Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pretty shoes...

So, I'm still worrying about the seizures - every time I feel 'funny' I wonder if I'm going to have another one. I try not to tell Matt every time I'm worried - there's no point in both of us worrying all the time. And he'd only try to ring me to check I'm ok, and I would have left my phone on silent, and he'd have to decide whether to rush home to check I'm not dead. Life has got slightly more complicated recently.

I'm also back to worrying about my essays. One is due on 18th and one on 25th January. I've emailed the course leader and my personal tutor to explain I'm having difficulties - I've been tired since the fit - I tried to do an hour's studying last Sunday and had to have an hour's nap in the afternoon. My personal tutor is amazing. She rings me up and runs through the options with me. I'm hoping to be allowed to put one essay off until the summer. Now I just have to try to work up the energy to study rather than look at Facebook.

I had lots of fun shopping yesterday - I'm going to a New Year's Eve cocktail party. Clearly I need a new dress. And some pretty shoes. I found both... though I am still no good at shoe-shopping - I wished to invoke the spirit of L1z but had to manage on my own... Which I did...

It was harder than you would imagine to find a pair of shoes with less than a 4" heel. I've decided that when there's a season of clothing which really suits you, you should run out and buy everything you can find as it will not happen again for at least four years...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not driving home for Christmas

Well, I have some news... I had a seizure last night. The world all went grey and buzzy and I collapsed. Fortunately I was with Matt so he caught me (mostly...) then I had a bit of a fit on the floor. To me it just felt like a big faint but Matt says I stopped breathing, went all rigid and was post-icstil (that is my guess at spelling - it means 'how people look after they've had a fit' and apparently only happens after someone's fitted).

So Matt called an ambulance, who took almost an hour to arrive, they tried to claim I'd probably fainted (it can be beneficial to have a paramedic for a husband!) and took me away to Tameside hospital, where we stayed until about 3.30 am. They did a whole load of tests, which said I was fine and not pregnant...

I went to my doctor this morning. He said he thought it was a vasovegal, which is a blackout due to low blood pressure caused by a fight-or-flight response. This was reassuring until Matt said it really wasn't a vasovegal.

So I've been referred to a neurologist and am not allowed to drive until I've been cleared. This is a world of suck, but I'll live with it. It ruins my Christmas plans to drive over to my parents' while Matt works nights but I really will live with that - I'm not really up for killing myself or others...

We've also remembered a 'fainting' episode I had about 5 years ago - I think Christmas is a trigger! I got up in the night to get a drink and collapsed in the kitchen. Matt found me after about 5 minutes, woke me up and I was horribly sick. Matt put it down to me eating about a kilo of mixed fruit and nuts, but the more I think about it the more it seemed similar to this. We'll see.

I'm not keen on being epileptic but it wouldn't be the end of the world - it's manageable. What I can't bear is the thought of losing my driving licence after less than a year, and losing the whole range of driving-licence-necessary job opportunities that I tried so hard to get it for.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I'm in the library printing off approximately 350 pages or so of journal articles in preparation for my next assignment. I'm writing a report on a central government regeneration policy, evaluating it and comparing it to a local implementation of that policy. the idea is to reflect on what works in regeneration.

I'm looking at the Single Regeneration Budget, an attempt by the Conservatives in 1994 to streamline a whole range of funding pots, which was carried on by Labour until the early 2000s. My local example is the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester which used funding from Round 5 of the SRB to attempt to leave a regeneration legacy. I don't have any real conclusions at the moment but I'm hoping it will come together at some point... I'm thinking about focussing on whether the volunteer programme actually increased skills for local people, particularly in East Manchester, but I will have to see what I can actually find...

I am feeling very encouraged in my studying at the moment. I've really enjoyed writing these essays, apart from the stress of trying to get them finished and not having enough time to get beyond the beginning of an argument. And being expected to do things like go to work and cook dinner and go out to see friends occasionally. I think I'd quite happily sit in my attic in my pyjamas thinking about things, emerging occasionally to make coffee... I've had a couple of marks back - I got 68% for a report on the Hills Review and 74% for a timed essay* on Housing Market Renewal. I still have another essay due back, which should be posted to me by Christmas - the lecturer kindly told us that a few people had done exceptionally well, most were average and a few people seemed to be really struggling, leaving us all imagining we're the ones who'll be re-sitting come July. Guess I'd better work really hard on this essay just in case!

*an exam trying to sound less threatening

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good morning?

Well, I'm definitely a student again.

With an essay due tomorrow, I have sayed up nearly all night to get it finished. I'm not sure it's the best essay ever, but at 5 am I fnd it hard to care.

Well, I suppose I'll get 3 hours of sleep. I'm almost tempted to go to sleep in my clothes to save time getting dressed in the morning.

