Tag Archives: house

The silence is delicious

For the past couple of months or so we’ve been able to hear water moving through the cold water pipes in the kitchen and bathroom.  Turns out, as I previously posted, it was caused by a leak in the pipework outside of the property.  It’s now been repaired, I’ll probably post a blog when it’s fully finished, at the moment the path still has a hole in it.

But I just wanted to quickly post about how insidious the sound was, something only made clear by its absence.  Obviously, when in the kitchen in the quiet moments or in the bathroom, the sound was very obvious and loud.  However, now that it’s gone it is hugely apparent that I could hear it even in a noisy house, and even in other rooms.  A constant background cavitation noise from the pipes.  Like an audible version of Chinese water torture.

I was in the bathroom earlier, and it’s silent.  So, very, very quiet.  It’s truly delicious.

Dear Diary

Over two years since I last blogged anything. So long in fact that WordPress is completely different. There’s some kind of weird block editor that I don’t understand. Why can’t I just write text in a huge box like I used to? 

Aha, installed a plugin to turn that off, and back to normal simple text input in a dialog box.  I guess they think people will only blog tiny missives these days, but I’m here for the epic long hall and the block editor does not suit!

This will be a rambling blog post with compressed and confused timelines, missing information, out of sync actions, and no conclusion.  You’re welcome.

There are always grades of discomfort, I think I might have blogged that before, and my life is easy compared to very many people in the world.  I don’t think I really understood privilege when I was blogging a lot a few years ago, but over the last couple of years or so I’ve come to understand it a lot better.   So I’m privileged, but as should be obvious, it doesn’t mean that shit doesn’t cause anxiety.  And so September, October and now November are the months that just keep on giving.  I’m blogging because I want to rant partly about work, and that means I can’t use Facebook (too many work colleagues), and I can’t use Twitter (240 characters).  So I need somewhere I can vent sure in the knowledge no one will ever read it, and so my personal blog seems like the perfect choice.  This is not going to be one of those posts where I focus on 3 good things and how lucky I am.  That’s never the person I’ve been.  I can’t fight against it really, I’ve always looked at the problems and thought about the issues, and that includes my own life.  It’s what made me excellent at my job in technical support, but it comes with a burden that it’s hard to see the good things amongst the broken.

I am, as anyone who’s read this blog will know, terrible at owning a house.  The last few months have tested that to the limit and continue to do so.  We noticed some woodlice in the corner of the dining room, we knew what it was, rotten wood, we just weren’t sure why.  But dealing with that takes energy, and the last three months have been low energy periods for us for several reasons.  So we didn’t deal with it straight away, and then it started preying on our minds, making it harder to sleep, consuming more spoons, adding more to the cup, whatever metaphor you prefer.  Eventually, Greté found enough energy to contact a handyman on Facebook, and it’s being handled.  Never as bad as you fear, but never as easy as you hope.  It’s half fixed, but now we’re waiting for some dry weather for the guy to finish the job (for which he’s already been paid).

