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“Go Ali, I’m your mother…” (© Supertroopers)

December 3, 2004 at 3:42 pm

Yesterday Ali King arrived in Reading, fresh and raring to tackle some of our more laborious projects. Having got drunk the night before, we weren’t quite as raring, and definitely not as fresh – but none the less we soldiered on and achieved quite a bit. Despite what it looks like from the photos, Henry was helping too (Sara was at work) but we did consider at one point that perhaps we should change the name of this site to "www.come-and-help-us-do-work-on-our-flat-and-we’ll-pay-you-in-beer-and-put-you-on-the-web.com" but changed our mind thankfully – we’d never attract any more helpers with that kind of attitude… :)

In the course of the day we managed to rip down what remained of the skanky wardrobe in the spare bedroom, move the futon in to the space and assemble the new bed which was delivered that morning. We weren’t in for quite the night’s sleep we had hoped for though, as stupid old MFI just "forgot" to deliver our matress, so we had to resort to the airbed until we could find another matress.

The day ended the same was as the previous evening – drinking beer and watching DVDs. Some of us managed to stay up until 1.30am, others fell asleep earlier (no surprises there!!)

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The Cryin’, The Titch and the Wardrobes…

November 28, 2004 at 3:19 pm

Yesterday we finally found some floor laminates we were happy with, and we bought 20m²-worth of it (with underlay) from Floors-2-go. We would have liked to have bought real wooden floor boards, but the two main problems with this were the cost (we’re rapidly running out of money!) and the fact that they would have made the floor (in an already low room) even higher.

Today we bought two new wardrobes from B&Q, so we can finally get rid of the crappy old built-in one that’s taking up loads of room in the spare bedroom. Henry assembled them while Sara marked some mock exams, and it all went relatively smoothly – though the lack of a long-screwdriver in Henry’s rapidly-growing tool collection did require a last-minute run to Wickes. We also bought some nice looking no-more-damp paint for the bedroom, and a stupid Humidifier too – we meant to get a DEHUMIDIFIER, but didn’t look cloesly enough at the box – either that or we went for the cheapest one, you decide!!

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In to the depths of the garage we go…

November 21, 2004 at 3:14 pm

This was Mark’s second day of being extremely helpful, and while Sara drove off to her school Environmental Day for the morning, Mark and Henry set off to the garage to spread their magic. Despite horrendouse hangovers on everybody’s part, they managed to not only fit a new consumer unit in the garage, but also to wire up 2 strip lights (one over where the car would go, and one for Henry’s future workbench!). They also fixed the doorframe to stop it jamming, and generally improved what was a pretty rubbish waste of space.

In the afternoon, before Mark headed back up north, we all went out to Reading town centre to meet Ben, Katy and William for lunch. We dined at Old Orleans (albeit very slowly – the Christmas shopping rush strikes again!) and had a very nice time, although William got a bit confused by a balloon Henry gave him. He liked the ribbon it was attached to though!!

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Mark “Handy Andy” Nicholls sweeps in to town…

November 20, 2004 at 3:10 pm

This weekend he had the pleasure of Mark Nicholls company (Henry’s cousin). He swept in to town like a rogue tornado, fixed and improved lots of aspects of our flat, got us drunk and taught us chinese mind tricks.

Amongst the items we managed to tick off our "to do" list was:

  • Re-attaching the radiator and brackets to the living room wall, thus warming it up again
  • Fitting the new blinds in the living room
  • Wiring up the telephone cables so we can have a phone upstairs
  • Improving the TV reception
  • Fitting some very nice curtains in the bedroom
  • Wiring up the garage for lights and plugs
  • Fixing the garage door
  • Setting up a PIR unit and security light in the front porch.
  • Testing our spare bedroom for guests – it passed
  • Generally taught us lots of things we didn’t know!!

Thanks very much of course to Mark, and below you can see some shots of him in action! Just don’t ask about the beer-mat trick, or the chinese pencil breaking (using just paper) – not unless we’re drunk anyway!

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Damp-proof once and for all.

November 18, 2004 at 2:37 pm

We weren’t initially expecting to add an entry today – the next big day on the agenda was supposed to be this weekend when Mark Nicholls comes down to help out. However, on Wednesday we received a call from "Property Preservations" saying that the men who were coming to do our damp-proofing and plastering next thursday could actually fit us in a week early. So, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth we snapped them up and Henry arranged to work from home for the day.

The bulk of the labouring was obviously done by the builders, so Sara went to school as normal and Henry holed himself up in the spare room to do some work – only interupted minorly when the builder cut through the phone cable, so Henry had to go down and fit a new one. Plus the occassional coffee-making session obviously (Builders must have bladders like balloons!). We opted to have them do half of the work now (living room, hallway and bedroom 1) and half another time (bedroom 2 and kitchen) – partly because of the cost, but also because Henry couldn’t be bothered to move all the bookshelves in the spare room.

