Exchange of contracts, when it finally took place after very considerable delays, was a mighty relief. Up to Christmas the delays had all been on our part as we struggled to demonstrate that the scheme was viable. The vendor understandably lost patience with us and gave us one final deadline. At the very last minute, as if by a miracle, we received a couple of potentially credible offers on our Holden Road site and therefore got clearance that we were now ready.
We urgently contacted the vendor's agent and said that we were now ready to exchange contracts. Now the pressure shifted onto them. It transpired that the property had been refinanced and approval to exchange had to be sought from an outside institution. With Christmas upon us it soon became clear that nothing was going to happen until after the New Year. However the New Year came and went and still no news. The champagne had been on ice for so long that I started to doubt that it would ever happen. What was happening? Had the vendors gone cold on the deal or, worse, been dealing with someone else? In the end the truth was far more pedestrian, a matter of mere administrative box-ticking that sometimes takes an infuriatingly long time.
When I heard the news, a wave of joy-filled relief flooded over me. A new horizon opened up, with something that for so long had felt like an incredible dream, taking one great step towards reality. A milestone has been passed and the scheme is alive and kicking.
Mere seconds after the elation of the exchange breakthrough, like the invisible aftershock from an explosion, I was hit by a second wave - this time of panic and terror. We are now committed and the enormity of the challenge ahead of us is no longer hypothetical. The moment of faith has come.