How do I sound?

Testing, 1,2,3….
(Play button is far left, try reloading if you can’t see it, or click there anyway)

Hm, thanks Alan. I may give this a go from time to time. I confess, I don’t like the sound of my voice, but it’s well worth considering on occasion.

Greetings from the other house :)

I’m back! Did you miss me?

We have now moved to our new home and it was the most chaotic move I have ever experienced! Added to that we had no TV, phone or internet for 3 weeks. As you can tell, we now have the latter sorted and we now have a functioning home, albeit that we have a few more boxes to unpack and sorting to do still.

We picked up the keys on the Friday (1st March) and Billy and I were off work that day so that we could spend the day packing up the last of the stuff (by this time I was sick of packing and boxes, having been doing it for the last 2 weeks!) and we had two friends and their vans arranged to help with the actual move the next day. The plan was for Billy to be at the old house conducting that end of the operation and I’d be at the new house organising where things should be put and sorting them out.

But it didn’t quite turn out like that…..

One of Billy’s friends who had offered his services and van for the move was unexpectedly free on the Friday afternoon so came to make a start! And so it ended up that for the next two days the move went ahead in a very chaotic fashion – moving things that weren’t yet packed and in very random order rather than room-by-room as I’d envisioned. Important things (like kitchen pots/pans, crockery etc) were left behind (including the draining rack full of the morning’s dishes!) whilst nick-nacks stored in the loft for years were brought in various containers and bags. Naturally the food was removed from the fridge and freezers before they were brought along, but the food then got left behind! Divan beds had their bases separated for moving, but the clips to join the two halves got lost somewhere along the way. All that said, we were very grateful for the help of our extremely willing and hard-working friends and eventually we called it a day, though one friend was going to return the next week to take the final load and then take all the rubbish to the tip for us. (This hasn’t actually happened as yet and though Billy and Raji have collected some stuff on foot, and I have done a couple of car runs, we need a van for one last run which is frustrating.)

By the end of the weekend I was dirty, tired, aching and had broken nails, very dry sore hands and sported a multitude of cuts and bruises (I’m really not built for manual work!) I had the Monday and Tuesday off work, thankfully, so I was able to spend those two days playing put-and-take sorting out and by the end of that time we had a functioning home with all the main elements reasonably organised.(Kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.)

I have to say that the cats have been absolutely brilliant and took it all their stride. We had two cat carriers and I borrowed another from a colleague but I anticipated a few problems getting the cats in. As it turned out Timmy and Zeb didn’t put up too much of a fight and Zara walked in to the borrowed basket voluntarily, much to my surprise. Nel and I took the cats and the hamsters in the car to the new house and deposited them all in her bedroom – for two reasons: firstly, her room is on the 2nd floor so nicely out of the way of the moving chaos and secondly, she also can’t cope with too much upheaval and our plan was to get her room moved so she could shut the door and stay quietly sorting her own bits. This worked really well and the cats stayed in with her for a couple of days before being allowed to explore the rest of the house in their own time. They’ve done this very casually and absolutely love having the run of a 3 storey house! After two weeks of keeping them indoors (which they accepted without complaint, though the cold, snowy weather helped) I opened the back door for them to investigate the garden. They loved this and were soon jumping up (and over) the walls and lapping water from the (tiny) pond in the corner. Once they all came back inside I shut the door but unblocked the cat-flap. Within an hour they were all coming and going freely and I was pleased to think they could now please themselves. All in all, I’d say they are quite satisfied with their new home, garden and lifestyle!

Car parking is an issue here and we were given, by our lovely landlords, a visitor’s parking permit. However, after searching in vain for a parking spot, Billy and I went in tot he council offices to enquire as to exactly where these parking bays were. There are 4. Four bays for the whole street! (At a cost of £15 per year.) The previous owners apparently had an arrangement with a chap further down who has his own designated bay but no car. He wanted £20 a month for this. However, after our visit to the council offices, we’ve instead bought a county-wide parking permit (for all council pay-and-display car parks across the whole county) which is £130 a year (though we’ve currently paid for 3 months at £48.) It means the car is parked a bit of a walk from the house but this isn’t a huge issue as we don’t use it for small trips on a daily basis. Another half a day spent sorting this out though!

