With distance comes serenity, or why is my brother following me?

House viewing continues apace this week. I might have been a little rash with our early viewings suggesting we have found the perfect place. After seeing a few more houses, we have yet to find our prefect forever home, but we are certainly getting closer, with the viewing today being the best yet (more on this later).

We have been viewing houses for a fortnight now, have seen six properties with two more booked in, and as of yesterday our house is on the market as well. This afternoon, I have nothing house related to do, and so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on a couple of things which have struck me so far.

Finding peace and quiet

When we were first considering moving house, my wife and I made a list of things we would like in a new home. Nothing is particularly revolutionary; ample parking, at least two bathrooms, four bedrooms (three would be ok if the house was otherwise amazing). Sarah and I agree on most points on the list, our red lines if you will. Where there is some disagreement is in the need for peace and quiet.

I added this requirement to the list. My ideal home would need to be someone quiet, away from main roads, where I could sit in the garden and hear nothing but the birds tweeting, the neighbour mowing their lawn, and maybe a stream running somewhere in the distance. In short, I am looking for my little peace of Eden. Is this a red line for me? It is certainly not a dealbreaker, but the house would have to be otherwise near to perfect for me to consider it a good choice.

For Sarah, the quiet criteria is less important, although that is not to say she wants somewhere busy and noisy, rather it does not rank highly on her list of requirements. If we were to find a good house by the side of a busy road, it will usually be me pointing out the road and speaking the house down as a result. While I do not think I have rejected the otherwise perfect house for the bustle and noise, I have rejected places Sarah would otherwise be happy with.

Today, we were visiting a home in Pudsey in West Leeds. Before the viewing I had checked the location on Google Maps and Streetview, and I have to admit I was not convinced by the area. But the house looked good, the price reasonable, so we arranged a viewing.

For each of our viewings, we have parked a couple of streets away from the house in question, giving us a chance to walk the area and get a feel for the neighbourhood. Today was no exception, but I was dismayed to find the only option available for parking was a fairly busy road.

I must admit I did not have high hopes for the house, but as I got closer to the home, something unexpected happened; the noise just dropped away. By the time we were stood outside the house, less than a hundred metres from the main road, I could barely hear the traffic if I strained hard, and once I was looking around the back garden, a lovely private space, the road noise was entirely gone. I have found my peaceful space, and I had found it in a place I was not expected. For the first time viewing houses, I liked this one more after seeing it than I did before.

Sometimes, just moving a small way from where you are can make a huge difference to your environment, and your environment can make a huge difference to your state of mind. I cannot be certain the house we saw today will be the final choice, there is competition and it still has flaws, but I do know I will be approaching the next house, and each one afterwards, with a more open mind.

A strange coincidence

Bradley is not a particularly common name in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Bradley is no longer in the top 100 most common boys names in England and Wales, having dropped off the rankings several years ago. The name peaked in popularity around the late nineties, but never quiet made it into the top 20 boys names. While there are a couple of places in Yorkshire called Bradley, I cannot find a connect with North Featherstone and Pudsey, certainly not geographically.

My brother Bradley was born and named in 1991, just as the name’s popularity was on the rise, and my brother will have contributed to the statistics. Over the years I have met a couple of other people called Bradley, but it is certainly not a common name choice.

So when I am on two different house viewings and see the name appearing in both locations, it is going to catch your attention.

This began in North Featherstone, near Pontefract in West Yorkshire. We were walking around the area before viewing the house, and found a delightful little pub called the Bradley Arms just five minutes walk from the house. Given this would be our local, and the link to my brother’s name, we had to stop in for a drink.

It was small and cosy and the rabbit warren of rooms you might expect from a semi-rural pub at the end of a popular walking route. A selection of locals and ramblers were enjoying an afternoon pint. It was only when we ordered our drinks that we hit a slight snag; they did not take credit cards, and we did not have any cash. But as can happen in a little place like this, the landlady slid the drinks across the counter and told us to pay her back the next time we were passing by. What a lovely place.

Unfortunately the house was not for us, and we were unlikely to be passing through North Featherstone any time soon. So we quickly found the nearest cash machine, took out some money and were back to pay our tab before we departed. It is a shame really that we did not like the house, because the locals amenities were exactly the kind of thing we are looking for.

After visiting the pub, we snapped a picture of the name and sent it to my family to share what we had found. If it had stopped at just the pub, it might well have been nothing but a curiosity. It became more unusual when we arrived at the viewing today, and found ourselves pulling up next to Bradley Lane. Two visits, in two very different places, and yet my brother’s name appeared in slightly different contexts at both.

Some might see it as nothing but a coincidence, others might see it sign. I sit firmly in the former group and do not assign any particular meaning to this. It is certainly not going to sway my decision making regarding the house to buy. Coincidences can appear at any point and in any place, and at this point in my life it seems my brother’s name is appearing more often than at others.

I will certainly be looking out for Bradley at the next viewing.

Time for our own viewings

After spending time viewing other houses, our house is finally on sale. The pictures have been taken, the blurb written, and it has clearly worked; within 24h we have four back to back viewings tomorrow.

For those of you who have never arranged a house viewing, the process involves calling an estate agent, telling them the house you want to see and your available viewing times, before the estate agent tries to match your times with the owner’s convenience. Although the agents are accommodating, it does feel a little like you are inconveniencing people, and you feel the need to bend over backwards to fit their limited availability.

Today, the experience was very different. Our estate agent called us several times after people had called to book viewings. Where before I was trying my best to be accommodating, now I had the agent asking me what is convenient. Would I like the viewing at 10 or 11? Could I take another viewing in between? Or would I prefer a later date? All of a sudden the power was in my hands, the viewings were being booked at my convenience. To say it is more civilised is an understatement.

Of course, I want to sell my house, so I am never going to turn down a viewing short of it being in the early hours of the morning. But it is a nice change of pace to have people dancing to my tune for a while.

And it is over. Time to book another viewing, time to fit myself into someone else’s life and convenience.

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