November 29, 2011
Time to reflect on the house hunting process that took most of September and October this year. Using sites like www.zoopla.co.uk, www.rightmove.co.uk and estate agents own sites we spent a lot of time looking for anything in our price range with the right number of rooms and in any of the areas we decided to look in.
Deciding the areas was the most difficult part of all this. We needed to be south of the Clyde or close to the Clyde tunnel for Danar to get to work. South side would be more tricky for me to get to work being either bus or car and underground, while some of the houses North of the river were close to the rail line that would take me straight to the office in about 15min.
With these criteria we started to give over our weekends to driving at break-neck speed across the city to quickly look around people’s homes trying to find interesting things to say – often all I came up with was “that’s a good size”. The map here shows all (I think) of the places we viewed with the red ‘x’ (difficult to see I know) marking where we have ended up,
We saw some nice houses, a lot not-so-nice, some wrecks and some fairly sad places that were obviously someone very old had died recently. We viewed a new town house called river-view that you couldn’t see the river from, and a house with plastic floor and wall decor. We looked at new-builds and older properties. Detached, semidetached, bungalows, conversions, anything…
In this process, we saw only one property that we put in a ‘note-of-interest’ only to be told that it had already gone under offer. This was disappointing and we did keep phoning up that estate agent to ask if things had fallen through, just in case – is that wrong?
However, on Tue 4th Oct when we accepted an offer on our flat and it all became a lot more real. Two days later we had three viewings arranged, one of which we thought was OK and probably worth a second viewing. The next day we found out that property was actually going to closing – so we decided to put in a bid, did some negotiating and got it. The rest as they say is history…
November 28, 2011
Technically since getting married 9 months ago ‘my’ flat is actually ‘our’ flat but it is hard for either of us to think of it that way since I’ve lived here for 10 years and a lot of D’s stuff had to go into storage rather move here (my stuff got thinned out too, but that’s not the same). So from the start the plan was to move as soon as we could.
It took a few months to get organised, throwing even more stuff out or hiding it with parents and friends until the flat was clear(ish) of clutter and in a condition that we thought would help to sell it. In the mean time we started tentatively trying to figure out where we wanted to move to and what type of property we would like but perhaps that is for a different post. We had to decide on who to market the flat through, and the main decision appeared to be whether to use a solicitors firm, or an estate agent (who often also have solicitors). To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is but from viewing lots of properties and from our experience of selling I would highly recommend going with an estate agent rather than a solicitor.
The actual process of selling the flat was (in retrospect) fairly straight forward. We had a visit from the estate agent, an estimated valuation, then parted with some money. Then a surveyor comes in to do the home report stuff, from which we get the actual valuation, and then a price is agreed for it to go on the market. At that point you sit back nervously and wait for viewers.
The current economic climate is not great for selling property. The market is apparently very slow, the media tells us there are no first time buyers, the banks aren’t lending and no one wants to buy at this time. However, we were selling in a prime area of Glasgow – Woodlands. The property here tends to move faster, due to proximity to the Universities and City Centre. So we hoped it wouldn’t be on the market for months or years as we keep hearing about.
In the end we had a fairly steady stream of viewers which just meant having to keep the place tidy for them. After only two and a half weeks we had two notes of interest and then a verbal offer came in. This drove us to go to closing and accepting an offer just three weeks after putting the flat on the market. Happy days!
Selling the flat suddenly made the need to decide where we were going to move to much more urgent……
November 25, 2011
In The Simple Truth – something happened 25 years ago that left Rufus Harms rotting in a military prison. He accepted his fate thinking of himself as guilty until he receives a letter from the army that remind him of something that happened that night – and he knows that he has been wrongfully imprisoned.
He smuggles a letter to his solicitor asking him to lodge an appeal with the US Supreme Court. Mike Fiske, a clerk at the Supreme court investigates and is killed, Rufus Harms escapes, his lawyer is killed, another clerk is killed… John Fiske (an ex-cop lawyer and estranged brother to the first victim) starts to investigate further and eventually uncover the full story.
I struggled at first with this book as so many different stories were spun out and it took a while to draw them together. However, the characters are well written and believable and once the plot gets going there are plenty of twists, and suspense. The book also has a lot of insights into how the Supreme Court works – or at least I assume it is accurate, so it was interesting.
I don’t think it would be possible to guess ahead of time what the final twist was that put Rufus Harms in prison, but that doesn’t really take away from the interest of the plot. A good read.
November 18, 2011
I discovered Rum in Barbados on honeymoon in February this year. I may have had the odd Bacardi and coke before but Barbados is the home of the oldest rum in the world (Mount Gay) and the best place to be truly introduced to some different rum tastes – straight or mixed.
