4th September

Had to go to Uxbridge today. The whole idea of this new contract is that I don’t head south for a single day but there were extenuating circumstances. This job had been hanging around for a while and a bit held up due to holidays and move. Also the client is one I know will be on the hit list of the three former colleagues who left the company recently to set up on their own so I felt it would be a good idea to go down and see them. I didn’t like the idea of the five hour drive each way but then I remembered that it had, in the past, taken me three hours to get there from Gillingham in the past so it was only another 2 hours from Durham. I was worried how much it would cost me but in the end I filled up as I left Bishop Auckland and got all the way to Uxbridge and back to Weatherby on a single tank (and I’m pretty sure I’d have made it to Scotch Corner if I’d wanted to push it! Si it didn’t cost me much more than I’ll be able to claim back.

Sarah rang me as I was on route. She couldn’t believe it! She was standing in the playground on Ben’s second day at school when she saw someone she knew! There was a young lad and his mum that she recognised as having gone to the school where she worked in Chatham. Not only is the lad in Ben’s class but they live almost opposite us as well. How weird is that – we randomly move 300 miles to a small obscure village at the other end of the country and it turns out she knows someone!!

3rd September

Ben’s first day at his new school.  We all got up early to go down with him. We couldn’t do the traditional standing outside the house in his new uniform because he didn’t have it yet. We went into the office when we got there and bought him a school sweatshirt – it was a bit big but it should last him the two years he’s got left before secondary school.

There were two other kids starting today as well but we ended up just giving them our telephone number and agreeing to collect all the forms this evening as they were so busy. One of the staff took Ben off to his class, he looked happy enough.

We walked back through the village and stopped in at the butcher’s shop. It’s been so long since we bought anything in a proper butcher’s that we suddenly realised we had no idea what to ask for! After a few embarrassed mumblings we left a few minutes later with four slices if back bacon for £1.49 which seemed reasonable to me. It made a jolly nice bacon sandwich too!

I went up to the attic to do some work and Sarah was doing some washing. The washing machine repair man had been round the other day and was coming back as soon as the parts had arrived. He’d warned us that although it was ok to keep using the machine it might just stop working……and that was exactly what it did! Right in the middle of washing Ben’s new school shirts.

Sarah said we had to find a laundrette – I shuddered as the thought of the one in Gillingham crossed my mind. However the one we went to was very nice, we sat at the table in the window and had a coffee while we waited for our washing to finish. A jazz record played in the background while we flicked through a music magazine. Apparently Martin Carthy played there a few weeks ago and Martin Stephenson and Jess Morgan are playing there soon. I can highly recommend the Old Cinema Launderette if you ever need to wash your smalls! Oh and it’s licensed too!

old cinema

After that we popped into Sunderland to get Ben some PE jogging bottoms and we also needed some bath mats. While we were in Primark I spotted that they had the tweedy waistcoat I’d wanted for the past 2 years. Both times they’d sold out by the time I could afford to buy one. So this year I grabbed one while I could.

The trip to Sunderland took longer than we thought so we didn’t get back in time to pick Ben up so Lissi had to go down. He seemed to enjoy his first day and had made friends with 3 girls! He been told off for a couple of things he had in his lunchbox, which I thought was a bit mean as it was his first day and we didn’t get the list until he got home!

Booked a ticket for a concert at Newcastle City Hall in December. It’ll be the first time I’ve been to a gig there since about 1984 when I went to see a Miner’s benefit show featuring Jake Thackery, Alan Hull and Prelude amongst others. I think I went there again in 1985 for my graduation ceremony when I got my BTec diploma but can’t remember seeing any more bands after that 1984 show. It’s quite apt I suppose that the first act I’ll see there is Ray Jackson’s Lindisfarne Christmas concerts. The Lindisfarne Christmas concerts were a regular fixture for us between about 1977 to 1983 but they hadn’t happened for 23 year years until he started them again last year and I wished I could have gone – little did I know that by the time this year’s came round I’d be in a position to go!

2nd September

We went to get mine and Ben’s haircut today. There is a barber’s in the village called Hers and Sirs but Sarah had seen one on our travels called Dads and Lads and she decided we should go there. It was a lovely drive through the countryside, very scenic to a village called Dipton.  The ladies who ran it were lovely too.

Afterwards we had to go into Consett so we popped into Tesco to pick up a few bits. We then headed home for lunch.