There’s also a leak in our mains water supply.  A good few weeks back now we noticed that the cold water pipes were making a noise as if someone was running a tap.  Initially, I didn’t think much of it, but then I began to think about what it might imply before finally realising it probably meant a leak.  At first, I assumed it was in the house, and so I spent 3 hours one night, until 2am, because when else do you panic about this stuff than at 11pm before you go to bed, trying to find it.  There wasn’t anywhere in the house that obviously had any water leak.   I formed the view the leak was outside.  What followed was is rather frustrating.  We had a British Gas appointment to check the boiler anyway, and they provide plumbing repairs and quotes, so we asked them to also ‘check the plumbing’.  The guy who arrived thought he was only here to find a plumbing issue, Greté managed to get him to do the boiler service, and he agreed he thought the leak sounded like it was outside in the mains pipe.  He had another guy come the next day, from Dynorod (who I think British Gas own) to confirm that, and he did.  There was some confusion that included being told if we signed up to the extended home care agreement it would cover the problem.  So we signed up.  We them had an appointment scheduled for many weeks later for Dynorod to come and ‘find the leak’.  However, before that occurred, Dynorod called us to say it wouldn’t be covered because the cover only covered internal pipes.  Many furious conversations later didn’t provide any progress.  I then called our insurance company, but their ’emergency cover’ line told me because I’d already had a plumber look at it, they wouldn’t cover it, even though they literally just listened to a pipe.  Our regular buildings insurance doesn’t cover it (most likely) because it’s wear and tear.  But they advised us to ring Severn Trent first anyway, which we did.  About three weeks had passed now, with the sound of water leaking in to the ground present in the house all the time.  We also asked Dynorod to come and quote in case we needed them to do the repair.  A lovely lady at Dynorod rang us the day they were supposed to be here, to tell us they were running late and to berate us for getting them back when they said it wouldn’t be free.  I explained we were getting them back to quote, and that if they didn’t arrive soon we’d have to go out.  She told me she could quote and we never needed them to visit anyway, at which point I was pretty pissed off.  So, anything from £700 to £2000 depending on where the leak is, but that’s open ended if access proves hard.  Meanwhile, Severn Trent have now been twice, once to confirm it’s a leak (sounds like it), and once to put a boundary box outside the property, and a meter to measure the rate of loss.  Now however, upon ringing them today, they’re not sure what’s happened, who we may or may not be passed to, and what the status is.  So several weeks after first hearing the noise, we can still hear it, and there’s water leaking in to the ground somewhere between us and the mains.  It’s like water torture for real.

In Tesco car park, sometime in the last two months or so, it’s a blur, I was slowly reversing out of a parking bay when someone drove in to the back corner of the car.  Their passenger side front corner impacted my passenger side rear corner.  The insurance company didn’t even bother debating it, I was reversing so my fault.  I would maintain I checked, it was clear, I reversed slowly, and someone travelling too quickly drove in to the car.  However, I’m now £300 worse off (excess) and we’ll see what it does to the premium.  First insurance accident claim we’ve ever made, since Greté started driving in 1997ish.  Not a big deal, but I’ve never had to deal with car insurance companies, and my natural ‘must follow the rules to the letter’ behaviour gets in the way when those rules are fucking unclear and contradictory.  Just another spoon theft I don’t need.

Fizz has been unwell for a few months now.  She had full on heart failure a while back and we got to her to the vets and essentially saved her life.  Since then, we’ve been extra vigilant, as you might imagine, and are managing her thyroid issue, and several other conditions.  Over the past month though she’s had another serious health scare, and a couple of periods of extreme lethargy, including yesterday.  We felt we might lose her overnight, but this morning she seemed brighter.  We took her to the vets at 6pm today though, to be safe, and they’ve kept her in overnight for more tests.  She may be anaemic which has many possible causes.  She’s 16, and we’ll need to think carefully about how we manage her quality of life in the face of any new challenges.

Work is bitter-sweet.  There’s some good news coming for me personally, a new challenge, new opportunity, but it’s amid a complex, ego-driven, murky, cost-saving-focussed organisational battle.  People are burning out, and being burned out.  I look around and wonder if this is what failing organisations look like, but we refuse to believe it.  Or maybe I’m just more exposed to it now that I have an increased level of involvement in senior management.  Who knows.  I still manage to leave it behind when I get home, for the most part, which is a bonus over the job I had before, and some days it’s so terrible it’s truly funny and easy to rise above.  But I hate when people suffer, and I see a lot of suffering, and some days it saps energy I need to use to be taking care of Greté and the shit above.  When work consumes too many spoons, the balance is broken.

