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House

Sorry I haven’t written anything here in ages, we’ve been busy! We completed on the purchase of a house last Thursday and are now starting the daunting process of trying to bring it out of the dark ages. It’s all very scary and exciting! I’m so grateful Mr B has a good baseline DIY knowledge, and a couple of books to complement his knowledge.

The ‘dark ages’ reference is a slight exergagtion though, it has plumbing where necessary although the main pipe into the house is lead; it has central heating although radiators are sparse; and it has mains electricity although it currently doesn’t comply with legal requirements. The kitchen is currently *tiny* (for those readers who know of and remember 94’s kitchen – it’s smaller), but a builder is going to knock down a couple of walls to open up the dining room into the kitchen, making a large kitchen / diner. The electrician is also coming in to sort out the fuse box and wire in more sockets throughout the house (we’re going to do the chasing for it). And a plumber is coming in to sort out the water pipe. Most of the rest of the jobs we can do ourselves. A lot of decorating and removing the 1950’s add ons (hoping to find orginal 1890 features behind them!). Oh, and Mr B’s Dad works for Wickes so he’s designed our fancy new kitchen with us, and I can’t wait! 😀 It’ll be worth living off a couple of camping stoves and a mini electric oven for a month or so!

Today I’ve had a very productive day off. This morning I did some chores around the flat, sorted through my wardrobe clearing several bags for charity and packed up a car load of stuff which I then took to the new house. At the new house I bagged up 7 black bags of polystyrene tiles which Mr B had scraped off our bedroom ceiling (big fire risk and disgusting) and soaked off some wallpaper in the dining room. Then Mr B arrived and we did some more bits and bobs together before coming home and collapsing.

Those who know me, will know that I operate through lists. I have a big, multicoloured packing schedule and a big list of all the DIY jobs we need to do on the house. The packing I feel more than on top of – I’m ahead of schedule and we’ve moved over almost everything that I’ve packed, leaving behind the things I know we’ll need in the next 3 weeks before we move properly. That leaves us relatively free to do stuff on the house before we move. Which is great, except that the DIY list is so big and daunting that it’s difficult to know where to begin! For now we’re concentrating on making it safe to live in and sorting out the kitchen / diner. Oh, and because the bathroom is the other room in desperate need of attention and we have agreed to leave the main features as they are for now (financial reasons and possibility of moving the bathroom at a later date), we went to ikea and bought some cheap and chirpy accessories to make it liveable.

Christmas

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, for the first time since I qualified I had Christmas off, so we’ve been up and down the country visiting family and friends and so haven’t had chance to post anything. We had a lovely Christmas, spending Christmas itself with my family Down South in my Gran’s house. She’s been living in a residential home for most of the past year, so my parents, sister, husband and myself stayed in her house, and we fetched her most days to join us for meals, present opening and games. This worked well, even if she only remembered it was Christmas some of the time…

My family is in the process of sorting out her house, the house she’s lived in for 30 years. Her and my Grandad were massive hoarders, so you can imagine the amount of stuff we had to sort through! They were both young adults in the second world war, and carried the ‘mustn’t throw anything away’ ethos from that era, ever since. Which of course, from an environmental view point is a good thing, but it’s not when you’re trying to sort through a live time of stuff… Even the cake tins were lined with greaseproof paper that had obviously been used many a time! We left my parents behind to do most of the sorting, as we had to get Up North, but not before acquiring 2 large boxes of stuff – everything from toilet rolls and tins of food to a vase and an old fish cutlery set. I was also glad to claim an album with my name on the side – full of my baby photos! The biggest item we have inherited however, we couldn’t transport immediately. We plan to go back down in the spring and work on it – if anyone has any ideas how to transport a greenhouse 150 miles, hopefully by car, then please let me know!

So with a boot full of stuff, we travelled Up North and celebrated my mother in law’s 60th birthday by throwing a surprise party. Well, I say surprise, she knew something was going to happen, she just didn’t know where… It was good however, to see (almost) all of my new family. In July I became an auntie to ten children and teenagers and it was the first time I’d spent any real time with most of them since the wedding. Consequently I hadn’t quite adjusted to being called ‘Auntie’. Makes me feel old, especially as the oldest nephew is only 5 years younger than me!

Anyway, we’re finally back home after truely travelling the length of the country. And as much as it’s lovely to be home, it also means that tomorrow I start three nights shifts at work – my share of the shifts over the holiday period.

Post Wedding Stuff

Some post wedding observations:
1. I don’t get any emails anymore. I organised most of the wedding via email, so I was constantly receiving wedding related emails, and now I often don’t receive any emails for days at a time! I think this is also partly because I’ve changed my email address, so all the junk emails are going to my old account.

