Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My First ScaleXtric Review. Perfect Christmas Gift for an Aged 3 to 5 track and car fan

My First ScaleXtric Box
We recently received My First ScaleXtric - Racing Fun for the Young Driver - which was just perfect being that Aaron is a huge car and track fan. He's played with tracks for over 3 years and these are his finest moments in terms of concentration and play enjoyment. Once upon a time I'd have to build everything and his enjoyment was the play, but now he gets just as much enjoyment from setting things up and he's so quick too. I confess I did set the ScaleXtric up for him though, purely as I was concerned about the electrical circuit and that it may not function if he did something wrong.

It was extremely speedy to set up and I filmed us live as we unboxed it. Bear in mind though, we've just come back from Movie Night at school (for Children in Need) and it's a Friday so it's been a long week, so we're quite mellow (tired) and both in onesies :-)


I love that the tracks, cars and triggers are all colour coordinated red and yellow. 
My First ScaleXtric red and yellow cars
As you hear in the video, I keep obsessing that we need batteries, but turns out that the track is powered by the mains and the cars hook up with that electricity, hence the importance of keeping their underneaths clear of dust and debri.
My First ScaleXtric track and triggers
Being that the track is a number 8 it comes with two bridge supports for the upper level. These perplexed me a little until I resorted to looking at the instructions and realised that the track simply balances on top.

I can imagine this would be a great gift to open on Christmas Day as it is always a relief when something is quick to set up and doesn't require batteries. A gift that is too time consuming to build can take away from the excitement that builds whilst unwrapping.

So that brings me on to pros and cons.

  1. It is only £34.99 available here: My First ScaleXtric.
  2. No batteries required.
  3. Simple construction that means you don't need a resident track expert. Tip: do make sure all of the arrows are pointing in the right direction, like I pointed out in the above video.
  4. The triggers have a groove on them which can be adjusted for speed.
  5. It is a starter set. The simple number 8 style track is perfectly simple for a 3 year old, but what makes it fun/challenging for a 5 year old and the adult that maybe playing with the second trigger, is the fact that: go too fast and you will fall off on the bends.
  6. This means there is a technique to be learned. You either slow down overall, or pulse the trigger so that you go slower on the bends. The degree to which you do this may be slower or faster than your opponent and that's the second layer of fun right there!!!
  7. I would recommend getting this for a 3 year old so that they can get a couple of years out of it.


  1. There is a metal area (like wire wool) on the underside of the cars. These need to be well maintained.
  2. Similarly there are metal grooves on the track, that are best kept dust free.
  3. Therefore this is a track that requires a bit of adult supervision and can't be flung around and stepped on like wooden tracks you may have previously owned. Make it about it being special and precious. If they hover their hand above the track, they'll feel a "current" and hopefully be in awe of it and understand it needs a little care.
  4. For a 5 year old, it is not a toy you will get years out of, but is perfect if they are new to tracks/cars or if they have a younger sibling who they can teach how to play. It's a great starter set though.
I'll be making sure that Aaron plays with it with his cousins over Christmas as I know they will have hours of fun.

I'll leave you with the official promotional TV advert for this toy:

Disclosure: we received this toy for the purposes of an honest review and I have not been told what to say.

All the best, Liska

P.S. this will definitely be making it to my Christmas Gift Guide when I finally get round to putting it together.

Monday, 23 November 2015

When Is The Right Time To Sell My Home?

Selling your home has never been easier especially when you consider all the different ways you can go about selling your home. From the traditional estate agent to online agents such as Jet Homes you are not short of many and varied ways to sell.

But the big question that has come about in the last few years has been “when is the right time to sell?" What year will see the biggest rewards? With the deepest recession ever (commonly now referred to as the Great Rcession) after the 2008 market crash, and an economy that is just starting to pick up, many have also begun questioning when is the right time of year to place their house on the market.

There are a few great tips which Jet Homes has provided to help you consider the most appropriate time to sell your home.

