We went to view the Abbey Road house on Saturday morning.
I intensely dislike letting agents who do multiple house viewings. We turned up hopeful that we'd be the only people having a look because we got there ten minutes early, and then two more couples turned up bang on time, at the same time as the rep from the agent. I don't like viewing houses with other people following me around, and I'm pretty sure most people feel the same. I feel like I can't discuss how I feel about the house because other people are listening - I don't even like being in earshot of the agent most of the time.
Anyway. The house itself. As anticipated, it was nice. The photograph of the kitchen made it look bigger (or, well, longer and narrower) than it actually was, as the perspective was oddly forced. It was nicely presented throughout, the garden was a decent size (if in need of a bit of work) and all the rooms had good dimensions (the single bedroom was actually bigger than a bed, imagine that!). The main bedroom overlooks Warley Woods / golf course so that's a definite bonus. It's definitely the nicest we've seen thus far, and we both actually liked it. I also really liked the fact that there was plenty of storage space - a cupboard under the stairs, and a chest / window seat in the hallway which the Christmas tree box would fit into perfectly. It's also got a garage (with power points) so we could have a chest freezer. The kitchen, as I said, was smaller than it looked on the website, but it was big enough and there were plenty of cupboards and counter space, plus a little utility room on the end with room for a washing machine and a bit more counter.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of the joint viewing, we could not just pay a retainer upfront as some agents like to do (which means they stop other people viewing it in the interim), and instead have to fill out an application form, along with everyone else, for the landlord to consider and decide upon. So even though it was really nice and incredibly promising, there's still no guarantee because we have to wait on the landlord to deem us worthy of living in his precious house.
I can understand that, in a way - it's a decent property, and thus far only the awful, dingy, badly-presented houses have had the option to put down money upfront - but it's disappointing. As of this morning we still haven't even sent off the application form so may well be too late to even be in the innings for it. Subsequently I'm trying not to get my hopes up because our experience thus far has not exactly been stellar.
We still have Friday off, which was meant to be used for house viewings, and there are a couple of nice properties still on our list... but now it looks like the market is dropping off again after March and April when there were usually at least two or three properties every day which looked promising. I'm still checking every day but where there were 10-15 properties to choose from, there are now only five or six.
There is also the problem that we're finding nice properties which are under-budget and a brilliant size, but they're impossible to get to. There's a really nice one in Brierley Hill but it takes two buses, or a train and a bus, and over an hour to get there from Birmingham. And that's not taking into account delays or traffic. It's simply not workable. I anticipated this would be a problem from the off, but it's doubly frustrating when the only nice houses I can find are in Nowheresville.
On the plus side, the concert on Saturday evening was an absolute triumph. The BSSO's rendition of The Pines of Rome was amazing; for the final movement they'd positioned the trumpets behind the choir and when it built to a crescendo it was like being cocooned in a bubble of deafening sound. I've never experienced anything like it before. (I'd also never heard the piece before so the whole thing was a pleasant surprise.)
Carmina Burana was great fun to do; the last two movements are exhilerating. I like to think that God / the Raptors were so enamoured and distracted by our lung-busting rendition of "O Fortuna" that they forgot to end the world. :D Although if that prediction had been correct then I can't think of a better way to go, screeching about the unfairness and unpredictability of life.
It was a brilliant experience all over, really; I spent most of it indulging in nostalgia of the first and only other time of singing it, back in 1996 as part of the Foundation Schools Choir. (Mr Yeo promised us a CD of the performance but it never materalised.) We spent many evenings of rehearsal at Camp Hill School, and Michael Brewer, who was conducting, managed to get both the sopranos and altos to a top E (as in the one above top C) during a warm up, just to prove that he could. :) We also sang Parry's I Was Glad and the orchestra did a number (can't remember which now), and the descending (subsequently ascending) speaker in the middle of Symphony Hall's lighting rig got a round of applause all of its own.
That was the first performance I ever partook in at Symphony Hall and I'm still grateful even now for having that experience at the young age of 14. I can remember the sense of awe when we first sat down for the 'dress rehearsal' - that sense of "Bloody hell, that's a lot of seats" and the pre-performance nerves. I can remember going in the Artists Entrance at the side of the building (we don't even get to do that now!!) and the maze of corridors and landings and stairs. That concert - the entire experience - remains one of my favourite choir-related memories. I'd been waiting for CBC to do Carmina Burana for ages, but only realised why that was once I'd sat down in the choir stalls.
Just as well it was brilliant, actually - we probably won't get to do it again for a while. It's not a particularly challenging piece (90% of the choir had already done it, the rest sightread it almost instantly) and they do like to keep us on our toes. :P
We went to the gym last night and had a go on everything, including the scary-looking and painful stepper machines. Our programme cards advised 10 minutes; I managed three and Paul managed one before his knee locked again. We had a very productive hour and then ruined it by having fried chicken. I need to get back on track with calorie-counting again because at the moment I'm eating junk food post-gym and basically maintaining a level of fatness, which isn't how it's supposed to work. I think I've actually put more bloody weight on, and all the sit-ups in the world aren't going to help if we keep going to the chippy afterwards.
On the plus side, everything feels like it's working, though at the moment I am in less pain after a regular session than with the personal trainer, so perhaps I need more discipline. :P
I think that'll do for today...