2. Telling everyone about my change of name takes a VERY LONG TIME! Everyone wants to see my marriage certificate and my deedpoll certificate, so as their currently with the DVLA, there isn’t a lot I can do! The list of organisations that I need to tell just keeps growing!

3. We have however, finished writing all the thank yous. Just have a residual pile to deliever…

4. We’re having marriage preparation on Saturday. A little late, I know. When we went to organise it, they were fully booked for over 6 months, but they said it’s for newly weds as well as pre-weds.

5. We gave wedding cake out to the 27 people who gave us gifts, but couldn’t come to the wedding, which means we only have half a cake left. This is fine because our kids aren’t going to be Christened / Baptised at birth, so we don’t have to save a whole cake for that celebration. It does mean however, that when I come home from the pub a little tipsy and peckish, I eat some wedding cake… I don’t really want it all to disappear in this way, maybe I should take it to our church’s next community meal.

6. We’ve completed our main wedding album. At the beginning of August when we were looking at the photos with our friends who were the ‘official’ photographers, they said that we had the hardest job now, picking out the photos for the album. They said we’d struggle to get it done before next Christmas, Mr B said ‘no way, this is Jen, she’ll have it done by Greenbelt’. And I did. I also finished it in the same week our friends who got married 3 years ago finished theirs! Now I want to do a regular album with a wider collection of photos taken by guests, our honeymoon album and a scrapbook with all the wedding preparation stuff!

Changes

I am now Mrs B. Everything on the wedding day went very well and it was a very enjoyable day. I’d been organised pre-wedding, so on the day I could just relax. My organisation included an ‘everything about everything’ pdf document which was sent to all important people and led to a comment from the best man which stated that if I’d been a Nazi they would have won the war, because of my organisational skills. I wasn’t sure whether to take this as compliment or not. I was also said to be the most relaxed bride a friend had known. I’d say that organised and relaxed is a pretty good combination! We’ve got the ‘official’ photos back and have chosen around 100 to be circulated amongst friends and family, and 50 to go into an album.

I am now more wary and cautious when outside. The previous post will probably explain why. It’s made me reflect on how our experiences and influences affect the way we perceive danger and the world around us. I’ve always been relatively relaxed about walking or cycling around potentionally dodgy areas. I went to secondary school in the middle of Moss Side, I caught the bus to school every day and I was absolutely fine. Now I have friends who live in rough areas, and previously I would think nothing of going to visit them, whereas now I would be much more cautious. Of course, my mental impact from the assult is nothing compared to Mr B’s, but it’s still made me more jumpy and wary when out and about.

We have a lot more stuff. It’s incredible how much stuff you acquire when you get married! Most of our gifts have now been delievered / unwrapped / bought, and so the amount of stuff in our fairly small flat increased dramatically. The kitchen is the main space that’s been affected, but thankfully many things have replaced our cheap and nasty versions. So we now have shiny cutlery in the drawer and a box of cheap ikea cutlery in the camping cupboard. And of course, anything that we really don’t wany anymore have given to charity. It’s not only the gifts, its the cake, table decorations, honeymoon stuff, spare order of services, etc.

Stressed now

We’re getting married on Saturday, although the stress level change isn’t directly related to the wedding. Mr B was attacked by a gang on Friday night – he was cycling home from a friend’s house at 9.30pm and a group of 6 youths kicked him off his moving bike, kicked him in the ribs and abdomin a few times before running off with his brand new bike and iPhone. I’ve just finished three nights, so was on my 2nd, very busy night, when I got a phonecall from him saying ‘I’m in A&E’. It was too busy for me to get down there straight away but I managed to go and see him in my breaks. His fore arm had doubled in size as it had hit a wall as he fell, but it was xrayed and the Dr was ‘pretty certain’ it wasn’t broken… Apart from being very stiff and waiting to hear from insurance companies, the biggest hit has been to his personality. He’s completely withdrawn and terrified of going anywhere. I’m just hoping and praying that over the course of the week he improves and feels well enough to face the 115 guests that are coming to our wedding…

Despite only having had 4 hours sleep inbetween each of my three nights, I’m still in ‘night mode’ so couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d come and share some of my feelings here, instead of tossing and turning and waking Mr B up.