In the few months since then I have been doing some serious ‘research’ into some different types of rum and different ways to drink it. So far I would say, if it’s clear mix-it, if it’s dark try it straight first. I still think this isn’t a bad ‘rule of thumb’ but tonight I discovered a lot more.
The Good Spirit Company 23 Bath Street, is the best shop I’ve found for Rum (other spirits are also available), and tonight was their first evening Rum Tasting. Having never been to a tasting of any kind I wasn’t sure how it would work but it was very straight forward, informative and above all tasty! We had 6 Rums to sample and here are my initial thoughts on each one..
- 10 Cane (Trinidad) £31.50 – a very light, easy to drink Rum. almost too light. The alcoholic burn dissipated very quickly from the tongue and throat leaving no after taste. I thought at first this might be a good choice to introduce someone to rum without it being too harsh. This rum is made using the first press cane juice, which is unusual and makes it a fairly smooth drink.
- Mezan Caroni 1991 (Trinidad) £39 – this had an interesting history that I can only vaguely remember. Something about the distillers closing down after making this so it is running out (I think). I found this had a harsh first taste with a lot of burn in the mouth but then a strong woody flavour, as I went back to this glass through the evening I found it increasingly like a bonfire aroma and the taste grew on me.
- XM Millennium 12 Year Old (Guyana) £43 – it turned out to be the most expensive bottle of the evening and at first I found it very harsh. However, that was my very first impression of Rum back in February, as you feel this burn in your mouth travel down your throat and makes you catch your breath. The XM had a touch of vanilla taste and a subtle sweetness but with a good punch to it. This was a demerara rum, I’m still not too sure exactly what that means. It had a touch of toffee or darkness which was very smooth and easy to drink. Certainly by the end of the tasting this was my top choice.
- Foursquare Spiced (Barbados £21.50) – the cheapest bottle of the evening, the only one from Barbados, the only Spiced Rum and one of the easier ones to get hold of in other off-sales and supermarkets (though I would suggest supporting independent shops like The Good Spirit Company if you can!!). I’ve tried foursquare spiced a few times and have to say the spice taste is very subtle – I could just about pick up the nutmeg flavours but really this is an excellent lightly spiced rum, and at least on the first pass through our tasting this was my favorite.
- Appleton 8 year old (Jamaica) £23.50 – Perhaps after four rums I had lost interest, but I really struggled to think of anything to note about this one. I’ve heard of Appleton, it is a major brand but there was just something too harsh for my taste in this rum. Apparently the Jamaican rums do tend to have more of a kick to them but this just didn’t rock my boat. The only note I made was :-(
- Smith & Cross Navy Strength (Jamaica) £30 – a second Jamaican rum and our last for the night, but we were warned that most of the rums presented were around 40% alcohol content, this one was 57%! A gentle sniff confirmed that this Rum was going to have some impact so I, like many, added a splash of water. This didn’t help! The rum was close to undrinkable for my taste – I did try, several times(!) and there was a nice rum taste in there somewhere but it was overwhelmed by the straight alcohol content. Not for me.
The tasting itself was a very good evening, personally I would like to know more background and knowledge about Rum making, history, etc. but there was enough to keep it interesting. The choices of different tastes was fascinating in that each glass on its own smelled like Rum, but each one was different with its own subtle tones. We took advantage of the 10% discount on the rums included in the tasted by getting a couple of bottles (3 & 4 above), and had a great and very different evening.
Most interesting factoid from the evening: Rum ages tree times as fast in the Caribbean as it would here, so a three year Rum might be equivalent to a 9 year old Whiskey.
November 6, 2011
I have no recollection of buying or borrowing this book, so if you gave it to me thanks it was great! and if you want it back just let me know. It is, of course, a thriller and turns out to be the first novel from Ava McCarthy.
The main heroine is Henrietta ‘Harry’ Martinez, an Irish computer security expert or hacker. Her father is Spanish, just to explain an Irish girl with the name Martinez, and we first meet her using social engineering to bluff her way into a bank and hack into their network. As the story unfolds we find out that she works for a security firm and has been hired to test the banks security system (has anyone seen Sneakers – one of my favorite movies).
Harry gets dragged into a situation involving her father, who is currently in prison for an Insider Dealing fraud. Some of those involved in the trading that put him in prison are looking for the money that went missing as the police moved in and think Harry has it or can get it. After pushing her in front of a train as a little persuasion she starts on the trail to find the missing money. Mixed in with this thriller is gambling, hacking, travel, banking, etc…. An excellent first novel and a good old read!