Rafferty the Cat – King of Greenwich

Rafferty spent a good few weeks in our flat, helping my sister to concentrate on her upcoming garden show.

The cat was polite and friendly, causing no real problems during his South East London holiday. Uneasy at first, Rafferty settled in well after a few days and would even welcome us at the door whenever we returned from work.

Ruby spends much more time at home than i do, and they became best buddies. She was very sad to see him go, but hopes we can have a cat of our own in the future. Although not allowed by our building’s freeholders, i don’t think anyone would even notice a small cat popping about on the first floor.

Rafferty

Rafferty-The-Cat

One problem with Rafferty is that my sister didn’t drop his scratching post around when she dropped him off. We had to buy several as well as re-training him with the new ones before he would consistently use them rather than clawing our carpet. Aside from that, and the odd toilet misdemeanor, he was a joy to have in the flat for a short while, and we hope sister will drop him off again in the future.

Rafferty clearly enjoyed his time in Greenwich, and when my sister turned up to take him back to Kingston Upon Thames, he fought hard to avoid capture. It took quite an effort from all three of us in order to finally drop him into his carry box. As he left, we could see him clawing at the door to escape.

Greenwich, London – Our home since 2012

Greenwich became our home more by luck than judgement. We had previously been renting in Bow for a year and were keen to become homeowners for the first time. At that time, the UK recession was in an appalling state and we didn’t have enough for a deposit in the open market. Shared Ownership helped us to get on the ladder and despite hearing some bad opinions, it has been our saviour.

Shared Ownership in Greenwich

When I first saw the properties available for Shared Ownership in Greenwich I thought the prices were crazy – not unrealistic for a popular part of London, just well outside our price range, or as I had imagined it.

We soon realised, however, that the monthly payments for a brand new two bedroom flat in Greenwich was actually slightly less than our renting costs for a one bedroom flat in Bow. Suddenly, it was not only possible, but also seemed ludicrous not to do so.

After finding the necessary deposit, the whole process took around 2 months to complete. We are forever indebted to the L&Q Housing Association for allowing us to get involved with this scheme, and without it we would probably still be renting in East London.

I had some great times house-sharing when i first moved to London around 10 years ago, but had eventually reached the point where it was just not fun anymore. Our time in Bow was particularly bad, even though by then we could afford to rent the whole flat. The location was awful and it forced us to make the move onto the housing ladder as a matter of urgency.

Having been in Greenwich now for three years we are looking to increase upon our current share of 25% of the property. At the time of setting that up, the economy was in a mess and we actually only just managed to get a mortgage for a quarter of the property, which was the smallest share possible.

Things are now a lot better, both for myself and also the economy as a whole, and so i am hoping that we will be able to increase our share up to 75% in the next 12 months or so. Ultimately, we want to buy the flat outright but that will take quite some time!

Life in Greenwich

Ever since moving in, we have always felt really at home. Weekends in are no-longer a disaster, whilst when in Bow they were painful times. We have also really made an effort to personalise our home, when before i never really bothered much with rented accommodation.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is a great place for some quiet time, particularly during the week when there are fewer tourists buzzing about. We tend to sit up the back close to Blackheath, where it tends to be a little quieter still. First thing in the morning our flat is also a place to relax, with no cars or roads close by. Local residents in these new block of flats also tend to be pretty well behaved in the main, and i have rarely witnessed any anti-social behaviour.

The Yacht remains my favourite watering hole, although the Trafalgar Tavern is great on a sunny day, as is the traditional Cutty Sark pub. Those two are a little more expensive, and i love the friendly staff in the Yacht.

Further afield is The Union which stocks a great selection of local drinks from the Greenwich Meantime Brewery. We have eaten in most of these pubs but still tend to prefer the Vietnamese restaurant for eating out locally.vietnam-oriental-restaurant-greenwich.jpg

Tilda the Hedgehog arrives in Greenwich

Tilda the Hedgehog made a visit to our flat this weekend, as part of an entourage including two of Ruby’s friends from Glasgow. She turned out to be very light on her feet, and was very active when let out of her temporary home (a cardboard box).

