Friday, 19 March 2021

A Little Lockdown Life Update - Vaccinated Against Covid-19.

My goodness it's been a long time since I posted. I think this is the longest I've ever gone without blogging, but trust me, I've wanted to - so badly! I just haven't had the motivation, or the time, and everything has been hectic and stressful and my head just hasn't been in the right place. But I'm back! I got my Covid vaccine on Tuesday and for the first time in a year I feel hope, genuine hope, that things will soon return to normal. So let's catch up!

The last time I posted was in October, I had just started the process of buying my first home, and a second lockdown was looming over us all. To say I was stressed would be an understatement! They are not joking when they say that buying a house is one of life's most stressful events! It wasn't all doom and gloom though, there were also giant sparks of happiness amongst the madness, mostly within a new relationship that started towards the end of summer, and spending a blissful week down in Devon with my family while it was still allowed.

As always, I keep relationships off the blog, so I won't be covering that (soz), but I will be chatting about buying my very first home in London, moving to a near area during lockdown, and all the lockdown struggles (+ getting the Covid vaccine!). So, grab a cup of tea, this is gonna be a long catch-up!

The Story of my House Purchase

The house thing was actually a bit of a spontaneous thing that I sorted of threw together quite suddenly. I was originally planning to buy a house at the end of 2021, but then everything sort of fell into place out of nowhere in August 2020. The first step was when my landlady refused to renew our lease with a six-month break clause - she wanted us to renew the lease with no break clause, but with a clause that stated she could throw us out with just one month's notice. 

The fact she wanted this made me question whether she was thinking of selling the flat, which the estate agent confirmed to me when I asked. I panicked, the last thing I wanted to do was move to a new flat when I was planning to buy somewhere in under a year. Right then and there I decided to move the house purchase forward - I was sick of relying on a landlady and letting agents and not having control over my home. I figured out my funds and savings, spoke to my accountant about how much I could withdraw from the business as salary in the next few months, and realised that actually, I could do it! Thanks to Covid and lockdowns, I had saved enough money from not going out and travelling that I actually had the money to buy my own place a year before I had originally planned. 

The next step was speaking to a broker and finding out what my affordability was and my max budget. Thankfully my best friend's mum is a broker, so she helped me with everything and I honestly couldn't have done it without her. This was all back in September time, and because I only had a 10% deposit, and with the banks closing down 10% LTV mortgages and mortgages to self-employed people, I would have been screwed if I had done everything by myself! 

Once I knew my max budget I could then go and look at houses! I'd already decided that I wasn't ready to move out of London, but also that I wanted more space - a house with a garden. South London became the chosen location as it was in my budget, it's easy to get into central for work, quick-ish to get down to my parents in Devon (well, quicker then East and North London), has a great vibe, and has plenty of Victorian terrace houses with lovely gardens. 

I saw quite a few houses, most of them were horrendous and I definitely had a few panics about it all. But, I saw two that I loved. The first one I put in an offer but I missed out on sealed bids - my bid was the highest but they went with someone else who had a higher deposit (which I still don't understand). The house was the worst house on the best street, an early Victorian semi-detached property with so much potential and beautiful high ceilings. It was a total renovation project though and would have been very tough to live in while the renovations were happening. I was heartbroken when I didn't get it...but fate works in mysterious ways.

The second house was a smaller, late Victorian mid-terrace. It also needed a lot of work doing to it (mostly TLC stuff rather than structural), but was more liveable and had a lovely long garden and three bedrooms, and I would be able to do it all slowly instead of in a rush like the other place. It's weird, but the whole time I was walking around the house I couldn't stop smiling, like it just felt like my home. I put in an offer and it was accepted, and so began the long journey to completion! And when I moved in and finally went to the back of the garden and looked up...I realised I was standing under the leaves of a Eucalyptus tree at the end of my neighbour's garden. It really was meant to be. 

The entire thing felt super surreal, even now, I'm sitting in my very own house and it just feels very surreal still! The process from offer to completion was so stressful, there were a few roadblocks which I'll explain a bit more about in a separate post, but in February it finally happened - I finally got the keys and walked through the front door of my very own home. I'm the very first woman on my mum's side of the family to buy my own house all by myself. It felt like such a massive achievement, and I still have to pinch myself every day that I live in my own house (although most of it is technically owned by the bank, haha).


Moving During Lockdown

I'm not going to lie, moving during lockdown was a bit of a nightmare. I had a two week crossover between getting the keys to the new house and moving out of my flat, but even so, it was hard. My old flat was unfurnished so I'd had to buy a flat full of furniture when I moved in, which I then had to move to the new house. I moved as much as I could in my little car, and then I also hired three different vans from Enterprise Car Club to move the big furniture. Because of lockdown my parents couldn't come up and help as they live too far away and couldn't stay overnight, so it was mostly just me moving things on the weekdays, and then me, my brother, and my boyfriend trying to move stuff on the weekends.  

