Friday, 28 February 2003

are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet

I am very impatient. I don't like it when I don't know what will happen and when I have to wait for things to happen. I am going to drive my beloved boyfriend and everyone around me nuts until this house thing is sorted.

You have been warned.

Thursday, 27 February 2003

used car salespeople, but for houses

So the property agent rings me back and waffles away at me about another couple who are interested in the house. The conversation went like this:

Agent: "Waffle waffle waffle waffle another couple are very interested waffle waffle but they have their house to sell, just like you waffle waffle waffle"

Me: "So. Um. Did they put in an offer?"

Agent: "No, but they are very interested. [more waffling] Your offer was okay with the vendor."

Me: [confused pause] "Our offer was accepted?"

Agent: "Yes."

For goodness sake. So yes, our offer has been accepted which doesn't really mean a lot. Paul has to sell his house, and in the meantime, someone else can come along and put in another offer on the house we want - like this mysterious couple who are "interested" (riiiiight). This agent also wanted to know which agent was selling his house and Paul's address so she could ring them herself and "check the progress of the sale". Um no, I don't think so. Smarmy little thing.

Anyway, so now we wait and see. So either expect a housewarming party invitation this summer, or expect more whinging on this site about our house hunting tales.
making an offer they better not refuse

We are putting in an offer on the house today. I mean, I would if the estate agent gets around to calling me. It's a long process before the house is yours, and then of course, you can always end up getting gazumped. I've never bought a house in North America, so I don't know if you are protected against stuff like this over there. Here, it's like the wild west. Scotland has a very good process in place, and the rest of the UK should hopefully follow in the next year or so. In the meantime, while viewed as immoral, gazumping is still not illegal.

From today's amusing house listings, here's an example of how not to decorate your living room:

Note the wallpaper: not one, but two different patterns divided by a dado rail. The ceiling is done in what's known as Artex; sort of like spackle gone mad. The combination of the wallpaper and swirly ceiling is enough to induce vomiting in your houseguests.

From today's amusing spam subject lines: "Lisa_macdonald, Are you snoring yourself to death?" Am I ever!

Tuesday, 25 February 2003

careful now

I was so certain that Chris had found this online somewhere as it looks so Photoshopped. But no, this is a real sign he saw at the war protest march in London and this is a picture he took himself. This is only going to be funny to Father Ted fans, unfortunately. Then again, even if you don't know the joke, you do have to laugh at the understatement of this placard. It's also worth noting that after the rally, Chris and his missus attended the theatre after an evening of fine dining. How totally radical, dude.

[and please, do not use this as an opportunity to get into a huge debate about Iraq - it's just a feckin' funny sign, awright?]
all the ducks are swimming in the water

Lemon Jelly was absolutely fantastic. Chris said to me at the end of the show, "That was brilliant drunk. Was it good sober, too?" - yes, most definitely. There was much dancing, bouncing, duck waving, singing, and general merriment. Before the show, they played a whole wack of 80s music that only Chris and I appreciated. You know you're getting old when you can belt out the lyrics to Spandau Ballet's "Gold" whilst Cambridge youths give you quizzical looks. The show itself was such good fun, and a lot more energetic than I expected. I thought it would be two guys and bunch of mixing boards (which it was, to a point), but they did actually play instruments and sing a bit. As Jack put it, "He's f***ing playing the cello!" and it was indeed very cool. Heather, Helen, and I danced with rubber ducks, which attracted quite a bit of attention from envious onlookers. Jack had one floating in his pint before the show, and a woman asked if he got it with the drink. She was terribly disappointed to discover that Heather had brought the ducks especially for the event, as she had hoped that they were giving out free ducks to the crowd. Overall, there was a nice feel to the gig and a good time was had by all - drunk or sober.

I happened to catch a review of the show on Radio One as I was driving home. Needless to say, it was delivered by a whingy girl on the phone to John Peel who complained that Lemon Jelly provided "inoffensive dance music" that was "rather twee", and that the audience contained people wearing "sensible trousers" (i.e. old fogies like me). She started off by saying that it wasn't really her kind of music; I think she didn't give an objective review, which is a bit crap if you're supposed to be doing this for a living.

