28 July 2009

Living a champagne lifestyle

Amazingly, it has now been a whole year since I got married. I don't know where the time has gone, it has just flown by. Saturday was our actual wedding anniversary, and we had a couple of nice things planned over the weekend which made it nice and special.

Our wine rack has been half full for the last year with bottles of champagne we were given as wedding presents (about five of them I think), and recently we were told that champage doesn't always stay at its best for more than a year or so. We therefore felt we had an obligation to start drinking it up, which in reality turned into us drinking four bottles of champagne in six days. It was actually really nice to do, as expensive champagne tastes very nice and is much better than the cheap stuff, and I was surprised to find how well it goes with a dinner of fish fingers, chips and beans. It is certainly a combination that I would try again.

On Friday we had a wedding reception to go to in the evening, for a couple who had attended our wedding last year. It was out on Pangdean Farm in Pyecombe, a very nice country venue with a converted barn with lots of wooden beams. I was particularly impressed with the unusual choice of wedding cake decoration:


and the bride's beautiful sort-of-French-style wedding dress that was made by her very talented mother:

A few friends of ours were there too, so we had a nice evening of dancing and feeling nostalgic about our own wedding.

Then on Saturday, our actual anniversary, we went for a lovely meal at Blanch House, a posh restaurant in Kemptown not very far from us. We'd never go there normally, it's a bit out of our usual price range, but Chris' Mum was treating us, and it was GREAT! It was lots of high class masterchef-type food like this:


and it was ever so yummy. It was also rather alcohol-fuelled, as we had champagne before we went, and then cocktails on arrival, and wine with dinner. It was all a bit of a blur by dessert I have to say, so we took a short detour home afterwards to sober up a little bit, and sat looking at our wedding photos together and feeling a bit gooey (that may have been the fault of the alcohol again though). And then we just had a couple more drinks in Vavoom before retiring for the evening.

I was pleased to find that I didn't have a hangover at all on Sunday, which I am going to attribute as well to the champagne being expensive, and to the six million calories I ate to soak it all up.

So that was it - one anniversary down, and only 49 more until our golden one. Hopefully they will all be as enjoyable as this one was (and I won't forget any of them, which is a very real possibility).

I'm back at work today, but am only doing three-day weeks through the summer, so hurrah only two days left until the weekend! It is Brighton Pride this weekend, and they are forecasting heavy rain for Saturday. Oh dear. Pride is really quite depressing and pointless in the rain, as it is meant to be a day of drinking in the sun and looking at topless boys (a microcosm of my entire life, in fact). If it rains like they're saying it will, I may not even bother going to the park during the day - I have mud at home I can squelch around in if I wish. And besides, I'll have more champagne to drink up.

23 July 2009

Dentistry and humiliation

I had to go to the dentist this morning for a check up, as when I went six months ago the dentist lady thought I might need a filling soon. So I obediently made an appointment and went back today, with my fingers crossed that probably nothing would need doing after all and I would escape unscathed.

Silly me, because of COURSE she took one look and said oh yes that'll need filling, oh and by the way it's going to be £45.60. FORTY FIVE POUNDS! For NHS treatment! What about all my taxes? Where do they go? I thought that's what I paid them for! I couldn't really argue anyway, and she said it'd only take 15 minutes, so I just agreed to do it there and then and get it over with.

It wasn't too bad really, the worst part is the injection they give you in your mouth, which is never very pleasant and seems to go on forever. I was much more distressed however by the fact that, for some strange reason, I was obliged to wear very ugly, very unfashionable plastic sunglasses for the duration of the procedure. They were like the kind of glasses a toddler would wear, they were HORRIBLE. They looked a bit like this:


And I'm sure the nurse boy who was assisting her was laughing as he gave them to me to put on. I'm not even sure they did anything, I think it was just so they could piss themselves laughing at all their patients. It's not like it was sunny in there or anything! And I suppose they could have been to protect my eyes from flying shrapnel as she drilled the tooth, but I've had fillings before and bad sunglasses were never on the agenda for those.

