ramtops: (hat)

Regular readers will know that we had a woodburning stove in OldHouse. We left it there, as they are supposed to be attractive to buyers, but in the end the house went to a developer, who beat us down on price; we told him that we would accept his offer, but would be removing the woodburner, and had someone go in and take it out the next day and deliver it to us here, where it resides in the garage. Curiously enough, his solicitors mailed ours yesterday to ask if we’d consider leaving it for an extra £100. We scoffed, openly.

So I’ve been looking around for someone to fit it in here, a rambling Victorian terrace. We were going to do this before the autumn, but having our little Morso Squirrel back has cut the install cost by a few hundred quid, so we thought we might as well get on with it. Plus, as I type, it might be Spring according to the calendar, but it’s blowing a gale with sideways rain outside.

First call was to a chap who advertised on Gumtree. He came last Friday, and started out by saying that we needed to get the Building Regs people in to certify the chimney (never heard that before). He was a dreadful old woman, stayed for about an hour, constantly wringing his hands and repeating himself, and we got the impression he didn’t want the job. Which is fine – just say so, and leave.

He claimed that our nice fire surround was slate, that he probably couldn’t get it out without breaking it, that he’d need *everything* taken out of the room, and all in all just seemed to make an enormous fuss about everything, He said he’d e-mail me a quote (although he omitted to ask for an e-mail address, which I pressed upon him), and that he would send it this week as it was a bank holiday weekend. We’ll see, but he’s going to pad the quote, I’m sure of it, and if he works as slowly as he surveys, he’ll need a fortnight.

Next up was a youngish bloke, who claims to do sub-contract work for various fireplace showrooms. He came on Saturday morning, on his way to a bike rally, and certainly seemed to know his stuff. He looked up the chimney and said it didn’t need sweeping, he said the lintel was resin, and was no problem to remove and put back, and quoted us £470 without the cost of lining the chimney, which he doesn’t do. We want it lined, so he said he’d put us in touch with someone who did that, and the HETAS cert. Not heard so far, but he was pretty good.

After that, I talked to a company called Ecofit in Pontefract, who were the only people to respond to an ad on mybuilder.com (which seems useless these days, to be honest). He phoned me and asked some questions, and then rang back 40 minutes later with a price of £1,250 (not clear whether that was VAT included or not). I have no intention whatsoever of employing someone to do that sort of work who can’t be bothered to come and do a site survey – how can they possibly price it without knowing what’s properly involved? So they’re out the window.

And they we got our mates John and Paul, the self-named Dead Popes, to have a look. They had the nous to pull the carpet back, revealing some lovely original tiles for the hearth, worked out where the chimney went, had a look at the upstairs chimney for me as well, and this morning quoted me £300 plus the cost of a register plate (because, despite their assurances, I want a lined chimney). So that’s where the work will be going – always been happy with their services in the past.

All I need now is to find someone to drop the liner down a very high chimney – how hard can it be?

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (hat)

Pete called up to me that there was a “flood in the dining room”. This seemed … odd, but I went down to have a look. And indeed, there was. The hose coupling wossname on the pipe from the outside tap to the water butt we use for fish water had come apart, leaving the tap on full, and the hose pointing at the patio doors. Which were open.

It’s *amazing* how much water a tap can produce in half an hour, and of course as it was coming through a hose it sprayed everywhere. The mat by the patio doors is utterly sodden, and is currently draped over the aforementioned water butt. The cheap but large Ikea rug under the dining table is also sodden, and is now draped over the back yard wall – I doubt it will recover, to be honest.

We moved all the furniture into the living room end, and I mopped and mopped the floor, then dried it with a towel. We also dried off bookcases, wine racks and other sundry wet items of furniture.

Thank heavens the weather is warm and sunny, and forecast to stay that way for a while. Pete was wet through, but he changed his clothes rather than be draped over something outside.

We’re now going to go out for a sandwich, as I don’t want to keep walking on the wettish floor through to the kitchen.

