Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Our last day off work

It's back to work on Wednesday, so we made the most of our last day off by trying to get the lounge and main bedroom done.

Anne's nearly finished the bedroom now. She'll finish glossing the skirting boards and picture rail in the evenings. Here's a picture of her painting:


And I ploughe don with the lounge. Having sanded the floor yesterday I filled the gaps today. There were some big gaps, and I was unsure if the boards were going to be suitable to be left bare with such big gaps between them. I got some filler and started filling. Within 40 minutes I was out of filler and had hardly filled any gaps, so I went back to Homebase and got three more tubes. An expensive business this DIY! Before we left the house this evening I'd sanded the filler, and put the first coat of varnish on. Getting there - yay! This photo is before the first coat of varnish:


It's good having the garden to hack away at. When we've been tired of working indoors, in need of fresh air, or waiting for paint or filler to dry we've been nipping outside to cut away at some of the dense floiage. We now have a huge pile of cuttings and much more space in the garden. It'll take a lot of work but it should be fun. I hope we're allowed fires in our garden, as I think we'll need them to get rid of all the stuff we've cut down.

Finally, yesterday we met some more of our neighbours. On one side we have John and Mary, on the other side John and Margaret, and opposite we have Jack and Mary. I can't see that getting confusing at all!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Too tired to post

A long day. We're too tired to write a blog, so here it is.

We hired a floor sander today, pulled the carpets up in three rooms, and sanded the floorboards. It was long, tiring work.

Luckily, removing the carpets wasn't too much of a problem, since in two of the bedrooms they were laid loose, with no underlay - only old newspapers under them(!). Hmmm. The lounge carpet was actually laid properly, so that was a little more time consuming to pull up.

The floors are now sanded. I'm currently in two minds as to whether the floorboards are good enough to leave bare - we'll have to wait and see what they look like when the gaps are filled and the floors are varnished. Doing this may put us off our schedule to have the main bedroom and lounge finished by the weekend (we only have tomorrow off, then we're back at work) but it should be worth it as:
1) it's best to do the sanding now when we have almost nothing in the house as dust gets everywhere;
2) if the floors turn out to be OK left bare we'll have nice wooden floors in many of the rooms;
3) I got to dress up:

The sanding machine itself was heavy as hell, but it made the sanding reasonably straight-forward. We had to do a lot of preparing though - meaning making sure all nails were a bit below the surface. We lost a few sheets of sanding paper to slightly protruding nails.


Add so to bed. We're pooped!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

In which we see a small baby and Anne kills some plants

Hello. I was pleased that yesterday Anne finally got around to doing her first post on this new blog. She's a fairly reluctant blogger, but loves it really.

This morning we raced off to Welwyn Garden City first thing to see our friends Kate and Dom and their four week old baby, Amelia. Kate had said that if I arrived before 10am I'd probably get a cuddle. I was a little disappointed when I arrived and realised she meant a cuddle with the baby! Rather than a cuddle from Kate. Which I just pretended to make it look like that's what I thought she meant. Do you see?

Amelia is a sweet baby, and I was terrified of damaging her. I think it's enough responsibility buying a house. What must it be like to have a little baby??!

Here's Daddy Dom adoring Amelia, and Anne confusing her:


Aaaah!

Once we'd seen the baby (and what she fills her nappy with!) we drove back to Cambridge to continue with our decorating tasks. My mum came up to see the place and help out, and of course we had no problem finding some work for her to do. She helped me paint the living room and pointed out that I'd been painting it quite inefficiently the whole time. I'd been having real trouble painting the ceiling - the red kept showing through - but mum managed to cover it up completely. Star - thanks mum!

(NB: We obviously don't have the right to criticise the previous owners' colour schemes (red ceilings?) as we painted our loo bright pink in our flat in Ealing.)

Anne had a bit of a headache, so after a few hours painting the bedroom decided to get some fresh air. No rest for her though - she went into the garden and cut back the bushy foliage...

The garden's looking bigger already.


...and ended up with a huge pile of branches. At least we'll have something to burn the effigy of a Catholic on this November 5th.

