Friday, May 15, 2009

Within reach
After Mr Baby said he was selling the house along with everything in it, I couldn't really concentrate on much. Mrs Baby leant over and touched my arm, 'You seem like a lovely family dear, I hope you get the house.'
We are a lovely family, and I certainly hoped we got the house too. We went home and waited the 20 minutes for Mr and Mrs Baby to get back to their house before calling.
My husband spoke with Mr Baby, we started our offer at the initial bank valuation, and we could go from there.
Mr Baby said he'd have to call his two sons and speak with them to get their advice.
It seemed as though we waited all day for him to call us back, but it was probably only a few hours.
I answered the phone, 'Yes, hello it's Mr Baby. I spoke to my sons. Yes, that'll be alright."
And that was it. A private sale. As it turns out, the first time the house has ever been sold in it's 105 years.
The wait
From there everything fell into place. Our house sold in 12 days, it went unconditional another three days after that (meaning the buyers could not back out). We arranged for the house we were selling and the house we were buying to settle on the same day. We wanted to get into our new house as soon as possible.
At one stage I had to go and see Mr and Mrs Baby at their home to take over some paperwork. Mr Baby told me about the house, and his family. Mr Baby was the youngest of six children, two girls and four boys. He's the only member of the family still alive. They were all brought up in the house.
When Mr Baby was a boy his mother and father had a car accident, with him in the car. His mother died nine months later, and his father suffered life long injuries. The two daughters never married, but instead stayed at home to look after him.
Gwennie, the old lady I had met at the letterbox, was the second youngest. She had worked as a secretary at McDonnell & East, a department store in the city which closed a long time ago.
"Oh, she was shopaholic Gwen," said Mrs Baby, "She was beautifully dressed, she had a lady who made all of her clothes. She had so many bags, and so many clothes..... They're all still in the house." Now as a long-time avid collector of vintage clothes (back when they were just second hand), this, I thought, is getting ridiculous.
"And shoes" Mrs Baby went on, "The shoes! Mr Baby threw out 86 pairs."
"They were a fire hazard." said Mr Baby.
I prayed that Gwennie was not a size 9.
The wait was only a few weeks, but it was excrutiating. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't concentrate on anything. I constantly asked my husband what he saw when we walked through. He gave me the same answers over and over, but I kept asking anyway.
We would eat dinner on our back terrace so we could see the house, and afterwards we'd walk through óur new garden and plan what we would do. It was tedious, being so close and not being able to go inside. It was driving me mad.
I called Mr Baby and asked him if I could see inside the house again, just to see how much of our existing furniture we could bring with us. He said he'd call me next time he was there, and after what seemed like many months (but in fact only a few days) he did.
Mr and Mrs Baby were at the house, along with one of their sons. They said they were just checking to see if there was anything they wanted to take. I thought of the pink oil lamp immediately. I had a quick walk through the house, had a last look at the oil lamp and went home. I didn't want to intrude on them.
I won't go through the moving process, safe to say that moving next door is probably more complex than moving to a new city, and it's made even more complex when your houses settle on the same day.....and you're moving into a house which has to be cleared out first.
Settlement day finally arrived. Our solicitor said it would probably settle at 2.30pm and we could pick up the keys about 15 minutes after that. We got the call early 2.15pm to say all was done and the keys were waiting at the solicitor's office.
By 2.25pm Euphemia was ours! Did I mention the house has a name? Euphemia, so insanely posh! It was named after the mother of the family, and here's a bit of the old girl's facade, pictured below.

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