crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Friday, March 27, 2009

Project Build-up

For starters, the situation with the neighbours is not better. The city council (which they rent from) came by and boarded up their front windows; now we really look like we live next door to squatters. Apparently neighbour-lady is out of the hospital now, because I saw her sitting on her front stoop, looking like shit, yesterday. Her darling son is home too - already there is screaming and yelling coming through the wall.

I've been in contact with the council, informally. They want us to start logging formal complaints. Basically, as I mentioned before, we're hesitant to formally complain because these complaints are kept on permanent record; future potential buyers would have access to this information. In my opinion, the council is notorious for not producing results; so why make resale potential worse for ourselves when nothing will be done about it? What do you think? We're waiting and seeing.

The renovation is slow going. The living room is back to normal, with the lovely new fireplace installed! We have a few small touch-ups to complete (like re-gluing a few sections of ceiling paper that came loose when we painted and fitting a couple tiny bits of baseboard. I also have to find curtains. But we're pretty much done!

The entranceway/stairway/landing job is a different story. I wanted a very light, hint-of-green colour, but not pastel, not too bright and definitely nowhere near MINT. I chose something called 'Almost Sage' that seemed to cover these requirements. Unfortunately it should probably be renamed 'Florescent Sage' because it's super bright and all wrong for this small space. Plus, with all the punchy colours already present in our house (bright yellow kitchen and office; blue spare room; brown toned living room) I think adding another is not a good idea. So this weekend the plan is to repaint in 'Magnolia' which is the same creamy tone we used on the upper half of our living/dining room. I forsee many more weekends of work ahead.

Plus, now we're adding to the list of projects and we haven't even finished round 1! This is because we ran into some trouble with our boiler/insulation company. They quoted us a fixed price for the whole meal-deal, then when their insulation contractors came by for their survey we were informed that scaffolding would be necessary, which would add 300 quid to our fixed price. Um, no. I promptly informed our company that we would be shopping around for other offers - at this point he seemed a lot more flexible with negotiating the price, but I'm shopping around nonetheless.

I've had another surveyor in today. In fact, this company apparently wouldn't need scaffolding at all - which would be a 300 pound savings. What's more, their base prices for insulation are cheaper to begin with. Riccardo is also intrigued because apparently we can have our loft hatch enlarged and fitted with a folding ladder as well as a partial loft floor (for storage) and lighting installed for just 350 quid. Riccardo's been wanting that for a while, particularly because the current loft hatch is about 1.5x1 foot - I think I wouldn't even fit up there; haven't tried to save myself the embarrassment. But as if this is not enough... this gets Riccardo thinking it might be good to convert the loft into a full-on room (with skylights and plastered walls and, and, and...) while we're at it! Ahhhh!

Well, we did buy this house because it was full of possibilities.

Anyway, I'm not stressing. In fact, I'm off for a Girls' Night with friends from work and Uni tonight. YAY!


    • At 10:17 PM, Blogger Tressa said…

      Sounds like you guys have your work cut out for you! Can't wait to see pictures of the finished product:) Hope you have a fun girl's night out!
      Love ya

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oi Neighbours!

It was a mistake to buy here. We didn't realize it at the time, but now we know. Without our neighbours everything would be peachy.

Yesterday I noticed that the one smashed pane of glass in our attached neighbour's council house (which has been there, un-checked for over a year) had copulated and had smashed-pane babies. Now all the windows at the front of their house are smashed. Good times.

Riccardo and I debated calling the police, the city council (which rents to them), anyone. The fact is, if we file a claim and nothing is done about these crap neighbours, it will really negatively effect our resale potential. Claims become public, and anyone thinking of buying and smart enough to check into the neighbourhood will run into such information. Not good times.

To make matters worse, I ran into our drunken (but friendly) neighbour of two-doors-down. Old Frank is a gossip-mill in himself and was more than willing to share a few tidbits. Apparently last week the ambulance was called to collect the neighbour-lady because her deliquent 14-year-old son had pushed her down the stairs and shattered her shoulder and arm (not surprising since she would have landed on a bare concrete floor; the place is a tip, inside and out). Now the kids are staying with 'family' up island, and neighbour-lady is in the hospital. This explains why we hadn't heard hell and damnation over there in several days.

Sometime close to this, a feud apparently broke out between our lovely neighbour and her drug dealers. Perhaps this was the result of neighbour-lady not being able to pay off her drug debts with late-night 'house calls', if you know what I mean. These are the guys, apparently, who smashed their windows. Frank informed me that Ryman, the psycho son, then went over and smashed the drug-dealers' windows. Like that's going to help things.

So what can we do? Not much. We don't have any evidence that 'illegal' activity has taken place; it's all gossip, so the police can't do more than they're already doing. The council is going to have a look at the place tomorrow, but the best they can do is board-up the windows. We don't really want to file a formal complaint in case nothing actually comes of it. So we continue to live next to trash living in squallor. Excellent.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ups and Downs

Looking back at my last post, things don't seem that good. I guess it just proves that life is full of its ups and downs. And also, that I'm a fantastic whinger. Things have been on the up-swing this week.