But only almost...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In the bleak mid-winter

I am looking forward to the day that cryostasis becomes reality. I will get them to stick me in the deep freeze round about mid-october and take me out again in mid- to late-march. I will even co-ordinate my departure and arrival so it gets dark at roughly the same time so I won't feel disorientated, like I do when the clocks go back.

I suppose the alternative would be to spend six months of the year in Australia. That would be a little less pleasingly sci-fi though.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

I've just got back from an extremely fun weekend of being ridiculed by my Greenbelt support steward friends. I'm quite tired, due to staying up too late and drinking a lot (but not falling over or being sick this time).

I drove down. It's the first time I've driven such a long way - we were near Chepstow, on South Wales.

Let's look at the stats:

Distance home: 168 miles.
Time taken to get home: about 4 hours
Incidents of swearing at drivers: twice, in my head.

Distance there: 180 miles
Time taken to get there: nearly 5.5 hours
Incidents of swearing at drivers: numerous, at high volume

Let's see if there's any reason for this discrepancy:

On the way down, I gave a friend a lift. Let's call him... Handbag... to protect his identity. So we set off. I have excellent directions provided by the friend we're staying with. I give the directions to Handbag. We're driving down the M6 and it's reasonably busy. Handbag suggests the M6 Toll road to avoid congestions. I ask if we can still get on our route. Handbag assures me that we can. We drive down the M6 Toll and look for signs onto the M5, our next road. Turns out this is via the M42. I think this is a bit odd. Oh well.

Handbag rings the friend we're staying with to tell her where we're up to. She expresses some surprise that we're on the M42. She then rings Guilty* who is also driving up. He's some way along the M5, which is jam-packed, and knows the M42, which is also jam-packed. He wets himself laughing.

If you look at the larger map andcan see our journey, you might see where we went wrong...

View Larger Map

Obviously, I blame Handbag.

Not that the journey back was over an hour qicker, despite everything above Cheltenham being wreathed in fog (I learnt where my fog lights are). Moral of the story? Don't believe people when they tell you they can map-read.

*Yes, all my friends really do have weird names.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I didn't get the job.

It sucks.

I feel like I compromised my interview preparation by trying to work on my essay, and my essay work by doing interview preparation.

Oh well, I suppose sometimes life is sad and there's nopoint whining about it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Feeling hectic

Thought I'd just give a bit of an update as my life is feeling a bit crazy at the moment.

I working on my report and would like to hand it in while at uni on Wednesday to save another trip on Friday, but I don't think I'll manage it. It's coming together but I'd like another couple of weeks to think about my arguments and back them up, and maybe, just maybe, read some interesting things.

I have an interview on Tuesday morning for the Neighbourhood Management Officer job, which means that getting the report done for Wednesday is unlikely. By my reckoning there are 6 other people being interviewed. I'm hopeful - I'd really like the job - but I'll just have to see how it goes on the day.

Next weekend I'm going down to south Wales (I forget where - hopefully I'll remember by the time I set off) to see Greenbelt stewarding friends. I'm expecting lots of fun and some fireworks. I'm also driving down which I'm quite excited about - I haven't done much long-distance driving.

And then, after that, Matt and I are going up to Skye for his mum's wedding. It's a very long way - 8 hours driving plus any stops. We went to the Trafford Centre today to try to get clothes to wear to the wedding but didn't realise it shut at 8 rather than 10 so were not ultimately successful. It's not like I have time for another shopping trip but I will just have to find time...

Monday, October 08, 2007


I was listening to Genius on Radio 4 this evening. The idea is that people come up with ideas that they think are genius, and a Radio 4-type celebrity (funny, clever or, usually, both) decided whether they are or not, and then the audience decides which is most genius. You had to feel sorry for one guy. His idea was "husbands 4 justice". Rather than campaigning for access to their children, they want their wives to make them hot puddings, initally on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, working up to 7 days a week. He thought he was presenting to Nigella Lawson. Turns out it's Germaine Greer. She was never going to like it...

I'm going for promotion at work. It's weird. I've never been for promotion before. Not only do I have the worry that I'm not presenting myself aboslutely as well as I can, I also have the fear that, as these people have seen me work for the past year, they might sit reading my appliaction and saying She really thinks she's that good? You can't blag your way through interviews in quite the same way, I'm guessing.

I know I can do the job, I really want it, and it's a very public competition. If I don't get it I will feel like I've let myself down because I know I can. If only I can write the right think on this damn application form... I keep thinking "I'm sure I've done other things like this...". Just have to remember them...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fight! Fight! Fight!

I just re-remembered Googlefight! I was hoping it might help me to win an argument. It didn't, but it pleased me again...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Answers on a postcard...

