Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The where to live question

Still we are on the where to live question.

As you may have expected there has been a few comments about the idea of us living in Australia. I didn't say that we had decided that, I said we were going to go and spend some quality time with friends there and see what happens. If I do really feel happier in Australia or if thats just a myth in my mind, and if we will miss family too much.

I do really like being closer to my family. It is great for BB to have them around too. I would love to love living here. So, in addition to going to Australia I have also decided that we should scour this country for suitable places to live too. When I first came back I decided to look at Devon and Derbyshire as places to live. I actually ruled Devon out completely after I went and spent a couple of months there and I didn't like it. The narrow lanes and high hedges felt claustrophobic after a lifetime in the desert and fens, and I felt like I wouldn't ever feel part of the community. Derbyshire could still be possible though.

On visits back to the UK when I was living in Australia I stayed with friends in Wilsthire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire etc and decided that the part of the UK west of London and south of Birmingham could be a nice place to live. I have a sister in Hereford too, and BB adores her. So we checked out a couple of places in that area of the weekend. The first was Leominster, which had some nice features, but reminded me a bit of Wisbech, which has some negative connotations for me so I think that might be a no. The second was Ludlow, which so far we both love. Even though it was a dull, cold, rainy day at the end of winter, the place had a nice feel. Beautiful buildings, nice landscape around the town, fabulous river running through, a railway station, some nice coffee shops and galleries, a busy market square, even on a Monday in the rain in the low season. BB's first word to describe it was "it's awesome", and he loved the castle. It's only half an hour or so from my sister too. The only negative is that it is not so accessible to other parts of the country, being an hour from any major roads, but actually that is probably what makes it affordable for us in terms of property prices. So we now have a place on the list for further exploration in this country too.

I also recently went to Dudley for a training course. I lived in Birmingham for 4 years when I was studying and I did note as I was driving home that day that it felt good, even as I passed spaghetti junction and the hideous power station - I have lots of positive associations with that area. Birmingham is a good city, though I wouldn't want to live in it as I am so far from being a city person, it would be nice to have that close by.

So we do have options worth exploring in the UK too and I am looking forward to a summer here really checking some places out.

Photos are of our weekend away. BB found a nice pace to sit under a tree in Queenswood, loved playing with Doris the cat, and enjoyed climbing to the top of the tallest turret at Ludlow Castle, where he announced that we were "higher than the world". He then wanted to go into the church we he lit a candle for Nana, and then when we saw some similar candles in another area of the church he decided we should light one for other Nanna too - "the one who died before I was in your tummy".


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

And so, we are back to plan A

I laugh at myself sometimes.

I infuriate myself sometimes.

And at other times I am pleased that I have planned a thousand different scenarios, as once I have decided there is always a plan ready to go with.

So, following on from my last post about moving house, where I planned to go to Australia while we were waiting for the people to move out of our new house. First of all I noticed that I was excited about the move for the first time. I have been a bit indifferent, not really wanting to sell this house, but not wanting to live here either. I have been wondering if the new house really did meet our needs, and if I was buying at too high a price, and whether I would be swearing that there was no downstairs office or a laundry, and that the bathroom was tiny. And although it would save us time and petrol in travelling, and was located near a nice country park, would anything really change with regard to how happy I am here?

I also realised that what was exciting me was not leaving this house, or moving to the new one, but going to Australia. Though 8 weeks really didn't seem quite long enough once I started to think about all the places we needed to go and the people we needed to see. Then I had an voicemail from my solicitor saying that he had heard nothing from the solicitors of either the people I was buying from or the people that were buying from me, and so he was assuming nothing was going ahead with either.

After a brief moment of despair regarding the fact that I had no control over any of it, I suddenly felt relieved. Great. That's the decision made for me then, we won't sell our house, we won't buy a new house, but we can still go to Australia, and if we rent our house out we will have an income while we are on our trip. Yippee. And we can go after the English summer, arriving in Queensland before the humidity, then to the desert before the heat gets too intense, and then down to the south coast for summer. Hip hip hooray!

And then I got an email saying my buyer was still interested and it was just that their solicitor was slow...


So I spent a few days with an intense migraine trying to pluck up the courage to do what I knew I had to do. I had to tell our family of our plans ASAP and then tell the real estate agent we're not selling.

So  - thats what I've done.

I just notified the real estate agent so that bit is done. He was nice about it. Hopefully the rest will go as smoothly and we will get to spend some quality time in Australia and I will get to see some of my dearest friends for the first time in ages!

