the political process

Yesterday I delivered 200 leaflets for the LibDems while Pete cycled round to the health food shop for mushroom paté and rye flour and blackcurrant juice. Then we had a sossidge sammidge for breakfast/brunch and walked down to town for a No2ID session – planning meeting in the Mission first (one small glass fizzy water consumed), then a street stall for a couple of hours in Hull city centre.

I’ve discovered that if people ask you “what’s it about, then?”, ask them if they want to be part of the database state, and they’ll often stop and talk to you. We got a fair few people to sign the petition too, which was nice, and I provided an apple and rye cake to go with the Greggs tea run.

It transpired that Diana Johnson, our erstwhile Blair Babe MP, was campaigning a couple of hundred yards away, so Carla and I took it upon ourselves to go down and confront her, armed with a stack of leaflets, and (in Carla’s case) wearing a fetching No2ID t-shirt. We handed out literature all around the square, and actually had a chat with Ms Johnson, who thought ID cards were a good idea, seemingly because they would identify benefit cheats in the main. Her hair was a very odd shade too. All good fun.

Got some fruit and veg at the stall in town, popped into T J Hughes to pick up some cheap clothes for the gym – mine are all too big for me now! Pair of joggers in taupe (how stylish), couple of cheap t-shirts, two hand towels, pair of memory foam insoles, came to £14 …

Home to a slump, Dr Who (excellent) and Up, which was utterly charming, and stir fried asparagus.

I have 530 LibDem leaflets to deliver in Bricknell ward today, and a local hustings on Chants Ave tonight. A quiet afternoon, I think, don’t you?

two rants

I went out leafleting yesterday for the LibDems – didn’t have that many to do, just our road (which numbers 208 houses), but an awkward round; every house needed a magazine, but some houses also needed an individual letter.  Next time, I’ll do the letters and mags separately – I’m sure it would be easier.

Rant #1 is about letterboxes – honestly, who would be a postie?  Some of them are vicious, and trap your fingers gleefully.  Some of them have Hounds of the Baskervilles lurking behind their flaps; I have a steel rule that I use for poking leaflets through letter boxes, and it has *teeth marks* in it from frenzied dogs.  Some letter boxes are at ground level (why?), and some are vertical, and fiendishly difficult to operate when you have a stack of paper in one hand, and a bag full of more paper to handle.

And then there’s the gates – some of them just don’t open; I guess people use the alley and back gates there.  Many of them have to be lifted to actually open.  Some of them have sneaky little catches that delight in trapping your fingers.  One house had its recycling boxes stacked in front of their front door. Honestly, I’ll be glad when this election is over!

Rant #2 concerns Hull City Council, specifically the Leisure Department.  We have a nice swimming pool across the park, with a small gym attached.  You can purchase what is called a Tonic Card for £22 per month, which gives unlimited access to swimming and gym, but I wasn’t sure I’d use the gym, so I bought a book of 10 swimming tickets for £25 (a saving of about six quid, I think), and I’ve used four of them.

Then I decided I would like to use the gym after all. You can’t do that until you’ve had an “induction”, which they can’t do at the local place because they have “lost their coach” (how careless).  So on Saturday we trogged over to the big leisure centre and had an induction there. £12 each to show us how to use machines that are *not the same* as the ones at Beverley Road. No blood pressure test or any sort of chance to actually use the machines, so about as much use as a chocolate teapot.  But still – I have my card.

Can I part exchange my remaining swimming tickets towards a Tonic Card?  No.  I have to pay a casual charge of £3.60 per session.  Well, I guess I can live with that. Except you can’t use the gym before 9 a.m. unless you have a Tonic Card, and that’s the time of day I like to use the gym.