We also had a go at the ivy on the front of the house (see photo in an earlier post) so we should be rid of that eventually.

We're so very tired.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

DIY Monkeys

Phew, I'm pooped!

We were up early this morning. Well, I was up at 8am. Stephen was "too excited" and was awake at 4am. We had a sausage breakfast and then went over to our new house.

Stephen tackled the living room. He has bravely put three coats of white paint over the red ceiling, however, red is still showing through.

I tackled the master bedroom, spending the whole morning stripping wallpaper.

We had a picnic lunch on the floor (no chairs or table yet) and then did another trip to Homebase. I was too tired to decide on paint colours, so I let Stephen choose. I hope I won't live to regret this.

We then spent the afternoon doing more DIY. Stephen continued in the living room, beginning to get some colour on the walls. I put the undercoat on in the bedroom. At around 4pm I felt we deserved a coffee break. I made the coffees and called Stephen in. Whilst he was cleaning the paint brushes, I ate a Wagonwheel. Then we sat down with coffee. Stephen ate his Wagonwheel, and I decided I needed another one.


Stephen thought this hilarious. I burnt a lot of calories this morning stripping wallpaper.

By six o'clock I had had enough. We cleaned up and popped to Sainsbury's to buy a naughty tea. Whilst we were there we stumbled across the "Well being" aisle.

As you may be able to see from the picture, it was stacked high with Quality Street and Celebrations. How we laughed. (We were very tired.)

Off to Welwyn tomorrow to see a new baby, then back to the grindstone.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Our new house!

Lots of photos for you today. You lucky people!

We completed on the house around lunchtime today - yay! It's strange that until this morning it was someone else's home. The people we bought it off have lived there for over ten years. Wonder how they felt to be leaving it.

I pegged it to the estate agents and picked up the keys. I went straight to the house (meeting our adjoining neighbours as I arrived) and ran around the house seeing what it was like. We knew the decor was a bit shabby, but some of it was better than we expected. It was all a little overwhelming.

Anne phoned and I picked her up from work. We had a quick trip to Homebase (me playing the part of Neil Morrissey) and then got started with the work. Look at hard working us! We have Monday and Tuesday off work, and don't need to be out of our flat for a week or two so we have a lot to do before we move in. Many of the walls need some work, but our main priorities before we move in are the lounge and main bedroom. Once those are done we can move in and the rest of the rooms can be decorated while we're living there.

The lounge had blue walls, dark green woodwork, and a dark red ceiling.

I'm not kidding. Seriously. Here's a photo:

You see! The first thing we did was to put some white on the walls and ceiling. Tomorrow we'll finish off the white on the ceiling, do the wood white, and choose a colour for the walls. This room has to be relaxing. It's where my big TV and surround sound system will go. In two weeks I hope to be watching Star Wars on DVD in theis room WITH a sub-woofer (which I was never allowed to have in a flat!)


The garden's packed with bushy plants, and that makes it look quite small. In fact it's not small at all. We intend to hack at the plants a lot to free up some space. We have TWO sheds (like Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson in that Monty Python sketch!) Here are some photos of the garden:



Best of all we have fruit. There's an apple tree in the garden:


And there's a "pergola" outside the patio doors with vines growing over it. On the vines I was surprised to see loads of grapes (not quite ripe yet)!


Here's two more photos. First the "family room" (essentially a largish dining room which is joined onto the kitchen):

And then Anne's initial attempts at stripping the wallpaper in the main (master!) bedroom:

So we're tired now (though of course not so tired that I can't do a blog entry). We came back to the flat at 7.30 and ordered a take-away curry. Lovely.

We're very excited about this house, and quite daunted by the work we have to do.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Right said Fred...

All our digits are crossed re: completing on the house tomorrow. If we do complete we'll have lots to do; not least getting all our furniture out of our flat in Ealing (which we're in the process of selling) and the rest of our stuff from my mum's house in Welwyn. My mum's been storing loads of our stuff since January 2003, so when we finally get it all to Cambridge she'll have half her garage back, and plenty of room in her loft! We must have so much junk. Having survived a year abroad with only what we could carry, and then eight months in Cambridge in a small flat I wonder if we'll just want to throw a lot of stuff away once we've figured out what we have.

