j4: (dirigible)
Ages ago I posted about things that needed fixing. Yesterday I finally finished fixing my suitcase (I've not exactly been very proactive about fixing it... I managed to saw the original rivets off a couple of months ago, and managed to find some screws a few weeks ago, and yesterday I finally got round to not only sawing up a small block of wood into two chunks into which the screws could go but also actually putting these elements together and finishing the job). So it's only taken me about four months to fix the damn thing, though I've used it in the meantime (it was fine as a suitcase, just didn't stand up properly). I'm really glad I've fixed it though: it only cost me £3.50 from a charity shop and I've now been using it for 4 and a half years so I think it's doing pretty well.

Last week [livejournal.com profile] addedentry's wardrobe fell apart (it was one of those cheap wood-frame-and-canvas-cover jobs, and the pole that holds the clothes was propped up on about 5mm of pine at each end, and basically the weight of clothes on it finally dragged it through that 5mm of wood), and yesterday we a) fixed the wardrobe (by turning the bit of wood with the support for the pole upside-down, so the pole's got a new bit of wood to rest on) and b) put up a metal clothes-rail by actually drilling into the actual wall. This is the first time we've actually drilled anything without help from proper grown-ups, and it hasn't fallen down yet, even with [livejournal.com profile] addedentry's clothes on it!

boring rambling about rearranging the house, feel free to ignore )

Anyway, all I really wanted to say was that I was pleased that we'd finally got round to fixing some things and moving some furniture around and generally making the house a bit more manageable. And this whole burst of productivity seems to have been unlocked by getting the curtain rail up in our bedroom (that was the first thing on the list & I think it was causing us to put off doing everything else...), so we have [livejournal.com profile] timscience to thank! :-)
j4: (badgers)
Today my mum took me and [livejournal.com profile] addedentry to a garden centre and bought us an apple tree (a Worcester Pearmain), as well as some other smaller tasty plants (tomatoes, peppers, and blueberry bushes). Digging a hole big enough for even such a tiny tree takes a surprising amount of time and effort. We also planted the hazel sapling from my parents' garden; meanwhile, the hawthorn saplings [livejournal.com profile] cleanskies gave us are flourishing. We are literally putting down roots here.

The eventual plan for the garden is that everything should be edible; the main exceptions at the moment are the daffodils, crocuses, and rather lurid primulas which we planted hastily to stop the garden looking quite so much like a post-apocalyptic wasteland (it worked!), though our definition of 'edible' includes anything Richard Mabey thinks you can eat, which allows quite a lot of leeway.

The best thing about the garden, though, is that we have a BADGER! OK, we've only actually seen it in next door's garden, not ours (we've seen a fox and a hedgehog in ours, though) but given the mess it's made of theirs I'm quite happy with that. I tried to get a photo but you can only really tell it's a badger if you already know. But, really, an ACTUAL LIVE BADGER!

We've definitely made more progress with the garden than with the house; while the garden's growing, the house is falling down. OK, that's a slight exaggeration: it's suffering from a small amount of subsidence, which has caused cracks to appear all over the place. The buildings insurance people think this is a) probably due to defective drains (as opposed to, say, tunnelling badgers), and b) probably not covered by our insurance because we were sort of warned that it was a possibility in the survey. It has taken them weeks and weeks to do anything, and we're still waiting for the results of the investigation of the drains. I was horribly worried about it at first, and it certainly added to the general hiding-under-a-rock stress; but you can't sustain that level of worry for this long, and the house hasn't actually fallen down, so now I am just wishing they would hurry up and tell us how much it will cost.

The subsidence does mean that pretty much everything else to do with the inside of the house is suffering from planning blight, though; realistically, we weren't going to have redecorated everything by now (my parents still haven't redecorated everything in their house, and they've lived there for 24 years now), but we were hoping to get started on sorting out the kitchen. We still don't have an oven, but it's not a big deal. Maybe we don't need an oven after all (at least two people now have said we should get a Remoska instead). It would feel slightly odd making a deliberate choice not to have an oven, to get the kitchen refitted without leaving room for one; but probably no odder than it would feel to a lot of people not to have a TV.

