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Posts Tagged ‘flats’

  1. (Almost a) Fiery ball of death

    January 4, 2012 by superlative

    I’ve got loads of things to blog about at the moment, but this one is most immediate so I’m going to leapfrog it ahead of the others.

    We nearly died in a fiery ball of death last night.

    Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. There was no fire. But there was the potential for a massive fire due to a gas leak, and for a while it was quite scary.

    There is a woman who lives two floors above us in our building who is quite old, seems to be an alcoholic, and is generally harmless but a bit batty. She asked Chris and I if we were twins recently, because we have “the same teeth”. That’s the sort of thing she says. She’s just not very with it.

    Batty Lady has had some problems with her boiler recently, and doesn’t seem to have much money to fix it, so last week ended up having her gas switched off by Transco because her boiler was unsafe until such time as she could have it repaired. I had been aware that her gas was still off up until yesterday because the gas meters are in a cupboard near our front door where we put our recycling, so I had seen a few times that her meter was still off.

    Yesterday I came home and put the recycling boxes away and thought “Hello, it smells a bit of gas in here”. I checked her meter, and it was back on again.

    Hmm, I thought. She’s had it repaired then and someone has switched that back on (it had been physically disabled by Transco so she couldn’t do it herself), so maybe that’s just a residual smell from the work they did.

    I went in and had dinner, then walked into our hallway about an hour later and it smelled really gassy inside our flat. We went out to the recycling cupboard and there was a MASSIVE smell of it, so we thought shit there’s clearly a leak, and it’s obviously her meter, and we had to call Transco back out again.

    The man came in about 15 minutes during which time we avoided touching any electrical points, and it was the same man from last week who I know doesn’t like Batty Lady because she was drunk and uncooperative last time he had to switch her supply off. He confirmed it was leaking quite badly and had to be switched off urgently, and reluctantly Mr Transco and I went up to her flat together to tell her what the situation was.

    She went mad.

    She started ranting and waving her arms about, and shouting “YOU’RE NOT TURNING ME OFF AGAIN! YOU’RE NOT! I’ve been so COLD! I’VE NOT HAD HEATING FOR A WEEK UNTIL TODAY! I WANT TO SEE THIS LEAK!”

    So she insisted on coming out into the street in her dressing gown and being shown the meter, where you could see gas bubbling out of a joint and you could barely breathe the air it was so thick.

    “I’M NOT BEING TURNED OFF AGAIN. I’M NOT. I’M NOT!” and she stormed off into the building and slammed the door.

    Now, unfortunately I got a bit irate at this point. In all things, my main priority is to keep Chris safe, and that’s the thing that I care about the most. After that I want to keep myself safe, and then much less important is keeping our belongings safe. So I was not happy that she seemed to want to just ignore the fact that there was a massive cupboard full of gas outside our bedroom window and our own hallway was rapidly filling up with gas leaking from her meter.

    Fortunately Chris stepped in at that point, and he is much better at dealing with difficult people because he does it all day with difficult parents and special needs children.

    “Val, stop. Stop shouting at me please, you’re being horrible”, he said much more calmly than I would have. “We are actually going to die Val, and be burned alive if we don’t sort the leak out.”

    “I don’t want you to die love”, she said rather meekly, and he managed to keep talking to her and get her a bit calmer.

    She rang the plumber who had done the work, and tried to get the plumber’s wife to speak to Mr Transco on the phone, who promptly started telling him off for distressing an old woman.

    “I’m not being spoken to like that”, he said. “I’ll just switch the supply off and go then”, and he started to go off back to his van. Apparently he is only a contractor, he gets paid £9.50 for call outs like this, and his responsibility only extends as far as stopping the gas leak, not dealing with batty old women who smell of vodka.

    Fortunately, Mr Plumber then turned up in his van, who Batty Lady trusted much more, and who convinced her to let them turn the supply off for five minutes, resolve the leak, and then he would restart her boiler for her, which was what Mr Transco had offered to do in the first place.

    Now I do not think that Mr Plumber is a Gas Safe engineer, or that he should have been doing anything at all to her boiler or gas supply. “I’ve paid him £20 so far”, Batty Lady had told us, “And I’m paying him the rest weekly. He’s done a really good job.” Hmm, not that good, I thought.

    From what I’ve gathered, he repaired the pipe to her boiler that was causing a problem, went down to the meters, removed the Transco cap, reconnected her meter, and switch it back on. BUT he didn’t put a washer in when he reconnected the meter, and Mr Transco told me privately that it would always ALWAYS leak without a washer and it’s a really basic thing. It’s not Mr Transco’s responsibility to fix that bit, but he did it anyway, as much to get himself out of the situation as soon as possible.

