What with work and the Landlord Law Conference Ben has not had time to do his usual Newsround this week, but we have his house hunter diary for you instead.
So Frazzy and I did our second recce beyond the M25, this time, Mansfield and across the M1 to Derbyshire and down to Derby itself, taking in a quick walk in Sherwood Forest to see if it would be up to our dog’s exacting standards.
This second jaunt reminds us how much Britain makes of cultural heritage given a smidgen of history….even fake history.
In the land of Robin Hood
I’ve been to Liverpool a few times and note all the ‘Beatles bars’ and ‘Cavern’ this and ‘Strawberry fields’ that and Nottingham and its environs is the same, it seems as if every café is called the “Sherwood Café” and there seems to be a ‘Robin Hood’ pub every few hundred yards and the inevitable ‘Friar Tuck’ bakery.
Someone must be making a fortune from logos designed around a Lincoln Green feathered cap, which seems to accompany every tea room and bar.
I checked Robin Hood out on Google whilst staying at the Park Inn on St George’s day and found he is simply an amalgamation of various individuals, songs and local myths spread over a couple of hundred years, cobbled together until what we end up with is Errol Flynn, wearing green tights and standing with his hands on manly hips, scaring monks.
But Sherwood Forest itself is over towards the Yorkshire borders, a good half hour drive from Nottingham.
Talk about milking it!
Variable personal tastes
What marks both trips so far is the eagerness of hotel reception staff to give us a list of their favourite areas and the ones to avoid. Honestly these people are better than estate agents as they have nothing to gain and so the lists of areas are usually a lot more reliable.
Having said that it has been an interesting life-lesson in personal tastes as we cruise by the various areas that the hotel receptionists and estate agents tell us are ‘Well nice’ and are a reminder that ‘Well nice’ as an subjective test, depending on whether or not you like Edwardian splendour or 90s Barratt developments.
Number one Estate Agent
Anyway this time was our second exposure to estate agents on a professional basis and number one was a nice counterpoint to our last visit. Hats off to the lovely lady in one Mansfield company and her dad who does the viewings on a Saturday and who we had a long chat with.
Originally from Streatham in South London he emigrated in 2002 and has never regretted it, causing me and Frazzy to regret every minute further we have to spend giving our hard earned to a landlord when we could be ‘larging it’ in the land of the flat vowels.
And the rest
Bouncing over the road to another estate agent brought us back down with a bump as once again the young lad holding the fort on a Saturday afternoon ended up trying to sell us what he wanted to sell us without listening to what we were looking for.
It occurs to me that young estate agents really should go on listening skills courses, they’d make a lot more commission, in fact so bored of being subjected to his sharp-suit selling technique I changed the subject to how much more money he could make if he worked for an agent in London. That shut him up. By the time we left their office I swear he was writing his notice and thumbing a lift down the M1.
Estate agent photography
Our first viewing was an object lesson in the lie of the estate agent’s wide angle lens.
We have had our eyes on a fantastic looking house in a village called Church Warsop for several weeks and were curious about why it hadn’t been snapped up.
Upon arrival it was evident that the agents photos had carefully left out the front view which revealed it to be right on a road without even a pavement outside, meaning cars and lorries are but feet away while you are watching ‘Corrie’ and the rooms inside rendered by the aforementioned lens to appear as football pitches on Rightmove were in actuality narrow and low ceilinged.
I’ve learnt that Sunday is not the best day to drive around trying to get a feel for a place either, as everything is shut and the streets deserted in the small towns while the residents are at the superstores on the outskirts.
Ripley was one such place, attractive enough in a sense but worrying in that we saw a Blue Plaque on the wall of a pub celebrating the fact that Cliff Richard once played there in 1961. If Ripley was such a great place to be you have to wonder why a 55 year old visit by the embalmed one still rated a mention.
Derby got my vote. Really liked it, even the street drinkers were a laugh, gathered outside a church in the high street. For some bizarre reason all the estate agents of Derby are gathered on the one short street, probably known locally as ‘The estate agent’s quarter’ but again, being a Sunday they were all shut.
On a Sunday morning every town ‘is comin up a ghost town’ as they say.
One more recce trip to scout out towards Newark and get a feel for the place and that’s it. Of course in the meantime we have to sell our own place and that will bring its own form of viewing hell I’m sure.