Life goes on

I have had one hell of a busy month.

I’ve moved house, from Stoke Bishop to Southmead… some might say that’s a downgrading… well you’re right. The road I’ve moved onto is not as nice as the one I’ve just left, but it’s not too bad really… just the pub is a bit noisy on saturday night.

Holly, Issy and myself are now living in a 3 bed house with lots of space for all my “junk” or “crap”, or as I like to call it, memorabilia.

The house is still full of piles of boxes, it took us about 2 weeks to move. We didn’t get the keys to our house till 3 days after the original date. Haart, our estate agent, have pretty much done everything wrong.

We signed for the house on May 12th and gave payment details for a £350 agency fee. When we went to move in on 11am Monday 18th June, the following list of problems began to arise:

Monday 18th, 10:30am : Haart call to say they haven’t collected the gas safety certificate yet, can we come in half an hour later at 11:30am.

Monday 18th, 11:30am: We arrive at Haart’s fishponds office to find out, there is no gas safety certificate, and they probably can’t get one today. Haart say “SOrry, but it’s the landlords fault not ours”.

Tuesday 19th, 4:30pm: Holly and I finally arrive at the house to sign for the contract, but on arrival we find the house is dirty, mud on the carpets, sink covered in grime, and none of the painting and decorating has been done. I get very angry and ask for a full refund.

Wednesday 20th, 11am: Holly and I sign the contract after getting a 50% refund on our agency fee. Haart say it’s the landlords fault it’s not cleaned, and they’ll do some of the painting – Holly and I start cleaning.

Wednesday 20th, 2pm: I find out that the decorators have painted the outside of the house when we asked them to paint the inside, and also the washing machine door seal has rotted and is covered in fungus.

Thursday 21st, 1:30pm: I finish painting and decorating in the house, the Latvian cleaners finish cleaning the rest of the house.

Thursday 21st, 2pm: Holly and I move in the first load of boxes…

So we didn’t start moving stuff in for 3 days. I’d taken 3 days off work so I was bloody angry at Haart for mucking us about. I spoke to a few different people from Haart and they all said sorry, but none of them admitted any fault. It wasn’t till I spoke to the manager, Simon, that he finally gave a meaningful apology by accepting the fault was theirs. He also got us a refund of 50% of the agency fee, £175.

A few days later, when we’d nearly finished moving in, Simon called again to say they’d forgotten to charge the £420 agency fee, and because of this they couldn’t pay the landlord, and couldn’t give us a refund. So they had all our deposit and all our rent, but basically refused to pay the (now angry) landlord until they had the agency fee. And instead of taking the difference on the refund, they “had” to take the full amount again before giving a refund.

The other problem, was we’d paid the VAT on the agenct fee when we paid the rent… so turns out we were due a £210 refund not £175.

So I paid it and got everyhting sorted out, and we’ve now had our refund of… £175.
They still owe us £35 pounds… plus the £25 for the skanky washing machine seal.

The moral of the story, Haart are the worst estate agents I’ve ever dealt with. Kingsley Thomas are very awful… Haart are 10 times worse. They are incompetent, unproffessional and I will be leaving them as soon as possible.

Anyway, we’re moved in now… but I’ve just got back from a weeks camping holiday… Holly and Issy are visiting Reading for the week so I’m just going to be unpacking boxes on my own for a week! But as we’ve no internet installed it’ll give me something to do at least.

In amongst all the troubles with moving, I’ve also started playing World of Warcraft… a bit late to the party, but I can see why people can get so addicted to it… I may have played a bit too much to relieve stress, instead of packing boxes and cleaning the old property. I’ve also replaced many bits of the car that have fallen off/apart this month, and been training for my next Taekwon-Do grading next week! And finally, I’ve had to recruit a replacement developer for the excellent Tom Riley, who is sadly leaving us at Comcar.

Anyways, this blog has mostly been a rant about how RUBBISH HAART ESTATE AGENTS ARE. Also, if you google them (which I should have done before I took the property with them) you will find lots of other tenants and landlords who say they are awful, they are only interested in sales. They don’t care about rented properties.

Blurgh.