You won’t believe the saga with TV/internet/phone that we’ve had! It’s like something out of a sitcom! We had, at our old house, all of these with Sky and we called before our move, giving a couple of weeks notice so that could simply switch us over. Simple, yes? No! They couldn’t ascertain whether or not there was a phone line in the new house. We told them there was. They insisted it wasn’t clear and they’d report it as an issue to be resolved. In the meantime, though, they’d book a Sky engineer to come and set up the TV – but it couldn’t be the day of the move so we’d have to wait until the Monday. On the Monday, out came the engineer and as Billy had been called in to work (he was NOT amused!) I had to deal with this. I’ll try to keep this simple:

Old house: 1x Sky+ box, 2 x Sky boxes (multiroom)
New House: 1 x Sky cable in to upstairs lounge, now Raji’s room
Wanted in new house: 1 x Sky box in living room (which has no TV or Sky cables/sockets at all) and 1x Sky box (multiroom) in Raji’s room.

So the engineer looked at the Sky dish on the roof and announced that he couldn’t get up to it as it was on a pole next to the chimney and he couldn’t safely get to it. (“Must’ve been a private company that put that up” he said.)
However, he could drill holes in the wall on the front of the house to safely affix his ladders to get to it. Er, no. It’s a grade II listed building and not our property.
Hm. Well he could fix another, separate dish to the front of the house. Er, no. It’s a grade II listed building and not our property.
Well he could drill a hole in the wall in to the front room and feed the cable that currently goes in to the upstairs room to the sitting room. Er, no. It’s a grade II listed building and not our property.
Deep thought. Aha! He could fix our dish to the dentist’s property next door! Er, no! As if!
I’d pretty much got the picture – there wasn’t going to be anything he could do so we’d simply have to have the one Sky box in Raji’s room only. No, no….. he’d wait for his mate and see what he said. Two hours later we ended up with the one Sky box in Raji’s room only! We could have done that ourselves had we known, and at the least I could have had an hour and a half more time unpacking! Amused, not!

OK, we could work around this – we’d have the Sky box in Raji’s room, Nel had a TV aerial socket and had bought a freeview set top box, and we could register 4 devices to stream TV via SkyGo so that would work. Once we got the internet of course…..

We plugged in a phone to the phone socket and had a dialling tone. Great! We could call Sky and tell them we definitely have a phone line installed and they could connect us straight away. Er no! It still appeared we had no line and a BT engineer would have to be booked. This would not be until 21st March! 3 weeks after moving in! Paul came round and ascertained the telephone number. Great! We could call Sky and they could cancel the engineer and connect us! Er, no! There IS no phone line and the engineer was coming out to INSTALL one! So we had to wait 3 weeks with no TV for all but Raji, and no internet at all. This was hardest on Nel because of her autism – the only place she can interact enjoyably with people is via the internet (no trying to read people’s expressions, pick up on unspoken clues etc. – all nice and clear in black and white.) She ended up spending a fortune on mobile dongles and top ups, having been sold various things that were no use or cost her the earth (avoid Carphone Warehouse!) We were very upset on her behalf and Billy sorted out a mobile dongle at a better rate which helped. Naturally with these things she still couldn’t do the things that are important to her so she really did suffer during this time.

And so the great day dawned. At last, the BT engineer was coming and since Billy and I were working, Paul very kindly got up early during his week off and came round to let the engineer in the house and speak on our behalf. Not only this, but he actually arrived promptly at 8.45am. Just as Billy found out that our phone line was now active! BT engineer had clearly looked at his job sheet, checked there was a line already installed and activated it at the exchange! After quickly plugging in the brand new Sky router and checking the internet worked, Paul left the house with us as we set off to work. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!Unbelievable!3 weeks of stress for no good reason!

It is nice to feel part of the world again, though I have yet to catch right up and to get into a routine and of course, much of my time is still taken up with working 35 hours a week and sorting the house – as well learning to use the cooker here….