    So once that was done he re-tested it and said there seemed to be no leak but to keep an eye on it. Off they both went, and Batty Lady got all apologetic and attempted-huggy (no hugs were permitted), and kept saying that she had just been so cold. I can understand now that she got distressed and frustrated very quickly after not having any heating for days, and that unfortunately she rubbed Mr Transco up the wrong way and he wasn’t very patient with her. But I’m still annoyed that she has had potentially dangerous work done on our gas supply and that she got so accusatory about us reporting the leak.

    Her boiler may now be unsafe and may give her carbon monoxide poisoning, I don’t know. There’s not much I can about that. I’m fairly satisfied that the meter should be safe though, because that’s been worked on and checked by a proper engineer, and he wouldn’t leave it functioning if it wasn’t safe. There was no smell of gas at bedtime last night, and none this morning, so if it is still OK when I get home then I think it’s alright.

    I found the whole thing really stressful though and was really worried the whole place would just go up if we couldn’t get it sorted. Why can’t people just be normal?? I hate having neighbours, I hate it. No one is ever just nice, and sane. I want to live in a detached house with a 40 meter exclusion zone around it so no one can annoy me and/or suffocate me and/or burn me alive.

    One day I will. One day.


  2. Home improvements

    November 25, 2011 by superlative

    Once again I have left it right to the end of the week to write anything on my blog. Sorry about that.  I am desperate not to ruin my #postaweek2011 attempt though, not when I am so close to the end of the year. I’m surprised I’ve done it for this long actually, and how quickly the year seems to have gone. It will be nice (hopefully) at the end of the year to look back at my 52-or-so posts and see the whole period charted out.

    Anyway, this is just going to be a very brief post with a bit of an update on how things are going with our flat.

    I haven’t written specifically about the flat for a while I think, and generally things are going pretty well with it. We have had a number of different people staying in the flat over us since Mum stayed, and pretty much no one has disturbed us since that first family with the children and the people who smoked outside our bedroom window. That’s out of about 10 different couples/groups who have stayed up there, so I’m hoping that means we are generally going to be OK. The last few days have been a bit of a pain, because there was an older couple up there who seemed to be dying from chronic lung disease. They coughed ALL the time, both of them, and it was loud and often enough to wake me up through the ceiling. I’d wake up at about 1.30am to the sound of one of them coughing, think “Oh fuck off” and put my ear plugs in, and then I’d go back to sleep. Come 5.30am I’d take them out, and they were STILL in their front room, STILL coughing. Do they never sleep?? And if they’re that ill, why are they in a holiday flat in Brighton?

    So anyway, that was a pain, but they left yesterday. We’ve got more people arriving today, so fingers crossed they will be non-coughing and fairly quiet, especially as we have guests coming at the weekend. It’ll just be embarrassing if it’s really loud because I’ll have to say “Yeah sorry, my house is shitty, sorry about that”.

    The other main thing we have done is to have secondary glazing installed on the bedroom windows at the front last Tuesday. Because we’re in a basement flat, the front windows are at about pavement level, and so we were getting a fair bit of noise from the street during the night. It wasn’t traffic noise, that never bothered me and I actually quite like the soothing rumble of traffic, but if any people were talking in the street it carried straight in and was like they were in the room with you. That was why we got disturbed by those girls smoking outside at 5am and Chris went out and shouted at them.

    The noise hasn’t been so bad since the weather turned colder and wetter, simply because people aren’t lingering outside. But it was still something we had decided we wanted to do just to make the bedroom a bit nicer and as an improvement to the flat. I also didn’t want to think “oh it’s fine now” just because it was colder, and then regret not having it done come the spring.

    I chose a Sussex-based company called Soundblocker Windows, and we placed our order a couple of months ago and they installed them this week. We’ve had them for three nights so far, and it seems like they work really well. You can still hear low noise like traffic because that comes through the walls anyway, but higher noise like speech seems to get cut right down and people sound as though they are in a fish tank really far away. It’s hard to tell exactly how well it has worked until we get someone stood out there for ages talking, but so far I’m hopeful they were a good purchase.

    We still haven’t painted anywhere and that really needs doing, but I expect we’ll leave that until next year now. It is looking nicer anyway, and it is much better than when we first moved in, so overall I’m quite pleased.


  3. Gardens and gas leaks

    August 26, 2011 by superlative

    It has been quite a busy week with house stuff, and we have managed to sort loads of things out and started to get it looking quite nice.

    Last weekend I spent about £150 in a garden centre, B&Q and Homebase, and got home clutching all my homely wares thinking ‘what the fuck has happened to me?’ I’ve never needed to do any of this sort of stuff before – DIY and buying pot plants and things – simply because we’ve never had any need to. And now that I need to do it (and want to do it, because I’m quite house proud) I feel like I’ve suddenly turned into my parents.

