Sunday, 31 August 2008

meat


Ugh. Just got to the end of the forms - a couple of questions for the accountant tomorrow, but almost there. Haven't achieved anything else and poor Leo hasn't know what to do with himself all day because of his teeth, which hasn't made it any easier.

Bed calls.

Also, are you in the UK? Do you have a freezer? If so, remember that you could try buying your meat here.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

riches


Well. Gosh. We saw House No. 5 this morning. It's on with the same Estate Agent as House No. 4 and we have put in an application for it as per the Estate Agent's advice yesterday to to keep looking until we were certain we had somewhere. It has had a refurbish, they are looking for long-term tenants, it is nice and rural; it has a small garden; and it has the option to also rent two stables and a field.

B says that if we get it, I can have a pony.

I have no idea why he thinks that ponies are less work than goats. But please can we not dis-abuse him, quite yet, anyway? I am torn between a pony and a donkey. Donkeys have such nice noses, don't they?

Today we have also been to Llanfair show. We wandered around, admired all the red, blue and yellow cards our friends had won for their vegetables and their cakes; looked at the display of old tractors; spoke to a six week old baby rhea (gorgeous, but apparently the adults kick like mules and you catch them by putting a bucket over their heads); and generally chilled out.

Then some more friends came back for a coffee and we talked chickens for an hour, before going to visit yet ANOTHER friend for a complicated chicken-sale transaction that involved chasing Jubilee Orpingtons around an orchard until they legged it through a hedge and we gave up.

I got home about an hour ago and B had already put Leo to bed. So I've had a relaxed tea ... and now Mrs We Must Have Drinks from up the hill has just phoned to say that her dog has killed one of our chickens. The number of people I know with badly behaved dogs seems to be higher than the number with well-behaved ones at the moment.

Gah.

Not sure which bird it is as B didn't do a head-count when he shut them up - but she's offered to pay for it, and was very shuffley-feeted bless her.

I am ready to move now.

Tomorrow: Setting off an acaricide smoke-thingy in the chicken house to kill the red mite; bankruptcy form-filling; and possibly Glansevern Food Festival if we have time.

Friday, 29 August 2008

better


The place we viewed this morning was lovely - won't say too much about it in case it jinxes it; but we have put an application in. Let's call it House No. 4.

House No. 1 Estate Agents have not yet received an offer from yesterday's viewing-person and the vendor has asked them wait until close of play tomorrow; so they will let us know on Monday whether we can proceed with it. I am now not a hundred percent sure that I want to. Both places are lovely - but No. 1 is larger than No. 4 and hence a hundred quid a month more expensive and with higher bills to match.

No. 4 has a small orchard, an existing chicken house and an old pigsty where, A LONG WAY in the future, if one was coping with all the other things in ones life such as children, work and chickens, one might be able to keep a couple of goats.

Shhhhh! Don't tell B.

We have come clean with the House No. 4 Estate Agents about our financial situation and have tried to mitigate it by offering to put down the deposit and three month's rent in advance. [insert strangled noise at amount this comes to in actual, real, folding money-in-our-pockets].

Despite yesterday's Official Slough Of Despair, I feel better today. I think perhaps all the sleeping I did whilst feeling so crappy has helped - kind of not much good whilst it was happening; but a benefit in the long run. I also think that the baby might have turned again. It certainly seems busy enough in there. I've calmed down a bit about all the breech-birth horror stories, too.

B came back last night rather than staying in Birmingham for another day's work today - he said that a) the place he was rigging in was full of forklift trucks as the factory people cleared out their final bits; and whilst this wasn't bad in itself as they were very considerate drivers, b) his head was so taken up with banks, money and houses that he was being a danger to himself and not achieving very much at all.

So he came home and we have spent the day trying to sort out houses, money etc. etc.. Everything is going to bounce out the household bills account on Monday - 1st of the month. I feel dreadful about it; but there's nothing that we can do. Literally nothing - except tell them that we have a bankruptcy hearing later in the week and the Official Receiver will be in touch in due course.

Tomorrow we are looking at another property; nice, but has an application in on it already. And in the afternoon we are meeting friends at Llanfair Caereinion show.

For today, that is all.


Thursday, 28 August 2008

snap


The people who viewed House No. 1 today are going to make an offer tomorrow. If the offer isn't high enough, we will be able to let it.

I think my tether has actually snapped this evening - I can't stop weeping. I need to get myself together and go and give Leo a bath and put him to bed.

