yeah, OK, I actually DID do that. And I kinda got so carried away with it that I somehow managed to sweep Terry along with me, on the river of HOLY CRAP WE COULD HAVE A HOUSE WITH A DRESSING ROOM! (I got Terry into it by telling him he could have a cinema room. Ha! AS IF I’d give up my future Handbag & Accessories Closet for a cinema room!) And because this house was so amazing, and so, SO cheap considering, we thought that, you know, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to just go and look at it? Of course, deep down, we knew. We knew there was just no possible way a house like that could possibly be in our budget – or even in the same country as our budget – unless there was something very, very wrong with it indeed.

But still we hoped. Which was yet another big mistake. Because when Terry called the agent to arrange to go and view this palace of amazing-ness, he asked them to first of all email us the home report, which would tell us if there were any major issues with it before we went to see it.

And, yes, that house is falling down, folks. Like, it’s ACTUALLY falling down. As in, if it doesn’t have many, many tens of thousands of pounds worth of major repairwork done (rebuilding, not just renovating), like, yesterday, it will literally fall down. Oh.

(Edit: Because there have been quite a few questions about this… No, it wouldn’t be possible to fix this house. It is literally falling down, in the sense that the foundations are so badly damaged that no bank in the world would offer a mortgage on it. It really needs to be re-built, not just renovated. As far as we can gather, it’s in this state because they tried to build it during that really awful winter a couple of years ago when it snowed for months: apparently you’re not supposed to pour foundations into frozen ground, but these were obviously pretty shoddy builders, so they did it anyway, and now the foundations are cracked to pieces. This is yet another reason to hate the OMGSNOW.)

And just like that, my beautiful dream crumbled into dust. A bit like the actual house will, come to think of it: the agent told us they’re probably going to have to put it to auction (I’ve just checked, and sure enough, it’s now listed on an auction site, with a guide price of even LESS than the original price: I’m crying here, people…) and the likelihood is that whoever buys it will probably be better off just knocking it down and starting over, it needs that much work.

I was gutted, naturally. A few days after we found out about the home report, we took a drive out to the house anyway, just out of curiosity, and wandered around its poor, neglected garden, pressing our noses against the windows and peering inside. It was beautiful. The late evening sunlight was playing across the real wood floors we could see through the window; the view from the collapsed deck (site of my future imaginary hot tub) was of uninterrupted countryside; the kitchen alone (with walk-in pantry!) was bigger than the entire ground floor of our house, and I’m not exaggerating. This time. Actually, I’m pretty sure the walk-in pantry was bigger than our current kitchen. Can you tell that after years of living in a house the size of a matchbox, I’m really into the idea of SPACE?

It was just so sad, though: and not just because it means that the little spoilt brat who’s writing this can’t have her prechus dressing room and walk-in pantry (Honestly, it was a little scary how quickly I went all “Veruca Salt” over this and went from “well, even a little bit more room than we have now would be awesome!” to “I want the world! I want the whole world! I want to lock it in my pocket! I want an Oompa Loompa! And a dressing room! Give it to me now!” SCARY.), but because it’s just heartbreaking to think that someone went to the trouble of building that beautiful house, just two short years ago, and now it’s going to be knocked down. It just feels wrong. All that house wanted was to be lived in. To be loved. It wanted shoes on the walls of its dressing room. (No, clothes! No, shoes! No… oh, I don’t know.) Parties on its deck. An annoying redhaired girl to write blog posts about it and over-use the phrase “dressing room” to a really quite astonishing degree.

It’s not going to happen, though. And you what the really worrying thing about this whole saga is? I managed to get this attached to a house, at a time when we’re not even officially looking for a new house.

Just imagine what I’ll be like if and when we ARE.

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • This is why I’m not allowed to look in estate agents’ windows! Although I really do hate the thought of moving and carrying all our stuff down 6 flights of stairs….

    August 28, 2012
  • Aw man I thought this post was gonna end with you buying the crumbly house and then renovating it whilst wearing cute outfits, that would give you MONTHS worth of posts! 😉

    August 28, 2012
  • Lizzabee


    Oh, I totally sympathize. This has happened to me more than once. I’m a real estate listings junkie. But I’ve only gotten my husband swept away with me once. We actually will be moving next month. All three bedrooms have walk-in closets. My current bedroom doesn’t have a closet. Not even a little one.

    August 28, 2012
  • Erin H


    Oh, I am *so* with you on the Real Estate troubles. I can spend a whole day looking at listings and drooling over houses that are WAY out of budget. But who cares…. if it has space! Light!

    It blows me away, though, that a house can be falling down only two years after build? What’s up with that?!

    August 28, 2012
  • When my fiance and I started looking at houses it was so amazing and quite frustrating to see all those “perfect” houses…which were definitely not in our budget bracket! But we eventually found one, with a little yard, and it’s just right, for now! Hang in there!!


    August 28, 2012
  • Ooh so sad, it sounds like the perfect house! (Minus the re-building…) Can you show us the link on the estate website? I’d love to see how it looks! (And get attached too :)) Is it really that much work to renovate?

    August 28, 2012
      • of course, I completely understand! And I’m sure you’ll find your dreamhouse, it just takes some time 😉

        August 28, 2012
  • So sad. Nothing like building yourself up only to be knocked to the ground, literally. I can’t imagine that someone built a house only 2 years ago and it already needs to be torn down. What did they build it on? Quicksand?


    August 28, 2012
  • Sandy


    Falling down after two years? Did they forget to do foundations?

    I quite often look at houses I can’t have, I start in my price bracket and then end up with the estates or chic pads in London that go for millions.

    August 28, 2012
  • I’ve just spent a couple of months searching for somewhere to rent (which isn’t quite the same) but I understand your pain. Seeing so many beautiful houses that ended up being out of our price range, or having evil letting agents, or getting rented in the hour between us viewing it and calling to take it. Arg! Hopefully you’ll find something even better without all sorts of horrible things happening to it before Nigel sells up xo

    August 28, 2012
  • Awww that’s so sad! I got attached to this house just by reading your post. I get so easily attached.
    I’m sure you’ll find your dream house in the future, when you will actually be looking for a new one. Have you ever thought of buying the house next door, and combine it with yours? Then you won’t have annoying neighbours.

    August 28, 2012
  • Panthera


    I so understand where you’re coming from, our renter just gave us 3 months notice, and we have to try to find a new long-time rental apartment for a pair during the autumn/winter.

    I’m not one for houses, I’ve never wanted a garden or huge thing I have to clean, but I have a lot of things I want in an apartment, like newly-renovated open kitchen/living room solution and new bathroom, wall space for all our things, at least 40 square…
    So of course I keep falling in love with the high-end newly renovated apartments we can’t afford..

    August 29, 2012
  • We actually are currently house hunting, and I have become attached to too many houses. I try SO hard to be impartial but I think of the walk in closet possibilities, and how nice my Kitchenaid Mixer will look on the bench…

    August 29, 2012
  • This may possibly be the only blog post in the world that references both Clueless and The Great Gatsby. And that’s amazing.

    August 29, 2012
  • Arlene


    Awww I feel so sad for the house 🙁
    Matt likes googling property news for intimidation properties, y’know, the ones that people had to flee during the night or face a kneecapping. Some gorgeous houses *le sigh*

    November 20, 2012