I feel an e-mail coming on.

joined up thinking

I strode across Pearson Park last night to Beverley Road Baths, and bought a season ticket.  Shame it was pouring when I got up this morning, and I didn’t fancy getting wet …

I note with some pleasure that the baths open at 6.30, which will suit me find in the spring and summer – I’m an early bird.  But why oh why (etc) do the steam room and gym remain closed until 9 a.m.?!

progress 10 dec 09

We’ve gone back to work now, as things were piling up, and cash is running out, so not much happening at the moment.

Progress is also impeded due to the fact that I suddenly realised that it was bin day on Monday (after 11 years of it being bin day on *Thursday*) and hurtled out to put the wheelie bins At The Front Of The Property. The black one was very heavy, and I called up to Pete that he would have to move it, then decided to have another bash and somehow dropped the edge of the sodding thing on my left big toe. Excruciatingly painful. Have cracked the nail, bruised the toe very badly, and am still limping four days later, and am unable to put a shoe on. Bah. Don’t do this at home, peeps.

Still, we have:

  • Organised Man with Van to go and collect the aforementioned fireplace yesterday, as it wouldn’t fit in the car. It’s 1.85m tall with its hearth, painted white with doric columns either side, and with a real marble hearth and back piece (which nearly killed Pete and MwV getting it into the house) – going to look lovely when it goes in, and I will attempt to limp up a ladder and paint he chimney breast this weekend so that Pete can put up the television bracket, and go to the pet shop to buy some cuttlefish; apparently this is the best way to clean marble. Then I can phone the plumbering chap to come and put it in, and take out the horrible and redundant fire in the dining room.
  • Had the Warm Front people out to do a survey for the insulation, and they won’t touch it because there are cracks in the lining paper in the bedroom. There are no cracks in the office next door, but … Daniel the Polish Builder is coming back this morning to fix something that offended him in the loft access he did, so I shall consult him on what to do about it. We are pretty much out of cash right now for building works.
  • The bedroom poles, curtains and tiebacks are up, and very nice they look too. Almost floor length, dark blue, on white poles, with leaf tie backs. They make such a huge difference to the room.
  • Considered our options re a coat rack. Pete put one up, but after 24 hours it gave up the ghost and fell off the wall onto my head. Think we will put louvre doors on one of the dining room alcoves and use that for storage, and return the coats to the Shed (as we call the cupboard under the stairs).
  • Saw a chap cleaning windows in Belvoir Street yesterday, so have organised him to clean ours once a month. £2.50 for the front, a pound cheaper than LA.
  • Had our first visitors! Some folk we met at a couple of friends’ emigration live in Lincoln, and came up for supper, and to discuss a project they want when they have money. I sent Pete to the butcher for a chicken, and he returned with a free range one, at £1/lb. We had a nice evening, and shall be going down to see them in Lincoln after the New Year.
  • Got two of the four catcams up
  • Went to the Farmers’ Market at Humber Bridge on Sunday – some lovely stuff there. They’re doing a Christmas Market next weekend, so we’ll go take a look at that, and there’s a Farmers’ Market at Driffield tomorrow – if my wounded paw permits, we’ll visit that too
  • Went to see Rob Brydon in Scarborough last weekend – ate (excellent) fish and chips in a howling gale on the sea front first, encountering Mr Brydon at the counter; very rock and roll. He was hilarious, and only really did Uncle Bryn in the encore part. Very much in the style of "an evening with" rather than standup; we enjoyed it enormously
  • Went to the inaugural meeting of the Hull No2id group last week – hopefully something will come of that. We went out for a meal with the regional organiser afterwards in the Moroccan restaurant on Princes Ave, as he was staying locally, and had an excellent time putting the world to rights.

To do in the next few days:

  • Try to get to the clock hospital in the old part of Hull – sadly, the glass on my wonderful barometer has cracked.
  • Paint the chimney breast and the wall beside the kitchen (to put shelves up), then get the television bracket up. Have bought some long SCART cables to aid the installation
  • Put the wall lights up in the bedroom
  • Put the double glazing film up in bedroom and bathroom
  • Clear the living room for new front window being installed on Thursday

I can’t quite believe it’s only 2 weeks till Xmyth – I don’t feel seasonal *at all*.

