Saturday, 27 February 2010

Full sun

Victoria at Hibiscus very kindly gave me a sunshine award although it has been far from sunny here lately. Do have a look at her lovely blog, Victoria is a  fantastic photographer. 

One husband, one son, one daughter, one full life = wonderful. British living in the Netherlands. Homemaker, with aspirations of a creative life. Blogging with some chat, finds, ideas, photography and general things I like, and hope you will too. Dreaming of living by the beach one day.

Full moon

I didn’t admit that we were waiting until Tuesday for astrological reasons did I, no, because you’d sound like an idiot hippy Westendmum. We it is partly true, I read in one of the supplement horoscope that weighing up options and making decisions were two different things and to hold off making any major ones until after the full moon on the 28th. There I do sound like an idiot hippy. 

Having walked back from the Halifax close to tears at the relief of being offered a mortgage in principle and spending half an hour convincing The GR it was  the best offer we would get, I had calmed myself down and said we should wait to see if we heard from the whippersnapper broker. Which we did, half an hour later, then I remembered the horoscope and told The GR.

 The whippersnappers offer was even better than the bank one, we ummed and ahhed, then called the bank to let them know and they offered us an even better deal! The next day the lovely broker put forward by a friend called and said he had found two 90% mortgages for us. I told him about the bank and he said it was a no brainer. 
‘Go with them, no broker will be able to get you a better deal than that’. 

There will be a Full moon on 28th February 2010

As it turns out the lady I’m dealing with at the bank is actually away until Tuesday so it’s not just due to my mimbo jimbo, but it did make us hesitate long enough to get 2 better offers!

So it looks like things might be picking up in March. The GR starts his new job and first thing Tuesday morning  I’m calling the nice lady at the bank.

Thank-you all you lovelies, for your supportive comments and (Sonya) any advice is gratefully received – I haven’t got a clue.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dealing with dinosaurs

We have been offered a mortgage! We are taking the weekend to consider which one to go for so I am spending my time reading up on the pros and cons of variable and fixed rate, repayment and interest only.

I emailed Belle Mere with the good news, she has had her house surveyed and said: ‘I have to think it over as there are costs’. I replied that she should follow her heart as it had taken her so long to find somewhere she liked she would be able to find ways to cover extra costs. (IE THE MONEY WE WILL BE GIVING YOU!) I didn’t say that bit though.

To compensate Erbie getting up at 3am this morning I’m going to take him up to Marble Arch on the bus to bore him to early naps. Which takes us past this:

Yes there are dinosaurs on Oxford Street – until 30th April. It looks pretty impressive from the bus but I suspect it is overpriced and not in reality, which is unfair so I shall have to visit and report fact. Dinosaurs unleashed.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Downward spiral

We still haven’t heard anything on the mortgage front and my initial positivity has fast declined into realisation that we may have to have the ‘what if we don’t get it conversation’. I really don’t think I could face living in ‘our’ flat and paying the Belle Mere’s buy-to-let mortgage off. What are the possibilites, could we take over her mortgage? There would be so many strings not least the ones leading right back to her having control over us again.

Our last meeting with Erbie was fine until her final gambit on the stairs as I was leaving.

BM: ‘Oh yes, I remember the other thing I wanted to tell you, I’m getting the house surveyed but if you only want to know about this flat I won’t tell you.

Me: ‘don’t be silly – when are you getting it surveyed’

BM: ‘Tomorrow, and it looks like it might be moving faster than I anticipated, they may have found somewhere after all.’

Me: ‘well that’s good news.’

This may sound innocent but it’s a silent warning that she won't hesitate to implement her mortgage thus putting a kabosh on ours.

Think sunny thoughts, think sunny thoughts, think sunny thoughts and nudge broker. 

Monday, 22 February 2010

Silence of the Lambs!

Reading Seaside Sister’s latest post reminded me of some of the lovely walks I used to go on as a child with my mother. Our household always had a dog so mum never needed an excuse to go walking. 

Walking especially in the countryside or woods is a magnificent solace for the soul. I think mum walked to forget but also to remember our dad. It was dad who had been into flora and fauna then mum took on his mantle when he died. She even became treasurer for the Natural History Society in our area. This all meant for super walks for me as a child. Fungus foraying with experts in the New Forest every Autumn, haring about sniffing out Stinkhorns not understanding why mum would raise an eyebrow at their latin name Phallus impudicus and marvelling at enormous Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria.