How quickly do you need to move?
If it’s all about selling your home fast then you need to think about how your house is valued, or the reasons as to why you need to move so quickly. If it’s for financial reasons you may want to consider renting your home rather than selling. However, if you are relocating for work reasons, can you afford to keep two houses?

The big question has to be why you want to move in the first place. If you know the answer to this and you have set timescales, consult with estate agents and locals in the area on how quickly houses sell or do a quick search on the internet for recent house sales to get an understanding of the market you are currently selling in and what you think you could reasonably get for your property.

Look at the economy
The economy has started to pick up, and more houses are selling now than before the pre-2008 financial crisis but does this make it the best time to sell? There are some key things to consider; 

  • Bank rates; what is the Bank Of England going to do with Interest rates moving forward and how will this affect your mortgage rates?
  • Mortgage offers; shop around and see how the mortgage offers are reflecting the general state of the economy.
  • Consumer Price Index; this will help you understand how we’re living and if we have inflation or deflation.

Keeping an eye on the economy and using financial websites to read into the next 6 months can help you understand how the economy is actually working and what can be done to help make your mind up.

Think about the time of year
If food has seasons, so does selling your house. Let us explain this a little better, dependent on the time of year your house is put up for sale it can have an effect on valuation and purchase periods. Sometimes the difference can be marginal but there are a few key seasons.

  • Autumn is arguably the best time to sell as you can have mild ones, like this year, which means your home can look great on first impressions and there is just enough good daylight hours for people to view your home at different times.
  • Summer is possibly the worst time. There are holidays to contend with and if a family is looking to move they would want to do it during the holiday season or certainly before the school term starts.
  • Spring is an interesting time as you start to get more daylight and well kept gardens are keen to be shown off; it's generally what's thought to be the best time of year if you’re looking to sell at your highest price. Sometimes, depending on lead times, selling in Spring, requires getting prepared in the months beforehand.
  • Winter closely follows summer in how hard it can be to sell. Between Christmas and New Year it can be difficult to get people visiting your home and you need to consider daytime visits to make the most out of your home.

Selling your home can be stressful and sometimes, there is no definite answer as to the best time to sell your property. Consider things such as the impact it could have on your day to day life and circumstances, how you would need to organise new schools, doctors and social environments with a house move.
Decluttering is an important thing to do prior to getting valuation surveys or viewings. Not only does it make your home a more attractive proposition, but it also means that packing and moving are a dream, being a lot less stressful. Packing your clutter due to time constraints only means you have to face it again at the other end. It's good to consider a new home a new start.

Whatever the reasons, pick your timescales wisely and start getting organised. You never know, you could sell your house within an hour of it being on the market!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Third Trimester Tiredness and Pregnant at Aged 42

I am in shock at how very tired I am. During the first trimester I was in bed by 21:15 nearly every night and kept telling the husband "don't worry I will have loads of energy in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters" Yes, it turned out to be true of the 2nd trimester but now that I am in the 3rd, I am 30 weeks but looking like I am 40 weeks and if I am honest I am struggling. It's another large baby and just as with Aaron, my bump is measuring +2. For anyone who says "those bump measurements are notoriously innaccurate" at the 4d scan they measured the baby's head circumference, abdomen circumference and femur length and I think all of those measurements put my new baby girl on the 94th growth percentile. Again, a duplicate of her brother.

Just like with Aaron my bump is all out in front, very large, and no extra weight anywhere else on my body, not even around the face and no swollen ankles yet either. Despite the change in gender, the only difference seems to be that with Aaron I had no morning sickness whereas this time it was from week 6 to week 14.

The limited number of blogs and vlogs I have done are purely due to how tired I am, and how little get up and go I have. So so so so so many thinks I was MEANT to do this week.