There is another place come on the lettings market today, via the agency that we had to value this place; so they know about our financial situation. I'm not sure whether that is going to help us or hinder us.

Surely SOMETHING must fall in to place for us soon?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

taking a moment


I can't do this. I can't do it. I just can't.

The bank have just been on the phone asking about the status of our account. I can't cope with those kind of phone calls. B is doing it, mostly; but some of them are bound to come to me, either on my mobile, or whilst he's away.

I didn't mention that he'd blacked out at the weekend, did I? He got out of bed to go and sort out Leo and went down backwards like a sack of spuds. No memory of what happened, just woke up on the floor with an aching shoulder. Low blood pressure, obviously. But not something he usually suffers from.

We are both reaching the end of our collective tethers now.

I am going to shut the chickens up and then go to bed and try to get some sleep. It's better than thinking.


cute


House No. 3 was very cute - two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a living room and a kitchen downstairs. It would mean getting rid of a lot of our stuff; but that would be okay. The VERY good thing about it is it's garden - vegetable beds full of beans and cabbages, currant bushes, a greenhouse and both a plum and a damson tree.

The catch?

It had an odd atmosphere. And the next door neighbour (it's a semi, in the middle of nowhere) blanked us completely, although she spoke to the estate agent in quite a friendly fashion.

So ... it's still on the list. But we are trepidatious about it, particularly after the 'odd atmosphere' related stuff that's gone on here; nightmares (ours and friends); peculiar behaviour from the cats and mother in laws; oppressive atmosphere etc..

Other things described as 'cute' today - the obstetrician's view of breech birth.

New Baby has managed to do a flip over and is now bottom-down. I am not impressed. Apparently if it doesn't turn back before thirty seven weeks (in three weeks time) they can try to turn it. Which has a 1% chance of distressing the baby and meaning an emergency C-section.

If that doesn't work, you can choose to try to deliver naturally (Doctor: "It's quite cute, actually, when they come out bum-first" Me: "For you, maybe"); or you can opt for a Caesar.

Gosh, the choices available are all so much FUN, aren't they?

In other news, summer is officially over.

B went back to work today after our Relaxing Summer Off (Oh the sarcasm, lowest form of wit I know, but it's about all I've got left right now); he trundled off to Birmingham after our doctor's appointment to light a factory full of rice (go see it). We've got a full order book for September and are half-full already for October and November. This is A Good Thing. However, it also means that Leo and I and New Baby are going to be on our own for most of each week.

We are still waiting to hear about House No. 1. Apparently the people will be viewing it tomorrow.

I am going to have a snooze now, whilst Leo is at nursery.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

welsh gothic


Leo - better, after still having 'nettle rash' all over his body yesterday morning, despite being much more perky. We took him for a check-up with the doctor who phoned to speak to the consultant paediatrician and told us that it wasn't anything to really worry about (!!!!) and that there were no contra-indications for further jabs. He then added, slightly less than reassuringly, that although that was MOST DEFINITELY THE CASE, we might feel more comfortable taking him to the hospital to have them.

After we came back from the doctor yesterday, he had a soup├žon of lunch and the slept for four hours. When he woke up the rash had completely gone and he was fine. Ditto, today - he has dedicated most of his spare time to crawling after the cats and shouting at them excitedly when they outpace him.

In the meantime I've done some googling and it looks like the reaction he had was probably to the meningitis component of the thing. So at least we have an idea of what happened; and at least it proves that his immune system is working.

Still terrifying, though.

Housing - we went to look at House No. 2 yesterday. It is fantastic. Think slightly Gothic Victorian Vicarage (it's an old farmhouse) and you'll get the idea. Seven bedrooms, two cellars, two Jane Eyre-type attics with plenty of room for mad ex-wives should one have them handy, original sash windows and very high ceilings.

We love it. But ... despite the reasonable rent, it will be expensive to heat even if we shut some rooms up. And, the owners (who we have previously met in passing via Freecycle and who are very nice), don't want to take it off the For Sale market because of the HIP thing - they have had it on the market since before you needed a HIP pack and if they take it off and put it back on, then they will have to shell out for one. I completely understand this; but it means that they won't really want us to sign for longer than six months; and neither B nor I really want to be upping sticks again in six months time.

