Things I’ve learned this year

I recently moved house, having to buy and sell a house at about the same time is truly one of the most stressful things I’ve ever experienced.
The new bungalow needs adjusting to my needs so have been having work done to it since last December and that has had my head in a mess.

floor plan 9 gclose

Bathroom converted to a shower room with a heck of a lot of awkward problems thanks to concrete flooring and old pipework.

 

It had no back door (both front and side doors pretty much came from the kitchen so in event of fire it was plain dangerous) so I wanted one knocked through from one of the bedrooms. While I was having it done I decided to have a conservatory built to add a bit of inside space.

There’s not many sockets in some of the rooms so I need to get some added,

The Kitchen needs a full refit which will probably include bricking off the door and bringing in gas for the hobs.

The garden needs landscaping and the huge trees behind my house really need a bit of trimming back though apparently no one takes responsibility for them.

 

So…what is it I’ve learned?

Well first of all when trying to move house with MS, packing and sorting has to be done in small increments whether you want to or not because trying to blitz the place is just not possible. Also a box is not just a box, different sizes, different strengths, different levels of usefulness and it’s all about the parcel tape!
Freecycle will always have someone who can use things you can’t and aren’t able to/ don’t want to sell and charity bags will always be welcomed by charity shops.
Having family and friends who can store things, move things, help clean, help decorate and be a sounding board for all the stress are the best thing you can have during the process!

Estate agents must be chased, constantly and without mercy if you want things to move.

Solicitors are either friendly and helpful or rude and uncaring, either way again you must be willing to chase them at every opportunity. Also make sure you have a fixed price for the sale in case things go a bit tits up.

Paper work is everything during the sale, if you don’t have it you’ll hold things up and/or have to pay for insurance. For example; I didn’t realise windows that have been replaced now need a FENSA certificate even if it’s a like for like replacement.

Once the sale goes through, the house is yours and the real work begins.

Try and get flooring and decorating sorted before moving in if at all possible, clearing a room is no easy task.

Concrete floors are awkward buggers when it comes to changing plumbing especially ifImage may contain: plant and outdooryou want a wet room.

Always think about how easy it is to get in and out of showers when your mobility is a problem, small gaps may be fine for your average person but if you need hand rails those off the shelf kits don’t always work.
When deciding how big and where you want windows, remember about the size of the plastic frame and the depth of the wall. If you don’t you’ll be reaching higher and further than you think to open and shut a window that has less of a glass aperture than you expect in your head.

 

 

 

Now the reason I started writing this post. The conservatory.

Should be simple yes? “I want a conservatory here, about this size, with double doors.”

But then come the choices and the sales people and the facts they leave out of their sales pitches. I had 4 quotes, each time gaining a little bit more information that the others left out.

Conservatories are no longer just glass, you can have orangeries, conservatories, sun rooms, to name just a few and each comes with slightly different regulations/problems.
So a conservatory we all know, glass walls and ceiling, yes it will get hot because it lets in a lot of sunlight. You can choose different roofs from plastic, to glass, to polycarbonate (with silver embedded) that let in different amounts of light/heat. But don’t be fooled by the salesmen obsessed with the new Supalite tiled roof, that is not a conservatory it’s classed as an extension.

You can have a conservatory without having to faff about with planning regulations etc if…..to quote www.planningportal.co.uk

  • They are built at ground level and are less than 30 square metres in floor area.
  • The conservatory is separated from the house by external quality walls, doors or windows.
  • There should be an independent heating system with separate temperature and on/off controls.
  • Glazing and any fixed electrical installations comply with the applicable building regulations requirements 

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and indoor

So the door that has been knocked through from the spare room has to adhere to planning regulations as an external door complete with a lintel (which haven’t been put in on any others in this house) and I made very sure the company doing it knew that I knew the regulations.

  1. Two lintels (made of steel or concrete), one supporting each leaf of a cavity wall construction. Separate thermal insulation and a cavity tray are likely to be required.

Sad really that it made me quite giddy when the lintels were put in properly!

The electrics were relatively simple but it turns out that the Consumer unit (the new name for a fuse box) is relatively modern but the breakers/RCD’s (residual current devices) aren’t as up to date as they need to be for the electrician to sign off. Luckily he only needs to replace the one he’s messing with to give me a certificate that says it’s all good.

