Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ich bin ein homeowner
Finally. Finally. We have completion. I can hardly type...of course this may have more to do with the two glasses of red wine I had at lunch time than the excitement and relief of finally, finally resolving the whole we need to live somewhere where my sanity will be maintained issue, but still. Phew. Really. TA and I... WE OWN A (our) HOME.
My gob is smacked, my ghast flabbered.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thunderbirds are go! We have exchange. We have the instruction from the vendor to his solicitor to complete today. We have one tiny midge in the cold cream - something about the land registry - but apparently this is not enough to stop us completing today. Woo to the power of hoo! Never, in all my life, have I been so excited by the prospect of enormous quantities of debt. Never, in all my life, have I been so excited about moving to a small one-bedroom flat in need of some refurbishment. I feel like bursting into song a la Karen Carpenter; feel free to join in: Such a feelin's comin' over me / There is wonder in most everything I see / Not a cloud in the sky / Got the sun in my eyes / And I won't be surprised if it's a dream / Everything I want the world to be / Is now coming true especially for me / And the reason is clear / It's because you are here / You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen / I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation / And the only explanation I can find...
Unlike Ms Carpenter though, I expressed my excitment by impulsively snacking on a banana.
sometimes only bullets will do
I feel like I'm being bombarded at the moment...
  • Our living room is full of boxes, somebody else's boxes, two somebodies to be exact. Our replacements are moving in to the Palais on Thursday come hell, high water or Sett purchase delays.
  • My father calls - he is too old to hire a transit van, how are we going to move our inherited furnishings from deepest darkest stockbroker land to the Sett? TA turns pale at the thought of driving, I turn pale at the thought of TA driving.
  • Estate agent swears blind that we will complete tomorrow.
  • Solicitor e-mails to inform me that the vendor's solicitor says we won't complete until 6 Dec.
  • Estate agent says vendor swears blind we will complete tomorrow, not only that but the vendor's solicitor has told him we will complete on schedule tomorrow.
  • Solicitor says the vendor's solicitor now says 9 Dec is the earliest we can complete and thinks that somebody is lying to the estate agent.
  • Estate agent says I've got two sets of keys, the place has been professionally cleaned, I'm taking TA to inspect, we will complete tomorrow.
  • Solicitor sends the legalese e-mail equivalent of a sarcastic "yeah, right mate - dream on".
  • TA calls, he's on his way to inspect the Sett.
  • To be continued...(hopefully)

Friday, November 25, 2005

making my heart sing
I’m at that point in my day where caffeine saturation has hit optimal levels and my brain is fizzing like a sherbet-dip-coated sparkler. I was browsing the science section of The Guardian – work is slow today – when I read this. What a beautifully elegant idea.
I had an informal chat with the hiring manager about the writing job and, although I’m not a suitable candidate for the current position, which is fairly senior, we’re looking at ways for me to transition to the writing team. I recently signed up for the company pension and feel as though I’ve committed to staying here for a few years – it will pay the mortgage, the maternity leave benefits are good, I appreciate the flexible working options, I like my team mates. And looking for a new job is such a pain in the butt. I have mixed feelings about this, particularly since from a career standpoint I’m not really going anywhere, but stability is not to be sneezed at.
TA is looking for a job. He goes in cycles and at the moment he seems to be in a good place creatively. I think that these cycles are getting shorter though – when he first took redundancy he entered a long period of working very hard followed by a seemingly endless period of bleakness – I constantly check for signs of an impending crash, but (touch wood) the bleak spells seem to be shorter and shallower these days.
Finally, of course, the imminent move to the Sett has raised my base happiness bar. Phew, it’s been how many months in the making?
moving on up
We’re moving! Next week, Tuesday to be exact, we will finally get the keys to the Sett. Can you Adam and Eve it? I must admit that I cannot quite get my head around it. Yesterday we paid the solicitors’ fees (eek!); we will exchange contracts on Monday and visit the Sett to ensure that the tenants have vacated before completing the following day. TA wishes to avoid hiring a van, instead he proposes to use his rucksack to transport all our worldly goods. A rucksack. Can I remind you that we have, amongst other things, a multigym, bedroom furniture, a freezer, an enormous PC… I can’t see a rucksack, no matter how big, being up to the job. Nevertheless, TA keeps trying to persuade me that this is the way to do it, despite the fact that he’s going to be on his own for the majority of the move (I’ll be at work).
In other moving news, there’s a job on the writing team at work that I am toying with applying for. More money, more interesting role, more status. Not sure if it is a happy team, not sure if I’d be any good at it. Is this a direction I want my career to move in?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

