Thursday, 31 January 2019

Mouse finale.....

We've caught him!!!!!

PP relocated the humane trap this afternoon, under the sink unit, behind the kickboard, and this evening, she heard a faint commotion.  When we checked, there was this little mouse sitting in the trap, looking quite calm and unconcerned.  He even sat up and cleaned his whiskers after having scoffed the peanut butter and sultana bait.

However, then we had a dilemma.  It's absolutely bloody freezing outside and the heavy snow, forecast for tonight, had just started to fall.

What to do?  Having caught him humanely it didn't seem fair to turn him out into a blizzard.

We finally decided to release him right up at the top of the garden, beside the compost heap and underneath the tree canopy, so that he would have shelter, and could burrow into the compost for warmth.  

As back up,  we also filled a bowl with shredded paper and tossed in a handful of raisins so he would have bed and breakfast too.

So off we set, through swirling snow to the furthermost point in our garden.  We made a little nest with the shredded paper and put the sultanas inside.  Then I raised the trapdoor, placed the trap on the paper nest and waited for him to dash out.

We waited.
And waited.
Growing colder by the minute.
The mouse curled up in the end of the trap, seemingly quite cosy.

However we couldn't leave him in there, as he'd simply have set off the trap again.

So I very carefully disengaged the end and set it down on the ground, expecting him to make a bid for freedom

Instead he simply curled up into a ball and settled down in the end.  After a while, with no indication that he had any intention of moving, we'd just decided to let him remain in the open end of the container, as he could leave it whenever he wanted, when he finally decided to uncurl,  scurried out into the paper nest and disappeared.

I hope he's OK... it's going to be freezing cold tonight and he's got accustomed to being in the warm and dry.

Farewell little mouse.... until we meet again! 

Mousie, mousie....

When I was little, my brother and I used to play Mousie Mousie.  It was a simple game in which players put their mouse on a mat and held it by the tail.  The 'catcher' then rolled a dice and according to the outcome had to attempt to catch as many mice as possible by slamming a  plastic cup down, while players tried to quickly remove their mice from the arena.

It was more fun that it sounds.... honest.

Well... now PP and I are playing it again... but this time with a real, live mouse whose escapology skills have led me to name him Houdini.

The past two nights we've set the humane trap, baited with all manner of delishus treats.
The past two mornings we've trepidatiously approached the trap, only to find it empty.

This morning, a sultana which PP placed just inside the trap, hoping to tempt him further inside, was gone, and the trap was untripped.

We have a brief glimpse of him in this two second video.....

He's been using the trap as a launching pad, leaping onto it and propelling himself into the kitchen, which is now his nocturnal domain.

Also, since her initial flurry of interest, Small Dog has been no use at all....

Scene: This morning, in the kitchen, solemnly regarding the empty, untripped trap.  Small Dog wanders in and gives the trap a desultory sniff.

Me: *stridently* Well?
SD* calmly* Whott.....
Me: *accusingly* You're not very good at keeping rodents out of the house are you?  I thought you were a ratting terrier?
SD: * sniffily* Off korse!  Ai am a Prowd and Knowbel Yorkshier Terrior, and the blud of jenerashuns of feerse ratten terriors floes thrue mai vayns.
Me: *dismissively* Is that right?  So what exactly do you intend to do about this rodent invasion then?
SD: *sanguinely* Nuthen.  Yue hav owtsoarsed thatt tasck to yore hewmain trapp. Ai am haven nuthen to do with itt.
Me: That's not very public-spirited of you SD.  I thought you'd be up for the challenge!
SD: *firmly* Enywai... itts mai frend nouw.  Ai will naim him Jorj, and ai will hugg him and pett him and sqweez him....
Me: *disdainfully* Oh yes.  Very funny. Anyway THAT particular mouse tale didn't end well, did it?
SD: *sagely* Thai rairlie do mumm......

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

January dolls......

Earlier this month, I posted about my intention to attempt to make one doll each week, based on inspirational antique dolls found on Pinterest.

Despite rodent diversions and assorted other shenanigans, unbelievably I've managed it!


Honestly, nobody is more surprised than me at actually hitting a deadline for a change.

So here they are.....

With so much detail in the original costume, on a much bigger doll, this was a challenge. I deviated slightly, adding little ruby buckles on the shoes but overall I'm happy that I captured the style and colour of the original.