I got through it anyway, despite the glasses, and despite being raped by Maestro card on the way out. I'm meant to go back in another six months time, but I think they've had enough fun at my expense for a while so I might leave it a bit longer.

21 July 2009

A Brummy adventure

I haven't blogged much lately, because I don't feel like I've really done a lot. We've viewed a couple of rental flats, and nearly took one last week until on second inspection we found it wasn't quite as nice as we'd first thought (limited storage and suspicious damp marks on some of the walls), and that's been about it. This weekend however, I've actually done lots and lots so I thought I would grace you with a blog post.

I've only been up to Birmingham once before, and it didn't really count as I just went to a friend's house, stayed overnight, and then drove straight back again. But one of our friends was getting married this Sunday, so we went up on Saturday and made a proper trip of it this time. I have to confess that despite my customary prejudice regarding anything further north than Cambridge, it was really good! The city seemed really nice with lots of shops and restaurants clustered around the canals, and there were some nice buildings and squares in the centre of town.

We thought we'd try Nightingales while we were up there, which seems to be Birmingham's main (only?) gay club, and I was very impressed with it. There were lots of quite fit boys, and the music was great. It was boiling though and I don't think my feet appreciated the four hours of dancing much. It had a nice outdoor terrace thing too, and for some reason a diner upstairs, which I think is a GREAT idea for a club.

Saturday was a special night they were having to launch the new single by September. "Who?" I hear you cry. Yes I know, I thought so too, but I did actually recognise one of her previous songs, and she's a sort of Cascada-y dance singer from Sweden. She was good anyway, even if she did come on an hour late and it was a bit obvious that quite a few people didn't know who she was. I'll try to put up a picture of her once I've got them off my camera.

Then Sunday was the wedding, for which I was feeling rather tired from the night before. I can say it was officially a Good Wedding, as I've been to a couple of bad ones, a couple of mediocre ones, and this was a Good one. It was in a nice church in a little square in the centre of Birmingham, and they had a good choir and some really nice musical interludes. Then we all piled into taxis down to the Mailbox, and had a boat ride along the canal up to the reception. It unfortunately started to pour with rain at this point, so on arrival we all had to run 200 metres through driving rain and arrive at the venue thoroughly soaked. The bride was protected by four men holding a blanket over her head, and reportedly ran the journey while shouting “This isn't glamorous! It was meant to be glamorous!”. The dress survived intact though and at least she didn't fall in the canal or anything.

The reception was good, with good food made largely by the groom and his family (he's a chef, and spent his wedding day morning making canap├ęs, bless), and then good music and lots of dancing on my already well-worn feet.

The drive home yesterday felt soooooooo long, and I'm really exhausted today. I've been a bit virusy all weekend, and haven't stopped for a proper rest since Thursday night I don't think, so it's all catching up with me now. I've got a stupid flat viewing tonight, and then finally I will hopefully be able to sleep and sleep and sleep.

Hooray for Brum though, and for it not being as provincial as first feared.

03 July 2009

Well that entire post was a waste of time...

Cancel that entire previous post, as I did not go and see the nice seafront flat because the viewing got cancelled about four hours after I wrote all that. Some bastard has got in there first and taken it. So annoying!

I was quite disappointed, because I'd managed to get myself looking forward to seeing it and excited that it might be nice. It seems however that if you want to get a nice place to rent, you have to move very fast. That flat came on the market on Monday I think, and because I only saw it on Tuesday and we were having a dinner party on Wednesday I couldn't book the viewing until Thursday night. And that has proven to be far too long an interval - someone must have seen it on Wednesday and taken it on Thursday I think.

So never mind. I have convinced myself that it was too far from town and that there would probably have been loads of stairs to get up to a third floor flat in a Regency building (because of the high ceilings and all that).

We are seeing a different flat tonight instead now. It's still on the seafront but closer to town. It's ground and lower ground floor though, and the bit of road it is on seems quite a bit busier to me, so I think it'll possibly be too noisy with traffic and passers by. We may as well go and see it though, and I guess we'll just carry on looking at adverts over the weekend!

