Apologies for the long gap since the last blog which was uploaded on 3 February. Those suffering withdrawal symptoms should seek medical attention. Or get a life. At least one person out there cared enough to e-mail to check that I was OK. I guess the lack of blogging has been due partly to being very busy with a lot of stuff happening, and partly to being overwhelmed by the Grey.
I’m in the process of having a new gas fire which has meant major disruption verging on chaos. It began on Friday 4 February when the Corgi man removed the old fire and expressed surprise that I was still alive. Seems that the vent from the back of the fire wasn’t connected to the flue and the slot to make the connection had in any case been crushed. It was concern about the safety of the fire which led me to decide to replace it so it was encouraging to know that despite the huge cost I had made the right call.
With the fire taken out and the prospect of the builder coming to knock a big hole in the wall on Monday I spent the weekend replacing dividing doors in the new open plan look we decided on when we had the new carpet a couple of years ago and moving most of the furniture into the front room. Very cramped but hopefully would limit the amount of dust getting into it.
Fat chance. The hole was huge because a new flue had to be fitted which would meet modern standards. Why is it that standards for gas and electricity installation change every time you blink? It seems that any gas or electrical installations fails to comply with ‘current’ standards after about 10 minutes.
The dust-creating part of the job was finished on Monday so I spent the evening cleaning up. The dust got everywhere throughout the house requiring dusting and hoovering and shaking. I shook the large curtains over the balcony to get the dust out but with the first one forgot to remove the metal rings they were hooked onto with the consequence that at 20.30 I was grovelling around in the garden below looking for them with a head-torch before I went out at 21.00 to meet Mike. I didn’t make the same mistake again.
Later that night Ruth and Tim e-mailed to say that after overnight snow it had been a good ‘powder-day’ for skiing on Monday. Well, I had had a powder day too. But it hadn’t been such good fun. There was a bit of construction work to finish on the Tuesday. And then more on Wednesday. Except by then it had been decided that the 5 foot by 3 foot hole in the garage wall wasn’t big enough and it needed to be another foot higher which meant that Wednesday was also a powder day.
Thursday I couldn’t take any more and escaped to Cardiff to meet up with a friend for mid-morning coffee and then, lunch being for wimps, a lunch-time coffee with more friends. And I booked my train ticket.
Friday and it was time to fit the new fire. Which went almost to plan. It’s nearly finished and it looks very good.
Now I can fall asleep in front of the TV easy in my mind that I won’t get gassed as I miss the denouement in the umpteenth repeat of Morse, or Frost, or Wycliffe or some other monosyllabically titled detective series.
In among all this chaos I’m in the throes of making three lots of claims which takes an inordinate amount of time and mental energy. I loath filling in forms particularly ones in which I feel morally obliged to get as good approximation to the truth as can be achieved. The first claim and attendant forms, as blogged about previously, is to overcome the hurdles put in place by the insurance company to stop me recovering the money I paid out when I was injured skiing in Canada. The second claim is to recover the cost of repairs when chunks of the chimney fell through the roof while I was in Canada. And the third is to recover from the FRSC the 25% of my retirement package lump sum invested in a ‘Secure’ Income Bond misappropriated by fraudulent activity. The amount involved eclipses the other two claims but the hoops which have to be jumped through are proportionally greater and the process takes considerably longer.
With the exception of Tuesday when the sun shone and I ate my dinner (‘lunch’ to Southern Jessies) outside in the garden, the weather has been unremittingly grey. It grounds you down. It grinds me down. Sometimes it seems to seep into your brain and cloak it in gloom, taking away enthusiasm and creativity
But it has not been all grey. There have been odd bright spots like the corner of the shelf in the loo where one of Ruth’s Christmas cacti has come belatedly into flower to the amazement of the two fish bought on a whim in the airport on Alderney. You can’t make this stuff up. The photos prove it.
And there have been bright moments like the geese panicking and rushing to get back to the farmhouse on the one occasion I managed to get out for a walk last week.
But it is nothing like the problems David and family have had. In the strong winds at the beginning of the week the fascia boards, guttering and seemingly half the tiles on the roof blew off their house and the insurance company refused to let a builder who was on the spot carry out repairs because they hadn’t sent out an assessor. The family dog was declared by the vet to have an inoperable cancer. Michelle lost her mobile phone. The washing machine flooded the kitchen and utility room. Then on Friday the gear box in the family car packed up for the fourth time since they bought it in October. Check it all out – http://sanctifiedrant.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/a-week-from-hell-or-was-it-heaven/
What do I have to complain about!!!
Oh! And that train ticket? I’ll be spending a good part of my time over the next couple of months house and cat-sitting for Ruth Tim up in St Ockport. I decided to travel by train because Arriva Trains Wales has reintroduced their ‘Club 55’ offer which means that as I have now passed my 55th birthday I can take advantage of it and by deploying my newly acquired Senior Rail Card I can travel anywhere on the network for £13 return. I don’t yet know where I will be when which makes it very difficult to organise anything.
And just to add to the uncertainty, I’m toying with the idea of going back to Canada in April to do a bit more skiing. Or to Greece for the Greek Easter which is something I would very much like to experience. Or to stay at home and make a stab at sorting the garden. Or to hire an industrial sander and sand the floor of Ruth and Tim’s house while it’s empty except for me.
That’s where I am now. But more about that at a later date.