Either way, I’m going rally driving with my brother tomorrow, and next week (hopefully) I’ll be a Yellow belt, or 8th Kup, my first fully coloured belt (currently I’m yellow tag, which is still white, but with a yellow stripe on it).

I’ll be back soon with a less whiny and more interesting post, possibly with some drawings in it.

Good things Issy said on holiday

“I got 2 bits cheese mato toast, on toast, on mato” when I hand her 2 pieces of cheese and tomato toast

“oh bugger. Oh bugger. Oh bugger…” when she spilt yogurt down her top

“oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap” after auntie Gemma made some sort of mistake

“oh sugar. Oh sugar. Oh sugar…” after mummy dropped something on the floor

“sssssh. BABY SLEEPING!” at the kiwi enclosure in new Zealand, as I tried to trick her into being quiet. 

“Issy needs cup a tea” when playing with her tea set, in the “coupa tea” kind if way

And whilst I tried to apply sudocrem when changing a nappy we had this nice exchange recently…

“uh, no daddy”
“uh, yes Issy”
“uh, no daddy”
“uh, yes Issy”
“uh, no daddy”
“uh, yes Issy”
“uh, no”
“uh, yes”
“uh, no”
“uh, yes”
“uh, no no no NO NO”

And probably the best of all, “I’m captain Issy, where’s my ship!” as we waited at the ferry port.

I may have had a little more to do with that one than the others. 

Which led to this…

“I’m captain pops”
“no Issy, you’re captain Issy”
“you’re captain Issy” 
“no Issy, I’m captain daddy, you’re captain Issy”
“no daddy, I’m captain pops” 

I is well back innit

I’ve returned from my lovely 3 week holiday in Australia and New Zealand, with about 50 hours flying now out the way.

I’ve flown to Sydney via Singapore (12 hours then 7.5 after Singapore), I stayed in Coogee at the Crowne Plaza hotel for about 4 days, it was a fantastic place to stay. Coogee is really nice, the bay is beautiful and it’s only a 2 hour sunburn inducing walk to Bondi Beach!

The best bit of the hotel stay was the buffet breakfast each day though… I know it sounds sad but we all enjoyed it, there was unlimited food, fry ups, pan cakes, toast, fruit, many juices and some very weak but passable coffee. I stuffed myself every day on all of that and then there were many other foods as well, including sushi.

What was most brilliant was we could all sit down, eat at a leisurely pace with a sea view and let Issy run around and go nuts, as it was quite a child friendly place.

We had Holly’s birthday while we were out there, and we went out to a sushi bar for dinner. It was my first time at a sushi bar, and I didn’t really push my boundaries whilst eating… I had tuna, salmon… and rice and greens to go with it. I properly chickened out of all the scary looking food.

Each day we got a bus into central Sydney (encountering a few crazy people on the way), right into the city. We did a harbour tour and went to the aquarium, I didn’t get a chance to walk over the bridge but I would have liked to.

Sydney was ok, it was a nice trip and the harbour is very nice, but it just felt like any other big city to me.

It’s a bit too much like all the other big cities in the world, and like them all it has it’s own unique story of how it came to be a big city full of Subways, subways and Coca Cola.

After our few days there we took a 2 hour flight across to Adelaide and spent a few days with Nigel’s (Holly’s dad) uncle and aunt, Norman and Clare. Issy called Norman “Nornor”, which was fun.

Me, Holly and Issy stayed with them, and everyone else stayed in a fairly awful motel down the road. We had temperatures of 30 – 35 degrees while we were there, it was insane. I spent most of my time hiding in the shade and in buildings.

We did go to a wildlife park on one day, and took lots of photos of kangaroos, koalas and other Australian animals. You walk freely with the kangaroos so I enjoyed that the most, I had one ‘roo with his entire head buried inside the bag of feed I had, he was my favorite.

We did Christmas in Adelaide, Norman and Claire were very good hosts and we ate a large amount of barbecue cooked traditional Australian turkey roll.

After Adelaide, we took the same 2 hour flight back to Sydney, waited 5 hours in the airport, and then took a 2:45 flight to Christchurch.

