We have moved at last! The date of writing is Thurs. 19th September, but we will not have Internet access until Tues. 24th, when hopefully I shall be able to publish this, and any subsequent posts during the coming days. [Now posting on the evening of 2nd Oct.]
I worked absolutely flat out for three successive days – not a good move in my state of health but unavoidable if we were going to be ready for the removal men at 8 a.m. on Monday 16th. I am now suffering the consequences with a great deal of muscle and joint pain but fortunately not the overwhelming and paralysing fatigue that usually accompanies payback after overdoing things – I think I am still running on adrenalin! The past couple of days I have factored in some rest time and this afternoon did very little but watch TV and doze.
The move went without a hitch. The firm sent two vans and a team of five strong young men who were very efficient and careful – nothing went missing and so far we have discovered no breakages. Two medium sized vans are better than one huge pantechnicon in our neck of the woods with the narrow country lanes.
It was a very busy day and they didn’t finish until mid-afternoon. We had labelled all the furniture and the boxes still remaining to be taken over with the room of their destination, and a few days before the move, I labelled the door of each room with a post-it note so they knew which room was which. In each room I put a rough plan of where each item of furniture was to go. All this advance preparation was extremely helpful and enabled the move to be efficient and straightforward.
When packing banana boxes, I listed the contents on the side of each one and when my hubby brought them over, I asked him to stack them with the list at the front so I could easily see what was in them. This helped immensely. However, my hubby only labelled his boxes with the destination room and no list of contents, and before the move, when we needed to find certain things that were already packed, it involved going through dozens of boxes to find what we wanted! You can imagine what this was like with his garage stuff – he packed everything and marked all the boxes “garage” so when I asked for a specific tool for a job, it took about an hour to find it. The only problem I have experienced with my system is that every time I want something from a specific box, it always seems to be at the bottom of the pile!
Our move has been complicated by the continuing presence of the builders, although the entertainment value is worth a guinea a minute, and I shall really miss them when they’ve gone! I have spent more time over here than my hubby, and have got very accustomed to having them around, making cups of tea and sharing banter and laughter.
Bedroom 1 is absolutely full of stuff. The removal men had to put most of its furniture in there because there wasn’t room on the landing for more than a couple of pieces, and the rest of the room is full of Paul’s tools and equipment, stacks of tiles, my new bath, radiator and other bathroom things, while he completes work on the bathroom. This means that at present I am camping out in the annexe, living out of a suitcase and unable to find the things I need – with the weather suddenly getting cooler I was in need of some warmer clothes and it was a struggle to find the right box as most of my personal stuff is scattered around the house in different piles of boxes. My ARTHaven is just a dumping ground at present, and it’s quite hard to get in there! I can just about plough a narrow path to the desk, which is important as there is some office stuff to attend to, but as for getting my ARTHaven up and running, that has to be bottom of the list of priorities at present.
I am really jealous of my hubby. His two rooms are now more or less unpacked, and early on, he even unpacked his teddies. I don’t even know where my teddies are…
Various things have been happening over the past couple of days since we moved. First of all, the Sky engineer came and set us up – I am extremely impressed with Sky, who offer a home moving package where they transfer you from the old to the new house, and provide new equipment (dish, cables etc.) as required, all absolutely free of charge! They were also prepared to come on the day I specified, and on my choice of either morning or afternoon. However, when it comes to the phone and Internet, it’s a different matter – because BT owns the infrastructure, our connection to the system has to be at BT’s convenience, and they couldn’t provide an engineer until a week after we’d moved! Says it all, really, doesn’t it.
Once we are connected to the Internet we shall have such super-fast speeds that we shan’t know ourselves. I read recently that people in rural areas were complaining that they were only achieving speeds of about 4 Mbits/sec. Four!! We have had to be satisfied with 1 or less. On the fibre-optic system we will have access to in the town, we should expect to get speeds of between 30 and 40! We’ll be getting our downloads yesterday.
My hubby arranged for an aerial specialist to call, and he checked the system and proved what we’d thought – that this was just another example of cowboy wiring and nothing worked properly! It is all now connected up correctly, and after buying my hubby a cheapo freeview box, he can now watch TV in his study. We are going to get another for his other room. Mum’s TV is now all ready for her to watch when she arrives.
