25 October 2010

Noah's Ark

picture from
The Glory Site and Treasured Graphics

While I was at my mother's, I took the dog for a walk at a well-known beauty spot. Everywhere I went, it was like being on Noah's Ark. People were in twos....old, young, middle-aged. They walked hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, kissing, even arguing, enjoying a walk or admiring the view. I stood out a mile on my own (even if accompanied by my canine friend).

I know I was effectively on my own and doing things on my own for years before Greg died, but now psychologically it hits me even harder, when I see couples everywhere and I am self-consciously on my own. I suppose I always lived in the stupid hope that one day Greg would recover from his temporary madness, things would return to normal once more and we would ride out retirement into old age together. I am really not ready for another relationship yet (if at all) - Greg and I were together for nearly 40 years, so I would be totally out of touch with the whole dating thing all over again and furthermore I doubt whether I would ever want the risk of things going wrong again. I can even honestly say I am rather enjoying my own company and the calm I have so desperately needed this last few years. However, the thought of having to face couples everywhere I go until I am a wizened old lady also fills me with apprehension.

There are just some things I am not happy to do as a singleton. Going into a pub or a restaurant on my own is a no-no; a holiday or a day-trip somewhere new on my own holds no appeal. I feel as if my life has been put on hold for my remaining years. I don't mean this to sound as morbid as it comes across, because by and large I am coping with things and keeping manically busy, but, with a big milestone birthday coming up in the next few weeks, I already feel decades older than I really am and as if I am sitting on the shelf in God's waiting room.

22 October 2010

Even more windows

Back from my mum's and pleased to say that her window experience went a lot better than mine. Some before and after pictures....


General state of windows

Bay window

Upstairs right

Upstairs left

AfterFinished job!!!

Since the photo, I've painted the front door; tidied up/weeded the front and back gardens for winter; chopped down some unsightly branches on a lime tree (which filled the entire back half of my hatchback car including the back seat on the way to the rubbish tip); washed every window in the house; washed every net curtain in the house and some of the over-curtains; hung them back up again; taken my mother to three appointments; done a big shop for her; walked the dog every day; and taken my mum out in the car for little treats. All in the space of ten days. Now I'm back home to resume work on my own house!!!!

08 October 2010


You wanted photos of the windows, so here they are - or at least some of them (I have three windows on the stairs and they all look the same as the one I've shown, so there was no point showing them all!!) I know you are going to think the study and the kitchen windows look pretty much the same before and after, but if you look closely the study window in the "before" had no handle and therefore did not shut at all and the kitchen window was looking pretty tired. In fact when the window fitters removed the old kitchen window, they said it had originally been placed on a rotting wood sill and the whole window would have collapsed in time if it had not been replaced when it was!!! You can click on each photo to get a larger picture.
I've spent yesterday undercoating and top-coating the sills inside. Today I have been ironing curtains and rehanging them, as well as putting things back in their places. I'm off to my mum's for a week to organise her window replacements, but just hope I don't have the same shenanigans with her windows as I did with mine!
Study before

Study after

Kitchen before

Kitchen after

Stairway before

Stairway during

Stairway after

06 October 2010


The windows are finished. Not only did three men turn up today, two to do the patio window (which took them all day) and one to finish off all the other unfinished windows from last Wednesday, but the sun shone nearly the whole day despite torrential rain when I first woke up. My paintbrush comes out tomorrow to attack the areas around the windows. Meanwhile, I am celebrating a (finally) successful project in my new glassy surroundings with a glass of wine.

04 October 2010


Well, guess what, the double-crossing (ahem, I mean double-glazing) men didn't turn up today either, nor did they ring me, so at 10 o'clock this morning I rang them. I felt rather sorry for the man who took my call. I sunk my proverbial teeth into him and would not let go. He said they couldn't send an installation team to me today as they were all out on jobs. "Oh good", I said, "at least someone's getting their windows installed today, but it's certainly not me."

They've promised me Wednesday now and they're sending two teams to make sure it's all done.Watch this space........................

02 October 2010

The never-ending story of the double-glazing men

When we first moved into this house two decades ago, the wooden windows were rotten and needed replacing, even though the house is not all that old. As we couldn't find anyone interested enough to replace them with wooden frames, we decided to replace them with UPVC ones. The small family firm we found had done many job in the locality and we were pleased with what they did for us.

Roll forward two decades to 2010. There are some windows on the side of the house (up the stairwell) and a few others that we did not have done at the time, but now need some attention, and, as the health and safety clowns these days insist on proper scaffolding towers in case their darling workmen have to climb the dizzy heights of more than 6 foot, painting has become ludicrously expensive. I therefore decided it would be an investment to get them double-glazed as well as a very large patio window. The family double-glazing firm still advertise in the local paper and are still very successful.

