Monthly Archives: June 2012

Tradesmen, Books & Language Courses…

Ciao!

Mi dispiace! I’ve been very poor with my blogging of late. I’ve been out and about.

I’ve had some quotes back from the tradesmen folk – I quite like the mybuilder.com site as it currently stands. I’ve had 4 people show an interest within a 6 mile radius and a couple are coming around on Sunday or early next week to give quotes. I’ll be relieved when that’s sorted and the flat will be one step closer to being rent-able! Alas, I keep coming up with other bits that will need to get sorted too <sigh>. Still onwards and upwards.

I had some responses back from the estate agents too – I’m going to compile their rates into a spreadsheet to do a bit of a comparison for the various options properly. Seems to be pretty similar across estate agents as far as I can establish.

I bought a good “learn Italian” pack a month or so back which I’ve been listening too. I have several dozen beginner type books and having worked my way through all of the beginnings of the beginners books, I consider myself more of an intermediate now. The pack I have is “Italian – Beyond the Basics Coursebook” by Living Language which came with a CD and an Italian Learner’s Dictionary (which is actually very good – quite a bit more useful than a regular dictionary for things like phrases etc.). It’s very good in terms of getting used to dialogue – it’s one of the harder things to get used to if you’re mainly used to reading or going through exercises. So, I’ve been listening to that a lot and I think it might have helped.  I’d recommend it.

Otherwise, no further movement in terms of Italy move – tune in soon for an update 🙂

Ciao i miei amici, sogni d’oro!

x

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Letting, Blogs and Builders…

Image

Ciao!

Well today has been a reasonably productive day.

I’ve emailed 5 local estate agents to see if they’ll rent out my individuals rooms in the flat and to see how much they charge. Some of them had pretty good websites which explained the letting process in a bit more detail. I’ll need to:

  • If I’m doing it myself (rather than getting an Estate Agent to do it for me), get applicants to complete a written rental application with their credit history, employment status and names of former landlords. I found a template on http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/templates/rental-application-TC001001442.aspx
  • I’ll need to check references: credit check and contact previous landlords etc.
  • Get a Gas Safety certificate (I think I’ll do that just before I let the place out), a copy of which will need to stay with the tenant. Should apparently be about £80.00 + VAT
  • Get an Electrical Equipment Safety Certificate (EESC). It’s not a legal requirement but the landlord’s at fault if wiring or anything electrical in the flat injures/kills the tenant so I’ve decided I might do that! Should be about £65.00 + VAT.
  • Check that all my furniture is fire resistant – it has to have a label somewhere apparently. That applies to beds, mattresses, sofas, cushions and other soft furniture.
  • Do an inventory. I found some information and a downloadable template on this blog: http://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/property-inventory-form/ There’s also some guidance for Landlords on there too which I’ve just spotted so I’ll take a look at that too.
  • Need to look at getting a government authorised “Tenancy Deposit Scheme” which is needed for all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (this seems to be the agreement for renting out the house exclusively for a period of time so would appear not to apply if I want to rent out the rooms individually perhaps, that would seem to be a “licence to occupy”. I need to investigate that further.

I’ve discovered (or rather, my mum has discovered) a good website which links to lots of useful blogs about moving to Italy! http://www.expatsinitaly.com/ I’m wondering whether now is the time to start drumming up some interest in my blog despite my ongoing concerns of not really knowing whether it’s what a blog should be like or not so I’ll consider trying to get a link on there I think. Feedback from mum today was that I should be less personal at the start and as people form long lasting bonds with my blog, divulge more information when they start replying to posts etc.! Anyway, I suspect that’s too personal 😉 Hi Mum 🙂

And I’ve used www.mybuilder.com to try and get someone to come in and sort out my bathroom ceiling in my ongoing efforts to get the place in a reasonable rental condition. I promised a picture – here you are 🙂 The website is a good idea – you post your “job” and then tradesmen have an opportunity to show that they’re interested and email you if they are. As the job-poster, I can then shortlist them and get them around to give me a quote. I’ve already had a response from one guy so feeling quite good about that. Perhaps I’ll post up the finished product, hopefully in 2 or 3 weeks!

Right, I think that’s enough for today.

Ciao i miei amici. Sogni d’oro!

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Tenancy Agreements, Life Coaching and Bathroom Ceilings…

Ciao!

How are you all? (I say “all” – you know, it’s difficult to tell how many of you there are. There did seem to be a reader from the states the other day. I felt very global. Alas, they haven’t come back yet.)