Turquoise and ivory

I'm particularly pleased with this tiny beauty, dressed in a lovely, vibrant royal blue, which really reflects the style of the original.

And last but not least, this is my favourite of the four.....

I designed a delicately flower sprigged pattern which was printed onto fine silk twill for her bustled jacket, over a pretty silk and lace dress.  Her little boater is decorated with silk trims and finished at the back with a flowing silk bow.

I'm so pleased with her that I've decided to use her as part of a very special project, which will be available as a home workshop pack, hopefully this spring.

Flushed with success, I've even decided on my four February dolls, the first of which I'll start next week.   😃

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Mouse update.....

Earlier today we made a special trip to a local hardware store to buy a humane mouse trap.  It's a proper old school shop with every spare inch of wall, ceiling and floor space crammed with all manner of house and garden essentials.

I stepped inside and paused in the gloom, trying to decide where to start looking, when the shopkeeper emerged from behind a stack of birch brooms and enquired if I needed any help.

Me: Do you have any humane mouse traps?
Him: *in an unspecified but charmingly intriguing Eastern European accent, possibly Transylvanian* Yes. Ve do.  Come.

He led me deep into the recesses of the shop to a shelf packed with a bewildering array of items intended to trap, maim and/or kill rodents of various sizes. He stood musing for a moment, then selected one and handed it to me.

Him: Ve have this.  Is good. Come.

I meekly followed him back to the shop counter, also piled high with merchandise and only distinguishable as a counter due to the presence of a till.

Me: *gazing at the contraption*  Errrm... how does it work?  I haven't seen one like this before.
Him: I show.  Is easy.  Look.  This part... squeeze. Comes off.  This part... move so.  Mouse come.  Go in. Paw on THIS....and.... *a small trapdoor gently closes, trapping the rodent*
Me:*impressed*  Ahh... I see.
Him: What you use?  Put poison?
Me:*horrified*  No! What's the point of buying a humane trap and baiting it with poison?
Him:*shrugging* Ok. No mind. Put chocolate.  Or peanut butter.  Mouse like peanut butter.
Me:*warily* It's transparent.  We'll be able to see it.  The mouse.  If we catch it.
Him:*rolls eyes* Of course?  Is easy. Black one... must shake.  To check if mouse inside. 
*he shakes the trap violently*  See?  Mouse not like.
*he then executes a mime, demonstrating how a mouse would have to spread itself out inside the tube, all four paws braced against a side to prevent it being thrown around.
Me:*speechless* Ah.  Right.  Yes. I  do see.
Him: £5.99 please.
Me:*counting out change and trying to inject a note of levity* So *laughing lightly* if it doesn't work can I bring it back?
Him:*firmly* No.  Will work.  Bye.
Me:*quietly* Thanks... bye.

So, tonight the trap is baited and set in the gap where mousekin disappeared yesterday.  We will give Small Dog the run of the house as usual tonight, and hope that if by some miracle she catches it (which admittedly is extremely unlikely) she doesn't then bring it upstairs and drop it on the bed.

PP has also set up her little infra-red motion sensor camera on the floor in the kitchen, so we might at least capture it on camera if it makes any nocturnal expeditions.

To be continued.....

Mouse wars......

If there is one thing this house rarely has, it's a dull moment and yesterday evening was no exception.

I was tidying up the kitchen pending Small Dog finishing her ablutions in the garden.  When she wants to come back inside, she lightly taps at the door.  Softly at first, then if there's no response she gets increasingly frantic, eventually using both front paws to try to dig her way in.

So when her first tap was more akin to the frenzied variety, I thought nothing of it and reached across to let her in.  As usual, she ran inside, but then she suddenly turned and raced back towards the door.  She had my full attention then, and I watched as she turned full-on terrior, front paws down on the floor, bum in the air, tail wagging furiously, pushing her nose into the gap behind the kitchen bin.

I called her off but she ran round the other side, determined to get at something.  Reluctant to pull the bin away from the wall (at this point I was fairly sure she was hunting a large spider) I called PP, who swiftly shooed SD out of the kitchen so that we could investigate further.