This house has a Rayburn cooker which means learning to cook a whole new way. There is also a ceramic hob, but after one play with this, I have made it redundant (the biggest problem being that it takes a while to heat and then an age to cool and I’m worried about the cats getting burned if they jump up when the kitchen is unattended.) The Rayburn also provides the house’s heating and hot water, but we’ve yet to learn how best to use it for this so it’s a bit chilly as yet and we sometimes run out of hot water.

Rayburn cooking is completely different to “normal” cooking and I’m glad I am a confident cook else I think I’d be terrified! You cook 20% of stuff on top of it on the hotplate (a solid plate which varies in temperature so you slide things around to hottest/coolest spots) and 80% in the ovens – an upper and a lower, the lower running at about half the temperature of the upper. It takes around half an hour to heat the oven to the baking or roasting temperatures and it seems about 2 days to cool back to the lowest setting, even when “idling”. The whole of the oven is hot, including the floor (which is good for baking pastry without needing to bake blind) and the shelves are deep so you can get 2 dishes on one shelf. The Rayburn is NOT for quick cooking or for cooking one thing then turning off!

So after two weekends of experimenting (the results of which were all edible, I’m pleased to say) I have learned that it’s best to batch bake/cook at weekends and then simply warm each evening meal in the idling oven all day whilst at work. Lots of casseroles and such, accompanied by home-made bread courtesy of the bread maker which is now in almost daily use 🙂 It means a lot of my weekend is gone doing the batch cooking, but it is lovely coming home to a hot, home cooked meal each evening after work. Today, on only my second weekend of experimenting, I have managed to cook a roast – challenging and time-consuming but absolutely gorgeous as the Rayburn keeps in all the flavours of the meat (beef on this occasion). Even the gravy was wicked! I’ve pre-cooked the meals for the week and each evening I put porridge in the oven to cook slowly overnight and Raji and I love coming down to a bowl of that every morning.

I am going to need to invest in some hotplate-to-oven friendly cookware as I am currently having to mess about swapping pans for casserole dishes and I’ve only got 3 casserole dishes. I am getting the hang of using the Rayburn for drying dishes, warming plates/jugs/mugs/bowls and airing wooden cooking utensils. I am looking forward to using it for making herbal oils and drying herbs etc.

Oh yes, I almost forgot – Nel’s freeview box doesn’t work – but it looks like the aerial isn’t working so still, Raji is the only one with proper TV. I have to admit I never watched TV much anyway and haven’t yet started watching it through my laptop. The only thing I miss having on in the background is Sky Sports news – I do feel very out of things without this. Must find a new routine where I can watch this each day to keep up with things.

The “children” seem settled and happy here and I think they like having the top floor of the house to themselves. Raji is Raji – one can never tell, but he seems happy enough and seems to like having the biggest bedroom in the house for all his stuff. Billy and I are just relieved to have left the old house and feel lucky to have found a large enough home for us all, in walking distance of our needs and where cats are allowed. There are lots of things to work through yet but we have a roof over our heads and can hopefully move forward.

So, there you have it. A brief catch-up on our move. I’d like to tell you more about this lovely house when I get the chance but for now………. welcome 🙂

Not doing; just being.

We spent a lovely, leisurely Boxing Day at home (mainly eating what we wanted, when we wanted it 😉 ) I watched the Sunderland 1 v 0 City match on a very hit-and-miss webstream whilst Billy watched ManUre 4 v 3 Newcastle and we were both wanting each other’s team to win; we were both disappointed! Ho hum! (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here and extended ones here)

On the 27th, Nel and I drove down to mum’s to spend the night and just have some girls’ time out. Nel went shopping with her friend who lives nearby and mum and I did……………. absolutely nothing! 🙂 We just sat and chatted and it was lovely. Nel returned in time for dinner (braised steak, mmmm.) She had asked if she could sleep in the living room on the camp bed and as soon as we’d made it up ready, Rocky decided it looked very cosy (which it did, as mum always makes it so) and promptly claimed it! 😀 Nel going to bed later didn’t bother him a bit – since he had his spot, right in the middle and wasn’t budging! At some point in the night though, he did decide to let Nel get some sleep and he went upstairs to sleep with mummy. The next morning we went for a mooch in the shops and though we enjoyed ourselves, we didn’t actually buy much (and even then what we bought was from the 99p shop!) so we clearly hadn’t missed much the day before. We had a lovely late lunch of mum’s home-made chips with Bockwurst before we set off for home again. What a wonderfully relaxing visit – not doing, just being 🙂

I couldn’t get a web stream for the Norwich 3 v 4 City match and had to content myself with the radio commentary instead. It sounded a fantastic match and of course, the result was very pleasing too. The effort was certainly better than the apparent lack of interest on Boxing Day and fans of both clubs got their moneys-worth. (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here.)

