Saturday, 19 April 2014

At the worst of times there's always wool

We managed to get our house on the market though I have been trying all week to get the agents to correct a number of minor mistakes on the on line sales blurb.  In my day if a client had to point out (twice in writing) some typing errors I'd have been in serious trouble if I hadn't corrected them straight away. Second time we told the agents we received an email to say they will be amended, surely as quick to actually do that as to send an email, it reflects badly on the agents every time someone reads the information.
We had such a stressful time last week, not just the house but Mr FF was expecting to be going into hospital as a day patient for a minor hernia operation last Sunday.   He was due to report at 7.30 am not knowing whether he was having a local or general anesthetic or what time his op might be.  I'd already packed a bag for myself so I could wait to drive him home, book, knitting, chocolate and a map to the shops.  Less than 24 hours before his appointment it was cancelled and he's just been offered another date.   Again a total lack of information, report at 7.30 am and don't eat after certain times depending on whether its a morning or afternoon op with of course no time given for the op.   Fingers crossed it happens next week, in a way the delay is a relief as he's been busy doing some work on the garden wall and pavings, jobs that he won't be able to tackle for a while as he recovers.  
So what's a girl to do to relax as she collapses exhausted of an evening after working all day in the garden.  Knit of course.  I've been using up some lovely Farm Yarn 100% British alpaca that I've had for a while, I'm not even sure if it's still produced.  Always a pleasure to work with alpaca, I've made a couple of lacy scarves. 
This is the candle flame scarf, a free pattern on ravelry that meets my requirement for no wrong side, as rather badly displayed in the top photograph
And below is Travelling Vine from my Scarf Style book, I didn't knit the scalloped leaves edges just a few rows of garter stitch to start and finish. I even blocked a bit for you to see how it looks.
I was thinking about keeping one for myself until I remembered I made a lovely cream cable alpaca scarf not so long ago.  So these can go into the presents bag, lets call them Christmas knitting.
Of course there have been socks,  cable ones for Mr FF, from Jane Brocket's Gentle Art of Knitting.  I love cable so much, I must knit myself a pair of these particularly as I also have some cream yarn in this Regia Tweed.
So once the on line information for the house is corrected I'll give you the link, there's even a video so you can have a good look round, just don't hold your breath.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Words fail me - almost