There was a bit of a panic on at one point when she completely disappeared, and as an African Hedgehog, is was necessary to find her as soon as possible to make sure she didn’t get too cold. She was found in a small corner of the living room, looking for some random food to keep her going. Her owners tend to feed her on cat food and tinned sweetcorn.

They popped down from Scotland and were surprised by how warm the weather was – to be fair, it’s not normally this warm in May :-) They have invited us back up to Glasgow later in the year, which would be my first visit to that city, and something i’m very much looking forward to.

We had let the flat become pretty untidy recently and their visit also helped to force us to finally tidy it up, making it much more enjoyable now for at least a couple more weeks. I am still considering hiring a cleaner at some point, once the finances are looking a little healthier.

fun-and-food-in-the-flat

Tilda the Hedgehog

Tilda the Hedgehog Sleeping

Vietnam Oriental Restaurant, Greenwich, London

We’ve never actually eaten any Vietnamese food in this restaurant, in all the times we’ve visited. In fact, i’m not sure if i’ve even seen any such dishes on the menu – we go straight for the Chinese choices which dominate.

Vietnam Oriental Restaurant, Greenwich, London

This has become our favourite restaurant in Greenwich and is really the only Chinese restaurant in central Greenwich that we would consider going to. The others around here are generally aimed at students and offering large portions of budget food as a result.

A typical evening out for us in Greenwich would be a few pints in The Yacht before heading here if the finances are good enough at the time.

This restaurant is where we headed to celebrate initially putting down a mini-deposit on what was to later become our flat. It was about £250 and simply kept our names with the Housing Association as particularly interested in three separate flats in the same block. It allowed us to enter the process of getting a mortgage together, which we managed to complete a couple of months later.

We have also visited here to celebrate several other milestones, such as new contracts, birthdays and the like.

The food here has never disappointed, and we rarely now even bother going through the menu. We have our favourite dishes and tend to pick from those in our heads.

Favourite Chinese Dishes from this Restaurant

Ruby’s current favourite must be the spicy fish which comes served in a large pot full of chillies. I think it is a Szechuan recipe, but not absolutely sure. Personally, i tend to go for one of the delicious hotpots. The Eel one is best, but a little more expensive, whilst the seafood, beef and pork ones are also really tasty.

The fried rice here is great, never too greasy like many other places in the UK will serve. There is also an excellent array of Dim Sum, though we only tend to choose that when in for lunch.

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vietnam-oriental-restaurant-Dim-Sum.jpg

For those looking for the standard UK Chinese food experience, but with a little more quality than your average takeaway, then there are also plenty of Cantonese options on the menu too. Sweet ‘n’ Sour Pork, Aromatic Crispy Duck and all the other usual suspects are all there to keep you feeling comfortable when entering for the first time.

Alternative dishes for those looking for something different include the fried intestine and also Xinjang-style Lamb kebabs. Ruby loves this place because of the amount of mainland-Chinese dishes that are offered here, but there is something for everyone.

The Yacht Pub, Greenwich

The Yacht has been my Greenwich local for a good while now. The staff are the best bit, whilst it has great views of the Thames as well as Sky Sports and BT Sport on tv.

Greenwich is undeniably brilliant when it comes to pubs, with my other favourites including The Union, The Trafalgar Inn and also The Cutty Sark. The Union stocks plenty of beers from the local brewery (Greenwich Meantime Brewery) and there is always someone willing to explain the latest arrivals.

Greenwich Meantime Brewery also now has it’s own bar for those who have just been on one of their tours, or simply want to pop in to try some of their latest labels.

The Yacht itself is becoming more and more popular at weekends, to the point where i may even need to start booking a table in order to make sure i get a good view of the tv.

The food is great, too! Current specials include a fab Game Pie. There is also a huge Fish ‘n’ Chips which is big enough for both Ruby and i to share.