Wednesday, 9 September 2009

It's been a while. Sorry about that but I'm back now.

I know. I've been gone for ages. I'm not dead or anything. I don't really know what happened. I got blogging block! Anyway, I have overcome my fear and here I am again. Back luck. Thought you had got rid of me didn't you?

So, in my absence I have been busy. In addition to working like a loon, I have started work on the garden of the hovel. I have built a vegetable garden (of sorts) and am now spending my time trying to dig up top soil from elsewhere in the garden and lugging it over to the new beds. Back breaking work that is oddly satisfying. Here is a photo of the garden so far....

Hopefully, next year I will be able to show you a picture of it filled with a cornucopia of vegetables!

I have also made a driveway and parking area next to the house. This was done with the help of a local farmer and his digger and then 10 hours of crucifying work when I raked out eleven tons of gravel. That night I was so stiff that I thought it would kill me. The next few days even walking was a struggle. However, now I have an actual drive which you can turn in and everything.

My real battle is with the plumbers. The heating system in this house is deranged. The boiler, which the previous owner assured me was marvellous, is actually insane. There is only one thermostat in the house and it is in the sitting room. If it is cold I, not unnaturally, light the wood burner. Consequently the Sitting Room heats up and the thermostat goes off which then means the heating in the rest of the house goes off. In addition there is no timer switch and no way that I have found to turn the hot water on. If I want hot water I have to use the immersion override and wait an hour for the water to heat up. It is not ideal. Not ideal at all.

I have now had four different plumbers out to quote for a new boiler. I had naively thought that it would cost a painful £3500 or so. 'Or so' doesn't even begin to cover it though. It turns out they think £4500 PLUS VAT is more like it. The boiler is only £2000 so where is the rest of the money going? I am frequently driven to wanting to weep just thinking about it and it is becoming an issue which sums up the 'single and surviving, just' principle. I have to sort the wretched thing out but it is taking up a quarter of my budget for doing up the house, a quarter I desperately wanted for other things. Moments like this I would love to have somebody else in my life, not only to share the dilemma, but in all honesty, to also share the cost.

I know that it is horribly mercenary but it has taken me YEARS to save up the money for this project and now it is all being sucked up by the vile plumbers. Hateful, hateful boiler. It has given me sleepless nights, and chillblains. Ok, not actually chillblains, but if I don't get it fixed before winter then they are an option.

I am doing everything I can to earn more money. I am working on two book proposals but neither of those are likely to earn me any money for years (if at all) and the recession means that, though I have work on, people aren't spending as much so I am travelling as much as ever, but not earning as much.

In addition I made a mistake earlier this year (long story that I won't bore you with), that cost me nearly two thousand pounds. I have cancelled a trip to China to try and recuperate the costs but this is definitely my summer of money worries. Perhaps there will be a Karmic refund and I will win £10,000 (or a hundred thousand?) to balance out the arterial bleed that is my bank account.

Anyway, I shall stop whining about my life. The sun is shining, the blackberries are ripening and the sheets are flapping on the line. I just need to adjust my dreams for the house. Instead of it taking a couple of years to get the bulk of the work done, it may be a lot longer. A lot, lot longer.


Anonymous said...

Oh WG - as a fellow single flat buyer, I feel your pain. It would be so nice to have someone to share the ups and downs of renovations with.
On the upside though - how wonderful to have your own garden and how satisfying to have built it yourself! V impressed.

notSupermum said...

£4500 for a boiler? They having a laugh surely? Unless it's an unusual type of boiler (gold plated?), a normal combi boiler costs around £1600-1800, and then labour costs on top. Don't pay it!!

notSupermum said...

Oh, forgot to say, nice to see you blogging again...

Make Do Style said...

Seriously someone is ripping you off - are you in deepest darkest Wales i.e mid Wales.

I would phone speak to Brisish Gas or another big company and double check on this. I had a fab swanky bathroom all in for £5k and I purcashed excessive itemss. Then we moved agh!

Make Do Style said...

Sorry much impressed with garden efforts.

The Singlutionary said...

Ahhhh. Yes, I thought I would have my house finished within a year. Well, now it is 2 years and there are still paint cans stacked at the top of the steps. You have done many of your improvements far faster than I ever did! It is slow going.

I am glad you are back and super excited about your garden. I have a garden and it is a mess. My backyard is a pit of dirt and leaves. But I do have chickens!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to have you back and none of us mind you have a whine! I only wish I could offer you some advice, like the others I think those plumbers are "'aving a larf". Love your new veg garden and the drive sounds such a good thing to have done before the winter (and mud) sets in.
Lots of love to Loyal Hound.
Wendy (Wales)

elizabethm said...

Great to see you back and love what you have done in the garden so far. Can I give you plants? I have tons of stuff and if it grows here it will grow for you, I am pretty sure.
Is there anything unusual about your house or your boiler? I think we would spend that sort of money here because of the age of the house and the fact that everything is complicated by huge thick walls and no foundations. We have been here for nearly four years and still have the most hideous kitchen in the world (I know it is, I held a competition) so I think you should feel you have all the time in the world to sort yours out!

Cathy said...

I have To say that boiler must be gilded or something to cost so much. You could get your entire houseset up with forced air and heat here for that price and that includes labor. They sound as if they are taking advantage of a single woman. I've had it happen to me and I hate it. Better to ask around to some of your friends or have someone's spouse come over and sort them out. I hate to say that but I had to do that when I needed a new water line a few years ago. The estimate was $2,000 until I had a man from my church come here to talk to them and it went down to $950. in no time. Jerks is all I can say about those guys.
The garden looks amazing and I know you must be really proud of it.

Cal said...

Yay that you're back and grrr re the boiler.

And as a single flat owner myself who did a whole heap of renovations last year and still has more to go I can totally get the annoyance with having to do it all alone thing. It's just so much effort.

Welsh Girl said...

Mud - The veg patch is satisfying. Have spent a couple of hours moving top soil in today. Hurrah. Have been v demoralised by builders though. Had to post about it I was so frustrated!
Notsupermum - It was going to be studded with swarovski crystals and designed by Dolce & Gabbana. That's not over the top is it?
Make Do Style - Deepest, sunniest (today anyway) North Wales....
Singlutionary - The thing I find so frustrating is that people just don't seem to want the work i want to give them! What is that about??? Have you made your chicken house of cans yet? I must search back through your archives and see if there is a picture.
Wendy - It is lovely to be back. You may have to get used to the whinging as it is a downside to being on my own and having nobody to moan to!!
Elizabeth - yes please to plants!! The garden is the only thing that seems to be progressing anywhere at the moment. The boiler is not that complex an issue, or it shouldn't be. I am just being penalised for being remote and desperate.
Cathy - can you send over some of your church friends to me? They could sort out the plumbers and the builders in a flash.
Cal - it is an effort isn't it. It's not that I'm not willing to do the hard work, I am. It's just that nobody else is willing to do the bits I can't do!

katyboo1 said...

I am so glad you are back, and so sorry to hear about boilers (happened to me in my last but one house too. Bloody annoying), and builders (argh!)

Unfortunately I think you are right about the difficulties with you being a girl. Because my ex was never around I had all the work done on my own and it was very, very difficult to find someone who would work for me and respect me.

Cocks! That's what they are.

Chin up.x

justme said...

LOVELY to have you back and so glad you had not been kidnapped by strange cyberman.
As to the building sympathy. I have been trying for TWO YEARS to organise a new kitchen for myself. I just can't face the thought of dealing with the workmen...
Your garden is fabulous though.

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