Tag Archive: Vauxhall

The state of the letting market

Let’s tell the story of finding a new flat – not least because I need to record this for posterity.

So, Dr Do(o)m and I are due to find a new place in February because the contract is going to expire at Casa Beaufoy.  Whilst there might have been the possibility to extend for a year, we agreed that the time was right to move on.  Searching properly began on 6 January although I’ve been keeping half an eye on what’s happening with the aggregator sites.

However, for the first couple of weeks, we weren’t having a great deal of success.  Every time we even thought about expressing interest in taking a place, the damn place was already snapped up.  And prices seemed to have increased rapidly in the area.  That said however, we also noticed a number of properties with falling prices over days and weeks (optimism on the part of the letting agencies?) so didn’t want to be fleeced.

This caused a bit of a rethink for us so we rallied and organised a blitz on a cornucopia of properties.  Couple on Monday, couple on Tuesday and a flood on Wednesday.  Ultimately, our choice came down to three: two close runners and a distant third place property. Property number one is behind Casa Beaufoy, a flat in a Victorian house.  A little larger in terms of floor space, a lot larger in terms of attic space.  Perhaps the biggest sell is the fact that there’d be significant cost savings from living there.

Number two was in Lavender Hill – close to Clapham Junction.  This flat blew me away – just under 1000 square foot of space – it was a huge place, great rooms, light, two bathrooms but the location (and lack of walkability to work) was the only off-putter.  Still, I was having visions of social events, multiple activities in the same room and the quirkiness of having rooms that weren’t quadrilaterals.

And the final one was a place near Stockwell.  Three floors, huge garden, older furnishings but still had a retro charm going for it.  Saw it when it was chucking it down with rain which might have contributed to a negative impression.  I mean it was quirky, different and the large garden was different but for me, wasn’t enough.  I just saw problems with space, with the narrow staircases which would be a bugger to move things up and down and there was definitely a lack of heating.  It was as if someone saw a gap between two houses and just bunged a property there.

Over a fantastic Ethiopian dinner (Harar – South Lambeth Road), we ruled out Stockwell.  It just wasn’t ticking the boxes and was an easy decision to make.  So we debated the two flats, using the scientific method, using the emotional method, using every comparison tool we could think of and there was just no X factor making one place triumph.  As you might have guessed, we were championing our respective corners.  I wanted Lavender Hill, he wanted nearby.

Went home in the end, to bed but neither of us got any sleep.  Even in the morning (after I did pass out) there was still no clarity.  Unfortunately, this is when I was thrown a curveball.  Y’see, there was one more property on the list which we didn’t fit into the blitz down by Bakery Close towards Oval.  More or less the same as where we are currently living except no pool/gym.  I’d come around to taking the flat close by – I have my reasons as to why.  But there was a certain amount of…persuading going on over having a look at Bakery Close.

That flat was ok – but not great.  The price was more or less the same as we are paying now, just a little further out.  The clock was ticking – a decision had to be made, not least as we’d been chosen to take the flat near us by the owners.  I cannot describe (in the few minutes I’m taking to compose this paragraph, it’s not going to be my magnum opus) how fraught things were.  A spontaneous walk mid-morning, quiet meditation in the afternoon, hastily composed Whatsapp messages… in the end, it was Heyford that won out (the flat near us).

So then all that’s left is the paperwork, the inevitable clearout, the actual moving and vague vows about never having to do that again.  Amazing how this move is focussing one’s thoughts.  The prints that I bought back from Berlin for example, I’ve framed them up rather than having them squashed in boxes.  And I’ve been eyeing up books, games and the line with a view to parting ways. Mixed bag of emotions.


Once again folks, there’s been another blog gap. I’ve not had much impetus to complete an entry – there have been several false starts but after getting to a second or third paragraph, I realise that my scribings are utter drivel and just cannot bring myself to inflict them on the public. But today, I wanted to catch up re E3, GTA Online’s latest update and of course to whine about the summer. 

So in that order – E3. IMHO, Nintendo were the winners although the new Super Mario is basically a rip-off of the Amiga game Putty. Or Kirby. Still, they got people excited and talking by just announcing stuff without actually committing to anything. For yours truly, what I’m looking forward to most has to be Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. I watched the trailer and have to say, I bought that recording of “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton so every time I hear it, I can mentally picture BJ running through the USA blasting apart Nazis.

As for the new Xbone, looks good, upscaling might be a very nice feature to have but the biggest drawback as far as I could see, is that the console only comes in a 1TB HD model. Surely a 4K game is going to be bigger than a regular HD one and the internal HD won’t cope. However, my concerns aside, I think the better news has to be the fact that backwards compatibility is going to extend to the original Xbox console. With any luck, that’ll mean Battlefront 2 (as in the original game) will be re-released! I mean, I enjoy the occasional killing spree on my laptop but I seldom switch it on these days, not least as the dining table is horrible to sit at.