It's a beautiful day outside today. So what are we all doing stuck in here?

Monday, 24 February 2003

hooray hooray it's jelly day

Off to see Lemon Jelly tonight, which should be good fun. It's a bit odd because it's not really music you can dance/mosh/bodysurf/jump up and down to, so I wonder if everyone will just sort of stand there and smile appreciatively. Actually, that's not entirely true - I can certainly see myself bouncing around to the Duck song. Yep, I'll be the one looking like a right dork going "fal de ra de ra do" whilst holding a rubber ducky.

We are paying a second visit to a house on Wednesday and so far, the buyer hasn't done anything vexing like decide not to sell his house. I think that I'm not really being realistic about this whole endeavor; I've already decorated the downstairs level of the house inside my head, and we've not even put in an offer yet. I also briefly considered what sort of food to get for the housewarming party and thought about plants I'd like to stick in the garden. This is definitely not good.

Friday, 21 February 2003

is that so?

"Blogging is not journalism.

Often it is as far from journalism as it is possible to get, with unsubstantiated rumour, prejudice and gossip masquerading as informed opinion.

Without editors to correct syntax, tidy up the story structure or check facts, it is generally impossible to rely on anything one finds in a blog without verifying it somewhere else - often the much-maligned mainstream media.

The much-praised reputation mechanism that is supposed to ensure that bloggers remain true, honest and factually-correct is, in fact, just the rule of the mob, where those who shout loudest and get the most links are taken more seriously.

It is the online equivalent of saying that The Sun newspaper always tells the truth because four million people read it, and The Guardian is intrinsically less trustworthy as it only sells half a million."


Well, excuse me while I ask my editor to take a look at my blog.
the only instance when apology flowers are okay

A lovely huge bouquet of flowers showed up for me today at the office, with a little note attached: "With sincere apologies, Interflora House". The shmucks who neglected to deliver my flowers last Friday sent me an apology bouquet today, which is actually quite a nice gesture. I think Paul wrangled this out of them, so at least he not only gets his money back but he did get to surprise me with flowers.

Now how come when banks screw up, they don't apologise with stacks of free cash?

Thursday, 20 February 2003

wrap it up; i'll take it

We saw a house today that was fantastic. After seeing a parade of houses containing pokey rooms, cramped kitchens, and dodgy bathrooms, we've found something that's more what we had in mind. The decor really needs to be updated (I don't think it's been done in the 18 years the family has lived there), but that's nothing. We're paint and decorating experts now (or at least we're really good at taking the piss out of the designers on "Changing Rooms"). It was a proper four bedroom house; as in, it had four human being-sized bedrooms. The smallest room would make a nice study and currently had a single bed with a long computer table in it. The other three rooms were double bedrooms (which means they can fit double beds), and the master bedroom had a nice ensuite. I think what impressed me most was the downstairs level: the livingroom had an archway leading to the dining room (with French doors leading to the garden), and the kitchen was off to the side of the dining room. Nice and open, and hurrah, you could fit more than a toddler in the kitchen. Even the downstairs cloakroom (or "powder room" as us lovely North Americans would call it) was roomy. The garden had a nice little pond in the corner (containing live fish), and the garden itself is probably big enough to contain a conservatory if we wanted to add one on at a later point. The driveway fits two cars (trust me, we don't see a lot of this around here), and it's near the end of a cul du sac, so it's quiet. Oh yes, and as an added bonus, the house is in Godmanchester, which is where we both really want to live.

We've got another house to see tomorrow (in a village called Fenstanton), but I think we've got a winnah. Hopefully this seller won't suddenly decide that he wants to pull his house off the market. Oooo that would be vexing.

Wednesday, 19 February 2003

now that could come in handy

A big thankewverymuch to Wallace for sending me a link to this site. Yes, that's right - you too can get married in a big inflatible church.