Well, I have a tenancy agreement from my Berlin friend, although I haven’t looked at it properly yet.  I’ll do that this weekend. And I’m fully intending to try and get my bathroom ceiling into a better place this weekend too (or at least, start the process) in preparation for renting the place out. I’ve taken some photos of it and will send them to the local handymen to see if they have any ideas on how to fix it, whether they would do it and how much it would cost. In fact, perhaps I’ll post it here. My friend was telling me I should consider putting some pictures up here so er, yes, horrid bathroom ceiling here we come 😉 In fact, I think there’s some kind of voting functionality on this – perhaps you could vote on a solution 😉

I did some life coaching this evening with a new friend of mine which is one of the options on my “things to do in Italy” Grand Plan.  I’m not sure how successful it was. She seemed to be happy when we parted! I think I’m quite a logical person, and I like to plan – my Project Management career is probably something I’m well suited to. I have a lot of spreadsheets and lists – I have a goals sheet with this year’s goals and a 5 year plan next to my bed and I check off items as I go. If I’m stuck with a difficult dilemma, I’ll do a full options appraisal, complete with weightings and risk coefficients. I have a spreadsheet to track my expenditure and I categorise each item against a category. It updates a spending trend summary which compares against what I have spent or haven’t spent. And then I have many other financial spreadsheets. Anyway, my point was, I don’t think other people are like me – and so although perhaps it helps to be a bit more plan focussed – there’s a risk that some would think I take it too far. I’d like to see what my life coachee thought of my coaching. I’ll ask her in the next couple of days and see if she has any feedback.

Ok, on the train now. Approaching home so I’ll sign out for tonight.

Sogni d’oro i miei amici!

x

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Books, braces and crosswords

Ciao!
 
WELL. Let me tell you, it WAS an issue with the FAT32 and NTsomethingorother. My laptop has taken surely a record breaking 14 hours to fix/set up an encrypted drive, copy files and get my Outlook working again <sigh>.
 
I think I might have mentioned book club before now. Book club consists of myself and 3 friends. We’re taking it in turns to pick books from Dr Peter Boxall’s “1001 books you must read before you die” http://www.listsofbests.com/list/74233-dr-peter-boxall-s-1001-books-you-must-read-before-you-die-2010-edition?page=1.  Now, I shan’t lie – I like to read thrillers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve only read thrillers apart from an occasional scattering of chick lit and self improvement books. To date, I have read for entertainment, to get absorbed in somebody else’s life. Book club has been an ideal opportunity to expand my repertoire. But since this club, I certainly don’t read for entertainment, and I couldn’t be less absorbed. I read for box ticking purposes only these days.  So yes, an ideal opportunity to improve my repertoire but yet, a completely tedious one.  I think I’ll hae to quit Book Club. 
 
The list so far has been (and I can feel the wrath of the educated reader as I write these evaluations!):
• Great Expectation by Charles Dickens: good plot, only could have been reduced easily to half the size.
• Money by Martin Amis: impossibly slow moving, boring with not a single likeable character – worst book I’ve ever read.
• Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell: my selection, and indeed a “thriller”, but I use the term loosely because little happened, what did happen wasn’t remotely relevant to the plot and the case was solved by pure chance independently of anything else that had happened in the book in about 5 pages at the end.
• Monkey by Wu Cheng-en: a weirdly immoral Chinese fairytale, again with no redeeming characters and a very odd sense of space and time and finally…
• Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. Now, I haven’t finished this one – I’m only quarter way through but my initial feelings of glee at the large writing and pictures has now abated and has been replaced with concern that despite being a fair bit through, we still haven’t really moved off a running commentary on the architecture of railway stations.
 
I have a book about a guy that moves to Italy that my friend gave me for my birthday – I really want to read that but I can only manage one book a month at the moment. It’s my friend Ed’s turn to pick after Austerlitz – he was the one who picked Money. So, I think perhaps if I quit after this one, then at least I wont have to read his selection which I fear is bound to be tedious – in fact, he’s been taunting me about for a while now.  
 
What else about today? I spent a lot of the day fretting about my Italian lesson which was straight after work. It’s with an Italian lady called Sonia and we met in a cafe in Earls Court. I couldn’t make last week’s lesson and the week before was just horrific – I couldn’t get the hang of anything at all and I’ve realised that it’s because if I get something wrong, I get frustrated and angry with myself, and spend the rest of the lesson getting increasingly despondent about the whole thing which takes up all my energy. Anyway, today I gave myself a stern talking to, to be positive. And low and behold, it went well! We’re doing “future tense” at the moment – hard going but getting there.
 
