Archive by Author

The Times, Garlic And Fridge Magnets (FMH: 27)

6 Feb

Having picked up a complimentary copy of The Times newspaper from the airport on the way out, today’s mission was to read the paper – from front to back – every story. Given I never usually read a newspaper, I have learned a) it takes ages to read every story b) three hours later and I’m still not even half-way through c) roads will soon be talking to each other.

Anyway, having had my fill of the news I decided it was time to set off to buy some garlic for my garlic butter and black pepper pasta dish. The garlic here is awesome. The bulbs are properly bulbous and the garlic is the freshest and yummiest ever.

En route I took a random selection of photos:

And admired the cactus fridge magnets.

And decided I had found more happy 🙂

Fuerteventura: My (Retirement) Home From Home

5 Feb

Many, many years ago, me and the other half visited the Canaries. Within a few years we had done the major ones – Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura. And I don’t know how you really decide in your twenties where you think a good place would be to retire to, but we settled on Fuerteventura. We loved the sandy beaches, the year-round sun, the laid-back culture, the spirit of the island and the fact Spain (in our minds) was half-way between Greece and England and so it felt like the perfect blend of our histories.

Decision made, we bought a property.

Looking back now, I find it incredible that we even thought like that – I mean we were not long out of uni and had only recently bought our first house.

Anyway, I remember the key thing for us when we were thinking to buy, was of the future when we were old and perhaps a little less mobile. That meant we decided everything had to be easy and convenient, so we bought a place with no stairs, was close to lots of amenities and was low maintenance.

In the future life, we decided we wouldn’t want to be in a remote place. We wouldn’t want a big detached villa that required lots of upkeep. We wanted a complex, a community and to be close to town. Effort and hassle were not part of the equation and so any ideas of big rambling villas and overblown renovation budgets were put to one side for the sake of a) being able to pay down the debt while we were young b) not having to worry unduly about maintenance costs. Lock up and leave was what we were after. And it has to be said, 16 years on, lock up and leave is what we got.

And so today I arrived at my “retirement” home from home. The place where I have been coming for many, many years. And every time, like every time beforehand, I have to pinch myself at how lucky we are.

What Would Be Your Belly Dance Around A Coffin? (FMH: 25)

4 Feb

So today it was time for our relatives from abroad to return home. Having waved them off it was a busy time for me to get everything ready for my trip tomorrow to Fuerteventura. Having packed everything up I decided to check in with my mum.

She tells me how she’s just been to a funeral and they have belly danced around the coffin.

“The vicar said he’d never seen anything like it before!” She exclaimed.

“I can imagine,” I replied, pondering on the sight of my mum and her fellow belly dancing friends dancing around a coffin in a church.

“Belly dancing was such a passion of hers though, so it felt appropriate as the send off,” she continued.

We talked some more about the service and the wake, and focussed on the details, rather than the magnitude of the meaning of life.

But it did get me thinking: What would be my equivalent of a belly dance around my coffin?

What Is Really Happening To The Property Market? (FMH: 24)

3 Feb

So today involved property inspections in Rochester and I was delighted to be taking the high speed train. It means the journey time from Central London is just 37 minutes.

Arriving at the station, I was delighted to see massive progress on the regeneration of the Rochester Riverside project – a multi-million pound programme to regenerate the area.

Walking around I felt happy to see improvements in the local area – although was disappointed to learn that despite the pretty, and seemingly well equipped High Street, there is no longer any bank in the town.

Talking with my tenant, I discovered he was no longer working in London on building projects, but was now on the Rochester Riverside development.

“Wow!” I said brimming with enthusiasm, “I’m really impressed to see how far it’s come along!”

My tenant looked at me, unsure. “Hmm,” he started, “the thing is, we have paused all building work apart from those for council houses and Help To Buy.”

“Paused the work?” I asked again, trying to be sure I understood.

“Yes, we are now only building the council houses and the Help To Buy because nobody else is buying, it’s too expensive and people are too scared. Nobody is investing in property now, that’s why they just build what they need to build.”

“Oh,” I replied, my excitement quickly slithering away into the polished floorboards. “That’s disappointing to hear.”

On the train back I mused some more on this. Over the past year, I’ve heard many stories of a complete standstill in the property market with lots of people being unable to sell and estate agents shutting up shops. I know many avid property investors are also taking “time out” while they assess the market and decide next steps. However, the media continue to report that while sales are sluggish, there is some movement.

I pondered on the truth of the matter: What Is Really Happening To The Property Market?

Going to Greenwich (FMH: 23)

2 Feb

One of the upsides of being a landlord is you can do your work wherever. As long as you have a phone and access to the net, you can trouble-shoot anywhere.

So today, I decided to find more happy and take my overseas visitors to Greenwich.

It was a gloriously sunny day – the perfect day to be a tourist in London.

We started with a river boat ride on the clipper from Embankment to Greenwich Pier.

After a look at the Cutty Sark, we wandered around the Naval College and Chapel.

Heading up the steep path to the Meridian line and observatory we were disappointed to learn it was £15 to step on the line. So we took a photo of the photo of the Meridian line (and what we would see behind the wall) and decided to save ourselves the cash.

Back down the hill we explored the Maritime Museum and Queen’s House before enjoying a beer on the waterfront overlooking the Cutty Sark.

Being a landlord can have it’s downsides – but the benefit is being able to do your job while having a day out 🙂