Tuesday, 18 February 2003

shhh be vewwy vewwy quiet...we're hunting houses

We saw two houses in my village recently, both on the same overcrowded estate. The developers decided to shoehorn in as many houses into the plot of land as possible, without actually stacking the houses on top of each other. The first house wasn't too bad and it did have a large garden, but again, it was another house with a pokey little kitchen and that just browns me off to no end. House number two was slightly frightening. It's currently a rental (and I do not have anything against rented properties as I happen to live in one myself) which hasn't been taken care of with a few alarming (and amusing) characteristics. For example, let me tell you about the ensuite shower room. I never would have imagined it to be a closet that had been replaced by a shower stall, but there it was. It was literally shoved into the wall like a recessed shelf, so you could roll out of bed and directly through the wall into the shower. I'm sure some would find this unbelievably handy, but Paul and I thought it was a bit odd. The floor upstairs felt like it had been patched with cardboard at various points, as we could feel our feet sink into the floor as we walked around. All I'll say about the bathroom is that a line from the Simpsons sprang to mind as we opened the door: "This place smells like tinkle."

We visited another house today in the village next to me called Over (yes, we have hours of amusement telling people to go over to Over), which was really nicely situated in a quiet cul de sac. The garden backed out to a field and it was a fairly new house, but again, it had a pokey kitchen and even pokier bedrooms. I would say though that it's probably the second best house we've seen so far. It was bright, clean, had a decent ensuite, was in a nice neighbourhood, and only really needed to be redecorated. The thing is, for the price range we've been looking in, we want something roomy that feels like we're moving up from Paul's semi-detached 2 bedroom house. The rooms in these houses seem almost the same size (Paul's bedrooms are often bigger) with just a couple of extra small rooms tacked on one end, and feel no wider.

Maybe it's just me being North American and expecting things to be bigger and more open. I still can't get over the little fridge thing, so I guess I am still in Canadian mode. There are things that people keep pointing out to me (for example, every time we look at a garage, the person showing us the house always points out how funny it is that people never keep cars in the garage and tend to use them like big sheds), and I think I do need to switch to UK mode when I'm evaluating these houses.

Although I don't think I will ever understand why people carpet their bathrooms here.

Monday, 17 February 2003

boil that dustspeck

I noticed the big book of Canadian landscape photography at Paul's house this weekend; one of the gifts from my parents at Christmas. I realised that he received a whole plethora of Canadiana this holiday, including the obligatory novelty maple leaf boxing shorts (it really is unnerving when your mother buys your boyfriend underwear). I also tend to get a lot of Canadian-themed gifts, and I always think that my Mom has bought them all. But no, another bag of moose droppings, a new article of Roots clothing, and Laura Secord chocolates for the various seasons keep arriving in the post.

I had the thought that maybe we get all of these things because as Canadians, we desperately want the rest of the world to realise that we exist. If someone, somewhere, in some foreign land wears a Roots sweatshirt, Canada will become known. It's like each gift is a plea from Canada saying, "Go! Tell them about us! Tell them that we're here!" because otherwise, we're just that big chunk of cold that lives upstairs from America.

So the next time you eat one of those chocolates I put in the kitchen (Easter will be the next shipment, trust me), think to yourself "I'm eating Canada." Say it loud, but be polite about it.
good thing i'm not that stroppy

Paul was not a happy man on Friday evening. As a surprise, he'd ordered a lovely bouquet of flowers for me that were supposed to arrive on Valentine's Day at our office. Interflora never showed up, and I never got my flowers. What made it worse was the fact that they were very unapologetic about it, and were even lame enough to say that they couldn't keep track of every order and that they were really busy that day. Why they were surprised by the fact that it was busy on Valentine's Day is beyond me. Apparently when your entire business is nothing but flower delivery, we shouldn't expect them to actually be responsible for delivering flowers in some sort of accurate manner. Who knew?

Needless to say, I had a really nice day and Paul made a fantastic meal for me (grilled chicken stuffed with herbs, cous cous, and steamed asparagus and baby corn in a gorgeous creamy sauce, and a yummy bottle of Chilean red wine). My advice for the coming months: don't use Interflora on Mother's Day.