PostSecret has, I imagine, become a Sunday habit for many people. I'll have a look at the post-cards sent in anonymously, handmade, revealing people's deepest secrets. I love it because it shows that my deepest secret isn't just my secret. The thing you think you could never confess because it is too terrible? Send it in and someone will say, "I feel that too".

Try to visit PostSecret today and you'll find a blank page owned by Nicole, who has been on Blogger since September 2007. 7741 people had viewed her profile last time I looked, so I'm guessing it really is a habit for many people. We're all wondering where PostSecret has gone. Has Nicole stolen it? Is this the end?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Obscure Greenbelt post

I just found this. I thought it was just me.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A growing problem...

So, I signed up a very nice tenant today. We were chatting and I asked her about her baby - how old he was, that sort of thing. And then she looked at me and asked, "Is that your first?"

I said, "No, it's just fat." She had the grace to look very embarrassed.

It's a family thing. Both my sisters put weight on on their bellies in a vaguely pregnancy-bump style as well. We don't know about my mum as she doesn't put weight on.

Fortunately I don't have issues about how I look as this isn't the first time this has happened by a long way. Possibly, if I did have issues, it wouldn't happen as I'd lose the bump.

However, I do know that I need to do some exercise and lose some weight to feel healthier. The problem is that I am very lazy and don't really like exercise. I'll do it for a few days and then I get bored. I quite often feel too tired to exercise (I know, if did more exercise and lost some weight I'd have more energy...) and there's always things I'd rather do. But I think, if I don't do it now, maybe I'll just get older and fatter...

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greenbelt '07

I'm back from Greenbelt! This has definitely been my favourite Greenbelt ever – much better without a broken leg!

I work as a support steward. We start at 7 pm (ish) and finish at 3 am (ish). We help other stewarding teams when they need it, we wander round and talk to Greenbelters, we look for lost children, and do anything else we're asked to do to make Greenbelt a safe and pleasant place to be.

I love being part of the support team – we work together every year and meet up between Greenbelts so we do know each other well. It's a varied and interesting job, and more challenging than a lot of stewarding roles. Other stewards seem to appreciate us as we help them out with managing difficult situations and talk to them when they're bored on a gate somewhere. I feel like when I'm stewarding, I'm most like me, and most happy.

I've reflected a lot on what I like and don't like about my job this year. I like the first half of the evening best – we help out with venues and queues and talk to Greenbelters more. The second half seems to be more security-ish – looking for people who are trying to get into Greenbelt who shouldn't, or people who are causing trouble somewhere. I'm not so keen on it – partly because I have less experience of it and partly because I'm not sure what I'd do with people if I did catch them...

There were some highlights this year. I helped Venues stewards manage a huge queue for a small circus venue which was due to go in at the same time as a singing event in the organic beer tent was due to kick out – through the circus queue... I also helped to manage the queue for the Delirious signing – only 40 people or so turned up but it was fun anyway. And we went as a team to the Site Stewards' team briefing to heckle Stuart Traffic – I think we enjoyed it more than he did... Sanctus1, the church I'm part of, led the main communion service. I sat in the arena stage. We all released helium balloons – we all watched as ours rose into the sky, and then a second wave of balloons from main stare reminded us that, although we were at two venues with a different feel, we were still at once service. It was magical.

Greenbelt also sees me at my worst. I'm not a morning person. But when I'm woken up by a load of famillies going to a worship event after about 5 hours sleep, I can be a bit irritable. And sometimes, inadvisably, I might express that irritation. Equally, asking a 12-year-old if he was a horse because he was crossing the race track might not have been the best attempt at communication I have ever made (yes, we learnt about sarcasm at basic training. Yes, I've got my name down for re-training next year).

And at my drunkest. This year I discovered I like cider. Stories differ on how much I drunk, but I think it's fair to say that it was probably more than I should have had. At least I'm a happy drunk – between my morning irritability (“I hate you all”) and my drunken ramblings (“You do know that I love you, don't you?” - yes, I am embarrassed) I probably equate to a pleasant human being. I did fall off the pub bench of my own accord once, but I was definitely pushed the rest of the time... I have never been sick in a portaloo before and think I'm probably lucky I don't remember much about it. But I am definitely lucky to have to good friends I do who took me to the toilet, to my tent, put a duvet over me and stayed up to make sure I was ok. It's friends like these that make Greenbelt what it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I was mugged last night. Walking home from the station in the pouring rain, someone grabbed my arm. I screamed and felt my bag pulled out of my hand, so I turned round and saw a man running away with it. I shouted "stop thief!" (being, as I was, in a 1950s cop film) and chased him shouting "give me back my bag, you bastard!". He jumped in a car which was waiting with its engine running, and they drove away.

