My husband and I have a terrible affliction /addiction. We can’t help looking at property that is for sale. One day about a year and a half ago we saw a particularly sad looking house for sale and out of sheer curiosity made an appointment to view it.We arranged to meet the estate agent at 3pm. It was raining outside. When he opened the door it was raining inside also
Someone had pulled a wheely bin into the hallway to catch the torrent which was being funneled through the hole in the roof, through the first floor ceiling and the floor into the entrance hall. He said “you don’t mind if I don’t go any further with you, do you?” We replied “No”. He then asked us to wait a second as he took a discarded umbrella (or was it a walking stick, I can’t remember) and banged it on the ground several times. “Get out, get out” he shouted. Until that moment we were under the impression that the only occupants of the house were pigeons, hundreds of them. There was no answer from upstairs. He told us we could proceed with caution and again reiterated what he had said on the phone. “It’s not for the faint hearted you know”. Never ones to run away from a challenge we practically rubbed our hands together with glee. However we restrained ourselves: the glance between us said it all.
It wasn’t a pretty sight. Originally built in the mid nineteenth century as a family home, in its most recent incarnation it was home to 18 individual flats. Beautifully proportioned rooms were carved up to provide kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms, headspace over the stairs now held two bathrooms, suspended ceilings had been inserted through out, only one original door survived in the entire house. The original windows had long since been replaced with aluminium and many of these did not close properly. Pigeons were nesting everywhere: on the roof, in the roof, even in the water tank! Feathers everywhere. But most of all THE SMELL. Not just that of the toxic fumes of the pigeon guana (to use its technical term) but also from the many bathrooms which…(I can’t even write it down, use your imagination). Suffice it to say it was not pretty, not pretty at all. (we have since met other people who viewed the property. One told us that the agent had a girl working for him who showed the property once and refused to go back again. Another refused to enter the building after she got the smell at the front door!)
We bravely persevered, loosing our baring as we progressed through the debris. Three floors, over 5,000 sq ft, much of this being unsightly additions which would have to go, open trenches in the lowest level, black bags of stuff (we daren’t look too closely), even some grass growing inside on the furry carpet! We stoically completed our viewing, contained ourselves until we were alone and then jumped up and down saying “we have to have it”.
It was love at first sight.
(to be continued…)