So, we have put that one on hold for a few days to see what happens with House No. 1. We sent our three glowing references off to Estate Agent No. 1 last night and he phoned this morning to say that Landlady No. 1 was very happy with the idea of us as tenants and that we just needed to grit our teeth and hope that the people going to see the place with a view to purchase next Thursday aren't interested.

Which we are doing.

Please keep all your pseudopods and appendages crossed for us.

We are going to see House No. 3 on Tuesday morning. And there is also a possible House No. 4 which we will do a drive-by viewing of at the same time.

In other news, my iron has dropped to below 11 points, which explains why I feel so tired and miserable - started on an iron tonic yesterday. I'm trying to follow the midwife's advice and not do very much. It does seem to be helping the contractions. They want to see me weekly from now on. From mid-week this week (when I hit thirty four weeks) it is very likely that if I have the baby it won't need 'special care' (ie, be in an incubator). But the longer it stays in there the better.

Now, I go to have a glass of wine and get an early night.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

sick as a parrot


Ma has just gone home - she arrived on Monday, exuded support and common sense, helped me divide our book collection in half, fed us lasagne and wrangled Leo whilst we slept.

We have been to look at a few houses and have found one that would be very suitable. However, there is someone looking at it next week with a view to purchase ... . If they don't make an offer, it will be ours to rent. There are also another two pretty decent possibilities that we still have to look at.

Leo had his third set of baby immunisations this afternoon. About an hour afterwards he developed a severe, scary swelling-type rash all over his face and body, with swollen eyelids so bad that he couldn't open his eyes; started pulling at his head and screaming violently; and vomited repeatedly over both of us.

I have never spent a whole hour experiencing such an high level of terror in my entire life.

B rang the doctor, who basically said 'wait it out'. Which we've done. Leo has dozed off, the rash has turned blotchy and he can open his eyes. I've just been up to check on him and he half woke up, wanted a cuddle and threw up again all over me.

I am having quite severe tightenings and Braxtons whenever I do anything more exciting that sit still.

We're okay, more or less, but I am going to bed.


Sunday, 17 August 2008

marginally better ...


Am okay. Sorry. Juvenile, un-British hysteria.

Cuppa-soup is great, isn't it?


Saturday, 16 August 2008

finished


We have just got back from our friend's funeral. It was lovely, as far as these things go - a Humanist ceremony in the Community Centre and then a green-field burial up the road.

We then went to see a house that we saw on the internet this morning and thought might be suitable for us. It is in the next village, it is a reasonable price and it has a nice garden. The owners are lovely.

But they asked me straight out what our own situation was with where we are living now. And I told them. I find lying really hard - I abhor it, I am bad at it and I don't think it brings you any good in the long run.

B is angry with me.

What could I have done? I just don't know what to do.

I am so tired. B is so tired.

The chickens have Mycoplasma and I am probably going to have to cull them; although it's apparently endemic in small flocks I can't board them out to anyone else knowing that they are carriers. And it's looking unlikely that we will find a place to stay that we can take them to.

It is raining. Tonight, I want to drink until I can't think any more, whilst cutting my arms.

Friday, 15 August 2008

pond froth


I don't know if I can do this.

I've just been spoken to as if I am the scum of the earth by a Lettings Agent. We've been advised by all the debt people to be straight up with people when trying to find somewhere to live. I don't think I can open myself up to that kind of behaviour, though.

I feel dreadful.

Edited to say: We have booked a court appointment for the 4th of September. That's the earliest they can fit us in. So it gives us a couple of weeks to sort something out accommodation-wise.


Thursday, 14 August 2008

still here


So, as well as sleeping yesterday, we went to look at a really lovely cottage near Clee St Margaret. It is a two bedroom place, with two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom downstairs.

It's in a pretty rural hamlet called Cockshutford, on the edge of Brown Clee Hill. It has just under an acre of ground and would be perfect. Unfortunately, it's just a smidge too far from the rest of our lives to be practical; Leo would have to change nursery, I would have to change midwives and hospitals. It's also over two hours drive to Liverpool and Manchester, so not good for B from a work point of view.

This is despite an incredibly kind offer from someone on the Downsizer website to accommodate him in Manchester on an overnight basis when he needs it, for a minimal fee.

We have another place to look at on Thursday next week; it would be better if we could look at it earlier and I am trying to get the Estate Agent to negotiate with the current tenant, who apparently doesn't want anyone viewing before she has moved out herself.

Inconvenient.

