Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Back to the drawing board....

Image via

Somewhere amongst the twist and turns of my attempts to buy my first flat over the past 3-4 months, I should have realised that the complications that ensued at every stage was an indicator that this wasn't meant to be.

I understood that buying property in the UK market was complicated, so I just accepted each hold-up as it eventuated. The snail pace with which things progressed particularly flummoxed my family in Sydney who are obviously used to the Australian market, but I just thought it was typical.

Eventually, late last week I pulled the plug on the purchase. After an inordinate wait, I finally received the survey report which raised concerns about the construction method and therefore the insulating properties of the flat (although the flat was part of a complex in a converted Victorian building, the flat itself was a new extension - and it was its particular method of construction that proved to be of concern). If my surveyor had concerns, then no doubt the same issue would arise in the future if I ever tried to sell the property, so the most sensible thing seemed to be to walk away at this stage.

It is a testament to how drawn out this process was that I had lost a lot of the excitement I had when I first had my offer accepted - so this decision was made fairly objectively and without too much remorse (apart from the money I've lost on survey and mortgage fees etc....and the fact that I will now be back to spending my weekends in the merry-go-round of property viewings.

But, it is not all doom and gloom. As part of my thinking of what step to take next, I've decided to change my search and instead look a little further out if London...somewhere I can afford to buy a little two-bed cottage with a garden and start putting all those hours of watching property-oriented tv shows and my hours on Pinterest to use.

To be continued...


Ps. Am loving Boston - I think my sensibilities must be more aligned with East coast!


Saturday, 26 October 2013

San Francisco

I've come to the end of my week in San Francisco, and I have to admit to feeling a little ambivalent about this city. I think I am subject to the same sense of disappointment that some people express when visiting Paris...I had long wanted to visit here and fully expected to love this city, but instead I am feeling a little bemused.

I've had a productive week at work, and enjoyed the bits and pieces of sight-seeing that I squeezed in. I can't really put my finger on what it is about SF that has not lived up to my expectations. I think it is partly due to a sense of concern at the significant number of homeless people in and around the city. I'm not so ignorant as to not understand that all large cities have a proportion of marginalised and disadvantaged people who end up homeless or rough sleepers - it just seemed a much more widespread and evident issue here (certainly far greater than London, and more evident than any other US city I've been to). It was also saddening to see so many of the homeless population living with evident disabilities. In light if the arguments currently raging in the US media with regards to the Affordable Care Act, I am grateful that I live in a country in which health and disability services are easily accessible for all sectors of the population who need them.

But there is no doubt, that San Francisco is a vibrant and popular city. Here are some of my favourite elements...

And finally, I thought that my numerous attempts to see the Golden Gate Bridge were going to be in vain thanks to the notorious fog in San Francisco Bay.
My first attempt....completely obscured.
My second attempt....the tip of one end was briefly visible...

My third attempt....nothing, totally obscured.

Then finally, this afternoon on the ferry across to Sausalito I was rewarded with this view...

Off to Boston tomorrow for the final leg of my trip - I'm hoping that some beautiful foliage colour may still be there to be appreciated...


Friday, 18 October 2013

Sydney, Balmoral Beach & the Bather's Pavilion....

How did the last two weeks past so quickly? Already I'm sitting in another airport waiting for my flight to the US for the next leg of my scholarship trip.

Sydney was a time of complete contrasts...a fabulous week of being a visiting scholar at a research institute at St Vincent's Hospital, followed by lovely week surrounded by family. A contrast of beautiful sunny spring days, interspersed with dreadful heat and strong winds, culminating in severe bush fires in several places across the state...including the Blue Mountains (near to where my family live) where at last count over 80 homes had been lost.

On a brighter note, I managed to squeeze in a trip last week to one of my most favourite places in Sydney - Balmoral Beach near Mosman.

...including a coffee looking out over the beach at the cafe at the Bather's Pavilion...

Next stop, San Francisco!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

On travel....

Image via

I'm at Heathrow again, ready to embark on my second travel fellowship of the year. For the next month I'll be travelling to Sydney, San Francisco and Boston. Three of the weeks will be spent working at different hospitals, but there is a week of annual leave in there as well to enjoy a break with my family, and another long weekend in New England squeezed in at the end before I return to London and the real world.

As for my previous trip in April I have tried again to pack a capsule wardrobe. It was slightly more complicated this time by the fact that it had to accommodate the current 30 degree temperatures in Sydney and what I imagine will be much cooler weather in Boston by early November. I did cheat a little in terms of casual clothes. I'm planning on leaving my summer-weight options in Sydney as I will be travelling there again in January for my regular holiday to see family. So although I felt very weighed down on my way to the airport this evening, once I have divested myself of that part of the wardrobe and the Christmas gifts I'm carrying things should be much easier (yes, I can boast that I have completed most of my Christmas shopping already - purely driven by the fact that I wanted to carry it with me rather than paying the usual ransom sum to Royal Mail for postage).

I hope to be checking in a few times while I'm away - I've been to neither San Francisco or Boston before so I hope to be spending the weekend days seeing the sights while I'm there...