Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Beauty of Planning (Part 1)

There are many things to plan when you begin searching for a flat. The scope for planning is almost endless in fact.

It's also a great opportunity for that twin of planning to come in to action. That twin's name is....Lists.

Aaah lists. Lists are to planning what scones are to High Tea. The perfect partner. One would not be complete without the other.

Lists are an essential part of my life. Mainly because I absolutely cannot keep track of anything in my tiny little brain. Dates and deadlines can be missed and trips to the supermarket are fraught with danger if I attempt to go without a trusty list by my side.

I'm just too easily distracted you see. Supermarkets are crammed full of bright, shiny packaged things 'on offer' and these are my downfall. I will always come back from a shopping trip with absolutely nothing I need, but very excited that I've just found a new brand of yoghurt. If I go armed with a list I will come back with a load of crap I don't need but I will at least have the things I set out to get.

So when we decided we were going to look for a flat I automatically went in search of pen and paper.

Now you have a few choices when it comes to looking for somewhere. You can either search individual letting agents websites (although this does mean you will have to know the names of individual letting agents) or you can go on one of those marvellous websites that has all the listings of all the houses from all the agents in one place.

Not if you're on one of these fancy websites it has a handy little button you can click on to save to your "favourites". Lovely. This is then where your own list comes in handy. You need the ability to be able to see all your properties, side by side, with details to allow easy comparing.

Enter......the spreadsheet. (Or a simple table in Word would do just as well.) Make yourself a table, and put in this table:
  • Location of property
  • Picture of property
  • Price
  • Estate agent - with contact details
  • Notes

The notes column should include anything you like/dislike about the property. When you're looking you will look at 100s of places that all start to merge in to one and sound very similar so anything that makes one stand out among the others should be jotted down.

Print out your list and then you have something that's easily comparable! You are then a hop, skip and a jump from narrowing down your shortlist and all the details are there for you to ring the agent and make a viewing appointment.

I know. Wow. Anyone else feeling short of breath and little excited? Me too.

Now where did I put that pen....

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Art of Compromise (Part 1)

I spoke to a friend of mine yesterday about Pancake Day. Her million dollar question was you have pancakes as your main meal or are they dessert?

I was indignant. What an impertinent question! Obviously you have them as your main meal!

It's one of those things that are very particular to individual families I guess. You know the type of thing - are you from a family that comes pelting down the stairs on Christmas Day, ripping in to your presents with gay abandon, or are you from a family that gets up and goes to Church and gets dressed before opening them?

(Incidentally I'm from the former kind of family so you can imagine my brother's horroer when he found out his girlfriend was from the latter kind of family and they didn't open their presents until after lunch. Apparently it wasn't too big a deal because he married her in the end.)


The reason my friend was asking me is because she is from a 'pancakes as your main meal' famliy, whilst her fiance is from a 'pancake as your dessert' family.

Dilemma. What to do?

"Oh we'll find a compromise" she said to me.

Excuse me? In this situation where is the compromise?! How do you compromise when one person wants pancakes as a main meal and the other wants them as a dessert?! What's thes solution? Don't have pancakes at all? Don't eat anything?

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as compromise anyway - just one person that backs down in the end.

In my opinion her fiance doesn't get to have his opinion count at all. He's unemployed and isn't making much of an effort to rectify the situation, perfectly content to sit on his backside at home whilst my friend goes out and works full time and pays for everything. Mortgage, food, entertainment, you name it. But that's a different matter altogether...

Anyway I asked her yesterday what happened in the end.

They had their main meal and then had pancakes for dessert. What did I say? No such thing as compromise.

It's a slippery slope - one minute you're letting him have his own way about pancake placement, and the next...could it get worse?!

I shall be on alert for compromising situations when my boyfriend and I move in together - and I'll be sure I'm not the one that backs down first...

Monday, 23 February 2009


Patience has never been one my virtues. Muffins come out of the over un-risen, as my desire to shove them in my mouth overcomes my desire to see them cooked properly. Many times I limp and struggle towards payday because I just couldn't possibly wait another 2 weeks before buying another DVD box set I really don't need. I haven't bought any clothes from a decent high street shop since the arrival of Primark into my life. Why wait and save the money for a £30 top when I could get one for £3?! Who if it's poorly-made and semi see-through and will probably fall apart the second I put it in the wash?!