I am lucky: I wasn't hurt, they didn't get my keys or phone or my mp3 player. They took my purse so I've had to cancel my bank cards, and they've got a load of other useful and sentimentally valuable things. They've got a very nice bag. They've got my Manchester A-Z. They've taken the job application I was working on. And they've taken my sense of safety. I am fairly safety-conscious when walking about but it was a main-ish road and it wasn't that late or that dark. I'm not prepared to live in fear of crime, but I am quite shaken.

And having a bit of a bad week of it too. Last Wednesday I went out for drinks in Manchester with some friends. While walking to the bus stop a man tried to get me into his car - not by force but by claiming to be a taxi. Having been brought up to be aware of Stranger Danger, I said no, but I still felt intimidated on a dark and empty street but a man driving alongside me in a car. I told some police officers who said it is a bit problem. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the numberplate. But it makes me appreciate Nexus, which runs a night cafe offering coffee and safe, legal taxis.

I'm not saying Manchester is a dangerous place to live, just that some people are bastards.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Party party party!

We picked up our keys just after 3pm.

We now own a house.

The move was incredibly smooth. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who helped with lugging about heavy furniture and putting together stuff from IKEA, carrying things up into the attic, and waiting patiently while I deliberated over having the shelves in the lounge or the bedroom. I think you people may be relieved that now we've bought a house we won't be asking you to help us move again for a while...

We're mostly unpacked and life feels back to normal - last weekend we did no unpacking or house stuff at all - we did do a lot of drinking though! There are still quite a few things which need sorting out/moving/unpacking/putting up and some bits of painting and decorating. We've had a few problems (such as the bath overflow overflowing directly into the kitchen on ou first night...) and it turns out to be a bit scary being responsible for the house - there are times when a landlord is a wonderful thing - we had a few problems with our gas meter and boiler today and I didn't like having to sort it all out myself....

So we are having a housewarming party on Saturday 18th August from 4pm. It's going to be a barbecue. If you'd like to come, stick your email address in the comments section and I'll send you some details.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Due to complete today. I have been at work this morning and been on edge waiting for someone to ring me to tell me I can pick up the keys to my new house. It is now 1 o'clock and no-one has rung.

What if there is a problem? What if there is a bit of paper missing? What if the money hasn't come through?

So far our solicitor has been pretty good.

We have somewhere between six and eight people coming to help us move tomorrow. I need my keys NOW!*

Will be off-line for a bit until we get the internet set up in OUR NEW HOUSE...

*Do you ever get the sense from reading my blog that I might occasionally be a bit impatient?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A few tears

I have just put my beautiful wedding dress in a box to post it to the Oxfam bridal department in Bradford.

I got married on 27th July 2002. I have never felt or looked so beautiful in my life and I can't imagine I ever will again. And, to be honest, I don't think I really want to.

I never wanted to keep my wedding dress - it seems a waste for it to slowly decompose in a wardrobe or in my attic. It is so beautiful and special that someone else should get to wear it.


Most charity shops have wedding dresses that were made in 1985 and look horrible. It's too beautiful to be in a shop with them.

I couldn't put it on e-bay because most wedding dresses there sell for about £50 and it is too precious and valuable to sell it for that little.

As we're moving again, this seems an ideal time to pass it on. So I'm giving it to Oxfam, who have a bridal department in Bradford. I like Oxfam - I like the variety and quality of the work they do - and their charity shops usually seem slightly nicer than most. And, as I'm posting it, I can imagine it is in a beautiful bridal department, with a whole host of other beautiful wedding dresses, in the company it deserves.

While I never wanted to keep it, I am sad to see it go. And yes, I did cry a little as I shut the lid.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


We have agreed to complete on the 20th! It looks like we could have done it a bit earlier if we wanted but two weeks for packing and organising everything seems like a good idea. I am VERY EXCITED.

So we should get the keys at lunchtime on the 20th and I'll take the afternoon off work (and try to avoid putting anything serious or complicated in my calendar for the morning. Then we can go and look at the house - and hope we still like it - and plan where to put all our furniture. Then on the 21st it will be the big move. If anyone would like to help lug boxes and carry shelves, we'd love to have you. I promise to do my best not to get injured in the next 15 days and also to remember that boxes full of books are VERY HEAVY.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Our contracts have arrived in the post today! I've read everything through twice and everything seems ok. So now we have to sign everything, some signatures being witnessed, and post it back to our solicitor. Then the sellers have to sign some other things. Then we have to agree our moving date and give the solicitor the best part of £1000. And start putting things in boxes.