    Most of that money, and then a large part of Friday, Saturday AND Sunday, went on cleaning up our decked patio area at the back. Honestly, it was disgusting out there. I think the previous owners must never have cleaned it, and they pretty much just used it as a space for their massive horse-like dog to sit. We can add cleaning the decking to the long list of things they never did in the flat, of which more later.

    It was covered in grime, and bird crap, and weird mossy algae stuff, so that it was basically a murky grey with green bits. This is what it looked like when we bought the place:

     

    It’s not too bad in the picture I suppose, but it was pretty horrible close up, and you didn’t really want to walk around on it.

    So first of all we spent three hours on Friday sweeping it and the scrubbing it with soapy water. Then on Saturday Chris scrubbed it again with special decking cleaner that brought it up a lovely sandy sort of colour and which magically deleted all the green from it. Then he had to scrub it again to wash the cleaner off, so he pretty much spent the whole of Saturday on his knees while I had a little sit down on the sofa. Then on Sunday, finally, we gave it two coats of decking stain and put our new plants out there, and now it looks like this:

    It’s so much nicer! It’s really clean now, and it feels much nicer to go out there. Of course it has rained pretty much every day since we finished the decking, so I haven’t been able to enjoy it really, but at least it looks better.

    While we were out there, the lady who owns the flat upstairs came out to say hello, so I got to meet her and have a chat. I’ll refer to her as Upstairs Lady from now on. The family of elephant children have FINALLY fucked off, so we no longer have the noise of them pounding their fat little feet up and down over our heads all day, which has been great. Upstairs Lady is very nice, as is her partner guy. She’s a bit of a hippy, like I thought, and the flat is her second home that she rents out when she’s not using it. We seemed to get on quite well, and she says we’re welcome to sit up in her garden (at the top of those steps in the pictures) when she’s not there, as it gets much more sun up there than on our deck. I’m hoping that if she likes us, she might be more inclined to do right by us and ensure she doesn’t rent the flat out to any idiots. She’s fairly protective of it – you have to pay her a £300 security deposit when you rent it, even if you’re only staying a few nights – so hopefully it’ll be only nice people she lets stay there. It has certainly been a lot quieter having the two of them up there, so if it’s mainly adults I think it might not be too bad. The noise of them walking is fairly minimal and is ignorable, and although you can hear their television in our bedroom it so far hasn’t disturbed me too much. I really hope it turns out OK, as it has been the single biggest negative point about living here so far, and I suppose it was naive of me not to anticipate it when living in a basement flat.

    As well as all those housey things, today we had two gas engineers come round to service our boiler and gas fire. First of all, they were both about 20 and were FIT. Well one of them was anyway, the other was only after-four-or-five-vodkas doable. But that hardly ever happens! Tradesman are always 50 and paunchy. So I’ll definitely be using that company again anyway. In fact I might go and jam something into our boiler right now so I can call them out again.

    The previous owners, surprise surprise, had lived here for two years but had never had the boiler or fire serviced, had no idea when they were last serviced and had pretty much no maintenance history for either of them. This was a bit of an annoyance for me when we bought the flat, as it gave me the impression they hadn’t taken very good care of it. And lo and behold I turned out to be completely right! The gas guys came round, the fit one got on his hands and knees by the fire and showed off his pert behind for a few minutes, and then stood up and said “Yeah, this fire is unsafe and poses a risk to life. As a gas safe engineer, I’m legally obliged to disconnect it, as I can’t leave a dangerous appliance without disabling it.” So, er, thanks for that you stupid cunts!

    He said that basically the fire is too big not to have a proper air vent next to it, and should never have been installed. If you used it for a longish period of time it would eventually deplete the oxygen in the room and pollute the air with its waste gases, and presumably suffocate you to death if you’d fallen asleep or something. So what kind of twat installed that there then?? And why didn’t the owners ever check it? So GAH that was annoying. I now have a large, ugly, manky old fire in my hearth that I can’t use even if I wanted to. I’d rather it be disconnected and safe though – that was the whole point of us having everything serviced, as I didn’t want to get killed by faulty appliances.

    The boiler turned out to be fine, and the central heating all seems to work OK, which was my other main concern as we haven’t needed to switch the heating on yet. As part of their checks though, they went out to inspect the gas meter in the under-pavement storage vault outside. And guess what again??

    “Your meter’s got a gas leak from the nipple on the top.”

    “Say nipple a few more times for me, it’s turning me on.” (I only said this in my head, I’m not a pervert. I’m only an in-the-head pervert)

    “I have to report it to Transco, and they’ll come within two hours as it’s classed as a leak emergency to replace your meter. In the meantime I’m obliged to turn your gas off.”

    So fucking thanks again, owner twats! They said it was only a minor leak, but still, there were FLAMMABLE GASES leaking away outside my bedroom window.