GTA Online – last Tuesday saw the release of the latest addition to the online world: gun running. It starts off by using your in-game funds to acquire a bunker where Agent 14 (aka the contact from the Prison Break and Humane Labs heist) inducts you into the world of weapons development. You can also acquire a truck to act as a mobile operations centre (which clearly underscores somebody’s affinity with Knight Rider – first KITT, now the FLAG Mobile Unit) as well as a much welcome anti-aircraft gun to swat Hydras from the sky.

The point of the base is that you can either manufacture weapons, develop new weapons (not available at Ammu-nation) or do both. All the bases are located in Sandy Shores, Paleto bay or other isolated spots in the north of the map thus further addressing one of my long-held bugbears, that players tended to spend huge amounts of time driving around LS itself whilst neglecting Blaine County. And you can access your base whilst being a CEO or heading up your local MC so both options are available to the player.

I’ve not really immersed myself into the game too much – other things going on. That said, I did manage to rack up a few hours. My in-game bank balance of $5M has crashed to $1M by just buying the base and the add-ons which _were_ optional but still… Still don’t have enough for the truck, not without buying in-game currency or grinding horribly. That said, my car warehouse is full of vehicles that are begging to be sold. Anyway, I’ve taken care of a few resupply missions and they’re actually pretty challenging on the main map and a great deal of fun as armoured vehicles are de rigeur. Driving halfway across the map to drop off a tank whilst blasting apart army jeeps – great fun.

My last post was about a month ago so I haven’t really commented on the election. One of my abortive posts which I still have the draft of read:

“Speaking of the election, in Vauxhall the Liberal Democrats are really going all out to see Kate Hoey (current Labour MP) dumped, principally on her pro-EU exit stance. I’ve had correspondence and flyers every day this week, stickers are appearing all over the borough – on lamp posts, on telephone exchanges and the like. Given as Lambeth recorded the highest pro-Remain vote (Gibraltar aside), it’s not looking too good for the incumbent.”

Alas, that didn’t become manifest. I did see the candidate on polling day, with child strapped to his chest in one of those baby carrier things but no sign of Labour’s electoral machine. Ah well, I think that she’ll be dumped ahead of the next election. Correction – I hope that she’ll be dumped ahead of the next election.

Oh, and I wanted to post the following about the Griffin:

The refurbished Vauxhall Griffin has opened under new management. The new landlords have gone for an idiosyncratic look, kinda like the old place but there’s a smash-up of two very different styles (possibly three) which I have a hard time seeing it blending together. I don’t know if they’ve deliberately gone for eclectic (or post-modern) deliberately – it’s just…odd. The two feature walls: one is red brick, the other is recovered (and painted wood). The bar area is white ceramic, the furniture is contemporary, the light fittings are quite nice (hi-tec lanterns), the toilets are a vast improvement but the upstairs function room hasn’t been touched other than a clear out of the art (so far). It’s definitely lost something but I’m at a genuine loss as to say whether anything has been gained. The landlords seem nice enough. So all things considered, I don’t hate the place – I don’t ‘like’ it – I guess cautiously neutral for now. If nothing else, at least I still have Zeitgeist (although I still object to the sneaking in of Adnams behind the bar for the real-ale twats).

S’all for now.



This should have been posted on Monday…

Feet are in agony today but it’s entirely my fault as I spent three hours on Saturday mooching around looking for a few odds and sods whilst trying to break in my old pair of black shoes which I’ve never really gotten comfortable in but they look ok so would like to increase use. Anyway, even though I took it easy and moderated pace, feet were on fire by the end of the afternoon with a lovely blister right on the heel. I did discover whilst on my walk that Tomasz works at Peter Jones and that Solero now do a mojito flavoured ice lolly with rum. WIN!!

Alas Casa Beaufoy is a heat sponge and I felt compelled to break out a fan yesterday in the humidity of Sunday afternoon. Dr Dom went to the park where the pink Cosa Nostra were out in force soaking up the sun and sweating out the meth. I couldn’t join him – these people make me feel ashamed, until I remember that most of them lead train-wreck lifestyles and will look just awful at 50. Bitchy? You bet! Still, it did put me in mind of last summer in Hallings Wharf where we struggled to sleep in the excessive heat – except that evening when the thunderstorm flooded the house but my was the breeze refreshing.

So the weekend was a pretty quiet one, all things considered. Started and finished RE:4 on professional mode (12/12 achievements) so that game can go back into the proverbial box. Started on a couple of other games but made no serious progress. Also made a chilli which I’ve been wanting to do for ages – after lunch on Friday which was a cactus burrito from Wahaca (very not bad), I used some of the chilli to make a couple of smaller burritos of my own. It’ll keep me in meals until the end of the week, given the amounts I made.

