One Day This Will be You
(Image Source: Authors Own)

Yes, I am officially a homeowner, mortgage slave, whatever you want to call it. Two weeks ago I was given the keys to my new house and I absolutely love it. If you are thinking about buying a house now or it is in your long-term plans. Today’s post will be useful to you as I talk about my experience in buying a house. In the most simplest way, I possibly can.

A little disclaimer before I start- this is just my experience if you are not sure about anything it is best to refer to someone who is qualified in mortgage advice.

To start, we had to save for a deposit. We attacked this by saving as much as we could for three years When it came close to thinking about buying (about six months ago) we worked out what house we could afford on the deposit we had. If we hadn’t got enough deposit for what we wanted, we would have to have saved for longer. My partner used the internet as a rough guide to see how much banks would give to us and how much the monthly payment would be on the mortgage as well as our other expenses. When we realised that we could buy a house, we went to the mortgage advisor to get confirmation that we could get a mortgage and get a clear indication of what we could afford.
We decided to get a mortgage advisor as we were first-time buyers and wanted the reassurance of a professional.

To see if you are able to buy a house the mortgage advisor checked for:

Proof of Income
Proof of Deposit
Spending habits (including drinking and smoking)
Credit Check

A key fact is to not borrow the maximum you can be given but to borrow the amount you can afford on the monthly repayments.

The advisor showed us all the different companies we could go with to get a mortgage and calculated the cheapest mortgage for our needs. It is still worth shopping around because the advisor cannot offer all mortgages available.

We started looking for a house at this time ( A post is coming soon on what to look out for when buying a house). Once we found a house we put an offer in. To put an offer in we phoned up the Estate Agent told them we wanted to buy the house. We started off bidding low (never start with the asking price) and then once we agreed on the price, we had to get a solicitor involved ( you get a solicitor involved to show you are serious in buying and to get the process started. You have to get one). It’s worth shopping around because solicitors prices we found do vary. We had to go back to the mortgage advisor to hand in any missing documents and get them to get the mortgage sorted.

At this time, we started looking at life insurance. Life insurance isn’t compulsory although is a good idea for obvious reasons. Currently, we are also obtaining critical illness. Again like mortgages, it is worth shopping around for insurance. Additionally, my partner researched building and contents insurance. For this, he just looked at one of the price comparison sites.

Our solicitor sent over documents regarding the house, we had to read through and check everything was okay. We looked out for:

Flooding
Mine shafts (our house is near a place where mining used to occur)
Enviornmental hazards
Church Chancel Policy

Anything that we didn’t understand we just emailed the solicitor (they are paid a lot so don’t be afraid to use them).

You will find you will have to keep emailing and ringing the socilitors bugging them until you are given a move in date. This will vary depending how far long your chain is (explained below).

House Buying Chain
When you buy a house you are often in what is called a ‘chain’ this is where the people you are buying a house from are also buying a house and they are buying a house of someone and so forth. A chain will break when someone pulls out of buying a house. Therefore the longer the chain is- the increased chance this can happen.

Soon we got the keys and we had to shop around for quotes for removal companies and now we are happy in our new home.

For my sixth form years, I had the very rare opportunity to complete these away at boarding school. I decided to go to boarding school for a number of reasons. This included literally being presented the once in a lifetime opportunity (I could only go once), I wasn’t keen on the local sixth forms (I had to leave my secondary school as it only went up to year 11) and it was the chance to meet new people. It wasn’t plain sailing for those two years and there were plenty of highs and lows. Therefore, today’s post will focus on my first impressions, what the school looked like and my daily school routine. The second post will focus on fun things I remember and upper sixth!

First Impressions
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, I was petrified! I had been to the school a few times before on open evenings so knew the jist of it. Over the entire summer holiday before September I didn’t think I would get the GCSE’s to go so didn’t mentally prepare myself as fully as I should have done.  Actually unpacking was dreadful, I remember my room being so hot ( I think I arrived on one of the hottest days of the year)  and I felt dizzy which I had never experienced before. I shared a room, which I didn’t mind too much because I had to share a room with my sister at home. However I knew some students were not keen with this arrangement.

One of my many rooms I was in. Novelty bed covers were the norm
hence, my Groovy Chick bed cover XD

I  shared a study with another female called Cat and she was lovely and very arty. Cat also had a great singing voice and could play the guitar.  The whole wall of the study was covered in magazine covers! I remember watching Charlies Angels with Cat and another girl in the sixth form on the first evening which was fun and got me settled. 

I quickly realised as I settled into school life that academically I wasn’t strong at all. Literally everybody in my sixth form had a string of A*’s or A’s which was practically unheard of in my state school. These students were so smart GCSEs were a doddle to them.

