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Wednesday, January 17

Home Sweet Huh?

You don't notice the various things that become sub-standard in your own home. The small stain on the wall, the badly fixed thing here, the broken thing there, the shortcut that you took in the other place. You don't notice the odd behaviour around your property either - the parking, the noise the neighbours make, the position of the street lights... well, you do notice all of these things, but you become used to them and they fade into the background.

The thing about moving into a new house is that all of these details become incredibly vivid and apparent. When it's a house that needs a lot of work doing to it, all of the repairs that you have to undo to get down to the bare walls are very obvious and, where silly, very silly. So, the last day and half has been a wealth of irreverent detail. It's been quite an experience. Here are some details I've noticed:
  • The local Polish neighbours appear to use my drive as a shortcut to get their bikes into the back yard of their house - over the wall at the back of my drive
  • Other people appear to use my drive as a rubbish bin, leaving myriad of crap there - a TV, a box of clothes, a Christmas tree, for example
  • Tiling a room is not a good way to decorate it. It is a good way to accumulate years' worth of grease
  • Where tiling comes off, you can replace that section of wall with a special type of hardboard with a fake series of grout channels - this is crap
  • Rising damp can be ignored
  • So can wet ceilings
  • A gas certificate is no sign that the boiler is in any state to provide heating
  • An access hatch to the loft, no wider than a 6 year old girl, may be a sign of a previous age when electricians either exploited child labour, or comprised a bunch of talented children
  • Varnishing wood is lush
  • The best surface upon which to lay lino is lino
  • Small fridge like cupboards can be found under sinks
It's been an eventful time alright. The garage is accumulating the stuff that is due to be thrown out. Around a dozen rubble sacks have been bought and filled. There's more rubble where that came from. A man's (and indeed woman's) best friend may well be a utility bar - the short version of a crow bar, which responds well to a hammer and some tiles, plaster, floorboard... whatever, really.

With a head full of dust and a few scrapes of the hands, I returned to work today. I would have had a shower, but the only working one is downstairs and I was too cold to use it. The upstairs shower works off the hot water, which doesn't work. There is running water in the house, which is something I was afraid wouldn't be there, the supply having been turned off (allegedly in the street, though this didn't prove to be the case). The water won't heat because the heating header tank won't fill. This may be a blessing as it, apparently, leaks when it does fill. The heating, therefore, doesn't work either. So, the "heating must be replaced soon" has now become "replace the heating now".

I bought a small convection heater, which will keep my bedroom warm. The bedroom is very nice, with the bed being a surprisingly easy thing to move between houses, despite being a bit of a bugger to assemble in the first place in the first house. I've already slept in the house a couple of nights and it's a lot better sleeping there when there are curtains up. I put the curtains up yesterday, following a rather fun and hurried trip to a curtain shop where I basically showed the woman a picture of the windows with measurements on and then did what she told me I needed to do in order to get enough curtain to fill the space. Colour matching and style is not the deal here... but it looks pretty good... though I need to gather the curtains. I also need to work out what that means.

A whiteboard and a pin board have also been bought and they will be put up soon. Home's not home without a whiteboard!

So, there has been a lot of action both in and out of a van. There have been Subways eaten. The plumber's trip proved to be useful in terms of getting together the data for a full central heating system quote. The trip didn't even cost anything, which was nice, given that the chap did, at least, appear to be doing things around the house, even though the central heating header tank was too knackered to work and too inaccessible (through the gift the micro-crawl-hatch) to be fixed.

There are more questions about how the house will end up than there are answers. I need to get more data. I know that I need a roofer on the roof quite urgently, and I know that my damp-proofing people are coming in a week's time.

So what if I have no hot water (except through downstairs' electric shower), no heating (except through the one-room convection heater) and no fridge (unless you count the majority of the house)? I do have a small amount of remaining kitchen in which not to cook, a kettle with which to make hot water, a cooker, washing machine (though nothing will dry in the house, so that's useless) microwave and (assuming my delivery came today) new TV to play with. And a new mobile phone that I haven't even powered on yet... It's all... well, in a state of flux.

Roll on the weekend when I can get the hell out of Reading and away from it :)


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