Its impossible to tell you how stressful putting our house on the market has been, or how expensive, and we aren't there yet.
Firstly in Scotland we are required by law to have a home report prepared before we can offer the house for sale, this gives a condition report, an energy report and a valuation.  None of this is worth the paper it is written on, full of get out clauses and based on a walk round the property without proper investigation, the energy performance section is supported by companies who want to sell you condensing boilers, solar panels etc, which are recommended to improve the rating.    
We arranged for an appropriate surveyor to come round to do this and will eventually fork out £840 for the pleasure.  Mr FF had ready the house plans, specification, even delivery notes for materials to explain how things worked and how well insulated the property is.  Bad start, the surveyor, lets call him Mr Clipboard, wasn't interested, said he'd prefer to wander round on his own and that he could only rate the house according to the building standards at the time it was built, pretty low.  We greatly exceeded these standards when we built, but apart from shoving Mr Clipboard's head into the loft or down a hatch to inspect the underfloor there was nothing we could do to get him to believe us.  We felt that was unfair, he said he was only the messenger and I suggested he take a message back that the system is rubbish.  Anyway to cut things short, he produced a survey that contained 19 errors, making various assumptions, though we were available to ask, like that we might not have planning permission for the 'alterations' to glaze the roof of our hallway.  We obtained planning permission for this when we built the house, it was never an alteration. He asked if our heating was zoned, ie could parts be turned off, and Mr FF showed him the switch in the hall that turns off the heating to the bedrooms during the day so that only the living areas are heated.  Because it was a manual switch, like turning on and off a light, Mr Clipboard wasn't able to accept it, he said it had to be automatic.  I thought Mr FF might launch into his regular rant about the chair being the killer and that people should get off their bottoms more often, perhaps he was stunned by the stupidity of it all.   
The energy report was dire, we know our house has a low carbon footprint and is cosy and warm at little expense, but Mr Clipboard had no box to enter information on our link up stove and oil boiler system, computer says no.   However, he hadn't anticipated our Yorkshire determination, Mr FF spoke to various bodies including the software manufacturers and after 3 weeks we eventually got a decent (average) rating.    However Mr Clipboard had the last laugh because once we said the report was OK he took himself off for 2 weeks holiday, we have no idea if he has issued details to the estate agents, we hardly care.
Then we had the photographer and the man who comes to draw up the plan, again the latter was not interested in the fact we already had plans, we appreciated he needed to check dimensions but he could have saved himself some time and possible got the room names right.  The photographer was pleasant and easy to have around, but again we didn't receive the photographs for several days, by which time they had been inserted into a draft brochure.  I had walked round with the photographer, pointing things out but felt that he knew what he was doing and left him to get on, wrong. Dreadful pictures, completely distorted by fancy lenses, presumably to make the rooms look more spacious.  Who needs to see that there is a bed in the spare room and a window, no indication of fitted wardrobes or garden views. Our lovely morning room that looks onto the balcony, across the garden and to the hills, shows a red sofa and a bookcase, no outlook or double patio doors in sight.
We were so disappointed, again we have forked out over £900 for the marketing, this morning I went out and took our own photographs for the brochure, we re-wrote the blurb that describes our small village, no shops or services, as a town and dare I mention the 2 W.C.'s - I would happily go round and give them a lesson on use of the apostrophe, I'd do it for free.  The sales negotiator was pressing us to approve the brochure, she sent it through at 4.00 pm yesterday and was on the phone at 9 am to ask if it was OK, no pressure there then.
I honestly feel that we have barely been consulted in this process, we have spent almost £1,800 and ended up doing most of the work ourselves. The arrogance of people who are selling their services is outrageous, I am sure we are already marked down as the clients from hell, so be it at least we might eventually get something like what we are paying for.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The upside of down sizing

I don't drink much, usually no more than one glass of white wine but I have discovered a benefit of downsizing, it may be down to Liz's comments about the empties but I realised we have a large stock of unusual drinks in the cupboard so I've been getting rid of then - mostly down my neck to save any removal costs. 
                          
I enjoyed finishing off the Drambuie with a tot after dinner but things have gone downhill since then, the dregs of Cointreau were horrible.  I must admit some of the bottles are really really old, we think we might have bought the Sambuca the first time we went to Italy, I'm not admitting when that was but we were practically children. So the contents of three of the bottles in the photograph below have gone down the sink but Mr FF thinks he might fancy a Pernod later tonight, then we can start on the strange and various cocktail ingredients, Pisco Sour anyone?


Post blog note - the Pernod went down the sink too, obviously stock control is not a strong point here.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

I'm afraid it was inevitable

Amidst the stress and misery of decluttering, contemplating downsizing and having a home report prepared (big rant on the latter to follow), it was to be expected that a trip to town and lunch with Helen would be the downfall of my good intentions not to acquire more material goods.  
Firstly one of those charming ladies on a John Lewis beauty counter collared me, dabbed a bit of product round my eyes, sprayed me with one of their new perfumes and relieved me of £25.  In my defence, Touch Eclat is currently one of the best selling beauty products so I really should have my own.
In Debenhams there was a 10% off event and I've been wanting some of this eau de cologne for ages,  the sales lady filled my bag with extra samples, 6 in all I gave one to Helen. 
I know this is a masculine product, but I love, as the blurb says,  the sensual blend of fresh citrus top notes and intense base notes of neroli, leather, benzoin and ginger.  I don't know what benzoin is but ginger gets my vote every time and what girl doesn't want waft around with a hint of leather about her.