In addition the standard was so much higher at private school. I had taken A Level English Literature and even though I got an A in the subject at GCSE I was so behind the others in terms of what they knew and their writing ability. Some students essays in the upper sixth were at the standard equivalent to their degree. To add to this, I stupidly decided to take A Level Biology and Chemistry because at GCSE I loved science however I just wasn’t at the level needed for A- Level. It was too big a step- up.  It was awful mix at a time where I was really missing being at home, being in a new place and with people so much smarter than me.

Daily Life

A typical day at boarding school consists of being woken up at half seven to get changed for breakfast at eight. Boys and girls ate their breakfast separately. Form time would be at quarter to nine/ nine o’clock. We then had ‘meeting’ which is essentially prayer and reflection for 15 minutes (the school was a religious school) and then we would start lessons. We would have break which I seem to remember being able to eat juice and biscuits. We would have another set of lessons until lunch.  A few more lessons in the afternoon and then free time until about 6pm when we would have tea and then we would have an hour and a half ‘prep’ which is essentially time to do your homework. After prep it was free time until we had to sign in (which was at different times for different years) the sign in times was generally half an hour before your bed time.

Me with some old friends playing 
with the outdoor chess set

I found prep quite hard to deal with. As I was essentially only studying for two A- Levels (three if you counted General Studies) therefore to study every single night for an hour and a half was too much. Sometimes all I wanted to do was to have a break and do nothing all night. You couldn’t get away with it as you had a teacher go around and check you were in your study. The internet was crap at my school therefore you could never stream anything. However it was fun as when I wasn’t studying to chat with my mates.

The Boarding Side
After the initial shock I really began to enjoy boarding. I found being around like minded people everyday and doing something different was good fun as I would have just watched TV at home. A typical room consisted of two beds, a sink, two desks, two sets of shelves and two wardrobes. The girls were separated from the boys and you could only access the boarding school by punching in a code in the door. The boarding house was run by a house mistress and a matron and in the week there was a team of around five staff members who were also teachers in the school taking it in turns to be on duty. The staff members did a lot for us. They put on parties for individual students birthdays, had film nights, had parties such as ‘Bring back the summer’, were there to listen to us whinging and really helped us all round. All of the girls were really nice and we all tend to stick together.

One of the many day trips away, this one was 
in the Peak District

I had two wardrobes in one of my rooms therefore
I used the spare one to keep all non-refrigerated ingredients
for a charity bake sale

Playing pool in the common room

On the Saturday mornings, we had a variety of choices on how to spend the day. Sixth former’s could either have prep (homework) in the studies or take part in a variety of activities. There tended to be lots of sports activities such as badminton and basketball and art activities. Again like the prep at night it was frustrating at times having to do something on a Saturday morning as sometimes all I wanted to do was sleep!

Signs for one of the boarding houses’ many parties

Great Gardens where I used to go for a walk 

The afternoons were ours however and I spent them either chilling at school, swimming in the schools pool (which really wasn’t glam as it sounds!) or shopping. Sometimes there were school trips, ones I remember going on were to the Trafford Centre in Manchester for some shopping and ice skating in Sheffield. On Sunday’s we would have to go to a church service in the morning and then the afternoon was free. The school community was really good. I didn’t find the sixth former’s to be cliquey and everyone was friendly.

That concludes my first post on boarding school life! Did you go to boarding school? If you didn’t would you have liked to go?

I only started wearing glasses in 2011 I am short sighted so need them for driving and not for reading. Although they are a pain in the arse they are for me a necessity. I share a few things that my fellow glasses wearers will resonate below:

Losing them
I always lose my glasses in the house. I have two pairs which are even worse as I lose them both. If they are not next to my bed or in the bathroom they are gone and it takes me a good two hours to find them again.

Whipping them to the top of your head every two seconds
Being short sighted I am forever taken them off to work on the computer but then having to put them back on when I need to go anywhere. After a while, it gets to be a real pain in the arse.

Paying extra for sunglasses
An annoying necessity as you don’t want to be blinded in the summer by wearing your normal glasses when driving but you don’t want to spend the money getting a separate pair of glasses to wear for about two weeks of the year!

People that wear glasses as a fashion accessory.
We are not wearing them to be cool, we need them to see! New Girl has a lot to answer for that.  

Fellow glasses wearers feeling your pity 
There is something that has to be said about trying on another glasses wearers glasses and feeling pity for them because they are so strong that they start to make your eyes go funny.

Having to wear 3D glasses over your normal glasses
3D movies are just not that great when having to wear two pairs of glasses.

Your glasses forever steaming up
Hot drinks, going inside from a freezing outside, rain. Glasses steam up everywhere and it’s a real pain in the ass.

