Tuesday 28 March 2017

The light is fantastic

The entrance hall into our penthouse had no natural light, I could show you how it looked but it would just be a black screen though the installers of our solution did take a photograph with the door slightly open.  
We've fitted a sun tube, for the technically minded there are details here but basically we now have a little transparent dome on the roof of the building with a highly reflective tube running down through the roof void to our hall and the end is fitted with a diffuser in the ceiling.  
If you are wondering why we have two front doors one is the fire escape
 It looks much like a ceiling lamp but is pure natural sunlight
It is truly amazing how much light such a little opening gives, on a sunny day its almost too bright and we constantly think we've left lights on by mistake.  The equipment took half a day to install, made hardly any mess, no not even dust, and we are delighted with the improvement.
New windows before the trims were replaced
The second life enhancing change has been new double glazed aluminium windows in our two bedrooms.  Previously we had distorted wood sash and case single glazed units that streamed condensation, got stuck if you opened them too far and had so much frame and architrave they let in precious little light. Now we have windows that open, have built in ventilation units, are constantly clear and show off our glorious views to perfection.
Finally the new tiles to the balcony are finished and I've put out the folding dining table I bought a while back in the Habitat sale.  
It's perfect for a small space as it opens out fully to comfortably seat four or partially to seat two and the four chairs are stored underneath. 
We did sit out over the weekend just for coffee but it's cold again today, so much potential though, so much light and so much work that has been well worth the effort.  When we bought the penthouse Mr FF complained it would be too dark, he's not complaining now.

And in view of the ongoing home improvements, I've given my blog a little renovation too, I do like the extra large photographs which never seemed to fit on my previous template.

Friday 24 March 2017

Trust me

I thought my now I'd be showing you our beautifully completed bathroom, wrong it is still sadly a work in progress but maybe soon as there is just some lighting and final fixing of controls to sort out.  
Meanwhile I'll tell you about the engineer and the scaffolder.
A while back we had a company round to talk about scaffolding part of our building to enable a worker safely to complete the lead work surrounding our soon to be installed new double glazed aluminium windows.  Yes those four windows that had been in the lounge for about a month.
It's a tricky operation, we needed a tower to come up from the garden to the fourth floor over the balcony and a platform to span to the window on the other side of said balcony to protect anyone working on the windows.  As an extra precaution the worker would be harnessed to the balcony. 
Mr FF had of course done all the calculations for the structure and it was feasible, the scaffold man agreed and gave us a price, fairly costly but we thought worth while. In actual fact the lead work to the building isn't our responsibility but we were prepared to fork out for it just to get the job finished and risk retrospective installation that might damage our windows.  We got all the necessary permissions and alerted our neighbours who were absolutely fine about living with scaffold for a few days.
So four workers plus the boss, two lorries and a van arrived to start putting up the scaffold.  I say start work, they only took one board and a length of pipe off the vehicles before the arguments started.  The boss decided that we needed two towers not one because he wasn't happy with the cantilever arrangement he'd agreed to earlier.  Mr FF pointed out the original scheme was feasible but the boss simply shouted from the balcony down 4 floors to one of the men 'You've done the course Joe, how far can we span it's a metre isn't it'.  Mr FF again explained what could safely be done, we can understand no one wanted to take any risks here,  but the boss wasn't having any of it and got a bit shouty, always a great response. Mr FF got cross too, 'I'm a chartered civil and structural engineer' he said, 'I'm a fellow of both professional institutions, I know what I'm talking about'  apparently not as he hadn't 'done the course'.
So work was abandoned, the boss said he'd get back to us that evening with a revised price and wouldn't let us down, that was Friday and the builder and lead worker were due the following Tuesday.  As you might imagine we heard nothing whatsoever, we cancelled the lead worker.
We're happy to be rid of the scaffold people, obviously dodgy if they changed their minds and wanted more money when they came to deliver but we did smile about them referring to the opinion some boy who has been on a course over a man with more than 40 years professional experience and enough qualifications to fill a suitcase.  I'm thinking of getting Mr FF this t shirt, the one that says Trust Me I've done the Course just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Friday 17 March 2017

