Friday, 24 October 2014

Forecast - changeable

Well, it’s all change here in Wellington, NZ!

Firstly, the weather: on Wednesday it was shorts and T shirt weather – beautifully warm, calm and clear. Yesterday and today it is back to jeans, camisole and long sleeved top – cloudy, breezy (Not windy as Wellington can produce) and cool. This change in the weather is, of course, in time for Labour Weekend (a long weekend the Monday of which is a public holiday to celebrate the introduction of the 8 hour working day – now where did that go? Some history here: During the 19th century, workers in New Zealand tried to claim the right for an 8-hour working day. In 1840 carpenter Samuel Parnell fought for this right in Wellington, NZ, and won. Labour Day was first celebrated in New Zealand on October 28, 1890, when thousands of workers paraded in the main city centres. Government employees were given the day off to attend the parades and many businesses closed for at least part of the day.
The first official Labour Day public holiday in New Zealand was celebrated on the second Wednesday in October in 1900. The holiday was moved to the fourth Monday of October in 1910 has remained on this date since then.)

Secondly, our residential status: As you will know if you’ve been blog-following, we had sold our lovely old house and put an option on the purchase of a licence to occupy an apartment at Whitby Lakes Retirement Village. We had bought ‘off plan’ with the small deposit being refundable and the facilty to change our minds right up to the day we’d be due to move in. A good thing, too!

On Monday evening we went to have a look at the apartment for the first time. It is lovely, very well built, well-specc’ed with lovely architraves and scotias. The lounge dining area was fine, the kitchen was lovely but there was a dearth of cupboards, but the killer was the bedrooms’ size. As you may know, I am a reader, I love to read lying down (I buy glasses that I can wear lying on my side), I am known for phoning David (our house is big) to request food or tea while reading in bed during a weekend. (Happily I have passed on this gene – our lovely daughter Kirsty has been known to spend the entire weekend in bed - apart from pee stops - with the toaster, loaf of bread, the butter and a jug of water on her bedside cabinet, and a number of books being or to be read … That apple didn’t fall far from the tree, now did it?)
So, back to the bedrooms – they were tiny, titchy, minute and therefore claustrophobic, walls squeezing inwards, oppressive. Get it? Got it? Good. The walk through wardrobe was enormous and the bathroom was large, and there is a second toilet/washbasin. The design is lovely but works on the theory that a bedroom is only for sleeping in. I recognise that not many people like to stay in bed reading all day, just as I am sure that as we age and our health slips, we spend more time resting. Therefore the bedroom should be a sanctuary, an inviting room with space for more than mere functionality – form is important.
David wasn’t happy with the bedroom size either, but what struck him more was his visceral response to the reality of not being able to step straight outside to our own space. I don’t think that impression was helped by the info provided (in the most sincere and well-meaning way) that we would all be issued with a swipe card and would have to use it to get in and out of the building and would need to come down to let in our visitors.
So the drive home was interesting (not in the English meaning of the word). I could tell that we neither of us wanted to be the one to rain on the parade, we had banked for some months on this being fabulous for us. So I said that my understanding was that if either of us didn’t want it, that person had the power of veto. Agreed. We talked about its pros and cons all the way home, all the way through Joe cooking dinner and participating in the discussion, decided we would do Edward de Bono’s 6 thinking hats on it, then I said ‘I could make it work, but I don’t want to.’ After a bit of talk to clarify that that was me exercising the power of veto (too gently by half, as it turned out), we pulled the pin on apartment living for the meantime.
An immediate start looking on TradeMe for alternatives – what could we get for our money (well, as much of it as we’re prepared to spend), where  would we like to live, what did we want in a dwelling, knowing now more clearly what we didn’t want. Three alternatives were found without too much trouble, calls were made and appointments set up for the next day. And off we went to Waikanae, about 40 miles up the coast from Wellington, to view a 3 bedroom villa (detached house)  in a retirement village, a detached house with 2 bedrooms and small office, and a 2 bedroom semi-detached townhouse separated from its partner by their garages.

Neither the house nor the townhouse lived up to the pictures and description of them on the website. Most of the rooms in the house were small apart from the kitchen and main bedroom, and the office was too small for even one of David’s desks. Its main problem tho is that it backs on to State Highway 1 and is not a peaceful place to be. The townhouse was quite lovely but the property was too open to the view of the neighbours in the cul de sac, and having seen the 3br villa any 2br place wasn’t going to cut it.

The retirement village villa was lovely, and the rooms were all a good size and nicely shaped. The only hassle is that there is a mix of decking and paving outside and no lawn, so the ground cannot breathe, and there’s nowhere to stand with the grass between your toes. NZers will understand this fetish for being barefoot on grass.
The outside is pale brick with pale green roofing tiles (and a gutter guard system that prevents build up of crud in them), and the paintwork inside is all one colour – a sort of creamy beige with more yellow in it and no blue tones as beige can have and provides a blank canvas. The kitchen lino needs to be changed as it isn’t particularly attractive in our view.
You can see the TradeMe listing with photos here:

The upshot is we have been through the offer process and have had an offer accepted verbally, confirmed by email from the real estate agent as being accepted by the executors. We have met with the centre’s manager and been approved (I am too young at not quite 64). And we’ve been into the house again today to sort out with him what needs to be remedied before we move in, what can wait, and, most importantly, who pays for what.

Exciting!!! I have looked at the pictures of the house a lot over the last 24 hours and have pretty much worked out where the furniture will go – dining and lounge suites are not a problem, it’s the things: the bali twist stand, the wine table, the oval drinks cabinet and tray (holding multiple cups and saucers), the dresser, the 3 china cabinets, the chinese cabinet … David’s new TV (to be purchased shortly) has its possie sorted, additional telephone points in the bedrooms have been agreed.

Today we also have met the former owners’ son in law who was doing some clearing up, and called in again on Ruth, our new neighbour (well, technically speaking, we are her new neighbours, and we had met her when we first came to view the place on Tuesday). We had a celebratory glass of wine with her (this bodes well, I think) and over the drink we summarised backgrounds. And in that amazing way where in NZ there is at most 2 degrees of separation, we discovered that David and Ruth knew each other through a work connection where David had to can the radio programme, Grandpa’s Place, for kids that Ruth wrote and produced back in the 80s. It was even more of a shock to discover that Ruth’s daughter is married to my former brother in law’s brother … OK, get a piece of paper and work it out. Maybe if I say it like this: Ruth’s son in law is a brother of my sister’s ex-husband/first husband. Or: Ruth’s son in law is my niece’s uncle. That’s the shortest version, I think. However I say it, it’s 2 degrees of separation, as I know the son in law.

We are now staying at Bruce and Gary’s place down at Waikanae Beach – about 3 kms from our new address. David has made the discovery that he has come away with no spare clothes – he carefully put them out on the bed at home but neglected to put them in the bag … So as well as a new TV in the Labour Weekend sales, he needs a few clothes too. Sounds like a set up to me!

Of course, now that we have decided on a house with outside space, it seems we were precipitate in having a garage sale and selling off our garden tools and hard broom and outdoor table and chairs set ... OK, so while David is looking at TVs and shirts, I'll find some new outdoor furniture, methinks.

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