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Posts Tagged ‘flat’

  1. What I’ve been up to

    March 8, 2013 by superlative

    I haven’t written since Christmas about anything that I’ve actually done, so in order to try to get back up to date, and to make Lee shut his cakehole, I’m just going to do a little post now to cover what’s been going on in my life.

    Thing are going fine in our flat still. We have continued to make small improvements to it every now and then, including redecorating our guest bedroom. That’s the first bit of decorating we’ve ever done, and it came out quite well really.

    We have hopefully fixed the massive hump that we get in our hall floor during the summer too, which was caused by the poor laying of the wood flooring. Last summer it looked like the whole lot was going to split, so we couldn’t leave it any longer really. Chris has since lopped 5cm off the end of it with a massive chisel, and with a bit of luck he’ll have lopped off right bit for the wood to expand when it wants to.

    We may also have fixed the pigeon problem that was ruining our decked patio (they used to roost on part of our building’s fire escape and then crap all over our lovely decking). I got a quote ages ago from a bird control company about putting some netting or something up, and they laughably wanted £1,300 for it. So we thought fuck that, and after much deliberation and planning and sketching ideas on a bit of paper, Chris climbed up the rickety old cast iron ladder and we’ve hung our own net up there. It’s been four months so far, and there have been NO pigeons. The netting and the clips and things only cost us about £12, so I think that’s a big win for us and £1,288 I should be able to spend on presents for myself. We haven’t actually had any nice weather since we put the netting up (it was November), but I’m hoping that come the summer we might be able to use the patio a bit more now and maybe have a glass of wine out there on warm summer evenings.

    Noise from the flat above us has still occasionally been a problem, but we had a blissful period where it wasn’t rented out at all during January and much of February, and that was really nice. The rentals have started back up again now, but I am trying very hard to be more relaxed about it (because I’m so well known for being relaxed and easy going). Things I need to keep reminding myself are: the flat is often empty, especially midweek and in the winter; some people have noisy neighbours above them ALL the time, so we’re lucky ours is intermittent; many people who stay there are quite quiet; you can’t live under other people and have no noise at all (so I’ll never be buying a flat under other people again, but anyway); and we have earplugs for when it is noisy that are AMAZING. Seriously, they’re called Hearos, they’re American, and they are simply the best earplugs I’ve ever used or heard of. I can’t recommend them highly enough if you have noisy neighbours, and they’re so comfortable you barely know they’re in.

    I still get a little bit stressed about the noise, particularly if we have guests because I feel so bad if they get disturbed in the night. I also get annoyed if I think too hard about the woman who owns the flat because, nice as she always is to us, essentially she doesn’t really care if we get disturbed, she just wants the money from the flat (and at £125 a night she must be RAKING it in).

    On the job front, I am currently still working two days a week in my new and much more interesting web development role at the university, and three days doing my regular job. It’s still officially a ‘temporary’ arrangement though, and I’m hoping very much to get something more permanent agreed this month. The best case scenario for me I think would be to move full-time into the new role, but they may not have the money or the work for me to do that. Worst case would be to go back to doing five days a week in my regular job, which is increasingly boring. I’ve positioned myself fairly well in the new role though, and tried to make people think I’m helpful and produce good work, so I’ll have just to wait and see.

    I think that’s most of my news really. Mum and Dad are coming to stay again in May, which is a bit earlier than I thought they’d be back (it was only September last time), so I’m sure I’ll get a bit stressed about that as the time approaches. Dad has had some cardiac tests and investigations done, but still no news on why he blacked out those times. He hasn’t blacked out since anyway, so that’s something. And I’m going on holiday to Sitges again, with friends this time, at the end of May after Mum and Dad have gone. So that should be fun, and I’m desperate for some sunshine. I’m so sick of being frozen or soaked on my way to work on the stupid bus every day.

    I’m going to try to intermingle some of these posts about my life with other opinion pieces on news or things I find interesting  because it’s a bit boring just reading about my life if you don’t know me. My brother enjoys keeping up to date on what I’ve been doing apparently, but that’s probably about it. Feel free to write THIS WAS BORING in the comments box below and I’ll try to adjust accordingly.

