It’s drizzling. My chest is heaving from walking up the steepest, slipperiest steps I’ve ever encountered. Even when we get to the road, I have to hold Rick’s hand as I feel vertigous. This is Stephen Street where we are meeting the agent to view our first property. The rain is dripping off my hood. We walk past a part-boarded up window of a house with a rabbit hutch outside, and another with a For Sale board up. I already know I don’t want to live here.
We walk back down to the agent’s office and he drives us to another property in Todmorden. I’ve never been there, but I can’t see out of the car windows as they are steamed up. The house is cold and smells of gas – but the only gas it uses is the gas fire. It has storage heaters (the first models ever invented) and an electric hob. And no shower.
Through the drizzle, we viewed endless houses that were beautifully painted in magnolia, with laminate floors or cream carpets and smart new kitchens. All the cupboard doors hid white goods (which we don’t need) so that there was no storage space for food. The paint hid (badly) the damp patches. The beauty of these places was skin deep. And the stairs – how does anyone get furniture up there?
There was just one house that we had seen details for that might do. We phoned to view. They had to contact the tenants. The tenants didn’t phone back. We drove round to look at the outside. It was perfect – a quiet neighbourhood, up a gentle hill, views across both sides of the Calderdale Valley. Meanwhile another agent phoned to cancel a viewing for a property that had been applied for. Rented places get snapped up fast. So we drove through the rain to the agent and started the application process anyway. I practically begged them to hold it until we’d seen it. The agent looked at me pityingly. We finally got a viewing – and it was perfect. Big, warm, comfy. Not at all stylish, but we don’t care. It has a garden, a shed, a greenhouse, compost bin and water butt. Bliss.