Moving the stuff from Ealing may be difficult, as we'll have to get it all out of the door and down the stairs. There's not a heck of a lot there, but some of what is there will be awkward to lift and manoeuvre - notably two sofas, a washing machine and a fridge freezer.

With this in mind I've been researching ways to do the job. Having decided against paying a packet for real removal men, I've decided to rent a van and a "sack barrow" type trolley and do it myself. I've also roped some friends in using vague promises of drinks at a later date.

The van is a Luton Box Van with a tail lift. The trolley is a special step climbing one. It makes it easier to go up and down stairs using a diggy three wheel gadget.

I'm quite excited about this - it should be fun driving a big van around! It's a little frightening too though.

House?

Having lived in flats pretty much continuously since I left uni in 1997 (save short periods staying at my mum's) (and then lots of nights in hostels in 2003) we're now on the cusp of acquiring a proper grown-up house.

Obviously that depends on whether we complete on Friday. We had a few false starts when it came to exchange, so we're not counting our chickens.

(We have none to count.)

I digress.

Living in a house rather than a flat will be really odd for many reasons, not least:
- having an upstairs AND a downstairs: I fear we'll lose each other;
- having a garden which we can access by walking out of the door, rather than out the door, down the steps and round the downstairs neighbour's garden;
- having a back door! One more entrance to secure from burglars I suppose;
- having to clean more rooms than ever - I may be in trouble here;
- being able to have people round to stay without them (necessarily) having to sleep on the floor (this is not an open invite - please call in advance).

It all feels a bit odd and grown-up. Mind you, I turn 30 in eight weeks so perhaps it's about time I felt grown up.

Naaah.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Brits say "Bush out"

The Guardian are encouraging readers to write to people in key US election states (e.g. Ohio) to encourage them not to vote for Bush and explain how important it is for the world that Bush is not re-elected. They've published some of the emails they've had from US citizens, many of whom are incensed by this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1329858,00.html

They're quite amusing. Whilst I agree with The Guardian (I don't know if Kerry's the right man for the job, but at the moment he's the only alternative) I can't help agreeing with the sentiment (if not the words) of some of the Yanks' indignant responses at the interference of Brits in their election. If we're not careful they'll get ratty and start wasting tea by throwing it in the harbour again.

On the other hand, the Yanks couldn't pull themselves together to not vote for another Bush at the last election (and not complain much when he became president fraudulently), so perhaps they do need our help.

Maybe we could all help to get rid of Bush, by foul means, and then defend ourselves by saying "Yes, our reasons were wrong, but isn't the world a better place without him?"

And refusing point blank to apologise for our underhandedness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"WILL YOU SHUT THAT BL**DY PC UP!"

We've been living in a one-bed flat in Cambridge for over seven months now. My PC is in the living room, and when it's turned on it sounds like an airliner is taking off. Anne's hates the noise (and it even annoys me). Last week I was round my friend Tony's flat in North London and saw his housemate's PC. He'd recently silenced his PC using all sorts of jiggery-pokery. It was almost completely silent - fantastic!

I was convinced, and quickly ordered a big (9cm in diameter) heatsink/fan combo for my processor (as I realised my current processor heatsink/fan was the loudest thing in my PC). It's a beast.

I installed it last night. Anne was very concerned that I'd break something in my PC (as I have before when fiddling with it) but hid her stress well. (She wasn't that bothered that I'd break it, I guess, as worried that she'd have to put up with my miserable face when I did.) I sat on the armchair with the motherboard on my lap, cleaning the grime off the processor with an old toothbrush.

I fitted it all and put the PC back together. The moment of truth came and I turned it on...

I hadn't broken it - hurrah!

The PC was noticeably quieter than before - much more bearable. Of course, the next loudest thing is now the loudest thing: the fan on my graphics card.