There is a third place that looks very good on paper; but it is twice the rent of the Thursday-Next-Week place, which is not un-doable. But it would mean that B would have to work an additional two days of every month to fund it. Which seems boring. One of the positives of this whole debacle is that if we are going to have to rearrange our entire lives and live on a budget, we can now have the luxury of organising ourselves so that he spends more time at home. Which is particularly important with the new baby on the way.

Another large tick in the 'Positives In Our Lives' column is that I have sat down today and created an 'Order Book' that tracks work we have booked in. Up until now I have simply kept a record of pencilled dates and confirmed dates in our diary software ('Evolution' at the moment) and have a spreadsheet that roughly translates that in to projections for the next twelve months.

However, this afternoon I've created a spreadsheet that directly translates those bookings and pencils in to income. And things are looking pretty good - we already have half the minimum work we need before Christmas booked in; and this is VERY early in the season for bookings to be coming in. Normally the phone doesn't start to ring until after August Bank Holiday. Clients that we have told about our situation have been making an effort to find us work. I know I shouldn't be consistently surprised by people's kindness. But I am very touched.

Sleep is good. I should do it more often.

Tomorrow; Leo at nursery. Bankcruptcy papers to fill in.

Joy.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

sigh


Not doing so well today. Just want to curl up and sleep and not address anything.



Tuesday, 12 August 2008

conversations with my mother #080811


Ma: We had a lovely day out, today.
Me: Yes?
Ma: Yes. We went to look at the graves.
Me: Ah?
Ma: The Family graves. You know. Near Malmsbury.
Me: Oh, THOSE graves!
Ma: Yes. And I wanted to say 'thank you' to Vera.
Me: Vera?
Ma: Aunt Vera. She left me some money when she died twenty years ago and I used it pay your sister's school fees and I never felt I said 'thank you' properly.
Me: Ah.
Ma: So, that's what we did.


House No. 1 - lovely. Ideal house, HUGE barn, about an acre of ground, reasonable rent and bills. But too far from the rest of our lives to be tenable.

Both feeling marginally better today.

Thank you for the lovely emails.



Monday, 11 August 2008

so ...


We have somewhere to go and look at tomorrow that will take chickens and cats. And another place next Thursday.

Waiting to speak to Benign Accountant when he comes back in to the office tomorrow. Have all the papers filled in. Trying to find the cash needed to actually pay the fees to apply for bankruptcy - £495 each, cash.

Ironic :).


Saturday, 9 August 2008

strike that


Actually, strike that.

We have spent the last forty-eight hours going over our finances in detail and taking advice. We have concluded that the best way forward is for us to go bankrupt. If we stay here and have an IVA then B will have to work twice as hard as if we pursue bankruptcy. That seems like a really bad plan. He sees little enough of Leo as it is.
  1. With an IVA, you have a five year plan to pay back as much as you can. With bankruptcy you have three years.
  2. With an IVA you make an agreement with your creditors for a fixed sum - they usually want to to take 100% of your surplus income after your household expenses and you have to keep to that figure. With bankruptcy, the Official Receiver will take 70% of it and it's more flexible. Also, your creditors get off yoru back.
  3. With an IVA, we would stay here - but we would still end up being liable for all of the mortgage, as IVAs apparently only count for unsecured loans. With bankruptcy, we can walk away from the house debt which will become part of the overall amount owing to our creditors.
It's just hit me, I think, what's happening. Some friends came to lunch. In fact, they brought lunch. And they were very kind to us and I burst in to tears. I haven't really cried since Dad died. I feel very shaky; and as if someone has peeled my skin off. Dad would be so ashamed of me.

The downside of all of this is that it's pretty likely that we will have to vacate the house once this happens. It takes a week or two once you put it in train - and we just want to check on Monday with Benign Accountant and the Solicitor that there's nothing that we've forgotten or overlooked. We have taken advice from the CAB and from Payplan, we are aware of what happens afterwards re all your bank accounts being closed, your credit rating being stuffed for six years, etc. etc..

We need to find somewhere to live. I can board the chickens out with a friend; but I would really like to take them with us. And the cats. And landlords LOVE cats, don't they? The baby is due in eight weeks - we need to be settled before then.

I feel a bit sick.

Leo is watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony on BBC iPlayer. He thinks it's great.



Friday, 8 August 2008

busy


We are tidying up the house and painting. We are hoping to go to auction on September 13th.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

give me a light that I may tread safely in to the unknown


Our friend in his early forties who had the heart attack at the weekend died in the night. Please send good thoughts to his partner and family.

