February 23, 2014

IN LIMBO

We have spent the last two weeks in frantic activity, turning out everything and turning our house into the show home that the agent wanted to see when the photos were taken for the website.

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The kitchen before.

To say this has been blooming hard work is the understatement of the year.

(So far.)

kitchen after The kitchen after.

Our garage is full of the excess contents of the house that littered all the surfaces such as the kitchen worktops, bathroom and other furniture.  That’s after we had filled my dad’s garage and spare room with as much excess as we could get into the space available.  We even removed six bookcases (and all the books contained thereon) from the third bedroom so that people can see properly how big it is.  (Definitely big enough for a bed.  A single bed would leave lots of space for furniture.  A double bed would leave about the amount of space that you get in the “master bedroom” of some of the new houses we have been looking at lately.  I don’t think we could physically fit into a new house.)

We do have an awful lot of stuff.  It’s tempting to just scoop it all up and take it to the charity shop or tip.  In reality, it represents so many chapters of our lives so far that we are painstakingly sifting through each cupboard and each drawer to inspect the contents and decide properly what we want to keep, what we can do without and what we can throw away.

It’s not easy.  It sounds easy enough but when we find ourselves looking at a pile of stuff that hasn’t been used for an embarrassingly long time, but cost some of our hard earned cash and has its own story to tell, it’s difficult to make the decision to part with it.

I have to balance this against the knowledge that when I have been in our little cottage in Le Grand-Pressigny for an extended period, managing perfectly well with a fraction of the stuff we have at home (thinking that we still think of our house in Derbyshire as “home”), if someone had sent me an email saying “I am sorry to report that your house in England has blown up” (or burned down), I would not have been the least bit perturbed.  I would have missed some of my cake stands and crockery, and my beads, but not the rest of the stuff.

This weekend we have been having a bit of a breather before the real work really starts.  We have hidden as much as we could behind the cupboard doors and in my dad’s house.  Now we have to truly get down to the nitty gritty of really sorting out and getting rid, whilst trying desperately to keep the place clean and tidy just in case someone wants to come and have a look round.

We are in limbo, playing the waiting game.  We can’t move forward now until the house is sold and the money is in the bank.  This is not easy for a Sagittarian, whose main accomplishments do not include being patient.

Have a good week !!

February 7, 2014

POSTAGE STAMPS

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How many stamps come through your letterbox these days?  Not many I think.  Most of today’s post is franked and parcels usually have printed stickers on them. 

stamps

We both collected stamps as children, encouraged to do so by parents and attending stamp clubs at school.  I wonder how many children collect stamps these days.  Not many, I would guess.

About twenty years ago we were clearing out the loft and found our old stamp albums.  There was at the time a stamp shop in town so we went to have a word with the owner and find out if the stamps might be worth anything.  Instead we came out with a set of brand new albums and started to build a proper grown-up collection.

We haven’t collected seriously for a while now, largely because we have acquired all the easy ones and the gaps in our albums are too expensive to fill.

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One of the things that makes a stamp worth collecting is the postmark.  The most sought after stamps often have something called a “circular date stamp” or CDS.  A stamp with wavy lines on it is still collectable, but much less desirable.

So how many stamps plop through your letterbox with a CDS on them?  Very, very few I think.  So it’s worthwhile saving them and, if you’re not interesting in stamp collecting yourself, pass them on to someone that is or give them to charity.  Charities love them. 

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A nice stamp, now worthless because of the creases.

It is however, very important how you save them, preferably leaving them on a nice margin of paper so they can be removed carefully.  Above all, don’t just rip them off the envelope.  A damaged stamp, even if quite rare, is uncollectable and therefore worthless.

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When I buy a stamp to post something, I try to be careful how I stick it on the envelope, and like to think that one day, this stamp might end up being a prized item in somebody’s stamp collection!

I was reminded of our long forgotten pastime the other day, when we moved our stamp albums and all the paraphernalia that goes with them ~ in the process of trying to make our house look like a show home. 

stamps4 About an evening’s worth of sorters.

I had almost forgotten my large box of “sorters”, something to settle down with on a cold winter’s evening when there’s nothing on the telly.  All of them have been given to me by people who have saved them from their letters and parcels.  I will sort them, keep some and pass the good ones on to charity ~ most charities accept them very gratefully and will have an address on their website showing where to send them.

So the next time you get a nice stamp through your letterbox, save it, don’t bin it ~ someone somewhere might just be very pleased to own it !!

February 2, 2014

GETTING STARTED AND FLASHING MY GOLD CARD

So we have had three estate agents round to get a valuation of our house and an opinion on what, if anything, we should do to it to make sure it sells.  One said we needn’t do anything at all. 

February 2014-1 014

I wonder if this is the last time we will see daffodils on the hall table on 2nd February in this house.

Number two said to remove all the stuff from the third bedroom, which has always been used as our “office” and put a bed in it so that people could see that it is actually big enough to use as a bedroom.

Number three said to remove all the small items of furniture from the living room and remove all objects from every surface in every room so that the house would look its best on the website, which is where most people look when they want to buy a house.  Looking at his website the houses do indeed look fabulous and very enticing.  He didn’t say anything about getting a bed for the third bedroom.

The interesting thing was that two of the agents were of the exact same opinion as to its value, within £5k.  We were not impressed by number two who valued it £25k less and was very downbeat about everything.  He was so miserable and uninspiring that I’m not surprised he gets less money for his clients.

We decided to go with number three.  His approach was more brutal (his word) in terms of how we clear the place out and make it look good, but he seemed to have much more about him in terms of marketing, and his was the highest valuation.  My theory is that we should go for it and aim to get as much as possible, because you can always reduce the price but you can’t put it up.  Also, he is a young man who has a single, independent business, having started it last year when the company he worked for was taken over by a multiple whose methods he didn’t approve of.

He started off with one house to sell and has sold 170 in his first year.  The aim is to have ours on the market on 1st March.

The one major thing we have decided to do ourselves is to replace some of the glass panels in the double glazed windows.  The older ones have started to mist up and we don’t want potential buyers to be put off, thinking they will have a huge bill to replace all the windows.  For a relatively modest outlay (less than £2,000) they will all look perfect.  The interesting thing is that by using a local tradesman and flashing my Gold Card, we saved £400 !! 

And to think that some people scoffed at the idea of me being so keen to get my “bus pass” !!  Put that in your pipe and smoke it !!