This week I’ve discovered how awkward a ceiling fan light can be. I found one that was just what I wanted at B&Q, simple you’d think yes? But how could I expect that. With the pitched roof of the conservatory I need something that lowers it a little so the fan can spin, it’s called a “Drop rod” or “Downrod” and comes in different sizes. The reason I’m calling it awkward? No one at B&Q have heard of it!! The website, the store, none of them knew what the heck it was so Amazon have come to the rescue and I’ve ordered one online. Fingers crossed it’s the right length after a discussion between myself and 4 workmen this week as to how long it needed to be to not take someones head off.

How to choose right length downrod for your room height

But through all this I will say “so far so good” the builder was brilliant and put up with all my awkward questions and pestering in return for cups of tea while working like a trooper.
The shell is now up (though the guys doing it were making so many phone calls it could have been finished hours earlier) and the door in place so I can let my dog out of the back door into the garden and I feel a bit safer knowing there’s another exit.

The first fix electrics have been put in, now just the plastering, electrical and final finishing bits from the conservatory itself then I’ll be able to paint and get flooring in.

I can’t wait to see what I learn for the rest of the year!

I’m not American

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I’m not saying it’s a bad thing if you are but I don’t want to be. This is more that I don’t like being made to feel bad about not wanting to do things the USA way, just because everyone else feels the need to emulate them.

 

I didn’t have a Prom when I finished Highschool and nor did I “Graduate”, I left and found out I had passed my exams later with no need for a big ceremony. Same goes for college, there was a “leavers ball” but no prom dresses were needed or limos (I didn’t go, we went to the pub instead).
So why do schools in the UK think it’s the norm now? and why is it getting to be for younger and younger transitions, cap and gown “graduations” for toddlers? Really?

The only place I “Graduated” from was University, complete with gown and pomp and circumstance.

I refuse to participate in “Black Friday” idiocy or queue outside any store for a sale to start on things that will still be on sale later that day and when there’s no chance of vicious, idiots attacking each other. Mostly because “black Friday” has no place in the UK where we do not celebrate Thanksgiving.

I will continue to call it Aluminium and feel it grate across my ear drums to hear it pronounced a-loo-min-um.

Biscuits are thin and sweet, come in many flavours and can if you wish be dipped in a cuppa. They do not go with gravy. As for bacon, well bacon should have some meat on it, come from the back of the pig and be able to be a meal in itself (mmmm bacon butty).
Chips are hot and preferably not so thin they’re like twigs, Crisps are just that…crispy snacks why confuse matters?

A cup of tea, made properly will solve many a problem that coffee just won’t cut it for no matter how nice the coffee is.
Beer; ale and bitter will always surpass fizzy stuff.
Whiskey whether Scotch or Irish of many types can not be substituted with Bourbon any more than tequila.

I embrace our, well sometimes eccentric spelling and will continue to encourage others to as well. So will continue to humoUr my neighboUr over the coloUr of their fence and apologiSe if I don’t recogniSe their Oestrogen fuelLed defenCe in our dialogUE without analySing it…..even if my computer hates me for it.

If someone proposes in the street/restaurant in front of me, I’ll watch and move on, you won’t get me to applaud.

I like my small car and these huge great blooming 4×4’s (SUV’s if you must) that everyone insists on now annoy me, they’re too big for our car park spaces and too tall to see around properly. Unless you live in a hilly region where it snows a lot, on a farm or somewhere that gets flooded regularly there’s just no need. Who doesn’t learn to drive a manual gear box? it’s not rocket science and the only reason I’ll change to automatic is if I have to for physical reasons.

The fact our police don’t carry guns as standard is a good thing, so is the fact not everyone can buy one at a shop that also sells groceries. Some people just should not be allowed to handle a deadly weapon and at least we try to control it (not well all the time but the effort is there).

A house has to be over a century old, at least from the Victorian era before I’ll agree it has historical significance in general. Since I grew up in a house nearly 300years old now  and with buildings from before the plague hit England within minutes of it, unless it’s got a few zero’s after it I don’t set much stock in it.