About two months ago I called them and they came round very promptly to see me. George (the son of the original owner and now the Chief Director) and Bob (who proudly told me he was Bob the Builder!) were both very nice and helpful and didn't try to push anything on me like you hear of in some gory double-glazing tales. In fact, quite the opposite. They let their reputation speak for itself. Within 24 hours,all the paperwork had been sent through to me, I had paid the deposit and a date for installation was set. The 29th September. Bear that date in mind, dear reader. I repeat the 29th September. I could have had the job done earlier, but I wanted to start the project well after Kay had gone back to uni. My mother also needed some windows replacing at the front of her house. The previous owners of her house had had the back and sides of the house double-glazed but had not done the front. Now after years of trying to nurture the wooden frames, they too were going rotten and so, yes, you've guessed it, I decided to get my trusty local double-glazing firm in to do her windows too. About a month ago, George and Bob paid a visit to her, while I was there, and again with no pressure my mum decided to press ahead with her order too. Her installation was agreed for mid-October to give me time to sort out my house after my window installation before turning my thoughts to mum's. Their surveyor turned up separately at my house and then weeks later at my mum's house to measure up precisely, noting to the exact millimetre every nook and cranny and angle.

As you are probably well aware, the 29th September was this week. Now they have had two months to prepare for this and I appreciate that they operate a "just in time" system, whereby they only make up the windows a day or so before they are needed. It means they don't have to store huge amounts of raw materials unnecessarily in their factory and it also helps cashflow just to make up something before it is needed. However a week before they were due to come I got the first sniff that something was not quite right. They rang me up and said my patio window would need to be installed on another day as they would not have the kit for it in time. Surely they could have planned two months earlier for the kit to arrive "just in time" before it was needed? Not wishing to be a party-pooper, I said of course I didn't mind the job not being done on the same day and agreed with them that the patio window could be installed separately two days later on Friday 1 October. A day or so beforehand, I scanned for weather reports and, as luck would have it, on both days, heavy rain was forecast with blustery gales on the Friday to boot.

On Wednesday 29 September, the installation team turned up - a man in his late thirties and a boy of about 17. They were there to install the five windows, remember, three of which are on the stairwell. The man was shaven-headed and had a whole poem tattooed on his upper arm. I didn't get the chance to read it, as it seemed rude to stare at his arm whenever I did get the chance to get up close. He seemed pleasant enough though and proceeded to knock out every window first, leaving gigantic big holes in the house, big enough for an elephant to step through. The rain rained and the wind blew and I put on an extra layer. The young lad tore protecive covering off the new windows, carted out old windows, even clambered onto the roof to guide out an old window over the top landing, swept up broken glass. I plied them with that good old British staple - numerous cups of tea and chocolate biscuits - and tried to keep myself (and the dog and cat) out of their way. However by lunchtime, there was a second hint that things were not boding too well. Mr Tattoo told me that two of the three stairwell windows were not the right measurements and he had just told head office that the surveyor obviously needed a new tape measure. The windows would have to be remade and he would fit them on Friday when he came back to do the patio window. Meanwhile he would temporarily fit the ones he had brought with him and "foam them up" so they would stay in place and be watertight. The surveyor would apparently bear the cost of his mistake. (It would have been so much cheaper to get a new tape measure!) Mr Tattoo said goodbye to me mid-afternoon on Wednesday, saying he had got as far as he could, although only one of the five windows were actually finished. Two were almost finished (quite why not completely, I don't know) and of course the other two would be replaced again on Friday along with the patio window.

Thursday was bright and sunny with blue skies. Unlike Friday. On Friday the autumn leaves were swirling in circular patterns, the trees were bending in half, the rain was pounding down and creating huge puddles on the patio. Oh joy. Up at the crack of dawn, I made sure the patio curtains were down, all furniture nearby removed, walls washed and scrubbed. Curtains were either put in my washing machine or taken to the launderette to put in the gigantic one there. By teatime, I would be the proud owner of new windows and clean curtains (with years of nictoine stains washed out and smelling sweetly). At 10 am I got a phone call from the firm's office. Mr Tattoo had called in sick, so there would be nobody coming that day. However, as a special one-off, they had twisted someone's arm in another team to finish off the other windows and install the patio window on Saturday intead. They apologised profusely. What could I say? It wasn't their fault someone had called in sick. It happens to the best of us. In fact, if anything, I was a teensy bit relieved that my fourth kitchen wall was not going to be bashed out and exposed to the heavens raging outside.

Before and After

And so here we are today. Saturday. Up at the crack of dawn. No weekend lie-in for me. Busy busy busy inspecting and making sure everything was ready. Cat and dog bowls removed, so no splintery glass would fall in amongst the chicken and rice kibble. And there I sat until midday, too afraid to start anything major in case they arrived. I rang the office at 11 and got an answermachine. Well, it is Saturday. I rang again at 12 and from somewhere a voice said I would take my custom elsewhere. It might have been me! I slammed the phone down. Half an hour later, a very apologetic installation manager rang back. He said he could not contact the relevant installation team as they were not answering their phone. He had no idea what had gone wrong. He said he was as disappointed as me, as he had been at the factory till after six last night checking the order through and loading the van ready for this morning.

He promises me they will come on Monday to sort everything out.
Remember, I have to repeat this experience down at my mum's. Lord help me.