THEY say that moving house is one of life’s more stressful experiences.
Given I organised my house move five days before Christmas I was prepared for a good dose of chaos in the run up to and during the festive holidays.
But the move itself was pretty smooth considering and Christmas went well, despite mislaying my favourite cravat during the house move.
A dry sherry just doesn’t feel the same without a silken cravat and smoking jacket.
The stress in the situation actually came from getting a mortgage.
Advised that NatWest Bank was offering good deals and a customer-friendly approach to lending to home buyers, we applied for a mortgage.
It required a fee of over £500 for the bank to have its own survey done to ensure that the value of the property we were buying justified what they were lending us.
As far as I’m aware the most that was done by the surveyor NatWest sent was a tick in a box saying the property was unmortgageable because it has its own water supply from a spring rather than a mains water supply.
We appealed, pointing out that there are many rural properties which don’t have a mains water supply and asking if the bank had ever provided a mortgage before in such a situation.
NatWest dismissed the appeal, refused to refund us our fee and also refused to provide any evidence that their surveyor had even visited the property never mind completed a survey.
Our adviser, the impressive Andrew Milnes of Mortgage Advice Bureau, was as perplexed and frustrated as we were and offered to waive his fee as he set about arranging another mortgage through Skipton Building Society.
Borrowing money is never an easy process these days but Skipton, a mutual society, showed infinitely more enterprise and experience than the faceless box-tickers at NatWest did.
And the approach of our lawyers, Richard Larking and Sabina Dzudza at Progeny Corporate Law, was first class.
You don’t mind paying a bill when the service you receive is top quality.
At first I was tempted to think that NatWest’s miserable approach was symptomatic of modern banking.
But my recent experience with Yorkshire Bank dispelled that myth.
Paul Grace and his team at Yorkshire Bank in Leeds were entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, positive and just generally nice people to deal with.
Banks have more than their fair share of criticism but I will focus on my recent positive experience rather than tarring all of them with the same negative brush.
Now where’s that cravat…
SEVERAL people asked me where I planned to watch last Friday’s match between Leeds United and Derby County.
I said that given it was on television on a bleak January evening I would watch it on telly in the comfort of my own home.
Which was for two reasons – one that I thought Derby might get beaten and two, I didn’t get an invite from any Leeds fans to join them in corporate hospitality.
It proved a good call as the Rams suffered one of the heaviest 2-0 defeats I’ve ever witnessed.
And given the ‘Spygate’ saga, it prompted plenty of texts and messages from triumphant Leeds fans after the final whistle.
Perhaps it is because we were so comprehensively beaten by a superior side which worked harder and played better football that I can’t get worked up about Spygate.
As far as I’m aware I don’t think Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to send a member of his Leeds United staff to view a training session by Derby County the day before their meeting at Elland Road broke the law or the rules of football.
Some commentators argued that morally it was the wrong thing to do but when it comes to arguing about morals I don’t think people in football have a leg to stand on.
MY confidence in my football team was renewed on Wednesday evening when they came back from two-nil down to draw with Premier League Southampton after extra time in the FA Cup third round and then go on to win a penalty shoot out.
I suspect that Derby County’s performance may have won over many neutrals who watched the match on BBC1 too.
Not so much for the buccaneering fightback and nerveless approach to penalties – more for the fact that it delayed the BBC 10 O’Clock News by half an hour and so delaying the latest dose of gloom about the shambles surrounding Brexit.
SPYGATE was back on the menu when I phoned Shaun Davies this week, who runs historic Headingley restaurant Bretts.
“Are you outside spying on me?” said Leeds fan Shaun before taking my booking for a table for lunch.
Owned by entrepreneur Richard Gibson, the restaurant, which is renowned for its fish and chips, now offers a wider range of dishes reflecting Shaun and chef Cameron’s former home at the Foundry in Leeds.
I met old friend and corporate financier Steve Roberts and we recalled another lunch a few years ago at the Foundry after Steve had provided invaluable advice when I sold TheBusinessDesk.com.
On a glorious summer day we stayed at the restaurant all afternoon and evening during which Shaun’s partner at the Foundry, Phil Richardson, had challenged me to mention Yummy Yorkshire ice cream in my blog the following morning.
Don’t ask why, these things happen after a few bottles of vino.
He was impressed that I succeeded in doing that when the blog arrived early the next morning, particularly given we had been dancing with the waitresses from the Foundry in Leeds bar Mojo at 3am.
I suppose when you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
Although my staying power may now be in doubt given that a glance at my credit card receipt from yesterday’s lunch shows that I keyed in a tip of 10 pence on the card machine before stumbling out into the sobering late afternoon air.
Have a great weekend.