Greté continues to suffer at the hands of the DSS, in parallel to suffering at the hands of her health issues, one of which is literally suffering of her hands.  Around this time last year we got the regular invite to fill in the WCA form, which we duly did, and we waited.  We got an appointment in January for the face to face assessment,  and then last minute it was cancelled.  Apparently, they didn’t have ‘anyone with the specialist skill required to assess her’.  Okay, at least they were honest.  We waited for a new appointment.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally in September, we received this,

Your appointment at 2.45pm on Thursday 17th JANUARY has been rescheduled for Monday 16th of SEPTEMBER

Literally nine months.  Greté called them on the Friday before to ensure the recording equipment was available as instructed, to be told that it was being rescheduled because they’d got the booking wrong and hadn’t lined up a doctor.  For. Fucks. Sake.  They moved it to October 8th, making it nearer to ten months since the original invite and pretty much 11 months since we’d filled in the original WCA.  In that eleven months, Greté’s health has gotten worse, and medication has changed, and and and …

Anyway, we attended, the assessment went ahead, the audio recording equipment (actual C90 tapes) failed just over half way through but we got through it.  Ultimately, on October 24th Greté received the notice that she’d been placed (kept) in the ESA Support Group.  That’s the group that means you do not need to seek employment to continue receiving the ‘benefit’.  No indication of when that will be reviewed next, when we have to start that whole dehumanising process all over again, but it’s done for now.

Tragically, we won’t soon forget the date Greté got that news (which is bitter-sweet in and of itself).  It was also the day we found out that our dear friend, Lynda, had passed away overnight.

We’ve known Lynda for a long time, and I’ll keep personal details out of this entirely to maintain her dignity.  She lived with and in-spite of multiple serious medical conditions, she gave no quarter, she smiled and never stopped.  She didn’t fight her illness, nor lose to it, she rose above it in life knowing the inevitable conclusion.  We will miss her forever.

None of these issues individually are unmanageable.  Some are tragic and heart breaking, some are annoying, some are frustrating.  But at the same time, grouped together, with some of them being a constant nagging worry / fear, sapping energy and spoons, they’re impacting both mine and Greté’s mental health in ways neither of us need.

We’ll be okay, we’ll get through.  I have a good credit rating, there’s equity in the property, the vets are looking after Fizz, and we’ll be able to handle anything which transpires, but fuck me it feels hard sometimes.

Houses, and sleeping and gardens and grass.

WillowTreeI am so tired all the time at the moment, it’s just insane.  I think I’m getting plenty of sleep, despite the heat, but the driving lessons are just screwing with our routine, and myself and Greté are all about the routine!  Driving seems to wear me out as well, even if it’s just the 30 minute drive home, so by the time I sort food and then settle down I’m knackered and just want to sleep.  Everything else is taking a back seat – including the garden which is now officially out of control again.

GrassWe’ve half managed to stay on top of the grass, and I actually did get rid of a patch of moss on the front lawn and get it replaced with grass (which now looks nothing like the rest of the lawn, obviously), but otherwise, the borders have gone crazy and the grass is patchy and full of weeds.

Despite that, we’re loving the wildlife in the garden – we’ve got pigeons nesting in our tree (which we were thinking of cutting down until we saw the nest), we’ve got dragonflies the size of small birds, and when I do cut the grass I’m often picking up and moving frogs out of the way.

FlowerSadly, the snails and the slugs eat just about anything we put in the ground, and they’ve worked out how to climb up the side of the water bucket thing and are eating the lilies and their flowers.  I can’t feel too angry at them, since they’re officially wildlife as well, but sometimes I wish they’ve give the stuff we plant a chance.

The sudden bout of insanely hot weather is doing the garden some good, drying it out after the first half of the year and the willow tree is really flourishing.  There are ants nests all over the bloody garden as well, and what used to be a flat lawn is now a small mountain range!