And my final annoyance of the American invasion through commercialism? The date makes much more sense to be in order from small to large category, day, month, year, muddling it around is just plain confusing!
While I’m on the topic what happened to the ordinal indicator?? I hold my breath at the point in any film advertisement to see if they use one and it often decides whether I’ll make an effort to watch it.
Don’t know what I mean by an “ordinal indicator”?
-th, -nd, -st, -rd…..ring any bells?
First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth…..instead of one, two, three, four, five, six, I know Americans can use them because they refer to the “fourth of July” not the four of July but for some reason that’s beyond me they have often given up using them.
It’s infiltrated even adverts voiced by British accents, for our consumption too for some reason.

OK my ranting is at an end, I just had to get it off my chest as it was really bugging me today. We are British and I do hope our identity can withstand the pressure from television/ film/game influences to change that. No we’re not perfect and yes there’s plenty I would change, but the things we’re picking up seem to be about “one upmanship”, commercial obsession and frankly a little silly in some cases.

The battle of thermoregulation

It’s that time of year again so thought I’d reblog it

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thermometer

A battle everyone in Britain will be facing today but one that us MSers have pretty much every day.

“My body’s thermostat is broken”

It’s the easiest way I’ve found to try and explain to people why I overheat in a perfectly reasonably heated room or when they are all saying it’s cold. If they need more detail I’ll try and get them to understand that our already damaged nerves can’t cope with the temperature change just like a computer overheating and either crashing or slowing to a crawl. There’s lots of information around on it like the National MS Society and the MS Trust if you want to read up.

So me? I’ve never coped well with heat. Heat stroke, headaches and sunburn were staples of my childhood summers but now it’s a whole new ball game. Don’t get me wrong I still get heat stroke etc if I’m…

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The Monster arrives….

scienerf

Today is World MS Awareness day and I thought today was as good a day as any to broach the subject on here.

I have mentioned before that I have Multiple Sclerosis, it’s a neurological condition that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It can affect anything controlled by them (anything from vision to coordination to bladder and bowel control) and tends to worsen whenever it feels like making it very unpredictable and extremely frustrating. Many people that I have spoken to over the years have dubbed it ‘The Monster’ and I agree with the

As far as I know my MS started in 2008, possibly instigated through stress as I was having my life made a living hell by my mentor of the time. I went into work and fell over on the floor when I turned round to speak to someone, my balance had…

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Sensory processing issues?

I’ve been told by some and wondered myself about getting tested for being on the Autistic spectrum. It would explain quite a lot but I’m torn as to whether there was any point in going through the stress.

Recently due to something at work (Educational Health Care Plans related) I had a sudden memory flash and realisation. Have you heard of “Sensory Seekers”? it’s a term that anyone who works with or knows someone on the spectrum may have heard but many won’t. It is what it says, someone who seeks out sensory experiences and goes hand in hand with “sensory avoidance” to culminate into a “Sensory Processing Disorder”.

“Isn’t that everyone? Everyone will avoid things they don’t like and do things that feel good” I hear you say, well yes we all look for sensations and avoid others, but it tends to refer to a certain way of going about it.

Autism.com along with the Autism Research Institute tells us

“In general, dysfunction within these [systems] manifests itself in many ways. A child may be over- or under-responsive to sensory input; activity level may be either unusually high or unusually low; a child may be in constant motion or fatigue easily. In addition, some children may fluctuate between these extremes. Gross and/or fine motor coordination problems are also common when these three systems are dysfunctional and may result in speech/language delays and in academic under-achievement. Behaviorally, the child may become impulsive, easily distractible, and show a general lack of planning. Some children may also have difficulty adjusting to new situations and may react with frustration, aggression, or withdrawal.”

Doesn’t sound like me? well this does tend to make us think of the most extreme versions of the spectrum. Children and adults who can’t communicate, sit rocking constantly, can’t cope with any changes at all….but this condition is a spectrum and after seeing many variations over the past few years I do wonder.

Anyway back to the memories that triggered this train of thought again. I have very patchy memories of childhood and they tend to only come to the front when triggered (rarely in a good way). Many of them were of playing alone in the back garden, it was large and with plenty for me to do but I admit I look back and I feel sorry for that little girl sometimes.