Onward and upwards.

in and out of da house 4 December 09

  • The living room alcoves have been painted, as has under the window – just as well, as the plumber came to move the radiator yesterday, rather earlier than we expected! Will continue with painting tomorrow, as
  • We have realised that the only sensible place for the TV is on the chimney breast above the (currently non-existent) fireplace*, occasioning me to ..
  • Go off into Hull shopping this morning, all on my own. Managed to find the car park, navigate to the stores I wanted, and get home again without needing GPS – Pete was amazed. Bought a throw for the tatty armchair that Gavin left, as it is actually quite comfortable, just hideous to look at, two new cushions, and a wall mount for the television. Oh, and some cat fud, and two steak pasties and 4 mince pies, for the princely sum of £2.09 (not including the cat fud). It’s astonishing how much cat fud we are getting through – I knew the Tribe ate out a lot, but this is ridiculous!
  • Entertainment stack of TV, amp, tivo, dvd player, Neuros and Roku is all assembled, although the Neuros is currently sulking and refusing to speak to the network. It was doing this that made us realise the wallmount issue, as there is nowhere sensible to put the speakers except either side of the chimney breast
  • Another bookcase is up,and the book heap is down to 14 large boxes [scream]. Coffee table, and red leather Poang chair and footstool are assembled. Some ornaments are even out! – it’s starting to look like home. The triangular shelves are up in the kitchen, permitting the unpacking of Pete’s tea collection,
  • I’ve just started 5 gallons of wine; would have been six, but Pete snapped an airlock. Hock, apricot, Merlot, Barolo and Rioja (all from kits – I’ll do some winter wines soon though; parsnip, beetroot, that sort of thing).
  • The Polish builder who quoted £200 to fit the loft ladder is still here, after starting at 8 yesterday, although he did go home last night. Horrible job, and my dears – the *dust*. So soon we shall be able to insulate it, and be much warmer. I hope.
  • Actually went *out* and met some people on Thursday, of which more later.
  • *Scored a fireplace and gas fire on eBay today for £26, so off to sunny Scunthorpe tomorrow to collect it.
  • Have taken a hunk of silverside out of the freezer to slow cook tomorrow
  • And off to Scarborough tonight to see Rob Brydon. Looking forward to that.

in da house 2 dec 09

  • Got the very last box unpacked, apart from the books! Oh – actually, there’s one more box, which has teas and other mugs in it, but it’s waiting for the triangular shelves to go up in the kitchen so it doesn’t count
  • Found the curtain for the study, and put it up
  • Cleared the £1.40 from eBay dining table, added a cream chenille cover and a wooden plate of apples, stood back and admired it, and watched it instantly become a cat haunt
  • Had conversation with Karoo support explaining there was no master socket in the house, so we cannot try plugging the router straight into it; they will come and fit one this afternoon FOC
  • Got quote from joiner for cracked front double glazing unit and radiator moving from side wall to under window – better than anyone else, so booked him. Let us fervently hope we can put a log grate in the chimney
  • Freegled brass door furniture from study door (which is going to the tip), more boxes, 200 DL envelopes
  • Took car full of damp cardboard, carpet bits, ironing board (which collapsed in the move – how sad), etc to the tip – Hull tip is very civilised, a chap comes and *helps* you unload
  • Went up to the bakery for some rolls for lunch, and felt proud of myself for referring to them as "breadcakes" – I’m becoming assimilated
  • Filled the car with diesel for the first time since 13 November – averaged 49.something, which is pretty good, given I drove the 230 miles up here at 80+ most of the way, and the rest of the time we’ve been pottering around Hull
  • Put our lovely living room rug down last night, and got some the last of the lamps out – it’s really starting to feel like home now
  • Pete soldiered on with the study, which is almost done, and although small is probably more workable than the old one
  • I actually did some *work* – not much, but some
  • Won a small but significant battle with Wickes, after pointing out Politely that if I pay £5.60 for next day delivery, and it doesn’t arrive next day, then I should get a refund. It’s not much, but that’s not the point
  • Got the landing pretty much cleared of rubbish – just the business paperwork files there now, and a couple of empty boxes which are a cat playground at the moment. Box files are going into plastic crates in the loft when it’s done, so we can fit some bookshelves up there shortly.

