Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The storming stage

When I worked in occupational psychology one of the training models used was the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing .  This team development tool was introduced by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 and demonstrates the phases necessary and inevitable in order for a team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.  As you know I'm no great promoter of management jargon but I do think at present our country is very much in a storming stage although our government and opposition parties still need a bit of forming, or reforming too.   I'm finding it very disappointing that the fighting,  scaremongering and nonsense continue. Let's hope we can quickly move onto the norming stage when things settle down and people begin to work together.  I had fully expected on Friday that Extra Energy would tell us they couldn't pay our refund as promised since the UK had opted to come out of the EU, so far they've found some pretty far fetched excuses.   Surprise surprise, the money went  back into our bank account though we didn't receive the promised telephone call to discuss compensation.  
And a stash enhancement as you never know, we might not be able to get yarn any more when the exit negotiations are complete, I've already seen people bemoaning the fact there will be no more French wine.  A local charity shop had a wonderful basket of single balls of yarn at 25p each, worth spending £1 however low it's value against the euro.  I got 2 x 50g balls of Adriafil, made in Italy,  pure wool in a lovely lavender that will make a nice cowl, a ball of beige cotton, feels like pure cotton, that will make a wash cloth or two and a ball of something soft and silky that feels like Noro which I hope might be enough for a pair of fingerless gloves though it does seem very delicate so perhaps not.
Just as well we've got the steps finished, some might say there will be no more Italian travertine now.  And yes it was a stormy day when I took the photo, still wonderful though.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Progress

Yesterday the travertine for the steps out onto the balcony was delivered.  It is gorgeous, an elegant and natural material that perfectly matches our fireplace. I am all smiles again and today it is being fitted as I type.
Work should be finished this evening but for now we are back to dust sheets, noise and apart from making coffee I have little to do and nowhere to sit.  
Bit of knitting progress though.  This is Cancun boxy top by Erin Kate Archer. It's a simple but clever pattern that you can adapt to suit yourself.  It's simply a case of knitting two rectangles, how easy is that.  I made a longer top than the pattern suggests by adding more bands of texture and knitting 8 rows of garter stitch rather than 4 between each band.  I used 7 x 50 g of a linen cotton mix dk I found in a charity shop for £4, basically I knit one side until I'd consumed half my yarn.  
It's such an adaptable pattern that would look good with a plan yarn but looks great with this knobbly one.  The pattern bands were interesting to knit and I'm sure more intelligent knitters could add their own, we all know how lazy I am.
Let's not dampen my parade, we are told by Extra Energy that we should receive our long promised refund tomorrow.  Watch this space, meantime concentrate on the positive if rather beige progress above.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Not a lot to show

I was speaking to a neighbour in our building the other day and she said when she had work done to her lounge it really took it out of her and it was a while before she recovered.  I think I am more or less back on track, as much as I am ever on track, but I know what she means, life has been so unrelaxing for several weeks.  Which probably explains the total lack of knitting.  It's hard to knit sitting at the kitchen table or on the bed or on the floor in the bedroom.  In the last six or seven weeks, two of which were spent in Italy,  I have managed to produce three socks

a pair for me 
and the first of a pair for Mr FF.  Both are in West Yorkshire Spinners yarn that was on offer with 30% off at my LYS
It's a poor show really but maybe just as well I didn't make great progress as my stash was inaccessibly packed away under plastic sheeting.  I had to use the recently purchased yarn and might have been tempted to buy even more.
As part of his recovery Mr FF has taken himself off for a few days walking, he's finishing off the Dales Way, most stages of which he has completed from home, but the more distant stretches involve a couple of overnights and then a train back from the Lake District.  So I am having a bit of me time, sitting out a lot on the balcony in glorious sunshine and yes back to knitting in front of the telly. There should be a complete pair of socks waiting for him when he gets home.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Extra Energy