I’ve just been to see my friend, who happens to be a dentist too. She’s been straightening my teeth – I’ve got invisible braces which are actually due to come off soon so she was checking up on them. And I got to check out her baby – cute, and I only made it cry once.
 
On a separate note, I’ve been missing my crossword buddy who helps with the evening standard crossword clues when I’m stuck. He’s been away. So, if any of you know the answer to Razor Sharpener, _tro_(5) then let me know.
 
Ciao i miei amici x
 
ps. on a separate note – I shall shortly be acquiring some example tenancy agreements 🙂
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HMO’s, Weddings and the Laptop of Doom

Ciao!

I’ve worked out how to add a separate page under another heading – so today I have added a page on HMO’s (Houses in Multiple Occupation). If I was particularly clever, I’d work out how to add a link to that page in here now. Huh. I was worried this HMO business could have scuppered my plans to rent out the flat when I move to Italy next year. After some research, I’ve decided I’m in the clear. I’m going to tick that bit off the action plan.

What else have I been doing?  I went to the wedding of an old housemate of mine yesterday. It was an excellent wedding, the reception was in Brockwell Lido Cafe which is a great venue. It would of course, have been nicer if it had been a bit sunnier and marginally less hurricane-like but at least it didn’t rain. I did try and convince Lee to drive back home and come back with my salopettes and ski jacket but he wouldn’t. Pah. Both the couple are incredibly funny and they both did a speech – haven’t laughed that much in a while. After some dancing there was a genius pianist who just plays every song that you could ever have heard of – the entire wedding party stood around the piano and sung. When I find out this guy’s name – I’ll put a link into the blog – I’m sure he must have a website. I’m just in awe. People should hire him for all of their parties. All of them.

Today I’ve been desperately trying to sort out my laptop – it’s suddenly stopped receiving email. And of its own accord has been randomly moving things between drives. I’ve spent, let’s see, 7 hours so far trying to fix it and have learnt lots of things about FAT32 and NTsomethingorother. I have the latter. Which apparently means you can copy large files easily.  Alas, my laptop doesn’t appear to realise that and tells me that I simply don’t have enough space to copy over my MUCH smaller file into the MUCH larger spacious drive.

Right, I’m off to make a roast (a vegetarian version).

Ciao,

X

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General blathering…

Ciao!

Today, I said “ciao” when I got into the office at work. They thought I was saying goodbye. So, to clear up a common misconception “ciao” is hello too – it’s not that I’m immediately bidding you goodbye.

So. Let me tell you about how it went with Chris. We had a lovely catch-up, and when I asked him about whether he’d manage the property, he said “no”. Not even a hint of consideration! It doesn’t actually surprise me, he’s too well off for it to be a good deal (I offered him a rather measly 5% of the rental income!) and he’s busy. But, he did come up with some suggestions – basically, to trawl the Estate Agents around my area to see if they’d be interested in renting out the rooms individually. Any of you interested?!

Alas, today I have made little progress with Italy type activities. I’ve suffering from persistent glumness this week. My attempts to counter it with techniques such as blowing the budget on clothes and make-up, eating everything in sight, drinking a lot and not exercising, have largely failed. Though I do now have lots of new stuff 🙂 Anyway, I remembered I had a River Island voucher today so could combine my need for treating myself with my need for not going overdrawn. So I popped in there and tried on some dresses. One dress was nice – lovely colour, nice material, good cut but something was odd. I umm-ed and ahh-ed and twisted and turned but couldn’t figure out what it was. I resolved to buy it anyway. On taking it off, the label scraped my nose – I realised I had it on back to front. It looks better the right way around it turns out. Perhaps River Island is too trendy for me these days!

Yesterday I added a couple more ideas to the Grand Plan which I’d forgotten to put in the first time around. It’s quite nice to have all the ideas in one place, and published so there’s no turning back! Apart, of course, from the fabulous ability on the blog to edit the bits out that I haven’t achieved 😉

In a vague Italian planning sense, I also started flicking through a birthday present a friend got me a while back “The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency – The classic guide for realists and dreamers by John Seymour”. It’s interesting! And I’m inspired to get a cow (next year mind you. I simply don’t think I could squeeze a cow in the lift if I bought one at the moment).

