Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Scouting Mission #1 - part one

We flew over a couple of weekends ago to go househunting in person. Enough of the realtors had gotten back to us and we had contacted others by phone to let us check out some properties. We flew in on Saturday morning to Heathrow. G goes over so often that he has registered himself with the retinal scans, so he just waltzed right through to wait for our luggage. I had to wait in the immigration line for around 40 minutes. Nice.

Eventually made it through and headed to the car rental office. I had already reserved and paid for the car, so the full sales technique of "Do you want extra insurance?" "Would you like the convenience of not having to refill the car?" "Do you want an upgrade for only 12 pounds a day?" and so on was annoying. I told G. that I'd be willing to pay an extra 10 on the rental to have a no-fuss, no-muss policy when picking up the car. He agreed. We got upgraded anyways, for free. So there.

G. did the driving at first, as we were in a bit of a rush and I wasn't quite ready to face driving on the wrong side of the road yet. We were a bit late, but so was the agent. A typical thing, we found over the weekend. We looked at 4 properties in and around Maidenhead and were pleasantly surprised to find that all 4 were acceptable. Not that we wanted all of them, but it was a relief to see what we were willing to pay in rent would get us more than a hovel.

Another agent in the afternoon, who wasn't very professional or friendly. She showed us 2 properties, one of which was the same as the first one the other agent showed us. Bit weird having the property listed with 2 different realtors we thought, but apparently common enough.

We did what we thought was a very clever thing. I took notes about all the properties and G. took pictures on the digital camera. Very useful for keeping track the different places, especially since they all started to blend together about an hour after we were through. I asked what were likely some odd questions to the agents.
"Does the place come with the oven? What about the curtains?"
"What do you recycle in all the recycling bins I've seen in front of the houses?"
"I've seen the term 'electric shower' in some of the ads. What is it?"
"So is this Maidenhead still or a separate village?"
But I honestly didn't know and figured they should know the answers. The list of things I don't know about living in England grows shorter by the day, but is still waaaaaaaaaay longer than the things I do know about living there.

After looking at houses, we headed off to our friend's place in Wendover. I drove, which was pretty stressful. I kept drifting over to the edge too far, making G. probably fear for his life a few times as the hedges loomed in. But we made it safe and sound, though with a large amount of adrenaline pumping through my veins. Our friend, St.Sh., has a lovely newish house. She's in the midst of redecorating, so one room was chaotic, but the rest were gorgeous. I looked at them and thought to myself, "I'll never be able to match the quilt cover to the pillows to the curtains like that." Not that I necessarily want to, but I admire others who can.

We had a slow and easy evening, as we were wiped out from the early flight. More about the weekend later.

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