So you can image how poorly I'm faring having to wait to find out if the flat we want to rent will be ours. You see this is the worst kind of having to be patient - waiting for something you have no control over. There's nothing I can do to speed this process up; turning up at the letting agency and demanding they give us the flat IMMEDIATELY isn't going to help me out much here (and I'm pretty sure will most likely be detrimental to us). So I just have to sit here and pray to the God of Renters thta everything will go well.

There's really no need for me to worry about the outcome. We're both employed in steady jobs with a decent income coming in (most of which I'm not responsible for). Neither of us has a track record of trashing properties we have previously lived in (although my Mother might have something to say about the number of bronzing pearls I have trodden in to my carpet in the past year and a half). Neither of us have debt collectors banging at the door, looking to re-possess what meagre belongings we have. We have both put decent people down as our personal references and I definitely know mine's good seeing as I proof-read it before it was sent in.

So I just need to calm. down. But I can't! I'm impatient! And there's a reason for my impatience. Until I know whether or not we have this flat I am completely unable to exercise another of my traits....planning.

Flat hunting is a planner's wet dream but I'll tell you about that later...

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bag lady

One of the benefits of finally moving in with the boyfriend will be an end to my current role as Official Bag Lady of Hull.

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time either packing or unpacking a bag of clothes as I briefly appear at home before dashing off to his parents' place.

This is not an official snub of my Mother's home but more a situation of convenience. I only have a single bed which would be fine but for the fact that he stands at 6'6" and I come in at a not inconsiderable 5'10" - both of us in a single bed would be comical. He also leaves for work ridiculously early as he has to travel to Sheffield each day - all round easier if I just stay at his then.

I do find myself having nights at home, not because I don't want to see him or spend time with him but because I cannot face slinging my stuff in a bag to make another trip.

I long for the day when I come home.....and that's it. No thinking "right what do I want to wear for work tomorrow" (a decision always best left to the morning I feel). No checking that I have clean knickers, socks, deoderant (on several occasions I have been forced to spend the day smelling of Lynx), hairbrush or eye make up remover.

Ah eye make up remover. For some reason I have a mental block when it comes to this item. I just cannot seem to remember it, leading me to try and wipe away the smudges with my fingers the next morning and finally just applying more make up on top of yesterday's. It's a wonder I haven't gone blind/seen all my eyelashes fall out.

I may even have a retirement ceremony for my beloved Primark weekend bag. It has served me well through my travels across Hull and was £6 very well spent. I hope it doesn't resent me too much as it's forced into early retirement to gather dust on a shelf as my cross-city travels come to an end...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Where did everyone go?

It suddenly dawned on me about a year ago that things had suddenly changed.

I was still in uni mode, something I've been suffering from for some time. This is the result of completing my undergraduate degree and then deciding I wanted to do a Masters degree. This meant I had a year of working to earn the money to pay for the Masters. Somehow this never actually happened. I don't mean the working part, just the saving money part. It was however a brilliant time, I worked in a coffee shop and went out 2/3 times a week and came in to work hungover/drunk and had a laugh.

The year I did my Masters degree was one of the best of my life. Waaaay better than doing my undergraduate degree and when I look back on that year, although there were crummy times and times when I cried, the grin spreads wide over my face as I remember nothing but smiles and laughs.

The euphoria from this year has shrouded me for the past 2 years I think. Even though I was now in the 'real' world, looking for a 'proper' job, I still had the mentality of a student and the over-arching theme of my life since then has been "it'll all work out in the end"

I had been so happily floating along that I hadn't actually noticed that everyone else around me wasn't still a student and was actually getting their lives in order. This dawned on me nearly a year ago when a relationship broke up and I found myself on my own. There I was, back in Hull, somewhere I swore I would never come back to, living with my Mum (I said I'd move back for a few months until I sorted myself out, I was here 2 years in November 2008), with a job which didn't really reflect the time and money I had put into going to university.

