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Friday, 31 October 2014

House Hunting: The Beginning

Sunny day - crocus
Our old house near Richmond 
Happy Halloween everyone!! Are you dressing up or doing anything? I'm heading back to my parents for a night of fun including pumpkin carving and American Horror Story watching (my new obsession - who would have guessed?!), and I believe I'll be getting my face painted there too and possibly digging into our old dressing up stash! Unfortunately today's post is Halloween themed (with my current record, I'll probably manage to get a Halloween post up by, let's say, February?!), but hope you enjoy anyway!
I haven't really mentioned around here yet, but Ben and I are currently on the hunt for a new house. We've been renting for nearly the last 5 years together, starting when I was at uni in Newcastle and the two of us shared a flat together, to moving down to near Richmond when I was teaching in Durham, to being back down again in North Yorkshire to near where we grew up, in a market town in the countryside about 15 miles outside of York. We do love the house we're in right now, but we feel like we've been throwing money at renting for a few months too long now, and we're luckily in a position to be able to start looking to buy.
We're really hoping to stay around the same area we're in now, because the small town we live in is just about perfectly half way between both of our workplaces, and I have ties to the choir and my Brownie unit there now too. But we've got our search spread out to about 5 miles or so in every direction, because in reality, there just aren't that many houses around here! We do have another couple of villages that are high on our list, and we've been to look around 3 houses now, though none of them have really jumped out at us.
We've barely even started the process of house hunting yet, and it's already stressful. I'm the kind of person who will get something in my head then be disappointed if it doesn't come through. We've been keeping an eye on the houses in the area for about a year now to see how things were moving, but also "just in case". At the start of summer we spotted a house that was lovely and ticked a lot of our boxes (I'm not so disillusioned that I think the house that ticks all our boxes will just pop up!). We weren't exactly in a position to be serious about it, but I still kind of hoped the house would wait for us. Of course, it didn't! But every time we drive past, I'll still sigh and think of it as "our house", even though we never even went to look round it!
The story's the same now, even though we're starting to view houses and are in a position to put in an offer. Just last week, a house popped up that was just out of our search range, but was almost perfect for us in every other way, so we decided to go and view it. I sent an email requesting a viewing and Ben received a call back quickly that unfortunately, despite it still being up online, they were taking no more viewings as they'd already had offers. Now we think about it, it must have been underpriced to have gone so quickly. In reality, it was just that bit too far for me to drive to work from on a daily basis. But still, it was lovely.
No other ones that interest us have come up over the last 2 weeks, so I thought I'd do a post talking a bit about our house hunting journey (apparently, despite moving 3 times during the blog's life, I've never done this before!) and what sort of things we're looking for.
Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress
Lane outside our current house to illustrate location, it usually doesn't have a posing Sian in the middle of it though!
barn owl
"Jeremy" the owl who lives in the marshland at the bottom of the garden

Location

Location is one of our big things, as it is for most people who have jobs and areas they're settled in. Despite a few years in Newcastle, we much prefer our countryside location in Yorkshire so would like to stay. The house we're living in now is on a lane on the very edge of town, meaning we look out over a bit of marshland at the back with houses in the distance; the front looks over the lane then onto fields. So we'd like something similar to that, although finding it is a different thing! As long as I have some open space to look onto from at least one side of the house, I should be happy though :)
IMG_6231
Our bedroom in our old house (you can tell we liked this one better, a lot more pictures there!)

Rooms

In Newcastle, we had 2 bedrooms; near Richmond, we had 2 bedrooms; where we are now we have 3...and this presents a bit of a problem. There are only two of us, but when we moved, we realised we could afford to rent a house with 3 bedrooms, and this one was perfect. I've now found I'd find it difficult to be in a house with less than 3 bedrooms. At the moment, we use one as a spare bedroom (we occasionally have friends or my sister to stay, so it is used), and the other as my "dressing room" since the wardrobe won't fit comfortably into our bedroom. I'd like to be able to use the extra bedroom we have as a dressing and sewing room in the new house, so we're keeping it at 3 bedrooms (although if the price is right and there's the opportunity to extend at some point, I could deal with 2 for now!).
The most important room to us though is the kitchen - we like to cook and spend time in there, so we'd like it to be a good size and light. It wouldn't matter if the units themselves weren't great, as they can be replaced, and as long as they're in usable condition for now, it wouldn't be a problem. We both love kitchens that extend into the garden with pitched roofs, folding doors and big Velux windows like these. We like a lot of light and space, and would also love a breakfast bar or an island in the kitchen too at some point.
IMG_6233
Spare bedroom/my study in our old house shortly after we moved in - it didn't look this tidy for long!

