House-hunting progess report

Well, today we certainly viewed some houses. ‘We’ being Jane, myself and our neighbour Yvonne, whom we introduced as our Interior Designer.

It was actually a joke, but the lady showing us around three of the five properties must have believed me because she kept asking Yvonne’s opinion on what she would recommend in terms of decor. I think Yvonne managed very well to blag her way through those questions, but really came into her own when she entered the bathroom of the final house of the day and gently ranted about the green and yellow … EVERYTHING!

As a little aside, I was downloading photographs from my Nokia 5140i phone this evening and thought I’d share with you the view from the top floor of a property we viewed in West Forth Street on Friday evening. The property was simply too large, and in need of too much modernization and decoration for us, but the view was quite special, and quite unexpected.

View over Cellardyke in the evening

The house, from which you can obtain that view for a handful of notes short of £200,000, felt sad and neglected. Like a bronchial, pale old man, with an 80-a-day habit, sitting vacantly in an old folks’ home hundreds of miles from his family waiting for death to come as a merciful blessing. But nothing that a good lick of paint wouldn’t fix.

The house, not the old man.

You know those shopping trips that you go on to accompany your sister where you spend the whole day looking all over town for the perfect pair of shoes / dress / trousers / blouse / etc* (*delete where applicable) and end up going back to the first shop visited to buy the first thing she tried on? Well today was a bit like that.

We fell in love with the first house we saw, another house in Cellardyke, a short walk from where we are currently living. But then everwhere in Cellardyke is a short walk from where we are currently living!

It was one of those “this is it” moments. And that was before we even stepped into the place. In fact, it was while we were still sitting in front of my PC looking at it on the world wide interweb. “Awww….!” we exclaimed in wonder when I clicked to view the photographs.

We said much the same while we were removing our shoes to view the property in person. And just in case you’re wondering if we want to live inside a Buddhist Temple, it was a new property. A new build. Here it is:

Jane standing outside a particularly nice house

It was a complete rank outsider as we’d been focusing almost entirely on old properties, something with character and history. But to be honest I loved the architecture of this house. It wasn’t just a functional box, it had some great shapes and angles and now I’m sounding really sad…!

Discussing it with Jane later we realised that this house seems to tick all the boxes that we have for a house just now. We want somewhere comfortable, functional and easy to move into. We want something that will allow us to get on with our lives easily. We want something that will allow us to settle quickly and enable us to focus on trying to start a family. The IVF path is going to be stressful enough as it is without having to worry about whether we have to be perfecting our DIY skills for the next twenty years!

Now we simply need to sell Kadesh as quickly as possible, and find out if we can secure a deposit on this new house. Jane will be doing the negotiations tomorrow. We’re trying not to get too excited but we’ve not been this excited about buying a house since we bought Kadesh. Which in truth was the first and only other house that we’ve bought. But it’s still exciting.

Please pray that if this is the right house for us then we will be able to secure this house and sell Kadesh for the right price soon.

Intouract – MP3 Audio Walking Tours of St Andrews

Screenshot of Intouract website

You should now be sitting in front of a computer reading my blog…

A couple of months ago, in June, my neighbours and friends Ian and Yvonne McKie launched a new venture in St Andrews: Intouract – MP3 Audio Walking Tours.

The idea is a simple one: hire a pre-recorded MP3 player at the St Andrews Tourist Information Centre (other outlets are available) or buy the download online and upload it to your own MP3 player (or portable CD player) and then armed with a tour map of St Andrews set out on a guided tour of the town.

Act 2: Holy Trinity Church

You should now be standing next to the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity. Although it lacks the splendour and immediate signs of a long and important past that other monuments in St Andrews possess, this is one of the oldest and most historically significant locations in the town.

There has been a parish church on this site since 1412, and before that, from 1144 the Holy Trinity Church was the community parish church, based in a smaller building close to the Cathedral. The only complete part of the present building that dates from 1412 is the tower.

The most dramatic and historically significant occasion ever to occur in this church, and one of the most historic occasions in the history of the town, was the Sermon of John Knox on 11 June 1559.

Now, for those of you who go to church and occasionally complain when the sermon seems to last forever think yourselves lucky. John Knox’s sermon lasted, on and off, for 3 days! Let’s listen in…

Ian and Yvonne have been great friends almost since we bought our wee cottage Kadesh in Cellardyke, and in April when we moved to Cellardyke from Edinburgh Ian invited me to be involved in the Intouract project as one of the tour guides. So during a couple of lunchtimes instead of sitting munching my sandwiches while catching up with friends’ blogs and the latest technological news — which is what I normally do — I sat in the University of St Andrews‘ Alternative Format Suite with Ian McKie recording my parts of the tour.

Act 3: St Mary’s College

You should now be inside St Mary’s College, with the dominating Holm Oak tree before you. Feel free to pause this act to read the information board on the left hand side of the entrance, then press play to resume.

The University is the oldest in Scotland and is only predated in the UK by some of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Its origins lie in 1410, when Archbishop Henry Wardlaw made a formal move towards securing university status for St Andrews. The formal status, like most things at that time, was granted by the Roman Catholic Church. It is strange to think that it was upon the authority of a Cardinal in Aragon, Spain, that the university was officially ratified…

It’s a great tour, well researched and involving a good number of locals telling some of the most interesting tales of the colourful characters from St Andrews’ rich history.

I was pleased to discover that having spent four years in St Andrews as an undergraduate I’d picked up quite lot about the history of St Andrews, its buildings, streets and personalities. But I was even more delighted while reading through the tour script to learn much more. For example, did you know that while St Salvator’s Chapel was built around 1450 the rest of the Quad was built almost 400 years later, with the east wing being built around 1830 and the north wing (incorporating Lower and Upper College Halls) built in 1846?

The full tour lasts around 90 minutes, although shorter routes are also available to suit your time schedule.

There’s a free MP3 demo on the Intouract website — see if you work out which voice is mine.

Why not buy and download the MP3? It’s only £5.00 for 29 MB — that’s even better than iTunes … and much more educational! Or then next time you are in St Andrews pop into the Tourist Information Centre on Market Street and pick up a tour (£5.99 for the first MP3 player and £3.99 for each addditonal one hired).

You should now be stepping away from the blog and heading towards St Andrews for an Intouract tour…