Sunday, May 20, 2007

10 Green Bottles...

...Sitting on the wall...And if one green bottle....Should accidentally fall...there'll be 9 green bottles...sitting on the wall.

Who remembers that song???


Soooo let's see what I did this week.


You get the picture.

And rather than checking blogs (you may have noticed I was not about), I have an array of constantly open Firefox tabs with properties that I plan to book for viewing.

Next week I shall put off the property viewing for a couple of days, and start the week with social activities. On Sunday I will go to see my grandmother in SW London, where I will do a dinner of duck legs, courgettes (zucchini), potato croquettes, followed by carrot cake.

Oh, and how will I spend my Saturday? Seeing a few properties of course (with an old friend who lives up there). Yes, London is so all-consuming that some estate agents stay open all week. Makes sense, as some people work 50 hour weeks. They must do all their grocery shopping, laundry, errands, and sleeping (it's true!) on weekends.

And where have I set my heart on living? Why, near where I used to go to school...An historic hill town just half an hour outside the centre of London on the tube. It still feels like a village but it's not even on the end of the line. You Londoners probably know exactly where I mean now, with all the glaring hints.

Off to peep at a couple of blogs now. Will it be yours? Who knows?


Saturday Update:

Went to see a couple of properties in Harrow with my old friend Angela. I am sorely tempted to go for the luxury block - the flat was small but it had two bedrooms and two bathrooms (a big deal in the UK), and is furnished in contemporary style. It has a designer (albeit compact) fitted kitchen with Neff appliances and granite counters, air conditioning, long balcony, solar activated blinds, roof gardens, concierge, and for residents use of a small gym, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi...It is 5 minutes walk from the station, which is important as it's further out of London, about 20 minutes into the almost-centre.

On second thought, it is more like a kitchen in a cupboard. I kid you not, my walk-in closet in our first apartment in the US (before we got back into 4-bedroom houses) was bigger than this kitchen!

It's not a bad-bad area, I've been in worse, but I didn't feel that great walking about in the shopping centre. I got stared at a lot for some reason and it does feel a bit ghetto. Surrounding this block there are some ugly 1970s office blocks that look like they are about to be converted too. Well, at least it's not an ex-local authority block - they are in depressing 1960s and 70s slabs or towers, and are still pretty dire. Even when refurbished they look sad, and are only slightly less expensive than private "purpose built" blocks.

So there's that. Or a few minutes away in Harrow on the Hill proper is this 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom flat:

Which is a part of this house:

(see it's tucked into the right side there and the other photos show it has some surprisingly large spaces.)

Or just round the corner there's this 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottage:

Only downside is the two pretty places (haven't booked to see yet) are about a 20 minute walk from the station....Or the bus takes about 5 minutes, but you have to wait up to 15 minutes for it. Ha!

The whole area of Harrow on the Hill is like a village. London is made up of villages, but the ones farther out such as H-on-the-H, Hampstead and Highgate have been able to retain some of their identity and all three are on hills, raised above the grime of the city. The two latter are a bit closer to town and very exclusive as quite a few celebs live there. Harrow on the Hill's claim to fame is the renowned Harrow Boys School which is the second best public school in the UK behind Eton, of course. Old Harrovians of note include Winston Churchill, James Blunt (the singer), Cary Elwes (yes, the actor), more actors James and Edward Fox and Benedict Cumberbatch (mentioned him in a previous blog), Lord Byron and a host of other titled nobility including other former prime ministers and politicians, Jordanian princes, Earl Grey, a Rothschild and two Earls Spencer, some of the Queen's cousins, lords, marquesses, viceroys, dukes, loads of writers, Indian P.M. Nehru, adventurers, spies, industrialists, and so on...I have radar: It always turns out that the actors I find cutest are ex-public school boys (like Elwes and Cumberbatch)...!

It was quiet up there today. I think they were all down in St John's Wood at the cricket test matches.

The lettings agents say I am working with a pretty good budget for outer London, but still, I know that a few hundred more per month would get me more than I can choose from, even closer into town. As it is, I can find a very limited number of fairly decent properties at this distance. If money were no object...ah, but this is London.