Condition

The house we're in now is nice, but it's not in top condition. Fortunately it has a new kitchen and bathroom, but it's the little things that bother us such as the painted touch ups on the walls being slightly off colour, skirting boards not being finished and the back door being draughty. We wouldn't be too concerned if it was our own house, because we could change those sort of things, but here we can't. We'd like something in good condition though that doesn't need much doing to it, but I've got ideas in mind for painting walls (duck egg blue or sage green are my favourites), as well as flooring, curtains and other small bits and pieces, but they'll all come in time. At the moment, we're a bit stuck because we've got some cheap bits of IKEA furniture (some of which is falling apart...) and we want to buy some good hardy stuff, but don't want to make that leap until we've got a house we know it will fit into, so we're waiting on that right now.

So, I think that's about it for now! I'll keep you updated on how our house hunting journey goes. We've got about 6 months that we want to find something in and get moving, as our contract for renting can't go onto a rolling contract, and each renewal costs us a pretty big amount of extra money and ties us in for another 6 months, so ideally we'd like to get out as close to the end of it as possible!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Cancelled

Green pencil skirt
White Jumper: Warehouse via ASOS | Green Pencil Skirt: Zara | Flats: F&F
Remember a few weeks ago I was doing my 15 for 15? Remember how I suddenly got really poorly with flu in the middle of that? I did try to carry on with the 15 for 15 for the first day, wearing the most stretchy and comfortable clothes I had, but the second flu day was even worse and I could barely get off the sofa, let alone put real clothes on, and it continued that way for the next couple of days, so all thoughts of the 15 for 15 went out of the window. So this was one of the last outfits I captured, can't even remember each day any more, quite likely the day I came down with the flu looking at the quality of them! Strangely I'd felt absolutely fine all day at work, then had tea, sat down with Ben in the evening, and at around 9pm I said my throat was feeling a bit sore, then by 10pm when we went up to bed, I was in full blown cold mode, sneezing everywhere and barely able to talk (which is something for me!).
Anyway, that was quite a bit ago now really, nearly a month - woops! I've been a bit preoccupied with life to update on what's been going on recently, but nothing terribly exciting has happened! We went out for Ben's birthday last weekend to a new restaurant nearby called Gi Sukawaka at Canadian Fields which is inside a tent inspired by the kata tents of the Sami people in Lapland - very interesting! Then Ben and I went for a night away (to Scarborough!) on Thursday night, but more on that soon. And have you figured out what's going on in the Waterstones' Blogger Mystery I've been involved in yet? Have you been following?
So anyway, not the most exciting of outfits, and only two pictures because the rest turned out blurry (I need to keep still!). The pencil skirt is fairly old now since I got it before I started at Durham, and the jumper is from last autumn. I'm always a bit scared to wear white since I spill all manner of food stuffs down myself on a daily basis, but so far I've done quite well with this jumper! Anyway,  I'll be back soon with a better outfit post, promise! Although when I get those photos is a difficult question to answer since it's only just light when I set off to work now (and I'm too lazy to add any more time into my routine on a morning to squeeze in photos!) and it's dark when I get home, plus I don't like indoor photos, but I think it's going to have to happen sometime. But I do have a few more interesting posts lined up than just outfit posts, so hopefully you'll enjoy those coming up too :)
Pencil skirt & jumper

Friday, 24 October 2014

#BloggerMystery, The Descendants: Part 3

I'm still in a state of shock after what I saw down by the lake, and by now I'm sure that Daisy, Beth and Becky don't believe me - I mean, would you?! It feels as though I'm caught up in the midst of a plot of one of those nasty horror films you see late at night on TV - Georgina is missing with Piku, all that's left behind was her diary and a pool of blood, and then with that...creature I saw yesterday, I just don't know what's going on.

Strangely the Librarian doesn't seem particularly concerned about all of this, despite it all happening in his vast mansion. He tried to comfort me yesterday after I'd returned to the house and finally managed to splutter out what had happened down by the lake, but suddenly I couldn't cope with being around any of them any more and I'd retreated to my room with a steadily increasing headache - it was just too much to cope with after the events of the stay so far. I was really hoping that we might be able to leave and get back home soon, and now the place that had seemed so inviting, the room I'd described as "decadent" and had seemed like luxury when I arrived, was now haunting - I'm scared I might see something else at every turn, I feel like the shadows are moving, and I don't want to leave this room until I know I can finally go home.