We got collected from the airport about 1am on Wednesday 28th December, by a white limo with a trailer and taken to the Airport Gateway Motel. I don’t know why the use a limo as their hotel shuttle but they do and they’re very proud if it.

We stayed there overnight, apparently me, Holly and Issy slept through a very small earthquake, then we got up and picked up a camper van.

I shared the driving in our week in the camper with Nigel. I’ve driven around NZ in a camper before… I did it in a little Mazda van… this time we were in a Mitsubishi Canter. It’s actually a lorry, it’s not particularly fun to drive, and the NZ roads are very small and twisty. Still, it is better to drive it than sit in the back.

It was a little bit rushed our tour of the south island. We had the camper Wednesday – Wednesday, so 7 nights. We visited

  • Christchurch… we left it too late in the day to leave after we’d visited Trudy’s (Holly’s mum) sister (Holly’s aunt) to drive up to…
  • Hamner Springs, thermal pools. There were a few sets of closed eyes as we drove the campervan across a very narrow bridge going up the hill to Hamner.
  • Punakiki, pancake rocks
  • Hokitika, via Greymouth for shopping – I’ve never seen a Warehouse store before, they’re enourmous. Once stocked up we had a BBQ and then watched the new year’s eve sunset on a west coast beach and toasted the new year
  • Nelson Lakes, Lake Rotoiti. We free camped behind a gravel car park, an approved space by the Department of Conservation. We couldn’t stay at the lake side campsite because it was the one place that was too busy to just turn up and camp. But we went back the next day and went for a walk from Kerr Bay to West Bay.
  • Picton, we stayed there for about half an hour, then realised we were running out of time so we left and went to…
  • Kaikoura. We went whale watching, and saw 3 sperm whales, a hump back, a seal and a few albatrosses… albatrii? Holly was fairly terrified of the waves, I think we had about 2 metre waves under the boat, but she stilled enjoyed spotting the whales.

After Kaikoura, we went back to Christchurch (since we’d left there’d been a entire day of earthquakes of scale 4 – 6) dropped off the van and went to another Motel, run by a slightly annoying man. There were a few more little quakes in the night, again me and Holly slept through them, we visited the International Antarctic Center and terrified Issy whilst riding a hagglund, then going in a -18 storm room, and finally watching a “4d” (I hate it when companies say the 4th dimension is a wet face) movie that spat water at you.

It was all a bit much for her, but she enjoyed her meal at at the Lonestar restaurant, a sort of up market TGI Friday’s.

The next day, we took the 2h 45 minute flight back to Sydney, then the 7 and a half hour flight back to Singapore, then a 13h 40 minute flight back to the UK… I guess we were flying into the wind that time?

We got to Heathrow, got a lift back to Reading to Holly’s parents, then a lift back to Bristol from there from my parents who luckily were passing by.

On arrival at the bungalow in Bristol, we realized we’d lost our front door key. After a few phone calls from my landlord I managed to get into the key safe to get the spare key… or I would have done if it wasn’t missing.

So we went to my brothers house, my, Holly and Issy fell asleep on their sofas, and my parents drove from Bristol to Reading and back again… again, as Trudy had found the front door key in the living room in Reading.

We finally got back inside our house by about 8pm, put Issy straight to bed, and me and Holly followed shortly, and slept through till 8am this morning!

Since then, Holly has had some more birthday presents, Issy has opened about 5 more christmas presents that got lost in all the chaos till we unpacked today, and I’ve eaten a fry up and a handful of Ferrero Rocher.

We have much unpacking to do, and I’ve still got to go and get the Rat’s from the pet sitter, but things are almost back to normal.

Holly will be putting lots of photos up on Facebook, or at least some one will and we’ll be tagged in them, and I’ll probably remember some of the better bits of the trip and write about them separately.

Oh and Quantas is a very good Airline, the brand new A380 we flew on was pretty awesome, touch screen entertainment system with about 60 films to watch, and loads of TV stuff, although the games were all completely naff, DTI software suck – I might go and work for them and sort them out, they’re rubbish. But the films were good.

Also the best thing about the plane… it’s so quiet and smooth. I guess because it’s all state of the art and brand new, but you don’t get annoying background engine noise, plus it’s very comfy and gentle on take off and landing.

