We made an offer on the Sensible House. The house’s location is perfect for us, and it has plenty of land and views of hills. And a little way up the hill behind it – our hill – is an old threshing circle, which I’m already thinking of as our star-gazing platform. The circle is well worn and broken up, but we could have it paved in Santa Catarina tiles, the baked-earth tiles named after our nearest village; around the village are several small tile-making factories. (The village’s full name is Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, which is a long name for small place.) In the picture you can make out, just right of dead centre, a wooden structure. That sits on the star-gazing circle.
All this has been enabled by the sale of our flat in the East End of London.
How to sell a flat . . .
1. Live in London.
2. That’s it.
Having said that, it is a lovely flat. We could have sold it six times over. All the offers were at or above the sale price.
The sale price was not inconsiderable. Our nest, which we’d so carefully looked after and loved, turned out to be our nest egg. As fast as London seemed to turn on us and tell us it was time to go, it also gave us the means to do so.
We have filled in pages and pages of forms for our solicitors in the UK. Portuguese bureaucracy is often much complained about, but I think we can hold our own in the UK. There’s certainly a lot more paperwork than when I was last involved in a property transaction, thirteen years ago. We have not met our buyer. Matters seem to be progressing satisfactorily, but nothing is certain before exchange.
. . . and buy a house
And we are waiting to hear from the owners of the Sensible House. All we know so far is that a complication has arisen. It seems that the owners had added a new parcel of land to the property, which wasn’t in the agent’s sales details. This suggests that it was not included in the asking price. Perhaps it would be better to do this Bitter Lemons style (see Week 3), after all. The agent and the owner could face each other across a table, fulminating and declaiming and insulting each other and each other’s families until an acceptable asking price is reached, while we sit to one side affecting not to want the house at all.
The Sunday before last, while we were still in the Algarve, I left my handbag in the Sensible House. I’d like to think it was an omen, except that I was so overexcited I managed also to leave my handbag behind in another house on the same day. When we returned to the Sensible House, it was some time since we’d left – it took me a while to realize I’d left the bag behind – and the house was clearly shut up. We walked around the back: nothing, and no one. Then we returned to the front and found this note on the door.
The owners had gone out to lunch, to a restaurant we already know, and had taken the bag with them. I collected my bag from them somewhat embarrassedly; we declined their offers of wine and went on to see the other houses on our list that day. For some reason, though, that note charmed me. It might have been that it was addressed ‘Dear Married Couple’, which I find sweet, especially as it is our anniversary next week. Perhaps this will all work out well. We have to wait and see.