I am terrified.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brenda RIP

My goldfish, Brenda, died today. She was just over 7. I feel a bit sad. I hope she's gone to the great fishbowl in the sky, where she can be re-united with Barry, who didn't live quite so long...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Watching, reading, listening

Watching... I just watched Brokeback Mountain. I think I would have got on better had I been able to understand what people were saying, if they didn't mumble all the time. I'm not sure what to take away from it: don't be gay in 1963; life is better if you go with the person that you love; it's better to have loved than just settle for second-best? I feel like there's something deeper but I can't put my finger on it - something about tragedy and hope - maybe it's because I have a chest infection, or maybe the film was just too damn deep for me.

Reading... The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. The first time I read it I had vivid dreams about being in a war. It is beautifully written and very clever, starting in 1947 (or something like that) and working backwards in 3 parts, and there are loads of things you pick up a hint of in an earlier (chronologicaaly later) section and then find out later. I'm trying to decide whether it stands a second reading when you already know what the twists are.

Listening... The first album I ever bought was So far, so good by Bran Adams, a 'best of' in the early-to-mid 90s. It was on tape, the tape went wobbly, a friend did me a copy, the copy went wobbly. I saw Anthology, a two disk* retrospective, and thought it might be a good replacement. Thank you, Mr Adams, all the old stuff, which is cheesy but good, is on the first disc** The newer stuff, which is cheesy in the worsst possible sense, is on the second disck. Saves trying to skip tracks while driving. However, as the first diskc is pretty much So Far, So Good, perhaps I would have been better just replacing my original album with a CD version...

* Or maybe it should be a 'c'.
**Or maybe it should be a 'k'. Who knows?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Really, how hard can it be?

Six weeks after I sent all the information, and a few days after the final mortgage offer was supposed to have been posted to us, the mortgage company ring up. We use an internet bank so the statements I posted in don't have our address on, so can't be used as proof of our address. Now, had they told me this six weeks ago and asked for alternative proof, I would have been happy. As they didn't, and I want my house NOW, I am pretty livid. They did apologise and accept it was their fault, so I haven't asked for anyone's liver to be posted to me in a box to appease my wrath. Yet.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I have an interview for a job on Friday. It's a temporary housing officer job in central Manchester. I'd like it because:
  • It's more responsibility and a definite career progression
  • It's more money
  • I would get to do rent arrears and lettings as well as tenancy issues, which would be very interesting

I'm not sure about it because:

  • I'd be leaving a permanent post for an up-to-12-months post. Housing is a fairly buyant sector, but I am enjoying my new-found job security!
  • I'd like to start doing my professional qualifications, but I can't see the new company paying for that when I'd only be there 12 months or so
  • I really like the people I work with. Working with good people is not something to take lightly
  • We'd have to buy another car which we can't really afford

I wouldn't want you to think I can't make decisions on my own, but I would be interested in what you think.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bored of...

I got bored of being spiderman.

In fact, I am bored of lots of things...

I am bored of being tired. I am exceptionally tired at the moment - stress over house-buying, lack of sleep, not enough vegetables.

I am also getting bored of house-buying now. It is just taking forever. However, I suspect we might suddenly have a conveyancing explosion and find ourselves living in a new house one day. It's just a case of waiting for lots of bits of paper from lots of people.

That's it really. Not too much excitement.

Apart from realising my best friend is leaving the country FOREVER (well, 3 years) in two weeks rather than the... um... few months it's been in my head for the past few months. I'm really pleased that she is going to do something really exciting that she wants to do. I just wish she was doing it in the same country as me. Sob sob.

Guess I'll get sued to it...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Am Spiderman!

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Friday, May 18, 2007

She shoots! She scores! Or something...

I have been playing netball. Not as cheerfully as these people, I have to admit.

I did want to play football again but I haven't really managed to find a team and some people at work play netball so I've joined it.

It does seem to be more fun fifteen years on. But I can tell you, it's not football. Or cricket, for that matter.

1. It's a non-contact sport. Really. If you just bump into the person who has the ball, someone blows a whistle at you. This is bad. It wasn't my fault she fell over...

2. Everyone has their own little bit of the pitch to play in. No all chasing after the ball.

3. When someone has the ball, you have to be 3' away from them. Seriously. Or someone blows a whistle at you.

4. The minute you have the ball, you can't move the first foot that touches the ground. If you do, guess what? Someone blows a whistle at you.

5. People don't shout for the ball. Or talk to each other. At all. So I'm running round shouting "behind you! behind you! Pass it back". Everyone else is doing little hand-signals and mind-communication.

I think I'll get the hang of it one day. Maybe.

I can also tell you that the vendors have accepted our lower offer and we're getting some house reports done, so it looks like we might just be buying a house. Maybe, just maybe...

Monday, May 14, 2007


(For those of you thinking 'when will she shut up? Everyone buys a house, it's not such a big deal', it's probably best to look away now - and come back in about 6 months)

The survey said that there was some bulging and cracking of the masonry due to old settlement of the building and thermal or moisture problems, which is not considered to be significant. Apparently a lot of insurance companies do consider this to be significant. Which means we get driected to the 'special risk' departments. One insurance company also said we're in a 'moderate subsidence' area. This could mean higher premiums, expensive work to do and difficulty selling in the future.

