Our Travel blog
Saturday 24 September
Having spent a peaceful night at Blackshaw Moor we arrived at Waterloo Mill in Leek for the first of our 4 viewings. It was an impressive four story former silk mill built in 1894, converted now into apartments and surrounded by close knit former workers cottages. The apartment we saw was stunning, big windows letting in lots of light and framing panoramic views over Leek and to the hills beyond. In the company of our sales representative and his amiable wife we were then given a tour of Leek, learning much about the area as we looked around a detached bungalow that had once been a butchers shop and an apartment in the former cottage hospital that came with a view of the old mortuary.
Dragging Alison away from Mrs Sales Representative before they had a chance to exchange addresses we then took ourselves off to an unescorted viewing at a small terraced house in the company of the owners and their three remarkably quiet young children. So discreet and unobtrusive were they that I longed to ask their parents if they drugged them. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity as Alison spotted that the shed was painted purple and hauled me away to look.
We finished in Leek by early afternoon although we were due to return on Monday to view one more house before we headed south again. In the meantime we went to Shallowford for the rest of the weekend. If you’ve kept up with the blog you’ll know we rather like Shallowford retreat house where our friends live and work. We had much to discuss with them over a cosy afternoon. Afterwards we met up with other friends and joined the group using the retreat house over the weekend. We enjoyed an amiable evening involving beer and an elaborate cheese board before retiring to Mavis where we lay in bed discussing the properties we’d seen and events of the day until we fell into a restless sleep.
Sunday 25 September
After a disturbed night due to relentless rain battering Mavis’ roof, driven by gusting winds, we woke up in a groggy mood and had completely forgotten the details of last night’s discussions. We spent a while re-acquainting ourselves with our thoughts and feelings, ideas about Buxton and Leek and questioned whether we were being realistic with our plans, before joining in a short worship service in the chapel and then taking some personal time to think and reflect, Alison by walking the house dogs while I sat and filled in a form online, swearing discreetly over the absurdity of filling in a form online that doesn’t allow you to paste information into it.
The afternoon was spent helping around the garden, where Alison got to drive a tractor and I did butch things with trees. After dinner 6 of us sat in the lounge in various states of fatigue, eager to enjoy the evening and each other’s company but struggling to find the energy. After a weary game of shuffleboard, where I was placed a magnificent 2nd, we all retired to our beds.
Monday 26 September
Fond farewells and future appointments made we drove to Leek in the rain and looked around an empty, ex-rented terraced house on whose doorstep a dog had ominously left an unpleasant welcome. Stepping over it the smell inside was only marginally better but we dutifully looked around, prodded and poked walls in a way that seemed vaguely like we knew what we were doing and being mindful of where we stepped we left after what we hoped was a respectable amount of time.
Wandering arm in arm through the rain slick streets of Leek we bounced our ideas around, considered the pros and cons of what we’d experienced over the last few days and shared our reflections. Taking refuge from the rain in a tea shop, of which Leek has more than its fair share, we chatted away and realised that we’d both come to much the same conclusion and were waiting for the other to declare first. With that out of the way we drained our cups and stomped off through the drizzle to the estate agent.
We were in a bakery further down Leek High Street when the call came in that our offer, cheekily below the asking price, had been accepted on 52 Livingstone Street, Leek, a sunny 2 up 2 down terraced house with a purple shed. The young lady serving us offered congratulations and advice about a reasonable local solicitor as we literally skidded down the wet street and into the estate agents to check that we’d heard them correctly and once reassured we exchanged details and started off the purchasing process.
Back in March we’d sold the house in Colchester, paid off the mortgage and bought Mavis. We quit our jobs, hugged loved ones and with no fixed agenda set off on the road, covering over 7,500 miles to bring us eventually to Leek. Now we had just agreed to buy a house with our remaining cash. And as for employment…on Saturday afternoon we were offered work, including temporary accommodation, at Shallowford. As an added bonus it means our beloved cats can join us.
On the journey to Cambridge on Monday afternoon we were excited but emotionally drained and almost too tired to take it all in…almost.
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