If I was one of those organised Mums who already had a nursery set up (from about 25 weeks on) then it wouldn't be a problem. I could carry on watching 2-3 Xmas movies a day (as has become my habit) except I have done nothing and have bought nothing. Ooooops. We don't even know what we've done with the screws to the cot. And if we don't find them soon, I will have to be contacting Cosatto to ask if there is such a thing as them being able to post them to us....... eeek.

I've just decided to tweet them and see if they can help:

Hmmm, turns out he is going to HAVE to find them as Cosatto have already replied to me, as below. 

I've already phoned the number and got a blow by blow account. Blow (1) THAT cot is discontinued blow (2) we no longer use the factory that made it (3) we don't really do many cots any more and (4) we ran out of that spare part half way through this year and as we don't use that factory anymore won't be getting anymore in *cries*......... looks for hubby!!!

I filed EVERYTHING to do with baby when I was expecting Aaron, so I just abandoned this post for a second, while I went through everything trying to ascertain the model name/number of the cot, but guess what I found... the paperwork for our travel system. I've been beating myself up that I had one in place (during my last pregnancy) much sooner last time, but yet the paperwork tells me I ordered it on 26th May... that was cutting it fine considering Aaron's due date was 7th June. He was 8 days late and born on 15th June. I actually paid full price, up front, for a buggy at the February baby show, but a couple of months later got cold feet about how much I'd spent and got a refund. I then spent the next few months researching buggies (alongside working really long hours) even joining Which, temporarily, so I could read all of the technical reviews on buggies. I ended up going for a travel system that lasted me for 2.5 years. I never upgraded to a stroller, and just always used our buggy. Aaron was out of it at 2 and onto a scooter, then a balance bike and then straight to a proper bike never a stabilizer in sight. We used to walk about a minimum of 20 miles a week so he always had to have some sort of wheels (I don't drive) and we'll be the same again as now I walk about 30 miles a week.

I don't even know where my wrap is, and I was big into baby wearing last time, carrying Aaron until he was a year and a half old. Yes I used the buggy too, but living in a flat, the wrap was invaluable for getting him up the stairs when I had shopping in both arms. It was also invaluable when hanging washing on the line or bringing it in. I would even chop vegetables amongst many other chores whilst "wearing" him. It was a life saver as there are often times when they don't want to be put down and it is so so nurturing for them to hear out heartbeat and of course share our warmth. A wrap means at least you can be mobile and not tied to the sofa. I must find mine from the Aaron days, although I am longing for a We Made Me one this time.

Even though I say I have not bought anything, yet, thanks to HushCush and Nature's Purest, I do have baby's nursing pillow and first baby grow :-)

Just need to work out what else I need.

I haven't had my camera much in my hand of late, so don't really have any photos to share with you. Friday 13th November I wore a onesie for Children In Need movie night at school and I looked enormous in it. I'd intended to get one of my fellow PTA mums to get a snap for me, and would be including it here, but it was so busy getting everything just right, I never did get chance to pass my camera to someone. Haven't had chance to get hubby to take a recent bump shot either. I know! Pregnant blogger fail alert!

That's one of the reasons I hung fire on writing this post, as I only like to put blog posts together when I have the photos to go with them. 9 times out of 10 it's always photos that prompt blog posts.

Back to what I need to get for baby number two. In case I have problems breastfeeding again, one of these is definitely on my shopping list:

I suppose if I go in to premature labour without having sourced a buggy, I can always baby wear for the first few weeks but I don't fancy my chances considering I will be post-op as I have a planned C-section and the school run covers 30 miles a week. I do still have Aaron's travel system, but it is black and knackered. The wheels were never ever changed and they cover many many miles. I'd love something fancy for my little Princess, so best get cracking picking one and getting my tired old life sorted out.

In terms of eating, in the first trimester I used to crave salad and quiches. All healthy stuff. Huge portions, huge appetite, eating 6 times a day. Whereas now, I can quite happily have porridge for lunch and just graze at dinner time. My stomach doesn't have much space now and I have really bad heartburn. I like to think my Pregnacare supplements are picking up the slack, as I have the Pregnacare MAXIMUM ones and have taken them throughout my pregnancy.