I peered into the gap but I couldn't see anything, so we slowly and carefully moved the bin a few inches, to reveal a little field mouse, sitting up on its haunches, clearly terrified.

I relayed this information to PP, and suggested that we try to trap it then put it back outside.
This is where things started to go awry.  The only thing I could think of that was close to hand, was a Tupperware container, but that entailed trying to find something suitable in the Tupperware Cupboard of Doom.  

Some minutes (and quite a bit of swearing later) I unearthed a lunchbox and steeled myself to quickly and smoothly pull out the bin while simultaneously placing the box over the mouse.  However, just as I was about to execute this damn fine plan, the mouse made a bid for freedom, suddenly leaping out from the behind the bin and racing across the floor, zig-zagging as it went.

Pandemonium ensued.

You know in Tom & Jerry cartoons, when the chase is on and the maid is up on a stool, yelling her head off, pulling up her petticoats....?

Well.... THAT thing.

I leapt back and screamed in surprise, PP was behind a chair, squealing like a banshee in the background, imploring me to toss a tea towel over it and Small Dog was throwing herself bodily at the kitchen door in an attempt to join the fray.

Meanwhile the mouse was doing a grand job of clearing all the obstacles in its path, like a little agility rodent, leaping and dodging, finally disappearing into the gap between the washing machine and corner kitchen unit.

Wild-eyed and panting, we both stood staring at the gap.  PP was all for pulling out the washing machine and subsequently dismantling the entire kitchen but I'd had more than enough excitement for one night so we barricaded the escapee in the kitchen and shut the door to keep Small Dog out.   

This morning, predictably, there was no sign of it, but SD spent a good while sniffing every inch of the floor, repeatedly returning to the bin.  We gingerly pulled it out, but of the mouse there was no sign.

We're going to get a humane mousetrap later today and see if we can catch it tonight.

What could possibly go wrong..... ?

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Pie chart bliss.....

Regular readers will know that despite my aversion to all things numerical and mathematical, I have a soft spot for graphs and charts.

I especially like pie charts and this is my current favourite....

As I sit, admiring it and musing on things I might add to the 'Do things without my dog' segment, Small Dog strolls into the office and settles down on her bed.  This involves a lengthy period of scratching and rumpling up the fleecy blanket, turning round and round, lying down, getting up again, more scratching, more turning round, until finally she has the bed arranged to her satisfaction and collapses with a loud sigh.

Me: SD... that bed was lovely and neat and now you've made it into a dog's breakfast. 
SD: *disdainfully* Ai LIEK it thiss wai!  Itt was too flatt befour.  Eniwai.... whott ar yue doen?
Me:*casually* Oh, you know.  Just mooching around the internet.
SD:*concernedly* Yuev knott bean on Pintresst agen hav yue.  Yue kno fool well yule nevvr gett to the botum of thoas paijes.  Alsew yue sed yore pinnen fingur was reelie soar aftur that seshun the uthur dai.....
Me: *dismissively* No SD.  I have NOT been on Pinterest.  I'm trying to wean myself off it this month.
SD:*sniggering* Ahh.  Rite.  A bitt liek Drie Janewary then?
Me: *coldly* Don't be facetious SD.  Anyway, I've just been admiring this pie chart.
SD: *perkily* Pye?  PYE??  Whott sortt of pye?  Stake? Chikkin?
Me: *patiently*  Not THAT sort of pie SD.  It's a a type of graph in which a circle is divided into sectors that each represent a proportion of the whole.
SD: *unhappily* Hmm... wel obviyuslie ai was jusst joaken.  Ai new whot yue ment.  So eniwai... this pye chartt..... *stares intently at the image*
Me: *happily* So... SD.  This pie chart is a fairly accurate representation of my life.
SD:*wonderingly* O mumm.  So... basicklie, yue thinck abowt ME moast of the tym!
Me: *lovingly*  Yes SD.  Yes....I most certainly do.

Scene: Cuddles all round...

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Slightly Damp January......

Recorded this day.... January 57th 2019

Dear reader,

I know not what overcame me in the dawning days of this new year, when I espoused the notion of attempting the infernal, self-flagellatory regime known as Dry January.

Perchance it was the unfettered merriment in which I had indulged (I must confess), to excess, over the festive period.  The seeming unending flow of days, filled with a surfeit of comestibles and libations.  Not to mention unconscionable quantities of cheese.

