chrisamies: (Default)
Well, that's how it came out. What I mean is, do most houses have mice? Do they, as it were, come with the package? When the lads gave this house its long-needed makeover last autumn they blocked off a lot of the places where rodents could get in (including the one where I spotted one vanish after it scurried across the kitchen doorway one night), but they are almost certainly still around. Indeed as the understairs cupboard door is ajar most mornings after being closed at night I wonder if they are coming and going that way (yes, supermouse opens doors - but there are small perfectly circular holes in the door and they probably get out through them forcing the door open as they do so).

Yesterday I went for a walk around Norbiton as part of a project, or just an idea, to find out what it contains and what it is possible to do in it. It certainly contains several shops, a supermarket, a bank, a church, a cheese shop, a kebab shop, several restaurants, a fish shop, a pet shop, several pubs and at least one music venue (the Peel). And a cemetery*. I took 45 photographs and the last was exactly one hour - to the second - after the first.

But imagine my surprise when I found out that someone has already embarked on such a project already although less of a user survey (as mine is) and more of a philosophical starting-block. I present Anatomy of Norbiton. The author at one point mentions a bookshop which I looked for but believe may be imaginary. It's just a bit too Rodinsky / Borges to be real.

Apart from that I have translations to do and need to go and buy French-language newspapers and magazines. The first of my Recommended Reading books - "In Other Words - Coursebook on Translation" by Mona Baker - arrived yesterday lunchtime after I'd ordered it the previous day at 5.20 pm or so. That's what I call a quick turnround.

*I asked a passing postman if a passageway he had come out of led anywhere or just to houses. "No mate," he said, "it just goes to those houses and then there's the wall of the cemetery. It's a dead end."
chrisamies: (Default)
And just why am I allowing myself to be quoted £4,000 for painting and decorating the house inside and out when I am about to have no income whatsoever?
But then I suppose it makes sense to have it done now rather than later on when savings will have dwindled and prices may have gone up. It really does need doing.

This rain

Aug. 6th, 2009 10:30 pm
chrisamies: (garden)
Some mania drives me to walk to the sports centre for a swim while it's raining hard. I find it isn't laned swimming yet; go to the steam room, and the gym, but then go to the pool. That's three times this week.
Meanwhile the lodger isn't home yet although she's been more in evidence than recently. And if the worst thing you can say about a lodger is that you don't see them as much as you'd like, well that is no bad thing. She is away at weekends also as she goes back home to her house in a small town which sounds nice also. This house meanwhile is less full of clutter than of late; three trips to the dump with a hand cart, an emptied wheelie bin of rubbish and a recycling box full of paper plus some shreddings in the compost bin have made sure of that.
I don't know how the blackberries at the bottom of the garden will fare with all this rain, but the apples are becoming red and ripe, and the pears ripening along the gnarled branches of the pear tree. The garden is becoming like my grandma's old garden in Lancing, with its fruit trees. The house was called 'Treetops' which makes it sound more exotic than it was, but this house was called 'Sunrise' by its previous occupant who presumably occupied the back bedroom as I do, even though the front bedroom is larger - back bedroom faces east over the gardens, which are small enough, but together make a tidy passel of lawns, bushes and trees. Well, an untidy one really, and all the better for it. Foxes, I expect, skulk beneath the wildlife hedge I planted. I do not give them names, as they are wild animals, but becoming bolder. A while back one stood on the path to the back door and gazed levelly at me, as though it really was the totem animal of John Michell who had died recently. On balance, the fox kills rats and perhaps keeps the cats from thinking they have all the gardens to themselves.
We shall have a lot of apples. She or I will know how to do things with apples. The last year but one it was apple cake, apple pies, apple crumble, bags of apples given away to anyone who would listen. Last year, no apples at all.
This rain will fill the pond up again, I hope. The frogs which were so keen the first year didn't survive the depredations of the cat population, though they lurk where it's damp and come out again. The tall green spikes of pond plants still stand, and in tiny niches under another length of wildlife hedge there are things I planted (woodruff?). It's like that here; spots of colour struggle up through the green.
chrisamies: (Default)
The delivery of two new mattresses and the rebuilding of the three-quarter bed into a double goes off fine though getting a kingsize mattress down the stairs in this house was a fraught exercise. The stairs are narrow and steep and there is not a lot of airspace above them at the foot. This house is now a proper two-bedroom one again then.

