Monday, 28 January 2013

Living in between cardboard boxes

I'd like to say this is a 'before' shot, but it feels like it might be a 'during' and 'after' shot too. 

You never see Stevie's face any longer. If it's not at work, it's at the top of a ladder.

But here's mine. 
I feel like this move back into our old house is never ending. I've only just finished collecting stray leftover items from the 'holiday home' (as a friend named it, whose parents-in-law have spent longer on holiday in Australia than we spent in that house), and today (I'm hoping) I made my final visit to read the meters before we hand the keys back. I will be glad to see the back of that place.

Back in Derby we are floor to (nearly) ceiling in boxes, and progress in unpacking has been painfully slow. Stevie had managed to paint the kids bedrooms before we moved in, but hadn't got on to any of the downstairs rooms. The plan was to put everything in the living room while he pained the dining room, but we filled the living room in no time at all and the dining room has ended up full of furniture which Stevie has had to shuffle around in order to get the walls painted.

It's good to be back in our old house. It feels better. I feel more relaxed. I think it's less stressful knowing that a least if stuff goes wrong then that's our problem and we don't have a landlord to have to negotiate with or to deny there is a problem or whatever. Admittedly there is a lot of stuff wrong in the house at the moment, but at least I know that we can fix it and it'll all be nice again. Even if we are still living in amongst the boxes.

I had a plumber out to price up the jobs that need doing in the bathroom this morning. Multiple leaks under the sink, the freestanding taps behind the bath seem to have been rocked back and forward until they have come loose and now lean at an angle that allows water down the back and through a hole into the kitchen ceiling, and the shower has a leak that drips badly through the ceiling but handily waters an orchid in drips that sits underneath it.

The kitchen ceiling is in such a mess that Stevie reckons it's just as well we moved back in when we did as the ceiling is about to cave in. Luckily we have a friend who is a plasterer who is going to re-plaster the kitchen and the hallway and the dining room.

We keep coming across little problems here and there the more we start to live in the house. We seem to have been able to fix the oven door that was hanging off ourselves, but then when I went to use it I discovered the grill pan and insert were missing. I found the grill pan yesterday rusting in the garden and covered in mud, but the insert is still hiding.

I have been complaining too that I can smell urine every time I walk into the dining room. Nobody else seems able to smell it. But it has been driving me crazy. Sometimes I don't smell it, and other times it seems really pungent and disgusting. But still Stevie and the kids can't smell it. I even smelt myself! Today I finally located it. Turns out one of our tenants has peed behind the dining room door. I have no idea why as there is a toilet about a metre away across the hallway, but there's just another reason I'm not sure I can be bothered being a landlord again.

So there we are. A boring little update featuring packing, plumbing, plastering, painting, and ...peeing.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The landlord begs to differ.

Tenant: "I really want to make sure I get all of my deposit back"

Landlord Fiona: "Great! That's what we want too. We understand that you need that money for your next place. So as long as it's in the same condition as when we handed it over (allowing for normal wear and tear) there should be no problem"

Tenant: "Ha, ha, don't worry! I think it's in even better condition than before!"*

Because there's artwork on the walls in all the rooms...

We've added 4 water features in the kitchen...

We've enhanced the bathroom....

Cleaned the place from top to bottom...

And added money-saving features...

Landlord Fiona: ".... Really??? really??"

I may be a little quiet for a while. Not least because my head is about to explode from the number of square metres I've had to scrub over the past month, but also because I may be a little busy, you know, doing a few small repairs, cleaning, replacing, painting, moving, etc. And just to add a little drama, wouldn't you know Orla has a stomach bug and is off school. To give her her due, she did scrub the fireplace surround excellently, though I'd also like to take this moment to thank Apple for inventing the mighty iPad which managed to entertain her enough today to let me get one half of the kitchen cleaned.

Now I know why people in the UK buy instead of rent. The citizens are animals**. Either they let you move into their filthy wrecked houses and pay a premium for that pleasure, or they filthy up and wreck your house, leaving you to pay for the pleasure... ANIMALS!!!!!!!

I'm done with this 'being a landlord/tenant' business.

* His ACTUAL words!!!!
**Obviously, not all. Especially not the UK citizens that read my blog. I'm pretty sure you'd leave it sparkling like a wine glass from a Finish dishwasher tablet advert.