I'd really love to do a pregnancy Vlog as I had planned on doing one every week throughout my pregnancy, but with this pregnancy tiredness that has descended I just don't imagine how I could be photogenic, watchable or natural on camera. But perhaps I should just film real life. Tired, 42 year old me.

Perhaps I will try and get the energy to wash and straighten my hair tomorrow and do one.

Ah tomorrow, that reminds me, we are getting a new washing machine. Hooorrrraaaah. So that is what I will be busy playing with when everyone else is at Mumsnet Blogfest. I have been to all 3: 2012, 2013 and 2014 and I normally write really good blog posts about the conference - with one of them even winning me a competition (a 3 night stay at Featherdown Farm), but sometimes you have to know your limits and I just knew I don't have the energy for it this time. I'll have to stay off social media or I will be gutted.

With regards to my tiredness, Aaron has been FABULOUS at understanding. Last Friday when we got back from Movie night, the only energetic thing we did, was set up his new (review) ScaleXtric. Then Saturday and Sunday, both days we had a PJ day, and he must have been tired too, as my active boy did not object at all.

In the evenings he's been happy to do low energy things like colouring in, except as you can see he makes me join in too:
Bye for now, I need to put my feet up before the school run ;-) I'm serious!

I am back to add on another bit.

Yesterday a Mum on the school run asked me if I wanted any girl's clothes to which I said "yes please". She already had them with her, all boxed up on the school run this morning, so we transferred them from her car to hubby's. She's given me 5 carrier bags and 2 nappie boxes of gorgeous girl's baby clothes. So, all of a sudden it is all feeling a bit more real. Whoooops!

Liska xxx

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

How to Make a Thomas and Friends Bedroom for Your Little Boy

The biggest thing that was needed to complete Aaron's room was a storage solution.

As regular readers will know, I'd delayed on getting the bunkbed bought AND built and then delayed on getting the room decorated. Each and everytime, Daddy picked up the slack. But, even then, when the room was "ready" it was lacking storage solutions and by this time I was pregnant and in no mood to make it happen.

At this point Hillary's enters from stage right and gives me a challenge. Even pregnant and tired I love a challenge. They wanted me to sort the room with a budget of £100. I scratched my head and  thought I can do that.

I submitted a "before" photo and Hillary's expert interior stylist Joanna Thornhill kindly gave me the following advice:

Your personalised advice: 

1.The room is looking great already - as you say, it just needs finishing off and a bit of extra storage adding. Depending on how much storage you need, you could opt for just one large full-height wardrobe or cupboard/shelving unit, to go against this back wall. If you went for a fully open shelving unit, invest in some wicker baskets for the bottom shelves to keep toys organised yet looking great.  
2.It looks like a reasonable space so you could possibly also fit a blanket box at the end of the bunk bed - this would be a great spot to chuck other toys into, and you could also top it with a cushion pad to provide your son a little spot to sit on.  
3.Opting for plain white furniture would tie in nicely with the white sections of your bunk bed and keep the room looking smart, affording you to have a little fun with your seatpad choice. 
I interpreted the "blanket box" as a Thomas and Friends toy box. I interpreted  the cushion pad as a fleecy blanket to  go on top et voila, the above solution to Aaron's messy, floor-filling, dust-collecting, tracks was born. They are Thomas tracks so the solution could not be more perfect. He does sit on it like she said he would, so perfect! I love that it is wood effect and solid. Please note it is not a hinged lid, it completely lifts off, which has pluses and minuses, but overall a good thing. So that was the first £38.99 of my £100 gone! £61.01 remaining...
I've always loved the cubic storage solutions in Ikea, but discovered that Argos do their version, so  this is where my next storage solution came in: I got this Phoenix 4 cube unit. It's £29.99 and the storage cubes to go inside are only £9.99. I got the Stars Canvas Storage Boxes, which beautifully coordinate with my chosen Thomas theme. If you buy them at the same time as the shelving unit you only pay £34.98. There are FIVE colour-ways to choose from in the canvas boxes, including green and including pink. I went with Hillary's furntiture coordination advice above, but instead of picking out the white in the bunk bed I picked out the maple from Aaron's Julian Bowen Domino Bunk Bed except Argos call it Beech. It also means it coordinates with the shelves on the wall that you see above and is warmer than white and less likely to get scuffed/marked in a busy boy's bedroom.

