The next thing I need to sort out is paying the deposit to the solicitors. This is harder than you might think! My original plan was to do a bank transfer, and they gave me all their account details. There are two ways of doing this via phone/internet banking: you can pay a person, or pay a bill. If you pay a person, you type in the account number, sort code, etc., but there's no box for a reference. In my case, I need to type in my name (so that they know the money's coming from me), so that option's no good. The alternative is to pay a bill, but then the company has to have their account details stored in a central list. My solicitor doesn't, so that option doesn't work either. I phoned the bank on Thursday, and they said "Oh yes, we'll sort that out, and call you back within 24 hours". No word yet. Plan B is to arrange a bankers draft, although I may be cutting that a bit close. Failing that, I'll just have to withdraw the money in cash and hope I don't get mugged.
Also on Tuesday we'll discuss the completion date, i.e. when I get the keys and the bank pays the vendor the other 95% of the money. I'm guessing that will be round about the end of the month, so I'll be moving some time in April.
Anyway, things seem to be happening now, which is good. And I'm hoping that once I've signed the contract and paid the deposit it's unlikely that I'll get gazumped.
One other interesting aspect of this concerns the upcoming Budget (to be announced on Wednesday). There are rumours/speculation that the threshold for stamp duty may be increased. At the moment, if you buy a flat that costs between £60,000 and £250,000 then you have to pay 1% of the price to the government as a tax. Above £250,000 it's 3%. If the minimum threshold got raised to £100,000 then that would suit me nicely (since my flat costs £99,950). Of course, this raises the question of whether I'd qualify for the new rules if my purchase is already in progress. Based on this (from 1999), I should be ok, which would save me £1000, so fingers crossed...
Once I've had a chance to take some more detailed measurements of the flat (probably after completion), I'm intending to go along to the Ideal Home Show, since it's only just round the corner from here. Hopefully that will give me some inspiration for new kitchen stuff.
Meanwhile, I'm doing background reading for my MSc project. Current book: "The Dancing Bees", by Karl von Frisch. One interesting fact from that - it takes a bee 60 trips to fill a thimble with honey, and each trip involves 1000-1500 clover florets. Makes me feel a bit guilty if I'm eating honey by the spoonful on my toast, a bit like Gulliver in Lilliput. Still, forming an emotional attachment to the subject of my project should help with my motivation later.