    The Transco guys came within about half an hour, and initially said our address didn’t exist on their database so they weren’t allowed to change the meter and we weren’t allowed to have any gas. This was rather stressful, as obviously we DO have an address and there obviously IS gas going into it, but the guy was very nice and did some to-ing and fro-ing on his mobile to his office until finally they decided we either existed or it didn’t matter and they changed the meter.

    So hurrah! I now shouldn’t be living in a gassy deathtrap. No thanks to the previous owners though, who were apparently lazy wankers.

    That should, finally, be most of the major jobs done that we needed to do in the flat. We’ve got guests coming for the bank holiday weekend, so I hope they’re suitably impressed, and I hope that everything just stays fixed and working for a bit. I’m not sure I have the stamina to be sorting out anything else for a while!


  4. Curtains and curfews

    August 11, 2011 by superlative

    It has been four weeks since we moved into our flat now. Four weeks that have really gone very quickly, that have been insanely busy, and which have made moving day feel like ages ago.

    The flat is starting to look really nice, and I think there is only half a box of junk left that we haven’t unpacked. We have our lovely new sofa, and we have sorted out our guest room such that we might actually be able to use it as a guest room now, rather than the Room Of Shame where all the crap we haven’t dealt with yet has been hiding.

    For the first time in my life I have had to buy curtains, and FUCKING HELL are they expensive. The ones in our bedroom cost £140! For squares of cloth on little hooks! I had no idea; I have obviously been living a very curtain-sheltered life. It has also made me feel very old, trolling around C&H Fabrics going “Hmm, I like the pattern on those, but they’re pencil pleat not eyelets”. Why the fuck do I know what pencil pleat is now?? That’s not cool! But anyway, all the windows have curtains now, so I plan never to buy any ever again. Or to wash them. I’ll be too busy having homosexual parties.

    I have been subtly probing the secretary of our freehold company this week, and got some contact details for the woman who owns the flat above us (the one with the toddler-elephants). The noise has been quite bad at times, always just toddler noise rather than anything else, but their parents just make NO attempt to control them. Why are parents like that these days? They think if they upset their child by telling them not to do something, they must be a bad parent. So even though we have complained twice, and Chris has banged on the ceiling several times (which always results in several hours of pure silence), they still haven’t actually told their children not to play ball games in the house or run fifty times from one end of it to the other. Stupid parents. So I emailed the owner of the flat anyway, and I have found out that the flat is indeed a short-let holiday type place now. It seems to be the woman’s second home by the sea, so she’ll be there a fair bit herself, and then it’ll be empty some of the time I expect, and will have paying guests at others. She was very nice about the noise, and apologised for it, and has said that she thinks she’ll put an age restriction on any children who come to stay in the flat. So that would be great from our point of view, because I don’t think we’ll hear normal adult noise much, or will easily be able to ignore it, and slightly older children don’t tend to run and cry so much.

    So that was some good news anyway. She’s a yoga teacher, I have found out by internet stalking her, and I now know where she lives in London. It’s terrifying sometimes what you can find out in five minutes on Google. I bet she’s a hippy. A rich hippy though, with a house in London and a flat in Brighton.

    The curfew bit of this post title was because I had planned to say something on the subject of the recent riots in cities around the UK. I’m not sure if I can really be bothered to get into it now, as those sorts of posts always attract critical comments, but I like the alliteration of the title so I’m not changing it. Suffice it to say I have been both very shocked and very saddened by the scenes of British people smashing up their own communities, and feeling so disenfranchised and disengaged that they see society as ‘other people’ and don’t care what happens to them.

    I’m not totally surprised, as it is really in keeping with attitudes that have been growing for some time. I went to school in a not particularly nice area of London, and even back then in the 90s there were kids who simply had no respect for other people, for their property, or for the rule of law. And that just seems to have grown over time, to the point where most people are too frightened to challenge anti-social behaviour when they see it because they might get stabbed. Is that really the country we live in now?

    There were two girls on the radio, who had just been looting, who said “This is the rich people’s fault. We’re showing them we can do what we want”. As terrifying I found that sentence, it is not actually incorrect. Yes you can do what you want. Everyone can. We are policed by consent, and the police can’t actually stop you doing most things. They can only hope to arrest and punish you afterwards. But most people feel it is wrong to break the law, and if given an instruction by a police officer they’ll just obey it. Hardly anyone (I hope) would assault a police officer, not because they can’t but because they know on principle that it is wrong. So yes you can do what you want; but the fact that people are doing what they want, and what they want is to smash their own high street up and steal from people who may only be marginally better off than they are, is really scary. People say this is due to deprivation and marginalisation; to people being called ‘scum’ and so behaving like it. In some ways I’m sure that’s right; but at the same time, lots of the looters we have seen on the television probably aren’t that deprived – they have nice trainers and mobile phones. So it is much more complicated than that.