Once I had all those books above sorted I wanted to get ALL of Aaron's books off my bookshelf downstairs as I had plans for my shelf once it'd be freed up :-) but that's no problem as there's plenty of shelving on BOTH levels of his bunk bed. As you can see he has plastered the upper bunk in stickers but as they are low tack I have let him, and letting him personalise/love his bedroom is more important than being fussy!

This leaves £26.03 of my £100 budget remaining.

When I'd previously "finished" (she says ha ha) Aaron's room, it only had bedding on the bottom bunk and nothing on the top. I had a gorgeous brand new Robot set from John Lewis.

This makeover gave me the opportunity to address that, so next stop was Thomas bedding from Character World. The Thomas "Adventure" Single Duvet set you see above (sorry about the poor lighting) is only £13.99 from Argos and is also reversible and easy iron. I love it as it looks classy rather than tacky and with all of the passport style stamps on it, looks artistic rather than too childish, good considering Aaron is 5 rather than 3 years of age. The other side can be seen on the Argos site (don't make me make the bed again please ;-) ).

By the way, did you know that the Thomas and Friends brand is celebrating their 70 year anniversary in 2015?

The Thomas and Friends fleecy blanket, which features the front of a Thomas the tank Engine, with the word Thomas at the top and the word Sodor at the bottom is avaiable at Very for £10 Thomas and Friends Adventure Panel Fleece Blanket.

This leaves me WITHIN BUDGET with £2.04 remaining. Yeeeaaaaah I did it and the room looks great! Aaron loves it and so do I. Plenty of room now to whizz the vacuum cleaner around.

So, the room is complete, apart from ordering more photos from to complete one of the frames below, but I am thrilled the other is done and on the wall:
My room makeover was part of a Hillary's makeover challenge that was not just set to me.

20 bloggers were set with the task of transforming a bedroom with a budget of £100 and some top tips.

Hillary's have put together a fab slideshow of the 20 bedroom transformations before and after - I am proudly there at number 11. If you hover on the line between the before and after photos you can see it can be dragged left and right so as to see more or less of before or after. You can do this on all 20 pics from the 20 bloggers featured.

Disclosure: this project is a collaboration with Hillary's, who provided the makeover tips and budget.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Happy to Be Pregnant! 28 Weeks Pregnant Aged 42

I'm so very happy to be pregnant and thought I'd write about this and remind myself about this after an incredibly frustrating evening (more on that later).

This was me a few weeks ago, below, at 25 weeks' pregnant - currently I am 28 weeks. You can see me on Instagram at 27 weeks here.
So, what's happening? Well last week at 27 weeks I had my glucose tolerance test. This is something you have to have if you are at risk of gestational diabetes OR like me, have a high BMI.

They book you for the 1st appointment of the day, as you are nil by mouth for 12 hours before and this is easiest on a pregnant lady if the bulk of it is as she sleeps.

I am scared of needles, so despite having the same thing in 2010 with Aaron, I Googled it and was relieved to see on a NetMums thread that it is just a finger prick blood test.

But, you can't believe everything you read online. Nope! She took blood the proper and normal way and thank God hubby had accompanied me.

I then had to consume a glucose drink, which I collected on prescription just before my appointment (annoyed that the chemist opened at 08:34 instead of 08:30 meaning my blood was taken at 08:40 and I have a thing about punctuality so hadn't wanted to keep the nurse waiting).

She then took my second lot of blood at 10:40 so  it was the exact 2 hours.