It seemed fitting to curb such wild indulgence with a self-imposed period of purdah.  And so it was, with a determined sense of purpose, that I embarked upon a month of abstinence, with the worthy ambition to cleanse mind, body and soul.

I was unprepared however, for the descent into hell, presaged by the dawning realisation that no matter how long the drear month purported to last, it would feel immeasurably longer without the calming effects of palliative beverage.

I will spare you the torments I experienced as day stretched endlessly after day... dull and monochrome in aspect.  The cold, dead greyness of the world outwith my window, infected my very soul, eliciting a strange malaise, suffused with foreboding and despair.

My mood was not bolstered by reports, daily, of political tumult and incipient collapse of civilisation, raising spectres and portents of such cataclysmic catastrophe as would cause the most sanguine of individuals to despair.

The nights, I declare, were the worst.  Oppressive darkness, desolation and despondency... were all my boon companions, enfolding me in their their dread embrace.

Would this interminable month never end?  Could my scattered wits and the delirious derangement of my mind ever be restored to normalcy?

Somewhere around the forty eighth day of this benighted month, my resolve faltered.  To have come so far, only to fall at the final hurdle was to be my ordained destiny.  With a mere 37 more days to endure, I yielded to the temptation of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  

What ambrosia!  
What nectar of the gods!  

The dewy beads of condensation forming on the glass, scattering the brilliant illumination of the golden liquid within.
The delicate aromas of fresh citrus, evincing fond memories of warm, sunlit days and balmy evenings.
The crisp, zesty bursts of flavour, tantalising and awakening my lacklustre taste buds, evoking a rush of sensations of such vivacity that my breath was taken quite away, and I confess that a single tear dimmed my eye. 

Any disappointment in my abject failure was but fleeting.  After is not the winning, but the taking part.

But I pledge to rejoin the path of abstinence henceforth, from weekdays, Monday till Thursday... with the beckoning promise of reward at the working week's end.

Henceforth I shall call it Slightly Damp January...

Monday, 21 January 2019

Bloo Mundai........

I've posted several times over the years about Blue Monday, which falls today.   It's supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, based on a number of variables as explained in the above link.

So when, in a spare 10 minutes earlier, I started a quick online survey, I wasn't particularly surprised when the questions took an unexpected turn.....

Now....if I'm honest, I hadn't ever thought about this, but as I was musing, Small Dog wandered into the office and sat looking at me, her head on one side.

Me: SD....can I ask you a question?
SD: *obligingly*  Yess.... off korse mumm.
Me: *encouraged* At this time of year, do you ever feel down in the dumps?
SD: *scathingly* Bye thatt ai taik it yue meen do ai sukkum to the inevitabull deepressin eefeckts of the darck, colld dais of winturr.
Me: *taken aback*  Well.... yes.
SD: *settling down in the snuggly comfort of her office basket* Yess ai do.  Isent itt obveeyus?  Whie?
Me: Oh, I'm doing this survey.... it's about dogs getting depressed in the winter months.
SD: *attentively*  Arsk awai!

Small Dog peruses the list carefully for some time......

SD: *wonderingly*  Apathie?  Whatt is thatt?  O  doant wurrie.... ai kant be bothurred to fined owt.
Me: *impatiently* Come on SD... stop messing around.  Just tell me which of those things apply to you.
SD: *concentrating* OhKai... rite. Wel.  Eets a lott moar... deffinitlie.   Dusent wont to go fore a wok... knott when its reelie kold and wett.  Or windie.  Or snoe.  Pyns fore eckstra attenshun,.... deffinitlie. Thats oll ai thinck.  Neckst!

SD: *incredulously*  Eemerjinsie vett!  Fore ackten owt of karicktur?  W.T. Acktewl Fu....
Me: *interrupting* Right.... OK.  Enough of that.

SD: *scathingly* Owt of sortts?!?  Whot dus thatt evin meen?  
Wel eniwai... *ticking the items off on her paws*  Vett.... OBVIYUSLIE knott. Wokks... yes iff  wethur is fyn.  Feed me moar... deffinitlie.  Affeckshun.... tik.  Treets... tick. Sleepen in the bedrume.... do thatt olreddie.  Uthur aminals... NO.   Fressh ayre... probablie.

