Google+ Badge

Friday, 13 May 2016

How to get a divan bed up attic stairs - my solution.

I recently bought two brand new divan beds for the attic room after much shopping about.  I finally chose two single beds and they were delivered into my living room.  You couldn't move in there so they had to go in place asap.

Kept the bag on the first and lugged it upstairs but HORROR OF HORRORS no matter how much we twisted and pushed and pulled, much swearing, it simply WOULD NOT GO.

see the problem?

So - what to do?  I got on the blower to Mr Bed-shop man to see what the options were. He promised to come out the next day (apparently he is highly skilled at getting big things in small places!).  I told him it simply wasn't going to happen but he said he would come out. The house is not huge and it felt half the size with two divans hanging around.

Next day Mr Bed-shop man came out and agreed "No way will you get this bed up there" he said.

Bloke and Mr Bed-man and his assistant um'd and ah'd and looked at the hole (as blokes do) and then decided to measure the window in the attic on the side wall of the house.  Apparently it was good news - the window was big enough - only problem it was on the attic level.

More Um'ing and Ah'ing. "Too high for a ladder" declared Mr Bed-man, stating the obvious. Then he decided it may be possible with scaffolding to get it through the window.  All very well but how much is scaffolding?  Minimum of about £150 a day if you know someone in the trade (I don't).  Besides there is no way I am waiting another week or more with two divans in my living room - we can't even see the TV.

Mr Bed-man refused a full refund as he said the beds had left the factory so they were no longer new - even though they were all still in their original packaging.


So I sent him packing firmly believing in the 'Where there's a will there's a way'.

I asked friends if they had a solution. Dismissing 'sleep in the living room' and 'use a pulley' as bad ideas, I devised my own solution...

I would like to point out I am NOT a professional nor am I an expert in beds. I have no professional understanding of the bed market but am just sharing the method I used which worked for me.  I cannot accept responsibility in ANY WAY if you do this and it goes pear shaped OK.. Just saying, just in case. I had no option as the beds were already in my house and I can't afford £150+ and a day off work for scaffolding.  Bear in mind if you are a large person or need a specialist bed this is probably not a good idea.  These 2 beds were about £250 each and basic beds.  I in no way recommend doing this - merely pointing out how I did it.

First take out the drawers if there are any and take a look inside the frame to establish if you have the nerve. It's a scary moment!

First cut the fabric in the middle of the drawers with a sharp knife as the cut will be straighter than scissors - cut with the grain of the fabric.  Cut all four pieces in the same place.
Be brave - you can do this.

With a fine saw cut in the middle of the two supporting struts.  Be sure to fold the fabric out of the way so it doesn't get caught by the saw. (By the way keep any excess fabric which they may have used to hold the drawers in place.)

You will also need to cut the fabric on top and bottom. Use Duck tape BEFORE you cut the fabric to stop it fraying.  Also cut carefully the cardboard stuff with a Stanley knife.

The bed is now in two pieces.

Now you can carry the two parts up the stairs. Hurah!

Now you have to put it back together.  Place the two halves together making sure everything is straight and as it was.  Then I used these kind of bracket things on all the cuts. You may have to do this inside the frame depending where the cuts are in relation to supporting struts.

Now to hide the evidence.  Pull the fabric back into place.

Use some of the spare fabric (I had a whole load which was used to hold the drawers in place which was the same fabric as the bed base) and cut a piece about 3x the width of the cut and long enough to go the whole length of the cut.

You don't have to be a master of the sewing machine - I just sewed the strip together right sides in then turned it the right way.  Iron it flat so the seam is at the back. I also used fray check on the current fabric just as the one on this bed is apt to fray a lot. Of course you can be as fussy or not as you like - it's your bed!  Tuck the raw piece of fabric under itself if you like.  I then sewed the strip by hand to the existing fabric, covering the gap.

Gap covered. You can see it but SEW WHAT? You've got your bed in your attic :) 
(see what I did there?)

Put the drawers back in.

Bob's your auntie!

