Thursday, 28 January 2016

Ennui Roadtrip

Looking at one of my old houses on G-Maps Street View the other day got me to think of doing a G-Maps tour of all my old houses since 1975, when I bought my first house in Southport.

Hawkshead St, Southport - bought for £10,000 at age 21 - hate to think what it's worth now. Lost my Indian ring-necked parakeet here that I'd brought back from Sri-Lanka after a trip at sea, which probably went on to populate the north west and become part of the Indian ring-necked parakeet scourge of the UK.

Moss-Side Way, Leyland - a move to the countryside. Think it was £15,000. Hideous house, but the mem-sahib wanted to get away from Southport. The garden was pure clay and always waterlogged. 

Fernleigh, Leyland - a step up in size with 4 bedrooms, but not much to see out front. Garden was again a claypit. Built my first MGB here. Price £42,000 (the house, not the MGB). My neighbour was a traffic cop on the M6 and was killed by a shotgun blast from a poacher he caught while off duty. Wife and two small girls left behind - very sad.

Cumberland Rd, Southport. 13 rooms and gorgeous (after some renovations). Bought for £58k and sold for around £150k. A delightful house with numerous nooks and crannies - you could ever get fed-up in a house like this. The only house I was genuinely sad to have to sell. You could say I'd reached 'peak house' at this time, to use the current vernacular.

Recently converted, 2 bedroom garden flat in Kenilworth Gardens, West Hampstead, London, following a divorce - and a step down in the finances. The whole house had been gutted and converted to very nice flats. Bought for £111k and sold 5 months later for £135k. Very bijou and yet very desirable, hence the huge profit.

Got married again and moved to Shooter's Hill, South London. Nearly new 3 bedroom end-of-terrace bought for £99k and sold a couple of years later for £150k (I think). 3 floors and very nice. Loved the wisteria on the balcony, but they have a habit of undermining foundations and splitting walls. A bit Jerry-built - shut a door and the whole house reverberated.

Tredegar Rd, Emmer Green, Reading. Back to the countryside due to a job in Maidenhead. 4 bedroom house bought for £150k. Bought brand new as a show house with all the fixtures and fittings. Saved me a packet in decorating. Pokey rooms though.

A move just down the road within Emmer Green to a much bigger, five bedroom house (six if you count my office). Can't remember what we paid for it, but was sold for £275k or thereabouts. Was working back in London at this time, so 3.5 hours of travelling a day took its toll on me.

Another divorce and I moved to a boat in Caversham Marina - boat photo follows. Another tumble in the finances following the divorce.

The 4 year-old MV Joseph (a Dutch barge) was bought for £120k and sold 3 years later for £60k - the market for boats had collapsed. Had a wonderful time here though and loved every minute of it (except occasionally in winter). Got back in touch with nature and learned a lot about ducks, geese, grebes, macerating toilets, poo tanks, condensation, diesel boilers, women, etc.. An indulgence.

Met Hay and bought a caravan to live in while building our house in Old Sodbury. Price was £500 (and another £500 to have it transported from West Wales). Tenure was 5 years. Cost £200 to have demolished. Wouldn't have survived if we hadn't installed a wood burner.

Our current house in Old Sodbury - they can carry me out in a box from here - don't want to ever move again. Cost to build? Somewhere between £210k and £275k, less £22k in VAT rebate. Value - priceless to me. Built to our specification and not with a view to marketability, so market value is probably a lot less than you'd think - for example, the whole upstairs is one bedroom, rather than three or four, which makes it much less valuable to a family. Similarly, the open-plan nature of downstairs is not to everyone's taste, but if divided into individual rooms we'd end up with rooms that are rarely used, whereas we inhabit the entire space all the time which gives the feel of spaciousness, Still not a patch on the old Victorian/Edwardian  house in Southport, but to recreate that now would simply cost far too much and wouldn't be allowed by planning regs.

The ironic thing is that my elder brother has only ever lived in two houses, both within a mile of each other in West Kirby. He found the house of his dreams and stayed put. How I envy him. I was a bloody gypsy by comparison - a bit like my mother in that respect (she was constantly moving, but only within a 5 mile radius).

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