I thought I’d been holding it together reasonably well. Several people commented what a good job I did in work on Friday, considering I had more than the job on my mind. And since then at home I’ve been a shoulder to cry on for Mr B, sorting out some of his meals as his arm’s in a sling, and generally keeping going. Then tonight we decided to go to our church, and surrounded by friends in a service about suffering, I couldn’t stop crying. And afterwards it was one of those ‘I can keep it together as long as you don’t ask me how I am’ moments, which of course everybody did. Then they took us to the pub and bought us alcohol.

Anyway, I think I’d better go and try to sleep again…

100th Birthday

This weekend I’ve been in Manchester celebrating my home church’s centenary. The church congregation really pulled out all the stops to celebrate it! Everyone who had been to the church in the past 100 years, who they could find a means to contact, was invited to a weekend of celebrations. On Saturday night we had a three course formal meal and we were entertained with two soloists by two young women who had grown up in the church and songs from the Jamaican Folk Emsemble. There were speeches – the first from Adrian who has attended Manley Park for 40 years, and the second from Tom Stuckey who was our minister in the 80’s. He’d overseen groups of student ministers, when the Methodist Church used our church to experiment with new, more practical based, teaching methods. Many of the students that Manley Park assisted in training in the 70s and 80s have since risen to the dizzy heights of positions at Methodist Conference – one of which is Alison Tomlin who is the President Delegate, and will preaching there next Sunday. Many of these past students came to the meal on Saturday night and to the service which again Tom led on Sunday morning. During his speech on Saturday night, Tom read a poem that had been given to him when he became President of Methodist conference. I can’t remember the exact wording, but basically it said to turn from a small person reciting poems at church into the President of Methodist conference, it doesn’t matter how much faith you show, all you have to do is attend lots of meetings! In the service the next day I gathered Tom had led more meetings than he had services, when he accidently said “The next item on our agenda is… I mean litergy.” It certainly generated some laughter!

I attended Manley Park for the first 18 years of my life, but I found out many things about the church over the weekend, that I never knew before. Like there used to be a traditional pulpit and pipe organ – in my entire life there has been a foot high stage and an electric organ. The congregation has put together a booklet with articles detailing the history of the church and the community activities that have been held there for the past 100 years. It was really interesting to read first or second hand accounts of the history of the church that I thought I knew so well. On the page featuring our church weekends away, that we had when I was younger, there were numerous photos including a posed group photo. Except that half the people in the photo weren’t looking at the camera – they were looking at a cute, blonde, one year old who could be seen crawling out of the shot! Yep, that was me! The aspect I found funniest though, was that neither of my parents were among the people watching me!

Another impressive centenary project that had been completed is the banner that will hopefully be shown below… Each of the squares on it were made by a member of the congregation, past or present – I gather that squares were sent in from far and wide and they represent different aspects of our church’s life.

Wedding Update

So we’ve got less than 10 weeks till the big day and everyone keeps asking if I’m really stressed yet, and I’m not. Really not. I’ve got my book of lists, which gets edited weekly, and my guest spreadsheet which gets updated whenever we get a reply. I’m ahead of my timescale plan, so have been doing what I can towards things that I can’t do yet – like colour coding guests in the spreadsheet if they know each other, so I can start planning seating arrangements, and designing thank you cards for people’s time and gifts for afterwards. My dress is all ready for the first fitting – am just finishing buying my accessories, so I’ll get to see how it looks all together shortly. 🙂 Even when the caterer phoned to say she couldn’t do what her predecessor promised us, I wasn’t stressed. I just explained why her alternative was not suitable for us, and pointed out that her predecessor had these promises in a written quote. Fourty eight hours later, after she’d discussed it with her boss, she declared it was no longer a problem.

Maybe I’m not stressed yet because I’m still enjoying all the planning. All the lists, emails and plans get me excited and I like it when I have wedding stuff to do. Maybe I’m not stressed because work can be so intense and stressful that comparatively this feels like a walk in the park. And because it’s so different from work, then it’s a nice change on my days off. Maybe I’m not stressed because Mr B isn’t. He too has perspective on whole thing, with his line of work, so is relaxed about it all – whether the day runs absolutely perfectly isn’t important in the big picture.

It’s probably a mixture of all three, and I probably will get stressed nearer the time, but right now I’m just enjoying it!

The Last Supper

Yesterday I shared ‘The Last Supper’ with two special friends. Hopefully it just marked the end of an era, not the end of one of our lives.

Two years ago I moved into a house with two people from my church, neither of which I knew very well. Another connection at church had a house to rent, they were interested in it but would prefer to split the rent three ways rather than two, so given that I was also looking to move house, it worked out well. I’d spoken to this couple at church a few times, but I wouldn’t say I knew them. So after we’d all been to see the house together, we went to the local Wetherspoons for food and to check we didn’t have contradictory personalities. About a month later we moved in together, and a strong friendship was created. I moved out a year ago now, but I still see both of them regularly. They are a very laid back couple, easy and fun to live with, not much stresses them out. Except recent events.