Rain
Rain is another pain in the ass. You can’t see when it is on the glasses, you take off and wipe your glasses and you still can’t see and you can’t see with your glasses off. You are stuffed whichever way you look at it (oh wait you can’t see…)

Handing over your glasses to non-glasses wearers to try on
*silently praying they won’t break or snatch the glasses.

Getting asked why you don’t wear contacts
Because the thought of sticking my fingers in my eye balls really just puts me off.

(Source: wifflegif.com)

1- Did your school look like Hogwarts?
No of course it isn’t like Hogwarts, for a start Hogwarts isn’t REAL. Boarding schools have lovely grounds tho.

2- Did your school houses have a Hufflepuff and Gryffindor equivalent?
Yep it does (FYI I was in the Hufflepuff equivalent).

3- Did you use broomsticks?
NO

4- Did you have midnight feasts?
What is this, an Enid Blyton novel? No there were no midnight feasts involved since we were all pretty much ready for bed at half ten and we were fed three times a day and could buy all the sweets we want from the local tuck shop.

5- Did you hate sharing a room with someone you didn’t know?
Well you have to man up and get on with it really, however my personal experience in sharing a room is mainly positive.

6- Were you surrounded by rich people all the time?
There are some boarders who are very wealthy and you would always get the odd person flaunt it but mainly private school students are normal like everyone else.

7- Your parents must be rich for you to have gone to boarding school?
Not necessarily. There are lots of students who have parents sacrifice a lot to pay for their child to go. Also plenty of students gain scholarships.

8- Did you never get to see your parents?
That depends on how often your parents want to see you and how often you want to see them. At the school I attended you could go home or see your parents every weekend as long as they knew about it first. You can also speak to your parents at anytime as long as it isn’t in the school day.

9- Did you get to play lacrosse or go horse riding?
In my experience my school didn’t offer lacrosse or horse riding. Ironically I did play pop lacrosse at my state school.

10- Learn the lingo
Homework in private school land is called prep. There was frugal lunch  once a year where we had soup, bread and an apple with the rest of the money that would have normally been spent on food going to charity. Also forget Year 7, 8 etc you have 1st year, 2nd year etc.

Learning to drive has possibly got to be up there with one of life’s milestones. I was an oldie when I started to learn to drive aged 19 (In the UK you can learn to drive at 17). I had to save up for my lessons compared to a few of my friends who were lucky enough for lessons (and car in some cases!) to be bank rolled by mum and dad. I brought my first car (a Ford KA if any of you are wondering!) at 21.

My experience learning to drive wasn’t exactly the best experience I have had. It took me two years and three test attempts before I passed on my fourth try. By then I was feeling really demoralised, I was running out of money to pay for the lessons and tests, I had bought my own car to practice in and was practicing all the time. I knew I had to keep going because I didn’t want my partner to be driving me round all the time and I am so glad I did.

In terms of picking an instructor I asked friends for recommendations. I had two instructors: the first instructor I had for around a year and a half and the second for about half a year. I liked my first instructor because he did teach me the basics but after a year I just felt that I wasn’t improving, my performance was literally flat lining. The instructor would make me drive around for an hour with no focus and I just had enough. Therefore I decided to move on and try another instructor.

My next instructor I found on the internet. I chose him because the driving school he was a part of happened to offer a hour’s lesson whereby you drive round and the instructor could assess how close I was to taking the test. He said to me after the hour’s lesson that I could drive however my manoeuvres needed practice. Additionally I had to learn to drive in a new area in a different car so it took time to learn new routes.

In regards to the tests themselves as above I took four driving tests. I do know in the press some people are saying you should only have one chance to pass your driving test but I think that’s ridiculous. People mature at different rates and sometimes things happen in the test that is out of your control and nerves can be real factor for some people. Out of sheer desperation, I even brought off eBay a driving test hypnotherapy CD which you are meant to play at night and it’s meant to make you all calm before and during your test.

My first driving test I failed because I didn’t check my right side when I was reversing around the corner (even though I got round the corner perfectly). I genuinely couldn’t remember why I failed the second and third time however I do remember my fourth test so well. It was raining, snowing, I had to pull over for an ambulance to pass and overtake a stationary school bus. The relief and happiness when I passed the test was amazing. I was over the moon. It felt as good as when I passed my degree.

I drive fairly regularly now to and from work and it has allowed me and my partner to live in a place not close to the city centre. I am so glad that I continued learning to drive.  If I had given up I wouldn’t have passed and would have to start all over again which would have cost more money.

Are you taking your driving test soon? Has anyone had any bad or odd experiences learning to drive?