I am getting a little concerned about her coming as soon as the 28th, as I haven’t even made a start on sorting her annexe, which is at present full of our stuff because I can’t access various parts of the house owing to the builders’ presence. I had hoped to have a few days of rest and peace and quiet before her arrival, but now it will be pretty amazing if I actually manage to get her annexe half way straight before she comes.
The engineer called yesterday to fit my stairlift, but the call had to be aborted because the straight rail would not turn the corner at the end of the hall in order to go up the stairs. The engineer was quite annoyed because he said the salesman should have spotted this problem and ordered a rail in sections, and he had to go away without fitting it, and it will now be done on Monday. This is a major bore, not just because I could do with the energy-saving benefits of the stairlift, but I am not putting everything back under the stairs only to have to get it all out again, and the place is cluttered up with even more stuff than necessary.
Our electrician has installed a fused spur switch on the outside of the understairs cupboard and said all they needed to do was drill a hole on the other side and run a cable inside the cupboard behind the bottom stair to bring the power to the wall side of the stairs where the lift will run. However, the engineer said (get this), “We are not allowed to drill any holes”! How can they fit a stairlift without drilling any holes? The rail has to be mounted on brackets all the way up the stairs for starters! He said there was too much risk of hitting a cable or something, and proposed running the cable from the fused spur, along the surface, on top of the stair carpet on the bottom stair! How utterly ridiculous. This morning I asked Andy to drill a hole for me, and he did so, but said he resented doing their work for them – if they are employed to fit a stairlift, they should do it properly and not expect customers to get in third-party contractors to do half the job for them! He said I should charge them £10 for having to do this ourselves! I said that if they give me a £10 discount, I would certainly give it to him! (When the Sky man came, he had to drill a hole in the wall of our house in order to screw in a bracket to hold a strap to brace his ladder. It seems nobody can be trusted to use common sense any more to do the simplest job. Andy said I should insist he fill the hole afterwards or water would get behind the rendering and it would crack off if it froze. He said they always cap the hole so that any subsequent Sky engineer who needs to examine the dish in future can use the same hole.) I am so sick of this nanny state we are subjected to. One day they’ll say they aren’t allowed to climb ladders at all, in case they fall off and hurt themselves.
Not only can I not access any of my personal stuff, but the kitchen is not fully operational yet because all the contents of the utility room have been cluttering the place up, preventing me from getting to my food cupboard (not that there’s much in there yet!). Today, after Andy finished some more work in the utility room, I was able to put the cleaning stuff in the cupboard under the sink, and put my first load of washing on this evening. Everywhere I look, there are things I want to do, but am prevented from doing so by ongoing work, or waiting for certain things to happen. It’s very frustrating, and I can’t even use the time to get Mum’s annexe sorted because there’s so much of our stuff in there, and I’m camping out in there too.
The sitting room is my only refuge really! It’s cluttered with some remaining boxes, and the fact that my original furniture layout clearly isn’t going to work, but until the hall is clear of understairs cupboard stuff, I can’t move the table from the sitting room to the hall, and until that’s gone, I can’t move the second armchair into the bay window. It’s like one of those little puzzles where you have to move the squares around, with only one space, to create a picture.
Amidst all this chaos, we have two very confused kitties who are having to spend a lot of time in my hubby’s bathroom. We are letting them have the run of the house during the time the builders aren’t around – we can’t risk them letting them out into the garden, especially as my hubby can’t kitty-proof the perimeter until the garage is secure. They were very confused and clearly upset on the first night, but they seem fairly content in the house now – it’s amazing how quickly they settle. However, we’ve been having problems getting Phoebe to use the litter tray and not anything else she takes a fancy to – I am determined that we don’t get into the pattern we had before, where she peed on the landing carpet at the first sign of stress… When we let them out, they are very clingy with us, and full of affection and purrs. Today Phoebe was playing, which is a good sign that she’s more settled, and of course Beatrice is enjoying doing what she does best – being nosey.