Talking, over the garden fence, with next door neighbour. He gives me some runner bean plants, which are now planted.

Bought a new front light for the Brompton. The old one broke when I was taking the front bag off (the B. has a neat luggage system where a bag sits on a mounting block at the front. It is attached to the frame not the handlebars so doesn't turn with them). The new front light is a Knog Toad which I am not sure about - think I need a more serious light for riding when it's properly dark rather than just when the sun's gone down and I'm in lit streets. But I haven't tried it yet.

Eurosportage: Watched some of the Giro d'Italia which I had totally ignored until Tuesday when it was on the telly in a pub I was in.

Writing class: for some reason I'm tireder going in than I am if it had been a working day, and barely recognise one of my classmates (though I suspect she'd had a day off as well and so was in jeans and t-shirt etc, rather than her smart work clothes). My contribution goes down well though it's only half way through the discussion that I realise its title should be 'Passing Strangers'. Of course!

This is another sunny day and there are more things to be done.
chrisamies: (Default)
I've been reading 'Ghostwritten' by David Mitchell and 'Jitterbug Perfume' by Tom Robbins. Years apart, both roam over a wide range of sets and both have an Irish scientist (not the same one) as a main character. Robbins picks up on the undemocratic nature of Hinduism which links with von Ungarn-Sternberg's distinctly un-touchy-feely approach to Buddhism - if your deeds in one life affect your next, then those born in high places must be better people by definition?

Apart from that, it is snowing, as everyone else based around London has said. I suspect the work to build the new summerhouse, which was due to start tomorrow morning, won't. As it is I have practically got the front bedroom in shape as a bedroom apart from the delivery of a new bed (scheduled for the 9th). These two projects are separate but after living here for three years and a bit I've moved on from the original confguration which was very much a first attempt.
Last night, went to the Fighting Cocks to hear a Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band called imaginatively the Fred Hot Chili Peppers. Good music and a nice audience, even if one did apparently run off with my pullover as she was collecting her and her friends' bags. I asked her if she'd found it but although polite she was clearly the worse for wear. That's the difference, in some pubs she wouldn't have been polite either. The HC I hardly bother with as the locals seem to have an issue with people who aren't in clearly definable couples.

The FC is quite a gothy pub which makes it a find, and now that they have real ale (Hobgoblin) there is less excuse not to go in, not that I tend to except for gigs.
This morning, woke up at 1015, had a very quiet day, which would make one suspect I'd had too much of the Hobgoblin (I had one pint, which added to a half of Old Speckled Hen in another pub earlier in the day adds up to not very much). Took some clothes I hadn't worn for a while to the charity. Wrote my Pubs Officer's Report for the AGM, which is on Thursday. I am bound to get rechosen as Pubs Officer. The Pubs Officer can report that tomorrow the Marlborough will have been closed for a year, and is still boarded up.


Nov. 30th, 2008 01:03 am
chrisamies: (Margaras)
I went downstairs just now and as I switched on the dining room light saw a small yet ominous shape scuttle across the kitchen doorway and vanish behind the recycing bin.
A mouse! (too small for a rat, surely and hopefully).
Oh dear. What to do? I don't think it can find much to eat as most food is in the fridge or cupboards but still.
chrisamies: (Default)
Well finally the new bathroom is installed and running (though I still need to paint the non-tiled bits of the walls - they are now an interestingly ochre plaster which is actually so pleasant I might look for a paint that colour). It is nice to walk into the bathroom and not be paddling through the leaks from the old shower cubicle. Where that cubicle was, is now a small airing cupboard, or will be when I have put in some kind of drying rack. New shower, check; new bath - I can finally have a bath and almost fell asleep in it last night.