So many people in their 30s live at home with their parents because they can't afford their own place, or even sometimes a houseshare. But I don't have that luxury anymore, and my mother is essentially homeless. We give up. We cannot live apart anymore. Independence is overrated, and all we have is each other - we have always been best friends. Even my cousins are disappointed in me for giving up my independence - well, they left home before 18, for many reasons. I, on the other hand, am different. And in the absence of a relationship and little prospect of one on the horizon (God knows I've tried), what else can I do? I am tired of the lonely struggle in the big city. We make each other laugh like no one else apart from my father does, and he is thousands of miles away and rarely calls. I can't have both of them that far away. Like I said, I am tired, and I know my mother is too. In my heart of hearts, I reproach him for putting us both in this very difficult position. Money was never, never, never an issue until our family split up.

Our relationship is such that we impart confidence to each other, and after all we have both been through since the divorce, we haven't lived together. I think we need to do that, so we can heal together too, at last.


L B said...

Yes, I think when you are so close to your mother, it must be such a hardship living apart! Family First!

Ricercar said...

have to start house hunting myself! dreading it :)

Anonymous said...

good luck on the hse hunting, I just found a lovely three bedroom flat in downtown St John's for $500 Can a month, right near busses to school and work, its the bottom floor of a Victorian home


Selba said...

I remember when I was in Germany, it's very hard to see grown up childern (above 18 years old) still staying with their parents because the society might think it's weird. When they found out that with my age almost 30 (during my last visit to Germany) and still living together with my mom, they gave a "funny" look to me. Well, I guess the culture is different. Here in Indonesia, a lot of people when they got married, they even still living with their parents.

I think it depends on each individual and family tradition/culture. If you have a close relationship with your mom then I think it's a very great idea to live together again :)

Good luck with the house hunting and keep us update with the progress, ok :)

Nabeel said...

i like the word flat better than condos .. here we call them condos :( .. flat sounds well it is more understandable :) What are you going for? I mean in the city or the suburbs?

AmitL said...

Hi, viewing continues.:)Love the descriptions you give of the various places.Grin at the 'Kitchen in a cupboard'one.(Pity I can't see the snaps,as usual).Harrow On The Hill sounds quite interesting,with all it's celeb claim to fame.Sad to read the last para,but,I guess,everything in life happens for a purpose.And,if u're an optimist,the purpose is always something good.

Katja said...

I don't think living with your mum is a bad thing. You've been out in the big wide world doing the independent thing for a while now - it's not like you never ever left. As you say, you're the best of friends and I think it will make you both very happy to spend time together properly again.

Harrow-on-the-Hill is lovely. I toured with a girl who lived up there and I used to enjoy driving out to pick her up - it's really not so very far from London for all the excitement of the city, but when you're there it feels like a million miles away. Very peaceful.

Olivia at work said...

LB - Yes, no matter what anyone says, this is the best thing.

Of course in a few months I may be ranting about the latest argument I've had with her, but everyone needs to argue to get toughened up. Living alone doesn't give you that practice.


Ricercar - are you living in uni housing at the moment?


Jia Li - don't tell me you are moving again!!!
My gosh, is the whole flat going for CN $500? You can't get a room in a houseshare for that here...


Selba - Lots of British adults are moving back home because they can't afford their own flat, or even sometimes a houseshare, so they live at home and save money, either to live on, or for a deposit on a house if they are earning enough.


Nabeel - pretty much the suburbs. This place is 10 miles out, but still considered to be "Greater London". I know you live in Chicago and probably drive, so it is going to amuse you to know that it can take about an hour to get into the centre of town from this distance...


Amit - oh sorry, I posted so late at night and it was convenient to use Flickr!


Katja - thanks :)
I mean, I know how to cook, clean, take care of I can do it again at any time. And I will still be in charge of all the financial details.

The Moody Minstrel said...

It's good and even enviable that you and your mother have such a nice relationship. I don't think I need to comment any further about how well my wife and I get along with her parents right next door...

Good luck flat-hunting. That one attached to that house looks lovely!

ML said...

It so hard to find the perfect place that feels like home.

I don't blame you for missing your Mum! It sounds like you have a really close relationship with her.

Lotus Reads said...

