A couple of weeks ago, I opened my washing machine at the end of a cycle, to find a weird curved piece of grey plastic, looking pretty manky and worn, lying on top of my washing. I have a service contract, so immediately phoned and they sent an engineer. He said he didn't carry that part on the van and would order it. I subsequently received a phone call to say that my machine was too old, and they no longer made that part.
However, they were prepared to give me a brand new machine, like for like, absolutely free - I had 4 months remaining on my service contract that I was required to pay off, and they would charge a delivery and installation fee for the new machine, and a small fee for removing and recycling my old one, but even so, all this was considerably less than buying a new machine.
I am not always a great fan of service contracts for a lot of things, because most things are pretty reliable these days and don't need constant attention (e.g. when we bought a new cooker, I didn't think it was necessary, and this has proved to be the case) but washing machines, especially washer-driers, have many moving parts and lots that can go wrong, and I have always found the service contract to be well worth having, as none of the call-outs ever cost a penny. The contract on the new machine is extremely good value compared with the old one, so well worth doing from the outset.
My new machine arrived this week, and it's awesome! It's a Hotpoint washer-drier as before, but has a much bigger drum and faster spin speed and other refinements like being able to wash in cold water, and it is actually slightly smaller overall than my old one (sort of washing machine Tardis). It is so quiet that to start with, I had to go back into the utility room to see if it was actually working! The bigger drum will prove an immediate advantage once we move into our new house. Mum sold her washing machine with their house and I shall be doing the laundry for the three of us, and it shouldn’t make much difference to the number of loads I have to do each week.
I am absolutely delighted to have it! I got my old one very soon after we moved here in the autumn of 1999 - it was on its last legs and didn't survive the move. A couple of months ago (the visits were becoming more frequent) the engineer told me that my machine was coming to the end of its useful life and would probably need replacing soon, and I did wonder whether it would go the way of the old one and not survive our upcoming move, but this no longer has to be put to the test!
The other thing I am in the process of replacing is our cordless phone system. I can't remember when we bought it (years ago, anyway) and again, it's on its last legs - half the time it cuts out completely and you get cut off, and it's generally not as good as the newer ones, the technology having improved. I wanted to get a quad set (1 base unit and 3 others) for the new house so that we could have the base unit in the hall, one in my hubby's study, one in my office/ARTHaven, and the fourth in the garage - they also act as intercoms, so that would mean I could call my hubby in for meals etc. without having to go outside and get him, in the pouring rain or whatever!!
I spent absolutely ages researching which one would be best to get, reading all the customer reviews, and eventually decided on a Siemens system which cost quite a bit more than I'd hoped, but it generally had the most good points. My hubby wanted one that he could access the answering machine messages remotely (we can't do that at the moment) which would be very useful when we move, because he will be working away from home a lot more, rather than living over the shop as it were.
I've now charged them all up and registered them with the base unit - something I couldn't get them to do to start with - the book isn't very clear, but I think the problem may have been that the registration process wouldn't work on a flat battery! I was tearing my hair over it, and about to ring up Siemens, but after a night of charging, all the handsets have registered OK. After being fully charged, they had to be left to discharge fully before being charged again, after which they will be ready for use. I think this is going to take a long time as the batteries last ages, especially in standby mode.
Also after a lot of online research, I have bought a call device for Mum. When she was living on her own she had a Piper alarm system, and if she were to fall or anything, she'd be able to press the button on her wrist, and it would activate the phone and call the centre, and help would come. Fortunately this was never necessary, but it did give us all peace of mind. When we are all in the new house together, she doesn't really need this because there will be someone in the house 90 percent of the time, and it does cost a certain amount per month, and I thought how good it would be if there was a similar arrangement that would "page" someone else in the house, rather than calling for outside help. I found an excellent pager, although the part with the call button is a lot bigger than her original one and she probably won't like it. My hubby and I tested it here at home, and it worked fine from the garage to the sitting room, and next time we go over to the new house I'll ask him to test it again, from Mum's annexe to my ARTHaven. It has the added advantage of having a vibrating setting as well as a sound, so if I've got my headphones on, I'll still be able to "hear" it. She can buzz me if she wants something, which should save her coming into our part of the house constantly. I just hope she's not pressing the wretched thing every 5 minutes lol!! It's also waterproof so she can wear it in the shower.
It's no good giving her a cordless phone handset to use as an intercom because she's so deaf, and also, if she fell, it would probably be out of reach.
