Monday, 18 July 2011

Mi Casa Su Casa*

It was back to back house-hunting this week. We had seen 5 houses and each was an experience we will never forget. Our main criteria was affordable, 3 bedrooms with a driveway or off-road parking or 2 bedrooms with a garage, a garden and one bus-ride to the university. No pressure then…

Our first was DA which belonged to our landlord. It has 3 bedrooms with a huge, huge garden, a very tiny kitchen, one bus-ride and street parking.  High rent but our landlord was willing to negotiate. We asked him to open up the side fence so that we could park the car in the garden. But according to him, it was impossible because there was no right of access. We’d to say no to the house. Our car was vandalised a few times before and we never want it to happen again.

Next was HC which I was hoping to get. It has 3 bedrooms with a garage and one bus-ride. When we arrived, we weren’t alone. A group of students and another couple was already waiting to see the same house. Just imagine 9 of us, including the estate agent and tenant, trampling about in the house. There was no privacy to discuss things. I didn’t like the way things were run especially if you’re interested in the house, you have to hand a deposit of £250 in the car-park. How unprofessional was that. Business carried out in the car-park. We watched the students paying the deposit.

The estate agent told us that it wasn’t a first-come, first serve basis. Deposit was collected to ensure that we were in the running for the house. We have to go to the office to fill in the forms which included lots of personal details. Then the landlord will choose the “best tenant”!!! We didn’t have confidence in this system at all and decided to forego the house.

Then another viewing of KC. This was our second trip. It was a 2 bedroom bungalow with a garage and walking distance to the university. Eureka but… It was the most expensive house to rent. We think we could manage because of the ideal location but it was just too small. We’d to store a lot of stuff in the garage which defeat the purpose. Since it was a bungalow, it was very dark inside as it was surrounded by double-storey houses. I guess another no-no.

The 4th house was at BA, close to our favourite playground. 2 bus-ride, 3 bedrooms and a garage. We were asked to meet the agent at 5.30pm. We’d a leisure drive and reached the house at 5.15pm. We checked out the house and an electric sub-station was just beside it with a sign “THIEVES BEWARE”. Hmm…don’t like that. We waited and waited and waited….until 5.45pm. We could see the neighbourhood curtains twitching. I’m sure they were wondering what we’re doing outside the house since there was no “To Let” sign. I guess it was time to go home.

On Saturday, we viewed a house at PD. Our chatty tree frog aka GPS wasn’t talking because the road wasn’t listed in the database. We drove around three times, even called the estate agent before asking 2 people for directions. One was scratching his head because he’d never heard it but thankfully the 2nd knew the exact location. We’d driven past and it was partially hidden behind lush trees. My oh my…it was an oasis and there were only 4 houses in a gated compound.

As soon as we parked, we were met by the estate agent. There was no garage but it has its own driveway, 3 bedrooms, a huge kitchen and dining area and a garden that could house our present casa. Wow…wow. We liked it a lot, much further but there was a direct bus service, which meant I’d to get up early. I guess I could manage that. We told the agent that we were going to think about it and will confirm on Monday. Fingers-crossed, it will be ours.  

Apart from casa hunting, life goes on as usual. On Monday, I was late for work because traffic was much heavier than usual. We were crawling down Fletchemsted Highway. What was going on because the students had already gone for their break. We carried on and came across a breakdown bus blocking the road. Hmm…and then a sign welcoming the NEBOSH graduation event. Why wasn’t the staff informed about this??? There was nothing on the Intranet.

I also had a session with a group of students from the Hong Kong City University. To break the ice, I greeted them in Mandarin, asking how they were and introduced myself. I could see the surprise and appreciative look they gave me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the rest of the induction in Mandarin. I might gave them the wrong information :-). They were very enthusiastic and eager and it was a joy to answer all their queries. I hoped they’d had a memorable stay.

On Thursday was the much anticipated teachers’ strike. It was the biggest walk-out by teachers in a generation. Planned changes meant that they will have to work longer, pay more and get less when they retire. That doesn’t sound right at all. I fully support a teacher’s right to strike as I would any other professions.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

~German Protestant theologian and pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)~

We’d a wonderful surprise when we went for a late evening stroll in Brandon Marsh. We were about to head home when we decided to check out the Teal Pool. The goslings have grown to be replicas of their parents. Common Sandpipers, Redshanks and Black-headed gulls were busy feeding along the mud-banks. Suddenly, there was a big commotion and the birds just disappeared. We looked around and up in the sky when we spotted this handsome fella skulking low in the background. We were expecting a battle when the Canada Geese strutted towards the fox, checking him out. I bet he was surprised to see these  big birds coming towards him and made a quick dash into the bushes with his tail between his legs.Brandon Marsh D300s X2  01-07-2011 19-02-54 This post was long overdue. At the moment, we’re drowning in storage boxes. The casa was like a tip and weekends was spent at the tip too.  We deposited a lot of stuff at the recycling centre, donated tools to the Brandon Marsh Conservation Group and sent bags of bits and pieces to the charity shops. There was still a lot to do. The kitchen was still untouched and the garden…still growing. Although exhausted, we are looking forward to the move.

*”My house your house in Spanish”

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