Monthly Archives: June 2018

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

One thing that has astounded me during the process of having the extension built is how some people have treated the space they are working in.

When the work first started it was all outside, it was messy, it was a bit noisy, but the main thing was that it was outside. I could ignore it, mostly, and it was the start so it was exciting to know that things were finally happening.

As the work has progressed it has become more and more intrusive. I understand that it was always going to be messy. Having walls knocked down and ceilings messed about with was never going to be a tidy job, and I understand that for the tradesmen involved it is a building job. But, and this is a big but, it’s not a building site, it’s our home. Yes, it’s a mess and there’s no floor and walls but it’s still our home. And I think my expectation was that people would respect that. I was sorely wrong.

We have walls now and a new kitchen and we have windows and doors and it’s all nearly done, but anyone that comes still seems to treat it like a building site. The tiler started on Monday and he has made a mess. It’s a messy job, I know that, and not one that I would want to do, and it’s easy for me to sit here at my laptop moaning about it, but he knew we were having the walls painted (yes, he would have preferred for us to have it decorated AFTER he had finished, but equally the decorators preferred to have the floor bare when they painted. In a toss up of what would be easier to clear up – a few marks from the newly painted walls or scratches from ladders from the newly laid tiles, we opted for the walls) but he has still left tools leaning up against them and bits of compound stuck to them. I am sure it will all clear up fine, but it is very frustrating.

Also, what is it with the radio? Why do they all have to have the effing radio turned up so effing loud? I like listening to music while I work and have the radio on at home and in the office every day. But not at full volume. Booming through the house. And it’s never a decent radio station.

The only person who I would welcome back in to my house any time is the electrician. He talked to me like I was an intelligent human being (who knew?) and with a lovely manner about him. He was courteous and polite and was keen to ensure I was happy with everything he had done. He was the antithesis of everyone else that has been here. With very few exceptions every other person has either (a) ignored me and spoken solely to K; (b) patronised me – classic quote “are you excited about getting your new kitchen installed today?” – not exactly excited, glad it’s finally happening, and definitely not in the way you just said it which made me sound like a 5 year old; (c) made me feel uncomfortable for being in my own home. I only work from home one day a week so I’ve not been around much but arriving back after a day at the office to be made to feel I can’t go into my own kitchen to make a cup of tea is not a nice experience.

In short, I have had enough of people being in our house. Our home. My haven. It’s left me feeling off kilter, out of sorts, irritable, out of control, not on top of things*. (So much so, that even the usually not very perceptive bosses at work have noticed that I am not myself and have suggested a few days off when it’s all done – to recharge my batteries and “re-nest my house”, bless them.)  I am desperate for it all to be finished. I am desperate to know that when I come home no-one will be here (other than maybe T who is now on a very long summer holiday**) and I will be able to make a cup of tea, sit in the garden, think about cooking dinner (at a reasonable time and not taking into account the timetable of whichever workman I have in the house) and breathe.

*A has her school “enrichment” week this week. This generally means the parent spending a shed load of cash sending their child on a week long trip to France or Germany or day trips to London and other delights. A was not keen to go away to improve her language skills as she fully intends to ditch the subjects at the earliest opportunity (much to my horror – I love languages) and so she opted for the day trips options. These were limited – she has already been on the London Eye with us as a family, she doesn’t like horses and doesn’t want to spend the day mucking them out for a half hour of riding. She didn’t want to travel four hours in a coach for a few hours at the Ironbridge Victorian museum and then four hours back. She’s not awkward, she just knows what she doesn’t want to do. So on Monday she took part in a multi- sports day (all children who were not away on residential trips had to participate) and it was OK. Yesterday she had a STEM day where groups of four students were set the task of making a self-propelled buggy. Her team won for KS3. Happy moment. Today she is taking part in Masterchef – which is where my lack of organisation has hit home – she was missing a vital ingredient that I had let slip my mind to buy and nowhere locally stocks it. But she was her usual positive self and insisted she would be able to work around it with the substitute that I got her. Tomorrow she is going to the Tower of London – the only one from her group of friends, but she has managed to track down a friend of a friend who is also going to be on her own, so they are pairing up. Phew. It’s all too much to remember and I’m not normally a flaky mum. Normal service will resume very soon.

**T finished his exams on the 15th June. He has 10 long weeks ahead of him and I would prefer him not to sleep them all away. Ideally, I would like him to get a job and earn some money. However, he is not 16 for another 4 weeks and most companies won’t take any one on under this age. He also has 3 weekends when he is away (D of E, cadet competitions) plus our 2 week holiday in the middle of the summer. This makes him a less than attractive applicant for many prospective employers. I’ve managed to get him a bit of paid work emptying recycling bags for the company I work for but it will be pocket money rather than anything long term. It’s going to be a long 10 weeks!