    Anyway, I’m not going to go into it much more. I just hope the trouble dies down now. One of the most pleasing things to come out of this so far is the sense of community that has been generated among people affected by the riots, with people helping each other out, cleaning up together, and raising money for those that have lost everything. If that continues in the future, it may actually do our cities some good.

    Changing the subject, it is Brighton Pride this weekend, so I’m sure it will be a busy one. Sunburn doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue – the forecast is cloud or intermittent drizzle – but it will hopefully be fun nonetheless, and if I’m careful I might be able to enjoy it without too catastrophic a hangover. This year the park will feature performances by Joe McElderry, Alexandra Burke, and SONIA! Yes Sonia from the 80s, who apparently isn’t dead. So I’m sure it will be fun. I’ll blog about it after the weekend.

    Stay safe everyone (that seems to be what you say to each other at the moment) and for FUCK’S SAKE BE NICE TO EACH OTHER. We all have to live here together, and it’ll be much more pleasant if we aren’t beating each other’s skulls in.


  5. M-Day in 168 hours

    July 7, 2011 by superlative

    We are moving in exactly one week’s time.

    I have decided to refer to it as M-Day, as it’s a nice geeky reference for any comic book fans reading this.

    It really doesn’t seem all that far away suddenly, and I’m finding it quite odd that in a week I won’t be living in the flat that has been our home for eight years. It’s a good thing, I keep reminding myself, and you can’t live in the same place forever. But at the same time I’m sure I’ll miss it, and I’ll miss things about it. I’ll miss the way the sun shines in during the afternoon and Chris sunbathing on the carpet. I’ll miss how close it is to town and the station. I’ll miss that we can pop out for a drink on the spur of the moment if we want – although we never do, so really I’ll just miss having the option. I’ll miss being the most central of our friends, so everyone always comes to us before we go out. There are lots of things I’ll miss.

    There are very many good things about the place we are moving to though, and I need to remember that. It is even closer to the sea than we are already. It has a patio. It’s bigger, and the living room is enormous. We can have a proper guest bedroom, albeit a little tiny one. And most importantly, it will be ours. We won’t be dependent on our landlord to fix anything, or prey to him deciding rents in the area have gone up so he should put ours up too, or worried that he’ll be annoyed by the massive mayonnaise stain in the middle of the carpet. It’ll be our own little home, with its own front door, and I think it may even feel more like a little house than a flat. It will be a good thing, but I’m still a bit scared.

    I’ve done a fair bit of the admin work involved in the move. The utilities are all sorted (although I’m certain Plusnet are going to fuck up the broadband for a while). I’ve done quite a few of the address changes, and the ones that are left aren’t especially urgent and most can just be done online. I’ve also got 20 boxes for free from a bookshop, which I was quite pleased about considering in some cases you have to actually buy new ones if you can’t find a kindly retailer to nick them from.

    We have also ordered a nice new bed with a posh Memoryfoam mattress, and we have picked out the sofa, coffee table, dining table and cabinets that we want. Everything is hideously expensive, so my credit card will be taking a pounding, but having all new things should be nice. We’ll probably order some of the items we’ve picked tonight, and then they can arrive in the first few days after the move. It’ll mean me waiting in all day for deliveries, which I hate, but once everything is in it will start to look really nice in there.

    This weekend is packing weekend. I can’t decide if it’s going to take three hours or three days to pack everything. We don’t have that much stuff, and it seems like it should be fairly easy when you know that everything has to be packed. We don’t have to pick and choose like when you’re packing for a holiday; it’ll be more like when you pack to come home from a holiday, and you know that everything has to go in the case. Much faster. I’ll feel a bit better once I’ve done some of it though.

    It’s probably a bit less than 168 hours away actually, as we’ll start moving about 8 or 9am hopefully. So that makes it 164 hours. Eek eek eek. But also exciting eek.


  6. Contracts you say? Let me exchange those for you.

    June 24, 2011 by superlative

    We’re moooooooooooooooooooooooooving! We exchanged contracts yesterday afternoon and now we are absolutely definitely moving and it can’t fall through. Or rather it can fall through but it would cost so much money in penalties that it’s not very likely.

    So hooray! Now I can actually allow myself to think about the new place without having to add on little caveats in my head all the time like “as long as it doesn’t fall through”, “if all goes well”, “assuming we do buy it” etc etc.

    And mostly I am thinking fuuuuuuuuuuuuck I hope it’s all alright! I hope the flat is still nice when we see it again, and I hope there aren’t any huge problems with it that we and the surveyor somehow missed, and I really really hope it’s not a noisy place to live. They’ve said quite categorically “we never hear the neighbours”, but I know you can’t really trust a seller to tell you the whole story. If we get there and it’s really noisy I’m going to be devastated though…

    But anyway, I always assume the worst case scenario will be true, and I need to stop it. As everyone keeps saying to me, I’m sure it will be FINE. And it’ll be our own place, and there will be no landlord, and we can make it nice, and we’ll be proper grown ups.

