Wednesday, 18 June 2014


I saw a post on twitter the other day (I didn't actually note down who it was sadly) on weekly gratitude. Just someone listing what they were grateful for that week. This week when a lot of people I know are going through some really tough times I've been really examining my little life and I think it's good to practice gratitude for the small things. Even if you're having a bad week there's usually something small you can be grateful for.

These are things I'm grateful for this week:

  • Sunshine, or at least warm non raining weather.
  • My courtyard garden and its new look (update soon)
  • All the things keeping me busy, the Kilimanjaro climb, the wedding and now the 18 month course I've signed up for at work - because they are all amazing opportunities although this year will be epically busy!
  • A quiet life, although we have lots on we don't have a lot of drama and stress and I'm grateful for quiet evenings in, shared goals and being a team when it does get tough.
  • Flashing my first 6A route in the boulder room :) I've been climbing 6A's for a while now but always had to work on them and did one first try this past week. Not a great achievement or anything near but definite progress for me!

I am of course grateful for the big things like a roof over my head, my family, Tom, my job etc but I think it's a really nice idea to think about the things that we are grateful for that seem smaller or more trivial, as these are often overlooked and it's the small things that make up a life! I might make this a regular post (maybe not weekly but semi regularly) to try to keep the vibe positive around here.

What are you guy's grateful for this week?

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Friday, 13 June 2014

Moving House Part one – Finding a new place

I decided to start a new regular series on moving house, another 4 parter. To be honest it was mainly because of lack of anything else to post at the moment, as home projects have taken a back seat. However a lot of my other projects are wrapping up and I hope to get at least some garden work done this weekend so I should have a courtyard update soon!
I'm not an expert on moving home but I think with the amount of times we've done it in only 5 years of living together we are getting close enough! We've lived in 4 properties over 5 years, our average is 1.5 years per place (some longer some shorter)...I hope we won't move again until we buy somewhere now! I thought it would be good to share the experiences we've had. 
So you've decided you want to move or been given notice by your landlord to leave, what’s the next step? If you've been given your notice, first take a deep breath and don’t panic! The first time we were given 2 months notice I was so upset that we had to move (even though I didn't love the place we were in) as I thought we’d never find a place in time, but we were actually out with time to spare!
A few hints and tips we've found along the way when house hunting:
  • Sit down and think about where you want to move, and what you need from your new place. We make a list of absolutely essential requirements (cost, location, size and area are often the main ones) then a second list of things that would be nice but you could live without or work around (near shops, off road parking etc).
  • Stick to your essential requirements (for us compromising on them has only lead to being dissatisfied after moving in), but don’t be too fussy on the rest especially if you have a deadline to move. For example somewhere must meet all of our essential requirements for us to book a viewing. We decided this time we wanted at least a one bedroom so discounted any studios, it must have central heating, so we didn't bother looking at anything with night storage heating and so on.  The ‘would be nice’ list comes second, it’s fantastic to find somewhere that meets the requirements of both lists but it is just not always possible. We managed to meet nearly all of our 'would be nice' points and our essential list and we are the happiest we've ever been with a property.
  • Call or email all your local letting agents and let them know your requirements, and start getting the local newspapers (or steal the classifieds/property section from someone who does) and look in there every day. Obviously you may be in more of a hurry if you've been given your notice, so look at every available place to find advertisements – Local papers, property websites, do a search engine search for your area, classifieds websites as well as lettings agents.
  • Also tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new place, I knew 2 people at work who live near where we wanted to move to so they were looking out for ‘to let’ signs in their area for us.
  • If you both work set aside a day per week for viewings so you can just book in a viewing without having to keep checking with each other and calling agents back.
  • Being clear on what you want will save time when viewing, we found that there were a lot of places out there to let and we had to narrow it down a bit otherwise we would have spent hours looking round flats that weren't suitable. 
  • Try not to get caught in the trap of thinking ‘I’ll just move there for now then look for somewhere else’, if you've been given a deadline to move it can be scary but persevere looking for somewhere. We had real trouble finding somewhere to take us with pets and I considered moving into somewhere like a studio temporarily then moving once the 6 month or year contract was up – but that would just mean more upheaval and a year of living somewhere we didn't like. 2 of us plus 2 cats and 2 turtles in a studio is not something I would like to try but I got near to considering it.
  • However, if it gets really close you might need to think about temporary accommodation, like staying with family or friends and storing your stuff while you carry on looking. 
  • Or take a good harsh, honest look at your list of essentials, is it too long? Is something always an issue? Do your expectations match your budget? If not one of them needs to change. Do you really need hardwood floors and fireplaces and is that holding you back being on your absolutely essential list when your budget isn't getting you those period feature properties? Get to the reality of what you really need, budget, bedrooms and pets would be all I really need if I was struggling to find better, the rest (new fittings, nice decor, near shops etc) is 'would be nice'.
  • Make sure you ask all the relevant questions to you before going to look at somewhere, like price, area, pets allowed, size etc. Don’t assume just because the agent is calling you that it’s suitable, as sadly I often found this not to be the case. We moved for the first time with pets last time and although when I registered with all the agencies I told them we had cats we often got calls back about places that didn’t accept pets! One agent was very keen and sent me weekly emails of properties they had ‘selected’ for us, but when I called back to make enquiries about them most of the time nearly all of them were not suitable being either too expensive, not allowing pets or not in the area we’d asked for!
  • Ask for the full address and look it up before you go, we asked for areas in the suburbs between Gloucester and Cheltenham or in Cheltenham, but there are areas within this that are not so desirable. For example, we got a call for a house, 2 bedroom with a garden and a driveway etc, within our price range and available now. I booked the viewing and looked up the address on Google maps only to find it was in an area that I did not want to live in (locals might know where I mean!) so I cancelled it.