The surveyor also said that the rear wall had been rebuilt in cavity brick. My dad said that you don't just rebuild a wall in cavity brick for the sake of cavity brick, so it seems a bit suspicious. My parents think that we should walk away, as we don't have any money to chuck at a house.

I think I love the house.

I feel traumatised.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Decisions, decisions and... more decisions!

We got our survey back yesterday. It made me feel quite anxious - a big list of urgent things and things which could cause problems and things which we should get investigated further... I am repeatedly assured by most people that surveyors have to tell you everything that could possibly go wrong, to avoid us suing their ass later. I don't find this helpful - I'd rather know what is a real issue and what I should worry about, and what is just pretty normal.

The main issue (apart from the whole house needing repointing and the absolute necessity of a building contractor taking up all the floorboard. Apparently) is that the valuation of the house is about £6000 less than our offer. I assume the mortgage company will only lend us the valuation. So either the vendor will have to accept the lower offer, or we'll have to find a new house and they'll have to find a new buyer. I can't imagine they'll be that keen to go through all the viewings and offer stage again, especially as the next surveyor will presumably say the same thing.

As long as I'm right, it means we'll save money on our mortgage...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Decisions, decisions

This house-buying malarkey seems to require a lot of decision-making. And I mean beyond "how much can we afford?" and "shall we buy this house?".

Choosing a solicitor was frightening enough. Then the solicitor asked us to decide whether we wanted to own the house completely jointly or own a specific share. Not too tricky as our relationship is fairly straightforward - no children from previous marriages or different amounts of capital.

And now we have to think about mortgage protection - should we pay a reasonably large amount of money for peace of mind, or face being evicted on the off-chance that something terrible happens?

This whole business seems to be about looking for the worst possible situation and assuming it could happen.

Cheerful, eh?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


We went to the Isle of Skye to visit my in-laws, who run Luib House bed and breakfast. Apart from taking 10 hours to get to (and a small 'crying in a car park' incident because I got a bit tired to drive) it's lovely. Look at the view!

We went to the beach:

And saw beach sea-life!

And there's a forest too!

But we're glad to be home...

And getting excited about house-buying - this week we've instructed the surveyor to go and check out our house!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Be the change...

Sanctus1 and Be The Change presents the Change the Dream Symposium

Where on Earth are we going?And what can we do about it?These are two of the questions that lie at the heart of Change the Dream. It explores the link between three of humanity’s most critical concerns: environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment.Using video clips from some of the world’s most respected thinkers, inspiring short films, and leading edge information on the state of the planet and its people, the day allows all of us to gain a new insight into the opportunity we have to shape the direction of our world with our everyday choices and actions.

Monday 7 May (bank holiday), 10.00 - 4.30
Nexus, Dale St., Manchester, M1 1JW
0161 236 0100
Cost: £10 (£5 unwaged) - any profits will be donated to suitable charities.Fairtrade tea/ coffee provided. Lunch not included – bring or buy your own.

For bookings and info, please email

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Offer accepted!

So, we went out to look at houses again yesterday, to make sure we really did want to buy the house next door.

First house - on the street round the corner - lots of space upstairs but it felt like a family house - the people selling it were our parents' age and it just didn't feel like what we wanted.

Second house - two doors down from the first house. And we loved it... See the link above and download the brochure to see photos. It's beautiful! It just felt like a good house to be in. The cellar is nice. The attic is nice. The only real downside is the bathroom has no shower and no window. The first one can be easily rectified, the second one lived with. We realised we wanted this house.

Third house - the house next door - I'd expected to go and be wowed again and measure a few things and then put in an offer. Instead, we felt very embarrassed going to have a second look, the sort of second look you have when you're planning on putting an offer in, at a house we now didn't really want. And it wasn't as nice as we'd remembered.

Fourth house - we were very embarrassed here as we only went to see if to get a price comparison for the house next door. Really, we were using the owner, and now we were using him to further plans we now didn't plan to carry out. We were in and out in 4 minutes.

Then we went home, talked about it and decided to put an offer in on the second house. I had a fairly sleepless night and then spent about two hours this morning trying to get the estate agent to answer my phone and accept my offer. In the end, I walked round to the estate agent. They can ignore the phone ringing, but not me sitting there. The receptionist took my details and put the offer to the vendor, who accepted it, and then took it off the market. An estate agent is going to ring on Monday morning to sort out where we go next.