[edited to add]
As a friend points out, if we’d been out the patio doors would have been closed. So it’s a shame we were in, really.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (hat)

Downstairs of our house is almost finished – needs shelving, new floor, new window, but other than that, it’s done. It looks lovely, it looks .. grown up, somehow, which is not like us. The bathroom looks a tad post-apocalyptic, but we know where we’re going with it, and it will be really nice when done.

But the bedroom and study. Oh dear. We have Too Much Stuff, and the bedroom has been a bit of a junk room since we moved in, and I just hate it. There are three huge boxes of vinyl records in there, waiting for Pete to rip them to MP3, together with his Manticore Mantra turntable and his Moth record cleaning machine, but none of this has been touched for years, because there was no access to a powerful enough computer anywhere near where they lived. The path to the door from his side of the bed was narrow, and paved with obstacles, though my side is OK.

The room is difficult – the chimney breast isn’t quite centred, there are two lovely tall windows where the sun floods in, but their sills are low so we can’t really put anything in front of them, and indeed Pete likes them like that. One window is only about 25cm from the corner, so we can’t put fitted wardrobes down the obvious wall. It’s all a bit difficult to plan.

The study has also become a bit of a dumping ground, and I don’t find it a very sanguine working environment. Pete is less fussy than me, of course :) I walked into the bedroom yesterday afternoon and something just snapped – I felt I had to at least get it tidied up, and had a bit of a rant about all the clutter, and how I hated the rooms being “studenty”. Pete responded with “well, I don’t want them sterile”, which caused a bit of a frosty moment, because I worked really, really hard on downstairs, and didn’t think it was remotely sterile, so a bit of back pedalling and clarification was done!

We started measuring things, and discussing things, and after a fair bit of hard work, by 10.30 p.m. the turntable and cleaning machine are in the study, and they’ll be hooked up to my big Mac Pro which has oodles of processing power and disk space, for ripping to commence. I’ve set up a user account for Pete to do that. Space was made by firstly moving his big toolchest to somewhere more sensible, then moving the filing cabinet to where that was, beside my desk, thus creating the space for the record stuff. I tackled the bedroom – his big chest of drawers did fit where I hoped it might, beside the bed. The three boxes of records have been stacked up and an old curtain draped over them. I’ll construct one of the deconstructed shoe racks for the many pairs of footwear owned by a man who “doesn’t understand shoes”, but yet seems to have masses of them.

There’s still some work to do in the study, but we’re getting there, and the bedroom is a lot nicer – you can actually get a sense of space in there, as indeed you should, as it’s about 4m x 3.4m. Onwards and upwards – it’ll be lovely when it’s finished. As we keep saying.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (hat)

Gas usage for the past 15 months – the woodburner was commissioned on 24th December last year. It’s interesting to see not only how much less gas we’re using, but how much the bloody price of said gas has gone up.

quarter to metric units bill £
19 Apr 2011 2935.56 120.87
21 Jan 2011 4355.29 306.51
16 Oct 2010 1394.04 68.25
17 Jul 2010 1352.56 66.51
16 Apr 2010 5124.9 214.37

Mirrored from kestrel.org.


Jun. 24th, 2010 02:28 pm
ramtops: (hat)

We are plant sitting a couple of green monsters for Jane, who is about to depart to work in Sri Lanka; they wouldn’t really go as hand luggage, so we’re looking after them.

This one resides on the front window sill, where it can keep an eye on the comings and goings.

This one has today been bought a nice new terracotta pot, and moved to the bathroom, where we hope it will be very happy.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.


May. 17th, 2010 12:28 pm
ramtops: (hat)

garden after blitzingWe used to have a nice garden in Long Ashton – not huge, but south facing, with big patio and a fish pond that Pete dug. Here, we just have a rear yard, north facing, with high walls. It’s not very big, it’s not enhanced by the sodding palm tree that Gavin planted (so appropriate for an urban yard, don’t you think?, but the cats do like climbing it), and it was quite overgrown, which has of course just got worse since what has been passing for spring arrived.

It was getting hard to do anything out there – even hanging the washing out was a bit fraught – but every time we looked at it, we thought it was going to take ages, and somehow we just couldn’t make a start.