It’s nice to be back in England, I’m very sick of filling out landing cards, I missed my keyboard and I missed my bungalow.

But most of all, I missed Nescafe.

One last thing, thanks to Trudy, Nigel and Gemma for having me along on their trip, and for helping out with Issy while we were there.

Thanks Mum and Dad for giving us a lift, and Dave, Amy and Becca for giving us a place to crash and some entertainment while the keys were retrieved for us.

Thanks in advance to Jess and/or Pav for helping collect the rats.

And thanks to the anonymous stranger on the bus in Australia who told the crazy lady off and sat between as and the crazy to protect us! I will find you and repay you!

Extra time multi bull

A few things worth noting…

I went to the wedding of my colleague Damien and his girlfriend at the time B on the saturday just gone, it was a lovely reception with a very tasty hog roast and a barn dance celeigh, so congratulations to them! whilst at the reception I drank a reasonable amount of locally sourced cider and proceeded to get a little tipsy. Holly then escourted Issy and I back to our hotel, and along the journey I spouted utter nonsense to the amusement of Holly and then ran out the hotel room naked… I think somehow the journey home made me drunker as fortunately I wasn’t naked at the wedding.

That night… once I had some clothes on… I slept quite badly as my hangover kicked in and the summer heat flooded the stuffy room. But when I did manage to sleep I had a dream that Holly was showing me a video on my phone that was so loud it woke up the guy in the room above… then the hotel receptionist banged on the door and told us we shouldn’t be watching tv at 3am. It was a fairly dull and odd dream by my standards.

I got up early on Sunday morning feeling ok, and got a lift to wales with Fredel after dropping Holly andd Issy at the station. I then spent the entire day playing polo and came 3rd in a tournament before going to an hour and a half training session. When I eventually got home to bed I had another lovely dream. this time for some reason I had fallen out with Holly and Rachel and Tom were refusing to let me speak to her or let her answer her phone. I was couped up with all my friends in a house that had a jungle inside and a load of slides and rope ladders. Every now and again I was also walking around some hillsides watching polo games in the distant valley below. There was something Iwas searching for in the hills but I can’t remember what.Suddenly I was back in the house and had decided to march up to Holly to make up with her. Then I woke up, and text Holly to say I’d had a bad dream; and she replied saying she’d had a worse one. Good times.

So hopefully tonight I’ll have a more exciting and happy dream, as I have had lots of good news today including securing a home for me, Holly and Issy to live in and envirophone paying me!

Post Muse

Despite not getting back till 3am this morning, I had a lovely time at the Muse gig last night, at the O2. We set off at about 2:30PM, and got home about 3:00AM, so it took over 12 hours, but it was nice as I’ve not been to a gig in ages.

Muse were excellent, the show was really cool, loads of lights and lasers and cool videos, band played perfectly, and there was an ace drum/bass solo in the middle. And they had loads of wicked revolving platforms and things and they dropped big balloons into the crowd fill with confetti, so thousands of sweaty excited fans were ripping the balloons open and dancing in the showering confetti.

The only bad parts of the trip were it took like 9 hours travelling for 3 hours of music, but it was good music, and the other bad point was on the 1hour tube ride to the O2 there were some stupid dumb teenagers talking about how to fight zombies, apparently dynamite in the eye sockets is preferred, and you should use a pillow to silence a .50cal machine gun. They were sometimes entertaining, but mostly just annoying.

Anyway, despite not getting much sleep, I did have a bit of a mad dream. I can’t remember it all, but I was defiantely driving a BMW X5 around a field, and I as looking at the diff underneath it, which was just 2 large stone wheels that ground together and they were exposed like some old archane chariot diff.

At some point I was having a meal with the Canoe Club, we were all in a variety of coloured dressing gowns, my food arrived, it was some delicacy which was covered in loads of live tiny spiders… I waited for them to run off before I ate the salad they were crawling in.

Then we all got up and ran to a pond that we dived in, it was about a foot deep, I had three people sitting on my head crushing me against the floor, which was a tad worrying, but then they got off so I was ok. Then I noticed there were dolphins in the pond, so I played with them for a bit.