So - we're gradually getting the technology sorted out for the new house!
Following on from my marvellous day with Andy at the house earlier this week, when we discussed flooring for my ARTHaven and the kitchen, my original plan of choosing the same flooring for both started to lose its appeal somewhat. The only advantage would have been a slight saving through cutting back on waste, but the problem was finding something that would be suitable for both. The pale wood boarded effect laminate which I liked at B&Q was not suitable for kitchens, and they had nothing else that I liked enough. Having a critical look through Howden’s kitchen catalogue, I realised that every single kitchen layout photographed had a floor covering that contrasted with the units. If I were to choose a light wood floor and it was identical in colour to the units (unlikely), it would look too samey, and if it were only slightly different, it would clash and still not look right. I therefore decided to ditch the idea of the pale wood floor in the kitchen and go for something different. Howden’s do a selection of laminate floors and I eventually chose one called “natural stone” and when I discussed it with Andy on the phone, he agreed that it was beautiful, and a very good choice; he also agreed with me that because the ends of the pieces are staggered, it is impossible to see where each begins and ends, giving the floor a completely seamless effect; it really does look like pieces of natural stone cleverly fitted together.
The slight greenish tinge is going to go well with the light olive green paint that I have chosen for the walls (with a slightly darker shade for the woodwork) and it looks particularly good with the light oak of the units. Andy tells me it is laid over a slightly springy membrane which gives it some resilience, and absorbs any unevenness in the existing floor beneath; in our present kitchen, marks started appearing in the vinyl a few years ago where it is not quite flat, but with the laminate, this should never happen, at least in our lifetime! This particular floor is, of course, suitable for kitchen use, and will withstand the level of traffic as it is on the way out to the back door from the house. Andy is going to pick up a sample for me from Howden’s, and also a sample of the light oak, and then my hubby is going to take me to the tile place so that we can choose the right ones for the kitchen splash-backs.
We are still going for the light wood B&Q laminate flooring for the ARTHaven.
My hubby has been very busy in the garden at the new house, too. He has cut the Leylandii trees right down to the trunks (he will need help to get them out) and says that the whole garden looks much lighter and brighter as a result. He consulted the neighbour on that side first, and then showed her the result afterwards, and she said, “Oooh! What a difference!” He also cleared a whole lot from behind the summerhouse, and brought back a trailer-load for a bonfire here. He is getting a friend with a truck to help with the rest next week. The old greenhouse has now been pulled down. It was a combination of greenhouse and shed and was pretty rotten. The space will make room for the new garage to extend further back into the garden. My hubby needs to discuss the garage further with Andy because the original plan is not quite long enough for his boat.
When he was at the house, he said that Chris had assembled the units for my ARHTaven and they were all upstairs waiting to be installed, which is very exciting. This can’t be done until the laminate flooring is down, but hopefully this will happen soon. If Andy can get all the units and shelves in place sooner rather than later, I can start unpacking my boxes (quite a few have gone over already) and start organising my new space in advance of the main move. This will give me something constructive to do while I am over there once the team is working full time; I need to be on hand as much as possible in case any decisions need to be made, and also so that I can take photos of the work in progress, which should advance at a good speed once all three of them are there full-time. I am pleased that a certain amount of work has been achieved in advance of this, which will also speed things up when the time comes.
I am actually glad of the delay because it gives us time to come to the right decision about a number of things before it’s done, and too late to change. We are also adding to the original job – something I promised I wouldn’t do, for Andy’s sake – but he said we weren’t to worry, everybody does it, and he’s quite used to it! He agrees that when you start a job, you don’t always know exactly what you want, and there are always extras. I am so glad he is so laid back about it, and I am also very glad that when the same happened on his previous job and it ended up taking much longer, he didn’t abandon that job in favour of starting ours on the previously-agreed date, immediately after completion of the purchase. If he had done that, I would have had little faith that he wouldn’t also leave us in the lurch. You hear horror stories of builders doing this all the time, and it is great to have found a builder with integrity. Having to wait a little longer for our job to get fully underway is a very small price to pay for this peace of mind! At least Chris is available to make a start, his part in the previous job being largely completed.
Still no sign of the scaffolding. Paul (the other member of the team) has chased up the scaffolding contractors and they should have the highways license from the local council by now, to enable them to erect it in the road at the front. Once this is done, work can commence on the roof. Andy has already ordered a skip.
I’m not sure when I shall next go over, but soon, I hope. If the weather holds, I shall go next time my hubby wants to do some gardening.