So do I now obsessively try to eliminate all sound from my PC and spend a fortune, or do I make do with what I've achieved? The latter may be the better option at the moment, especially as we don't have much cash (from Friday we'll be paying two mortgages!) and the PC won't be in the living room when we move into our new place.

It is much quieter than it was though. I'm quite pleased. And I always enjoy poking around inside my PC - especially when my PC still works after I've done so.

This post was brought to you by the words nerd and tragic.

Exchange!

Huzzah! Having made an offer on a house in Cambridge back in (I think) June, we finally exchanged yesterday and the aim is to complete THIS FRIDAY!

After nearly two years of upheaval will we finally get a bit settled? Will I finally get my surround sound system set up? Will we end up locked in by overgrown ivy?

Watch this space.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Congratulations!

My sister returned from holiday last night and announced that her boyfriend, Chris, had proposed (marriage) to her while they were away. She said yes. So they're now engaged.

Congrats to them! (I wonder if Lindsay will go a bit psycho-bride at first like Anne did!)

The Lincoln Sausage Festival

This weekend we went to Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire to visit Anne's mum and step-dad. They had a treat lined up for us on Saturday: a visit to The Lincoln Sausage Festival (I kinda gave that one away in the title to this post didn't I).

The last time I went to a cultural event in Lincolnshire it was the Lincolnshire Agricultural Show a few years back. That was an odd experience, and I was taken aback to see a load of pig cartcasses hanging up inside a tent, graded for quality. The pig whose skinned corpse won first prize must have been rather proud, up there in pig heaven.

Lincoln is a pretty little city with a nice cathdral on a steep hill (called Steep Hill).
I went armed with my camera, and was pleased, yet disappointed, not to see loads of misused apostrophes (spotting those is usually how I entertain myself around markets).

Luckily there was plenty there to keep me entertained. Check out these zany guys:

Here's a photo of me buying some fudge, packed for me by a kindly lady:

This evening we braved the caravan-infested roads to return to Cambridge, laden with fudge and Lincolnshire sausages. Yay!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

What not to not watch

So the question is: am I to review movies on this site? I started doing that on our travel diary and it just got silly as I then had to review each and every film we saw (and we saw a lot).

This time, I won't let the obsessive side get the better of me, and I'll just mention films as and when the desire takes me. Let's see if that works.

And I won't be assigning star ratings this time either!

On Saturday we went to the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge and saw the British film Dead Man's Shoes. It was very good. Having read Empire's review I thought it would be a gory slasher film, but it wasn't - it was interesting and quite different.

How many stars, you ask? I'm not doing star ratings. Are you simple?

We like the Arts Picturehouse, as it's not a grotty multiplex like the Cineworld or the Vue cinema. The staff aren't uninterested imbeciles. We figure you get a better class of cinema goer at the Picturehouse. We may be wrong in that assumption. There were only about eight other people in the cinema watching the film with us, so we were surprised that a few of them turned out to be anti-social idiots. A couple of them talked a fair bit during the film, and one woman answered a call on her mobile. What is going on???

We've just got the DVD of That Peter Kay Thing. I've not seen these before, but I loved Phoenix Nights so thought I'd check it out. We watched the first two episodes tonight - great stuff.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dustin' off the cobwebs


So what's new?

  • We're back from our year of travels;
  • We've abandoned London and are trying to sell our flat in Ealing;
  • We've relocated to Cambridge, got new jobs and are currently embroiled in House-Buying-Hell;
  • We got married in August 2004.

i.e. quite a lot is new, so it's about time we brought this web site up to date a bit.

At the moment, most of this web-site is the same as it ever was, but I've put a new "front end" on it (a blog, really, which will make it easier for us to update with new pap whenever the urge takes us). I've take it off of Freeserve's ("Wanadoo's") servers and onto another free webspace provider since Freeserve (or "Wanadoo") only let you FTP your webspace if you're connected via Wanadoo, and I don't use them any more.

At some point, once we're in the new house I'll do some work and remove the stinky frames from other areas of the web site. For the moment though I'll just update it a little.