Reno: progress is slow, but steady. Riccardo and I have usually spent most of the day on Saturdays, and some of the Sundays reno'ing. Though with my ridiculous amout of work, I've snuck upstairs to do marking while the paint on the door I just painted dries. Yes... I'm marking now... well, I do need to keep up my responsibility to the masses - sorry, honey!

Anyhow, this weekend Riki hopes to finish off the main ceiling and wall painting in the living room. That will mean probably one more day to get baseboards, door and window frames, chair-rails painted and the light fixture re-hung, then the living/dining room will be finito!!

Next we will finish the foyer, stairway and landing. Lots of doors to paint there, so that may take a few weekends. But so far, so good. Our fireplace will be delivered next Friday. And we are both looking forward to hosting a little wine-and-cheese housewarming party when it's all done!

Uni: on Tuesday I had a very important observation by my Uni tutor and my professional mentor at school. It went swimmingly. I taught iambic pentameter to a class of year 9s and they really bought into it. YAY! It was perfect timing for a really good observation, since it is the final one I need to have with my Uni tutor. And since she's the one that passes or fails me at the end of the programme, it was great to send her off on a good note.

Thursday I had my Section 1 Standards Final Assessment. This also went fabulously. There are 33 standards we have to meet in order to get our teaching certification; this assessment covers the first 9: Professional Attributes. Basically I gathered up oodles of evidence and then two mentors and I sat and had a chat about each standard and ticked me off. In the end, I got top marks for every single standard and top marks overall. An excellent start to the programme completion process!

We had a Uni Subject Day on Friday - a whole day on English. It was actually quite productive. We learned more about the National Curriculum and teaching reading, and gained loads of great pedagogical ideas for English teaching. There will be two more of these Subject Days over the next month or so.

The Job: last week a colleague of mine interviewed for a promotion at another school. Everyone suspected she would get it, because she's a really great teacher, and she did. So this week, immediately upon arriving at school, my Department Head asked me to accompany her to the Headteacher's office. Uh-oh! Upon arriving, the Headteacher gave a big speech about the interview I did, and how they would have loved to offer me a position then because I was such a great member of the team, but as they said before, blah blah blah... She then confirmed that my colleague had resigned and so they had another position open, and would I accept it? Well, I had to answer then and there, but I didn't really need to consider it anyway: I said I'd love to. So as it happens, I did get the job I wanted at my school afterall!!

All-in-all, the whole dilemma is slightly bittersweet. My school knew that my colleague was interviewing for this other job, and knew she'd probably get it. They also knew I'd still be around the school to fall back on if she resigned. So more than likely they decided to use me as their back-up plan. This is, obviously, a very assy thing to do. Considering the emotional distress they caused me in not giving me the position in the first place, and the hours and hours since then that Riccardo and I have spent filling out 10-page applications for various other positions, I have to admit, I was tempted to tell them to shove their offer up their thingamajig. But, I do really like the school, and I will benefit from not having to transition into another new school next September, so I chose to suck it up and accept.

Anyway, it's happily slightly less awkward having the whole school know I was B-listed into the job, rather than not having got it at all.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Thoughts on the Week Past

The past week has been a bit wonky.

Firstly, on Wednesday, Riccardo successfully installed our new electric shower. Ah, the bliss of showering! I think we all take that for granted until we can't do it for over a month. Baths are a pain at 6:30am. The tile situation mentioned previously is not as much of an issue as we thought; though still an issue. It is not being dealt with just now.

Thursday and Friday I attended my complementary placement for Uni. This is where trainees spend time observing, and sometimes teaching, in a second school to get more varied experience. It's supposed to be 20 days in length, but because I worked as an unqualified teacher last year, I only had to do two! My focus was English as a Second Language (because I didn't experience enough of that in Japan - for some reason this doesn't count) and I had to travel all the way to the far side of Coventry to do it. An hour each way! In any case, the people were nice and I think I got all my boxes ticked.

Friday night was great: we met up with Helen, Jo, Claire, Stuart and Andy for dinner at our favourite Japanese place in town, Mt. Fuji. So delicious, as usual. We then tried the local karaoke bar, but it was dead, so four of us headed back to our place for a night of song. Such fun!

Saturday and Sunday were filled with renovations and work. I had some marking and planning to accomplish, but more time was spent beginning to apply colour to our dining room. Riccardo and I are both really happy with the colours I chose (pictures to follow when it's done). The only problem is that we can't tape edges because the tape rips off the paint, and it's super difficult to do baseboards and such because of the damn backing paper that curls over the edge of the wall. Grrrr. In any case, it is reassuring to see the work beginning to come together and seem productive. There is still a l-o-n-g way to go; we're just hoping to finish it all before we leave for Italy at Easter.

I learned today that my family cat has died this week. Alley has been feeling his age for some time now, and like many manx's, was having problems with arthritis for the last year or two. This week he apparently had a stroke and my parents had to put him down. :( Lots of fond memories of that scruffball.

That's all for now. xx


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