Also on Friday, I impulsively bought another Risk Legacy set as I had been vaguely thinking about getting another group going. I’ve drawn up a shortlist of people to consider asking to join the group but an alarming number are one half (or both halves) of couples which of course can work out terribly as well as surprisingly ok. Problem is the weather of course; can’t blame folk for not wanting to coop themselves up for argumentative games of Risk when the weather is perfectly pleasant. Still, keeps the dream alive and makes for another good experience.

Coming up this week – Thorpe Park, the Third Pillar Decision, the four day weekend and Wolfenstein: The New Order. Sounds pretty sweet.

Regent’s Bridge Gardens

Second weekend living in Vauxhall is coming up; I only hope there won’t be a repeat of Sunday morning where at 5.30, I was woken up by the sound of what I thought was a drunken hen party clamouring down the road picking up parked cars whilst screeching loudly. Turns out that there’s reasonably open parking available nearby to which some of the party-goers take advantage of.

All moved, all unpacked and as of yesterday evening, there are no further outstanding tasks to undertake after I bought a free-standing clothes rail. I hope, sincerely hope that this is my last move in a long while. If I have to pack my stuff up into crates and boxes one more time…newsreaders around the world will conclude their reports with “before turning the gun on himself” (thank-you season 5 of Roseanne).

The flat is quite nice though full to capacity – no more serious purchases without operating on a strict one-in, one-out basis; books, clothes and electricals. I’ve used the swimming pool twice now but not yet the gymnasium as I don’t have appropriate footwear and I ain’t doing it barefoot. Andy S was my first guest though not for long as Papa John don’t deliver to Regent’s Bridge Gardens and Team Science are coming over for some hot gaming action on Sunday. I had a couple of days off last week to help with the whole moving in thing though it wasn’t as nice as having a full week off as I was back in on the Thursday.

The birthday – that was obviously last Saturday and it was a very quiet affair, busier than being 30 but very little happening in terms of productivity. First order of the day was to put together my bag and headed straight out for breakfast at Parma though it was 11am by the time I ate so it was effectively brunch. Had the mixed vegetarian grill with a stack of toast whilst reading my book; good stuff. I then went out to try and sort out the sale of my old desktop PC. After multiple delays in CeX’s testing, I found out after all that my PC was not worth selling and so I prowled the backstreets of Fitzrovia before finding a skip in which to dump the damn thing. But I was able to sell my old monitor so took the cash from that sale and treated myself to some new games.

I also hit the heavy highs of buying myself a new fitted sheet for my bed – it’s two single divans pushed together which is Superking, apparently (and I thought that was a cigarette). Massive but the seam in the middle is an annoyance. Still, my king sized duvet barely covers it and I’m not willing to spend more cash on appropriately sized bedding. I also swung by Forbidden Planet, picked up the usual titles and treated myself to a Pirate Munchkin set. Also wandered past the Apple Covent Garden Store but resisted going in brandishing the credit card. Went home after shopping, opened my cards, read my comic books, had a late dinner, watched a DVD and went to bed just after midnight.

I know, not the most exciting day and I would have been pleased had someone arranged a dinner or something but alas it was not to be. However, I haven’t ruled out marking the day later in the year, perhaps when the weather is more than a little favourable and do something then, perhaps after the usual crop of March and April birthdays are over.

Had to go up to Camden for some daft reason on Sunday – possibly buying more games (that was part of it), cannot remember why and walked back home to Vauxhall (in my nasty brown, feet deforming shoes as my Merrells were still wet from Friday) calling in Wasabi on the way home for a Tofu Curry. That was last weekend in a pinch. This weekend is birthday heavy (other people this time) starting with tonight.

Video Game catch up – I purchased three Lego games on the Xbox (dirt cheap) and the Simpsons game. Spent this week playing through Lego Indiana Jones 2 and nearly finished the last part. Nothing on the 3DS and played some Wii with Andy. Also downloaded Civilization Revolution as my freebie from Microsoft now that the flat has interwebs again. Of course I’ve yet to actually play one of my free Xbox games as I’ve been favouring other titles but hey-ho.

That’s your lot for now, I’ve got places to go, people to see and liquor to be drunk.

Hey gang, this last week…well, although I’m grateful I don’t live in the South West with the flooding and the winds and all but it’s been quite a toughie here.  So, Dom and I were running around all of South London looking at new places to live – Battersea, Vauxhall, Stockwell, Clapham, Elephant & Castle…  I’d completely forgotten how much hard work it was, viewing flats and darting across town IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLOODY 48 HOUR TUBE STRIKE.

