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Bidding at auction is not complicated but it is nerve wracking and potentially ruinous. These are the tactics we employed to make sure we emerged intact.

The auction was held in London at the Connaught Rooms in Holborn. It’s a long way from Shrewsbury but we figured the journey would be worth it. Bidding at auction is a bit of a science and we thought that being able to see the other bidders would serve us well.

It is rumoured that male auctioneers favour people who have been waiting a long time for their lot, especially if those people are female. I don’t know if there is any truth in that, but we paid attention. Good auctioneers are able to wring bids from stones, the only way they can influence proceedings is in deciding whether or not to encourage are bids. Timing and how quickly they need to close the auction also plays a part. There is an advantage to being one of the last lots.

We had prepared our top bid, so we knew the precise point at which we would be dropping out. We also had a pretty good idea of the point that developers would be dropping out too. A developer needs to make a profit, so if you are intending to live in the house you may find an advantage there.

We arrived at 10am to find the lots would be put up in numerical order – this is not always the case, so worth checking with the auctioneers beforehand. It took four hours for our lot to come up.

Nothing can adequately prepare you for the experience of bidding a lot of money at auction. The whole process for our lot took 90 seconds. And for that 90 seconds, nothing else existed. The way it works is the existing bid will always be given a chance to respond to higher bids in the room – this is where the imperceptible nod, the arched eyebrow and the subtle movement of a rolled up newspaper come in handy – we found that capering like a loon does the trick just as well!

The bidding started at £150,000. As we had expected, the developers dropped out at £160,000. The only problem remaining was somebody bidding on the phone from Shrewsbury. Twenty seconds later they dropped out as well and we were the last and highest bid. We went straight to the deal room to sign the papers and pay the deposit. My hand was shaking so much from the adrenalin that I couldn’t write!