Other than this, I just enjoyed being at home for a few days – no work, no plans, just pottering around doing little things like catching up with some blogging, cleaning up my laptop (backing up files, doing a defrag etc.) and playing with my new phone, installing apps etc. 🙂 I was not missing work at all!

New look!

I am sure you noticed that this blog has had a makeover! Isn’t it great? 🙂

My lovely friend Jen at Six28 Design did it for me, taking all the things in my life/blog and the blog elements I most like and combining them to give me this nice clean updated look. She also incorporated some new toys which I hope to get round to playing with sometime.

Thanks so much Jen, I love it. If anyone out there has a WordPress blog and would like a makeover, you know whom to ask – she’s good!

They’ve destroyed Aunty Sport!

As you may know (if you ever click links in my blog posts to neutral match reports) I use the BBC Sports website for these as they are REASONABLY disinterested whereas many other sites’ reports are not. I have also always used the Beeb for all my sports news and visited several times a day to get a good overview of what’s happening across the football world, the Prem, and other domestic leagues.

However, they’ve gone and tried to fix something that ain’t broke and utterly ruined the site. So much so that I can’t use it any more as a) I can’t stand all the hideous yellow and white space and b) I can’t see at a glance and it takes to many clicks to find anything specific. 🙁 You can read here what the specific changes are. Have a look at all the negative responses they’ve had to it – even from professional web designers! Sadly I doubt they’ll have the courage to admit their mistake and go back to what the people liked. (I’d be interested in their before-and-after viewing statistics once the novelty has worn off.)

I have looked around and thus far I have been unable to come up with anything remotely near as good as the OLD Aunty Sports site was and am very unhappy about it. I think I am going to have to link to MCFC’s reports in the future – and to be fair they do report fairly and professionally, but obviously they have a Blue bias which is why I’ve chosen neutral ones before.

RIP Aunty Sport 🙁

Anji in wonderland.

Billy has been needing a new bed in his room/spare room for a long time and we decided it would make sense to put our queen-size (small double) one in there and get ourselves a king-size (large-double) for our room as we do tend to disturb each other in the queen-size one.

I’d found one with a nice deep mattress on e-bay about a year or more ago, at the really good price of £139, and added it to my watch-list for when I could afford it. Unfortunately this never happened as we’ve never had the money.

Finally, Billy and I pooled our Christmas money and bought it just in to the New Year. Even better, it was in the post-festive sale so even more of a bargain! 🙂

Homefurnishingsuk, the seller, was brilliant and we got to pick our delivery date – and having expected a wait of a week or two, I was amazed when we could have our bed just 2 days later on a day to suit.

Billy and I spent the morning moving furniture around and making room and just as we had done so, the new bed arrived. Perfect timing and a perfect bed. Soon it was all made up ready for use.

Although I sleep in a king-sized bed at mum’s, I am usually only it literally for sleeping. At home, I tend to snuggle under the duvet and watch DVD’s with Nel for the evening so I am awake and sitting up in the bed more. I feel like Anji in Wonderland – it’s huge! Even Billy commented that I looked small in it, and it’s plenty big enough for both of us to sleep without disturbing each other. 🙂

The one thing to which I’m having to adjust – and which is my own fault as I somehow completely overlooked it – is that it is so much softer than I am used to. I am used to very hard beds as army beds are rock hard and I grew up sleeping in army beds so have just carried on with hard mattresses. I don’t think it’s a BAD thing having a bed I sink into – just weird.

All in all, we’re delighted with our new bed – and we now have a decent spare bed for guests again 🙂 I would recommend this e-bay seller if you’re after one yourself by the way.

