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Ordinarily Easter round our place would be a time for relaxing, eating a bit of chocolate, catching up with the family and generally forgetting about work etc. But not this Easter. A break in the weather coincided with a window of opportunity in some new retail opening hours and Mrs P insisted we take full advantage of it. So off we went. Two hours later I found myself sitting in the car outside a shoe shop wondering what had just happened. You see, we bought a house. Let me explain. Last June we accepted an offer for our humble home from a friend of a friend. He'd heard we were considering selling, took the initiative and made us an offer we were happy with. Luckily a rental property we are connected with had just become available so we sold up and moved there. We thought we'd be in for a month or so till we found something else. How wrong we were. Where we live the market has exploded into a frenzy of activity and Mrs P and I have been swept aside in a growing tide of rising prices and out-of-town buyers with more money than sense. It has become necessary to act quickly and decisively. Unfortunately for "old school" Mrs P this has meant not being able to get her friends together for a second visit at the following week's open home or a "think about it" chat midweek, over a wine of course, with others in the know. We've simply been too slow. Coupled with all that is the fact we want different things in a house. I'm happy with a shoebox and a bit of a garage while Mrs P wants character and "feel". So what I liked she didn't and vice versa. In the end I said she should choose. As long as I had a bit of shed space.

The market has exploded into a frenzy of activity and ... rising prices and out-of-town buyers with more money than sense.
The difficulties have led to a crisis of confidence for Mrs P who was beginning to think she'd never find what she wanted and be able to get it. In fact probably the only enjoyable thing about it has been the consumption of some rather nice wine and gin on the many occasions we have felt the need to drown our sorrows. Anyway. Last Sunday, we set off for the shops. Three minutes from home we passed an open home sign and decided to take a peek. Instinctively Mrs P became a human sat nav. "Turn left, turn right 100 metres. Turn left. 40 metres to your destination. " Within 30 seconds our shoes had joined the mountain of others at the front door and we went inside. Ten minutes later Mrs P had fallen in love with the place. Thirty minutes after that we were involved in earnest discussions with the real estate agent. An hour after that an agreement was signed, the deal done, the happy agent dreaming of a midwinter escape to Fiji courtesy of her latest sale, and Mrs P and I were back in the car. Back on the way to the shops. Which brings me back to the start of this piece and me sitting bewildered in the car outside the shoe shop, waiting for Mrs P. "What the hell just happened?" I thought to myself. "Eleven months of looking and suddenly we're all sorted. Just like that." I pondered the question for what appeared to be an interminable amount of time before the old footy injury started to flare up (every bloke has one) and I felt the need to stretch and find out what was keeping Mrs P. I located her in the corner of the shoe shop mulling over the second financial decision she would have to make that day, whether to buy the pink slippers or the black ones. Her response to my query over the time it was taking indicated these things are very much down to what the individual concerned feels. "You just can't rush such an important decision," she said.