So, we've had an offer accepted! I'd feel more excited if there wasn't so much work to do! I now need to find a solicitor and apply for a mortgage. I can't send off my mortgage application without the solicitor's details, as far as I can tell. I've never employed a solicitor before. My sister is having a nightmare 7-month house purchase because her solicitor is rubbish and I'd like to avoid that... I'd like to get mortgage advice from a broker for choice. No-one works at the weekend and we go on holiday on Wednesday. Feeling a little stressed. So I'm going to go and look at pictures of my beautiful house again and think about where I'll put my furniture...

Friday, April 20, 2007

I am loving Facebook!

Over the past week or so I've been enjoying doing Facebook. It is another social networking site, but I really quite like it. Add someone as your friend and then anything they do shows up on your profile. So if they make friends with someone you know, you can then ask that person to be your friend. Suddenly I have lots of friends I'd forgotten I had. It's very affirming.

You can find me with my email address, which is sarahstuart25 [at ] And be my friend...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Very exciting!

I saw some monkeys with my brother and sisters on Monday.

I'm going to be on a radio show that my friend Fat Roland is doing.

And on Saturday we're going to look at this, this and this house and also this house which is, conveniently, right next door.

Hadfield is pretty and I would love to be in the countryside. But I really love being able to walk to work. Not so much when it's raining, to be honest. But now spring is here, it's really quite pleasant.

See how I have remembered that blogging is about "stuff I've found on the internet", not "make a dull list of everything I've done in the past fortnight, cunningly in reverse order"?

Monday, April 02, 2007

I have been quite busy recently, but really I haven't been blogging because I don't have much to say...

I decided not to apply for the job I was thinking about due to the commute, but am keeping an eye out for things closer to home. Work has been going ok and I do love what I do, but am still frustrated by the person I work with and wanting to have much more responsibility. We'll see.

Matt and I went to Tintwistle and Hadfield yesterday to assess their suitability as places to buy houses in. I have been talking about buying a house for about 4 years, but it does feel like we're finally getting to a position where it's financially viable.

I went to a beautiful wedding on Saturday - friends from Sanctus 1 - the service was a mixture of traditional and new stuff, the reception was a lot of fun - and we even managed to arrive on time!

On Friday night (I appear to be going backwards in time here...) it was my dad's 55th birthday and semi-retirement do. My family managed to behave quite respectably and it was a lot of fun, particularly seeing my brother and sisters and brother-in-law again. I am very proud of my dad and sad that he's leaving the fire-brigade - there aren't many jobs as cool as that for a dad to do!

And hasn't it been lovely weather! It does feel spring-ish. Which I like.

Matt and I went to York last weekend and had a good time - visited lots of museums, walked for miles, ate good food. I am going to try to make sure we go on holiday a little more often than we have done up to now.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Moving on?

I'm considering applying for a new job.

I love my job. I work with lots of people I really like. I like the company I work for. I can walk to work from my house. The job I am thinking of applying for is about 35 miles of vile commuting away. What am I thinking of???

Well, I'm happiest doing my job when the person I work with is away and I'm in charge. I really want my own area of houses to manage. And the trouble is that my company is pretty stagnant. You have to wait for someone to get pregnant to get a promotion. There's nowhere for anyone to go and no-one want to leave because it's such a good place to work. And there are so many people who are more experienced than me doing the same job as me. So I could have quite a wait.

It also pays about £7,000 a year more. This is an attraction, I will admit. I think that for what I'm expected to do (inspect fences, advise on welfare benefits, decide whether trees are dangerous, resolve neighbour disputes, understand and apply a myriad of policies and procedures, explain tenancy agreements) I am pretty badly paid - I could get the same money doing an admin job in a university.

Like I said, I love my job - pretty much everything about it. But I am ambitious and I want to do bigger things and have more responsibility. Do you think six months is a bit too early to think about moving on?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Things I have learnt by driving

  1. I have realised that the world is scuppered. Really, no-one is going to give up their car. Really. Car=freedom. I can go anywhere and, by extension, do anything.
  2. Join Fat Roland's's F1 Losers League now. Put together the worst ever Formula 1 team and you could win some money. And, more to the point, the respect of the motoring world. Yes, even Jeremy Clarkson. I won last year. Science has not yet explained how.
  3. I drove to Sheffield this weekend, there over the Woodhead Pass and back over he Snake Pass. Neither were as scary as getting lost in Sheffield's steep, narrow, crowded back streets. I now have an A-Z of Sheffield.
  4. Some people are -insert choice expletive-. Today, I was driving home. I got to a narrow bridge where I have to give way to oncoming traffic. I thought I'd seen someone coming so waited. No-one appeared so I started going over the hill. Mr Dickhead starts speeding over the bridge towards me. I stop and start getting ready to reverse. He starts flashing his headlights at me and then, when I don't move quickly enough for him, starts giving me the 'wanker' hand signal. Instead of turning my engine off, getting out and punching him, I reversed out of his way. Next time he might not be so lucky.
  5. Driving makes me swear more.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Guess what?