Me: Hmmmn.... thanks for that SD.  Very helpful.  Very helpful indeed.
SD:*settling back onto her bed* O kno problim att ol mumm.  Pleezd to be off help.  Enitym.  Now iff ai kan jusst get bak to katshen up on mai napp..... its neerlie dinnur tym.....and doant foregett to lite the fyr.  And poot mai kooshen on the harthrugg fore me.....
Me: *sigh*

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Pinterest goals.....

Despite the fact I'll be very busy over the coming days,  packaging and despatching orders from my book sale, I can always make time for Pinterest.

This evening I've been perusing my Pinterest boards with a view to selecting some dolls to recreate in micro miniature.

I've set myself the possibly unrealistic target of making one doll each week and I'm already playing catch up as here we are in the third week of January and I haven't completed any yet.   But making these 'pinspirational' dolls is my happy place, so I'm confident that by the end of the month I'll have finished four. *fingers crossed*

These are the ones I've chosen as my inspiration......

Lovely aren't they?

I'll try to post updates as I go along, but today I've been stringing some dolls in preparation for the first stage..... creating special 'paperweight' eyes using a rather Heath Robinson technique I've devised and have been trialling.  

It might work, it might not.... we'll see.

So this was the scene on my work desk at close of play today.....

New batch of little dolls being strung.....

Sandra's Book Sale....!!!

I know it's gone a bit quiet on the blogging front but I've been head down, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, plugging away at organising my book collection in preparation for offering a number of books for sale.

When I say 'a number'.... that number is 100.

Yes, one hundred books have been laboriously photographed and documented to offer for sale.

I have several bookshelves in my workroom, all of which are crammed with books and magazines, and the time has come to downsize my library, in the same way as I'm downsizing my minis.

So for the past week the workroom has been littered with assorted piles of books, awaiting their turn to be photographed before returning to their places on the shelves.

To be honest, I didn't think it would take a whole week, but it was a difficult process.  Some books were in and out of the various piles as I vacillated over whether or not to keep them, but I'm finally satisfied with my selection.  Many of the books are no longer in print, or are unusual and difficult to find and cover a variety of topics including doll's houses and miniatures, doll's house dolls, toys and games, social history, toy theatres, crafts and more.

Then came the conundrum of how to sell them.  I could have listed them on the THD website, but the flat rate postage charges in the shopping cart are set up for small, light packages and simply wouldn't have covered the cost of posting books, especially on multiple orders.

So, instead I have prepared a PDF file detailing all the books.  It can be downloaded from the Jumpshare file sharing site by clicking on this link

Alternatively, if you prefer, you can request a copy of the PDF by email.... simply contact me and I'll send it to you.

The books are offered on a 'first come, first served' basis but on orders over £40 I am happy to offer layaway terms.... again, contact me for details.

The prices shown are for the book only…. Shipping is extra, based on the size and weight of the book, its destination and the shipping method .  I am prepared to post worldwide, although please be aware that as many of the books are hardback, and therefore quite heavy, shipping charges may be rather high.  

If you wish to enquire about the availability of a particular book(s), please let me know where you are, so that I can accurately calculate the cost of shipping.

I will update the list regularly, hopefully on a weekly basis as there may be more additions in the coming weeks.

Happy browsing...! 🙂

Monday, 7 January 2019

Back to work......

Mondays in general are a bit of a bugger.

The first Monday after the Christmas/New Year break is particularly bad.  Not only is it cold and dismal outside, the workroom is completely topsy-turvy as it has been used for overflow storage over the festive period.

So my first job this morning was to try to reclaim as much space as possible by relocating all the displaced 'stuff'.  Despite being severely under the weather last week, I did sort of 'work', packaging orders from our New Year Flash Sale, and moving stuff around so that I could make a start on my little shop.  But I really need to sort it out as it's not messy in a productive, creative way, but in a 'can't be bothered to tidy up' way, which is A Bad Thing.

My workroom this morning.....
Of course one of the hazards of clearing up is finding stuff I didn't know I had, so I kept getting sidetracked.  I've also added an entire boxful of minis to add to my downsizing sale over the next few weeks.  Plus I discovered no end of stuff I've been looking for for ages, as well as clearing out some junk.