That day I was like a pin cushion with a plaster on both my left AND right arms. Blood from left arm at 08:40 and right arm at 10:40. 

Aaron's half term workshop at school started at 10:30 so we rushed straight there which was a great antidote to how shooken up having injections makes me feel.

That was back on 28th October - they said I'd have the results in 5 days but haven't heard a dickie bird yet. Good thing is, with Aaron that was done in hospital whereas nowadays it's done in the GP's. That's local, really convenient, doesn't involve extravagant hospital parking fees AND we were allowed to go home in the intervening 2 hours. RESULT!

Except this week, fast forward a week, now 28 weeks and I had to go in on 5th November for my Anti-D injection, but this time to the Midwife Clinic (also local, also convenient), but I had no idea she was to take blood AGAIN.............. for someone needle phobic it was like gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh but thank God the hubby was with me again, as I'd booked it that way, due to the anti-D injection not knowing I'd get pricked/poked TWICE!!! Eeeek.

So she started preparing my arm for something and asked "which arm do you want it on?" to which I was like "but you've already done it" (I was thrilled with myself as I'd done my yoga mantra and had coped really well) to which she said "nooooo that was blood!". I said "why can't you use last week's two bloods from the GTT?" to which she said "oh that's gone to a different lab!". So she then picked an arm and said it has to be on the outside arm, the fleshy bit on your shoulder and I'd COMPLETELY forgotten that from 2010.

I chatted to hubby as she did it, thinking I could style it out as the blood was so easy but I actually screamed and she then admitted "yes it does sting" but actually, just like holiday injections, my arm actually still hurts now (just on that spot though, not the whole arm).

So I hope that is me done with all the needles now - until the spinal block of course *gulps*.

My next midwife appointment will be the first normal one in ages. She's only ever weighed me once, so no idea how I am doing on that score but she does
  • test my urine
  • take my blood pressure and
  • listen to baby's heartbeat
at every appointment.

Also, bar one, she's been my midwife at every appointment and I love that consistency/familiarity. Feel very blessed as it wasn't at all like that with my first pregnancy, where both the glucose tolerance test AND the anti-D were BOTH done at hospital.

Ironic I was aged 36 then, and am now 42, so presumably I'm higher risk now, but I feel like I am having a more relaxed less invasive pregnancy on a lot of levels.

Big difference this time is I have had a 4d scan (at 25 weeks) as the 20 weeks' NHS anomaly scan did not determine the gender.

I wanted to publish a Vlog and Blog about it, but despite getting our wonderful news that we are indeed having a girl, I was underwhelmed with the 4d scan so haven't felt authentic or able to write about it. Would I have one if I was ever pregnant again? Probably not, or if pushed, definitely somewhere else.

I haven't bought a stitch for baby yet and at 28 weeks am getting somewhat nervous about that fact, BUT I do have baby's first item of clothing as I was sent this (My First Friend Printed Sleepsuit) by Nature's Purest:
I love that it is made from 100% naturally coloured cotton and that the cuffs turnover to make scratch mitts. Something much needed for warmth too considering she'll be born in deep dark Winter.

I adore it and it's made it hit home how small she is going to be, especially compared to Aaron. Although I had to get 0-3 months, not newborn as this babby is measuring big, so like Aaron will not fit into newborn. Anyway the My First Friend sleepsuit does not come in newborn anyway. The uninformed think ALL babies go straight into newborn, but newborn really is for 7 pound babies and Aaron was 9lbs 10oz.

I have also been lucky enough to have been sent a HushCush feeding pillow, which can be used to nurse baby to you, conveniently and portably, be it bottle or breast:
If you'd like to know more about the pillow, which is a brand new product, then you can watch the video that I filmed at The Baby Show.

So, there are two baby girl products in this house and I have shopping on my mind. First port of call is we must, we really must, build the cot. Just like with Aaron I am not going to use a moses basket as with big babies they just don't fit in it for long enough.