    We’re completing on 13 July, and we’re going to move our stuff on the 14th. So in less than three weeks we should be living there. It feels weird to think that we’ll be living somewhere else; we’ve been in our rented flat for almost eight years, ever since we moved out of our final student house in 2003. In lots of ways I don’t like the flat any more – it’s quite noisy, it’s not very big, and it needs redecorating – but it has also been my home for a very long time. The only place I have lived in for longer is my childhood home where we stayed until I was 13. Even the house my parents live in now I was only at for five years.

    We never intended to stay put for eight years like this; it just happened, due to convenience and house prices and things. So this will be the start of a whole new chapter for us. I hope it’s a good one.

    We’ll be buying lots of new furniture, because again we’ve had half our stuff for eight years or more, the other half belongs to our landlord, and the stuff we bought was really rather cheap. Can you believe we got our sofabed from Ikea for £35? We’re thrifty, we are.

    That should be quite nice though, because everything will be new, and I’m hoping it will make the flat look all swish. I want people to walk in and say “Wow it’s lovely, I wish my place was this nice”. That’s what I want, the jealousy of my friends. It’s all I live for.

    I’m freaking out a bit about the amount of work to do before and during the move, sorting out all our changes of addresses and utilities and whatnot, but I expect we’ll get there in the end. Other people manage it, and lots of people are quite thick, so it can’t be that hard.

    It’s exciting anyway, and it’s nice to know it’s definitely happening. People have been asking if we’re having a house warming party, and my answer is no. NO ONE TOUCHES ANYTHING IN THE NEW FLAT. That will be the rule. I want to keep it nice, after all.


  7. Buying a house takes 46 million hours of admin

    May 10, 2011 by superlative

    I’m finding buying a flat rather stressy, and I honestly don’t know how people who don’t work in office jobs where they can take phone calls and do emails manage it. It must take absolutely FOREVER if you have to try and do all the things involved with it during your lunch break and in the evenings. I’ll admit that I think we’ve progressed quite far quite fast in the last couple of weeks, not least because I’m lucky enough to have a friend doing the conveyancing who seems to be burning through everything in a manner I’m sure most lawyers wouldn’t. But our progress is also in part due to the amount of time I’ve spent on it, and I’m finding the whole thing quite draining and frustrating.

    Since I last blogged about this nearly two weeks ago, we have had the survey done, finished all the mortgage application stuff and got final approval for the loan, and done draft contracts and deeds and stuff on the legal side. I’m just waiting for the contracts to come in the post. I think all we’ve really got left to do is get the results of all the searches back and check there are no problems with those, resolve any questions and issues that we have over the contracts, and then we’ll probably be ready to exchange once the other party is. I think the searches will take a while though, and in fact I’m grateful for that because I could do with a breather and some time to absorb all that’s happening. The pace of it has not helped with my stress levels at all, and nor has my mobile ringing two or three times a day with stupid mortgage people or surveyors on the other end of it.

    In some ways I think I’m a bit resentful that I have to do all of this while Chris doesn’t really have to do any and can just read and sign the stuff I give him, and listen to my digest of the day’s progress each evening. It’s not his fault, he can’t actually do any of it, because he works pretty much uninterrupted from the time he arrives at school to the time he leaves, and he can’t take phone calls and things there. So it has to be me really, and I do understand that, but I wouldn’t mind being able to share the stress and the faff out a bit more.

    I’m a bit annoyed with the sellers too, because I don’t actually think they’ve looked after some of the built in stuff like the gas appliances very well (not had them serviced, etc.) and it just adds an extra thing to think about. My Mum would say “well you should tell them to get them serviced before you’ll proceed with the sale”, but I find that quite difficult to do. Would we actually withdraw from the sale if they said they didn’t want to do it? No, probably not. And I’m sure they know that too, so why would they want to pay to have it serviced when they’re leaving? And servicing the boiler and the gas fire would probably only cost about £120, so it seems like a bit of a small amount of money in the great scheme of things to be worried about. We could just service them ourselves when we move in. But then what if there’s something more seriously wrong with the appliances that only comes to light during the service?

    See what I mean? You can go round in circles being unsure what to do, and I’ve never had to do any of this before, so it gets really stressy and I feel very unsure. And I don’t like feeling unsure, so I get snappy with Chris, and it’s all very unhelpful.

    And don’t even get me started on the enormity of actually moving. I can’t even think about that yet. I made a list the other day of at least 45 companies and organisations I’ll have to let know the new address, plus there’s all the packing and hiring a van and all that stuff. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Staying in our rented flat just seems to easy sometimes, and if I hadn’t already shelled out more than a thousand pounds on the cost of the move I’d be seriously tempted.