  2. Er, where did February go?

    February 19, 2012 by superlative

    I seem to have had a really busy month, and although it only feels like 1 February was yesterday, suddenly the month is almost over. I haven’t blogged for two weeks (fail), so I’ll have to try to catch up with one of my summary posts and then get back on the wagon from next week.

    I have started the new bit of my job, working two days a week in the central web team to try to give me a bit more variety and to have some harder work to do. I’ve done four days with them so far, and it’s been fine. I don’t love it yet, but I’m never that good at change (see the blog posts when we moved house), and I’m hoping I’ll settle in more as time goes on.

    I’ve been working on making a mobile version of part of our website, which is quite an interesting project and is stretching me a bit as I have never coded for mobile devices before. So that’s a good thing, but at the same time it has meant working for four days on a single thing without really talking to anyone else, just staring at the same three files of code. I’ve found that a bit dry and it’s hard to focus by the end of each day. But once I get given a few more things to do I’ll hopefully be able to switch between projects a bit so it’ll be more varied.

    I’ve also had the last week off work as it has been Chris’ half term. I very rarely have a full week off in one go, so it’s been nice to have a good long rest. We’ve done a few good jobs around the flat too, so although we didn’t go on a trip anywhere like we’d hoped I don’t feel like we’ve wasted the week.

    We had our dangerous old gas fire removed, and have cleaned out the fireplace and made a nice feature of it with candles and pebbles.

    Just getting the fire removed ended up being a bit of trial. We hired a proper Gas Safe engineer to do it, from a gas fire installation company, so we thought fine he’ll know what he’s doing and it’ll be all safe and hunky dory. He did seem to too, until the last stage where he cut a live electric cable with his clippers. There was a MASSIVE blue flash and a bang, and all the electrics in the building went off. He was fine, fortunately, because he was using appropriate clippers for working with electricity that had rubber handles. Otherwise I’m sure he would have killed himself. I don’t know why he didn’t realise the cable was live, he “thought he’d disconnected it”, and obviously he wouldn’t have cut it and risked his life if he’d been unsure. But he still got it totally wrong, it took us ages to get the electricity back on (a breaker upstairs had kicked in and we had to find it and switch it back on), and it felt like this was exactly the kind of thing we’d hired a professional to avoid.

    But anyway, it’s done now and the fire is gone and we’re happy with our pretty candles. We were going to buy a new gas fire, but it was just too expensive and too much of a faff with listed building consent and getting the flue swept all the way to the top. So we did this instead and saved about £800, which is pretty good.

    The other exciting thing we’ve done this week is buy a piano. I’ve wanted a piano for years and years, but I only ever had a keyboard as a child, and then I never had the money or anywhere to put one after I left home. I used to have piano lessons before I went to university, but then I stopped when I moved away and I’ve only played very occasionally over the last 13 years. I can still remember the pieces I knew a bit, and I’ve still got the sheet music, so I’ve started relearning them. I’m currently working on Michael Nyman’s The Heart Asks Pleasure First, the theme from the film The Piano, which is really hard but I’ve always loved it.

    The piano is a nice digital one, not a very fancy or expensive one, but it looks really swish and the keys feel nice. We’ve had to put it in the hall because it didn’t really fit anywhere else, which is a bit of a shame as it’s a funny place for it, and it looks a bit out of place there. But I’m prepared to live with that for the sake of having a piano, and if we rearrange the furniture in our living room at some point we might be able to squidge it in somewhere. Chris paid for most of it as a treat, so I need to make sure I play it lots and look suitably grateful. And if he’s good I might let him have a go on it once in a while.

    I’m back to work tomorrow, and I’m sure it’ll be a bit of a pain trying to catch up on a week’s work when I’ve only got three days a week in the office now. But busy is good I suppose and at least I won’t have time to be bored! Roll on March, because then it will be spring and this freezing cold weather can fuck off.

  3. Home improvements

    January 17, 2012 by superlative

    Oh look, we’re only two weeks into January and I’ve already managed to go more than a week without posting. I just couldn’t think of anything to write! We’ll call that a holiday, and I’ll try to get back on the wagon from this week.

