Well, I did it. I found a new place to live yesterday and I am REALLY pleased with it.
Despite my enthusiam in my last post about the studio flat and possibly being fully independent again, I came home from seeing the room in Bransgore, a pretty Forest village, more or less already moved in! Haha!
The flat in Fordgingbridge was cute and much roomier than I imagined, with loads of storage space (could have even used one of the spaces - pantry sized - as a mini-library!), although the bedroom was on the small side for a double and kitchen was T-I-I-I-N-Y! But heaps of character (beams, uneven walls and floors, etc.), big bathroom and a bright, roomy living area. It would, however, be a nightmare to move anything into - the stairs are on the steep side and winding in a narrow stairwell, so getting something like a sofa in there would be
almost impossible if it weren't flat-packed. But the reason it hasn't rented (and probably won't for the foreseeable future) is that the electricity is on a coin-operated meter, so you feed in pound coins to run it. I think. I've never actually used one and don't quite understand the concept of it, but can't imagine it's particularly cheap and efficient. The landlady, however, won't change it, despite requests from the estate agents.
Plus there's no parking included and I'd either have to park further up the street in the residential area or buy an annual permit (£100) and park in the public lot around the corner.
So I was a bit disappointed although, as I say, I didn't dislike it. Fordingbridge is a nice little town, and the drive to Ringwood is only about 15 mins or so (just over 5 miles).
Next I went to Bransgore to see the room. It's a small village tucked into a corner of the Forest, 6.5 miles (16 mins drive) south of Ringwood and not somewhere I've been before.
You can see Ringwood just at the top of the map.
Part of my dilemma with having to move was the fact that, apart from not having the funds to do it, I wanted to be fully independent. Why should I look at rooms again?
Well, this place was lovely! Really and truly. The room was at the back of the house, opening onto a sun-filled patio (with picnic table) that was all mine! There are two chickens, a fish pond, a little guest house/potential studio at the back, parking, a BBQ & garden area at the side/front, all the shops are literally a block away, it's bright and cosy and the owner and one of the other tenants were there to chat with me. The owner is so easy going and is moving to Spain. The tenant I met (there are currently two) was an Italian lady, a sommelier (!) and quite lovely. The other tenant, a solicitor, was away, but has apparently been there about 6 years and has zero inclination to move away - his office is actually located above the grocery store on the corner (about 100 yards from the house). The house would more or less be mine on weekends, as the sommelier works and the solicitor is away at his parents' or somewhere.
It's sooooo peaceful!
Rent includes everything, including council tax, and as I was more or less redecorating the place less than an hour later, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I took it. We all liked each other very much and it seems I'll be the one using the kitchen the most as the other two just aren't around or don't cook much.
I paid my deposit last night and pick up the keys next Sunday, when I'll be in Ringwood helping a bit to set up the new office for a couple of hours. I'll drop some un-necessary bits and pieces there (my books, most likely, and some knick knacks) at the same time and can see how it might all start to fit together.
The Forest is about 5 minutes up the street, it's 10 minutes drive to the beach, I can cycle more or less anywhere, and the drive to work will be very quiet. I'm hoping to be fully moved in before the end of September, but as I'll have my keys I can come and go as I please and will be officially settled by 1 October.
So, I'll be driving more than I'd like, but not on any major roads and the distance means I'll be home before 6:00, which is almost half an hour sooner than I am now! Biking - depending on the roads - would take me about half an hour, so once I'm more familiar with the roads and the area I can start doing that when it's lighter in the evenings. The narrow English roads are frightening enough during full daylight as a cyclist, I don't want to risk them at night quite frankly.
Anyway, I'm feeling really good about it all. Staying with my cousin was never meant to be a permanent things and I've over-stayed my welcome. So this is going to be good for both of us.
Will post pictures once I've got everything to my liking. :D