PLEASE REMEMBER I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL AT THIS - THIS IS JUST THE WAY I DID IT AND IT WORKED FOR ME.  There are different types of beds and this will doubtless not work for all of them.  If you are a large person (I'm not) you are clearly weakening the frame so it may not be a good idea for you. I cannot be held liable for any damage and of course any warranty or whatever will be void if you do this.  

Good luck!

Friday, 8 April 2016

72 reasons - No More Call Centres EVER EVER again

Followers of this blog may know that I HATE call centres.  The problem is that once you are in one it is fairly difficult to get out unless you go to another call centre.  I don't know why this is - I totally hate call centres.  I hate being plugged in to the National Grid from 9 til 5. I hate that all your calls are recorded and any can be pulled at any time and listened to.  I hate that Joe Public can be as rude as he/she damn well wants to be but you are not allowed to be rude back. I hate that you are not allowed to hang up if someone is flinging colourful language and abuse at you down the phone. I hate that every breathing minute is logged - how long you were on a call, how long you were on hold, how long you were on the toilet.

Seriously - everything is there in decimals to the nearest millisecond. They can draw up charts and compare you to the rest of your team.  Voice software can pick up certain language traits and certain words you should not be using. As the job I was in was financially regulated we HAD to say this but never say that. We MUST say this word for word on every call, but only say this if they say that. Don't tell them this but if they say that then you can. Make sure they know this and if you don't say this then say that. Without fail ALWAYS say this - unless they tell you that.

Seriously it was doing my head in.


So - when I woke up at 3.22 on Monday morning and could not get back to sleep I decided to write a list (perhaps it's a writer thing).  A list of reasons I should not go to work in the morning.
1) I don't want to go.
2) I hate call centres
3) I am sick of being abused by the public and not being able to fight back
4) ...

I came up with SEVENTY TWO reasons - yes really 72 (and have since thought of 12 more).

So. On Monday morning at 9am I went into work and handed in my work pass to my boss and told him I was leaving. Goodbye!

He was a bit stunned but I left with my head held high and I don't regret a thing. I now have no job and I have to say it is somewhat liberating if not a little scary.

I had entered the book in for a local bursary with the local government to write another book, of 141 entries there were ten bursaries.  Although I didn't get a bursary I was on the shortlist which was a boost.  So I am going to take a few months off and concentrate on a novel - not giving any details away (because I don't know then yet) but I am planning a grisly murder.

That night I had the best night's sleep ever.

And the next night...

So my next job will NOT be in a call centre.

Watch this space...

Monday, 28 March 2016

If only he knew...

If only he knew...

I currently work in a call centre.  I have to be careful about giving too much information for fear of getting myself into hot water but just suffice to say I have conversations with people about moving homes on a regular basis.

Last week a man called me and was telling me how he and his wife had seen the most amazing house.  He said it was absolutely their dream home and they were sure it was within their reach financially.  He said it had a conservatory for his wife's plants and for the cats and a shed for him and four lovely bedrooms for when the family came to stay and he went on and on.

He said they had not even been looking for a house but had a few hours free after visiting someone before the train home and had just found themselves viewing a house.  He said it could almost be described as divine intervention.  If they could describe their dream house this would, he said, be it.

So what was the problem?  This took a bit of digging but he was a lovely talkative soul and as it was fairly quiet at work and he was quite a character I continued the chat.  He said it would take a year or two to get their current house 'market ready'.

TWO YEARS to get a house market ready?  What on earth could be wrong with it? Subsidence? Japanese Knotweed? Recently damaged by fire or flood?  I could think of absolutely nothing which would take two years to fix.  Perhaps it was lack of money but he assured me it wasn't that.

Finally he admitted the truth, he said 'You probably won't even have heard the term - you see my wife is, um, well you see - well she is somewhat of a hoarder!'
The poor man had clearly told me something he rarely told anyone and there was a bit of a silence - from me as I wondered how to or indeed whether to tell him how and why I was extremely familiar with the term and from him as he battled with the guilt and relief of telling someone.