I'll have to be honest I am not giving this blog post my full attention as Eastenders is just too good tonight.

Oh P.S. the reason, at the outset of this post, that I said it's been a frustrating evening is because we spent the whole evening going to and from football even though it wasn't on. But it's because both of his football coaches were in a car crash so I am just relieved they are okay.
Bye for now, Liska xx

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Sky High Prices as London Becomes More and More Expensive to Live

Yet another headline showing the sky high price that a house in London can sell for. This time it is a pre-fab ex-council bungalow in Peckham that has sold for nearly £1 million, despite having no bathroom and being unlived in since 2002. It's sold at nearly twice the average for the street, which is most unusual.

Unusual because (1) it is so delapidated that it needs to be demolished and (2) it doesn't even have planning permission. But clearly the investor is planning flats (which can go for an average of £335k each - with current ones on the market being much higher) rather than a like-for-like house, which would see a profit made. Just the stamp duty alone, on this purchase, is £36,000.

It's so ironic that in an age where we are seeing the gentrification of London, one of the main selling points of this Peckham location is its "village atmosphere".

The one positive from this is that the council, who profited from the sale, pledges that they will reinvest it in the building of council homes, stating that they could not afford the required refurbishment.
Cllr Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, said he was 'extremely pleased' with the sale of the shack bungalow.
He said: 'We are investing hundreds of millions of pounds to not only improve our current housing stock - by making them warm, dry and safe and providing quality kitchens and Bathrooms - but also to build 11,000 new council homes across the borough.
'Although selling council homes is not something we would normally want to do, sometimes the costs for repairs and refurbishment to bring our older properties to a decent standard is simply too high.
'In these cases, we have the option to sell them when they become vacant and use the money to fund this housing investment programme.
'We are extremely pleased that once again we have managed to raise a significant amount of money from the sale of a property, that was far past its expected lifespan, to but back into creating better homes for our residents.' 
I have lived through three recessions and have a BA in Economics so am well versed in the boom bust cycle that normally occurs with property. The latter normally meaning that people end up with negative equity. If you add to that soaring interest rates, you end up with heartbroken families and lots of repossessions. It all gets very messy and has happened, as recently as the early 1990s.

I don't foresee it this time though. Despite a presenter on LBC, just the other day, stating "the bubble has to burst sometime".

There is something going on in London and it's multi-faceted and multi-layered. I also think it is deliberate as it is part of social engineering that's going on in London and some other major cities.

Increased immigration means there are increasingly more people who CAN afford to live in London as they rent a room instead of a house/flat. Something that locals are less inclined (but not totally immune) to do.

Increased immigration also means that there has been a cheap readily available workforce here, to build such things as the Olympics site, the changes in and around Kings Cross (of which there are many), Oxford Street, Bond Street and so on. In some cases, investors are probably paying for labour what they did in the 1980s. The recession has only helped to line their pockets further.

Youth unemployment, student debt and lower wages mean that more and more young people choose to stay at home a decade or two longer.

The housing benefit cap, has seen people moved to places as near as Harlow and as far as Hastings as their benefits can't sustain their lifestyle in London. Rather, the maths no longer stack up, to pay the rent. Also meaning those properties are freed up to appreciate in value further. Those people are then away from extended family and support networks.

House inflation way over and above that of pay rises. Not only have pay rises been lower but since 2008 most people have been on a pay freeze - they didn't just eliminate the merit pay rises they even eliminated the "cost of living" ones that were meant to help us keep pace with fuel rises or rises in the cost of London Transport etc... When I consider that my Grandparents' generation could buy a house on one salary, my parents' generation could buy a house on two salaries, and now all people can afford (in London), if at all, is a flat, it is easy to see that there has been a shift. Also those parents and grandparents weren't even on great salaries - they were just middle management level. Now, London is the domain of Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers etc... and even they are finding they have limited choices when picking an area in London in which to buy and live.