I passed! I set the car alarm off when getting into the car, and had no idea how to turn it off. And I did a three-point turn, reverse round a corner and stall at a roundabout. I amassed 6 faults, which I'm impressed by - the average is 10 and the fail mark is 16. So I'm really pleased with myself. And now I have to go and drive by myself... I am a legal driver!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I have my driving test tomorrow at 13.03. I have been feeling a bit stressed and irritable for the past week (poor Matt) but not too worried. TodayI've been developing butterflies in my stomach. I know I'm a good enough driver to pass my test and I know I can do my manoeuvres. The question is whether I will pull it off tomorrow.

I appear to have told everyone I know about doing my test and the support has been really nice. And I'm not really bothered about failing - hey, I'm 27, I've failed things before and I've passed things before. It's not that big a deal.

I just can't be arsed with having to take more lessons, rebook my test and try again. I want to pass so it's done, I can drive and can have my Saturdays back.

I'll keep you posted

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm not dead

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I might be though, given the length of time I've been in the 6th level of hell on this blog... It's a combination of being too tired to think of anything to say and feeling too boring to have anything worth saying. Which is a bit sad.

I have been busy. Work has been incredibly tiring and stressful. The aftermath of having problems with a colleague is a not-so-happy working relationship but nothing I can do anything about except persevere and keep my head down.

Soundcheck (too tired to link to is next weekend. I'm organising the stewarding and it should be much easier than previous years (just one venue - all my Sundays come at once!) but I'm so unprepared!

I have my driving test on 7th March. I'm good enough to pass, but it all comes down to how I do on the day itself. It's not so much of a big deal -I'm not 17 and I've passed things before and I've failed things before, but it would be nice not to have lessons any more! I drove to Rotherham over the Woodhead Pass in the daylight (got stuck behind a slow van pulling another van, so not so much speediness) and in the dark (terrifying!) and did well and then did a hideous stall in the middle of a junction just before the bottom of my street.

And quite a few nights out drinking, which were fun...

That's all...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Oh dear...

Looks like it's all going to be bad for me...

the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Oh well. Work's a bit hellish at the moment, so I should be used to it by then...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Life is good...

... and here's why

  1. E.R. is back. They have changed the theme music, which is, quite frankly, unacceptable, and I'm regretting missing the last season due to lack of tv licence. Really regretting it. But it makes me happy to watch it. A little bit of trauma is a good thing.
  2. I'm watching the O.C. again. I'm catching up on all of last year's season and trying to avoid trailers for the current season. A little teenage angst is a good thing, and no-one does teenage angst as classily as the O.C.
  3. We've moved to Smile. Ethical banking online. I can log onto my account whenever I want and pretend I might need to do something. I love being in charge of our money as well. Also, they gave me a credit card with a limit which would provide the deposit for a small house. And then a second card with an identical limit. I could buy half a studio flat in Newton Heath on my credit cards.
  4. One day soon we will be homeowners. We've rearranged our banking in order to facilitate saving up to buy a house. I am now desperate to buy a house, and it's good to feel like we're moving closer to that.
  5. I have been in charge at work for the past couple of weeks. It's been challenging learning to work with a new person at work. With my previous person we both did everything and chaotically somehow managed. It was a lot of fun. The person I work with now has defined and hierarchical ideas of who does what. But they've been off work on holiday and then ill. I really love being in charge and getting on with doing my own thing. It's made me realise how much I love my job. I desperately want to be promoted and have my own patch.
  6. My tenants love me. One of my tenants, anyway. I solved a problem and she went into the shop to thank me and now it will go in the internal company newsletter. I feel stupidly happy.

I started blogging thinking I would write about the solutions I've discovered for the world's problems. Now I find myself blogging about how much I love watching tv. Life doesn't turn out the way I expect all the time. But I am happy and that's important.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Music from the crunchie advert

I'm so excited...

about 2007. Waving goodbye to 2006, it was definitely a game of two halves. Half one (January to July - a special sort of half) involved hating my MA, ditching my MA and desperately trying to come up with a new career, wanting to move house and breaking my leg. Half two involved getting a new job which I have mostly loved, moving into a spectacularly beautiful house (without being able to do any of the work), buying gerbils and beginning to learn to drive. Half two was slightly tarnished by being unable to walk very well for a large part of it, but even I know I can't have everything.

2007 should be a bit more peaceful apart from taking my driving test, hopefully buying a house and my best friend moving to Indonesia. I'm feeling quite enthusiastic about most things at the moment (apart from getting up three hours earlier than any day for the past 10 days to return to work this morning) so at least the year has started well...