By the end of Day 13, all the "hacking", "injecting" and "plastering" is complete. The main builder bloke is coming back tomorrow to render the walls, and then we’re done for the time being – with big jobs anyway. We can’t paint on the newly plastered walls for 6 weeks, and Henry’s cack-handedness when removing the radiator means we can’t reattach that either until we’ve got some new plumbing supplies! But at least we can sleep safe in the knowledge that we won’t wake up with dry-rot.

Another positive is that we are both learning lots about property renovation. Henry can now wire up telephone cables, electrical cables and knows a fair amount about central heating and pluming too. He shalln’t be giving up the day job quite yet though!!

P.S. According to the builders, Henry’s hammer is a bit "girly" – not enough use apparently! When he got it for them from the garage the witty men quipped "Do we need silk gloves to hold it with?". Mental note: Use hammer more.

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Our second junior visitor, plus a visit from the IKEA fairy

November 14, 2004 at 2:33 pm

Having made what we thought would be a quick trip to the Brentwood IKEA (Diwalli traffic meant it actually took AGES to get there) on Saturday we are now the proud owners of 4 "Leksvik" DVD shelving units, a "Leksvik" CD cabinet and a lovely coffee table – bet you can’t guess what type that was?!? Henry put them all together this afternoon, which meant we could finally unpack the CDs and DVDs, meaning we only have about 2 boxes left to unpack.

Other things we achieved this weekend include hanging new curtains in the spare bedroom, a new lampshade in the main bedroom (not that it’s much of an achievement I guess) and we have brand new blinds for the front room as well, though Henry is too knackered to put those up today!!

I can say with some certainty that we’re both feeling like the place is much more homely now, although a visit from Ros and Keith (and little Barney) proved that it’s definitely not a baby-friendly flat. It took two of us to get the pram back up the steps again, so I suspect that at the first sign of bun-in-oven shenanigans we will have to move – not that we’re planning I should add, but who knows what life will throw at you…

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Resumption of services

November 11, 2004 at 2:29 pm

When we bought this flat, we were expecting lots of challenges and hurdles, but never in our wildest nightmares could we have anticipated what we have had to put up with for the past 6 days. Yes, it’s true, we had no television reception. Zero. Zilch. Nothing. I’m not quite sure how we coped – no Neighbours, no Property Ladder, no Little Britain. To be quite honest the previous 6 days have all just blurred together in to one big lack of TV nothingness…

But today saw the resumption of life as we know it. A delightful South African man and his friend came over and strapped the biggest mother-hubbard of an Aerial I’ve ever seen on to the top of the house. We now have crystal clear reception, although it doesn’t seem to have improved the quality of programming on ITV. Never mind though eh?!

Today also saw the re-connecting of the tephelone line (same number as before) and a man who came to fix the (brand new) washing machine. So not only are we reconnected to the world via the means of television, we’re also connected via the Telephone, the Internet (albeit very slow) and the magic of not smelling so bad. Hallelujiah, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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More visitors, and lots more unpacking.

November 8, 2004 at 2:24 pm

Today was a day of mixed emotions. On the positive side we received more visitors, this time in the shape of Henry’s parents. They bought with them lots more furniture – big thanks for that – and then we all went out for lunch at the Belle and Dragon. Not only was this a nice occassion because of the move, it was also the first time both sets of parents had met – queue much teasing and talk of future weddings. Geez, let us get our house sorted first!

The latter half of the day saw more interesting developments with the house. Having asked Dave to swap the manky old kitchen light for a nice new one, we discovered the electric circuits in the house are more than a little dodgy, and we will subsequently have to call out an electrician tomorrow – and probably eat candle-lit dinners for the rest of the week! We also have to find a man to sort the aerial out, as we can’t even get crappy old Channel 5 anymore. Oh well, we’re sure this will just be the start of lots more fun and games to come…!

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Painting and Decorating – the onslaught begins!

November 7, 2004 at 2:19 pm

Day 2 in the flat was spent doing yet more van-loads worth of moving – including the first delivery from the Elliss & Mould garden-centre – plant mangling a guarantee! We also managed to do our first bit of painting – when I say we, I mean Claire – she pretty much did the whole room single handedly, although everyone else chipped in here and there… except Sara, who directed from the sides. As usual.

Highlights of the day including one of Sues amazing (yet massive) casseroles, with enough food to feed the whole street. Although after the tiring day we had, it was greatly appreciated. Low-lights included the realisation that living in two different flats isn’t quite as glamorous as it sounds, especially when it means you’re hoovering dust balls up at 11 o’clock at night.

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Moving in Day – Finally it’s here!

November 6, 2004 at 2:11 pm

We woke up expecting a hard day, and boy did we get that in spades. Thankfully we had a crew of strong and hearty labourers to help out – biggest thanks must today go out to Claire, David, Sue and Keith. Special mentions also to Simon and Rachel, Sheila and John – for the kind donations to our sparse furniture collection.

Highlights of the day were sleeping, the occassional rest between van loads and knowing we still have shed-loads more to do. Low-lights of the day included realising the only channel we could get on the Telly was Five, featuring the classic Jason and the Argonaughts. Let’s face it, it couldn’t get much worse from here on in… could it?

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