On the other hand, not having a TV doesn't really mean it's impossible to watch TV; it's just impossible to watch it live. We watched the whole first series of Glee (if you don't know what Glee is -- and given that I don't often watch TV, I don't take it for granted that everybody knows about every TV show -- then the Wikipedia entry will explain with no spoilers above the fold) suffering the indignity of being a week behind the rest of the UK because 4OD didn't release the episodes until they'd shown the repeat. Episodes! Repeats! Things I hadn't thought about at all since I last watched TV regularly, back in the late 1990s. I tried to persuade [livejournal.com profile] addedentry to do the bittorrent thing so we could get the next episodes quicker, but he wouldn't, and I don't know how (honestly! I've just never done it). We also watched the first episode of the new Dr Who (it is probably internet heresy to say that I don't really get Dr Who, but, well) despite nearly being put off by the utterly rubbish bit with the food at the beginning.

There's lots of other things I want to write about but I don't really know where to start, and more and more I feel as though LiveJournal isn't really the place to write about them, because I feel like I don't know anybody here very well any more. I don't have real conversations with very many people any more at all, and that's my fault for not being good at keeping up friendships, but it still feels like I've retreated into a dark empty room somehow and I don't quite know how to come back to the party, because everything is elsewhere, and I'm not totally sure that it wouldn't be better just to slip away home in the dark without another word.
j4: (badgers)
We finally bought a lawnmower and mowed the lawn. That is, we mowed the area we're choosing to call the lawn, in the hope that a combination of linguistic imperialism and rotating knives will gradually tame the lawless forces of nature. Significant portions of the "lawn" were in fact large clumps of nettles and brambles, dark forests and thickets among the rolling fields of the rest of the garden; one corner was almost entirely bindweed; and another was a sad little rubbish-heap of stones and tiles and bits of wood.

Some of the nettles succumbed to the mower, others got secateured down to the ground, some lived to sting my wrists another day (three-quarter-length sleeves and short gardening gloves are a bad combination for nettle-wrangling). I pulled up about a mile of bindweed (and removed a pot of paint from underneath it), hacked back a few brambles (eating the blackberries first) and sorted through the miniature midden: a heap of broken tiles, some lumps of concrete, several half-bricks, some scrappy pieces of wood and MDF, a couple of plastic bottle-lids, an old cigarette lighter, and a large curved white bone like a rib. Bleached bones and stony rubbish. My own tiny waste land.

In the process of attacking the abode of stones and the pit of vines I uprooted an army of woodlice, several small spiders, one enormous spider (the sort so big that I could hear its feet clacking on the wood of the fence as it stalked indignantly out of reach), two small brownish frogs, an even smaller yellowish frog which sprang up out of the chickweed like a jack-in-the-box, small yellow-shelled snails and even smaller slugs, a tiny caterpillar all curled up like a soft green ammonite, and a couple of huge hairy caterpillars which seemed to be doing their best to battle the bindweed by eating it all.

To the spiders and frogs I must be Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds. No, nothing so important, just some sudden hairy mammal crashing oafishly through their threads and burrows. I hate wrecking these little ecosystems, I would love to leave the beetles and caterpillars to their business and take my big feet of fail elsewhere; but like the rest of my species I was born selfish, and the creatures were in the space that will be my vegetable patch, and the nettles and brambles were in the space that will be my tidy little English lawn (or at least some soft grass to sit on in summer). I have never been a committed gardener; I hack at things in fits and starts, small splashes of effort followed by long stagnant periods of apathy, and I think underlying the surface laziness (and the general sense of futility which taints all tasks which are explicitly fighting entropy) is a feeling that my attempts to curate the wilderness are not just hubristic but an offence against the order of things. It doesn't help that the only plants I recognise are weeds: I can pick out our groundsel, chickweed, nettles, dandelions, bindweed, brambles, rosebay willowherb ... but show me a 'proper' plant and I'll shrug in confusion. I like the look of the bright flowers and well-defined leaves of well-ordered gardens, but I know the raggedy plants that grow out from under things. I pull them up in handfuls every now and then out of some misplaced sense of duty, but they grow back in a heartbeat.

Every time I lifted a stone, something small scurried out from underneath it, rushing around in the unwelcome light, a many-legged burst of busy energy, until it found another dark hiding place.

I think part of my problem is that I empathise too much with the insects.
j4: (badgers)
Thank you all for kind comments and offers of help, but honestly I don't think there is any point trying to sue people or live in a hotel and (more to the point) I think it would be more stressful than just living with the fail until it stops being fail.