    Oh anyway, this post is boring now. I’d advise you not to read it (too late though, sorry). Maybe once this is all over I’ll be able to think “all that was worth it in the end”. I fucking better.


  8. Getting fed up with looking for flats now

    February 8, 2011 by superlative

    We’ve seen a few more flats since I posted about it last, and all it really does is depress us and make us snappy with each other. Considering the whole point is for us to buy our first home together (well, not first home, but first one we’ve owned) and it should be all couply and lovely, I’d say that makes it a complete failure so far.

    The one on Brunswick Square that I mentioned wasn’t very nice. It had damp patches on the walls and cracks in other walls, and the bathroom looked horrible. I know you cold do it up and make it look nicer, but it was just so shabby that it put me off. And that seems to happen a lot, because loads of places have previously been rented out and apparently no tenants in Brighton actually take care of their home. Half of them look like squats.

    And then we saw one yesterday which was lovely, absolutely lovely. The decor is immaculate, it’s a penthouse apartment with a beautiful roof terrace, and you get an allocated parking space under the building. So it sounds great and we fell in love with the pictures over the weekend and Chris started shopping for hot tubs for his new roof terrace.

    But then we saw it last night, and it’s too small. It’s just too small, there are no two ways about it. The people who live there at the moment apparently own NOTHING, or at the very least have shoved most of it into storage to help sell the flat, and while the flat is indeed beautiful there just isn’t room to put anything. The only storage is the shed on the terrace, and unless that’s some sort of Tardis I don’t think it can compensate for the rest of it. The bedrooms were OK in size I suppose, but the living room is open plan with the kitchen and there really isn’t room to put a dining table anywhere. They’ve got a clever coffee table in there at the moment that converts into a dining table, and so we had a look at furniture like that online when we got home, but then I thought: if I’m looking for space-saving furniture before we even move into a new place, surely there’s something wrong and it’s just too small?

    And so I think it’s not right for us. The communal areas were fine, probably better than a lot of places, but I really don’t like communal areas at the best of times, and that put me off as well.

    I know Chris is disappointed, and we were both quite sad about it last night after our initial excitement. We haven’t said no we won’t go for it yet, but I’ve intimated that that’s the way I’m leaning at the moment to him, and I think deep down he knows it’s too small. It would mean spending our entire budget, and yes there is the terrace and the parking to be factored into the asking price, but I really don’t think we can justify spending everything we have on a flat that’s too small from day one. Not if we’re going to live there for 10 years, which is my present intention.

    So we’re fed up, AGAIN, and Chris thinks we’ll never find anywhere that’s perfect and that we (I in particular) will always find something not to like about every place we see. And I don’t know, I hope that’s not true, but so far I’m yet to find any evidence to the contrary.

    We’ve got another viewing tomorrow, and on paper I actually like it more and more each time I look at it. Plus it’s about twice the size of yesterday’s place. It has no outdoor space, but it has two lofts, and it’s close to the sea.

    So there. Yet again we haven’t found anywhere, yet again we really want to move, and yet again it’s put a strain on our relationship for no noticeable benefit.

    On to viewing number 20 million tomorrow I suppose.


  9. Flats flats flats

    January 18, 2011 by superlative

    Our flat hunting hasn’t been going as well as I had hoped this month. I’d been expecting a flurry of activity after Christmas when all the people who were waiting until the new year suddenly put their houses on the market, but so far that hasn’t materialised.

    I am also getting slightly more desperate to find somewhere and move though, mostly because I’m fed up with our neighbours. I’m fed up with neighbours full stop actually, largely because I don’t like most other people and so I certainly don’t want them within three feet of me at any time of the day or night with only a flimsy bit of wall to separate us.

    On one side of us we have some weird old South African man who keeps very odd hours and likes to clatter around in the middle of the night and switch his bathroom light on and off about fifty times (yes I can hear that through the wall, and it’s annoying). I’ve never seen him, but I know he’s South African because he also enjoys having very long, very loud phone calls (possibly with some relative in South Africa) where he tells them over and over again “Bit yew darn’t wint a cridit cord, yew wint a dibit cord. With a cridit cord yewa spinding the bink’s miney, nit yew ewn miney, sew a dibit cord is mitch bitter.”

    Seriously, he did this for about 40 minutes and I could hear him over my television. If I’d been the person on the other end I’d have taken an overdose just to end the nightmare that is a phone conversation with him.

    And on the other side of us we have two girls who are admittedly better than the drug dealer we had in there before. But the one of them that is a ‘mature’ student (she’s like 22, not my idea of mature any more) has been getting progressively louder this month. She obviously has no lectures at all because she has people over most nights, makes lots of noise in the flat while they squawk loudly at each other until they go out about midnight, and then she comes home about 4am and goes in and out of the flat at least three times slamming all the communal doors each time. And we’ve even said something (well Chris has) about it to them, that it had been too noisy and they had disturbed us, but ALL the tenants who get put into that flat are completely oblivious of the world around them and they just say “oh sorry” and then continue doing it.

