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13/09/08

Permalink 07:10:55 pm, by Brad Email , 566 words   English (UK)
Categories: General

House Hunting

So now me and Lana have decided to suck it up in the UK for a while, we've decided to buy a house.

Today was our first day checking out properties to get a feel for what our money will get.

We're aiming at a suburb called Sydenham (SE26). About 6 miles SE of central London. Takes roughly an hour to drive there from Bayswater. Which is about right, as it took me 40 minutes on the bike the other day.

For roughly £270,000 we should be able to get a 3 bedroom semi-detached house with a garden and a garage. Nothing too big (around 65-80 square meters) seems about right. My ideal place is enough room in the garden to put a shed which I can convert into a home office. With a small garage for the bike, with space to put a car.

Checked out 4 places today.

Now £270k is the asking price for most of these places. But google is a wonderful thing. 2 of the places have been on the market for over 120 days, and started off at 310k befor dropping down. So I do expect we should be able to wiggle ourselves down to around 250k.

Now all these places I would have been almost happy to rent. But buying an putting down a quarter of million quid is a different story. I'm picky as fuck. And it's more a question of what I can and can't change than anything else.

Place one. Kirkdale.

Nice place, but garden was screwed. Too small for a shed, big slope which makes it damn hard to grow anything. Main road, so front bedroom noisy as feck. No shower.

Place two. Apartment.

Lana liked this one. Only 2 bedrooms, right near train line. No place for us to have an two seperate working areas. Kill.

Place three. Brosley Grove.

This place has a lot of potential, but also needs a hell of a lot of work. Someone had bought it trying to do a quick pump and dump. The problem is they sucked at renovation. For some stupid reason they took all the doors off....and haven't replaced them. Great location, huge garden, which again for some silly reason is all paved over, and overgrown with crap, meaning a lot of work. Shedload of work to get it going.

Garage falling apart, needs to be replaced. Bad painting job everywhere jamming up all sorts. Half done walls, crap painting on walls. Windows jammed. Bathroom crappy tiles. No shower. No stove. No drain in bathroom.

It was put on the market at £319k on the 25th of May. Down to 309k in 13th of June. 274k in 20th Aug. And they are also willing to pay 2% stamp duty. I'm almost tempted to go for it, but it needs a good 50-60k of work, which means more along the lines of an offer of £200k, which I doubt they would accept.

Place 4. Sunnydyne st.

Nice place. Too near a main road so too noisy. Also stairs were a little too steep for Lana's day to day activity. My fav place, but those two problems are a killer. Very nicely done garden.

Prob going to leave off looking for places until we can get a loan (which is November, can't get a loan until been in the country for 2 years). But I reckon we are going to go for a place in Sydenham.

12/09/08

Permalink 08:23:43 pm, by Brad Email , 210 words   English (UK)
Categories: General

French Onion Soup

Finally I've managed to nail a french onion soup recipe. Part of the problem was I was aiming at a "La Guillotine" style soup, which is a little lighter than most.

Scale as required, normally makes enough for 2.

2 onions.
25 g butter.
1 teaspoon of granulated white sugar.
Olive Oil.
1 clove garlic.
1 litre of diluted chicken stock.
100 mls of dry white wine.
Some splashes or Worcestershire sauce.
Some grated Gruyere Cheese.

Slice or dice onions depending on what you want. I prefer diced. Dice up garlic.

Heat up oil and butter in frying pan till it's damn hot. Add onions, garlic and sugar, toss and fry for about 5-6 minutes until the edges of the onions is going brown. Turn down hit to lowest setting, and leave for about half an hour until those suckers caramelise. That's when you've got he nice film on your pan, a nutty brown colour.

Bring up big pot. Put in stock, wine, some salt and pepper, and a few splashes of worcestshire sauce. Toss in the everything from the pan. Medium high heat until it's simmering, then turn down to lowest setting. Leave for an hour. No lid.

Serve in bowl. Sprinkle grated cheese in while hot (in bowl). Use baguette to soak up the cheese.

06/09/08

Permalink 11:36:27 pm, by Brad Email , 74 words   English (UK)
Categories: General

Marathon

For some stupid reason I bet Wheels last night while drunk that I could run a marathon in under 6 hours.

I've got 7 months to train for it.

If I do it, Wheels has to run a marathon in a summer dress, a frock if you will.

If I don't, I have to do another marathon in a dress.

Lana actually dragged me out today for training. But we'll see how many weeks I manage :)

22/08/08

Permalink 07:05:00 pm, by Brad Email , 151 words   English (UK)
Categories: Recipe

Pad Krapow Chicken Basil Thai Stir Fry

This will be a series of posts just writing down a few of my recipes, so I don't lose them.

Been on a bit of a cooking run at the moment, since I'm working from home most of the time.

I normally only cook for one (since Lana can't eat most of my stuff), so scale however you want.

Ingredients:

  • 150grams Chicken. Sliced and diced
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic. Diced fine
  • 3-4 small red chillis. Diced fine
  • 3 large red chillis. Seeded and sliced
  • 1 onion. Diced large
  • 3-4 spring onions. Sliced
  • Some white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • Some basil

Heat up oil in wok. Toss in garlic & chillis for a few seconds. Toss in everything else except basil. Keep tossing until chicken is cooked. Turn off heat, Toss some basil in, stir around. Put on rice and eat.

18/08/08

Permalink 03:02:38 pm, by Brad Email , 290 words   English (UK)
Categories: General

Flying

So I finally got off my arse and used the trial lesson voucher that Lana got me for my birthday.

Hired a Mini from a car club I'm a member of. I'm a big fan of the car club. Normally I'd ride up, but I still haven't got luggage on Floyd, so it's annoying getting changed at the other end. Nice drive up.

I've also finally got used to driving a manual, and now I'm loving it. I am revving a little too much sometimes though, bit of wheel spin. I've also got the hang of switching from 2nd to 3rd, which has made my life easier :)

Back to the flying. Bit of rigmarole as they hadn't written the expiry date on the certificate and it had expired. But since they hadn't written it in they honoured it.

Up we went, good fun, after 5 minutes, I'm turning the plan. Can't remember the technical terms, but banking and turning sound good. I had a tendency to keep pulling up & also watching the controls more than the actual ground. Prob from playing too many computer games.

Also I tended to turn a little too hard to start with. But hey, you've got to work out what you can and can't do.

Plane was a Piper Archer. Old plane, and too small to fit me.

Also I didn't really get on with the instructor.

So I'm still debating taking lessons. There's another school an hour away (all schools are an hour away) in Surrey I'm going to check out. Newer planes.

I think the goal of being able to fly your own plane by yourself is more important to me than lessons. But you have to do one to do the other.

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