I went down North End Road bought a few veg and stuff then bumped into my cousin Janet and we went for a nice cup of coffee. I hadn’t seen her for a while, so we had loads to chat about. It made a nice break I could face anything now. When I got back Mikes Mum had tidied up and peeled some spuds and generally made herself busy. I had never known anyone else who loved housework.
I said for her to sit down and I would make a cup of tea and a sandwich for both of us but guess what the children were feeling much better they also wanted sandwiches so we all ended up in the twins bedroom drinking tea and eating sandwiches. Mikes Mum said she couldn’t have thought of a nicer way to spend an afternoon off.
I was sat reading the Fulham Chronicle the local once a week paper when I saw an Exchange Wanted Ad. It said exchange wanted a three bedroomed maisonette in Hemel Hempstead, large garden close to shops and schools for a two or three bedroomed house or flat in London preferably Fulham area. This looked really interesting but I wondered what Mike would think although it would solve my nightmare problem. I had no idea what a maisonette was, I had never heard of it. I thought to myself if I give them a ring to find out more details if it wasn’t right for us then I wouldn’t say anything to Mike.
I rang the telephone number and a guy answered I explained our accommodation said the flats were ultra modern and only 6 months old. He was really interested, he said he and his wife were splitting up and she wanted to be near her family who were all around Fulham and Hammersmith. He knew our estate really well. He said they had three young children . I asked how they would feel being ten floors up and no garden because from what he said they were out in the sticks, a place called Gadebridge. I asked what a maisonette was and he said it was just like a house but there was a 1 bedroomed flat underneath us. This didn’t sound too bad. He said there were two double bedrooms and 1 single, a Swedish style open plan dining room and a large lounge approx. 24ft x 12ft he said the kitchen wasn’t that big but he thought it was adequate because you had the dining room. I said I was very interested and that when my husband came home from work we would discuss it, as he had no idea that I was even thinking of moving. I didn’t mention my fear of the kids falling out of the windows as it might put them off.
When Mike came home the kids were in bed fast asleep, exhausted after there first day of feeling better. I showed him the paper and pointed out the advert, he read it and said it sounds ok but what is a maisonette? I then said I had rung them and explained it all to him. I was surprised he was quite keen. He said he could get a transfer to the buses in Hemel Hempstead. He said he had been once to a fishing match and from what he remembered it was really nice. He said it was about 25miles from our flat. I said the guy said we could go anytime and have a look at there house. His wife didn’t work so she would be there but he might not as he was a sales rep for KP Nuts.
I was so surprised Mike said he was off this weekend so if I wanted to go and have a look then to get directions and arrange a time.
I didn’t waste any time I was straight on the phone got the details and arranged to go on the Sunday. We would go by train. I asked my Mum if she and my dad would come over on Sunday and look after the twins as it would be to much hassle to take them. Of course I had to explain about the possible exchange and she was a bit upset because of the distance but she understood our motives. She said she would look after them but asked why I hadn’t asked Mikes Mum and I said I was to scared of them being in her flat with that low balcony.
At last it was Sunday my Mum and Dad had arrived and Mike, Lesley and myself set off on our adventure. It seemed to take forever at last we arrived at Hemel Station and was told there were no buses for another hour. We were given direction to walk it was miles away. Poor Lesley ended up on Mikes back it must have been about 5 miles at least. At last we got to Gadebridge and when we saw the maisonette we were well impressed. It was the last one in a row of about 4 blocks everywhere looked green and fresh.
We knocked at the door and it was opened by a woman who said her name was Tilly and that we had spoken to her husband. She asked us in and we were impressed it looked really nice and light and airy, the sun was streaming in it was perfect. I looked at Mike and I could tell he was pleased with it. She showed us around it just got better. It would be perfect for the children the garden was really big and there were swings and a slide and a couple of other outdoor toys that she said they would leave as they wouldn’t be any good in the flat.
I asked her how she felt about moving into a 10th floor flat she said she was looking forward to it. She said the children would soon get used to it. I wasn’t sure about that, they didn’t look to happy.
She made us a cup of tea and Lesley went off playing with the children, she was in her element. I think this swung it for us but we would have to be really sure. I asked Tilly when they would like to come and see our flat she said her husband was coming on Monday and if he thought it would be ok then she would come the next Saturday if that was ok. I said yes and that we had a lot of decisions to make and would let her know the outcome and then depending on what she thought of our flat we could put things in motion. So we said our goodbyes and started the long trek home.
When we got outside I asked Mike what he thought, he said he really liked it and could see what Lesley thought of the garden. Freedom was what the kids needed not me being on at them all the time not to climb etc…. I was always looking in on them. We asked Lesley what she would like to do move to this house or stay where we were. Without hesitation she said move. She also said that Charlotte the little girl about Lesley’s age said it was a really nice school so she wouldn’t mind moving. She also said she could play with Sheila and Stephen in the garden.
I looked at Mike and he said it looks as though Lesley has decided for us. When we got home and told my Mum and Dad about it they said it sounded just right for us and much better for the children. Now it all depended on the other people wanting our flat, I would be very disappointed if they decided against it but I would understand because their children would be in the same boat as ours now.
Monday evening came and also Tilly’s husband whose name I cant remember and he was taken aback he said he had no idea it was such an amazing flat, he was sure Tilly would want it. He asked if he could ring her on our phone .I went in the kitchen to make a cup of tea and give him some privacy. He chatted to Tilly for a while then came and said that if we wanted their house then we should see the council and get things in motion as Tilly was sold on the flat just from his description. Mike and I looked at each other and said ok we will get it started.
From what I knew about exchanges, which really wasn’t much at that time, it could be a matter of 6-8weeks, panic was about to set in. What had we done. Mike went up to his Mums and asked her to come down and have a cup of tea with us as we had something to tell her. Mike said there was a look of horror on her face and she said Sheila’s not pregnant is she. Mike roared with laughter and said no way and that she would have to wait and see.
She came down and while I made the tea Mike told her, she was upset and said she would miss the children so much but we said she could come and stay with us if she wanted to. She also understood that we were trying to make a better life for the kids and didn’t blame us for moving. Ten floors up was no place for young children. Everyday I tried to take them over to Norman Park but its not the same as having your own safe garden.