We spent a large part of today in the House of Fail cleaning things (my hands got so plaster-dusted that I could have probably peeled them off and made a cast of them) and polyfillaing in the holes that weren't quite big enough to put a badger in, and have come to the conclusion that:

* overall, it's not quite as bad as despair led me to believe
* if they fix the Bloody Great Holes then it will be even less quite-as-bad
* they have actually, despite all the mess and fail, done what looks like a pretty good job of the ceilings, which is after all what we asked them to do in the first place
* we can (and will have to) get an electrician in very soon to fix the boiler/lighting fail, but electricians are less likely to leave the house in a horrible mess
* the paint will probably come off the laminate floors in the end
* the carpet is completely fvcked, but I guess that is why god made rugs
* the walls will all need painting, but we can do that while we live there, because some people seem to repaint their houses nearly as often as I change my underpants, and they don't move out completely every time[*], and in the meantime we can always put posters up or something and pretend it's the 1990s again
* okay so I guess 'home' is going to be a bit grim and half-finished for a while (and we still won't have a kitchen! That's not the builders' fault but honestly did they have to get the sink covered in paint?), but I guess that is why god made pubs

[*] Every time they paint. Not every time I change my underpants. I presume.

Also, we went to the everything-shop on Cowley Road to buy extra cleaning stuff (I cycled from there to the House Of Fail with a mop bungee-corded to my bike, big yellow spongey thing sticking out a couple of feet at the end like one of those 'long vehicle' reflecty things) and ended up buying (as well as the mop) one of those tabletop cookers, a little electric hob-in-a-box, because while we do have the magic calor gas hob-and-grill my parents lent us (the one they used when they moved into the first house I remember) we don't have any gas for it. Anyway, the man in the shop must have thought I needed cheering up because he suddenly said "You like sweets? I give you some for free. Which ones do you like?" and I was all surprised and confused but picked a pack of fruity sweets in the shape of bright-coloured hearts & was much cheered as a result. Aww. If all else fails I reckon we can go and live in the everything-shop. They have rugs and mirrors and candles and DIY stuff and cleaning stuff and, like, everything. And fruity sweets and a nice man.

Also also, we then went to [livejournal.com profile] truecatachresis and [livejournal.com profile] squigglyruth's barbecue, where we accidentally had lots of wine and ended up sitting outside in the dark proving that Odysseus was stupid, that democracy didn't work, and that we absolutely had to kill that bloke who's ruined Channel 4. (I don't know, I don't even watch telly! But he has. Ruined it.) All of which seems to have helped with my general attitude to the House of Fail. We are lucky to have lots of lovely friends.

We are probably going to be off the internet for most of this week as O2 and BT between them have begot fail (though I still have my iPhone); I suspect we will fairly quickly find ourselves in the Rusty Bicycle, begging the barman for a flagon of his finest foaming wifi. I'm back in work on the 17th though so after that I'll be a lot more emailable.

See you on the other side...
j4: (dirigible)
Sorry I've not said much lately. We're a week away from moving house and I'm in a state of neurotic despair about the whole thing. And I'm going to tell you about it in tedious detail whether you like it or not. )

Flat out

Jun. 10th, 2009 07:19 pm
j4: (bookshelves)
[livejournal.com profile] addedentry and I will very shortly be handing over an enormous amount of money in exchange for A REAL ACTUAL HOUSE subject to etc etc. This means that we will regretfully be leaving our lovely flat in Botley (ETA: that's Botley just outside the Oxford ring road, not Botley, Bucks!), which means that our lovely flat in Botley will be up for rent. If you're interested in taking it over, now would be a very good time to get in touch. :-)

For those of you who don't know / can't remember the details, here's a bit more information:

* First floor flat (above shops)
* Living room, kitchen (plus extra cupboard/room for fridge/freezer/storage), bathroom, master bedroom, three further rooms
* Balconies front and back :-)
* New double glazing throughout
* Unfurnished (except oven, washing machine, fridge/freezer & a couple of weird glass-fronted cupboards)
* Very convenient for shops - not just the ones underneath :) but full-size Co-op round the back as well
* Very convenient for buses (buses to station/town every 10 mins from literally outside the front door)
* Only 15 mins cycle from the station anyway

Rent is currently £795pcm -- the landlady may put it up but hasn't shown any signs of doing so since at least 2006.

Downsides:
* it is quite noisy at the back at certain times of day (viz. 6am when the lorries unload at Iceland, grrr)
* the decor is all a bit student-shabby
* the light on the (electric) hob doesn't work
* there's no TV aerial socket (this may not be a downside :-)

I can't think of any other downsides! It's an ace flat! We shall be sorry to leave it! Shout if you have any questions.

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