Monday, 7 January 2013

miniature disasters and minor catastrophes

Round robin's are not popular in my parent's house. They utterly hate them. "Here!" said my mum as she thrust 2 pages of A4 into my hand with a degree of force, "Read this. See what you think, but I cannot stand people rattling on about how marvellously well their lives are every year". Stevie thinks it's a uniquely Scottish thing; that 'hating seeing people do well for themselves' or rather maybe more that 'taking pleasure in seeing people's lives go wrong after they've enjoyed a bit of success'. I don't think it's that with my mum, but really just, well, I don't know. I don't think it's uniquely Scottish or even British, but I guess people can just sometimes not feel happy for people when things are going well, especially if they keep going on about it, eh.. once a year. No doubt it's got a lot to do with comparing it to your own life and feeling a wee bit like things aren't going quite as well for you. About not being happy with your lot.

I read it and I didn't hate them. I read it and I didn't even think that they were really 'showing off' about what marvellous things they'd been up to. Maybe I have been desensitised from reading so many blogs where people with perfect families are just having the time of their pretty, crafty lives where some new book deal or amazing sponsorship thing by Anthropologie turns up every second day, or maybe that's why my mum has no interest in the internet. I read it and it made me sigh and think, "My life used to be that good".

Let's face it, the return to Blighty has not exactly been a blast. Moving into a filthy, falling-apart yet ridiculously expensive house kind of took the shine off things, and then living amongst piles of boxes while we have waited on a cleaner's quote being approved for the whole of, well, to be honest we are still waiting. It's just not fun.

December was a pain. Aside from arguing our way out of our lease, I didn't seem to achieve very much by way of Christmas preparations. Stevie kept saying "leave it til next week" and I did, though god knows why I listen to him. It's always a mistake. So Orla got ill and was off school for ages and then just as she got better, Hamish got ill and then I got ill. That took us right up to the end of term. I felt so bad that I took myself off to the GP. I was suffering from something flu-like, but I knew I had a pretty bad chest infection as well, and normally they can't get away with just saying 'it's viral. There's nothing we can do'. Especially if you bring out your trump card - "I'm a diabetic". Usually that guarantees you some kind of medicine. The doctor listened to my chest and agreed that I had a chest infection but told me I just needed to go to bed. "But I'm a diabetic" didn't cut the mustard in this place. I blame the constant bombardment of adverts proclaiming that antibiotics won't help a cough or cold so leave the doctor alone. It seems that the doctors have finally noticed them and paying heed to their message.

So I left empty handed and two days later I ended up in hospital dotted with canulas. Or 'drips' for those of you who haven't spent as much time hanging around hospitals as I have. Turns out I really had needed an antibiotic after all. If I hadn't felt so angry I would have felt righteous. Mind you what didn't help was that when I got sent home from the GP's they told me to take ibuprofen for the pain in my chest, and given that it was in an as yet unpacked box and I just wanted to grab something and go off to bed to die; I grabbed the first box of ibuprofen I came across and decided those would do.

They were ones I bought in Germany, and I knew I should look at the dosage on them but I really didn't have the energy to be bothered translating the leaflet. So I took 2 and then 4 hours later when the pain hadn't  really been relieved much at all, I took 2 more. I continued this every 4 hours for 2 days, though by the first evening I had also started topping up with paracetamol because the ibuprofen just wasn't hitting the spot. So when I landed in hospital and they asked me what i had been taking, and followed up by asking me if I "had been feeling down recently". God, yeah! Well, the move had ended up being pretty stressful, and of course I had been worried about the kids settling into their new school, and well the house had turned out to be a total dump, and etc, etc, etc. But when they asked if I had "been feeling depressed for a long time", well I was a little taken aback. Hold on a minute, where are we going here?

Once it was clarified that they thought I was a suicidal chest infection patient, and the first bag of saline which they were blasting through my system was actually an attempt to flush out the ibuprofen from my kidneys before it damaged them, they explained that taking 800mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours is quite a lot. Still... I felt a bit daft whinging on about our crappy move. Anyway, I spent a few days in hospital worrying that I wouldn't get out for Christmas and the kids wouldn't have any presents.

Honestly, when they have to put handrails up to help you hike up the hill, it's just plain wrong.

So far, January has been a breeze compared to December, but give it time. Guess what!? We're going to be moving house in around 2 weeks! Won't that be fun???? Sorry, I got the words round the wrong way. I meant, that won't be fun.
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