Right time to sign out – I have a print-making class on Thursday’s but I’ve canned it this week in favour of an early night. If I’m not asleep by 9.30pm, I’ve requested Lee to knock me out with a saucepan (though he thinks it’s not a good idea to sleep when concussed).

So if you’d like to hear how tomorrow goes when I will be sprightlier and when I will also email my Berlin pals to get some info on their tenancy bits & pieces, then tune into the next blog!

(I finished a book on Sunday called “Monkey” by Wu Cheng-en for a book club I go to each month. Each chapter ends with a “and if you’d like to find out what a mean, vile, murderous git Monkey is but instead of punishment receives only rewards, then you must read the next chapter”. I paraphrase. I get the impression the author wanted “Dear Monkey” to come out as an endearing rogue rather than an irritating prat. Perhaps something was lost in translation. Anyway, I’m going to end my blogs similarly!)

Buona sera i miei amici

x

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Leasing the flat and getting ready…

Ciao!

So, today I was going to try and acquire an example tenancy agreement from some friends who’ve recently moved to Berlin. Alas, I didn’t get around to it – I suspect I shouldn’t categorise this under the “Italy” category as I suspect my attempt doesn’t quite fit the bill.

However, I did talk to another friend who’s rented out her house a mile or so down the road and is having some terrible problems with tenants that aren’t moving out, or paying her rent whilst she’s now homeless waiting for them to be evicted. She recommended I rent out the house through Foxton’s who she thinks charges more than the average Estate Agent but who she thinks might end up with a more reliable type of tenant. She’s quite a firm believer that one needs an Estate Agent who vet the tenants thoroughly. A good idea really. My other friends rented out their house themselves and it seems to be going reasonably well but being in another country in the event of any niggling problems with maintenance, is proving to be annoying. However, they have a me, who will help out and is the “UK” contact in the event of problems. I did ask them if they would go down the same route if they were to do it again and they did say they would.

If I did it “alone” as it were, I’d need someone to help manage the property over here. I’m going to see my friend Chris who lives around the corner to see if I might be able to rope him into it. There might be some other advantages to getting Chris to help manage it too – if I rent out the rooms separately, I could make a bit more money from the flat so it would seem to be a more lucrative move if I could do it. And I could pay him if needs be a percentage of the rate. I’m seeing him tonight so I’ll discuss it with him then.

In other news – in my effort to clear the house in readiness for moving out (“go live” is April next year) I’ve been trying to get rid of clutter. Myself and Lee had a hamster last year who sadly died back in January – the cage was huge, and compiled of multiple cages and a full tunnel system! And it’s been in the dining room in black plastic bin liners since then. I’m not one for clutter but I’m quite sentimental and I just haven’t had it in me to think of getting rid of it. Of course, we could consider getting another hamster but with the move happening next year, and with my being out most days, evenings and weekends, it doesn’t seem fair. So, we finally took the step to get rid of the cage and ebay-ed it last week. We must have spend £££’s on that cage! But one lucky punter got it for £30 – regardless of the loss, I think it went to a nice hamster who was previously in a pokey little cage so I’m pleased 🙂
Aha! Chris has arrived, I’ll put my business opportunity to him and let you know. Oh the cliffhanger…

Ciao and sogni d’oro x

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I have an audience!

So, when you log into WordPress.com – it tells you the stats for your page and I have a reader! Hello reader 🙂 Stupidly pleased. I’ll have to be more cool about it when I’m a famous and successful blogger. In fact, I suspect I should remove this post 😉

Sogni d’oro x

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Working out how to use Wordpress!

Ciao!

Ok, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to update the blog or sort out the pages! I think I’m going to devote Wednesdays to it.

AHA! Just worked out how to move the pages around. Success.

Right, badminton now – I’ll blog more soon  And I haven’t quite worked out how professional or not I should be on this thing yet – if I waited until things were properly thought through and sanity checked, then I suspect the blog component will remain empty!

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Getting things started

All,

I’ve just spent the last hour or so fleshing out the About me, Grand Italian plan and Action list sections of this blog. I’ve not really quite got my head around how blogging works – I like quite a structured format myself so for instance, if I complete something on my action plan, then yes, I’ll mention it here but I’d quite like to be able to put something more formal/definitive up against that action item for someone to be able to easily find if they can. But at the moment, I haven’t even worked out how I can move around the menu bar (I’d like it to be About me, Grand Plan and Action List to be in that order but somehow they’ve got messed up!).

So, I’m giving up today but will have a more concerted go in the next few days – I shall see you then!

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