WoodBeforeOn the house, we noticed toward the end of March that the window sill on the outside of the bedroom window was warped, and we got a joiner to come and quote for a replacement.  He was great – except we had to chase him about 4 times for the quote, and then it took him 8 weeks to come and do the work (he kept pushing us back due to other stuff).  We got him to pull down the woodwork between the bedroom window and the downstairs window as well.  The brickwork behind it isn’t bad but it needs re-pointing.  £315 for the pleasure of replacing a single wooden window sill, and taking down the rest of the wood.  Could have done without it, considering how much I’m spending on driving lessons, but there you go.  The joiner also thinks we’ll need all the window frames treated, so we’ve asked a guy to come over and quote for that too.  That’s the royal we, obviously, since Greté actually sorts all this stuff out for us, I don’t.

WallAfter We’ll need to try and remember which bricklayer we used for the re-pointing last time and give him a call as well.  Looks like the previous owners did some ‘repair work’ with their normal quality.

I have a question, does anyone have any idea what the following bugs are?  They’re in the willow tree, and there’s loads of them.  Nearly every leaf has what looks like a tiny one underneath curled up, or larger ones moving around.  They’re black with a shock of red and they look spiky!

EDIT: They’re ladybird larvae.  Awesome.

Bug
Bug2
Bug3

And lastly, here’s Bubbles enjoying the shade offered by the willow tree (which made me very pleased we’d planted it).

WillowBubbles

And here’s our pigeon.

Pigeon

The Good, The Bad and the Brick Work

A day of two halves.  Our car is dying.  I hate cars.  You know that if you’ve read more than 2 posts on this blog.  I hate them and they hate me.  We can’t afford to buy into owning one at the right level where you can trade them in at the end and get another, so we run them into the ground, end up paying over the odds for maintenance and then manage to scrape together enough money to buy a new one when they die.

So here we are again.

However, in good news, the guy a friend recommended came around today and fixed our brickwork.  Let me tell you, it’s a weight the size of Everest off my shoulders, dampened only by the news of the car (which we got today).

This is how it used to look.

This is how it looks now, with some before and after shots at angles that will make your eyes bleed.

Frosty Brickwork

Been a while since I posted about the house and the garden (well, technically it’s been a while since I posted about much at all).  Anyway, in March I moaned about some stuff.  One of those issues was the brickwork around the base of the house.  A nice gentleman posted a comment which I took seriously.  We actually got the plumbing in the bathroom sorted out first, because it was easier.  However, we asked around some friends for builders / brickies they trusted, and one of them popped around yesterday and confirmed it is frost damage, and it’s not a big job for him to fix.  He’s sending us a quote.

There’s no way I’d have the confidence to fix it myself, and we need some re-pointing doing as well.  One of the bricks is partially under the path so we’ll need some cold tarmac as well.  Anyway, pleased we finally started the process of getting it sorted – he suggested once he’s fixed them up we coat them with silicon to keep the frost out.

Here’s the before shots so you know what frost damage bricks look like, and so I can remember how bad it was after we get them fixed.

 

Sofa Bed


So it took Bubbles about 40 minutes to find the bed … I’m sure she’ll enjoy using it almost as much as we do 😉

As you can see, the sofa colour is cream which fits well with the original bright orange carpet and the orange, green and yellow curtains.

/grin

Close Encounters of the Fi kind

Visitors next week (ish) and then Grete’s folks at some point in the near future (ish) means another excellent excuse to do some house sorting. Bought a set of ladders today which will get us into the loft, so we can finally box some stuff and permanently hide it out of the way.

Onward …

Is this the floor I see before me?

The title won out over ‘I fought the floor and the floor won’ but only just.

It’s true. In the back bedroom, we can see the floor! Anothercar load of stuff (can you believe it) going to the skip tomorrow. Stuff tidied away, put under things, in things, on things and around things, until we can see the floor. There’s still a mound of stuff to go to the skip, and a bunch of books to go to the charity shop, but we’re getting there.

So it begins

Full car load of stuff just went to the local tip. Several black bags of paperwork, old casette tapes, boxes, bags, boots, magazines, etc., etc., etc. The back bedroom is looking MUCH clearer. Still full mind, but a hell of a lot better than it’s been since we moved in. There’s a serious risk of being able to see the floor in all 3 bedrooms *at the same time*.