That’s about all I can remember

Bearytales: The Adventures of Dixie the Bear Part II

This was the sadder, less fun part of the adventure, so it’ll be a brief summary.

I got up at about 6:10AM, Dixie was already awake in the kitchen reading the paper. George rang to say he was ready, so we quickly left, picked up George and his mate Matt, who was now coming along for the ride as well and set off early enough to get out of Bristol before all the commuters woke up, we were rolling by 6:25AM. It was plain sailing all the way back to the bear sanctuary, with some entertaining games on the way, including:

  • a debate on compulsory euthanasia on those over a certain age
  • a debate regarding whether men should be allowed to give birth
  • the eddie stobart/norbert dentrasangle game (we saw no norbert lorries, no one else believes they exist!)

Any way Dixie was back home by 7:55AM, we turned around and George kept me awake by acting like an annoying child, singing badly and flashing the camera in my eyes. We were back in Bristol by 9:25AM, I dropped off George and Matt, and I checked the distance.

384 Miles in total, 96 miles on each leg, but it was worth it.

Bearytales: The Adventures of Dixie the Bear Part I

Today was the BUCC scavenger hunt. I wasn’t that up for it, so I thought I’d just pop along to say “Hi” before going home to bed for a chilled out and slightly earlier evening.

That was until I realised, at approximately 9PM, that for an amazing 500 points all you had to do was bring Dixie from Birmingham to Bristol!! So without telling too many people, I snuck away with my co-pilot George, and we awoke Sabine from her gentle slumber, and we raced off northwards, determined to bring Dixie to Po Na Na where he could dance and drink with his admiring fans, and George and I would get our hero’s welcome. We were on the M32 by 9.15PM

The journey was smooth, I’d accidentally filled my car with ultra expensive premium petrol that day, it must be fate. So Sabine was happy, roaring around the plundering late night motorists who dared to get in our way. After a a significant number of miles had been covered, Sally (the tomtom) was fully charged and George booted her up, then he fed in Dixie’s postcode and Sally returned to us an ETA of 30 minutes. George passed this onto Dixie, in response to his “You do realise it’s a 3 hour round trip?” message.

When we arrived at the aforementioned post code, we did a couple of laps of the block, looking for the shadow of the almighty Dixie-bear as he prowled the streets. When we came across him, he bounded towards the car, leapt in (that really did happen) and we began the return journey, the time now 10:45 PM

Much excitement and chatter helped to speed the journey along, but I felt the call of Red Bull drawing me in, and Dixie and George felt the call of nature creeping up on them. Once our needs had been addressed, we decided to rack up a few extra points, as despite securing 500pts, it was still possible for another team to beat us. So we made a human pyramid in the service station, then Dixie and I did hand stands in a phone box and George climbed in above us (unfortunately just out of shot), the camera on self timer, resting next to our wallets and keys on the floor, and finally we got a group photo in the phone box of us all upright with the door closed. Oh, and we also came up with the team name “We’ve got the Golden Snitch”.

The extra points racked up, and the time now fast approaching midnight, we piled into Sabine for the final 25 or so miles. We parked up close to the house, 12:15AM, walked up to Po Na Na, entered the club, and most definitely made everyone’s days. We downed a pitcher at the bar for a few more points, then set the Bear loose on the dance floor.

Now I must rest, for later this morn, at about 6AM, I must return the bear to his home land. For how long I do not know, but the bear will return again.

Pictures to follow

General stuff and things

So since I’ve got back from the alps, I’ve been back to the south of france on a family holiday, the Openshaw side. It was a sweet trip, staying in a big house by a valley with about 20 other people, the highlight was an intense go-kart battle between me and my brother… which I won I also beat my Dad, my uncle and my cousins… so that’s nice.

I’ve been playing lots of Polo and played at the Cardiff International this weekend, where I scored my one token goal of the tournament, but it was a damn good goal even if I do say so myself. I also got rammed by an idiot, so I’ve got some bruising at the base of my back which is mainly just painful and uncomfortable, and I never even got a foul called for it!! But it was still a good tournament anyway.