Blackburn 0 – 4 City

Another game viewed on-line, but I had such trouble with my PC/the internet/the stream that I missed great chunks of the game – including our first two goals! 🙁

The first half of the match didn’t give me much hope of City breaking their duck at a bogey ground, though I confess I did feel optimistic that we would prevail in the end, if only by a goal. When Aguero pulled up and sat down indicating that he needed to come off I feared the worst for him, but fortunately it looks like a muscle strain only. Nasri came on in his place and played well I thought. In the second half, we started to look more commanding and I was baffled by how much space Blackburn players gave our attackers generally, and Silva specifically. By the end of the game, we’d had 19 attempts at goal, with 12 on target, though it was thanks to AJ that we broke the deadlock.

I was NOT amused to miss both his and Balotelli’s goals! (Eventually, 2 reboots and switching to Google Chrome from IE got my stream back.) Happily, I DID see Nasri’s and Savic’s goals and was very pleased with the final score. Though Manure also gained 3 points from the weekend, we’ve narrowed their better goal difference to just 1 🙂 The forthcoming derby is getting ever more interesting a prospect, even for neutrals.

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here.
MCFC’s extended highlights here.

Ain’t Technology Grand?

Just after New Year, Billy and I finally managed to finish clearing everything out of my clinic and I then spent a few days playing put-and-take trying to find homes for it all.

One of the things I brought home was the computer which Billy had given me for the business when I opened it 4 years ago. Although I had occasionally used my mobile to connect it to the internet if I needed something specific, it was mainly used offline and therefore had not been updated for 4 years. Nel has been wanting a PC to use for playing games without using all the memory on her laptop, so the plan as for her to have the old one I was using at home, which was a bit sluggish but had a good graphics card, and for me to update the old clinic one for my own use. Nel was also gaining the all-in-one scanner-printer from me and I was having the clinic printer.

And so began a day of backing up my files and favourites before wiping them all from the old PC and then setting up the clinic one ready to use. First I had to install the wireless receiver and then of course, downloading and installing all the updates. 72 of them in the first wave, but then, annoyingly, many more, a few at a time as they appeared. Why it couldn’t do them all at once and be done with it, I don’t know! I also had to get an updated Kaspersky key which was free of charge courtesy of online banking, but I’d already used my 3 keys for Billy’s laptop, Nel’s PC and Nel’s laptop, so I had to ask Stephen to get me one of his. Eventually, everything was installed and then, just as I could play, Windows did a check and decided that the copy of Windows on the PC was not legitimate! Flamin’ cheek! It IS! Billy bought this PC 5+ years ago, with Windows already installed and with a sticker stating the key on the side. The only advice offered with the notification was to contact the retailer – fat lot of help all this time later when I haven’t a clue where it came from! Now I am stuck with a stupid message on my desktop and am unable to set a wallpaper or theme. Grrrr! Other than this, and the fact that the very old version of Office is installed, all is well and I have set up the computer to run a personal account for me and a herbal one for the business.

My business mobile is synchronised with and backed up to, this computer and I’d had a text a few weeks ago from Orange, advising me that there was new software available for my phone and that I should download and install it.(I love Nokia and Ovi Suite for letting me update my own software 🙂 ) I couldn’t do this before as I couldn’t get online to do so, but after bringing the PC home, and getting it online, I could now do this. So another couple of hours were spent backing up my phone and then installing the new software and at last, I have a nice up to date business phone.

Sadly, this just highlighted the fact that my personal phone was getting on a bit now that I’d had it for 3 years, and I badly needed a new one. I had a good look around at what Nokias there were available, researched them, looked at them in the shops and eventually decided I’d like a Nokia C5 – a classic Nokia phone but with a lot of smart phone abilities. I don’t need a lot of gismos and gadgets though I did like the idea of the free sat-nav as this is something I’ve been needing for a while, and the camera and other features were a bit better than my old one. I usually pay around £15 every other month on PAYG with Tesco (which is actually serviced by O2) and found a good deal on the O2 website which offered the C5 free with a £10pcm contract – so £2.50 a month more than I am already used to paying. This sounded a great deal so I went for it.