I had to be careful as I was at work and all calls are recorded and all the rest of it.  I did have to say that in fact my dad was also a hoarder.
'Ah yes', said the customer, 'but I'll bet nothing like the scale of hoarding my wife has'.
Clearly it was neither the time nor the place for comparing hoards and I was not about to vocally download mine to the eternal archives of the call centre.  I don't think most people there know, or thankfully care about the programme I was on or the book so it provides some cover for me.

I wished him all the very best with his house dealing.  Two years to get market ready.  Bless.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Two and a. half years on and I still get blamed for all that is wrong with the world

Two and a half years after Imelda fell from the ladder and I am still being blamed for everything that is missing.

Recently Imelda wanted me to go to his house to help him with his laptop.  I remain convinced he still is not 100% sure of the difference between a User ID and a Password.  I have to regularly explain 0 and o and O are not the same and how to get a capital letter.

I spend many hours trying to explain to his the basics.  For example if he has a new site he wants to looks at and I say 'put your pointer here' he tries to move it with his finger.  I have lost count of the number of times I tell him his laptop is not a touchscreen.

Sometimes some people should not have computers and I believe he is one of them.

Almost every visit I am asked stupid questions.  For example today he was looking for some password he had written on some scrap of paper and he said 'By the way, when you were throwing stuff away did you throw away a letter from so and so?  I know you probably didn't mean to throw it away, only I can't find it.'
Clearly I do not need to remind him his house is not the most organised on the planet.
'NO I didn't!'  I get so mad when he asks me this regular question.
'I know you didn't MEAN to throw away any letters, but you may not have realised...'
I really get wound up by this.  I've lost count of the number of times I have told him I went through EVERYTHING - every bit of paper sheet by sheet to make sure there was nothing remotely likely that he may want to keep (or be justified keeping).  Every holiday brochure from 1979 I flicked through its pages to make sure he had not kept some share certificate between the pages.  Every apparently empty envelope (and there were hundreds), I checked to see there was nothing inside.  Every BOX full of Lidl catalogues (why?) I went through each one to make sure...

SIX weeks all through the summer holidays I was there for up to eight hours a day often by myself sitting in his garden sorting through MOUNTAINS of junk.

There was more than enough pure junk to throw out and anything I was even slightly doubtful as to its use was kept. Every letter from the last 5 years was kept and every letter from further back which clearly was not a circular was kept.

I had a car full every day - full of old jars and bottles and old plastic bags, bits of wire, old socks, bits of old shoes, empty boxes, clothes belonging to my late mother who passed away 20 years ago.  His attitude drives me totally batty he clearly has NO IDEA.

He has also hoarded back to the level it was 2 years ago.  He has not had the stairs carpet replaced because there is so much stuff on the stairs there's no room for a carpet.  The carpet upstairs on the landing is threadbare.

Last week he said had I thrown out all his left shoes. - He really believes I went round as some sort of joke sorting all his hundreds of right shoes from the left into piles of left and right shoes and then throwing out one pile,  I can't believe he is mentally stable.

He also accused me of throwing out his kitchen plastic egg timer and his Mrs Beeton's cookery book.

I will update more when I have calmed down...

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Save Caerphilly Road Trees

In a misguided effort to improve the area where I live (North Cardiff), the local council has decided to carry out numerous amendments to the main roads into and out of Cardiff.  They call these 'improvements'. I beg to differ.

Cardiff is a wonderful city, constantly improving and evolving. It is often mentioned as a leading European Capital City and with the Cardiff Bay and all the other improvements I am proud to call it home. I also believe planners can become blinkered and lose sight of the the original character of parts of the city in theie quest to move forward. It is importnt to keep as much original character in some of the older streets as possible.