So all in all a good start to the working week.  Fingers crossed it can continue in a similar vein.  In the meantime I'm cleaving to the following quote, which makes me feel a tad better...

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Twelfth Night.....

Twelfth Night traditionally marks the end of the Christmas festivities, so today I've been de-Christmasfying the house.

Gone is the lovely tree with its twinkling lights.
Gone is the mantlepiece garland with its sparkly lights
Gone is the table centre piece with its flickering lights
Gone is the little bird tree with its shimmering lights.

Small Dog is unimpressed.....

Except.... as there is a bird theme in the newly madeover dining room, I'm inclined to carry it on, without the very obvious small Christmas tree.  So I'm on the hunt for a similar size illuminated twig, onto which I can clip all the little birds, and which will light up a corner of the room.  

I'm also looking for replacement lights for the denuded mantlepiece.  The old LED set which is many years old, are starting to fail, and many of them are either constantly flickering, which I don't like, or not working at all.

If there's ever a time of year which cries out for lots of light, it's January/February.  After all the festive sparkle, the lack of it is particularly noticeable. further deepening the depressing feeling of already failed New Year resolutions, post Christmas bills and the continuation of the deep, dark, damp, dank days of winter.  

As a result, each year another set of lights escape being boxed up and put back in the loft, and are instead festooned in a gloomy corner somewhere in the house.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Woman at work....sort of

I wrote on Friday about my new project, the little half scale shop/house kit, and my plans for it.

I'm a great one for starting things full of enthusiasm and derring do, only to grind to a halt at a later date, then guiltily berate myself over my lack of perseverance.  So I'm determined that's not going to happen this time.

To this end I WILL post a weekly update.  There, I've said it now, so you have to make me accountable.  Then I can blame you if it languishes from lack of accountability.

Anyway, I've done a quick dry run with a glueless build, just to see how everything fits together, and try to decide on the external and interior finishes.

I've also made extra windows, using the ones supplied with the kit as a template.  They are cut from mount board, which is very tough to cut by hand, and I don't have any anyway.  So instead I used three layers of thinner card, which I could easily use in my cutting machine.

Three windows cut from thin card....
It was then possible to glue them together to form one window profile, roughly the same thickness as the originals.

I've made five additional windows, which I'll use on the front and sides of the building, at ground and first floor levels.  

I want to emulate the look of a Gottschalk 'Blue Roof' house, similar to the one in my reference photo....

... but I thought I might add blue roof tiles, rather than simply painting the flat MDF roof panels.  I have some 1/12th card tiles left over from La Mignonette, so I've been cutting them down to 1/24th.

Cutting half scale tiles from 1/12th tiles
This is one of those tedious tasks which make you feel as though you're making progress, even though it's not the slightest bit enjoyable.  I now have a bagful of half scale tiles, but I can't fit them yet as I have to make up the dormer windows, and I'll be decorating them before fitting them.

I've also been experimenting with Bath stone ashlar blocks, which will decorate the ground floor.  I've printed out a page of them, on buff coloured card, but I think I'll need a more honeyed colour.  However they will be useful for making templates for the front and sides of the ground floor.  The blocks may have to be bigger but until I see them in situ it's difficult to tell.

Also for the exterior, I've ordered some 'old bricks' paper in half scale which will cover the first floor front and sides. 

I have a boxful of half scale lights and furniture kits, which I've been assessing, to decide what to use and where to put them.  I'm toying with the idea of splitting the first and top floors into separate rooms, but again, until the building is put together it's hard to see how the interior will look.  In any case I will use false doors rather than take up valuable floor space with stairways.

So all in all, not a bad start to the project. *feeling suitably chuffed!*

Men at Work..... sort of

On Wednesday morning, a knock at the door revealed a Clancy Docwra bloke in a high-vis vest and designer stubble, informing us that we likely had a leak from our water meter, buried in the footpath in front of our house.  He said he'd have to dig out around it to identify the source of the problem but it wouldn't take long and we didn't have to do anything.

I countered that Southern Water had replaced the meter around 18 months ago, but he merely shrugged and said he had to check it out.

He had another high-vis mate with him, and in short order they'd cordoned off the footpath and started to dig it up.