Friday, 14 February 2003

sign me up

We just got a list of "courses" available at my company, including one called "Writing - Grammar is Fun".

Sure, it's fun. If you're very, very, very drunk.
it's vd all over the place

Happy Valentine's Day, all you lovlies! I know there are many of you feeling a bit bitter, perhaps even slightly agitated and grumpy today. Cheer up, because most people think Valentine's Day is a big pile of poo just like you do. Me, I like it and I don't care that it's an overcommercialised bit of Hallmark-induced pap. Any holiday that involves chocolate is okay by me. I got a box of goodies from my Mom, including Laura Secord chocolate and little candy and cinnamon hearts. The cinnamon hearts will go to Paul's Dad (who loves cinnamon), and the chocolate and candy hearts are in the kitchen being pecked at by my workmates. I got a lovely card from Paul this morning, and I am being treated to his cooking tonight for dinner. I didn't want big presents, bouquets of long stemmed roses, or anything like that - I just wanted to be able to wake up next to someone who means the world to me and be able to say "Will you be my Valentine?"

And I did. (He said yes.)

Stop making barfing noises, all of you.

Wednesday, 12 February 2003

ah, i think i'll stick to bottled water

The tap in our office kitchen is providing us with brown water today. Pete just filled up a glass and noticed this, however I'm feeling a bit worried at the moment because I've already used the tap twice to fill the kettle for my tea. Yum.

We were contacted by two different estate agents today about two different houses in my village that have just become available. One is an ex-rental (which may explain the price), and the other has a big garden with a newly refitted kitchen and bathroom. We knew that more houses would pop up on the market as we get closer to Spring, and they already seem to be trickling in. Still vexed about that last house, though. Horribly vexed.

And finally, I have recently discovered that my Mom reads this page. Please, no swearing and take off your muddy shoes for goodness sake. Hi Mom!

Tuesday, 11 February 2003

how vexing

So the estate agent guy calls me to say that the owners of house 2 (that's the one we're seeing for the second time tomorrow) may not actually be moving. The husband is going for an interview on Friday and might end up working in Cambridge, in which case, they won't be selling their house and moving to Wales.

Why do people put their houses on the market if they're not even sure that they're moving? GAH.
you've got search engines, and you're not afraid to use them

I simply love reading the list of search strings that have led to this site. No really, it's horribly entertaining. This month's prime selection (and it's not even the middle of the month yet):

  • sheep shagging pictures - if you found any on this site, you win a prize.

  • coughing up small bubble - I hate it when that happens. My advice: stop drinking liquid hand soap, no matter how nice it smells.

  • gay guys in the bath with blink 182 naked pics - there's so much happening in this request, I just don't know where to begin.

  • i hate the chef boy ardee song - me too! Let's bond.

  • interesting error404 pages - because there is such a huge variety of fascinating error 404 pages. If you're drunk and make up your own.

  • lisa eats poo - but it cooks so nicely in the Foreman grill.

  • lisa's greasy hair - you people keep telling me it's "shiny"!

  • nigella lawson nipples - at least we're off Nathalie Portman now.

  • picture of natalie portman getting tickled - ah, spoke too soon.

  • porn cheese cauliflower - which is almost, but not quite as amusing as Jack's shopping list of gin, bleach, and sausages.

  • valentine's day poems for assholes - I highly recommend that you get one here.

  • vibrating ducks u k - it quacks. It vibrates. It keeps you entertained in the tub for hours.

Truly, I'm still giggling.

Monday, 10 February 2003

i'll buy that for a dollar

So we went to see two houses yesterday, one we had specs for (floor plan, room descriptions, etc.) and one had just come on the market so I only had brief details from the estate agent. The first house was supposed to have a garden that wasn't overlooked and backed out to fields. How lovely, we thought. Yes, it would have been lovely if we could see over the 6 ft. wooden fence that surrounded the uphill triangular garden plot. I'm sure there were fields out there. Could have been fields full of elephants too, but we'd never know. The house itself wasn't too thrilling, so we left feeling a bit so-so about it.

