This week it is eight years since we moved from Surrey up to Cheshire. In general those eight years seem to have gone remarkably quickly. There have been times, particularly when we were waiting for the building work on the cottage to start, that it felt as if the hands on the clock were going backwards. It took about four to five years for me to think of Cheshire as home and I think that was more to do with eventually feeling that the cottage belonged to us, when we broke the back of the decorating, as it was to seeing Cheshire as familiar. There are still times when I feel as if I am living in a foreign country. Only last week a shop assistant said something to me as she handed back my credit card. I did not understand a word of what she said. When we first moved here we rented a house while we looked for a house to buy. It took us five and a half months of looking to find the cottage and another two and a half months to actually buy it, which meant that it was the end of April 2004 when we moved to the cottage.
Back in April after yet another sleepless Saturday night, courtesy of the neighbour's barking dog, we were seriously considering moving house. I know that you will be thinking they must be mad. They haven't finished the cottage that they are currently living in. But the brain plays tricks on you when you are wide awake at 3am in the morning. We had seen for sale, in the village, a house which interested us. At present we live on the outskirts of the village. Even though there is nothing more than a post box and a phone box in the centre of the village I have hankered after living in the village, ever since we moved here. The post office and a little shop went a long time ago. At the time that we moved here the cottage that we bought was the only suitable property available. It is not very often that a house in the village is for sale. Most of the houses are too big for us and in all the seven years that we have lived here, this is the first house that ticked the right boxes for us. It wasn't perfect. It needed work doing to it. Neither of us really wanted a return to living in a building site but what is the price of a good night's sleep?
There followed a week of frantic activity to get the cottage tidy and presentable for estate agents to value it. I would not describe the inside of the cottage as untidy, but it was amazing the amount of clutter that there was around the place. What did not have a home and could not be thrown away ended up in the spare bedroom which is the only room that has not been decorated. Things were stuffed into drawers and cupboards and afterwards I did not know where I had put them! The dust sheets that had protected the conservatory furniture were bundled into a bin bag which I hid in the garage. Luckily I remembered that hiding place and they did not end up going out with the rubbish.
Two estate agents came to value the cottage. If we were to sell, which we aren't, neither would have the privilege of selling it for us. The first came early before I was ready, fortunately husband was able to let him in. The second was late. Neither apologised. Uncannily they both valued the cottage at the same disappointing figure. Considerably less than the larger house next door which is currently for sale. This is the very same house that I recently wrote about being two council tax bands below our cottage. It has the same number of rooms as our cottage, although it is larger. More space means higher bills. The next door house also has a bigger garden. Our garden is big enough for us. We do not want to have to spend all day cutting the lawn. Whoever buys it will be paying a high price for the extra space. Both agents said that the next door house was over priced.