Stinkhorn - Phallus impudicus

Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria

Then there were the butterfly walks in Summer, clouds of  Chalk Hill Blue Lysandra coridon and glimpses of Purple Emperor Apatura iris fluttering amongst the treetops.
Chalk Hill Blue Lysandra coridon

I especially enjoyed staying up late to go moth watching. We would traipse off to the midnight garden of some county pile, spread white sheets on the lawn, stick a very bright light in the middle and wait. Dizzy moths, drunk with light would fall onto the sheets to be observed and recorded and then fly off into the inky blackness of the warm night air unscathed and unhurt. 
I loved the Peach Blossom and the Buff Ermine for their names  although they are quite pretty fluffy things, if I were a mouse I’d probably have one as a hat. But who could fail to be impressed by the hawkmoths especially the Death’s Head now infamously known for the retouched image on the Silence of the Lambs poster. If you pick them up they squeak!

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Acherontia atropos image © Keith Naylor

You can help save butterflies and their habitats by joining the likes of David Attenborough at UK Butterfly conservation for just £2.33 a month. You can also find a Natural History Society in most areas of the UK, the London one is here, I think I shall have to join, don’t you?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

My name is Rabbit, White Rabbit

Looking for fonts on the internet I came across a Lewis Carroll’s handwriting typeface downloadable from here
In a similar vein, weebirdy led me to these fab animal illustrations available on Etsy. There lots of different animal portraits all in amusing collars, great for a nursery or toddlers room...

White rabbit illustration $10 from Berkley Illustrations


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Waiting and working

We are still waiting for a decision from the mortgage broker we saw last Monday.

Waiting and working, that’s what I’ve been doing. Poor Erbie has gone a bit stir crazy, from being shut in. Plus it has been half term this week and SO busy out there. The Plaza on Oxford Street was chokka with parents shouting after their kids and Topshop my goodness, so many teens. These things I’ve seen when I take him out for his pre-nap walk. The only other thing I’ve seen is Chris Ofili on the day it opened at Tate Britain, loved the series of watercolour portraits. Erbie especially liked the cow dung ones and kept making lunges towards them so that I was constantly following him around, grabbing his duffle coat hood to restrain him just before fingers touched surfaces.

Working, one job is coming to a close, all okayed and ready to be artworked and sent to printers on Monday. The other is all over the place and partly a favour, which never turn out to be good! I’m still waitnig for copy, it dshould have been printed on Friday, they want to change an image etc. etc. The boring big job got started last night adfter 2 weeks of putting off and needs to go to print by the end of the month. I work in the evenings and when Erbie naps during the day, so there really aren’t enough hours in the day!

On the mortgage front, by Friday I decided I wasn’t being pro-active enough and called the Halifax, where I have a meeting set up for Wednesday and also got another broker on board, who says he will send our details off this morning – Saturday.

I’m visiting the Belle mere on Tuesdays. Sometimes thinking about the way she has treated us keeps me awake at night and it pops in and gets me all riled up when I’m doing simple tasks like washing up or cooking. We had a nice visit on Tuesday though, Erbie ran around pointing out of the window at buses and got cake and a story. Then when I got home there was an email form her about council tax bills and how a previous tenant hadn’t paid and why should she pay as the owner and that we should really get involved and would have to take on the debt and blah blah blah. I rather curtly told her to pass on said ex-tenants address and let them deal with the council.

My family who are normal and lovely are all well, Seaside sister came to visit and I spoke at length to pub sister whose broken wrist has mended.

Erbie has rather more soya yogurt down his front than in his mouth, so I’d better skidaddle.

Monday, 15 February 2010

So now the waiting begins

The mortgage meeting was with an eager whippersnapper in Chancery Lane. We took the obligatory passports, bank statements, utility bill (the UK is similar to the rest of Europe now in that one can’t do anything without your a name on a utility bill), tax bills, phone bills, monthly outgoings, knicker and inside leg measurements.

Luckily the receptionist was child friendly as Erbie decided to be on his worst behaviour ever. Maybe it was the size of the interview room, or he got the vibe that mummy and daddy were trying to be grown-up, but his goodness lasted for as long as it took to fill 2 pages with drawings of buses of all colours. No to cars on floor and definitely no to a shut door. As he steamed around the building his cheeks got redder (so teething really) and redder.

The GR and I took it in turns to remove Erbie from said small room and walk him up and down the corridor. The corridor was lined with interview rooms, some with prospective clients in meetings, Erbie beamed at them through the glass fronts.

We got as far as reception and were saved by smiles and eventually after all else failed CBeebies instead of Bloomberg on the reception flat screen monitor much to the amusement of passing staff, perhaps not so to passing clients.

 At one juncture I returned to the room to find The GR in the middle of admitting to more debt than we’d agreed to admit to. I did however learn that Mamma Mirabel’s Home Movies (a children’s programme for the uninitiated) lovely familiar voice is such because it is the lovely familiar voice of Floella Benjamin from my childhood TV watching.

