Between the drying laundry, the packed boxes, the rolls of bubble-wrap and Riaan’s tools, you will find me working away at my desk. Yes, we are on the move. Our landlord wants to sell the flat and we are happy to help him by moving along earlier. We really do owe our landlord a huge amount of thanks. He took a chance with this South African pair with two animals. We could tick very few of the “desirable tenant boxes” when we put in an offer to rent the property in February 2019: no UK jobs, no UK credit records, no UK income, no previous UK landlord(s), no UK daily bank accounts and we had animals. Two of them. Renting in London with one animal is hard enough. Try two!
We knew we would have to act fast in finding a new place. We were too slow (i.e. by a few hours) with two places we liked. Animal friendly places are like hen’s teeth. If you find a place that is animal friendly and ticks 80% of your boxes, you need to act fast with a decisive “yes, we will take it” even if your summer frocks will not fit in the one built-in cupboard near the mini-kitchen.
On Saturday last weekend, within 10 minutes of viewing a flat in another corner of Wandsworth, we had paid the holding deposit and done all the checks needed, went over our requirements (tube, train, car parking, cat-safe windows, cupboards and double glazing) and put our stamp on it. We also had to make sure before we did this, that there is an excellent dog day-care that services the area otherwise Ivy would be left to get bored in the flat in the day when I am not at home working. Often a condition of tenancy is that the hound attends day-care every day that a human is not there. Ivy is now duly enrolled at a new school in the Surrey countryside, with pick-ups/drop-offs on the daily bus for smaller dogs as part of the day-care’s Tiny Town Group.
With each potential flat, I put my Sherlock Holmes hat on and did desktop research on the address. The information freely available on the internet for streets and roads in England is astounding, from crime stats to culture, employment and education levels. You can almost tell whether your potential neighbour prefers fish and chips on Friday with brown sauce or a Cornish pasty with HP sauce on a Tuesday at noon.
Most places we looked at, and all with varying degrees of COVID viewing rules, were being rented with furniture and this was often not negotiable. We were even considering renting a larger place and paying more just to have a room to stash all the ghastly furniture in, the excess mirrors, the dodgy TV stands and those leather couches that make my vegan skin crawl with horror. There was a place we really liked in a very fancy area but the main room (described as “spacious”) had a double bed in it and no space for a bedside table on either side at all. Not even space for a shoebox (narrow side) as a bedside table. Husband went to look at another place and on spotting an RSA feature on all windows of the flat, namely, The Trellidor Feature, said he did not move all the way to London to have security like that in his flat!
Then there was another place that was so close to the railway and a car mechanic’s workshop that we had might as well have slept in the railway station and parked our car in the workshop. We also looked out of our comfort zone at another area but when we arrived, the police where there trying to get somebody out of the flat across the road. Two places we looked at were vacant but still rented-out: the humans had fled during lockdown to other places in England – not even the beds were made! The penultimate place we looked at had a broken lounge window and when asked why it was like that, the outgoing tenant said she had killed a fly on the window, and it cracked. How big was that fly?!
After more than a year in the same flat, it was time for a thinning out of excess things. Two trips to the charity shop later and we made a small dent. The new flat is smaller than our existing flat. We are going from a Victorian semi detached to a modern flat. Change is good. Having spent 4 months in the current flat under lockdown, I am happy to move on to a new area where we will be able to walk Ivy along the Thames River. The morning milk deliveries have been changed, broadband sorted and now I start with address changes, and getting new dog tags made for Ivy. That means 47 dog tags for 47 collars (after the clean-out)!