Chatsworth library

As you can imagine, I wasn't terribly excited when I heard that the Librarian was planning to throw a banquet this evening to lift the mood. I haven't seen much of the others since my experience, but I know we've all been feeling a bit gloomy and keeping to ourselves, so it can't hurt to get us all together. But to be honest, I really don't want to go - the atmosphere in this place is feeling pressing down on me, and all I want to do is stay here and sleep until I can leave.

Beth's just come up to see me. I was reluctant to talk to her at first, knowing she's trying to convince me to come down. I know that they're all lovely girls and I'd love to spend more time with them, just not under these circumstances, and certainly not around that Librarian any more - the more I think about him and this place, the more uneasy I feel. She's still trying to get me to come down - I can smell the food cooking downstairs and the sound of the Daisy and Becky chatting on the floor below now the door's open, but it's still not enticing me any more. I'm sure they can bring some food up to me later, or maybe the police will finally let us go and I'll be able to grab something on my way home away from here. Even if I can't stay, I'll try and get a good night's sleep - things might be clearer in the morning. Yep, I'm pretty sure I'll stay up here, even though Beth's still trying to persuade me from the doorway. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

#BloggerMystery, The Descendants: Part 2

So you're probably wondering what happened to Georgina and her little dog Piku by now, and I'm afraid we're not a lot closer to knowing the truth. Find out what happened in the first part of my story here. But something else has happened now, and I'm not sure I can quite believe it myself, even though I saw it with my own two eyes. It seems surreal to me now that I'm back in the safe confines of my room at the mansion, but it was horrible, awful, crazy...I'm getting ahead of myself in my fear though. What I need to do is tell the day, step by step, convince myself that it can't have been true. Here goes.
Haunted House header
So the other Descendants and I spent the day in a state of limbo - we couldn't leave the grounds as they're now classed as the scene of a crime, even though there doesn't seem to be any clear evidence aside from the blood left behind. I spent a while in my room, fretting over what happened. Had I really seen anything or was it just my tired imagination? Was there something I could have done to stop whatever had happened from happening? And why was it that Georgina had been picked rather than any of us?

There are only so many times you can go through what happened in your head though, and I eventually plucked up the courage to head downstairs and see how Beth, Daisy and Becky were coping. Not well it seemed; the situation was getting to all of us. And I could no longer deal with being inside that place any more, cooped up in the very building where Georgina had been murdered. I was getting more and more claustrophobic by the minute, despite the high ceilings and spacious rooms. Even though the thought was scary, I needed to get some fresh air, and thought there couldn't be any harm in wandering the grounds of the mansion, after all, the murder had happened inside, and what's the chance the killer would still be hanging around?

The sun was just dipping below the horizon as I stepped out the door onto the terrace; the twilight was flooding the gardens with the last of the golden light that can only be associated with a typical autumn evening. I'd heard from the Librarian that there was a lake on the boundaries on the grounds, although I hadn't been able to see it from the window of my room. The light was glinting off it as I wandered down through between the neatly clipped hedges, so I followed the path down.

As I reached the lake, the sun disappeared for good, casting an eerie glow over the waters, as something rippled the surface of the lake, moving beneath. The Librarian hadn't mentioned that they kept fish in the lake, but I supposed it was probably likely that's what it was. I stepped off the path and peered into the water to get a closer look, and noticed that what was at first a small ripple was expanding, the water almost pulling away from it rapidly as whatever was below arose. First what seemed to be the nose of a fish searching for food appeared, but it continued to rise as the water darkened with a shadow beneath that seemed to be ever growing.

It's almost impossible to describe what I saw since I can barely believe it myself, but that "nose" of a fish was in fact only the smallest tip of the smallest tentacle of the huge beast that emerged from the lake. It was hideous, repulsive, terrifying - there aren't enough words to tell you. The closest thing I can think what it looked like was the Kraken of ancient mythology - it seemed to have hundreds of tentacles, all twisting and writhing towards me as I stood frozen momentarily. It barely registered that my feet had started moving until I realised I was halfway back up the garden and glancing back down at the lake behind me, the waters calm again as if nothing had happened just seconds before.

Kraken

I reached the house breathless, both from the race up the garden away from the monstrous thing I had seen and in panic from the thing itself. The girls were there to meet me at the door - I don't remember screaming out in fright, but apparently I did as they'd all heard me coming. At first I couldn't get the words out to tell them what had happened - I was still in doubt myself that I really had seen anything. And despite their kind words and hugs to calm me down, I could see the looks of scepticism on their faces. I understand; I wouldn't have believed it if I was in their shoes and it had been one of them running like a mad thing up the garden and exclaiming that they'd seen "a giant octopus" too.

