Since the idea of moving to England began I have been prepared, mentally at least, for the imminent arrival of "English country time." To me that conjures up images of sitting in your car as herds of sheep mull about in the middle of a one lane road surrounded on both sides by hedgerows preventing any quick escape. Or an ancient shopkeeper slowly counting out my change, penny by penny, only to start over again when he can't remember if he was at 87 or 88 pence. Or going to post a priority mail letter only to find the post office, part of the local butcher shop, is closed for the afternoon for the postmaster's daughter's school play.
But what I didn't expect was that I would start to experience English country time before I even left the United States.
I am selling all my personal items and moving to a new continent for a cottage I haven't seen in person, haven't seen the interior of, and, with two weeks to go, do not actually know they are going to let me rent. I think so. I believe so. And I see no reason that they wouldn't. But until I have a lease in my hand and keys in the mail, it's the only thing about the entire plan that makes me apprehensive. If, for some reason, the house rental goes awry at least I can stay with my aunt in Salisbury for a bit, but my whole vision of the adventure would be changed. And so, I wait for English country time to catch up to my current LA mentality.
I started asking for an application for this house in mid-December. I received the application on December 30th. Submitted it right after New Year's and then after 2 days of pestering finally got the bank information for where to wire the application fee. Three days after the wire was sent, finally got confirmation that they received said wire. Then, about a week later, checked on the status and the agent asked for a confirmation of employment from my boss. My boss, not realizing this was holding up the application process, took a couple days to send the confirmation letter. So now, with two and a half weeks to go before I leave LA for England I have no confirmation that this house I'm planning a huge life move around is even mine.
Whoo. Deep breath.
Now, to be fair, there's this small little holiday called Christmas that sort of slowed down the initial process. But as all the holidays were over and done with before I put the application in, unless they have really, REALLY bad hangovers in England, the holidays can no longer be the case. So all I'm left with is English country time. Doing things whenever they get done.
English real estate time is very different from my experience with New York real estate time. In New York, you see a freshly posted ad on Craigslist or hear a tip from a friend about an apartment for rent. "In the neighborhood I want to be in? Really? And at a price range I can afford? Oh my god." You literally drop whatever you're doing and call the broker while you're in a cab on the way to the apartment. And if you like it you fill out an application before you leave the premises, then rush to the ATM to get the cash for the deposit while they're running your credit. Literally you know in 24 hours, or less sometimes, if the apartment is yours. No sheep blocking the road here.
Los Angeles is a little mellower, but only by a day or two. I found my house here in Sherman Oaks on Craigslist, made an appointment for a couple days later, took an application after seeing it, sent it in that night and knew in a couple days that it was mine. No real sheep here either.
In both cases, from hearing about the house to signing a lease was at most two weeks. Definitely no sheep.
At this point, I'm going with the assumption that there is actually a sheep blocking the door to the estate agent's office, preventing them from getting inside and being able to process my application.
We all know that once in a while the dog actually does eat our homework. So maybe, in the English countryside, the sheep occasionally really is the culprit.