DIY? DI-Because.

I’ve always had a pretty straight forward attitude to DIY, and that’s D. I. DON’T.  But the tables have turned – and I’m tempted to sand-down those turning tables and paint them heritage Farrow & Ball Pavilion Blue.

When I first moved to the UK, I was adamantly anti-DIY.  Why fix it, when you can buy a new one and grab a Starbucks on the way back home?  (Mmmm… Starbucks…)  It’s bizarre because I come from a creative family of fixers and menders – but somehow the 21st century consumption (20th century back then) had a firm hold on me.

But let me take you back to the beginning of my DIY-downfall.  Little did I know what my future held when I first started dating Mr. Nice Guy at the tender but fearless age of 17.  He was already dreaming of owning his first house – but not just any house – a FIXER-UPPER.  When he first said these words aloud, they struck horror in my very core.  ”Surely,” I thought, “By ‘fixer-upper’ he means brand new house, freshly and professionally painted complete with landscaped garden!”

No.  No he did not.

In fact, what he meant was a Victorian house built in the late 1800′s with knackered wiring, leaky plumbing, damp crumbling plaster and asbestos in the loft.  *shudder*

Don’t get me wrong, I get it.  I see why it’s sensible to buy an old fusty bargain, rip it apart and put it back together again.  It’s a good investment (at least it was before the housing market crash), you can create your ideal home, you get the exact kitchen and bathroom that you want AND you get the satisfaction of the ‘I did that’ moment when it’s all finished in utterly glorious splendour.

Fast forward to a year ago (2011) when we started looking for a house in earnest.  The thought of all that work always niggled at my mind (sometimes it’s stomped all over my mind like the T-rex in Jurassic Park when the electric fences failed.)  How long would it take?  How much would it cost?  How could I cope with the upheaval?  How much would it COST?  Could we both keep our businesses running and redo a house at the same time?  HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

The thought of it conjured up images of Mr. Nice Guy and I banding together and petitioning the UK government for an official day-time extension.  It would read something like this:

“We, Yankeebean and Mr. Nice Guy, formerly request that the 24-hour length of the UK day be extended to 32-hours, therefore increasing the amount of time the aforementioned applicants may then spend re-plastering the second bedroom.”

But I reasoned with myself that all the positives would out-weigh the negatives and I remained open to the idea of taking on a DIY dinosaur.

To be fair, Mr. Nice Guy was entirely open to the idea of getting a house that was already done-up – something that we could move right in to.  We came at from the same angle – If we find a house that we love, we’ll put an offer in regardless of the state it’s in.

So we looked.

And we looked and we looked.

And lo and behold, a house that was recently re-done came along!  It lit Mr. Nice Guy’s fire because it’s Victorian from the late 1800′s.  And my fire was blazing because it had just been completely redone, freshly painted, re-wired and had a brand new boiler.  Plus it was gorgeous – totes adorbs – and we both knew that it was worth going for it.

Fast-forward lots of paperwork, red-tape, terrifying amounts of money and celebratory champagne aaaaaaaand — WE’RE IN!

And though I don’t have to worry about fusty plaster laced with asbestos, I find there’s still lots of little jobs to do.  AND I LOVE IT.

I never DREAMED I’d be so excited about sanding and painting a cabinet for the living room.  The official term is ‘up-cycling’, but I call it ‘I-can’t-afford-to-buy-it-from-John-Lewis-so-I’m-going-to-buy-it-off-Ebay-for-ten-quid-and-do-it-myself-ing’.

Mr. NG asks if I want to help put up some shelves and what do I say?  ”YES!” I almost shout – like he’s just gotten down on one knee to propose and I’m accepting.

SO, when did it happen?  When did I become Aunty-DIY instead of anti-DIY?  I suspect somewhere around the time that I signed that scary mortgage contract and sent it, sweaty-palmed, back to the bank.

But one thing I know for certain, along with learning to love Marmite-spreading, wellie-wearing, and weather-discussing – learning to love DIY has made me even a little more English.  How about you lot?  Any DIY converts out there?