Meanwhile all my friends were progressing at astonishing rates. One is in London living in a fancy flat in St John's Wood employed by a large multi-national company on their graduate programme. Another was a bank manager, married and with a baby on the way. In my close circle of friends in Hull, of which there are 5, 4 of them now own their own homes. Yes. OWN. And people say that young people are never going to get on the property market - they should come to Hull where 25 year olds are capable of owning houses! One is engaged. One has a baby.

I've never particularly felt like an under-acheiver until I looked at this list. There wasn't even one thing I could tick off. Good job? Nope. Own house? Nope. Rented house? Nope. Live-in boyfriend? Nope. Baby? Hell no! This led to several mild panic attacks and breakdowns on my part until it hit me....

I don't have any of those things because I'm not ready for any of those things!!

When did people start growing up so soon?! We're constantly bombarded with the media telling us that women are having babies in their 40s, people are having several careers in their lifetimes, ditto boyfriends and husbands. What's the bloody rush?!

Yes all those people have all those things but do you know what else they are? BORING. I could handle them owning houses and having boyfriends and babies shooting out of them if it meant they were still fun people but they're not and when you do eventually manage to crowbar them out of their houses to come and have a drink they insist on bringing either the boyfriend or the baby along with them.

Me I'm happy being a young 25 year old. I still want to go out and get drunk on a weekend. I'm not going to move in with the nearest man to me just so that I can be like everyone else - I've seen people do that and guess what? They're back in my situation, living at home with their Mums and realising how boring they were back then.

So this is my challenge: To start growing up - yep I too am moving in with a boyfriend (although in to rented accomodation, let's take this one step at a time people!) but I am determined to remain the same fun, slightly neurotic person that I am. I will still be available for nights out and nights in (as long as they're accompanied with a bottle of wine). I am determined not to become like the rest of them....

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Everything you never wanted to know

My profile picture - a sunrise taken a couple of years ago out of my old bedroom window


Hello and welcome to Living with a Boy. This is just a brief introduction to me and the blog and the main players so that if you’re new here, you’re not totally confused by my ramblings.

I began Living with a Boy out of fear. I was on the cusp of moving in with a boyfriend for the very first time and the idea quite frankly filled me with terror. I knew that I needed an outlet, somewhere for me to go and pour out my worries, fears, annoyances and joys. I was no stranger to the blog-world and this was to be my third attempt at having a blog – the path has been fraught as this post reveals.

The boyfriend does not know about this blog (for reasons explained in the link above), he knows that there is a blog but doesn’t know that he was the reason I started it or that he features in it.

Turns out that living with a boy wasn’t as hard as I’d anticipated. So the blog has become, for want of a better word, random. It’s about anything and everything – the tags on the right hand side should give you a little indication of the things I’ve ended up writing about.


I was born and currently live in Hull. But my heart lies where I went to university in Manchester.

I Love. Crisps. Can’t get enough of them. I couldn’t even play favourites, I just like them all generally.

I like cleaning too. Maybe a little too much as it has caused me injury. The boyfriend attempts to join in but frequently gets it wrong.


The Boyfriend - Obviously. We’ve been together since June 2008 – want to know how we got together? Go here. He works as a big bad solicitor and commutes to Sheffield every day.

The Visitors – a.k.a. Fred and Lily. My Mum’s cats. They come and stay with us whenever she goes away anywhere. I love them to little tiny bits and pieces of fluff. I would love to have my own cat but we’re not allowed pets in the rented flat (Fred and Lily are snuck in each time). These guys are a frequent source of amusment for me and probably make up a large percentage of my blog posts (click on The Visitors tag for a whole load of feline fun).

The Americans – a.k.a. American Boy and American Girl. My best friend lives in America. I met her (and her boyfriend) when we all lived together in Manchester when we were studying for our Masters degrees. Since leaving Manchester I’ve been over to see them once and they made a recent journey here. I frequently sulk that America and England are so far apart. It’s really ridiculous.

Stitch & Bitch - I am a geek and enjoy a nice bit of cross-stitching, although I’m told I should no longer be ashamed of my geekiness as apparently all things crafty are cool again. Something I witnessed for myself when I was asked if I wanted to join a group of girls for a Stitch and Bitch group. This is as far as my creativity runs however, although I am now attempting to learn how to crochet.