White sands, clear waters and blue skies here we come!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grandpa's Garden - Book Review

Grandpa's Garden was the first ever Barefoot Book that we read. It was given to BB as a gift and we immediately knew it was different to any other books we had read before. The book had a beautiful quality to it, both physically and literally. It tells the story of a boy and his Grandpa working together in the garden. They have a lovely relationship in which the Grandpa is passing down his knowledge of the garden and the relationship between the plants the earth and the animals. It follows the pair through a whole year and so gives an informative picture of what happens in the garden as the seasons roll on by.

Grandpa's Garden - Barefoot Books Review

As with many Barefoot Books this one has some fantastic and informative end notes including how to plan a vegetable garden and what jobs you need to do each season. They are so informative and inspiring that we even created our own garden based on the plan at the back.

Grandpa's Garden - Barefoot Books Review

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Am I completely bonkers to even consider this?

The update on our house move is that there is no update. It's five weeks since we made an offer on a house and the vendors still haven't found a place to move to. From what I can gather they are not even looking that hard. From what their agent tells me, they are are only looking at about one a week. I understand their problem, they want to stay in the area they are in and there is very little on the market in that area at the moment.

Meanwhile, my buyer is starting to wonder what's happening. I waiver between not being concerned at all, thinking that I like my house anyway and its fine, to thinking maybe I should just sell and move out. I have also considered trying to get a mortgage in it and keeping it as a rental, but realistically I don't think I can afford that. Although it is a great house with all that we want and need, its not where we want to be, so, sad as I will be to say goodbye to the house that gave me a family, it has to go.

So I am thinking that we should just go. Agree to the sale and move out. We can put our stuff in storage for a while and go to Australia to visit our friends during our homeless period, and then hope the people that we are buying from have found somewhere, or look for somewhere else. The more I think about it the more it makes sense. My nan's bungalow may have sold by then too, and as a small portion of that has been left to me that will make a difference to how much we have to spend, so I will have a better idea of my own financial position once thats done. It's a great time to go overseas as we won't have any costs back home while we are away. Ideally I would choose to go to Australia in our winter rather than our summer - just to maximise the amount of sunlight we receive, but actually for two out of the three places we want to go within Australia, it's a better time of year to visit.

But - is that a completely irresponsible thing to do when you have a 3 1/2 year old. If it was just me I would have already made the calls to make it happen, but what if we get home and have nowhere to live! Again if it was just me I could make it work, no doubt I can make it work with two of us, we could rent for a while if it came to it. But is that fair on BB?


Your thoughts please...

Pura D'or Organic Argan Oil Shampoo - Review

A couple of months ago I was sent a bottle of Pura d'or Hair Loss Prevention Premium Organic Shampoo to review. This is a premium product containing Argan Oil which has recently risen in popularity in hair care, and as I am in the process of discovering different hair products for a grey haired old lady I was more than happy to give it a try.

I was disappointed when it first arrived that I had been sent the shampoo only. I usually use a shampoo and conditioner pair. I was uncertain at first  as to whether I should use it alone or with another conditioner, but I decided to try it out by itself and see how I went. It's not like I have really long hair that's gong to get tangled now is it! Also, I have been reading stories of people using coconut oil as a conditioner and had been saying I would give it a try, so I finally got around to that too. I used the shampoo every day and the coconut oil conditioner just once a week. This turned out to be a perfect combination. My hair didn't seem overly dry after just the shampoo, but with the coconut oil conditioner it felt amazing. It makes you wonder why we even use conditioner in the first place.

The main claim of this particular shampoo is that it reduces hair loss. Now I lose a lot of hair. It's not quite so noticeable since it has been shorter, but my shed hair has always been everywhere, blocking plug holes and vacuum cleaners, and this has definitely been worse following my pregnancies. I did think that perhaps it was better when using this shampoo, so to put it to the test I have been using a different one this week to see if it made any difference, and it definitely has. In fact I was reminded that I needed to write this review by the hairs that have fallen onto my keyboard during the last couple of days when I haven't been using it! So, it seems it does what is says on the tin.

It is quite a pricey product, but it says on the bottle that the 16floz is approximately 3 months supply and I would say that this is a good estimate. I have used it every day for a month and I have not quite used a third of the bottle yet. That said I have short hair and so only need one squirt from the dispenser, but many people don't wash their hair every day either. So, if you take how long it lasts into account when you consider the price it is probably no more expensive than your average supermarket brands, and I'd definitely choose this paraben and sodium laureth sulphate free organic shampoo over most of those!

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