Americans living abroad: Your chance to be on the telly!

One of the greatest things about running SNFY with Yankeebean is the great feedback we get from our readers. We get all kinds through our email boxes on a daily basis, and we are honoured that you stop by to say hello, rant, and just let us know what you think. So in keeping with the fantastic offers  we receive, I just wanted to take a moment to share an opportunity that might appeal to you lovelies out there looking for your big break– a chance to be on the telly! Have a look:

Hi,

I stumbled upon your blog while researching for potential contributors for the US hit television series House Hunters International. I understand three of you are currently living abroad in the UK. Would any of you be interested in sharing your story with us? I would love to hear some more details on your house hunt, and see if we can make your journey fit into an episode of House Hunters International.

Here is a brief description of our show:
Our hit show is looking for energetic individuals, couples and families to share their story about moving abroad. Participating in our show is a lot of fun and a great way to document your exciting search for a home and new life abroad. We are looking for people that have relocated any place in the world except North America.

If you are interested in participating with our show or learning more, please send an email to [email protected].

To view current episodes of the House Hunters International, you can visit the following youtube links (please copy/paste the links listed):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh0Q6DYe3QM – London from South Africa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLmhKEzm5kg – Dubai from Illinois

HGTV is a top 20 cable network in the US and House Hunters International is one of their top rated shows. At any given time the show is also airing in a variety of other countries.

I look forward to hearing from you and sending you further details.

Best,

Melissa Grassi
Associate Producer
LEOPARD FILMS UK
1-3 St. Peter’s Street
London, N1 8JD
+44 (0) 207 704 3300
http://www.leopardfilms.com
[email protected]

If one of our lovely readers manage to make it on this show, do let us know, we would love to watch! xx We’re not jumping on the offer ourselves because, erm, well we just don’t have any money to buy a property here in the UK. Heck, or abroad for that matter…someday though, someday….

This American gal meets English Ghosts

yahooavatar15I am from the American Southwest. And My dad builds houses for a living. Yes, new houses.  On plots in the middle of the desert, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere. You always hear that old saying that says ‘the cobblers kids have good shoes’, well– I was always lucky to live in new houses.

There weren’t any ghosts haunting my bedrooms in my childhood only because I don’t think that ghosts like to inhabit new build houses– well, its logical, right? No, they usually appear where there is history, a past, visiting a place that was once theirs– (well, in the movies it works that way at least.)

So, it wasn’t until I moved to England that I:

a) started believing in ghosts

b) started feeling creeped out in certain old houses

c) started womdering should I be scared of them???!!

Fast forward to my Halloween weekend in Cumbria. My boyfriend, Mr. Chill, took me up in our Whizzgo car for the weekend to visit his parents. Now, without ghosts that is already a scary prospect… potential future in-laws? (cue a mini freak-out session)

Now, lovely readers, they live in this old, rambling, red sandstone 7 bedroom house, on the west coast near Scotland. It is Victorian. Yes, Victorian, of course!! Not a new build, heavens no that wouldn’t fit the story!

Well the Vistorian house is haunted by Mr. Chill’s Grandfather. It just is and that’s just the case. And the family understands this and everyone just gets on with it. Well, Ms. Wuss-when-it-comes-to-ghosts ( me) on Halloween was pretty nervous to be spending the night there. Well, wouldn’t you be, too? I mean, Halloween is when  all spirits come out to play and have a party and spook the daylights out of each other.

It was 1:13 am. I awoke in the middle of the night in a feverish sweat. I felt like I was suffocating. I felt like the grandfater ghost was tapping me on my feet. Boyfriend was asleep. Poked him. Didn’t wake up. Poked him harder til he woke up. “Turn on the lamp!”, I screeched.

I felt like such a silly willy. Sweaty and duvet tangled in a big mess. No ghost to be seen.

English houses that old can be scary. Maybe someday his grandfather and I will be friends??