Due to elfin safety issues, they had to put up various signs and heavy duty barriers, all of which they then had to move so that we could get the car out to go grocery shopping.  They were still there when we got back, but the workforce had doubled from 2 to 4, and in addition to the first big work van, there was a second big work van and all four high-vis men were standing around a sizable hole, hands in pockets, staring dolefully into it.  

As we were unloading shopping bags from the car I overheard one of them, who by then was lying prone on the pavement with his head and shoulders in the hole, saying that the job was, and I quote "a bloody nightmare",

So  we let them get on with it, glancing outside occasionally to check on progress, or the lack of it.

After four hours, they suddenly disappeared, leaving all the elfin safety stuff in place around the hole, which had been filled in, presumably awaiting the tarmac team.

We thought nothing of it, until we tried to run some water in the kitchen.  A gurgling spurt of muddy water, then nothing.  A quick check on the other mains water taps revealed the same problem.  

We had no water.
No toilets could be flushed.
No kettles filled and boiled.
No washing up attempted.

So PP called the emergency number on the elfin safety barrier and relayed the problem to a chap who said he'd contact the original squad to get them back.

Time passed, during which, after a long journey south, my daughter arrived for a festive visit and due to lack of water couldn't freshen up.

She helpfully popped to Tesco to buy 15 litres of water so that we could still make tea, wash up etc. By now we were a bit pissed off that the workmen hadn't let us know before they packed up and left, just to check that the water supply was OK.

Eventually, another Southen Water operative showed up (not one of the original crew) who tried the kitchen tap and verified that indeed, we didn't have any water.  *eye rolling sigh* 

He went out to the hole in the pavement and set about the meter with a long metal pole, presumably trying to beat it into submission.  After about an hour, he admitted defeat, and advised us that the mains water supply along the pipe was absolutely 100% fine, but the spur off the meter to our house was, not to put too fine a point on it, buggered.

He said we needed a plumber and that he would arrange for one to come out to us.

By then we were getting worried.  
What if the pipe from the footpath to our house had to be replaced?
Would they have to dig up our drive? 
Who would have to pay?
But mainly.... WHEN would our water supply be restored???

At about 8pm, a plumber arrived, all the way from Rochester, over 40 miles away.  He too confirmed that we had no water.  By that time, if I'd had it mansplained to me what I already clearly knew Just. One. More. Time I could feel the red mist descending.

He was a personable chap, and said he thought he knew what the problem was, and that he have to replace our mains stopcock under the sink, plus another bit of pipework, the need for which was obscure.  It might have been the reciprocating flange valve but don't quote me on that.

So we cordoned off the kitchen with our (by now very late) dinner half-cooked, and retired to the relative safety of the sitting room, while he trudged in and out to his van, and hammered stuff under the sink.

Eventually, an hour or so later, he announced he was finished, and showed us the source of the problem.  A large chunk of grit had been inadvertently flushed through the mains supply to our house, and become stuck, resulting in no water.

We all stood round and looked at the offending piece of masonry for a while, then he apologised for all the water up the wall and below the under sink cupboard.  He'd tried to mop it up but short of dismantling the entire unit there was no way to get get to it.  He suggested leaving the cupboard empty with both doors open for a few days to allow the space to dry out.  He proudly displayed the new stopcock and reciprocating flange valve thingy, thanked us for the tea and chocolate bar, and disappeared into the night.

During the entire fiasco, a chap from Southern Water rang us every hour to check on progress, which was mildly mollifying.  He repeatedly assured us that it would be fixed and only sounded a little bit more disappointed each time we relayed the lack of progress. Nevertheless he was with us every step of the way, which I felt was only fair, seeing as how it was Southern Water sub-contractors who had caused the problem in the first place.

We now have water again.  Granted, the force of it from the cold tap in the kitchen is fierce enough to blow your hand off, something I'd mentioned to the plumber before he left, but he was adamant that the stopcock should remain wide open and we'd just have to remember to turn the tap only a little bit to avoid potential loss of digits.

Next time this happens (and there will undoubtedly be a next time) we will hold one of the high-vis opeatives hostage, fiercely guarded by Small Dog, until they can demonstrate that their works haven't caused any problems in the house.

We are also mulling over whether to complain to Southern Water, because IF, as was suspected, we've had a leak originating from our water meter, then we've been paying for water which we haven't used.  If it had been leaking since it was replaced over 18 months ago, then a significant amount of water could have been lost, which we will have been billed for. Which most certainly isn't cricket.