All of this is meaning that each year sees more and more people leaving London, in favour of other towns and cities that are affordable.

Culture of Flip It. Forgive me here but I watch Homes Under The Hammer everyday. It's a whole new career/industry to buy a flat/house at auction, decorate it in anything from 4 weeks to a year and sell it at great profit. This has become so common it is a FABULOUS way of getting all of the old housing stock up to scratch in terms of rennovations that the average person may not be capable of, but it is adding to the spiralling increases in house prices. It also means the entrepreneur rather than the new owner benefits from that housing equity withdrawal.

Economics taught me that capitalism is fine, as it is regulated by supply and demand. When people can no longer afford for something to go up in price the market will regulate those price increases. 

Except that's not happening. A lot of places are bought off plan, overseas. Meaning that even when the local population can no longer afford the prices, there is still a captive audience willing to pay.

There of lots of individuals with PO Box addresses buying up lots of individual properties in London, but sometimes the purchases and the purchasers are bigger, way bigger:
"In a spending spree that started in 2008, the ruling Al Thani family [Qatari royal family] and its assorted investment vehicles, including the Qatar Investment Fund, have acquired a 20% slice of Camden market; [all of] posh department store Harrods; 95% of the Shard, at 87 storeys the EU’s tallest building; the Olympic village; half of the world’s most expensive apartment block at One Hyde Park; the Chelsea Barracks site, and the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square".
Can you dear reader, afford to buy where you live? Or, are you in a flat when you'd rather be in a house? Or does the size of your home dictate you are having fewer children than you would ideally like?

I think this infographic of the UK's most expensive neighbourhoods clearly shows the dearest and most sought after prestigious parts of London.
"The list is [nearly] entirely made up of London locations, with neighbourhoods in Kent and Hertfordshire missing out, whilst the quiet commuter town of Virginia Water, Surrey is the only area outside London which makes the list.
The birthplace of the Ryder Cup, Virginia Water is the seventh most expensive area to buy in the UK with prices just short of £1million, yet even this town is still only a few miles from London’s international airport, Heathrow".
When I graduated, the general rule was that a mortgage should be no greater than 3 times your salary. It was good maths to live by, as it was meant to also translate into your spending only a third of your income on your home, leaving you with a comfortable disposable income for you to weather most storms. Meaning no spiralling credit card debt... but sadly, sometimes it is credit cards that get people through the second half of the month. Or for those less fortunate, food banks or pay day loans.

Unfortunately our want want want culture has seen people eat into this disposable income by buying bigger and bigger homes. Buying two instead of 1 car(s). With the advent of mobile phone contracts and TV subscription contracts, disposable income is increasingly squeezed for most. I think we now live in a culture where people could cope even less with soaring interest rates than they did in the 1990s.

Just look at that infographic, you'd have to be on £300k a year to get your foot in the door.

So where does this leave the average Londoner?

Well, The Telegraph seems to have their finger on the pulse with the answer to that question, stating that "London to become a place that we work but don't live".

I'm wondering, does the establishment want London to be like other European cities, where the workforce only ever rents and never buys. In Spain it is most unusual to buy your own home. In Germany and France, a higher percentage of people rent versus the UK.

I would like to see how this story pans out. On average the cost of a London home has risen 44% over the past 7 years.

I know of many people relocating well beyond London, where once the only move required was to Greater London, so this is a real life phenomenon and not just a thing of headlines. In fact my fellow blogger Ruth at Rock 'n' Roller Baby is about to make just such a move.

As is often the case, London means flat and a move means house. What's not to love? It's fine unless like Ruth you come from the philosophy of "if you've tired of London you've tired of life" and she hasn't. She hasn't at all. The famous quote I refer to is below. But often a life outside of London brings a much greater quality of life. All is not lost, at all. In fact there are whole websites dedicated to a life after London.

Do you have any knowledge of soaring London house prices or has it effected your life? I'd love to hear your comments and for you to enlighten me further on where we the UK and the London workforce go from here?
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