But yesterday, I suddenly snapped – I’d walked over to Aldi for some shopping, made a huge vat of meatballs for the freezer, and slumped for a couple of hours, and then just decided to go and make a start at about 3.45.  Pete came and joined me, and between us we emptied out all the old pots, scraped out the weeds from the cracks in the paving slabs (front and back), pulled up all the dead stuff, Pete laid two of the slabs Gavin had taken up to plant the aforementioned sodding palm tree (thankfully, he left them), and we rearranged all the Japanese Acers in pots that we’d brought with us (and the black grass, and the heuchera, and the gargoyle is now in place).  I also cleared up the empty wine bottles and jars that were stashed out there (they’re still stashed, but tidily now).

The compost bin is full, and four bags of garden waste are in the car ready to go to the tip, and the extraneous plastic plant pots went on Freegle, and are being collected in about 15 minutes (gotta love Freegle).

The acers will go in the ground, but it’s the wrong time of year, I think – we’ll do that November-ish when they’ve stopped growing. And I can plant some bulbs, and put something climbing against the walls and fences. And now there’s enough room to sit out, so I’ll keep an eye on Freegle for garden furniture, because the corner is a nice sun trap in the morning.

We have an outside light that can go up, we’ve moved the old table round the corner out of the way, and it generally looks a whole lot better. It only took 3 hours, too – lord knows why we left it so long :)

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (hat)

Saturday involved a short walk (5.68 miles!); we followed the old railway path, and then carried on mooching.  It was a lovely morning, and we just sort of kept going!  Came home and constructed a salad of chickpeas and tuna and stuff, and fell asleep on the sofa.  Badgers.

Sunday we were due in Thornton Le Dale, near Pickering, at 11 a.m. to collect the exercise bike I bought on eBay.  Again, a lovely day, so we decided to pack a picnic and explore the area a bit. So I heated up the oven bit of the microwave, and bunged in a couple of part-baked baguettes to bake, while I went and had a bath.  charredImagine my horror to come down to find a smell of burning in the kitchen, no control lights on the microwave, but the element still glowing red hot, and the baguettes in a somewhat charred state. I still can’t quite get over just how lucky we were – it’s not unknown for me to shove stuff in that little oven and go out, and the house could have burned down.

We bought the microwave from eBay on 16 December, and I have sent a Polite e-mail to the (business) vendor.  No response yet.

Pete hurtled up to Jacksons^H^H Sainsburys and purchased some wholemeal rolls, and preparations continued apace.  We took the rolls, a couple of apples, two Jordans cereal bars, and a rather elderly home made banana muffin, and a flask of tea.

Exercise bike duly collected, along with trampoline and gym ball, and we had a wander round Thornton – pretty little place, with a tiny market where I bought a pair of memory foam heel inserts for my shoes, as my left foot had a nasty stabbity pain – they were only a quid and seemed to work rather well.

From there, we went to Pickering – wandered all round the hilly town, climbed up to the Castle, which was closed (of course), and ate our picnic in the Co-Op car park.  Then home via Old Malton, where we had another wander about – must have done 3 miles or so in those trips.

On our return to Hull, we sallied forth to attempt to buy a new combi microwave – I use ours so much I didn’t want to be without it.  We found one in Currys; not something to get excited about, but Iggy does like to sit on the big silver box, so it was important that it was dealt with promptly.

We had a friend over for supper, and dined on moussaka, garlic ciabatta and salad, followed by plums with an almond sponge topping.  Lovely weekend, apart from the burning martyr element of it.  And now it appears to be going to rain for the foreseeable future, so it’s a good job we made the most of it, really.

p.s. the bicycle is really quite hard work.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (Default)

Pete in his Swedish hat
Originally uploaded by ramtops
We had some serious snow overnight, and it kept on coming down, so at 7.50 we donned walking boots, warm jackets and silly hats (and a stout stick, in my case) and set off for a walk. We don't often see this sort of weather in Long Ashton (BS41).

We went round Dawsons Walk, about - oh, 3/4 mile, I suppose, through the woods. It was lovely, although the snow was coming down sideways across the level ground before the wood.