    And it’s really annoying! I had four hours’ sleep last night and look like a mongoloid today, and now I just want to move.

    But I can’t find anywhere even to look at, so it’s a bit depressing. The estate agent we’ve been dealing with pissed me off this morning too by completely denying he’d said something to me on Friday, even when I repeated it back to him word for word as he’d phrased it, and insisting I must have misunderstood. So now he’s probably going to put us at the bottom of the pile because I dared contradict him, and because apparently you’re the one who is supposed to go grovelling to estate agents begging to be allowed to buy a property, rather than them making the slightest bit of effort to sell you one.

    Hmpf. Well, anyway. Stupid flats. We’re expanding our search a little bit to include some other areas of town, as looking just in Kemp Town is proving really difficult and limits you to about 30 streets where you might be able to buy something. I’ve seen a couple of nice things but there’s always something wrong with them, so we haven’t even viewed anything since about November. I might just book a couple anyway, in case they’re nicer in real life or they give us some more ideas about what we’re looking for.

    Wish I were rich.


  10. Blue sheets in the morning

    November 12, 2010 by superlative

    I haven’t been blogging much lately partly because I’ve had a cold for three weeks that simply will not fuck off, and partly because I’m just a rubbish blogger. I’ve actually been doing a fair few things though, so I shall try to catch up on them now.

    Flat hunting
    We are still looking officially, but it has slowed way way down in the last week. After the flat I talked about before that we made an offer for, we upped our offer a bit but he still wanted more money and so we had to walk away. He actually seems to be a completely unrealistic seller, and he has since raised the asking price again have previously dropped it by £20K, so I really don’t know what he thinks he’s doing. It won’t sell at that price, he’s just wasting everyone’s time.

    We found a second flat in a posh listed building further into Kemptown, and again we put in a couple of offers, but they wanted more than we could afford to pay and we didn’t get it. And other than that there has been virtually nothing coming onto the market that we’re interested in. It’s not the best time of year to be looking at all, so I think we’re going to end up waiting until after Christmas when lots more stuff will come up for sale and we’ll have a bit more choice. And actually our flat isn’t too bad at the moment – it’s freezing cold in the winter due to the lack of double glazing and central heating, but the current neighbours are quite good and living there hasn’t been too annoying.

    Halloween
    We had another little dressing up outing for Halloween, which was quite successful. I was Frankenstein’s Monster, Chris was Mumm-Ra The Ever Living, and our friend Sarah was a demonic china dolly:

    The house party we went to was quite good, but from what I gather we left at the right time because it all turned a bit ugly towards the end of the night. 30 people the hosts didn’t really know turned up, then basically refused to leave, did loads of coke in the bathroom, and one of the hosts nearly got involved in a punch up with one of them. The neighbours started complaining about the noise, and it was all rather stressful and annoying for them.

    We did try to go clubbing after the party, but failed miserably due to the amount of gin we’d already drunk. We staggered from the party to Legends, got as far as ordering and  paying for some drinks at the bar, and then Chris pretty much passed out on his feet. The barmaid, handing me my change, noticed and said “Erm, he needs to go home right now”, so we had to abandon our untouched drinks on the bar and escort him from the building.

    He managed to do that thing drunks do where they suddenly perk up and move at high speed (I think he thought he might be sick), and to my horror he charged into the revolving door unaccompanied. I was afraid he’d get his cape caught, or simply pass out inside it, but after looking slightly confused for a moment he emerged from the other side successfully and the three of us tottered home.

    Chris didn’t last beyond getting home, obviously, and promptly passed out on the bed still in full blue body paint. In the meantime Sarah had passed out on the sofa, so all I could do really was put a blanket over her, wash off my green face, and pass out myself. Needless to say our sheets were rather blue in the morning with a distinctly Mumm-Ra-like shape all over one half of them. Chris woke optimistically hoping that we might have bathed him before putting him to bed, and was disappointed that we hadn’t.

    We had fun anyway, and I think I’ve got the various body and face paints out of most of my furnishings now.

    And that’s been my last couple of weeks really. Oo yes, my other exciting thing is I’ve bought myself a Kindle, which arrived yesterday. It was meant to be something I got for Christmas, but I couldn’t be bothered to wait so I’ve just treated myself to it. I really like it so far – it’s ever so thin, and reading on it is really easy. There are LOADS of free classics you can get for it, so I’m not actually planning on paying for any books on it for a while yet, and it will let me read lots of things I’ve always wanted to read but without hard copies of them cluttering up my house.

    It was a bit extravagant just to buy it for myself, but whatever. As Cheryl would say, Ahm worrth et.