There were times I could have just wept through sheer frustration.  Haven’t felt that way in…well, when was the last time the Doctor was in rehab?  Thank heaven for my comedy DVD collection putting a smile on my face every now and again in the midst of the angst.  We found a few places we liked, made further enquiries and it might be that we’ll be living in Vauxhall in a fortnight’s time.  Just got to pass the reference checking.  Fingers crossed and all that.  As Vegere says, don’t count your glitterlies when all you have it maggots but I feel it looking good…

Although yesterday, the fraud department of the bank decided to cancel my debit card which was really, really effing inconvenient.  Some really, really angry phonecalls were made yesterday, there were some velvet-covered threats but I think that all’s back on track.  It’s amazing how one can go from one extreme emotion to another, particularly without chemical stimulants or imbalanced brains.

Sufficed to say, that’s been it for the entire week, no gaming other than Streetpass hits, work has continued to be busy but it looks like we’re about to sort out that Dublin visit once and for all and I’m stuffed full of home made lasagne.  And next is the chilli – running through all the fridge and freezer foodstuffs.

That’s probably all I can think of to jot down for now.  With potential packing in the offing and all that, yeah – might get more than a little busy.  But I want to make the time to go out to see the Robocop remake; great cast list.


After being woken up to the strains of Cher’s “Shoop Shoop Song” coming from across the road somewhere, I cursed once again the fact that I live with some pretty selfish people in the neighbourhood and dragged myself out of bed to a bright, sunny morning here in ugly old Stratford. Today is the last day that the bus station in its current state is open for business. This is something I hadn’t heard about until Friday evening when I was on my way home and saw people handing out flyers for. As it’s not a policy of mine to accept flyers or newspapers in any way, shape or form, I ignored them all until I saw a discarded one on the bus and cursed Boris Johnson to high heaven.

It wasn’t until I was on my way home from “out” that I realised that it might not be such a bad thing, this proposed refurbishment. I’ve bitched many times that the bus station is a major disaster waiting to happen because of the lack of a regulated queue system and the fact that cars and buses pull in and out of the bays at lunatic speeds. With a little luck, some sort of proper queuing system will be installed. Without being able to see the plans, I suspect the renovation works will be more of a cosmetic facelift in time for the sodding Olympics, a bit of worthless, pointless beautification. Hell, even a Countdown board would be a welcome improvement. But as we’re not Zones 1 or 2, we’re not important despite being one of the most important transport nexuses in all of London. Stupid politics.

So yes, I was out today. Had lunch a little later than I intended which perhaps jogged my entire schedule thanks to gawping at the TV and once again committing my time to bloody Civilization IV. Had I eaten earlier or realised the time, the plan would have been to do what I did last weekend and go to Soho and perhaps the Griffin. But as it quickly came around to 3pm, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to get a decent seat in Costa (i.e. the one with the plug socket). So I packed up my laptop and then realised that no, I didn’t want to take it with me. Nor did I want to take my 3DS which is the companion of the man who doesn’t feel like talking to random strangers. I did have a notion to go north to Hampstead but about five minutes walking away from the door and I rejected that idea as all I had on me was my phone and my wallet – you have to pack a few supplies for Hampstead. Finally, I just decided to go for a walk.

When I reached Stratford Broadway, my legs carried on going, to Bow, to Mile End and then I decided to walk all the way to the West End. I thought about going the 13.8km to Vauxhall (at least GPS says my house to the Griffin is 13.8km but the route I’d have taken would have been quite varied. 3 hours later I’m at Oxford Circus (via Forbidden Planet) and I jump on a tube and come straight back home. Although I considered coffee, beer or an early dinner, I reasoned I have a fridge full of food and it’d be more cost effective to munch my way through that rather than spend £15 or so on a cheap dinner out.

But the walk felt great and unlike the last time I walked such a distance which was in March last year when I walked from home to work on a day off, there were no foot blisters and no soreness of the feet. I made excellent time in direct sun for the most part and the streets were pretty empty, especially in the City. Wandering along Fenchurch Road, I think I saw only four people, a tourist party of girls (and what the fuck is it with women walking down the street? You walk one side of a 3 metre pavement, they walk the other side and as you move to pass, they drift right into your path!)

3 hours walking is about 900 calories – pretty much my breakfast and lunch all burned off. And for dinner I had some ratatouille and a handful of Tortilla Chips. With a Crunchie for dessert in lieu of the cake I didn’t have at Costa/Nero. Was completely dehydrated however and drank 1 bottle of Pepsi, 2 cans of Coke Zero, one large decaff coffee and one ginseng tea and still feel thirsty. Either that or I’m diabetic, there’s been a suspicion of hypoglycaemia for some time.

I did fire up Zelda: Twilight Princess one last time and started a new game as I’m determined to finish at least one of the wretched Zelda games. My progress on the 3DS version has completely slowed down and with all the to-ing and fro-ing, it’s getting right on my wick. Give me Banjo Kazooie any day. Granted, it isn’t an RPG game but there’s a little bit more control over that game.