I am writing this at 5.23 in the morning, having had it rushing round my mind all night. It is New Year's Eve and my head is full of trees.  The weather is raging outside, the storm is in full swing and as I try to sleep in my attic room, all I can see is a big old cherry tree in the street outside. It is clearly windy as the tree is blowing wildly and I can see the tree is wet with the reflection of the street lights so I know it's raining. I see this tree last thing before I go to sleep at night.  I stare it when I can't sleep, I watch it synchronise with the seasons. I have watched it blossom in April into beautiful and copious white blossom and then for a few days when the blossom falls everyone comments how much it resembles snow falling. The tree, probably the largest in the road, was planted, I believe, when the houses were built in the late 1920s. It has been a major part of the landscape since I moved in in 1994 and it gives the street character. However, if Cardiff City Council have their way, the tree has only 11 days or so left to live.

Cardiff City Council have decided in their lack of wisdom that better access to Cardiff City Centre is required. They are probably right in that. Their remedy is to cut down all the trees on the street to make way for a BUS LANE.  However this is not a straight through bus lane, rather a few metres here and a little bit there, so the bus has to nip in and out. From listening to residents in Cardiff whose roads have sufffered similar butchery, this does not improve anything. In fact in many cases the busses do not use the lanes at all as it takes longer to get back in to the flow of traffic than they would gain by using the lane. The bus in question is the 27 which runs a few times an hour and the 86 which is once an hour or so. The 27 would benefit for only one hour a day - morning rush hour and the calculated benefit in time saving would be about three changes of lights.

When I first put this out on Facebook, I was interested and thrilled to see the first post had 681 shares in the first day and I had lots of messages of support from people I have never met but who know the road and know that removing the trees would be devastating.  It is not only the look of the road but the trees of course take water from the soil - and with all the floods in North Yorkshire this week, surely we should be doing all we can to prevent this happening here.

Caerphilly Road, also known as the A469, is a main route from Cardiff to Caerphilly and to the valleys. It heads out of Cardiff, straight up and over Caerphilly Mountain and off into the valleys and beyond.  The road itself is well above the level of Cardiff City Centre so if there were major floods here then Cardiff Centre would be totally submerged but we still need the trees for the run off from the road.

So now the sad bit.  (or the convenient bit - however you see it). Of the 11 or so mature cherry trees the council have decided they are going to butcher, they say three of them are diseased and have tree bleeding canker. I am no tree expert but this strikes me as convenient timing. The council say they will replace the 11 trees they butcher with 15 new ones.  I guess this makes it all OK then in their eyes.  NO! Little baby trees will take decades to mature and with busses whizzing past a few feet away I doubt they will thrive.  They haven't said what make of tree will be planted or when they will be planted. As far as I'm concerned they may as well be re-planting daffodils for the difference it wil make.

On to the car parking.  The council have attempted to make residents happier by telling us they will be putting in parking bays for residents.  Of course this will help greatly.  Currently the residents have temporary authority to park on the grass verges meaning they have to mount the grass verge/kerb and drive over the grass.  This has of course trashed the grass and made it into messy mudfields leaving huge mud slicks over the road when the cars drive off.  The parking bays are needed and welcomed but why the bus lane as well?

Picture this - the road, currently has 2 lanes of traffic, one each way. Lorries regularly use the stretch along with busses and it is very busy. Currently it is a normal road, pavement one side, 2 lanes of road, grass verge with trees the other side, then another pavement.  The new plans are - in the same space, pavement, the current 2 lanes of road, then a bus lane, then parking bays then - get this - a CYCLE LANE ON THE PAVEMENT - so if you are a cyclist there is nowhere to go when you encounter a pedestrian.  The street is a major pedestrian route to local schools so this is surely dangerous.

Cardiff council have been sneaky, they have done the planning and consultation but although they will tell you they have had the plans available for some time, they have been cagey with any questions, they have held meetings typically on a weekday afternoon when many people are working.  They are very tight with their answers - if you ask 5 questions, they will half reply to one of their choice.  They cannot justify this to the residents satisfaction. 

This is a last ditch attempt by myself and a few similarly concerned people to do something. THE WORK IS PLANNED TO START ON 11TH JANUARY 2016.  I am not experienced in this type of thing but I have to do something. I am just a Cardiff resident trying to do what is right and trying to fight Goliath here.  I will continue to send tweets and Facebook posts to get the word out there. 