creating a passion pearl from the grit of everyday life
There are people I admire – people who seem to have followed their own path, knowing that this is their birthright, and in so doing created their own world or changed the world of others – Tori Amos, Jeanette Winterson, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, Peter Jackson and, to a lesser extent, Simon and Wendy. Eight years ago, Simon and Wendy bought a near-derelict castle in the Lake District wilds. They said goodbye to their London lives and drove to the hills. It was a gamble of course, but one that paid off handsomely. Augill is beautiful and, as we discovered, they have been able to ease back a little and relax into the role of village royalty.
TA and I spent a night at Augill Castle four years ago celebrating TA’s birthday and we were excited to be going back for two nights to celebrate three years of marriage. The weekend was good, really good – it was wonderful to relax and spend time together, wonderful to walk down frost-encrusted footpaths, wonderful to feast on pub lunches, three-course dinners and decadent breakfasts. However, as Hallmark wisdom tells us: you cannot step in the same river twice. I was impressed and awestruck by how much Wendy and Simon had achieved and, as a spectator, pleased for them that they had managed to arrange their home life so beautifully, but as a guest at their castle I was disappointed that they had stopped going the extra mile, that the food was merely good rather than superb, that the luxury had been scaled back slightly and that they seemed ever so slightly disengaged. It was an incredibly expensive weekend away – money I do not begrudge spending but that is hard earned – next time we’ll go somewhere new. Seeing close up how others have realised their dreams, I was left ruminating once more on my own aspirations and how to bend the world to meet my desires. How do these people do it, what is the thing that drives them to achieve? I don’t have the answers yet, but I’m hopeful that I’ll solve the puzzle soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

and relax
TA sometimes walks me to work, occasionally we even manage to have coffee together before the demands of the convicted monopolist require that I am chained to my desk in the sadomasochistic fashion that is all the rage in the world of PR. But I digress… This morning as TA and I walked along the Thames, he expanded on an idea he had aired last night.
“Panacea,” he said, “panacea is definitely part of the Lisa lexicon. As is deprecating, that’s another word I’ve started to use thanks to the Lisa lexicon.”
I mulled this over for a few steps before asking: “Is ‘lexicon’ part of the Lisa lexicon then? And why do I get the distinct impression that these are the words that I use that you think are a bit, I don’t know, self-consciously snobby?”
Apparently ‘lexicon’ is not part of, what by now TA had preemptively trademarked as, the Lisa Lexicon – so that I could hear the capitalisation and mockery.
“Saucisson,” he said, chuckling to himself. That’s another one from the Lisa Lexicon™.
At this point I was conflicted, engaged in heated denial while simultaneously remembering that a blogging pal listed sausage as her default word and suddenly I was sad – I’ve missed updating the UB – thinking of all the things I had stockpiled to write about: the insanity of the evil empire running two major international events at the same time and expecting the same level of service as if they had only one event on the go; the Sett! the Sett!; ex-housemate D’s suspicious reappearance in the life of TA’s sister; our third wedding anniversary and our planned celebrations (postponed thanks to the demands of the evil, evil American software company that must not be named).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Work continues to interrupt play. Perhaps next week will see my sanity return...don't hold your breath though!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

