Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ikea, shopping and the hunting of the flat

Jan 2009

After New Year, Heather lovingly exposed us to hell of hells that is known as Ikea. This was a ‘character building’ exercise and one that I hoped never to repeat. Alas, we must confess that we have since visited various Ikea stores a total of four times.

For the uninitiated, Ikea is a GIANT Swedish homeware store, very similar to Briscoes with a dose of the Warehouse and a couple of furniture stores thrown in for good measure. It has mocked up living spaces to help you understand the immense value Ikea can bring to your lifestyle. With it being a monolithic store, you could spend days wandering around trying to find that piece of Swedish furniture that matches your current décor and then spend an equal amount of time trying to find the way out. Luckily, they have arrows on the floor, showing you the ‘correct’ way to proceed through the store and that you can find your way out (and to the tills).
It seems that others out there in blogland share my feelings as per this post. It also seems that cheap Ikea furniture can be useful for building insane Linux clusters as shown here.

Sha and Heather can barely contain their excitement

After recovering from our Ikea voyage, the following day Foo made the most of the end of the New Year’s sales and picked up a suit jacket and some new shoes.

Looking startled yet smart

Hmmm, not sure where my shoes went

The good die young, the bad get to work

Sha survived the plague just in time to commence a 3 month contract helping Her Royal Majesty out with some odd jobs. On my first day of work I learnt that the only correct piece of information that the Transport for London website would ever provide would be the time it takes to travel between Greenwich and Kensington, 1.5 hours to be exact. Ma’am had quite a bit that needed doing, in fact about 8 – 10 hours worth a day, sometimes more, so the reality of 3 hours travel on top of work wore thin quickly. As it happened, Perraine and Heather’s lease was due to come up in Feb so we all decided to look for a place in town.

Foo & Heather hunt for flats

While Sha was out earning a crust, I spent most of the time living it up. Ah, this is the life – the little lady out working while I relaxed with Heather, drinking tea and eating biscuits. Noooo, that is not completely true. I was also spending time researching a laptop to purchase, searching for an ideal flat to move into and even began the very first inkling of hunting for a job (although failed to get traction at that point in time, but more on that later!) Searching for a place seemed to take up most of my time and while Sha and Perraine were at their respective jobs, we hit to find something that suited our needs (location, transport, green, right size and right price). It was a slightly dispiriting affair; oddly enough rental prices seem to rise the closer into London you go and conversely property sizes seem to decrease. With Sha finding her nearly three hour commute hellish, we had to be closer to the action.

Heather and I popped out to a few places in Harrow Road in Ladbroke Grove which runs parallel to a canal (sounds really nice, but Harrow Road gets super busy traffic wise). Wow. The couple of places we looked at took me back to my flatting days circa 1997 – 2001 (actually, my flats in those days may have been a little better!). Threadbare carpet, huge deadbolts and a couple of well placed holes in the outside hallway, I started to have my doubts even if the price was right. Needless to say, we passed on that one! Another place a few doors down was similar, in better condition and even had a little outside area with BBQ. While better, the size was a little small and it definitely wouldn’t have worked for four of us. We were then taken to an incredibly tall building to look at a two bedroom flat situated on the 12th floor. This was a lot nicer, brilliant outlook and just the one small problem that sheer heights like this scare the hell out of me. It was also under offer so would only be available if that offer fell through. And on it went…

Next day, Heather, Sha and I took a look at a flat in Paddington (West London) and a second one near Regent’s Park (Central/North London). Paddington seemed okay (very close to Hyde Park and brilliant access to the tube) but wasn’t really suited to four people. Regent’s Park flat was bigger, but still didn’t do it for us and the price was higher.

Regent’s Park flat

Sha & Heather ponder, is it right for us?

Regent's Park statue

Sunday morning – a couple more places to see, this time in Shepherd’s Bush. Shepherd’s Bush has a reputation for having many Kiwis, Aussies and South Africans and we wondered if this was where we would gravitate towards?

We had a look at two places – one even had a garden out the back! But…it smelt like someone had been cultivating mushrooms and I prefer my fungi on a pizza, so this was out.

The second place fared a lot better, but once again size was an issue and the bathroom...well, take a look below and see.

Nice kitchen

Nice lounge (and TV!)

Bad naughty bathroom!

Apartment for rent, just round the corner from Princess Di’s old place

Finally, we got lucky with a real estate agent who had a property in Paddington that hadn’t been advertised yet. It belonged to a non-greedy landlord whose priority was getting good tenants and was willing to let the place go below the market rate to get them. When we were shown it on the Saturday, we had decided that it was a going to be a squeeze for four of us, but things did work out in the end.

To cut a long story short, Perraine and Heather decided to stay in Greenwich and we took the place on our own. We now take in short-term borders and have a nice balance between having the place to ourselves at times and making some additional income where possible.

The big move happened late Jan and we managed to get everything we had into one minicab (the driver didn't seem too happy though). Amazing how much extra stuff accumulates in the space of a month!

En route on Old Kent Road
I spied the Holy Ghost Christian Centre next door to the Love Lounge. What a juxtaposition!

Holy Ghost Christian Love Lounge Centre

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ikea are actually war criminals carrying out the final solution of house furnishing.

They have an alcohol serving area where you can get tanked up prior to enduring the long march to the tills, surely that's akin to giving LSD to soldiers in the 60s.