Before our sweet bundle of (mostly) joy was conceived, Donal and I thought carefully about the logistics of living in a small apartment in the hustle and bustle of east London. There were many elements to consider, and I must admit, I was rather dubious that three of us could live comfortably in a home built for one or two! 10 months later and I’m still not quite sure how we managed.
Growing up in the vast gloriousness that is South Africa, space was never an issue, in fact it’s something one doesn’t even contemplate until living in a metropolis where people live packed like a can of sardines. A city where a studio flat could cost the same amount as a family house with a pool in SA! Sacrilege I thought, but then as time went on and the cost of living became the norm and I was no longer converting the price of every coffee into Rands, I almost just accepted that house prices are extortion. And that you have to be a millionaire to actually afford anything more than 2 bedrooms and a garden the size of a small car anywhere in a desirable part of this country’s great capital.
Nonetheless, I do feel that we were fortunate enough to have got on the property ladder in June 2013, when Donal and I bought our first home. And by bought, I mean we have sold our souls to the mortgage lender for a good 20 years or so! Donal first spotted our development being advertised in the Evening Standard on his commute home to our cosy rented flat in Sydenham (SE London). ‘East City Point’ was described as part of the next big regeneration scheme in east London. To be quite frank, I had my doubts about the area. I didn’t know that part of London well at all, only having frequented Newham for the Olympics and the Emirates Air line from North Greenwich to Royal Victoria Dock. Both of which we absolutely lovely, but Canning Town might have been an entirely different story.
I’ll never forget the day that we went to meet with the Sales representatives at East City Point. Donal and I met after work one day during the week. I was working at a primary school in Woolwich, so the commute to Canning Town was very handy on the DLR. That was the first pro. After viewing the show house, we were quite impressed. There were a few cons in my mind however, the walk from the station is along the A13, which is a very busy and noisy road. Also, the development is surrounded by many council houses, some of which in dire condition. Nevertheless, the fact that the government’s “Help to Buy” initiative was available to us, and this up and coming area seemed a promising stepping stone. It’s widely known that it’s extremely difficult to buy a property in London, and this was potentially our way in. After much contemplation, copious amounts of paperwork, credit checks, saving for the deposit etc, we were in!
The 21st June 2013, was the momentous day that Donal and I moved into our OWN home. We were so proud and still are. As I reflect on the past (almost) 4 years, we have made so many amazing memories in this wee flat of ours. To name but a few; we got engaged in December 2013, married in November 2014 and of course had Matt in June 2016. We have taken out the carpets and redone the floors with laminate timber, tiled the kitchen area, wallpapered the room and painted the flat throughout. It has a gorgeously spacious balcony overlooking the city and canary wharf, and it’s new and clean and bright. The only thing it isn’t- is made for for a family of 3.
Up until now, we have managed rather well. Being very meticulous about not keeping things that we do not need is definitely key. Maximising the space that we do have, also vital. The storage that we bought for the flat has all been really thought out too. The bed, for example, is a king size (because my husband is a giant!) storage bed, so convenient for keeping seasonal clothes, bags and other goodies we do not use frequently. Ikea has been our friend too- we have two large wardrobes in the bedroom, a chest of drawers for Matt’s bits and bobs, as well as a bedside table. In the living area, Donal put together a TV unit we we store our linen, towels and booze (among other things). A changing table and wicker baskets is in the bathroom (which is actually quite roomy) and we also have a narrow book shelf unit in the hallway.
We do believe that Matthew is now ready to be sleeping in his own room. When he was a newborn, the Chicco “Next to me” crib was amazing, we used it as a stand alone crib and also as a co-sleeper with the side down. This was a life saver during the hourly breastfeeding frenzies he would sometimes have! Now that he’s older and stronger, we have him sleeping in a travel cot next to the bed. (He still pulls himself up and peers over the side!) But he seems to be quite a light sleeper, and sometimes when one of us turns over, he will wake up! NOOOO! Hence, he is more than ready for his own room. I think we’ve done pretty well for 10 months. But we look forward to the next adventure at the end of April (1 week away), when we move into Max and Steve’s 2 bedroom flat just over the road.