Let me explain

In a recent post I showed you that I'd purchased a little yarn, there's more. Since my LYS decided to stock more fabrics and less fibres I've felt very let down that I can no longer walk out for 10 minutes and come home with new yarn.  So much so that I found myself recently without any sock wool at all, in the UK that is, I do believe there is a good quantity waiting for me in Italy.
This discrepancy was highlighted recently when I spotted this book at the library, 
which is also a 10 minute walk way and though I have many many books in the penthouse to read and dispose of, I was also tempted to borrow these two.  
I am currently half way through a 600+ page Jane Smiley but that's going to leave a big space when its read and left the building.
Back to the wool situation.  Cookie A's book is lovely with much useful information on writing your own patterns, not that I ever will when there are plenty of people to do that for me, we all know how lazy I am.   These cable beauties spoke to me immediately and must be made soon
these are rather lovely too.
So I've had no alternative but to order on line from Love Knitting an assortment of suitable yarns, I was offered 15% discount on my first order and free delivery if I spent £25, obviously I managed that by buying 5 x 100 g balls.  
The yarn arrived quickly in a useful organza drawstring bag with a 10% off code for my next purchase.  I should say now I'm not being sponsored to write this post but I do want you to know how happy I am with my purchase.
I've never tried this yarn before, Austermann Step, if feels very squishy, apparently its treated with aloe and jojoba to give a cashmere soft experience that last for over 40 machine washes.  So that will be interesting.
The Red Heart I've enjoyed before.
I chose yarns with only slight shade variation as I don't want too many colours to detract from the pattern detail.  
So I've moderately replenished my stock of books and yarn, nothing too excessive, there's still room for more if an opportunity arises, like my LYS coming to its senses.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Soft soothing knitting

When I started my latest project I wasn't convinced I was enjoying and after I'd used up the first ball of yarn I did think about ripping it out, now I'm loving it.
This is Estuary by Tin Can Knits, a shawl cum scarf with some shaping but not too much, mine should look like the finished article below once it's blocked out.
The pattern is in chart form which isn't usually my first choice but the designer has kindly copied the various pattern sections so they appear side by side as they are knit so I'm coping just fine.  Even though I have to concentrate I find it very relaxing to add a dozen or so rows every night after we've cleaned up from the days renovations in the penthouse.   
We are in week 7 of the works now but the bathroom should be finished in the coming week, the double glazed windows are installed if not completely finished and we have a new innovation in the hallway, more of all that another time.
I'm using up 5 x 50 g balls of Sublime baby cashmere merino and silk 4 ply that I found in a charity shop, lovely soft stuff that is going to make a cosy wrap. I'm telling myself this can go into the gift department for future giving, believe that if you will.

Monday 6 March 2017

Extra Energy and the Ombudsman

Checking his bank account last week Mr FF was pleasantly surprised to see that Extra Energy have indeed paid us £400 compensation in addition to the £100 we received earlier this year.  So two months after leaving this dreadful company we are sorted.
However we had an email after the money was paid from the Energy Ombudsman explaining that Extra Energy have not completed the remedies (they have) and that the Ombudsman had once again extended the deadline, originally set as 22 August 2016, to the end of March 2017. This was obviously a completely standard automated email, it was sent around 10 in the evening and I honestly cannot be bothered to let them know that its all over since they have been absolutely useless and I'm happy for this long dispute to show on their records a bit longer.
I read in the paper the other day that a customer left EE two years ago and is still waiting for their credit to be refunded, the person said they contacted the Ombudsman at least once a week after raising a complaint but nothing ever happened.  Makes me think we had a fairly decent outcome compared to this poor person, not that it was anything other than a totally soul destroying experience but at least it's finished.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Just a little stash enhancement

How could I turn down these lovely balls of pure wool dk at the charity shop, they just had to come home with me.  The West Yorkshire Spinners was £1 the merino 50p per 50 g ball. bargain
I do like the way both ball bands feature and credit the handsome suppliers of the fibre.  
And I have made a bit of space finishing the little cotton jumper and adding a pair of cotton slippers from a spare ball of dk.  Unfortunately I forget to photograph the slippers before I wrapped the parcel for the baby boy expected soon.
Now I've started a pair of cable socks from the lovely pattern and tutorial provided by Winwick Mum using more West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply
My stash now seems quite manageable and I feel rather smug although of course  I never have the right yarn for the next project.