No, I didn’t get the soup made, nor the wine started. Today I want to get the new bedroom curtains/pols up, and the double glazing film over the upstairs window, get the study finished, and just possibly start painting the living room, at least where the radiator is going to go, although that means moving lots of shelving bits.

in da house 1 Dec 09

Sunday was office day – we lifted the revolting pink and white blotchy carpet, which came up surprisingly easily, as it was laid on paper. perlmonger gave the room a good seeing to with the Dyson, then I washed the skirting boards with sugar soap; little wipes – lazy, but quick. I did the walls up to where I could reach, and Pete did the rest. Begone, foul lilac walls! We knew it needed a second coat, and inevitably we ran out of paint, so had to hurtle down to Wilkos to get another can. (aside; why did nobody tell me about Wilcos? – it’s wonderful!). Slapped the second coat on on Monday morning, and the carpet fitter had been and gone by mid day.

We also got the curtain rail up in there – if I could only find the curtain for it, that would be splendid.

We made a good start on the study after that – got my desk set up yesterday, and a wall mounted bookcase beside it and Pete is doing his now. It’s smaller than the one we had in LA, but it’s workable and we will just have to be more ruthless with the rubbish that we hang on to, or (more likely) at least put it up in the loft.

Have booked a Polish builder to fit the loft hatch and ladder at the end of this week, and I have just organised someone to replace the bit of the front double glazed unit which has a damn great crack on the inside, and thus is full of condensation. I went with someone who can do it, and move the living room radiator under the window, for £215. I’m now keeping an eye out for gas fires on eBay. This house is *freezing* and we’re spending what little spare cash we have on getting it warm – so loft insulation (which requires the loft access being done, and we need it for storage anyway) which we can get for £75 on a grant, I’ve just got some of that secondary double glazing film for the upstairs windows, and I should get the rugs down today.

British Gas are coming to fit a credit meter tomorrow – we’ve been using a PAYG since we arrived, which just eats money, and ran out this morning just as Pete was about to run a bath. Gavin had it put in in 2006, when he ran up arrears, and didn’t either ask our permission, or tell us, which is irritating.

Karoo (local telecoms) told me that our broadband might be running slow because it wasn’t plugged into the master socket. Now we have cleared most of the boxes, we find that we don’t *have* a master socket, the telephone wiring here is that old. So I rang them this morning, and they are coming out to fit one tomorrow, FOC, which is quite impressive.

By the end of today, I plan to have taken a load to the tip, started some wine, made some soup, and painted some of the kitchen so we can put up the triangular shelves. And cleared the dining table (that I bought for £1.40 from eBay, including four chairs) so that we can actually eat a meal off it.

Onward and upward.

day whatever in the house 28 Nov 09

had to do some work, as a client’s e-commerce had gone bang, so we didn’t get as much done as I’d have liked. Add to this that my poor body is falling apart – the arthritis in my hands has really kicked in, and they hurt, and I can’t grip much. On Thursday night I dropped some heavy metal brackets on my left foot, and badly bruised two toes. On Friday I was rushing through the hall, tripped on something, and fell, taking my not inconsiderable weight on my knees, and bruising my arms very badly – my left arm is black and blue pretty much from wrist to shoulder. All a bit of an arse.

