Yesterday The Boy and I drove across to Cleckheaton where I used to live. I was born in Birkenshaw, moved to Pudsey with Nan after The Rents divorced then moved to Cleckheaton with Mum and husband number 2.
Cleckheaton used to be a town with more pubs than any town I've ever known, a decent supermarket (Tesco - I refuse to buy fresh produce from ASDA or Morrisons. It's not food, it's SHITE.) and all of my school friends living there so I bought my first house there (by myself) at 21 after living with a few boyfriends and realising that I was far too independent to rely on a trouser-shape to provide for me.
Ironically I now rent my house out to friends after moving into the Boy's huge 4 storey terraced monstrosity in a panic over a year ago. When QA took over Remarc, the training company I was head of marketing for I was concerned that they would take a slash and burn approach and get rid off all the staff, leaving me with a hefty mortgage, no savings and £4K of debt. The Boy was quick to step up and invite me to live with him.
Luckily I was one of the assets that the business kept and I've never been happier in a job in my entire life as a result of the takeover but I have gone from living in a house which was a haven of neutral colours and gorgeous furnishings to living here in a house with "potential". It has the oldest, most vile 70s carpets in the world, donated sofas which make my retinas hurt, no bath and with the exception of our bedroom which is now decorated beautifully... not a single room has been decorated and has either exposed plaster, pipes, holes in the walls - you name it.
Living with The Boy is worth the disgraceful surroundings though. We have such a laugh and the construction going on outside will be followed with renovations inside, then we'll rent out this house and buy somewhere else together. 3 properties, 2 rental incomes, 2 incomes... happy days.
Well there will be one day. I have still got £800 ish of debts to pay off, no savings and a recent damp situation in the house I rent out that is likely to cost me a pretty penny to fix. I rented it out to help me pay off my debts but reinvested most of what came in by putting in a new kitchen and bathroom - things which desperately needed doing - then the new oven in the kitchen broke so I had to buy a new one, then the boiler which was new 3 or 4 years ago broke and needed fixing. Never let anyone tell you that being a landlady will make you rich!
I had wanted to do more - get new carpet/laminate flooring in and finish the garden off but I don't have the resources until my debts are gone, not with little things cropping up that you don't expect.
The Boy and I have talked in depth about our next house, we've considered building one which would be wonderful - especially for a Grand Designs addict like me, then yesterday when we drove over to Cleckheaton the house which used to be my "dream house", the end terrace of my mother's street had a For Sale sign.
I literally jumped out of my skin, screamed, thought I was going to vomit and then simultaneously burst out laughing with tears welling up in my eyes. I was hysterical. I wanted to run straight up to the door and beg them to let me move in.
It's a huge 4 bedroom house with amazing character going for £249,950. It has a little wrap around garden with a cherry blossom tree that I used to walk past on my way home, watching Crazy Artist Lady pottering around it peacefully or spot her painting on the scrubbed oak table of the spacious front room with a glass of wine. I have always imagined living there. My dreams are realistic - I don't want to live in Buckingham Palace.
For a few seconds I could taste it. It was on the market, I WAS GOING TO BUY THE HOUSE. I glossed over the fact that I have no money but hey - I can do anything I set my mind to and I'm stubborn as fuck.
I did come back to reality fairly quickly but ever since then I CANNOT get this house out of my head.
Check out the glory.
I don't want to live in Cleckheaton. It's not nice any more - since the credit crunch most of the pubs shut down, Tesco don't sell any of the pretentious things I like to cook with, everyone looks miserable and skint and all these grotesque new builds have cropped up.
I'm spoiled living where we do, on the edge of the city. In 20-30 minutes (depending on whether I'm wearing heels!) I can walk from our house to the city centre, I am on the doorstep of great restaurants, shops, museums, bars, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, international markets and a million and one fantastic things to do. How could I move from that back to a town rapidly losing any charm it once had? Even if I still have friends and family over there. I love stumbling home in the moonlight after a drunken night out. I love stumbling back into Leeds after a drunken night out to get breakfast. I would hate to be too far away from Leeds, it's my home and it's everything that I want and need and have never found in another city before.
We don't know where we want to live but we want to be somewhere beautiful, with a garden for me to keep chickens in and grow lavender and herbs but near the city where I work and play. Near where our friends are.
Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.
Title: The Buddha of Suburbia by David Bowie