House 2 was a bit of a mystery, and we weren't too sure what to expect. From the outside, we were both slightly horrified to see a mock Tudor style house with pink rendering. The upper half of the house was adorned with dark brown fake timber beams, with walls painted a colour that fell somewhere between bubblegum and raw pork. So you can imagine our surprise when we walked into the house to discover a warm, comfortable, nicely decorated family home (complete with an incredibly cute baby, but apparently he doesn't come with the house). The hallway was tiled with stone flooring that continued through to the kitchen and utility, with the added bonus of underfloor heating. The living room was a good size, nicely painted, with a lovely little black iron stove with a gas fire. French doors lead to the dining room that overlooks the back garden. There's a little loo by the stairs, which is something we wanted (you really can't have enough bathrooms, if you ask me). The kitchen has been recently refitted and has a gas hob (stovetop elements), a feature we both feel is an absolute must. The utility room is a nice bonus, so we have somewhere to stick the fridge/freezer and washing machine. The garden is quite big, complete with a summer house and several trees. The bedrooms (4 of them in total) aren't exactly huge, but we only really need 2 decent sized rooms at the moment for ourselves and guests. The smallest room could easily become a study, and the other small bedroom can fit a single bed or futon comfortably. We could probably add an extension over the garage at some point, to give us more space to play with. It's a nice house, and felt like it had been taken care of and appreciated. Some houses have a distinct "feel"; this one made us feel very welcome.

We're going back to see house 2 again on Wednesday, bringing a video camera along to help us remember everything. Although taking video of a stranger's house sounds like an odd concept, I think it's a great idea when you're househunting. Right after we left the house, we realised that we couldn't remember a lot of details or hadn't noticed certain things. This way, we'll have something to refer to afterwards.

On a completely unrelated note, a carload of young lads honked and waved at me today. So apparently, today's youth are turned on by women in their 30's carrying plastic bags from Morrison's grocery store. Ah, kids today.

Friday, 7 February 2003


You often seen houses advertised here with the term "no forward chain" or simply "no chain", and it puzzled me to no end. No chain? No chain link fencing allowed? Confused, I was. I learned that this is a term used to describe the process of waiting for people to bugger out of the house you want to move in to, while they wait for the people to bugger out of the house they want to move in to, and so on, and being caught in a "chain". Having known a few people who got trapped in one of these chains, I learned that this is a bad thing indeed. Think about it - you've got to move out of your house because you've sold it to someone else, but you can't move into your new house because the present owners are either still waiting to buy another house or they're waiting for their new house to become vacant, ad infinitum. So, Paul's selling his house now, without having to worry about being caught in a chain because he can move in with me. Since I'm renting, we can take our time finding a house and don't need to worry about having to be anywhere by a certain date. Hurrah!

Oh yes, and we now have not one, but two houses to view this weekend. This is a nosey person's idea of heaven, I'm telling you.
not just lemon jelly

Another good song to play when you're crazy busy at work is "Music Gets the Best of Me" by Sophie Ellis Bextor. Yes, she does have a big moon face but any song that gets me chair dancing is okay by me.

I just did a "Jack" a few minutes ago - started grooving in my chair with my headphones on, then (inadvertently) loudly swore at my screen. It's just like old times except I don't work with Jack anymore and now my workmates think I'm insane.