In the afternoon we headed into Bishop Auckland to buy some paint in Wilkinsons. When we moved out of our old house we left the doorbell behind because we knew that there was one at the new house. Unfortunately when we got there it didn’t work – he’d demonstrated it by pressing the button on the inside unit but the outside push didn’t work grrr! So after going round Wilko’s three times I finally found the doorbells and they were more expensive than I hoped at £14. Still we needed one so we had to buy it.

When I got home and went to remove the old push button I discovered where the problem lay and was able to fix it. Luckily I discovered this before I opened the packet on the new one so we can take it back – phew! There was then a very long debate to decide which chime to go for. As we couldn’t agree we ended up with one that simply goes ding dong!!

1st September

So need to get back into the habit of blogging every day.

Today was the first day of my new (trial period) contract and my first day working from home. I was very nervous as I felt I’d been pulled from pillar to post over this but it went ok. Not that I had a lot to do!

As things stand my office is slowly takings shape but there’s still lots to do!

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We finally got hold of someone at Ben’s school so we had to pop down in the afternoon. We met with the deputy head who is also going to be Ben’s class teacher as well. He looked at Ben’s report and decided that he should be in class 1 which is a year 5/6 mix. There are 19 pupils in total in the class. A bit mad then that we had to go to appeal to get him a place!

August!

We moved house!

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It’s ironic isn’t it? At the time of your life when there’s so much to write about it also turns out to be the time when you have the least time to write it down. August passed by in a blur of packing moving, travelling back down to London for four days at work and then a holiday. It was over before I’d even noticed it had begun!

So I’ve missed out on writing about lots of things that happen like how the Solicitors, the building and the Bank between them nearly made us homeless on completion day. I had been worried that the money from my Dad’s estate wouldn’t be in on time but luckily for us it arrived earlier than we expected so it was all sitting in our bank waiting for the solicitors to tell us how much we needed to transfer into their account. I’d asked for the figure many times and I’d told them that I didn’t want it to be left until the last minute but that was exactly what happened.

The building society wouldn’t tell them the settlement figure because they hadn’t written “We are acting on behalf of….” in their letter. Then they sat on sending the revised letter through for a few days. Once they did get the figure, facilitated by me sitting with the Building Society on one phone and the solicitor on the other till it was sorted out, I still didn’t get the figure till late afternoon the day before we moved. I rang the back straight away and after they’d transferred the money they told me it wouldn’t clear in time.

PANIC!!!!!

It took a couple of hours and a phone call to the Fraud team at the bank to get it sorted. At one point they asked me how long we’d lived in our current house. Then they asked where we lived before so I told them. Then they asked for the postcode and I couldn’t remember it. My heart then suck imagining that our whole move was about to fall apart just because I could remember the postcode of a house I lived in 7 years ago! Thankfully it didn’t and the money was transferred within an hour!

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Then there was packing and in particular clearing out the garage! We’d rented a garage of a local housing association when we moved in 2007 as a temporary measure. Seven years on and it was still full of stuff. We started to sort it out a few weeks before we moved but as other things got in the way it got put off and put off. Besides there was little point in bringing stuff back to the house and clogging it up too soon. So on the Monday night I went and filled the car with stuff and took it back to the house and put it in the shed. Incidentally I should mention the shed as well – that took some packing up and it probably had a lot to do with the fact that the garage got left till last. The shed took me all weekend to sort out so by Monday night I could start putting boxes in there.

On Tuesday night on the way back from work I collected another car full and put them in the shed. This time one of the boxes filled with books fell to pieces at the shed door. I was so fed up by this point I ended up kicked the box till it was almost disintegrated! I then had to find another box, or two smaller ones, to put the books in. Typically enough it started to rain almost as soon as the books hit the ground!

On the day before the move I got up and headed to the garage. There still seemed to be sooooo much stuff in there. I loaded the car with stuff that we were keeping and drove it back to the house. This lot had to go in the living room as the shed was now stuffed. Then I drove back to the garage and loaded the car again with stuff that had to go to the dump this time. It was packed and I struggled to get the last thing in. Then I struggled to get it back out again as it wouldn’t fit. Then I destroyed it and in the process worked out how I could have folded it up! I went off to the dump where I was amused to join the council workmen in a discussion about Quantum Physics!

Back to the garage for a third time and this time it was finally empty. I had 3 boxes of book that I no longer had room for so I took them down to a local second hand book shop. They said they didn’t want them but pointed me in the direction of another bookshop. This guy did buy them but for only £25 – much less than I would have like but better than plan B which was to take them to a charity shop. I then had to drive to the offices of the Housing Association to hand the keys back. All this had taken 2 hours longer than I’d anticipated!