When my new phone came, I spent more time backing up my old one to the PC/Ovi Suite and setting up my preferences. However, as I still have a fair bit of credit to use on my Tesco SIM, I have put that into the new phone until I’ve used it up and will then use the new O2 SIM (if you call/text me, panic not, I shall be retaining my old number!) Until then, there’s no point getting O2 to send me the correct phone settings so I’m not yet using all the phone’s features. Once I do switch, I plan to use the old handset and a free PAYG SIM to keep in the car for an emergency. I must remember to make a call from it every 3 or 4 months though, to keep the SIM active.

It was coincidence that I did all this computer and phone updating at the same time, but it is a good job jobbed and I’m pleased with the results. Hopefully this little lot will keep me going for another 3 years or so before it needs doing again. 🙂

The kids in my life.

Just thought I’d reassure you that the children in my life are still in it and give you an update 😉

    Stephen:

Still a fun person with whom to spend time, still loves his football and we have many football conversations. Still sharing film and video with me.

I rent a DVD each week to watch whilst I do the ironing marathon (via LoveFilm) and he recommended the series “Flash ForwardI have been working through it and have to give him credit – I’m loving it. He pops in every now and then to see where I’m up to with it and often stays to watch with me.

The other week he sat through all 6 Star Wars films, in story order and loved them (he has seen them before but not all together like this) and then he came across a couple of Star Wars related videos on You Tube which he shared with me. I absolutely love this one, and can’t get it out of my head! 😛

He also likes this one, which admittedly is very clever, but not quite so catchy I think:

    Nel:

As she gets older we are actually finding a few more things in common, and she suggested I’d enjoy the Buffy series which I have never seen. She has the boxed set of all the series, 1 – 7, which she has borrowed from a friend so we are watching a couple of episodes each evening together. We’ve got in to a routine on these cold winter evenings – with me in bed with electric blanket and hot water bottle, and her on the chair nest to me with microwave wheat bag and duvet 🙂 My children know me well as I’m quite enjoying these DVD’s too, though I think some series are better than others. We’re now on series 7 and she plans to get me watching Angel next. I am enjoying spending time with her so I’m glad she has found something else for us to watch together.

    Both Stephen and Nel

have just cashed in their Children’s Investment Bonds giving them a small amount of money to fund their current needs. Ever since they were babies, when they were given money for birthdays or Christmas, I’ve let them spend half and I’ve put half into these bonds. It hasn’t been a huge amount but the return is good and I have finally let them have the money. (If you want to invest money long term for kids, I recommend these bonds.)

My main reason was that Nel is so desperate for a dog and it’s no passing fancy, but we cannot afford to get her one or pay for its upkeep. She is now planning to get one in the new year and can start searching the rescue organisations for the one she wants.

Stephen, I trust less to spend the money wisely, but I could hardly let her have hers without letting him have his. He wants a new TV, new PC monitor and some clothes – though I have cautioned him to include workwear in his shopping in case he gets a job anytime!

I filled in all the forms for them a couple of weeks ago and they’ve been eagerly awaiting the postman ever since. With the snow, we hadn’t had any post for 3 days and Stephen was entertainingly impatient. Yesterday a friend had told him he’d seen a postman near our road so Stephen was pacing like an expectant father and had finally given up and flounced to his room when the post arrived. As soon as the children had received their warrants, they hot footed it to the bank like a pair of horses out of the traps. 😀 They just got to the bank before it closed but are now in suspense again waiting for the money to clear into their accounts. It’s highly amusing watching Stephen’s impatience – horrible mother! 😉

    Godson Callum:

After my day with Callum I haven’t seen him and am not sure when I next will, but we’re keeping touch by post and his mum sends me text updates. The poor little angel hasn’t been well this week as his latest chemo made him very sick, tired and he has been in pain. After being given two different anti sickness tablets to take at the same time, he’s a bit brighter and is back at home. If wishes were cures…. 🙁

Links

I’ve been updating my links both here on my blog and on the links page of my main site and have added a new category for sites and businesses owned by fellow Blues.

So if you’re a City fan and have a site that you think might interest other Blues – whether for business or leisure, then please do feel free to contact me and if I like it, I’ll add it. It would be quite nice to have fellow Blues doing business with each other I think 🙂

MaineMoFo (Jeff) has kicked us off with his Partytentenshop