18 November 2022


My last post reported that my daughter Kay and her fiance Darcy have now finally acquired their first property near me  - a modest Edwardian terraced house needing a hell of a lot of modernisation and yet still costing an arm and a leg.  The joys of living in London with London prices! There is indeed a lot that needs doing to the house - nothing requiring urgent attention, but nevertheless needing doing over time. It was occupied for many decades by quite an eccentric old lady, who has now at the age of 96 gone into a care home. There are three ponds in the gardens - two at the rear and one in the front garden. Considering the front garden measures 10 feet by 4 feet, the pond takes up most of the garden!

rainwater harvesting

There is a rainwater harvesting system on the side of the house comprising three tiers of plastic water tanks. More on a roof terrace and more in the back garden. The rainwater harvesting tank is connected to a sump pump in the cellar which requires more tanks and pipes running through the house. There is a paucity of electric sockets - one in the dining room, two in the lounge (one of which is under a radiator which in turn is under the window!), two in the kitchen. Far too few for modern appliances these days.  There is no TV aerial socket or indeed no TV aerial on the roof- the old lady seems to have existed happily with radios - many of which were left behind for our "enjoyment".  Everything needs replacing from wiring to plumbing, floorboards to radiators. We knew this from the outset but now looking at the house in detail, it is hard to know where to start first, as many jobs are connected to another being done first. The house has been uninhabited for two years and is being sold by the old lady's equally elderly sister who was unable to answer many of the solicitor's questions about the property, as she lives in the North of England somewhere. 

The garden is an absolute wilderness - so much so, the larger pond in the back garden was only discovered when some creeper and brambles were cut back to get down the garden. We have also discovered a huge resident fox the size of a Labrador dog! He has obviously enjoyed uninterrupted peace for the last two years and now has to share his domain with Kay and Darcy. We don't know for how long! Virginia Creeper has taken a stronghold in the whole of the garden and is growing up the back walls of the house to roof height and is spreading across to the neighbour's house too. It has completely obliterated the view from the back bedroom and bathroom windows.

Kay and Darcy obtained the keys to the house last Wednesday. Kay had some leave for the move, but sadly Darcy could not get any, so on Thursday Kay and I set to, cleaning. We spent 10 hours that day, dusting, washing and vacuuming every surface on the ground floor. On Friday we continued with the upper storey spending another 8 hours of hard work. During that time a fridge/freezer was delivered, a locksmith came to change the locks and a central heating service was done.

The plan was to move the furniture and belongings in on the Saturday from their rental apartment. Darcy's parents and brother would help load up the rental van in the morning, reaching the house some time after midday. I would be at this end ready to receive them (Kay having given me a house key) and provide a picnic lunch for them all from Lidl, which is a mere 50 yards from their house. Everyone would then help unpack the van and arrange the contents in the house. That was the plan.

At midday, I left home in the car and parked several streets from their house. Their street has residential parking permits only, so I could not park in their road. I left my car, carrying a heavy bag full of bits and pieces that might be useful for the first day, plus I was hugging  some huge serving dishes for the picnic and a roll of wallpaper to line the kitchen drawers. I was walking along a road I had never walked along before  and failed to see a huge tree root which had pushed up the paving stones. Suddenly my right ankle rolled over and I went flying to the ground, hitting the paving with quite a force on my left knee, the contents of my arms and bag spewing all over the pavement. Feeling a right idiot, I quickly stood up and tried to continue, realising that my right ankle was killing me and my left knee was very sore. I hobbled some 200 yards or more along a couple of roads and let myself into the house, feeling very shaky. When I examined my ankle, I had a swelling the size of an egg coming up on it and could not weight-bear. My left knee was dripping with blood -despite wearing trousers, my knee was badly grazed. 

The clock was however ticking and I knew that five hungry people were about to arrive any minute wanting feeding. I had no choice but to limp along to Lidl and buy items for the picnic lunch. I added paracetamol and a bag of frozen peas to the list as necessary components to soothe my injuries. By the time everyone arrived with the van, I was sitting like a princess with the bag of frozen peas on my ankle, the swelling now growing in size to a grapefruit. I remained thus for the rest of the day, joking that I would do anything to get out of helping move the furniture!

I had made so many plans and promises to help with Kay's move and to help cut back the wilderness in the garden, but unfortunately my ankle has other plans. In the last week, it has got progressively worse and Kay has insisted on me visiting our local urgent care centre to get it xrayed to make sure it wasn't broken.  The good news is that it ISN'T broken, but is badly sprained. The swelling, bruising and pain is out of this world and the received wisdom is that it may take up to 6 weeks to mend. I have to rest it as best I can, ice it and elevate it. It has meant cancelling all my gym classes and foodbank shifts and I am relying on friends to ferry me to choir sessions and other engagements, as driving is out of the question too.  Resting it is a joke, as I live in a 6 half-storey modern townhouse with 5 staircases. I have three sets of stairs to get my meals each day and at least one to get to a toilet at any time of the day.

It also means any plans to help Kay in her house and garden will have to be shelved until further notice. To say I am cross is an understatement.  My dainty foot and leg looks like it's been transplanted from an elephant! We knew the house would cost an arm and a leg, but I didn't realise it would be mine!


12 November 2022

Calmer Days

The last few weeks (if not months) have been a bit chaotic here in Alcoholic Daze Towers. My organised routine has been somewhat overturned by events, resulting in disorganised chaos. I have tried to keep my head above water, but it has not been easy, but calmer waters are on the horizon.

My daughter Kay changed jobs in August. She is still a doctor, but has moved to the London region from Surrey. As a registrar doctor,  she has at least a four or five-year climb to get to consultant level. It involves working in a different hospital every year to gain experience of different regions and different types of hospital, such as a big teaching hospital or a small district general.  If she had stayed in Surrey, it is part of the Kent, Surrey, Sussex deanery and would have involved changing EACH YEAR to anywhere in that region - perhaps Brighton one year, Guildford the next, Dover another, Dartford another and so on. That makes commuting from home a challenge and impossible to buy property if you are not rooted in one place. So she decided to move to the London region instead, where commuting is much easier to and from most hospitals in that region, be they North, South , East or West London. 

Fortunately her first posting in London was to a district general not far from me, so she has been living with me during the week to help her commute and spending weekends at her rented flat in Surrey. Her boyfriend Darcy has also been living with us during the week over the last five weeks, as his work has brought him to London too. They are in the process of buying a house close to me but the purchase has dragged on longer than anticipated, as the solicitors (ours and the vendors) thrash it out between themselves. Kay and Darcy are first time buyers and the house they are buying belongs to an old lady now in a care home, so you would think the transaction would have been relatively easy, but, oh no.

As if that was not bad enough, some painter/decorators whom I had hired last November to  plaster Kay's bedroom ceiling and walls, paint them and also paint the top landing and sheer drop down the stairs, have been slow to get to me (it was originally planned for April) and could only start at the beginning of October.  The timing could not have been worse. It has meant Kay and Darcy have had to decamp from Kay's bedroom to a tiny box bedroom, hardly big enough for the bed, let alone anything else. Because my crazy 6-storey house has so many stairs, it has involved moving the rest of the bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs and storing in the study/bedroom. Nothing is where it should be and we have been very cramped. Add to that the fact that Kay was on nightshifts last week so the painters could not work while she was sleeping during the day and that has added to the timescale. Finally at the end of October we moved everything back into the newly decorated bedroom and Kay and Darcy had more room to spread out. Additionally I gained back my study! Just in time for them to move out altogether. Completion was on Tuesday and moving day is today!

Kay and I spent the last few days in her new house, trying to clean it. More of that later......