Finally after lunch we ventured into Beinspired, the lovely local yarn shop in Marchmont and I was seduced by two balls of beautiful alpaca, one jade one mushroom. Even if I never get round to using this 100 g of softness they are a real non-fattening comfort, better than Cadbury's Dairy Milk which could be my next major purchase.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Selling and spending

I realise I'm in danger of driving you all away if I keep banging on about my downsizing efforts, but it's important that you understand that I am getting rid of clutter and how difficult it is.
So I have sent more bags to the charity shop and I've also put some of my more precious items on ebay.  
These Beswick Beatrix Potter figures I've had at least 50 years, I could pass them onto Amelia and Esme my grand nieces but they would probably appreciate the money more.  
I've also started sorting my extensive Emma Bridgewater collection and put a few interesting pieces up for sale, they seem to be doing well. Again I love them very much but feel its better to keep the mugs that I use daily rather than have purely ornamental pieces.
All sounds good doesn't it but I had a major setback yesterday when I took my 25 year old Rolex into Edinburgh for repair, it stopped suddenly and hadn't been serviced for years.  I've been quoted between £400 and £500 to have it sent back to Switzerland for work and it will be away for about 6 weeks.  What can I do, Rolex don't provide the parts for repairs and not using genuine parts would just devalue the watch.  I blame Mr FF for giving it to me for my 40th birthday, though I have loved it since that day and feel its worth every penny even though it feels like spending without buying, not a great experience.
I had a quick look round the shops but only bought these two bottles of nail varnish, I couldn't resist the springtime speckled egg effect.  
Finally we have a valuer coming to look at our house next week, scary biscuits, it's all getting so very definite.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Not much to report


I haven't blogged for a while as things seem much the same round here. We've had some glorious sunny days and I've been busy in the garden, the bulbs are coming along a treat and while we may be behind most of the UK with no daffodils in flower yet, there is plenty to see.   I was working in a short sleeved t shirt today though my neighbours probably thought me mad as the ones I saw out and about were still wearing jackets and scarves.
We are still seriously contemplating moving into a smaller lock up and leave property, getting this place up to scratch and continuing the downsizing.  
Look I've already made some space in the wardrobe, OK it is the wardrobe in the spare bedroom and mine is still very full but I call it progress.  I showed Pam the other day some of clothes I intend giving to the charity shop, I slipped on one of two wool coats to show her.  She agreed it was a lovely coat so I asked if I should keep it, her answer was a firm no.  I have been known to put items into the charity bag then take them out again, I've even rescued things when I'm almost on the shop doorstep and brought them home.
Getting rid of things is hard enough without Mr FF's Yorkshire based sense of value.  I put some plates in the bin the other day, they were very cheap, the pattern was wearing off, we have loads of plates but Mr FF was quite upset as we had been using them.  I explained we have at least 18 white dinner plates in the cupboard, we will never be short of a plate.
No knitting wool or toiletry purchases so far this year, using up stock, but I couldn't resist 3 books for £1 at a community shop the other day, and now I've gone and joined our new local library. 
I was going to take this book back unread because its longish, about 460 big pages and I need to clear my own shelves but then I thought I'd start it just in case, I do enjoy Isabel Allende,  and now I'm really enjoying it. Just don't let me take anything else out when I go back to the library however tempting.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Fighting with fluff



Several years ago Mr FF bought me two lovely boxes of soft wool and angora, tiny 10g balls of violet and lemon wrapped in tissue paper, he found them in a charity shop and I was delighted.  

They sat on the shelf until I started decluttering in earnest
I thought each box would make a cowl and sourced a few likely lace patterns, finally going for this which seemed simple yet effective and would convert to knitting in the round, I do expect a big return for not a lot of effort.  So I have been battling with these fluffy clouds of marshmallow that disintegrate in my hands, its like knitting with over cooked spaghetti.  I have cast on several times, often the yarn just falls apart before I even get enough stitches on the needle to knit a round.   If I do manage a few rows and things go wrong with the pattern pulling back isn't an option as that weakens the wool even more. It does feel beautifully soft but I am covered in fluff, on my trousers, up my nose, it's everywhere.  Mr FF complains that he keeps finding pieces of abandoned knitting about the house.   I've read a few posts on Ravelry and while there are collectors of this now discontinued (I wonder why) vintage fibre, many people have made the same complaint, I'm surprised there are any completed items.
I like to finish what I start but Mr FF has given me his blessing to get rid of his present and I think this time I am beaten.    I completed three rows at my latest attempt, lost a switch somewhere, had several breakages was mad as hell, for my sanity I must let go.