We stopped at the baker on the way back for a hot pasty, which was a very good idea. Ron thought so to, and so had to be fought off.
ramtops: (elephant)
Before new carpet, we had floorboards covered, mostly, by a couple of cheap Ikea runners. This was not optimal for the Roomba, as it had a tendency to trip up at the edges of the runners, and thus the hall and the landing had to be done in stages, with strategic anchoring of corners with umbrella stands and kitchen stools and so forth.

But now I can set the Roomba going downstairs, put the guardian in the kitchen doorway, and he can zoom about the living room and hall with gay abandon, and then put himself to sleep. *Good* Roomba.

Similar goodness will happen upstairs, when he can do the hall and bathroom together.
ramtops: (Default)
Our weekend consisted of:
  • Show of Hands at the Fiddlers - almost, but not quite, spoiled by a bunch of six Hooray Henry types, who shouted conversations at each other all the way through the show, despite many people asking them to stop. My conversation with them was to ask them to be quiet, because we'd come to listen to the music, and if they wanted to talk there was a bar over there [points]. Their response was that they'd paid for the tickets, and they hadn't seen each other for two years, and thus they were entitled to catch up with news. Arses.

  • decorating with kittens - a tough job, but completed on time and without too much trauma. We also took up the bathroom carpet and deal with the horrors beneath - 30 year old linoleum held down with about 30 tacks per m2, which had to be either pulled out, or banged in with a hammer. The hall is now painted a sophisitcated shade of very pale grey, and we may have to move out, as the trauma of having it finished may be almost too much.

  • X Factor on Saturday night - *why* is the leprechaun still in there?, and Pub Quiz on Sunday with Pat'n'Dave (WANOLJ). We came fourth, which is not good - we aim for second (as the winners have to buy the prizes for the next time).
And all this with a filthy cold, thankyouverymuch.
ramtops: (bear straitjacket)
I just answered the door, and found a chap standing there.

Without bothering with any niceties such as a "good morning", he said:

"Compost for the garden?"

I tried desperately to parse this, but eventually had to ask if he was buying or selling. Selling, of course. I wasn't terribly impressed with his dog running loose around the garden, either.

p.s. No, thanks - we have plenty of compost already. In our compost heap at the end of the garden, which is affectionately known as Modo. The compost heap, not the garden.
ramtops: (Default)
Was mostly garden related. We pulled the huge reed out of the pond - we planted it about seven years ago (I think), and it has spread some every year, but this year went utterly mad, and almost took over the pond. It was nearly as tall as me, and making the garden feel very small, never mind about the poor fish.

I was dreading doing it, because I was sure it would rip the pond liner, but in fact it came out clean with a lot of tugging. It brought every other pond plant with it, though ... The roots were amazing - real wood rather than root in some places, and it had absorbed the bricks it stood on. [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger hacked it up with his trusty new garden saw, and we distributed it across 3 green bags, which we took to the tip yesterday morning, along with the plastic bottles and some electrical gubbins>.

On the same run, we went to Sainsburys to get them to recut the key they cut on Saturday, and to Maplins to get a replacement bulb for the fly zapper (2 for 1 - good deal!) that didn't work when Pete brought it home on Saturday. They had some garden solar lights on special offer at£14.99 so we picked up a box of those too. Then we called into the garden centre at Cleeve to pick up some new pond plants, as the poor thing was looking very bald, and the frogs couldn't get out easily. Also bought another heuchera and a lovely red sedum for the front garden.

Came home, did the garden lights and the pond plants, then I weeded all the patio pots, then cleaned the gaps in the slabs of weeds, while P attended to the front garden. Bada brought us a bird, which was kind. Still alive, so P rescued it and put it in next door's front garden, where she found it and brought it back again, so she was confined to the back garden for the rest of the day.

We decided to have an early night after all that, and just as we went out to check the duvet cover on the line, we felt a few drops of rain - which turned into a lovely shower. So we poured another glass of wine (for me) and an Oban for P, and sat under our huge patio umbrella enjoying the sound of the rain, and the wonderful fresh smell.