PS - Incidentally,  I acknowledge that it's probably Way Too Much Information, but our plumber's underwear of choice was by Tommy Hilfiger. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!!!!!

Happy New Year to all my faithful blog readers!

So here we are in 2019.  I didn't have a particularly auspicious start to the New Year, seeing it in ill, in bed, with the traditional tot of single malt, accompanied by the rather less traditional cough medicine chaser and a smidgen of Vick's Vapour Rub.

Of course the plus side of not being up to partying the night away, is that this morning I am hangover free, although the vicious, hacking cough somehow doesn't quite make up for that.

No matter..... perhaps it sets the tone for what is surely going to be a spectacularly bumpy year.  Foremost in the car crash that 2019 is set to become, is the Brexit Fiasco which is looming uncomfortably close on the near horizon.  It's looking increasingly likely that we're heading for a No Deal Brexit, the very worst of all the very bad scenarios.   The UK is currently split over the issue, with both sides glaring at each other over the bottomless chasm we're hurtling towards.

It's very possibly too late to start stocking up on Fray Bentos tinned pies, or even Spam (for the obligatory wartime austerity fritters).  In any case, when the lights go out there won't be electricity to heat the damned things up.  *sigh*

As a small business person, I still have zero idea what the whole shamozzle will mean, except that I will almost certainly have to pay more for the supplies I buy in from abroad.  There has been no guidance on what will happen with international postal delivery services to and from European countries.  At present I have a simple, seamless process, with none of the necessity for customs declarations, import duty payments etc.  That will undoubtedly change.  Then there's the possibility of the £ going into freefall, followed by a stock market crash, companies bailing out or going bust, interest rates rocketing, jobs lost.......

It's hard to believe how we got into this mess, and even harder to understand why, even at this late stage, the entire omnishambles can't be fixed.  I'm a firm supporter of a People's Vote but I don't think that will happen.  We seem to be adopting a lemming mindset.

Hmmm.....Not a very uplifting first post of the year, for which I apologise.  

In related news, Small Dog, who has her paw on the pulse of the zeitgeist has spotted a gap in the market for a dog of an entrepreneurial bent.....

Scene:  Sandra is in the office, catching up on emails.  Small Dog wanders in and sits staring intently, waiting for a pause in the tip-tappy typing.

Me: *aware of the patient stare*  Yes?  What is it?
SD: *clearing her throat* Ai hav a kunning plann.
Me: *warily* Right.  Good. What is it?
SD: *warming to her theme* Wel... yue kno this Brecksitt thing?
Me: *dolefully* Yes
SD: *perkily* We wil be orlrite.... ai hav a plann.
Me: *suspiciously*  Hmm.... look if it's about your idea for Dog Eared Dolls I don't thi...
SD: *interrupting* No...knott that....orlthew thai WER a dam gude ideer in mai opinyun.
Me: *placatingly* OK, ok,... let's not get into all that again.  Tell me your plan.
SD: *haughtily* Rite.  Jusst lissen.  Kno interupten.  
Me: !
SD: *grandly*  As a Prowd and Knowbul Yorkshier Terrior ai hav the blud of jenerashuns of ratten terriors floen threw mai vains.  When the fude runs owt and we ar liven in rags ai wil saiv us.
Me: *dumbstruck*
SD: *condescendingly* Ah.  Kno kneed to thanck me.  Ai kan see yure speetshless.
Me: *warily* Erm.... SD.  Do you mean what I think you do?
SD: *gives a confirmatory wink*
Me: *flatly*  Rats.  You're going to catch rats.  For us to eat.
SD: *confidently*  Off korse! Jusst thinck..... fresh rattattoowee, rat on kroot, rat flombay.  And we kan sell the wuns we doant kneed.  Cash in paw.
Me: *weakly* That.. um... that's very kind of you SD.  But are you sure you're up to it?  Let's face it, those post-Brexit rats are going to be the size of cats, what with all the uncollected rubbish piling up.
SD: *assuredly*  Kno problemo.  Yue jusst leev it to me.  Kumeth the our, kumeth the Yorkshier Terrior.

.... To be continued, no doubt.