Whippersnapper photocopied everything and we left in trepidation of what they might find and to wait.

So now the waiting begins.

 Appointment with Belle Mere tomorrow morning for grandchild interaction.

I will bit my tongue about her taking out a mortgage on the flat which will need to be cancelled if, - sorry when, we get ours.



Dairy free chocolate cupcakes for milk allergy kids.

 2oz Dairyfree spread such as Pure (the sunflower one tastes nicer than the soya based one, but either will work. Regular margarine contains milk proteins – so always read the ingredients.)

2oz sugar

1 egg

1oz self raising flour

1oz cocoa powder (yes, chocolate grows on trees not in cows)

Cream together the ‘not butter’ and sugar, beat in the egg, it will be  a bit sloppy but fear not. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder don’t worry too much if you have slightly more flour than cocoa just as long as they add up to 2oz. Fold in, until mixture is a consistent colour. Line a 12 hole mini muffin tin with cases and plop a generous teaspoon of cake mix into each.

Bake at 190 degrees or gas mark 4 for about 10minutes or until the smell of cake starts to eminate and the point of a knife comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and give on demand of: ‘cakey, cakey.’

This recipe can be doubled and used for normal sized cupcakes just add an extra egg and  use 4oz flour of dry ingredients using 1oz of cocoa powder. Adjust the cooking time as they are larger and check after 15 minutes.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Really quick fill in.

We have a meeting with a broker tomorrow as we now hold the all important letter of employment, that means we are now contenders for a mortgage rather than a joke.

I took Erbie to see Belle Mere, who looked old, and they had a nice time together, amazing how children all seem to gravitate towards their grandparetns no matter how their parents feel about them (not that we’d ever let on).

I have three jobs, three, which means any non-baby time I have, I’m on the computer working  and when I’m on the internet I’m looking for vintage images of Istanbul or some such nonsense. The words ‘bitten’, ‘chew’ and ‘more than’, swim around in my head whenever there is any spare space.

The grandad visited today and we trolled down to Chinatown to see the brightly coloured lanterns hung everywhere, and a distant dragon dancing up the street for Chinese New Year of the Tiger.

It is also Valentines Day today, thankfully we don’t do Valentines Day, and this year we really have not. A quick peck on the cheek and an exchange of ‘Happy Valentines Day’ darling.

I miss you all on the blogspher and am longing to check up on everything you have been up to aswell, but this business is a good thing and all good things must come to an end!

Wish us luck tomorrow!


Saturday, 6 February 2010

So near and yet so far...

Belle Mere has finally relinquished and agreed to allow us to buy our flat. The flat she bought ‘for The GR’ for £65,000, we can have for £160,000 which is half it’s market value so a fantastic bargain.


I instantly called 3 mortgage brokers, the first started eagerly but on hearing our financial situation clamped up and only offered £40,000. The second less reputable broker offered £60,000. The third, recommended by a friend, was a darling, he said there was a way; if we could get The GR a job on paper, earning £36,000 for a year then we would probably be able to get a really good deal on a mortgage from the Halifax or HSBC.


Two years ago when we started making enquiries about getting a mortgage for the concessionary purchase of the flat even high street banks were offering us the money.

Now after the credit crunch its not so easy. Self-cert mortgages were made illegal just after Christmas, these were mortgages that were given to freelancers, like us, and would have taken into consideration factors such as we have been paying rent for five years without default at twice the price the mortgage repayments would be.


So, why had Belle Mere suddenly changed her tune and agreed, we shall never know. But I believe several factors have made it happen, 1. The sale on her country property has gone through. 2. She has found a house in London she wants to buy. 3. There was an article in the paper on Tuesday saying it was more or less impossible for freelancers to get a mortgage presently. Belle Mere emailed our mediator, The Grandad on Wednesday morning.


She has given us a three month deadline and says we have to move into the ‘flat’ (she presently lives there). We would be eternally grateful and all living in the same area, so Erbie visiting would factor highly.


Of course if we moved into the flat and then couldn’t get a mortgage, she would still own half and we would have to pay rent. I think this is what she really wants to happen. She doesn’t think for one moment we’ll be able to get the money. We’ll be right where she wants us and endebted.


So I must try my darndest to get the money and call her bluff. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that much money to pay for our future security and freedom.


I daren’t tell The GR that we have been refused a mortgage, after spending all day trying.


After all this Erbie accidently poked me in the eye and scratched my cornea, I tried to get a pharmacist to look at it, he sent me to the opticians, the optician told me I had to book in for an eye test, I rang the doctor, no appointments till after the weekend, I had a weep, the salt water helped. 

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle