Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Easter Egg Hunt Tradition and the big tidy

Happy Easter everyone! Today we had the traditional hunt. The little man was so excited this weekend, his pre-school had been telling him the Easter bunny was coming. Every time he saw a rabbit in the garden he was overjoyed. A few times he even thought he saw some ears in the kitchen window from where the bunny watches to make sure children are good (pre-school not me telling him this, it sounds a bit creepy to me, not to mention bordering on bribery). The weather forecast was for heavy rain all morning but the morning was bright and dry.

As usual there were clues that lead from place to place, leading to the grand finale of a big egg. Baby girl was still a wee bit young to understand or get excited but the little man ran ahead found the treats and then gave one to his little sister.

We did decide on a builder last week. Just as we were about to phone one to let him know he had the job, the first builder reduced his quote. This is obviously good for us financially, but we also felt he was the more professional. Now it's the hardest thing to tell someone they haven't got the business, we found it very difficult. I appreciate tradesmen expect it, but the guy seemed so disappointed. Anyway, decision made and he'll be starting in the next two to three weeks.

It's been great timing as we've had the long weekend to try to take all of the stuff out of the third of the house that'll be demolished and condense it into the rest of the house. It is amazing quite how much junk we've accumulated in a few years. It is time to be ruthless, the charity shop will have bin bags full of goodies this week. As anyone who has been to my house in the last few months can attest, it is absolutely bursting at the seams. It is such a good feeling to be letting go of stuff that I don't need.

James has been tidying the garage to make room for some of our furniture, it's all getting to be a bit real!

Finally some pictures from 2015, look how baby girl in particular has changed.

and from 2014, she was hardly noticeable then...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Making the final decision on the builder.

I think we're at the point where we are ready to make a final decision on the builder to build the extension. It's been a bit of a pain in the arse to be honest. Having asked about six builders to quote, all recommend through friends, we've only got two people who actually managed to put a quote together. That's not ideal but I don't want to start asking people who weren't recommended to us to quote, it's so difficult to know what you're going to get with tradesmen as it is. 

One quote is considerably more expensive than the other (10k more), so the cheaper one it is. Once we give the go ahead the work should start about a month later than that, eeek! I'm starting to get nervous about the scale of the disruption and the costs involved, but onwards and upwards I suppose.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Creative times

This weekend started well with a lovely evening with friends doing some pressure canning. You can read all about it at Kev's blog. I can't wait to try the produce to see how the flavour stands up to the heat. This afternoon I had my canning book out looking to see what the next recipe will be, exciting.

The washing machine engineer didn't turn up on Friday, when quizzed they said they'd left an answerphone message. I pressed play and there was none. The machine will work with a smaller load but can't seem to spin the full load. To be honest at this point I can't be bothered with the fight, there are plenty more battles and I'll just have to only do small loads. The soft close door has broken on the oven so I rang John Lewis and they're sending someone to fix it on Friday. Generally John Lewis problems are problems you can fix, they were so easy to deal with, thank God.

Little man has been very poorly this weekend. On Friday he was under the weather and was sick after every meal. On Saturday he was feeling very poorly and was constantly sick. I had to pop to the pharmacy to get him some more paracetamol. Unfortunately within 30 seconds of being there he looked at me and said 'I don't feel well'. I turned around to take him out and he threw up all over the carpet tiles. I caught as much as I could but it was a bit of a wasted effort. I apologised profusely, they were so kind and wouldn't hear of me scrubbing the floor. I left alternating apologies with thanks, I won't be able to show my face in there for quite a while!

We stayed in for the rest of the weekend, wee man just lay on the sofa and watched TV all day. He needed to rest. James and I found a stash of wood that had been cut down by the electricity board and left to rot, on some abandoned land, so we hauled it home. Finders keepers we say.

Today a friend of mine took a trip to IKEA and bought us a cheap sofa bed after the ASDA disaster. We made it up and the cabin is all ready for us. On Friday the electrician is coming to certify the electrics and link it all up, so it will even have power.

We also made up a jig to make some hurdles for the back garden. The hazel that forms part of our boundry hedge was really flexible and has made some nice hurdles. In the next few weeks I'd like to dig over a bed, remove as much rubble from it as possible and sow some flower seeds. Keep those bees happy to pollinate my fruit and veg.

My seeds are starting to germinate too.

James had a friend to see him on Saturday night and he works for a big DIY chain. The shop was chucking some nail gun nails in the skip and said his friend could have them for a donation to charity. He then bought them round for James as he didn't own a gas nail gun. James is over the moon with his new collection of nail and gas.

We also found one of the chickens egg hiding spots, naughty girl!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Falling in love with Podcasts

I'm sure I've mentioned the fact that I'm driving a lot at the moment, between 3 and 6 hours a day to get to and from work. I am holding out hope this will reduce once I've finished training and I am on my own patch drumming up business. 

There are a few things that have made my drive more bearable, the first is Audible. I signed up to a 3 month free trial to their audiobooks and the one's that I've heard have been fantastic. They are literally someone reading an unabridged book to you, not like the audiobooks I had on tape as a child where the BBC seemed to act out a play on stage and you got a lot of inaudible or 'hammed up' rubbish.  It is relatively expensive though after the free trial as you can only download one book a month from them with your monthly subscription charge.

The other programmes I've listened to for hours are  podcasts. My favourites are History extra podcast, which is a UK history magazine. They have loads of historians and writers being interviewed and it is a more traditional type of history, broad subjects and famous events. They focus a bit more on British history, although not at all exclusively. 

The other one that I really enjoy is 'stuff you missed in history class', by That's an American programme, it had more obscure events, but things you've probably not heard as much about which makes it really interesting and the presentation style is different to history extra. It has two regular hosts who research an event or person and talk all about it. They tend to focus slightly more on US history, although like history extra they too talk about non-US events. If anything this is my favourite of the two.

Anyway, if anyone spends lots of time in the car or in a workshop etc, they're both fascinating and will make the time fly.

Any suggestions for new podcasts are appreciated, at the rate I'm going I'll be through both back catalogues in no time!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

More call centre woes and a good old burn up

This weekend we managed to get a few things done in the garden finally. We have been making piles of vegetation from the various jobs around the garden all year. Remember the incident with BT and their 'we couldn't possibly climb our pole to fix your phone line' fiasco? Well we've had a 6 foot high pile of Ivy made by the very helpful Western power distribution men hanging around. It finally got burnt, yay! Some yew that was overhanging the cabin and some leylandii cuttings went on the pile. We also burnt a whole host of wood pulled from the house in the last few months renovations. We even found the old gate that we replaced well over a year ago now and put aside for God knows what. As the burn up was so close to the cabin we very carefully kept the bonfire small but burnt things over the course of a few hours.

We also finally got some seeds planted, a bit later than normal but satisfying none the less. I have tried to be more choosy and not plant too much this year in deference to the busy schedule we have planned.

We had a guy come to quote for the damage to our front wall as the insurance company wants a number of quotes. Well neither of us took to him so we're hoping to get the builder for our extension to quote for it.

Talking about the extension, we're in the middle of getting quotes for the work. We had a builder all set that has been friends with James for many years. Unfortunately after months of asking for an official quote and repeated promises of bringing one round I decided enough was enough. He's had some sickness in the family so I think it's just too much for him at the moment and I can't help but think it's just too hard for him to say he can't do it anymore. So we're hoping it won't bring an end to a long friendship. We've asked for recommendations from friends and have had a number of people round for a quote. We've had one back and we're waiting for a few more to see what the going rate is. We had a good feeling about a few of the people so if they're not overpriced we'll choose 'the one' from amongst them. I am hoping for one guy in particular and if he's the one then I'll get him to quote for the front wall too. Someone may be recommended but if you don't like them you don't want to give them your hard earned cash. It's a balance between money and personality.

The washing machine I had last week to replace the old one gave up after 10 years faithful service is no bloody good. I rang who will only pass you to the manufacturer. It doesn't matter what the consumer rights websites say that your contract is with the retailer and not the manufacturer, you simply cannot speak to someone at AO. They said if Zanussi come and say it's broken they will replace it, otherwise tough shit (my words not theirs!). It's another fight to add to the ever growing list, one day you'll see me on the news having lost my cool (you may chuckle once again at the thought of me on the phone going tonto).