The day comprised wandering around Kingston Market Place and then off to see the start of the Boat Race, among a lot of other people who were getting soaked in the rain around Putney Bridge. The first time I've been in Bishops Park for a long time - it was nostalgic, I kept seeing places I'd cycled along back in the Hammersmith days. (as well as the church where the priest gets impaled in "The Omen"). The Race seems to be more social occasion than anything else - one year I went along to a picnic by the Mile Post on Fulham Reach. Nettle soup which wouldn't be to everyone's taste but also red wine.

Friday night, the HC again - OK but once more the end of an era, it looks like the Marlborough people aren't going there any more. A place I need to investigate is the Masons Arms in Kensal Green - I met the managers of it in the Marl, so I suspect with that connection it might be quite good, indeed that Sam and Pete picked up some ideas from the Masons Arms. A review of it certainly refers to the upstairs as being 'more like a private club' which is very Marl.

Last night, slept from about 9.30 pm until 7 this morning and didn't get up until 8, or actually 9 as I found out when I turned on the radio.
chrisamies: (Default)
So finally the bathroom project is very nearly finished. When I left this morning (and the fitter had already arrived. They're keen) there was still the lino to put down and the shower to get working, and a few other bits and pieces. By tonight it should be fully working.

The Marlborough may have 'transferred' to the Honest Cabbage but fewer of the Marl's locals have been turning up - as a result Sam is calling it a day. I suppose at least I won't have to listen to anyone singing "Father and Son", that deeply depressing uplifting dirge - as I parody it, "look at me, I'm old but I'm smug." Whether the former regulars will stick together I can't say - Sam and Pete (former managing couple of the Marl) are all some of us have in common I suspect.

Did a bit of writing yesterday even if it was Biggles in the style of Harry Stephen Keeler - the lamentable results are here.

Have watched the final ep of "Ashes to Ashes" this morning also.
chrisamies: (Default)
The plumber and his mate finally turned up at a couple of minutes before eight this morning. I was well impressed. Actually had two phone calls to confirm during the week - maybe my fax to the company rattled a cage or two, or maybe that's what they do anyway.
They reckon the bathroom should be completed by the end of next week, possibly Monday after that. Just as well I'm away this weekend; they're supposed to leave some kind of functionality while the job is underway, but as the bathroom is knackered anyway, how much would there be?

Thus next week I may find myself showering at work or at the Kingfisher rec centre - the very one I'm cancelling my membership of. I'm paying £42 a month but I'm already a member of the Civil Service Sports Council and their gym costs £100 a year to join. £100 against £504? So I have done. The CSSC's recreation facility also includes a bar and a restaurant as well as television, pool table etc. while the Kingfisher has a cafe that closes at 6 pm and that's about it. It really is no contest. Yes, it's a fifteen-minute walk from here, but if I go to the Kingfisher gym during the week I have to get home first, which is two ten-minute walks and a 25-minute train ride.
chrisamies: (Default)
I have just had a call from the bathrooms company saying that they never had me down on their list for today anyhow. This despite a conversation I had with them this morning confirming that they did.

They've now offered 25 March instead, so another two weeks of flushing the toilet with a bucket.

Next time anyone says they're going to turn up between 8 and 9 a.m. I give them until 9.30 (say) and then leave.

I'm also minded to demand a reduction on the job cost to make up for my having missed a day's work.

[edit: it now turns out they did have me down for today, but the fitter has overrun and will be here on the 19th instead. Four people, four different stories].
chrisamies: (Default)
I am currently staying in waiting for the bathroom fitters to arrive to start work.
They were supposed to be here between 8 and 9 but it is now ten past 9.

[edit: It is now 12.15 and they still haven't arrived. If I turned up to work at 1215 when I was supposed to be there before 9 there would be no end of trouble.]
chrisamies: (Default)
Finally, three weeks after the bathroom company delivered the bathroom equipment and thus made my entire back room unusable (as well as the bathroom itself being practically unusable as well - floor is horrible, bath tap doesn't work, WC doesn't flush), the fitters are due to turn up next Wednesday.
This is a relief (pun intended, very much so) not least because this morning lugging a bucket of water into the bathroom gave me a distinct twinge in the back.
chrisamies: (Default)
The bathroom stuff has just been delivered. So much for 'this morning'. Fortunately I knew they'd be here between 9 and 10 pm and so have already taken the bike to the workshop.

