Week 10: The importance of timing

After more than eight weeks of inaction on the part of our buyer’s solicitors, we became truly nervous. I say ‘inaction’, but that’s not quite right. They received copies of the documents relating to the sale, and lost them. They received a second set of copies, and lost those too. That’s quite active, in a way.

I began to smell a rat. Husband smelt a bigger rat. The neighbours downstairs found an actual dead rat in the garden and that did smell, but that’s a macabre coincidence. Husband and I argued over the size and odoriferousness of our metaphorical rats, and it all became a bit upsetting.

We have not met the buyer. The reassurances as to his commitment that we were receiving from the agent were sounding hollow. I came to the conclusion that we would have to find a new buyer, and that to do so via a new agent would be a good idea. I would go to the flashy agent around the corner, the one with plate-glass windows and liveried cars, and challenge them to find us a buyer on a fast-track sale. We are trying to get our sale to complete just after the fulfilment of Husband’s notice period.

First, I ought to check in with our solicitor. I called at 10 a.m. No, still nothing from buyer’s solicitors. Would all our paperwork be transferable to a new buyer, I asked. Yes, theoretically. So we’re already part way there on a new sale. Yes, he said. I then suggested we give the existing buyers until 11.30 a.m., and if nothing was heard, I would initiate a new selling process. He promised to ring at 11.30 to tell me either way.

I went back to my work. It’s a crime novel, quite an unusual one, but it has a common fault. Many crime novels and thrillers have hitches in the timing. Often the action is described carefully day by day so that a week or two elapses in ‘real’ time, while in the background two whole seasons cycle by. Or one plot strand finds itself on a slightly different timeline, and doesn’t connect with another plot strand when it should. Or the days and the weeks and the clock times just don’t add up. You have to take quite a forensic approach to spot these things, but that’s what I do. I like to look for a solution to the problem, too, though ultimately it’s up to the author. Even the best-selling and most accomplished crime and thriller writers make mistakes with timing.

And so, my attention elsewhere – my attention, indeed, where it should be – I wasn’t fully conscious that I had electrified a small group of people. Our solicitor had spoken to boss solicitor, who had spoken to agent, who had spoken to buyer, who it transpires really does want the flat. The electrical current was remarkably effective. At 11.33 a.m. I received notification that the buyer’s solicitor had raised all the enquiries related to the sale.

So that’s what you have to do! You have to say you are going to withdraw from a sale to get anything to happen. I feel slightly despoiled by the whole wretched process . . .

. . . but not to the extent that I wasn’t prepared to seize my advantage and run with it. Twenty-four hours later, I got all participants to agree that to exchange contracts on the sale in a week’s time was both desirable and possible. As this week’s update gets posted, that’s just two more days away.


My mum

Mum 1

We spent the weekend with my mum. In her mid-eighties she’s every bit as lovely and as stylish as she was fifty years ago (only that she no longer makes her own clothes).

Mum with some of her brood

Mum with some of her brood

Mum and Dad

Mum and Dad

Our decision to move to Portugal hasn’t been entirely easy for her, but this weekend we looked at pictures of the house and its surrounds, and I think she could see herself there. She was also reminded of the times she lived in hotter climates herself. We looked at flights, and discovered plenty of well-timed and good-value journeys from East Midlands airport to Faro. We got rather carried away with this, and thought we might just book a flight on the spot. Then Husband said,

‘Better wait until the house is ours.’

Ah, yes. All in good time.


  1. Sylvie

    I like Wednesday mornings and waking up to read the new post in your blog. Especially today with your mum’s smile, so special (and the exchange for the flat just around the corner too).

  2. Hazel

    No wonder Mum and Dad had such a striking family! They make a very handsome couple! Fingers crossed, breath bated that all hitches are behind you with the house and flat. Roll on next week’s exciting instalment . . .

  3. Ruth

    Nothing like a bit of persistence…especially in the good ‘oll UK…

  4. fatma nedjib

    Bang up to date with my comment this week! Lovely fotos. Such a human touch. And Ms Rabbit, so like your Mother! This blog is become more than the story of a journey to another land; more a journey of a life, and the movement toward an integration of that life. Very gentle, beautifully crafted. Much like its author! The spikes of reality sting; the rats, both real and metaphorical; bureaucracy, ever labyrinthine. Coming back to the heart though, your Mother, from whence it all began. Thank you for sharing this tale with us all.

  5. Jenny

    This is all so exciting, I was up at 6am, I,m in Vancouver and I can,t wait for the next instalment !
    Great news and lovely photo,s. Things are really moving !

  6. Sue

    Oh well done you for refusing to be treated badly. So glad you did give that ultimatum. I can’t express how much I am enjoying hearing about your journey and seeing your photos (and isn’t your mum beautiful) (and I had never thought about time-slips in crime novels).

    Thank you so much for sharing and am very glad that it all seems to be moving along now.


  7. Kate kelly-Tanguay

    How wonderful..two days time. Bravo to you.
    What delightful photos..Thank you for sharing them.
    How lovely that your mum is also becoming enthused. it must be opening up all sorts of possibilities for her as well.


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