Water water everywhere, nor a drop to drink

So… we have had more than a little rain. But no real problems. A bit of damp in the garage, but generally the house has been OK. Until today…

For some reason the walls which we have been concerned about have started to show their dampness. It must be something about the way the rain has fallen. The house is constructed in a bit of a weird way. I think that there must have been two small courtyards in the middle of the house. On one side, it has been roofed over with a flat felt roof. When our tame builder came round he said that the job “was badly done” which was a polite way of him saying it was crap. He was not surprised that we had evidence of damp. Nor am I after we now have water coming down on the inside.

What to do? Well also our tame builder said a good piece of advice that he used on a client: “That water outside has now come inside. We need to stop it. That is all the issue is”

Somehow it is a comfort to reduce it to a simple statement like that!


Happy Christmas to All

Happy Christmas to my readers. Thank-you for following me in 2013. We are pretty much unpacked – which is good as we are having a large family get together for Christmas Day. Lots to tell, but just hectic. I promise to write soon!

We are in

After a very stressful Friday – we have finally moved into the Victorian Pile. What happened was that our lawyer got the account number wrong, so that the house we were. Using only had about half the money! It meant waiting around for 5 hours, and even then it was not sorted. Sense prevailed and we were allowed in “under license”. This meant that the removal men could unload. They were great and when I get time I shall write a blog entry dedicated to Alban Moves!

What is important is that we are in, on Monday the rest of the money transferred so we now do own the house. Although we have had not a lot of time, we have managed to explore bits of the house – so much to write about! I also took a photo, but the weather in Devon has been so wet that I want to take a photo when the sun is out!

I will post more later, but at present we have thousands of boxes to unpack!

At last we are moving

So finally, after a million phone calls, negotiation, builders estimates , solicitors, more phone calls, head locks and Chinese burns we are moving! This is really the reason why I have not written in the blog for so long. For a bit it really looked as though we would not move at all and the dreams of living in the Victorian Pile would be gone forever. When our buyer decided to try and renegotiate on the purchase of our house we really thought that the whole thing was off the rails. However there is a word that is used too little in the English Language – No! So we managed to talk the purchaser round and we were on again.

For those of you that don’t live in the UK, there is a quaint (meet utterly crazy system) where what happens is that you spend a whole load of time trying to get to contract exchange. It is only after contract exchange can you not really pull-out. Up to that point anything goes and it can get a bit wild west. After contract exchange in completion. That is when you finally move in.

The fun bit for us has been that we wanted to get in before Christmas. This is rare and a bit of a push. So we negotiated the completion date being 10 days after contract exchange. This is great, but when we phoned the removal company, they said they could not do that date.


Luckily my wife did a good bit of tracking down another firm that can do that date.


This meant that the weekend just gone was me up the loft bringing down the various boxes of junk that we wanted to move with. It was only after I looked in some of the boxes that I realised we had loads of VHS and audio cassettes – and nothing to play them on! Queue the umpteenth trip to the tip to dispose of it. They will probably be worth something in 50 years!

So where is the house. Well I can now reveal that we are moving down from a place North of London and down to Torquay in Devon. The house as I said in a prior post was build in around 1857, and is much much bigger than our current (soon to be old house). It does need a lot of work, so I have organised a builder to come round before Christmas for “mince pie and an estimate”.

We have also invited the extended family for Christmas. I can only work to a deadline, and this seemed quite a good one to get me going, but I am sure Christmas morning I will change my mind and wish I had never thought it was a good idea.

Anyway once we are in then I will post a photo so watch this space.


When I started writing this blog, I expected to write interesting and funny things about houses like my colleagues at Kenwyn and  Victoria Elizabeth Barnes or even post some photos – although they could not be as stunning as Patrick’s.

Instead I am writing about tax. Not the most interesting of subjects, but comes to us all. Now I have blogged about this before: the issues of getting a mortgage when you are self employed. The bank in their infinite wisdom needed to have both the company accounts (no problem says I – I’ll pop it in the post). They also needed SA302s.

Now a quick search of the interweb revealed that this was a new requirement and an SA302 was something that no-one had heard of. You need to phone HMRC and ask for it. I am lucky enough to have an accountant so got them on to this pronto. However there was a breakdown in communication: El Banko needs two years of SA302; my accountant asked for only one year…and there is a 2 week lead time. Queue another phone call to HMRC and the beginning of a nervous wait.


But then El Banko phones me up to find out what is happening as they had not received the SA302, and told them the state. Oh, no problem they reply, HMRC will fax it over. Phone call to a very pleasant person at HMRC who said no problem and the bank had the required documents in about 10 minutes.

Grggghh. Why had they not said this 3 weeks ago?

So if you are in the same position, try asking your bank if they can receive a fax of the SA302 and save yourself a load of time and effort!


We have finally received the registry documents for the Victorian Pile. Wow! As the house was built around 1856 there is a lot of documents to go through… and with the wonders of the internet you can look up the people that lived in the house.

It looks as though the house was built as a holiday home by the local lord (Lord Palk). Now when I think of a holiday home I tend to think of a bungalow with a couple of rooms, a small kitchen and a patch of grass behind the beach. The Victorians being the Victorians (who were very confident that what they were doing was right and knew that they were building for posterity rather than for the next 3 years) built the house with 3 main bedrooms, 3 servants bedrooms, a study, kitchen etc. Impressive by any standards.

It looks as though Lord Palk died and then the houses in the set were sold on to a local Doctor. The Doctor then owned the houses until after the war when he died. One of the interesting documents is a document that grants certain rights to the owner of the property – what is interesting about it is that it is written in a meticulous copperplate. It makes it impossible to read but makes one thing about how different things are now where we have documents easy to hand, easy to print and share. Thank goodness for modern technology!