I live 12,000 miles away from my parents Olivia, and not a day goes by when I am not wishing that my parents lived with me. Life goes by so fast..I know there will come a day when I regret having spent so many years away from them. I think you're doing the right thing by having your mom move in with you.

lunaliar said...


It's good when you spin a long yarn, Liv!

-I can totally empathize on the agony of house-hunting. Dave and I finally agreed on a house, and we've got it under contract! Here's hoping you find a good flat!

-I have the same relationship with my mother. We're friends, actually, she's more like one of those friends that you always go to for advice, that always seems to know the right thing to say and can finish the whole discussion by making you laugh so hard you might wet yourself with glee!

I'd move back in with my mom in a moment's notice if Dave wouldn't mind!

Dan said...

all we have is each other - we have always been best friends.

Gosh, you are so sweet. I wish I could give you a huge hug right now. If you enjoy your mom, then by all means, enjoy her! Hugs and kisses to you, Olivia.

amillionpieces said...

I've never been to Harrow on the Hill but it does sound fab. I'm a big Primrose Hill fan too, I like to go up top and look at the view, although I guess some of those that have had less focus for clebs and slobs are probably much nicer to live in.

I too have been hardly around and have a row of firefox tabs dedicated to copying things down for a welsh MP. I can't wait to do them all and rest again!

Olivia said...

Minstrel - hm, I seem to have heard a little about that :P

Everyone likes the second house! I am giving up and giving in to Platinum House, though, the luxury block...


ML - "that feels like home"...we may wait a while yet. This modern place is a bit soulless, but it's easy, no extra costs apart from electricity so I mean there's no ground rent/service charge, and hey everyone could do with a concierge to see you in and out.


Lotus - thanks for the encouragement. It benefits no one to have us apart, it's not as if she's living with my father anymore. So I am definitely doing the right thing.


Luna - hey welcome back from holidays!
Are you talking about the house you live in now? You had the option to buy, right?

Gosh, I can't wait to laugh with my mother. It's so ticklish. I am going to be such a different person!


Dan - awwwwww you say the sweetest things!
If I had a hug for every time someone wanted to give me one, I would be flat.


Pete - when have you been to Primrose Hill? Let Katja and me know next time you're there and we'll come and kidnap you!

Eric said...

I do remember a song similar to that, but it was titled "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall", and it went: "99 Bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall!" Hehe! I just want you to know that I absolutely love your hometown! London is the best! (Of course, it wouldn't hurt that my family roots go back there!)

lunaliar said...

It's good to be back, but I miss the Atlantic breeze already!

This is a different house that we're going to buy, if everything works out right (fingers crossed)!!! There are several things I like about apartment living and renting (no responsibility for maintenance, reduced utility costs, etc.) but missing out on the investment of property ownership would be awful.

The 100-year-old house we live in now, though, is cracking at the seams. The owner has not been maintaining the foundation properly and we have sagging plaster in the ceiling in our living room and study!

I'm so glad you're excited about moving in w/ you're mom!

Olivia said...

Eric - welcome. 99 Bottles is the American one, 10 Green Bottles is the British and has a totally different tune.

London is fantastic. Not easy to live in, yet hard to leave :)

Anything exciting in your roots?


Luna - oh, so this is a new development! Yes at least when you buy you recoup the money you put in...renting, it all goes down the drain.

It seems like only the other day you posted proud pics of your new rented place. Well I wish you both well and hope the deal goes through.

Um Naief said...

yes, i think you and your mother should live together. it'll be really good for both of you. i loved living w/ my mom and miss it.

i don't like the first place at all, the 2nd two are nice looking, altho i'm not sure that i'd want to do a house share and the 2nd photo looks like that.

i'm glad your granny is near to you. i wish i had that opportunity to be near to mine again. enjoy every minute of it!

Olivia said...

Um Naief - what does "um" mean?

I went to see the second house today...

amillionpieces said...

Arty, I watched the fireworks there a few years back, and sipped hot chocolate's in the starbucks at the top of adelaide road, and had lovely fish and chips from the chip shop just down from the hill. Its marvelous! After the fireworks I did find out other bloggers were there too, altho I didn't know at the time.

Um Naief said...

"um" means "mother of"... so it's mother of naief. and for fathers.. it's "bu" meaning "father of".