    Today I thought I’d write a little bit about our flat, and about all the things that we’ve done to it – just little things really – that the previous owners never did and which frankly I find BIZARRE that they never attended to. They were either inept, or lazy, or complete oblivious to the world around them. I suspect it was the last of the three, as they seemed very much the sort of people who drift along in shopping centres staring in wonder and confusion at everything around them and generally getting in the fucking way.

    So, these are some of the things we’ve done in the last six months (God that time has gone fast) that have made our home better. We have:

    • put a lock on the bathroom door
      Honestly, why had they not done this? The door doesn’t even stay shut if it’s not locked, it swings ajar, so they were basically just shitting in the hall. BIZARRE.
    • fixed the leaky gas meter
      The gas meter for our flat had a minor leak that was constantly seeping gas outside our bedroom window. It was only small, not enough to be dangerous, but it was a leak nonetheless. Because the former owners never had any of their gas appliances serviced, they never knew, but I am convinced that our gas usage dropped on the little graph thing the British Gas website produces once we had the meter replaced. Which I can believe, because if it was leaking after the point where the gas is measured, the numbers would have been constantly ticking up even when nothing was being used. And unsurprisingly British Gas have since reduced our direct debit because we’re ‘using less than expected’. So for the two years they were there, they were just paying to release natural gas into the atmosphere because they were too half-arsed to maintain anything.
    • put curtains up in the living room
      The living room faces the back so you don’t technically need curtains for privacy, but the windows are large mostly-glass French doors. There is a curtain pole above the doors, but they seem to have spent two years looking at that and not hanging anything from it. And by fuck it’s COLD in that living room in the winter, especially after dark, if you have nothing between the room and the glass. It’s single glazed, so it’s basically a large refrigerated panel set into one wall that efficiently extracts all the heat from the room and releases it onto the patio. How can they not have been freezing?? BIZARRE.
    • had the gas fire disconnected
      Maybe they weren’t cold because they were using the gas fire in the living room as well as the central heating. But if they were, they were at risk of death at any moment, because the gas fire was dangerous and posed a risk to human life (said the gas engineer we had look at it). So he was legally obliged to disconnect it to ensure our safety. We’ll hopefully get a new one put in this year, one that doesn’t come with carbon monoxide poisoning as standard. DEADLY AND BIZARRE.
    • filled in the hole in the kitchen wall
      Yes, there was a hole in the kitchen wall, about 6-7cm in diameter, that ran straight outside to the patio , and which even in summer meant there was basically an Arctic gale blowing in 24 hours a day. So we filled it in with wadding stuff – no more gale. Was it that hard? Really? No. CHILLY AND BIZARRE.
    • installed secondary glazing in the bedroom
      OK, this one is a bigger thing that cost some money, BUT it needed doing really because the windows are about two feet from the pavement.  It adds value to the flat and makes it feel much cosier and quieter in the bedroom, and loads of the other basement flats on our road have it, so I think it was a good thing to do.
    • put a second lock on the front door
      The front door when we first moved in basically worked like a back door. It had a handle with a keyhole underneath it, so you could lock it from either side, but unless you locked it with the key each time you went through it, it could just be opened from the outside by anyone. And I’m sure they weren’t the sort of people who were locking it all the time, so it would have just been open. Also, the living room is really far from the front door, so in the evening you wouldn’t be aware of anyone coming in through it. Now it might just be me, but when I close my front door behind me I want to know that no one else can just open it again. And if I wanted to slam the door in someone’s face, I’d prefer not to have to find my key so they couldn’t just push the handle down and open it again. So we’ve put a Yale lock thing on it, and now you can only open it from outside with the key, and it feels much safer and actually like a front door not a back door.
    • fixed the hobs so they light
      Two of the hobs wouldn’t light, not at all, because the clicky clicky electric lighter bits were so caked in grime that they couldn’t generate a spark. So… what? They just never used those two did they? Our gas engineer man tested them as part of his service, said “oh, these are all grimey”, and scraped them off with a bit of metal for two seconds. Hey presto, four working hobs. What is it with the previous owners and gas appliances??
    So yes, those are lots of little things that have made the flat more like a NORMAL flat and not a weird doesn’t work sort of noisy cold deathtrap sort of flat. I can’t fathom their thinking, or lack of it, but at least I know that, despite being the same place, my home is now much nicer than theirs. Freaks.