I am not going to moan any more about our situation - somehow it all seems very insignificant.



Tuesday, 5 August 2008

glimmering


Here are twenty positive and negative things, in no particular order:

1. The Estate Agent has an auction coming up on September 13th, which we could put the house in to.
2. He thinks that rather than having 7% equity in the property, it is possible that we could have has much as 20% negative equity, given the current market.
3. The solicitor is going away to talk to the Mortgage People about all the different ramifications of those two facts.
4. We had visitors this afternoon, who brought both cake AND biscuits.
5. They visited because the husband of one of our friends had a heart attack at the weekend. The prognosis is not good.
6. While they were here, one of them scrubbed the carpet in Leo's room.
7. My car's MOT ran out two weeks ago and I only realised this morning.
8. The garage have managed to fit it in tomorrow.
9. The immobiliser clicky thing on the key is no longer functioning with any predictability and will cost about £130 to replace.
10. Luckily I have £130 left in the bank account.
11. Leo's teeth are better.
12. Leo wants to walk everywhere.
13. Leo has decided that he doesn't like going to bed at night.
14. Leo went to nursery to day.
15. I love nursery.
16. We have a very nice chicken pie with our own chicken to eat for tea tonight.
17. I have eaten so many biscuits and so much cake that I feel sick.
18. Today I have put a hundred jam jars in the recycling.
19. I am downsizing my book collection.
20. I didn't have a hang over this morning.



Monday, 4 August 2008

dark


I'm so tired and I ache so much - I only got two hours sleep last night, as we were mucking out the house ready for someone who said he was going to come and view the room last night. And then New Baby danced the Cha-Cha all the time I was in bed.

The chap didn't show up, rude so-and-so.

Leo has bitten me again, on my shoulders, my breasts and the bump. He nuzzles in as if he wants a cuddle and then nips whilst you're not expecting it. I have bruises.

Benign Accountant came for his chat this afternoon. He thinks that the business is going to be okay - and advises against bankruptcy. He says that we either need to employ an Insolvency Practitioner or ask our Solicitor to negotiate an independent agreement with our creditors in order that we can still eat whilst trying to sell the house.

The Estate Agent is coming tomorrow for an evaluation.

The Magic Builder is coming back at the end of the week to finish the downstairs plastering and plumbing - Ma is giving us some money to pay him - and some friends are coming to help us paint the downstairs on Thursday and Friday. B has borrowed a hedge trimmer and is going to shave all the greenery to within an inch of it's life tomorrow, whilst, please-God, Leo is at nursery.

My mother is lending us some money to cover the next week's bills. I have no idea how we are going to manage after that.

I am drunk. Not advisable. But it seemed necessary.


Saturday, 2 August 2008

in memoriam


Yesterday afternoon, in Plymouth, my friend Andy's funeral took place. We only saw him once every year or so, if that; but it was one of those friendships that you can pick up and put down over the years and they remain strong. No cause of death has been established - but I spoke to his mother on Wednesday night and she said that it must have been very quick. Although his body has been released to the family for burial with a temporary death certificate, samples have been taken and medical investigations are still happening.

I met Andy ten years ago, when I was first dating Crazy Tom - they were flatmates in Canterbury. They were both working at the IT department at the university and they shared a particularly squalid house in a particularly squalid corner of the town, just off the Sturry Road. It smelt of 'boy'; and they once managed to set the vacuum cleaner alight whilst desperately trying to clean up the sitting room before another prospective flat-mate came to view the place.

Some of the things I will remember about him are:
  • His feet. He was always barefoot if he could be.
  • He once paid me the ultimate compliment of telling me that of all the people he visited, I made him feel the most comfortable because he didn't feel like he was cluttering up my house and making it messy.
  • His kindness to me the first time he visited me after my non-divorce. We hugged on Newport Station and he said "Just keep going, it does get better".
  • The fact that he turned in his job and followed his travelling bug - he trained as snowboard instructor and a surf instructor, amongst other things and he travelled around the world periodically, teaching.
  • The way he'd just pop up out of nowhere after an absence of six months, or twelve, or eighteen and things would be exactly the same.
  • The Ultimate Custard Powder Fight we once had in his digs at Canterbury. Did you know that you can make a great flame-thrower by filling a bike pump with custard powder and pumping it over the full-on gas-jets of a domestic cooker?
I will miss him. He was 41.