 

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Communication, The Band, The End of Exams

A bit of a long-winded title, but I am not feeling inspired to think of anything witty!
It’s been a long few weeks and I am feeling pretty knackered. I hate the “rollercoaster” cliche but I really do feel like we have been up one minute and down the next. The extension is taking shape. We almost have a completed kitchen – I let out a whoop of joy yesterday when I saw a photo from K showing me a working sink! Amazing the things that can make me happy. I know it’s first-world problems and all that, but washing up in a bowl with water supplied from the kettle and outside tap for 2 weeks was almost more than I could take. When I washed up in the new sink for the first time last night I made a small silent vow not to take it for granted again, but I know I will soon forget the horror of it all – a bit like childbirth (not really, I will NEVER forget that!)..

The biggest issue we have had during this whole process has not been any of the niggly things that have gone wrong – not the need for deeper foundations than planned; not the issue with the ceiling when the steel was installed differently to the plans; not the delays when the toilet we had ordered was the wrong sort, etc, etc. – it’s been a massive lack of communication. It’s unbelievable to me that in this age of technology that we can’t get a simple answer to a question, or a call from someone when they are not going to be able to come and do what they are booked in to do. It seems that some people don’t know how to talk to others, to put them in the picture, to let them know what needs doing. They just don’t turn up. K was astounded, when he first met our builder, that he didn’t write anything down. He’s continued to not write things down throughout the build and it has caused a few issues – nothing insurmountable, but big enough to cause delays and worry.

I understand that things go wrong, delays happen, people hurt their backs and can’t work, but it doesn’t take much to pick up a phone and call the customer. It doesn’t take much for what starts out as a really good service to become disappointing and frustrating. Just for the sake of a call.

Anyway rant over and on to happier things. Back in November, K booked two tickets for The Band – a musical centred around the music of Take That. We didn’t watch the TV programme where 5 young men were selected for roles in the show but I am a huge Take That fan and mentioned that I would love to see the show. I had little idea what it was about, other than knowing that it wasn’t the story of Take That – just featured their music. Anyway, we went on Friday to see it. I really enjoyed it. It was funny, sad, great music (obviously) and a really good atmosphere. We had good seats, in a circle box, but unfortunately were joined by a group of ladies celebrating (loudly) a 50th birthday. The story-line was simple – a group of five teenage girls growing up in the north in the early 90’s and obsessed with a boy band (they are never referred to as Take That – they are only referred to as The Boys or The Band) and one of them wins tickets to go to a concert. They go, they have a great time, they miss their train home and on the way back tragedy strikes and one of them is killed. Fast forward to present day and the four remaining friends are in their early 40’s dealing with their own lives, having drifted apart and not having seen each other for many years. One of the four wins tickets to see The Band in Prague and contacts the other three out of the blue to make it a reunion of sorts. They meet and we see how their lives have changed, who they have become. There was some real humour and some very poignant moments but I didn’t cry (neither from laughter or sorrow). I did have a small moment, when the present day characters were singing to their younger selves, and wondered how it would be to be able to tell your younger self that all would be OK in the end? The music was great – the lads that were playing “The Boys” were not trying to be Take That, they were just singing their music and I think they did a good job. It was a fun night out and we both enjoyed it. And the icing on the cake was the 30 second walk back to the Premier Inn after it finished! Result.

T sits his final exam on Friday. It has been a long four weeks and I am pleased that it is nearly over. He has remained calm during the whole time and has been studying (hopefully enough) in his spare time. He has replied to my enquiring about how each exam has gone with “good” with the odd “harder than I expected” thrown in. On the whole, he seems to feel that they have gone ok. Only time will tell now. He’s got some time to relax ahead, but has been thinking about how he can earn some money to keep him in funds for the duration of the extended summer holiday. As he’s one of the youngest in his year (not 16 until towards the end of next month) he is struggling to find anyone to give him a job. Added to that, he has three weekends where he is either on his DofE expedition, or attending the County and National Cadet Competitions and then we are away for two weeks in August! Doesn’t leave him much chance to work and not many prospective employers are going to be happy to take someone on who can’t work for half the summer. My boss has offered him a few hours a week sorting recycling bags (of ink cartridges) which he is happy to pay him quite well for so hopefully that will give him enough money to have some days out with his friends!

So now we play the waiting game again. Waiting for the extension to be finished, waiting for exam results and desperately not wishing the time away. I can’t go back to my younger self and tell her to slow down and to stop worrying but I can tell my own kids to enjoy themselves, to not worry about stuff you can’t change and to be patient. And maybe I can take my own advice too.