I'm thinking of changing my blog name to My Rant in Flip Flops, I know I've gone on and on about our buildings works and also about our debacle with Extra Energy but the latter continues.  I thought we had it all sorted when we got our monthly payment reduced to £70 and were told we'd receive the £600+ we were in credit back into our bank account within 10 days.  Of course the money didn't return so after over 2 weeks I phoned customer service, as its laughingly called, again.  They said the payment had been rejected, nice of them to keep quiet about that.  It transpired that though I had given them a current meter reading it hadn't been passed on, the robot I spoke to said he would put the correct information through and I'd have my money back in 21 days.  Having been promised 10 days, admittedly that didn't happen, I asked why it would take so long.  Apparently they have a new system in place and it's not really up and running yet so there is a delay.  I ranted on as usual, got extremely cross and gave up.
Next day we received a revised bill, obviously the meter readings had now been passed through.  In 16 months we had used just under £1,200 of power, are now £750 in credit so they had decided to up our monthly payment to £129.  I was beginning to think Extra Energy are carrying out some personal vendetta against me.  The Customer Services bloke this time said that it was the system that made the payment adjustments and when I suggested that someone had set up the system to do that he laughed.  I wish I could laugh about this crazy situation, I wish we could have our money back and find another provider.
Last night Mr FF read in the paper that Extra Energy has the worst ever number of customer service complaints against any company, they have responded by described the situation as challenging and apologised to their customers.  I won't give up because I like a challenge too but my goodness it's exhausting, infuriating and all caused by their inefficiency and inabilities.  I might just phone them and see if they've read the article.
Have a calm weekend, I shall mostly be dusting whilst ranting.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Normal service has been resumed

Finally we have our life back, this morning the fitter came to reinstate the carpet and install new underlay, we moved the furniture back, we breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed.  

At last we have a lovely clean calm room, well almost, the steps and outside balcony still need to be surfaced but that can wait a while.
Actually in desperation on Monday evening we put down some of the old underlay, uncovered the sofa and the telly and sat in the lounge, it was so relaxing just to be in there and we both slept really well that night.  Now man, comfy chair and telly are properly reunited.
We love our new look room, the light and the view are amazing, it's been six hard weeks but I'm sure in a few days that will be forgotten, particularly if I ever manage to get rid of all the dust.
Next we need to decide on new curtains, that's the fun part.  And we have friends coming to visit tomorrow, they want to see our new vista, I want to see their faces when they do.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tedious times

We are more or less finished with our major works.
Mr F,F back in joiner mode, has constructed the steps out to the balcony and we have asked for a price to clad them in a travertine finish to match our fireplace and to harmonise with the tiles we intend to install outside.  We are also waiting for the plaster to dry so that we can paint the walls.  The worst thing is that the carpet fitter can't come back until next Tuesday, that's another whole week without a place to sit down except at the kitchen table.  It's starting to drag. When I'm not chasing dust round the penthouse or washing the black kitchen floor, I am at something of a loose end with nothing much to do except admire the view,  I am doing that constantly.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Extra Energy, Extra Light and Extra Love

I thought I'd sorted Extra Energy by telling them that I was going to stop paying our direct debit and that they could disconnect a couple of pensioners for all I cared.  That seemed to work and we had confirmation that our monthly payment would be halved to £60 per month, bearing in mind we were already in credit for several hundred pounds.
While we were in Italy we received a revised invoice for the last 18 months, this included two winters and the total power we'd used was about £1,000.  On this basis they decided that despite still being in credit for £700 they would put our direct debit up to £95 per month, assuming that we would use more than twice as much gas and electricity in the coming year.  Yes that would be right.
I phoned them yesterday, once again ready to threaten to stop paying.  After passing me round a few times, at one stage being told that a lot of people there were new and didn't know what they were doing, I spoke to a really helpful and pleasant girl.  She put in place a refund of our credit and based on previous use recalculated our monthly payment and put it down to £71 per month, still probably a bit high but a great improvement.
I was actually a bit shocked to receive good service, finally, we had a confirmation email about the reduced payment almost immediately and should have a refund within 10 days.  As I said to the girl if all that happens it will be perfect, but why or why has it taken so long to get here.  
Meantime the doors and windows are being installed, it's not going quite as smoothly as expected but the newly formed opening was perfect, the guys are really pleasant and efficient and don't at all mind that Mr FF is edgy and keeps checking what they are doing.
Do you want a little look to be going on with, of course you do

My lovely neighbour came round yesterday with these beautiful flowers, so kind and cheering in an upside down penthouse full of dust and debris with plastering and finishing still to do.  I can't seem to stop smiling.