He is from California, and moved over here to marry her, so all his family is still over there. And his Dad has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks ago the doctors declared it terminal and said he only had weeks to live. They made the decision to pack up everything over here and move out there for a year. They’re hoping they’ll get there before he dies, be around for all the funeral arrangements and then establish some kind normality out there. They’ve always wanted to live out there for a period of time, before they settle down with kids, etc, so they’ve decided to do it now. It is just the most stressful moving house situation I could possibly imagine.

They’ve managed to pack up all their house and clean it, in the past two weeks. But they haven’t had to do it alone. On Sunday 10 of their friends spent the day packing, cleaning, and moving the stuff they didn’t want to take, to her parent’s garage. We’ve got friends who are involved with local asylum seekers, and they’ve just been given two houses which needed furniture, so a lot of their furniture was donated to them. I was working all day Sunday so couldn’t join the party of helpers, but I unexpectedly got Monday off, so I offered to come over. I got there about lunchtime so we went to a local cafe for lunch. As we were waiting for food, a mirrored comparision was made with our first meal together in the Wetherspoons. I was upset when it was called ‘The Last Supper’ because I didn’t want it to be our last meal together, but they insisted it was just a closing house meal. They will be back.

We spent all afternoon packing and cleaning, when we finished it was only the hall that needed tidying and hoovering. It was good to be able to help them out in that way, especially as when I moved out I couldn’t clean as throughly as we did yesterday because the house still had all their furniture and stuff in it. Mr B then came over and we took the stuff they want to take with them round to the friends that they’re staying with until their flights. She has to work out her contract so won’t be flying out until the end of April.

It’s been an emotional time for them, and I think everyone who has been involved with helping them has felt it too. It’s all the hoping that he gets out there before his Dad dies and hoping that he goes as peacefully as he can. And at the same time, saying goodbye to good friends. If you can, please say a little prayer for them – J and B.

New Home

So we moved house on Saturday. Not very far from where we were before, but I reckon moving two people’s furniture and belongings any distance is quite a task! We’ve barely stopped since we moved, and almost have everything unpacked… I was supposed to be doing nights Sunday and Monday, but luckily work was quiet so I managed to get Sunday night off, which meant I didn’t have to spend Sunday afternoon asleep and Sunday night in work, so we had a productive day.

The flat was sold as having two bedrooms with a large kitchen / living space, but we decided we’d prefer to use the bigger bedroom as a living room and the kitchen space for dinning and books etc. So consequently our bedroom is quite small, so we’ve had to re-organise our stuff, so that only bedroom essentials went in the bedroom. It’s quite nice having a whole flat to put things in – I’ve been able to do that before, but not to the same extent because I’ve always lived with other people, aside from Mr B. It just means we’re having to find new homes for everything.

It’s been fairly recently converted (it was the ground floor of a house), and the previous occupier was involved in this process, which I think has helped to ensure the quality. The kitchen is amazing – it has a full length cupboard that pulls out, fancy swingy thing on the corner cupboard for ease of access, a magnetic strip which you can stick knifes to and drawers which close themselves! (I get easily excited… ) There’s also a massive fridge / freezer which is fantastic because it’s all ours, although it’s high pitched squeal if the temperature gets too high inside it, is just slightly annoying… The first time it happened, Mr B had accidently left the fridge door open, and we were both standing in the kitchen trying to work out what that noise was. When we figured it out, we thought it was really cool – a fridge that tells you if it’s not shut properly! But then the next day we went shopping and put lots of warmer things into it, and it wouldn’t shut up for ages…

Yesterday morning I had great fun sorting out all of our books. When I moved in with Mr B he obviously had all his books on his bookcase, and I (mostly) left them where they were. But now all the books had been merged in boxes, I had the ideal opportunity to sort them all out. So they’re now sorted properly by subject and author. 🙂

Odd Socks

Everytime I do any washing I acquire more odd socks. I currently have 13 in my drawer. And it drives me mad! Unless they’re only different on the bottom or underneath the shoe line (like black socks with coloured toes and heels), then I can’t wear them, because it would just annoy me. And so I’m always running low on socks that match! I would buy loads of plain socks, where it didn’t matter whether they matched or not, but I like matching them up, and I like having patterned socks… I keep hoping, with every wash, that the number of remaining odd socks will be significantly reduced. But it never seems to happen! I just don’t know what’s happening to all these socks!