The final meeting will be on Thursday 7th January 12-4 in the St Andrew's church. (The one opposite Co-op by the Birchgrove pub).  Please try and make it if you can to register your comments.  I am not at the stage where I am about to chain myself to a tree yet but it is a thought.

here is the link to the plans

Monday, 28 December 2015

Christmas Time with Imelda. Alcohol is needed. :(

I have not blogged for a while - I have kept contact with Imelda to a minimum and have not let him get to me.  I got a new job and my laptop has some driver issue which means I can ONLY connect to the internet via an ethernet cable and not wirelessly which means I have to sit on the floor when I want to go online. Probably excuses but now I have ordered a new laptop so I can sit on the sofa again.
I did take it to 'WEWILLFIXYOURLAPTOP' but they couldn't fix it!

Anyway I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas.  Mine was fabulous with just me the bloke and the kids until just after lunch time on Christmas Day.  We all just had dinner and sat down to watch a film as a family.  That nice full fuzzy feeling when all the washing up is done and the kids are happy and the Disney film is on. About half hour in to the film we hear that 'special' knock at the door and all freeze in horror. Oh Hell no - not today. Fighting the urge to hide and pretend to be out, one of the kids let him in. Cassie hid in the downstairs loo for the entire visit with a snake for company (clearly preferable to Grandad). Imelda gave us a Christmas card and sat down. As he came in we all jumped into overdrive to clear all their presents off the floor - Amazingly, bearing in mind the amount of stuff on his floor in his house, he seems to take it as his right to step on anything on the floor in my house.  We moved all the cushions so he could sit down otherwise he sits on them and moans how uncomfortable he is. (then they all need a wash afterwards). He sat on the sofa and wished us Happy Christmas. Not once did he ask the kids what they had for Christmas. None of them could be bothered to tell him either. It was no surprise he didn't bring his grandchildren presents on Christmas Day as he said he was just passing by. He did however ask the bloke his opinion on shopping around for car insurance at renewal, clearly ignorant or forgetting that I worked in car insurance for fifteen years. Or as I am just a female evidently have no valid opinion. His presents from us remained under the tree until Sunday after Christmas when tradition dictates we have to feed him a meal.

On the Sunday Imelda arrived. Within three minutes of sitting down, he asked me whether I still had the book case I had TAKEN from his house. (I took it and gave it to a friend who had just moved into a new house and needed a bookcase desperately - called SKIP).  For those who are not aware I spent six weeks of Hell clearing his house so he could be released from hospital after he broke his back about four years ago.  There was nobody else to do it, it almost killed me, I got no thanks for it, and it took me the whole of the summer.  Since then the house has been re-hoarded to previous levels and every time he sees me he asks me if I have thrown this or that or the other out.  Despite me telling him until I am blue in the face I only threw out rubbish, he clearly doesn't believe me and assumes I went in with a bulldozer.   He asked me if I had one of the books in the book case.  Like the Hell I can remember.  I threw out all the paperback kids books by penguin which were yellow and musty smelling and available in the library.  I kept any books which looked like they may be rare or signed or anything I was not sure of.  He asked me if I had kept a GROMIT - like a heavy part which came out of a loudspeaker (a broken one) because, you see, the speaker was nothing without it.  Like I can remember!  I told him there was enough pure and utter rubbish to throw out - anything I was not sure of went back in.  He asked where I put it. Seriously!?!
Every time he sees me he asks me if I have seen something he has misplaced.  His plastic kitchen timer, and his Mrs Beeton's cookery book being the most recent.  He has no concept of the time and effort I put in to stop him rotting in hospital - he has no concept that without me doing that he would still be rotting in the hospital (although I suspect the nurses may have shot him by now).