Anyways… I’ve got many Kayaking and socialising plans this month, so I’ll try to write them all up here and actually use this blog for once, and the BUCC Alps 2009 video is on it’s way as well, which actually features some video footage of me paddling… proof that I really do it!

I just done come back fromma Alps innit

And I’m off there again in a few days. Such an expensive lifestyle… lucky I’ve got no savings otherwise I’d have to put money in them instead of spending it on tings.

So I’ve done 2 weeks alpine paddling again, paddled everyday I think… except 1 where I did some scary rafting. Everyone else in the raft yelling and screaming… me thinking “Well I’m scared too… stop looking to me for answers!!!” Rachel and Maryann… sorry I told you to shush

I had my first scary pin… on some iron bars, what was left of a concrete wier I believe. This is how I described my thought pattern to Ole’ Marky B, r.e. the situation.

In my head: “Hmm this could kill me. I can’t get out. Maybe the others can… Wait, I’m sinking… Must… Push… Harder… All this water over my head my head. What if the others take ages. Ouch this hurts… My penis is being crushed… Why is there scaffolding here anyway?”

Audibly: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! GET ME OUT!”

In my head: “Fuck. I’ll do it myself. This might make me pinned upside down… Oh well, I’ll go for it”

And it worked, I rolled off the iron bar wedged in my crotch and avoided the 2nd one in front of me, and got pulled out the river by Chris Eastabrook. Thank you Chris.

Anyway, I never paddled that river again, the Upper Guil, but I’ll go back next year and try again.

The rest of the trip was awesome though, and the pin kinda made me feel better about most other things “A weir, pfft, I’ve survived worse. Let’s run it”

Good things that happened included being pulled over for speeding and getting away with it… that was close. Being drunk 12/14 nights was fun, there was some very funny nights with about 20 drunk happy people, lots of fun and stories. Some excellent drinking games … “Pete, drink. Simon, drink. Rachel, drink, Dan, drink…” You get the idea. We made a floatilla of boats, and named it Fleetwood Mac, and spent a few hours on the lake drinking cheap dirty wine and being drunk british louts, but very friendly entertaining ones, the slalom boaters training around us seemed to laugh. Sinking the giant raft with no safety equipment whilst drunk was probably a little dangerous, in hind site, but everyone was ok… exceot the 3/4 bottle of Rose. What a waste.

There were some funny attempts by people to speak french and just completely fail… drunk AND sober. Generally, pointing and nodding with a please and thankyou works best in English… so why wouldn’t it in French… oh it does? Fantastic! That must be why I speak the best French

Anyways, there’s a video to follow and lots of photos coming with more details.

I got back and had to finish moving from my old house to my new one, which is all done now, but I’ve still not unpacked so there’s a tiny channel from my door to my bed… and I don’t know where anything is. Still, I’ll get there.

I’ve got to get back to work now, these company car tax tools wont sort themselves out you know. Off to the International London Polo tournament after work for the weekend, playing on the Avon Develpment Squad, which is awesome, I will post up how that goes.

Anyway, nice to be back in England… again… for a few days.

Oh, and Pate, should be pronounced Payt, like Pete with an a, or Pete should be prounced Peetey… I’ll leave it up to the world to decide, but I want an answer on my desk by monday morning!!

New Zealand A-Z Shopping list

This is what Katie and me came up with on one of our multi-hundred mile trips in NZ… playing the classic shopping list game, but with some extra spice:

  • Avocado
  • Bank Robbery Plans
  • Cathedral
  • Delia Smith
  • Escape Exit
  • Fire
  • Gimpsuit
  • Helium Filled Rhino
  • Igloo
  • Juggling Monkey
  • Karating Kangaroo
  • Last known location of Elvis in a treasure map on the back of a serviette
  • Moronic Pigeon
  • Nine Gold Rings (sung in the correct manner)
  • Orange made of lemons
  • Perfect Quadrilateral
  • Quibbling child
  • Retard
  • Stallion hedgehog made of jam
  • Toast, to put him on
  • Uterus
  • voluptuous add-on pack for a skinny woman
  • Watermelon stuffed with a turkey
  • X-Ray of left index finger of Vic Reeves
  • Yo yo made of porcupines
  • Zebra’s uncle made of hammer