30 April, 2008

we have a house!

Oh what an exciting day we've had! And when on earth was the last time I said THAT?! Actually it wasn't so much an exciting day in and of itself, but it was the day we got the keys to our new HOUSE!

It was thrilling to walk around the newly-painted pristine, white, empty rooms and imagine where all our belongings are going to go, especially rejoicing in the goodly array of built-in bookshelves. Of course, I have my 11 foot by 11 foot system of removable shelving coming with us, which will make a divinely warm and fuzzy wall in the kitchen (I think books are highly underrated as a decorating technique, don't you? all that color and variety). But to have further space will just be heavenly. For once in my life, and Avery's life, there may well be room enough for all our books to have a home. I fully plan to alphabetize them this time, because I spend an inordinate amount of time, hands on hips, gazing over the shelves trying desperately to find something.

The landlady could not be sweeter. She brought tea bags and coffee, loo paper and soap, and a bottle of champagne! And for Avery a bottle of sparkly apple juice. How nice is that? She genuinely wants us to be happy there, which makes a big difference when you're writing out the rent check. "The neighbors will all call," she said, "but you needn't worry that they'll be intrusive. They'll just be there in case you can't find your tin opener." She has a daughter spending her gap year all over the world (today she's in Laos) and so was sympathetic with my nerves over mere Normandy. "They do go off," she said, "just make sure that if it's 3 a.m. and she's drunk in a pub and needs a ride home, she calls you and not someone else." Hard to believe that will ever happen, but one never knows! Adolescence makes fools of us all, I suppose.

We went all through the house with the little booklet she made up for us with instructions on how everything works. The only thing not working at present is the ice maker in the freezer, but she has a technician coming, knowing that insane Americans cannot live without ice. I couldn't believe it: this morning I went to Marks and Spencer to get ice, and there... wasn't any. No one else seemed bothered about this, but I felt it was an outrage! No ice.

From the house we went up to Kensal Rise to the furniture warehouse we'd seen in a booth at the antique fair this weekend, and found a perfectly fabulous partner desk, made of ash and covered in rather battered blue leather. What fun that would be! We rushed back home and measured the front room and it could fit. Rushed back to our current abode and immediately we both went into frantic telephone mode: I called the vet to get the cattery number in Kent, called the cattery and booked all four felines into a "family chalet" for the week of the move. I love it: the girl who answered the phone took down the cats' names before she asked mine.

Then I called the upholsterer who is holding our sofa and bench hostage and had his assurance that the fabric had been ordered. That would be entirely good news only he hasn't told us how much he is charging, and now it sounds as if we're committed, with the fabric already on its way. Sigh. Then I called the bookshelf people and scheduled a "de-install and re-install" on just exactly the day I wanted them to come: when the movers have departed with the boxes of books and are on their way to take them to my new kitchen.

This lovely vine is jasmine, it turns out, framing our blue front door. The landlady says that when the weather is fine, we can open the sitting room windows and the smell of jasmine will come floating in. And the fireplaces work! All three of them, in what will be the Avery-do-your-homework room off the kitchen, in my study at the front of the house, and in the big reception room upstairs.

Whew! Tonight we're going out to dinner with our lovely neighbors, to a French restaurant around the corner and we can bore them both with our enthusiasm. I think it's just possible we'd be even more excited if we had bought the house, but how's this for a coincidence: just this morning there were economic reports of the first official house price drop in 12 years. Long may it continue! My last story of the day really makes me laugh, in a frustrated sort of way. We had a lovely chap from the oldest moving company in England come to give us a quote. This firm has been in business for 400 years, for heaven's sake. But guess what? Last week they went into receivership. Bankrupt! Four hundred years in business and it takes OUR JOB to put them under! Ah well, we've found another company, so I can only hope they don't realize the sort of curse we put on a business...


min said...

How very exciting for you all. the house looks and sounds lovely!
PS I never knew how attached I was to ice until we spent a week in London last year.

Kristen In London said...

Min, this made me laugh. Having lived here now a long time, we have discovered very silly "ice cube bags," plastic receptacles, very flimsy little bags, that you fill up with water and tie the tops off, and they become ice cubes. So frustrating!

Burniston said...

Excellent news about the house! the partners desk sounds like a great find as well!
The ice thing works both ways - I remember my first trip to the US when I was six - I spent most of the time in the hotel mesmerised by the ice machine in the corridor!!

Kristen In London said...

Oh, Burniston, I am so excited about the house. And ice: how funny is that? I too spent a lot of my childhood hanging over ice machines in motels, not hotels.

We are on pins and needles to get Avery back in a couple of hours, after a week away, so off I go.