Up early tomorrow to go to Birmingham.
chrisamies: (Default)
But if I'd gone to Birmingham to see M. I would probably have come back with a wee cough as she is feeling not well. Hopefully she will be ok by Friday if I go up then instead. I may have to miss the fun and games at the Honest Cabbage (which is shaping up nicely as the Marlborough replacement, though there are far too few comfortable chairs), but it looks like the person in charge of such things has the lurgy also and may have to cancel.

Yesterday, did the Good Beer Guide surveys for the two pubs I had to do them for - the meeting where these were divvied out was on 4 January, I've just taken that long to do it. And it isn't like they're that far away either (still in Kingston, just not my part of the town). These are finally out of the way and I can concentrate on things like revising for the Organic Gardening exam next week.

At the moment I am waiting in for the bathroom items to be delivered. Have cleared the dining room so they can be stored there until needed, but there is no sign at all of any delivery just yet. I was hoping to have lunch at the Lime Leaves (a newly-opened South East Asian restaurant who are doing a special lunch deal for £4.95) and then this afternoon I have to take the bike in for servicing. There is a ride on Sunday but the bike will, in its current state, just about get to the bike shop. I am fairly sure that my neck and shoulder are painful again because of squeezing the brake lever on Sunday last - a week and a bit ago, but still. Nor have I been to the gym for two weeks. The idea was to do a lot more riding and so possibly cancel my gym subscription for a while - not sure.
chrisamies: (Default)
So I'm back on the CAMRA branch committee as Pubs Officer, but it's a post that could be reported in by email if needs be as I'm not really interested in pub crawls and midweek events at the mo. The only downer of the evening was one member claiming that there is nobody on the committee under 50. How old does he think I look? Really. Must keep off the beer if it's having that effect. The AGM took place at the Willoughby Arms which is an old favourite - Twickenham Fine Ales a speciality.

The bathroom project is going ahead; had the room surveyed on Monday which revealed such delights as - the bath panel is stuck on top of the previous bath panel; the bath is cast iron; the shower cubicle has a false wall inside the real one (which will give me more space when it's removed). The new design includes white tiles (with a line of small blue ones through them), white bath WC and sink (I'm not sure there's a choice these days), and a blue-grey floor, so at least one of the walls should be terracotta-coloured or similar (the complementary colour of one of the shades of blue) to provide some colour.

On Sunday I got on the bike and went across South London to Brockwell, had lunch in a pub called the Vale. Unfortunately the brake blocks on the bike are knackered and need replacing so I have a sore hand from squeezing the lever! (that's the front brake. The rear is even more knackered so I was trying not to use it).

This building is freezing. I feel like I'm in Nine Elms Cold Store which was just over the way. If it gets below 16 deg I think we can go home.
chrisamies: (Default)
Waited in for the surveyor to turn up. This is when I supposedly get some idea how much work the bathroom refurb will take (and if it is as dilapidated underneath as it is on top). Unfortunately he did not turn up at all.
Thing is, I need the bathroom redone! Nothing works! My stepmum tells me the supplier I've chosen get it done 'eventually' but they are expensive. Well, so it seems.
chrisamies: (the guvnor)
A reason for the massively increased price of our old house (compared with the norm for semis in that area) seems to be that it has undergone something of a transformation.

When we lived there it had 2.5-bedrooms: two double bedrooms plus a smaller room suitable for small child or storage - that was my bedroom until gran died and then I had hers.

