After a short struggle, the door to the flat complied with the key and swung open with a low, juddering squeal.
Despite a thin layer of dust and grime on the floors and windows, I was pleasantly surprised by the scene that greeted me. Laminate wooden floorboards, muted cream walls.... a shower unit, which was a definite bonus. It seemed deceptively spacious, but I realised that with the amount if gear I tended to haul about with me, it would soon get pretty cramped in there.
I identified priorities - there seemed to be no proper TV aerial in there anywhere - that would definitely have to be sorted out pretty sharpish. Strangely enough there was a telephone socket on the living room wall - essential If I ever decided to get that Virgin Media account set up.
There was no central heating system and the windows were those ancient slide-down numbers, with tell-tale trails of early damp and wood-rot scarring their frames. The kitchen was basic but large, with a a hideous set of battered-looking wall units that looked straight out of the late 70's. Cheap lino was cut roughly to the shape of the floor.
I was initially gutted that none of the windows offered a decent view of the city - but then realised that this at least meant I was spared the noise of the main road outside, which would undoubtedly have taxis, emergency services vehicles and drunken singing students rolling up and down it at all hours.
There were two hatches in the ceilings - one in the bedroom, and one in the kitchen. There was nothing to stand on to reach them, so I couldn't investigate what was behind them until I moved in properly.
In hindsight, it wasn't the greatest accommodation I had ever viewed. But it seemed cosy enough, was really handy for the city centre and my family all lived relatively close...and in terms of appearance, upkeep and aesthetics, the place was like the Palace of Versailles compared to some of the hellish caves I'd previously lived in.
I duly returned to the landlord's office over the road, signed all the necessary paperwork, sorted out transportation for my furniture, and was moved in within a week.