It was a lovely weekend apart from my horrid HORRID fall on Sunday morning. I went down to make a cup of tea just after 7 - Pete was still asleep - and when I'd made it, I put the laundry in the washing basket to take it down to the washing line. We have a steep garden, and there are steps down to the end where the line is, and a grassy bank. The steps were a bit overgrown, and so as I often do, I went down the bank. But the grass was wet, and me feet went out from under me just like in a cartoon. It happened in slow motion, as these things often do. I sat down with a very hard bump, and then felt myself go backwards and I cracked my head on the grass behind me. My glasses flew off, and I was really dizzy for a few moments. I'd heard P get up when I was in the kitchen, so I called him, but he didn't hear - he was at the other side of the house. I got up, found my glasses on the back of my head (!), and almost vomited. I was crying with the shock, and could barely get back into the house, I was so shaky. It's very tender around the base of my spine, and my head still aches a bit, but other than that I'm ok, but it really wasn't much fun at all. Oh, and this morning it feels as though I pulled a muscle in my neck, which is weird.


Apr. 23rd, 2008 09:28 am
ramtops: (ook ape)
Yesterday afternoon, there was a knock on the patio door. I went downstairs, and found a chap there, asking if we'd like to sell the Pajero.

Now the Pajero has been off the road for a few months, as it needs about £500 of work doing, and we a) haven't been able to afford it (never work for yourself - the cashflow can kill you), and b) we weren't in a rush anyway. It's probably worth about £1400, so we'd be looking to clear about £900 when we sold it. We went off and had a chat, and thought, if he'd pay us £750, that'd be acceptable - saves a lot of hassle, and we're very busy right now.

Then it occurred to us to wonder how he'd found it - our drive is at the back of the house, and the entrance is on a cul de sac. He said he'd been "driving round". But he wouldn't have "driven round" here - a cul de sac in a village.

We gave him the figure, and he - predictably - sucked air through his teeth, and went off to "phone his boss". He came back 5 minutes later, and offered us £200 for parts. We declined, and said we wanted a minimum of £550. He then informed us that "his mate in the business" had told him that it would cost £369 for road tax next year. Every six months.

So a shark and a shyster, certainly - but I'm still wondering whether it had anything to do with the break in next door. And I'm feeling ever so slightly nervous, because we sit here all day with the patio doors open as soon as the spring comes - the house is south facing, and becomes oven like otherwise.

plod visit

Apr. 19th, 2008 10:33 am
ramtops: (Default)
As I mentioned yesterday, the house next door is up for sale. The owners have gone - upped sticks to Americal, and the house has been empty for a few weeks.

Last night, the neighbour from the *other* side came round; she had noticed from her garden that the conservatory door had been stove in, and wondered if we'd seen anything.

This is a bit alarming - that house has no access to the back garden other than through the house, and neither has hers. So the perpetrators either came through our garden, and climbed over, or through the garden next door to *her, and across hers and climbed over.

We saw the plod arrived at about 7, and waited patiently knowing they would arrive to look at our side of the fence. They talked to Julie, and they inspected the empty house - but they never arrived to talk to us. Which surprised us somewhat.
ramtops: (cauli)
[livejournal.com profile] perlmonger and I cooked a charmingly retro supper last night, of brown rice and lentils. I wish we could say we donned sandals and kaftans while preparing and consuming it, but sadly no.

P is very good at dhal, and this one was delicious. I remain to be convinced about brown rice, but I'm too anti food waste to throw it away, and I have found a way to cook it where it's ok, if not delicious.