I think one of the hardest things about moving during lockdown though, especially to a new area, is the fact I never really got a proper goodbye. I didn't get one last trip to my local pub, or my favourite bar, or even my spin studio. I did, however, get plenty of walks along the river before moving away from it, and the river is 100% the thing I'll miss most about living in Imperial Wharf!



Renovation Plans

I have big plans for the house (a loft conversion and a kitchen extension), but I need to save up the pennies first, so for now I've just been getting the most urgent things done. I'm currently working on my bedroom so at least I'll have one room completely done, and I've also painted the bathroom just to make it a bit cosier and more homey. The garden has, naturally, been my favourite part of the house to potter around in and I've been planting and pruning as much as the weather has allowed!

The main plans for this year are to finish my bedroom (I finally got all the lining paper off the walls, so I'm just waiting for them to be plastered, and then I can paint and get the new carpet put down), and then I'll paint the living room and sort out my office. Early next year I want to get all of the old PVC windows replaced with wood sash, but they're super expensive so I need to save for that, and then the big renovation will hopefully happen in 2023. For all house updates you can follow along on Instagram

Here's the view of my garden from the patio...



Lockdown Struggles

Amongst all of the moving and house buying stress, there was also the continuing lockdown struggles. The second lockdown started at the beginning of November, right when my house purchase was in full swing, and then we only really had one week of being out of lockdown in December before we were thrown back into it again. It's certainly been a long and testing few months and a tough winter, but the toughest thing for me has been losing all motivation for absolutely everything.

I haven't felt like blogging, I haven't felt like pitching to other sites and magazines, I haven't felt like writing my novel, or working my day job (I've now been working from home for over a year and am struggling massively with not being in the office), or even doing basic, simple things I usually love like reading a book! I feel like these last two lockdowns have just sapped all of my emotional energy, and as a result I've just hidden away, watched every TV show on Netflix, Amazon, and Now TV, and tried to find a small amount of motivation just to get showered and dressed in the mornings and get my day job tasks done. I did order a Peloton though as I miss spinning so much and no longer have a spin studio near me - it arrives next week and I'm SO excited just to get in some proper exercise and feel a bit like myself again! 

Like most people I'm also really missing family, friends, and travel. I haven't seen my grandma for over a year, I haven't seen my nan since the summer, and I haven't seen my parents since Christmas (I was lucky to escape London before the Tier restrictions came in). I haven't seen most of my friends since September/October time (although I fortunately saw a few of them in early December when it was allowed again) and I long for the day I can just go for a drink after work with them, have a weekend brunch, go for a fancy dinner or go out dancing on a Friday night.

It's also now been over a year since I last took a day off work and went on holiday. I haven't taken any time off because it feels silly to take time off and not go anywhere? I even worked over Christmas, and honestly I'm completely exhausted. It's my 30th next month so I'm taking a couple of days off then, but this is the longest period of time in my entire life that I haven't travelled - I first went abroad when I was just a couple of months old - and I miss it. So much. I just want to get on a plane and lay on a beach and drink cocktails and explore a new city and eat new foods and see new sights.

But, with my seemingly new-found motivation, I'm gonna try and write up some travel-related blog posts soon just to keep myself going until I can get back on a plane!

Covid Vaccine!

I think one of the things that has really helped my motivation this week was getting the Covid vaccine on Tuesday. It's given me a huge amount of hope, and the relief I felt in that vaccination centre was so great I almost cried. It was a bit of a fight to get it - I'm asthmatic so I get the flu vaccine each year, but a large chunk of my medical records are in Australia so my GP doesn't have all of my records (including asthma hospitalisations). I finally got it though, and by June I'll be fully vaccinated! 

I got the Astrazeneca vaccine (apparently if you want Pfizer you're more likely to get it if you get the vaccine at a hospital), and while I had no pain in my arm at all, the next day I felt like a bus had hit me! I woke up with my entire body aching so badly, a terrible headache, and I struggled just to get out of bed. I spent the day achy, fatigued, nauseous, and very woozy, and even yesterday I was still feeling exhausted. Today I've felt totally back to normal, and I'm just so grateful. The two days of body aches was totally worth it and I would much rather have that, than Covid. So please, when you're invited for the vaccine, just go for it. Doing so could save the lives of thousands of people, and it could save your life.




I hope I'll be back here again soon, it feels nice to be back in my corner of the internet just writing out my thoughts. 
Thanks for sticking with me!
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