In other news, my sometimes noisy and possibly drug dealing student neighbours are apparently NOT moving out in June as we had been informed. I was suspicious that this might be the case given that it is now July and they are still there.

I got home to a letter from our landlord (who lives in the same building) yesterday, saying that he'd rung the students' managing agent to ask why they hadn't gone as he'd been told. And apparently he was told wrong because they were just given a warning and in fact have been allowed to extend the tenancy for another year. So he was quite cross actually, because they fobbed us off with "we won't be offering them a tenancy renewal because of your complaints, so they'll be out in 2 months", when in actuality they've done the opposite.

Saying that though, they HAVE been significantly quieter since we complained to their landlord, their managing agent, and the environmental health people. And the blatant drug dealing has not been so obvious, so maybe they've been doing it off the premises instead. So it could be worse, and we could have got much worse new neighbours to replace these ones who are now trying to behave themselves. So we'll just have to live with it.

I am surprised though that you can report someone to the police with suspicions that they're selling drugs, the police can say "oh yes, what you've described sounds very suspicious and is a classic description of people who are dealing", and then NOTHING happens. Nothing at all! What was the point?? I suppose you'd have to complain more than once or something, but still, it seems a bit rubbish to me.

02 July 2009

If you can't afford to buy it, rent it

I think that we're leaning a bit more towards renting a new flat rather than buying now. After a few weeks of looking, we've found that we aren't even seeing any places advertised that we want to go and view, let alone would consider buying. There just aren't enough things coming on the market at the moment, as all the sellers are waiting for prices to pick up again. So all the things that do come on the market are there because the seller has to sell for some reason, and there's not a lot to choose from.

So anyway, I had kind of gone off the idea of moving at all, as it's summer now and our location in town is quite useful in the summer, and I've done some work on making our flat a bit nicer. But Chris is still fairly keen on moving, and having had a look at some adverts there are some really lovely places around that we could afford. We could never afford to buy them of course, but we could rent them and still stay happily within our means.

We're off to see one tonight that I think only came on the market on Monday. It looks really nice in the pictures: it's a Regency flat right on the seafront with a gorgeous big lounge and views of the sea. Look how nice this is:



Of course we wouldn't have that furniture in it, we'd have our own stuff and make the inside look a bit more modern, but the rooms are nice and big and the view is great. I suppose it's at the top end of our rental budget, but we can afford it alright, and we should still have a bit of money left over to put into savings each month.

Saying all that though, I can still feel my nerves setting in a little bit. I can't remember when I turned into an anxious person, I'm normally too rational for it, but the fact is I am anxious about a fair few things now. And with things like flats it's the commitment that makes me nervous.

What if we end up not liking it? What if the neighbours are horrible? What if the landlord whacks the rent up after a year? What if the landlord decides to sell it? What if it's the wrong decision??

All those things go round and round in my head until I think "gaahhh let's just not move! At least we know what we're getting with the flat we're in now!"

BUT, in lots of ways we do quite want to move. It's too noisy on the road we live on, the student neighbours next door can be a pain, and we'd like to have a proper guestroom instead of a sofabed in the living room.

And if you look at my nervous questions above, you can pick them apart and they don't sound so serious.

What if we end up not liking it?
We can move out after a year, or probably sooner if we want. The only real issue with that is that you lose all the fees you've spent in taking out the tenancy and you have all the hassle of moving again. It's not dire though.

What if the neighbours are horrible?
Same as above. And our neighbours aren't great at the moment.

What if the landlord whacks the rent up after a year? What if the landlord decides to sell it?
What if it's the wrong decision??
Again, you can just move out. At least we wouldn't have bought the place and be stuck with it until we could sell it.

So really I shouldn't get myself too over-wrought about it. I shall try to go and see this flat with an open mind and non-anxious eyes, and then I'll write if we liked it tomorrow!