fair and fowl
So, Saturday. We were up and out early and off to London Bridge train station. I left TA to get tickets while I picked up a newspaper and a twix, since the boy had not managed to get up in time to have breakfast. TA gave me my ticket and I was a bit disturbed at how much it cost. I asked - did you use our railcards? He had forgotten. Bugger.
We were on the train - a fast one, a miracle - from Waterloo when the ticket inspector came through and, after looking at our tickets, said you're changing at Woking with a questioning tone. Closer inspection showed that TA had bought tickets to Wokingham instead of Woking. No idea where that is, but believe me tickets from Waterloo cost quite a bit, specially without a railcard...
Our day with social Uncle K and his dry, ever-so-slightly-acerbic, wife F passed off as well as it could considering. Considering he is trying to hide reservoirs of bitterness about having to serve the charities' solicitors. Considering he's nursing a pit of grief for the loss of his last remaining sister.
They drove us over to my aunt's house and gave us the tour. In every room K said take this and, holding up various objects, what about this? So it was that we agreed to take tables, chest of drawers, a sideboard, an iron and ironing board, glasses, cookbooks, rugs, speakers...and probably many more things I can't remember. And were forced to regretfully turn down a twin tub, a sewing machine, clothes, bedding, two bicycles, garden tools, pot plants and many more things I can't remember.
On the way back to Woking we stopped off for a pub lunch and at one point I almost let the cat out of the bag about the illicit contents of a certain thank you card, but after a frantic hand squeeze from TA I restrained myself. After lunch they drove us back to the station.
We had scant minutes to catch the fast train back to London. I leaned through the window and handed Uncle K the card, which he passed over to F. TA called back as we crossed the road - just remember K, you did ask. His reply was faint as we were entering the station: I'll smoke it tonight shall I?
On Sunday we went to the Farmer's market as usual but, unusually, we bought a Guinea fowl. The time had come to test drive Hugh F-W's salmi recipe! It was a revelation - imagine a moist, dense, intense, turkey-flavoured chicken smothered in a meaty, creamy and chestnutty sauce and think of it served with creamed sprouts (topped with crispy bacon) and lovely carrots. Oh my! I'm in love with Guinnea fowl - it's the new everything. It's brilliant. Dinner was marred by one thing only - a niggling doubt about the advisability of giving an aged relative a fairly substantial amount of "strong skunk", as our friendly dealer termed it, along with cooking suggestions.
I got an e-mail from F on Monday, which I opened with trepidation. It said how nice it was to see us and thanked us for the card and contents, apparently K said it could well prove to be the high point of his life.
So that's good, isn't it.
I have a lengthy post planned to mark tomorrow, which is an important day in the world of Mr & Mrs Badger, but I don't know yet if I'll get the time to write it. Watch this space, as they say.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm snowed under at work today - and likely will be for the rest of the week - but I'm definitely going to tell you about my visit to see uncle K at the weekend and our Sunday cooking adventure soon. Just as soon as I have time to come up for air. Promise!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

smoking in Woking
As thank yous go, this is an odd one and I hope that it will be received in the spirit in which it is being given. Obviously, the whole inheritance of furniture thing is awkward for all involved. We are very grateful though and want to give my aunt’s brother (my father’s cousin’s widow’s brother) something to show our appreciation.
The other day when we were there for lunch uncle K mentioned that he wanted to try dope. He was – I think – a little disappointed that TA and I didn’t regale him with stoner stories. TA doesn’t have any and the two or three I have are quite dull, but at the same time are not suitable for sharing with my parents. Neither of us is very good at being representative of the hip, young and trendy. On the train home TA and I began to hatch a plan.
Last night we met a friend of TA’s in the pub and scored some weed, which we will give to uncle K when we go down to inspect the furniture this weekend. We’re a bit apprehensive – perhaps uncle K wasn’t being serious? – but hope that he’ll be pleased.
Some progress and continued frustration - welcome to the two-steps-forward-and-one-back of Sett purchasing:
  • Following a sternly worded e-mail to the managing director and a pretty angry-voiced telephone conversation, the estate agents have agreed to give us a couple of hundred quid towards our legal fees to say sorry for messing up.
  • Solicitor has now confirmed that the vendor is allowed to sell the property. (Well that's a relief isn't it?)
  • Estate agents have agreed to "kick vendor up the arse".
  • Solicitor still needs to receive papers from the freeholder, a good indication of the tardy service we can expect once we move in, apparently.
  • Estate agents have confirmed that tenants will not be vacating the property before 28 November.
  • We have signed all the necessary papers and given solicitor the deposit, however, exchange has yet to take place.
  • Solicitor had not realised that property was exempt from stamp duty, causing me to have a minor cardiac at the thought of having to pay out another few grand.

Why can't things be easy?