It's now on the market as a five-bedroomer. This seems to include four double bedrooms plus a little room in the attic. Not only has the old garage been converted to a new room, extending past the old front wall and with a hideous porch, the house has been built out above that (as far as I recall, the small room, was over the garage). It seems to be positively creaking at the seams with new space. Even so I looked at the interior pictures and it is now more recognisable. The wall between the living room (which was already a through room in our day) and the kitchen has been knocked down so there is one living-dining space (not sure of the value of this as the living room is quite big already. I'm contemplating something similar for my house but retaining the little sitting room at the front).

The trouble with single spaces seems to me that people end up subdividing them anyway. We had a room divider - my dad called it a 'gazebo' but I think he just liked the word. My neighbours opposite live in a house that must have been extended considerably over the years, but it is still recognisably a mid-19th century terraced cottage - it just goes back a lot further than it used to, to a conservatory at the back, but on the way it's grown a second staircase and interesting spaces here and there. The old square living room and what would previously have been the kitchen are still the shape they were. I think I prefer that style, it's more organic.
chrisamies: (garden)
Half a million quid and then a bit more.
And they've ruined it! Extended and completely unrecognisable, built out into the garden, built out into where the garage used to be. People thought previous decades had no taste but this has nothing to lack taste in - if you see what I mean. It doesn't even reach the level of tastelessness, more that of a corporate hotel suite.

I was going to go and have a look but I don't think I could take it. Just looking on the estate agent's website is bad enough.
Not everything new and shiny is good. As Peter York says here : "covered in shiny surfaces; they're utterly inhospitable."

(I suppose the problem I really have with it is that it was a family house and it's now been turned into some kind of 'executive nonsense'. Nobody who lived in that street 30+ years ago was going to do that to their house. The house next door looks more as though it's been less messed around - a bit like the other place on my shortlist when I moved here, which was a 1920s semi).
chrisamies: (Default)
It is likely i can't turn up to the evening bike ride on Wednesday because i will be asked,
"Where were you on Saturday?"
I was on the list to go and see the Prologue of the Tour De France in London - but while my excuse for not going was that i didn't know what time we were meeting, my reason was that it would have been a n all-day exercise to go and stand in a crowd of people and watch some cyclists whizzing past. Which was not really my idea of fun.
Instead I went on a walk with Friends of Richmond Park, which became a visit to the gardens at Pembroke Lodge, guided round by the gardeners. Reading between the lines these two have transformed a run-down tatty sprawl into a pleasant and varied formal-ish garden over the last four years. Which, never mind 'Ground Force', is probably the minimum time it takes. Sure, you can demolish and dig and build and plant all in a very short space of time, but then nature takes over and the garden takes time to knit together. This is what I'm finding now. The arch is still partly unclad; the apple tree has grown back but needs further work; I could go for 'wildflower meadow' in the lawn, and sitting outside near my one Lilium regale I realised where I need to plant lily bulbs next year: near the house for the scent.

In the afternoon, went to the gym and then in the evening rode the bike to Surbiton to hear a band at the Surbiton Flyer. Good, as was the beer (Fuller's), but a bit keen on doing Thin Lizzy numbers, and I'm not a fan of TL at all. Rode back via Kingston Riverside where I parked the bike and sat looking at the boats and river in near-darkness.

Sunday my neighbour and I finally broke ground on The Path Project! This has been in development for months and would have been started a lot quicker had the paving suppliers actually come up with the pavers they were meant to supply. The project in its whole will replace the paving between my house and the next one - which is of two different kinds, one per house - with a single coherent design. As the path from the front of the houses to the street - on my side - is to be made of smaller slabs which we already have, we could start on that. We did but having broken up concrete, dug out, and provided a wooden structure for the hardcore and sand that the slabs sits on ...
we ran out of sand, and it was too late to go back to Wickes. So we now have a half-constructed path. But at least we're started.

We dug a few things up during construction: a seashell, a hinge of some kind from what must have once been a gate to the front garden, and most remarkable of all a big heavy Yorkstone slab which would once have been the house's hearthstone. Someone at some time had reassigned it as part of a pathway, and then it got buried under later development.
Once this project is over - and who knows how long it'll take, I'm away for part of the summer - I need to start on the patio out back of my house, which has broken tiles and concrete for now as well as a dilapidated shed.


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