In keeping with the theme of the evening, we found an episode of The Professionals on the Tivo. Nostalgia ensued - what where those round soda syphons called? So many Capris! Great fun.
ramtops: (ook ape)
our neighbours went off across the Pond for the festive season - California, Colorado, Tennessee, and god knows where else. They left us a set of keys to the house, so we could pick up the post and so forth, and a key to Andrea's Mini - because the builders who did their recent utility room conversion had failed to organise the removal of the skip from their driveway, and they thought we could move it in there when it went.

on the Friday lunchtime before Xmas, we realised that the skip guys were unlikely to turn up, so we popped the car into the end of our driveway at the back. And left it there until yesterday morning, when we returned it to where it had been on the road.

imagine my horror when it was gone this morning - could they be back without telling us? Or had some bastard nicked the bloody thing? Thankfully while we were making lunch today, Matt turned up in his car, and said that yes, they'd got back yesterday afternoon, but were too knackered to speak to anyone.

thank $deity - trying to explain to Inspector Knacker that the car had been stolen while we had a key was making me just a tad nervous.
ramtops: (Default)
well, not quite - and I will be writing up some stuff about 2006; I bet you can all barely contain yourselves. I hope you all had a jolly time.

we had a very quiet festering season, which is exactly what we wanted. We collected [livejournal.com profile] kalunina from Temple Meads on Friday afternoon, and apart from a brief foray to North Street for veg and brunch on Saturday, we didn't stir out of the house again* until we returned her to Bristol Parkway (why she used two different stations, lord knows). And we saw nobody apart from Pat and Dave (WANOLJ) who popped over on Xmyth Eve with some home made gifts of fudge and damson vodka.

mostly, we cooked and ate, as follows:
  • Friday: lasagne with embedded spinach, something that I tried once when we had some of the green stuff to use up, and it worked fabulously well. Just bung a load of fresh washed spinach in between the last meat and bechamel layers.

  • Saturday: lunch in cafe in North Street, boeuf stroganoff and chips for supper. I know, I know: chips. In my defence, it's Rick Stein's idea, and it works so well ...

  • Sunday was 24 hour roast chili and lemon pork. I was so looking forward to this - and I was all geared up to do all the fiddly stuff on Saturday night. But it was disappointing - very dry, and no gravy juices. Don't think I'd bother again. We had it with sweet potato/ordinary potato mash, which was delicious. And some sprouts.

  • The Day bought forth roast goose with apple sauce, red cabbage, sprouts, roast parsnips, roast spuds, home made sage and onion stuffing. All cooked as a team effort, dished up right on time at 3 p.m., and all perfect. I was well chuffed. We were far too stuffed for pudding, and barely managed anything else all day!

  • Boxing Day - cold cuts, including a gammon boiled and baked in spices according to the blessed Nigella, which was beautiful.

we also consumed home made sossidge rolls (go me), mince pies (dozens), walnut bread (go pete), grapes, and god knows what else.

tonight [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger is cooking his wonderful indian lentils with spinach - we've eaten *far* too well over the past few days, and we're both suffering from it :)

*actually, we did go for a walk down the part of the River Avon trail yesterday, but it was miserable and damp, and the cold got right into my joints. My arthritis really is bothering me right now, but hey ho.

now we're going to go into hibernation until NYE, when we will be holding our usual Open House. If anyone in the Bristol area (or further afield for that matter) would like to join us, drop me a mail to my LJ address, and I'll furnish you with details.
ramtops: (oh shit)
[livejournal.com profile] perlmonger has documented our delightful Wednesday here - I've had better days, frankly.

still, I'm finding the ripping of the vile blown vinyl wallpaper from the landing walls quite therapeutic, so I go out and do a bit of that from time to time.

ding dong

Jun. 22nd, 2006 11:13 am
ramtops: (alcatraz door)
do I *look* like a home storage and delivery service?

so far this morning, we have had a chap knock on the door with a box containing wine from Virgin Wines - this for no 19. Why they can't do what we do, and support the local off-licence (which is very, very good) I have no idea.

we've also had ANC deliver a box for no 22 - no idea what's in it, but it's marked as fragile.

we are going out this evening, so I shall have to keep nipping (or popping) out to check when these people are home. And cardboard boxes in this house tend to get widdled on by cats, so these deliveries are currently in front of the freezer in the shed, meaning I can't get to it.

I've often thought that there might be some mileage in somebody starting a home collect service that worked in the evenings - delivery to a local depot, then the punter could go and pick stuff up. But I suppose there would be problems with credit card authorisation and stuff. If it were that good an idea, I guess someone would have done it.

in the meantime, could somebody move those boxes for me?


ramtops: (Default)

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