I guess I better just get on with the news of this past week. It’s been a very hectic week but Andy and I got a shitload of necessary things done and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with my current situation because of it. First of all, we bought a car. We’ve been using a rental car that we picked up from the airport almost 4 weeks ago and that we are due to return this upcoming Saturday. Buying a car wasn’t high on our radar until we realized that we were seriously on a time crunch. I had offered to help Andy look for cars on the internet while he slaved away at work but I ended up getting entirely too frustrated since I had no clue on the quality of the makes and models of cars here. Driving around this past month, I was mainly seeing Vauxhalls, Peugeots, Fiats and Fords on the road. Ford is the only brand I was familiar with and honestly Ford and I don’t have a very good relationship (despite what Andy tells me about Fords being better built here). Thankfully someone at Andy’s work recommended a used car dealership to him and we dropped by there at about 6 PM last Thursday.
Now Andy had told me that buying a car in the UK was a pain in the ass but that it was no where near as bad as trying to buy a car in the US. I can now firmly attest to that and in fact, would say that buying a car in the UK in no more worse than picking up a carton of milk at the grocery store. We got to the dealership and started looking around. No one came up to bother us – in fact, we had to find someone to help us narrow down our search. Once Andy found one that he liked that was in our price range, we took a 5 minute unassisted test drive (meaning the dealer didn’t require to sit in the car with us rambling on about the car’s features), went back to the dealer’s office and put down a small deposit, then agreed on a time to pick it up. You can’t drive off the lot with the car until you have the paperwork stating that you are properly insured for it. At no time did the dealership ever ask to see Andy’s driving license. The whole process took 45 minutes. I’m sure if we were financing the car (which we couldn’t do since neither of us as a lick of credit history in this country) it might have taken a bit longer, but I can’t see that it would have been that much longer. What’s funny is that car dealerships here adhere to the same general work ethic that infects the entire UK. The dealership closed at 7 PM. If this process had taken an hour and 15 minutes, instead of 45, the dealer would have told us to come back the next day to finish up. That would have never happened in the US. If a dealer in the US thought he had a chance of making a sale, he would stay 4 hours later than closing time to make sure that it he made a commission. Anyhow, two days later with insurance certificate in hand, we went back, paid the rest of the money for the car, and drove off – all of 10 minutes.
I’m proud to say that we are now the owners of one 2007 Peugeot 307 in blue. It’s not the best car in the world but we like it and it’s big enough to fit the gigantic stroller I insisted on getting because it didn’t make me cry when using it (the stroller, not the car).
Not our actual car, but this is exactly what it looks like. It's French (don't hold that against us), I've named it 'Pierre' of course.
The 2nd bit of big news is that we also managed to find a house to rent. Well, our applications are currently being processed but we should know by the end of the week if we have ourselves somewhere to live. The place we found is only the 3rd house we looked at and it’s in a different area then I thought we’d be, but it’s a fantastic place and I’m crossing my butt cheeks hoping that we get approved. The house is in Mossley Hill, which is a really nice area of Liverpool, with lots of nice shops and families and big parks nearby. The house itself has two large bedrooms, one small bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and a large back patio for Chloe to yell at birds in. Unfortunately the place only has one bathroom. It does however, have the toilet in the same room as the actual shower\bath so, you know, we got that going for us. I’m also going to have to live sans dryer, dishwasher, and garbage disposal until we are more flush again next year but honestly, if I don’t have to live in the hellholes first two places we had looked at were, I can deal. This place is at least clean and recently renovated unlike the others.
Jaysus, the first place we looked at was awful. I wish I could take pictures because I don’t know if anyone would believe me on how bad it was. The place was in Aigburth – a terraced house with three “bedrooms” and two “bathrooms”. I want you first to imagine your grandma’s house. You know the grandma – the one who has lived in the same house since First World War and hasn’t redecorated since 1943. The same grandma who is long since widowed and is arthritically challenged, as well as has a serious case of dementia, but who refuses to get any help so hasn’t cleaned the house properly since 1996. Imagine this grandma finally passes to the Great Beyond and you are walking into the house for the first time. Imagine a kitchen where the only way you could tell it was the new millennium was the 8 year old washing machine sitting under a decrepit sink. Imagine the “family bathroom” that was located directly off the kitchen that looks more like a utility room than anything remotely similar to a bathroom. There was no bath to start with – or a shower stall for that matter. What was there was a shower head hanging off the corner of the wall, with a dirty shower curtain sectioning off one of the corners of the room with a drain in the middle of the floor (all cement, painted a lovely shade of turquoise blue). I imagine prison showers to be very similar. Going for 650 pounds a month I honestly thought that it was very likely we’d be staying with Andy’s mum until Henry was 5 years old.
The 2nd place we looked at wasn’t much better but at least it had a proper bathtub (1950’s pink!). It was honestly after the 2nd place that we decided that Aigburth was entirely too student-like for us (I’m getting old) and that we were much better suited for the less bohemian and less crack heads walking around in the middle of the day lifestyle. You know, we’re having a kid….I can admit defeat to my youth. I might be kicking and screaming a bit but at least I’m kicking and screaming from a nice coffee house with a hot decaf latte in my hand.
So that’s the news. I might update later on this week with more gibber jabber on food or what not but I can’t promise anything. I might be too busy putting together IKEA furniture…or giving birth…or searching for a new hair conditioner as my supply from the US has just run out (ack!).