Stilll, we:

  • Went back to Newlands Ave in the morning – Tony’s Textiles for another curtain pole, and we bought one for the dining room window, and some lovely red curtains. £8’s worth of veg in the greengrocer: red cabbage, aubergine, savoy cabbage, 8 big Braeburn apples, 1 cooking apple, ginger, green chillis, cauliflower, bag of spinach. Also got 2 steak pasties, ham and roast beef, and some pakoras for lunches this week – 7 quid, I think.
  • Got a couple of bookcases built – the first one has gone in a dining room alcove, and has allowed me to unpack the last of the living room boxes and stack everything on the shelves.
  • Transferred the televisual stuff off the hideous silver monstrosity (which has gone to someone via Hull Freegle), and stacked it all neatly on an old black hi-fi stand that was in the garage in Long Ashton. This has cleared a heap of space in the living room.
  • Tidied all the remaining bits of Billy bookcases (we have about eight of them)
  • Put an old white rug, which is in desparate need of cleaning, down on the living room floorboards – not yet enough room for our main lovely rug, but not long now
  • identified all the bits of the red leather Poang chair and the coffee table – they can be assembled in the next day or two
  • cooked four faggots (no, *not* that sort) that accompanied us with carrots, courgettes, mushrooms, onions, cider (no red wine in the house), for the freezer
  • Pete cooked dinner last night for the first time since we moved in – dhal and rice, nice simple food.

Onward and upward – carpet fitted tomorrow, so we’ve had a busy day.

7th day in the house 27 Nov 09

Not terribly productive – we really are hampered by the lack of a study, meaning that the boxes that should be unpacked into there and still all over the house. Still, carpet fitter on Monday then we can Get On,

Yesterday, we:

  • Nipped (or popped) out in the morning – to the (not very good) home brew shop in East Hull, to stock up on winemaking kits. I prefer to make it from scratch, but don’t have time, so I’ll set some of these going today. Also into Asda for turkey mince for the prodigal Iggy, and the next door Matalan for a beak, where we picked up a terracotta salt pig, a pair of boots for me, and a washing up bowl, for the princely sum of £25,
  • On to Wickes, to get the paint for the living room,so that I can start cleaning and filling the walls bit by bit, and then Pete can put up the shelves. We grabbed lunch from the van outside the store – a bacon, egg and mushroom breadcake (as they call them here) for me, and a sausage and bacon one for Pete; a fiver for the pair.
  • We finally found the missing shelf for the kitchen bookcase which is currently pressed into service as an emergency spice rack, so I finished (almost) emptying the kitchen boxes and reorganising the cupboards – only three more boxes to go, and I know exactly what’s in them, and where the contents will live
  • Went over to Newlands Avenue with a box for the charity shop, which was delivered to the Red Cross, as they were the first one we encountered, and it was raining. Also dived into Tony’s Textiles for a lined curtain for the bathroom – it’s really cold in there, and it has a huge, bare window. Picked up a cheap curtain rail, a pair of curtains and a tieback for £18. One curtain was plenty, so I’ll whizz back there this morning and get another rail and tieback, and the second one will do well in the study. Tonys is a great shop – we got the bedroom curtains in there from the reduced box – 20 quid to do the two big windows in the bedroom, to replace the vile and filthy things (which don’t even open) that Gavin put up. Must get the rails fitted – the curtains are all hooked ready.
  • Put up the bathroom rail and curtain; looks a lot nicer, and seems to be warmer in there
  • Freegled some more boxes
  • Did the quote for a client, and Pete also spent some time trying to work out why something which has been working perfectly for a year for another client has suddenly stopped working.
  • Had a kebab for supper – mixed kebab and portion of chips to share, £10.25 delivered to the door. And very nice it was too. I was looking forward to settling down to Gavin and Stacey, but the Tivo had failed to record it. This turns out to be because I failed to ask it too, so that’s a fail on my part.
  • Fell asleep at 9 p.m. again – my body clock seems to be currently set 5.30 a.m. to 9, which is not ideal.

And now it’s almost 8, and I must get going. Later, peeps.