Anyway, to practical things – the building work is progressing well. Here are some pictures from the past few days, starting with the bathroom.
Paul has now more or less completed the tiling in the main part of the bathroom.
Here he is constructing the counter. On the right, between the window and the arch, my counter-top basin will be installed, and the bathroom cabinet mounted on the wall above. You can see the electrics installed ready for it. Under the rest of the counter will be some shelves for storage.
In the next picture you can see the basin placed in position, and progress being made, tiling around the arch. Paul has decided to tile up to a tiling bead about 4 inches in from the edge of the arch, which will make a nice feature, and solve the problem of what to do with the cut edges of the tiles.
The counter is looking great now that Paul has tiled it, and along its front edge. That’s as far as we’ve got with the bathroom to date.
Moving on to the utility room, Andy has been busy. He has installed the new sink. Before he went on holiday he was pretty fed up with B&Q because they didn’t have the smaller sized base unit in stock, despite it being a stock item, and on his return from holiday he was really annoyed with them because they still hadn’t got it in! In the end he bought one elsewhere, and the sink is now in, and working – in this picture it’s still got its green protective film.
He has installed some units in the back passage, which is really part of the utility room, through the arch. There is a wall unit, and underneath, two wall units mounted as floor units – he needed to keep them shallow to allow access, and this was an ideal solution.
Here is the base unit as it stands today, with its worktop. It doesn’t show terribly well in this photo (the space is pretty confined and it’s hard to get good photos) but the work top extends to the left of the unit, up to the boxed in pipe-work to the left, giving a bit more space and a corner for storing something or other!
To the left of the boiler, under the electricity fuse board, he has installed another 400 mm door to match (it now has a handle) to cover the electricity meter and various other rather unsightly bits and pieces. There is no bottom to it – it is hinged onto a piece of wood mounted inside, and the hinges are self-closing so it does not need a magnetic catch to keep it closed. To the left, you can see the bi-fold doors installed in front of the airing cupboard.
In addition to fitting the units and finishing the worktops etc., Andy also completed the airing cupboard today. In the next picture you can see him completing the construction of the first slatted shelf.
Here it is, installed in the airing cupboard. You can see the supports on the right for further shelves. Beyond them is a gap, into which he will install a hanging rail at the top, to enable me to air things on hangers rather than folding them onto the shelves. The construction of the shelves in our airing cupboard in the old house enabled me to do this, and I refined the design by asking Andy to install a short length of wardrobe hanging rail which I found lying about, complete with its fittings.
Andy has done something very clever which I would never have thought of – he has made each slatted shelf so that it is removable – “in case,” as he said, “You want to wash the elephant – you will need room to air him.” How thoughtful!
The next job was to assemble and suspend the airer in the back passage. Here is Andy, with Chris looking on, wrestling with the airer, installing the slats into the cast iron mountings.
He and Chris had a long discussion about how to pass the ropes through the pulleys in order to hang it correctly. The airer came complete with instructions but unfortunately (like many other things) the instructions seem to have disappeared, and they were trying to work out how best to do it. This morning Andy was very shamefaced and said he’d found them, but wasn’t prepared at first to admit where – in his lunch bag “for safe keeping”! Paul said, “You prune!”
However, the instructions were no use at all. This is what that particular part looked like…
Somewhat less useful than a chocolate teapot. I am going to send a picture of this to the supplier and suggest they make some better copies of the instructions!
The airer finally installed. There is a double rope at the left hand end with which to pull it up, and a cleat to wind the excess around. I shall be trying it out as soon as my first washing machine load is completed. I have always wanted one of these old-fashioned airers as I’ve always loved them, and they work so well. Pulled right up to the ceiling, the washing shouldn’t impede progress along the back passage too much, I don’t think.
Finally, this is the state of the garage now. Here is Chris installing the lining panels over the silver insulation material. This is space-age technology – extremely efficient insulation, and we were teasing Chris and saying we thought he was making himself a space suit when he was cutting some rather curiously shaped pieces! This material will make my hubby’s man cave extremely comfortable summer and winter. It lines the roof too.
I will try and compose further posts over the next few days with more photos, and hopefully I shall be back online by midweek next week.