We had a climbing frame similar to this one in the garden and I was pretty good at the monkey bars back then 😀 I would spend hours climbing around on it getting to the top and sitting, standing and swinging there before jumping from the top straight down onto the grass (about 2 metres or so). If someone was around I would shout to them to watch and laugh at their surprise that I hadn’t broken a bone.

climbing-frame

I’d climb the willow tree in out back garden and do the same, jumping from one of the branches and moving higher each time to see how high I dared jump from. I was always up in trees, there was something so soothing about being up high and more than once I wished I could live in one.

Jumping wasn’t reserved for trees and I’d jump down the stairs trying to get as high as I could and still land. Slide down the rail at every opportunity and climb around the ledge that overhung the hallway. I’ll see if I can find/take a picture of it because it’s hard to understand just how high and dangerous this was until you see it.

I’d do front flips from the chairs in our front room onto a pile of cushions, over and over again. Once I landed badly, bending my neck forward and I couldn’t breathe. My mum rushed me to the doctors and they decided I had probably slipped a disc which had popped back in….lucky as I could have paralysed myself. That didn’t stop me, I just made the pile of cushions bigger.

I was obsessed with swinging whether on the swing, from the banister rails, on a metal pole like a gymnasts bar a friend of the family made us. To this day if I’m truly in pain, can’t sleep, or upset I rock myself backwards and forwards with my head in my hands. In the days when I was still flexible I could lie on my front and pull my legs over to hold them by my head, I’d rock like this watching tv.

The hall in our house was long, at least 8 metres and I would run or skate backwards and forwards until I was told to stop. The pathway in the back garden was good for running up and down too, counting the number of times I could do it and making sure I only stepped on each slab once with one foot. I was never fast, never very good at running though.

Dens were a big part of my time, a place to hide, a place to feel safe, blankets, cushions, tables I got very good at making them. Once when the Willow tree had been trimmed I even made one outside from the branches and I was sooo proud of it I wanted to try sleeping in it but it was too small.

Things like that never seemed weird, since I was the only child my age in my garden…who was I to compare it to?

As for hypersensitivity…the usual things of having my hair brushed, to the point where I actually cut it off myself with nail scissors to make it shorter thinking it would hurt less…I was right but not till my mum noticed and got the hairdresser to cut it short properly. Weirdly as I got older and it wasn’t so full of tugs I would seek out having my hair played with….still do when I can! I miss the boyfriend I had who was happy to brush and play with my hair when I was stressed. Recently I found out that that tingling feeling I get when I watch other people having their hair touched isn’t unusual and is classed as ASMR….youtube is full of videos for people who find it relaxing.

My sense of smell, I miss it now that medication has stolen it from me. As a child I could smell the change in seasons, I can’t explain it but there was a scent in the air when the world transferred from spring to summer to autumn to winter and the smell of snow in the air…I still occasionally get that. Any slight smell of “gone off” in food meant I couldn’t touch it and still can’t when I get a whiff of it.

Some perfumes, colognes etc actually physically hurt or like lavender give me headaches and nausea. That hasn’t waned, somehow they cut through the nasal problems I have and when they hit my sinuses wow it’s a shock :/

Food textures….I can’t stand the texture (or taste) of liver, kidney, cooked cauliflower, butterbeans, pears the list goes on.There’s something about the way they feel that make me gip, an almost gritty, clayish, texture I can’t quite describe. But I love raw vegetables the crunchier the better! I learnt as a child to force myself to eat things I hated because I wouldn’t get away with not…..make sure you swallow it as whole as possible and before the things you do like so it covers the taste 😉

Weirdly when it came to flavours I hunted out the strong ones, drinking undiluted squash, lemon juice, vinegar, sucking on lemons, salad cream, mixing together weird flavours other people find repulsive.

Sound wise I can’t say I have “perfect pitch” but since I can remember the slightest discord and it causes an involuntary twitch, it makes me physically uncomfortable when things aren’t in tune. Frustrating now that I struggle to control my own voice, to the point where I won’t really sing even alone as it annoys me too much that I can’t keep in tune. Not good at work where the other people can’t sing in tune for the life of them even with nursery rhymes!

