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Published: November 18th 2019
My mum used to say that all things came in threes. One good thing would surely be followed by another two. The first bad thing would quickly follow with two more. I am sure she was wrong as for us things seem to come in fours and fives. When something goes wrong it does it with a vengeance . Selling our house for example . We have three offers on the table . The first made before we left for Italy. The couple as lovely as they were had not even got their property on the market. They were convinced once they found our bungalow that they would sell theirs straightaway. Nope they did not . They had a flurry of activity and two people were interested but they had not sold their properties so nothing could happen there . Then we got a cash buyer. Great we thought - just what you need. However he had tried to buy before but he did not use a mobile phone nor the internet. Everything was done by snail mail . In this day and age it was not easy to see why any offer he made to buy a house was quickly
rejected as time marched on but he did not. The third offer came in . A couple who loved our property. They came to see it twice. Their house was already sold subject to contract but just at the start of the process . They wanted us to move out and into Gabby for the winter . To put our furniture into storage and they did not care that we could find nowhere to live .
We went to see a house . First thoughts from the photograph did not impress me. The hairs on my neck did not stand on end . I did not think this is just right . We could live here. Glenn was more optimistic about it. I could see the advantage of a long drive with plenty of room for our girl Gabby. The next door neighbours both had motorhomes so we would be in good company. The owner was asking too much for the property . It was not far under the price the next door sold for a few months back. That was renovated . This was not. Far from it . The owner had removed the walls between the lounge
and dining room. He had left a pillar up the middle . Ok it could be put back and a wood burner installed but it filled me with no enthusiasm. The patio door would not unlock . There was a new kitchen but it had no appliances apart from a cooker and hob . Both of which were cheap and nasty . A massive garage filled the back garden . An ugly thing that the vendor agreed to remove if the purchasers disliked it. Dislike it wasn't the right word . I was lost for words . The bathroom was refurbished and the bedrooms a good size however there were no doors anywhere . Apparently the vendor had a liking for open plan . This was taking it a little too far. The cupboards all needed new doors and a serious amount of work was needed on the wardrobes . All in all I was not that impressed but it did tick some of the boxes .
The third couple who wanted our house started to push . We headed to Wales again having seen another bungalow which fitted the bill. On the face of it I would say
it looked OK. But pictures lie don't they! The garden and drive were too small for Gabby . The back garden needed a serious amount of money spent on it and a lot of TLC. We began to see why it had not sold. An extension that looked bodged. A series of small rooms each with artexed ceilings and walls . We quickly went off it and moved to the next one . Surely second time lucky . No that one which we loved had sold . Number 3 - lovely bungalow set nicely on a small estate . Small front and back garden but just enough to put a conservatory on it . A lovely new kitchen and bathroom and everything impeccably done up and clean. It had been loved and well cared for. Sadly it was out of town, on an infrequent bus route and with little infrastructure . The guy selling it was moving to be nearer his family and that summed it up for us . Too far from civilisation as you got older . Onto the last bungalow which was the one we had seen before . We wanted a second viewing so we could view with our heads not our hearts. Dirty hallway . Dirty mouldy inner door . You could take them out but it made me wonder what else was not quite right . The garden would be overlooked once the garage was taken down and it would leave an enormous dirty slab . What to do with that ? We had no idea . The bathroom grout was filthy and mouldy and the shower which looked new was dirty .. The floors inside wardrobes were black . A combination of mould and bitumen off the tiles . The thermostat for the heating was housed inside a cupboard next to red hot pipes. We quickly beat a retreat and withdrew our offer . As Gabby was poorly and we couldn't live in her we made the decision to take the house off the market and sit and wait and see what 2020 brings .
Gabby had been for her lithium battery . A long trip to Preston and an equally long journey home. Arriving home the 12 volts was dead. Nothing worked . The step would not work, the TV was off , no lights and no fridge and worse of all in this weather the door would not shut properly and the heating had failed . We had spent a lot of money and the darn thing was worse than before we had it done . The guy who fitted it called us back to say he would come out that night and fit a new battery which he did . It worked for a while until we drove to fill her up with gas . No 12 volts again . She is holed up and we are waiting for the fitter to try to find out what is wrong with her . The battery seems Ok but the brain seems to be switching the battery off when we drive . It empties to nothing for no reason and is not doing what it should be doing . Another one of those when something goes wrong it goes wrong big style . We are now waiting for him to try to find a solution but we are not hopeful . So mum wasn't far wrong when she said that bad things come in threes .
The weather has been awful . Heavy rain , flooding, frost in the mornings . We needed something to cheer us up . With the house saga weighing heavily on us we needed to do something . We have a holiday booked over Christmas but if Gabby has no battery working properly we won't be going anywhere soon. We did not know where to go but had been watching an old programme Flog It on the TV a few weeks ago . The ever bubbling nauseous presenter was at Welbeck and the Portland Collection . This was just up the road from us and we had never spotted it before when I was searching for places to go and things to see.
So today we headed off - 20 minutes from Chesterfield it was the ideal place to spend an hour or so. Welbeck is one of those great traditional landed estates. It extends to some 15,000 acres, much of which sits within Sherwood Forest, with Welbeck Abbey at its heart. The Abbey was founded as a monastery in 1153. Bess of Hardwick’s youngest son, Sir Charles Cavendish, acquired Welbeck in 1607, and since then the estate has continued to be handed down through the family. You can visit the abbey but only for 33 days a year and the tour has to be booked in advance . I doubt that we will be joining a tour as it is guided and we dislike being herding round a building stopping for too long in front of items only to be told things we didn't want to know.
Our trip today was to the Gallery which housed some of the house treasures . The gallery is one of two on site and is part of a garden centre and a far, shop. The gallery entrance is free . There was an exhibition of paintings on display titled "Men Women and Things " a collection that focussed on the extraordinary women in the family’s ancestry. One of which was the renowned Bess of Hardwick, We could not take photographs of the portraits we just had to look and gaze on them comparing styles over hundreds of years .
In rooms off the main area were the glass cabinets . There were cabinets crammed full of minatures. Beautifully painted they chronicled the family over the centuries . Other cabinets were full of the silver and gold cutlery and plates that the family needed to entertain. . How much wealth could one family hold? It seemed almost obscene. There was furniture in some of the rooms . Beautiful tables made up of different woods. Tables made up of tiny mother of pearl patterns. Books and a pearl earing belonging to King Charles II worn when he was executed . The one thing we wanted to see was not there having been stolen from the museum . In 1902 William Cavendish- Benthinck who was the 6th Duke of Portland commissioned the jewellers Cartier to make a tiara for his wife Winifred so that she could wear it at the coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The family decided to display the tiara in a thick armour plated glass case . However on the 30th November 2018 thieves broke in and took the tiara which has never been recovered.
After our visit we headed for lunch . How about something different ? Something Veggie. We headed for the nearby Van Dyk Hotel . Lunch was an unusual Butternut Squash sitting on top of a pastry base. Scattered feta cheese on top of the butternut squash. Accompanied by asparagus , leek, Brocoflower and roasted potatoes . What a nice end to the day . All we need now is our girl to be sorted .
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