Feel free to add any more tips in the comments, I hope that’s helpful it’s really just some common sense guidelines for looking for rental properties. Next up will be viewings

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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Weekend Inspiration

Well we had a jam packed week, we did a night summit of mount Snowdon last Saturday to simulate summit night of Kilimanjaro. It was really worthwhile and we both managed well but we were knackered after, mainly due to having to get up and do the climb at midnight!
However it meant we got to the top at sunrise so it was well worth it.
Then we were home for one night then off for a week of camping and rock climbing in the Peak District at Stanage Edge. It was an amazing week, we got loads of climbing done despite some wet weather, with only one day spent at an indoor centre in Sheffield due to the rain. It wasn't particularly hard climbing we were doing, as Tom was trying out leading outside for the first time so we took it steady, but it was a really enjoyable week just to be outside climbing all day :)
I actually feel I progressed this week with my climbing, but more in my head than on grades or difficulty. As I said they weren't technically hard routes, but some had big gaps to bridge, or big moves to go for, and I did all of them without wussing out. I'm well proud of that as fear is what often holds me back, that panic that seeps in and makes your hands not want to cooperate with your mind, now I feel like I finally have a handle on it and I had to have a few words with myself on some climbs but I finished all of them.

I think this is the inspiration for this week - You can do more than you think you can. Believe me you really can. You are stronger than you would ever imagine. This week I've climbed a mountain, and been up and down a cliff face more times than I can remember, and spent an all day session at an indoor centre and finished all the routes I tried there. I'm feeling pretty battered, sunburnt and bruised but also pretty damn invincible and like I have made some massive achievements. This time last year I had only just started climbing, I certainly never thought I would ever even sign up for a climb like Kilimanjaro, let alone be feeling ready for it by now! I'll also be back to my usual training schedule next week (gym Mon, climbing Tue, rest Weds, running club Thurs, gym Fri, rest sat, climbing Sun) which I actually enjoy now, anyone who knows me knows this would not have been enjoyable for me even 6 months ago! I hated PE at school and have pretty much been inactive since then, up until last year. So that pipe dream you've had of doing something big? Do it. You really could make it, and worst thing that could happen? You could try and fail. So what? As long as you give it the best you can that's great - at least you'll know.

Now I am home and spending today tackling the washing pile, and cleaning up the mould we are still getting inside as the unit that was promised hasn't been fitted yet...must get onto that...

P.S I am doing the climb for charity, if any of you would like to sponsor me below :)

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