Wednesday, 5 February 2003

oh come now, you're not even trying

Sometimes the glaringly obvious escapes people, and then I get to mock them on my site. Everyone wins, really. Take house sellers, for example - they know that people are coming around to see their houses and at what time, and the idea is to get you, the buyer, interested in purchasing their homes. Easy. So why is it that out of the two houses we've seen, both homeowners presented us with messy, unkept dwellings and expected us to fork over �150,000? I'm telling you, the House Doctor would be appalled. One of my favourite UK Style programmes, the "House Doctor" is a Californian woman called Ann who comes into your house and explains why it's not selling, then tarts it all up for you ("staging" they call it). It all makes perfect sense - people see these houses first time around (and truly, these places are pretty dire), then come back after she's added some paint, removed clutter, hosed the place down with Mr. Clean, and then they love it. House 1 wasn't too terrible, but please, hide the kitty litter before buyers come round. House 2 was rather horrible; a stale smoke-smelling house that hadn't been looked after or loved in a very long time. All it really needed was a good clean, some fresh paint, and maybe some kind of flooring in the upstairs bathroom. I kid you not, it was only partially covered by an ill-fitting piece of brown vinyl. Yum. The fact is, it takes so little to make a house so much more appealing. We are seeing house 3 this weekend hopefully, which happens to be across the road from the one today and looks much more loved. I'm telling you, when Paul sells his house it's going to look faaaantastic - thanks to watching several hundred hours of UK Style. And people say TV teaches us nothing. Hah.

Paul's TiVo (or "Mr. Tivo" as I like to call it) will be coming to live with me this weekend, and I'm all agog. TiVo is absolutely brilliant for people like me who a) have certain programmes they don't want to miss and b) have the short term memory of a goldfish. TiVo will remember all my programmes for me, record them, then cheerfully suggest other programmes that I should watch that are usually completely unrelated. It'll let me rewind live television for those moments when my mind drifts or I need to pee, and I have to go back to see what I've missed. Ah, TiVo. What can't you do?

Tuesday, 4 February 2003

call now, our operators are standing by

I'm going to market my own diet system called "Eat Less, Move More: Stop Eating Like Geri Halliwell Because She Looks Horrible, And For God's Sake, Why Do You Want to Look Like THAT?" Honestly. The new year always brings on a new crop of dieters and diet "experts" who claim to have the magic formula for losing weight. Even the BBC had staff follow the Kylie, Geri, and Carol diets, and came back with reports like "How fabulous; I've lost a stone in 3 weeks!". Yes, no kidding. It's because you're eating bugger all. Your body doesn't care if you're eating 1,200 calories a day worth of protein, carbs, or Twinkies. If you restrict what you eat, you'll consume less calories and lose weight (but you may drop dead from the lack of nutritional value from your daily food).

I'm going to share my diet secret with you all. Normally I'd ask for �29.95 per month (plus a �150 joining fee), but for you, I make a special price. Are you ready? Here it is: burn more calories than you consume and you'll lose weight. Don't eat crap. Get out and exercise. Thank you, I accept all major credit cards and my book is available for purchase in the lobby.

Hey, has anyone marketed the Twinkie diet yet?

Monday, 3 February 2003

flakes, films, and fousehunting

Okay, so it's supposed to say "househunting" but it doesn't start with an f. Work with me, people.

The weather caused absolute chaos on Thursday. The world came to an end because, I kid you not, we got about 5 inches of snow. People were stranded on major motorways, abandoned their cars, and trucks got stuck on hills blocking traffic for miles. I have to say, it was rather pretty the next day; snow covered the trees and icicles hung off of thatched roofs. Plus, I'm not going to complain about getting my very first snow day. Rock on.

Go see "Catch Me If You Can". It's really good fun, and Spielberg doesn't get all schlocky on us. Leo doesn't really pass for a 17 year old, but he does manage to portray his character rather well. Fabulous opening titles, too. Go see. Go.

So we're looking for a house (and still wanting to do a self build, which would be flippin fantastic) and have been to one viewing and driven around quite a few villages. One good thing about househunting is that it gives you a reason to womble around to little places you never would have visited before. We drove through a lovely village called Godmanchester, which is about 15 miles west of me, and we're viewing a house there on Wednesday. I also really like nosing around other people's houses, so this whole househunting thing is a source of entertainment as well. This also explains why I watch way too much of the UK Style channel. Hmm.
that was fun

Sorry 'bout that interruption recently. It seems that a) I exceeded my data transfer limit b) I only found out about it after receiving an email stating this and that my site had been suspended and c) I had to shell out more dough to get this site running again. Whee, indeed.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled waffling.