The events from the night before must have really got to me, as they can do, when you're stuck in what can only be described as a house pulled straight from a stereotypical nightmare, complete with all the creaky floorboards, twisting corridors and dusty rooms you can imagine, and that's not to mention the strange things that had already happened.

After I'd related my tale to them, my head began to pound, probably with all the adrenaline, so I headed back up to my room, hopefully to safety, although if that's what got Georgina, she disappeared from her room... I can see the torch beams of the police shining around the gardens as they begin the search for what I saw to investigate the claims I've made. I know they'll all think I'm crazy, but I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it roar as it emerged. What's happening?

Read the story from the other side at the other Descendants' blogs:
Pretty Green Tea
She Might Be Loved
Becky Bedbug
Plastic Rosaries
And if you think you know what's going on, tweet your suggestions to @MysteryClues with #BloggerMystery to win a £50 Waterstones voucher.


Monday, 20 October 2014

#BloggerMystery, The Descendants: Day 1

¿Cuándo despertaré?
Image courtesy of Jose Maria Perez Nunez
Bloggersphere, we need your help – something really strange is happening, and Waterstones need your eyes and ears to find out what’s really going on (read more here). Along with a few other bloggers, I'll be writing about it on my blog over the next week or so, and we need you to figure it out. Keep up to date on the clues on Twitter at @MysteryClues as well as #BloggerMystery and tweet them with any suggestions to win a £50 Waterstones Voucher! For me, the day started fairly normally, but things got weird – I wasn’t prepared that something like this could happen.

I was recently invited by the Librarian from a grand estate to visit them as they had some news for me – I was sort of hoping it was going to be one of those things where they tell you that some distant relative or well-wisher has named me on their will to claim the estate. To be honest, I wasn’t far off, and for me, it was actually just as exciting.
Cinephilia: Don't Put Ancient Forbidden Evil in Your Mouth (Lovecraft on Film)
Image courtesy of enigmabadger
So here's what's happened so far as I've seen it:
When I arrived at the mansion yesterday, I met a few others who had been invited too (was it some sort of crazy blogger meet up, we thought?!): Daisy, Georgina, Becky and Beth. It turns out that we’d been invited there as we’re all Descendants of horror writers from times gone by – turns out writing is in my blood then! As I said, being from the family tree of a famous writer was far more interesting to me than simply having a rich distant relative. I’m not quite sure of the exact connections between me and H. P. Lovecraft, but I know I’ve got a lot of reading to do now to get up to speed on his works.
So as frequently happens when bloggers get together, we sat around chatting for a long time, mostly about the news we’d just discovered. And of course, before we knew it - woops! -it was dark outside and some of us had quite a way to travel home. Luckily they’d been prepared for this and had plenty of bedrooms already set up for us to stay over. I’ve got to admit, I was a bit wary of staying somewhere unfamiliar, let alone a huge mansion like this – I’ve only ever wandered places like it on days out, but the bedroom was so decadent, I could hardly refuse. Little did I know what was to come later though…

The bed was so comfortable that I slept pretty soundly. I only woke up once to use the bathroom (you know, that old bladder of mine!), and thinking back, I did open the curtains to have a quick look at what the grounds looked like at night. They were bathed in bright moonlight, you could even make out the box hedges on the lawn and a couple of the statues around. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I did catch a fleeting glimpse of a shadow darting across the grass. Honestly, I was so tired after the late night that it barely registered and I headed back to bed.

It wasn’t until this morning when I woke up and headed down to breakfast that I realised something was wrong. There was already a definite sense of panic in the air when I reached the breakfast room, and that was before I even found out that Georgina had disappeared during the night, and the little dog, Piku, she’d brought with her had gone too. I wasn’t too worried at first, thinking maybe they were overreacting, that she had changed her mind and headed home during the night, but then I heard what they’d found in her room – I didn’t want to see it for myself after the description, but apparently it looks as though the walls had been repainted with blood.


The police were swarming the place within minutes. I didn’t want to get under their feet and headed back to my room. We’d all swapped numbers the night before, so I texted the others to find out if they knew any more – not many of us had really thought about it at the time, but it turns out we’d all seen something shadowy moving around during the night. Honestly, it is a big, old house, and it being the middle of the night, you end up seeing things that turn out to be completely normal in the morning – I bet all I saw was a bit of wind blowing the trees. But even so, what’s happened to Georgina?

What do you think is happening? See if you can scope out any clues at the other Descendants' blogs:
Pretty Green Tea
She Might Be Loved
Becky Bedbug
Plastic Rosaries
Keep your eyes open for any more clues popping up on our blogs and Twitters over the next week or so, and tweet your guesses to @MysteryClues with #BloggerMystery - good luck!

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