I’ve just had a look back at the blog to see what’s what. A distinct lack of activity in the last two years. 1 post in 2018 and the last story in 2017. It’s now halfway through 2020 and I’ve paid my monies to be here so I may as well use it.
So what happened to MeYouCoffee?
Well in short, after much procrastinating and soul-searching, we’ve moved our life to the coast. We’d spent most of 2018 talking about what to do next with our lives. There was a need to shake things up, and a real desire to do something drastically different. I was convinced my future didn’t lie in Dartford, a town I’d been born and raised and lived my first 40 years. Sure, my family were still situated in town (or on the outskirts) but I was tired of treading the same streets, driving down the same roads, sitting in the same traffic and breathing in the same dirty air that seemed to be getting worse year on year. I felt deep down that the change we needed, was a change of area.
But with a mortgage to pay, kids’ education to think about, and parents and wider-family that we’d be leaving behind it was never going to be easy.
I spent months looking at Google Maps and RightMove. Dropping a pin and working out the logistics of work commutes, new job prospects, the dream of perhaps living mortgage-free. This last one kept me focussed on the north of England for quite some time. There was a distinct opportunity in selling our family home 20 miles outside of London, and being able to move to a bigger place, with a bigger garden, somewhere near the Lake District.
I love the Lake District. It holds a special place in my heart. I find it ever-so awe-inspiring and find myself becoming mesmerised by the beauty when I’m there. Could I live there though? Probably. But I’m not sure the whole family would agree. A feeling of potential isolation issues started to creep in as we looked further and further north. Those cheap prices, it appeared, came with a different type of price to pay. Moving to the north of England would see us cutting ourselves off from family and friends, and with our parents getting older that seemed like an almost cruel move to make.
What about Brighton?
It was then that attentions turned to the south coast. Brighton in fact; another place we’ve always enjoyed visiting, and within fairly sensible reach of family and friends. The thoughts of a mortgage-free existence evaporated when we saw the house prices. A move to Brighton and its surrounding areas would have meant a sideways step (house wise) and would not have really afforded us more space for the kids to grow. This was starting to get tricky. A feeling of dread began to creep in. What if this became a never-ending struggle to find the perfect place to move to.
Back to Google Maps then. The aim was to keep within an hour or so of work and family, but at the same time find somewhere that was affordable, and offered greater benefits to us in terms of less pollution, quieter roads, fresh new scenery and space to run around. That’s when I stumbled upon Deal, Kent.
The real Deal?
When you Google “Deal Kent” you’ll be presented with articles that say “Deal, my kind of town,” and “One of the top places to live in UK,” which was more than I needed to plan a day trip. So in April 2019 that’s what we did.
To spice things up, I decided to book some house viewings whilst we were in town. We’d been looking at RightMove for over a year, so it felt like it couldn’t hurt to take a look at 3 houses to get a feel for the sort of thing we could afford should we choose to move. How was I supposed to know that Deal would be the sort of place that instantly made me feel at home, and that the second house we looked at would knock our socks off.
The sense of freedom Deal offers is hard to communicate. People that live at the coast will often tell you that “living here feels like being on holiday all year round.” I’m not sure if I’m getting that vibe just yet but things are definitely more relaxed than in a suburban town like Dartford. People instantly seemed friendly towards us as we walked along the coastline and into town. Even the traffic was nicer; what little we encountered involved people that would wave and let other drivers through. They even mouthed “thanks,” when we reciprocated. It was all very alien.
“We could live there.” I said as we got back into the car after visiting the house we now proudly call “home”.
“Wow,” my wife replied.
Until that point I think it’s fair to say that she’d been playing along and really just letting me “get it out of my system“. That’s not to say she was ever against the idea of moving out of Dartford, but more that she didn’t see it actually ever coming to fruition.
On seeing this potential home, something changed. The house offered twice as much space as we had, a garden for the kids to play in, a driveway for my car (oh boy, how much I have longed for a driveway) and here’s the clincher – it was 10 minutes walk from a beautiful beach, a park, a school, a pub or three, and a swimming pool.
Deal has a stoney beach; which makes it perfect for living. You see, just up the road you have the towns of Ramsgate, Margate, and Broadstairs – all with great sandy beaches, some amusement arcades and little shops selling buckets and spades. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with all of that, quite the opposite in fact, because it makes for some lovely day tripping with the kids. It also means that Deal isn’t the summer hotspot in terms of people looking for a noisy family day out at the beach. With local butchers, fishmongers, shops that sell nik-naks, candles and antiques, as well as a wealth of quaint coffee shops and pubs, Deal really is that cliched “hidden gem” on the outskirts of Kent.
In short: I loved it.
Better get moving
We got home. We made an offer. We enlisted some help from my folks for some deep cleaning and quick decorating. We put our house on the market.
Within 24 hours we had a buyer.
We were suddenly in the system. A system that would age me considerably, stress me to the point of breaking point, and test my patience, resolve, and hairline.
Point of order: I now know that if a house move is going swimmingly with absolutely no problems and it all feels too good to be true – then it’s probably not true.
With everything moving along at pace, we’d researched and visited primary schools; we’d booked and paid a deposit for removals; we had put a lot of energy into managing the children’s expectations and making the transition away from their school and friends as harmless as possible; and finally we’d packed up 85% of the house into boxes with an expected completion date of 16th August.
With a spring in our step, and minds firmly on all the adventures that awaited us just over a week away, I received a phone call from the estate agents. Our buyer had pulled out. No explanation. No “thanks but it’s just not for us.” No “Sorry.” Nothing.
They had just disappeared.
That feeling of despair, it makes my skin crawl just thinking back on it. We were so close to getting everything done. We’d been living out of (and surrounded by) cardboard boxes for weeks and the kids had waved goodbye to their friends and school before the rug had been well and truly pulled out from beneath our feet.
The next 24 hours were tough. Were we going to unpack everything and take it as a sign that we were to stay put? Count our blessings and just carry on as we were, then perhaps later on in life when the kids were grown up and done with school, we’d move away from our hometown?
Some rum was drunk, some tears were shed and some rum was drunk. Dark thoughts about MRS F*@KING SALLY F*&KING MAY were had. My wife and I talked, and thought, and swore, and talked, and swore, and thought and at the end of it all we made the decision to push on. We’d already invested so much time and energy into this that it would be foolish to stop now. We’d give it one more shot. The vendor at the other end of the chain kindly said that she would wait for us to find a new buyer, so we set about re-marketing the house, taking viewings and trying as best as we could to hide big, bulking boxes out of the way of potential buyers.
Thankfully within a week we’d received another offer and this time from a lovely couple that were just as keen to move as we were. No hiccups. No problems. We were all done just outside a month!
September arrived and by week 2 we were watching our life get packed into the back of a truck. It was a strange feeling. 13 years of memories were made in our little house, and whilst I was sad to leave behind the family and friends we had there, along with the comfortable feeling of knowing every street, every shortcut, and the familiar faces that come with living in one place for so long, I was so very ready to go.
Living by the sea
We are here now. Living our life by the sea (OK, I know it’s not technically a sea but it is to me, and shall here-on-in be referred to as such) and ready to enjoy the new adventure that lies in front of us. The kids have settled well at their new school, and my wife and I are enjoying the fresh challenge of working in a home office together without killing each other (it’s her turn to make the tea by the way). Covid-19 and lockdown have brought different challenges of course, but other than that, things are good.
With our feet finally under the table (choosing a new dining room table, man, there’s a whole other blog in itself – why the hell was that so difficult?), and with some time to finally breathe it feels like I might actually start finding time to get creative again, and that feels me with hope for the months ahead.