Friday, November 13, 2009

Disappointing Dorset

Yesterday saw us in Dorset in the latest round of our search for a new home. This now has added urgency as our moving date looks to be somewhere around December 4th.

We started in Crewkerne, a pleasant Georgian market town with a Waitrose at its heart. A Waitrose! Surely the mark of where we would like to live. We decided to adopt the Waitrose house-search strategy - check locations in the South-West where Waitrose has stores and search around there.

Sadly, Crewkerne came to naught. The problem is the usual one we have seen elsewhere – location. Out-of-town properties sometimes look OK in the brochure, but inevitably they are placed in a broader landscape of strip-development along too-busy roads. Or they’re a claustrophobic inset in a new estate-development incongruously abutting something much more ramshackle and agribusiness-oriented. Or else there's an auto-racing stadium half a mile away, mostly used for banger racing which the estate agent unaccountably failed to mention.

As the weather turned and the rain lashed in we drove on to Lyme Regis. One of the estate agents there told me that in the Lyme area there were few properties corresponding to our requirements (three bedroom detached with garden and somewhat secluded location). “Most of the housing stock is either small terraces in the town, one or two bedroomed,” he said, “or much larger estates in the country. Out of your price bracket I'm afraid." Yes, they had some good stuff for £1.5 million but nothing at all for us.

On the way back, driving the A35 in the hills towards Dorchester we saw the oddest weather phenomenon. A ferocious wind from the south was battering the car while overhead the clouds scudded like smoky locomotives. We were on the southerly side of a deep valley: high overhead a black, jet-stream-like cloud-tube assembled and stretched the miles over the valley to our left before seeming to touch-down on the far-off hillside. It was very spooky.

After more than 200 miles of fruitless driving, we finally got home exhausted at 4.30 p.m. to prepare for a pre-booked evening play at the Andover Lights. "Under the Greenwood Tree" by Thomas Hardy is a slight work and Dorset Corset were playing it for laughs. The rustic characters were complete imbeciles – not wholly plausible - while the romance between one of them and the comely and educated school mistress Fancy Day seemed especially unlikely. We didn't stay for the second half.

Clare's new plan is to look for a property in the delightful Georgian town of Bath. Something will have to give, I wonder if it will be the garden?