After just five minutes of him entering my house, I wanted a small padded dark place with copious amounts of alcohol. He hadn't bought his hearing aid - either because he had lost it or because he wanted to save the batteries.  I would have thought if there was any occasion where he should have worn the thing it would have been to visit his only grandchildren at Christmas.  Clearly not. It was like trying to communicate with a deaf Martian in Russian. 

My daughter proudly showed him a picture she had drawn. 
'That's nice' he said, obviously completely missing the point.
'CASSIE DREW IT!' I shouted.
'Yes' he says 'Cathy Drewitt'. 
Tumbleweed moment.
The bloke and I go outside for a fag. I remember I don't smoke and never have
Imelda appears.
'Look Dad, we have a daffodil.'
'Do you see the daffodil in the garden, Dad?'
'Yes, the postman said the other day he was in Swansea and he saw some, er um, some, um... daffodils you know, yes daffodils. In December, quite amazing!'

About two hours after he arrived, the kids were engrossed in making some craft item they had had for Christmas.  I don't know if he was waiting for some gift giving ceremony or something, but I, being his daughter and as stubborn as him, was not going to go first.
He asked one of the kids 'What do you think is in the bag here?'
'I don't know', she said, clearly not in the slightest bit interested, 'I need the loo.' and she disappeared.
He tried again a bit later and gave them some Lindor Chocs each - they were wrapped in paper that we gave him last year. The kids behaved impeccably and thanked his for the chocolates, overdid the 'what a fantastic present' routine and ripped the paper into tiny shreds as they had been instructed to do by their dad (so he could watch Imelda squirm). The paper he wrapped my chocs in was so old it didn't even make a paper noise - more like cloth.  The one thing I knew was we didn't have to check the dates on the kids' chocolates because they are on offer this week in Lidl for £1.  ;)

Finally the ordeal was over for another year.  I admit I did get through slightly better with support from my friends on Facebook.  They were all sending encouragement and offers of alcohol.  Perhaps slightly rude to be on Facebook during the Royal Visit but it helped me survive without a nervous breakdown.

Merry Christmas all and a Happy New Year. xxx

Friday, 11 September 2015

The book sells its 500th copy :)

Wow!  Today I have reached a landmark with the book 'Diary of a Hoarder's Daughter' and 500 copies have been downloaded or bought as a paperback.  This does not include any kindle member free deals or promotional free copies.

The thing which has surprised me is that it is selling even better in USA and the blog has stretched as far as China, Australia, Canada and a little country by Japan that I can't even pronounce.

I'm very chuffed with this figure and have finally decided to expand from Amazon only to Goodreads, Lulu and various others - providing I can work out the formatting issues.  I've never been an expert at the technical stuff where computers are concerned, preferring to hit my pc with a big stick and cross my fingers.  I spent about three hours last night trying to re-size the pages to fit in with the required different book size criteria.  I needed to amend my page sizes by about .83 of a cm which, apparently makes a HUGE difference to how the book looks.

Hopefully it is now done. :)

Although the book has sold that many copies and even more in free promotional copies, I still note I only have 12 reviews which kind of confuses me.  I guess it is one of those things nobody ever gets round to.  However if you have read the book and you liked it, please leave me a review, I would be ever so grateful and I really do read them all.

I have had lots of emails from readers as well which is lovely.  People seem to be suffering in silence, too embarrassed to seek help or tell anyone about the issues they are facing.  It is strange how human emotions can all follow the same lines and people tell me how the book has struck a chord with them.

I enjoyed writing the book and of course it was extremely cathartic for me as well.  I am still trying to get book 2 written.  This one will be fiction and so I don't want to give too much away but rest assured there will be a hoarder featuring in it.

Imelda is still going strong.  He wantes me to go and fix his PC as it has some issue where it is trying to connect to a proxy server - whatever that means.  He only has one house, one computer and one internet service provider so I will have to go round and call the ISP to see if they can help. It is probably just a quick thing but even with my limited pc knowledge it is easier I call them than him as if they asked him to click the mouse he wouldn't have a clue.  I only hope I don't have to stay in there too long or I will spend the following day sneezing and wheezing.  Of course I will have to find his phone first...:)