I struggle when there are too many noises going on that I can’t control, if I have my music turned up loud by choice then that’s fine, even gigs don’t bother me I enjoy the almost all encompassing feeling of it. But when it’s a crowd of people, or music playing in shops, it becomes too much and I panic, I have to get out of the situation. I used to use my headphones as a coping mechanism, sticking them in before leaving the house and only taking them out when really necessary. Busses, trains, walking in crowds, they were essential to my “armour” but when I was having therapy for anxiety I stopped using them because it was stopping me facing the anxiety and making it worse.

fab

Loud noises and sometimes even just certain frequencies at low volume, make it feel like a shock running through me. The kettle clicking off, toaster popping, a doorbell, phone ringing can all make me jump out of my skin. Fireworks are terrible  especially the ridiculously loud ones that go on now, randomly banging when you least expect it, leaving me and my dog both tense, shaking and turning up my music to block them out.

As for trying to sleep when I could still hear televisions, or conversations going on or noises outside…that was and still is an impossible task for me. I find it easier to sleep with music or in front of the telly with sounds I can recognise than to try and ignore those little noises that I can hear.

No idea what any of this means for me, except it’s difficult to cope with sometimes and I wonder if there’s anything to it. At least if I have it all written down and I want to go for assessment I can show them rather than trying to remember it off the top of my head.

a bit of creation to ease stress

Since leaving my last job and going back to just helping out at the family business I’ve needed to keep busy.

Luckily enough a very good friend of mine is expecting her first baby so I had the perfect excuse to get out the wool and get creative. So first things first a crochet baby blanket in neutrals as she doesn’t know the sex and a few baby hats and mittens that are always good to have. I played with putting a pattern on a couple and got a little extravagant on the woodland theme!

Luckily enough I actually chose just the right colours to match the nursery 🙂

Then inspiration struck. I’ve seen a few different versions of very hungry caterpillar costume that photographers use and decided it needed “tweaking”.

For a start most of them were just a bag and as anyone who has had a baby recently (or like me just knows random facts) knows, that’s not safe for a baby to actually sleep in. So to make it usable I decided to add on the arm holes and fastenings so they can actually let the little one sleep in the sleeping bag with lots of space to kick around at the bottom.
This one I’ll give to them when the little one is finally here (she’s overdue now) with a copy of the book to read as well.

When another friend saw all these bits on facebook she asked me if I could do “something fairy or toadstool related” for her little girls bedroom. Again I went hunting for a pattern someone has already come up with and found a pattern on craftyiscool that I liked and decided to give a go.

Me and my tweaking, I can’t help it! but on this pattern the first one I made was pretty close to the pattern, just made everything in crochet without the felt for white spots and windows, then added some grass leaves on the back.

When my mum saw this she loved it especially the little gnome I’d made to just fit through the door. She asked about making a caterpillar to sit on top as in Alice in Wonderland because she was having a themed Macmillan coffee morning. I agreed I could come up with something and when we decided it would work as a game for people to win it I made a second one. The second version had a lot more “tweaks” because I removed the porch just putting on a door, made some 3D creeping plants to grow up the side, larger grass leaves at the back. People are still guessing his name this week so shhhhh I’m not telling 😉

Now as I said the reason I found that toadstool was the request of a friend. I suggested to her that it might be good to have something her daughter could use and decided upon a pyjama case. I made a rod for my own back in other words because guess what no one ever seems to have knitted before? that’s right a fairy toadstool house pyjama case or even a cushion. On went the thinking cap, doing, undoing, redoing and much much tweaking so tell you what here’s the “in the making” pictures I took to remind myself what I’d been doing.

the only thing I didn’t design myself completely was the lily of the valley flower petals. I can’t find where I got it from now! but if I do I’ll put a link. The rest is all my own minds weird wanderings and hopefully when her little girl gets it in the post in the next couple of days it will make her smile 🙂

So there you go. The last month and a half of wooly madness that has been going on.

I’ll leave the catch up on my life for the moment (it’s been busy and this is already quite long) I’ll leave it at…..Buying a bungalow!

OK back to my homeless hat knitting I go 😉

I mentioned I’d ordered…

….an ice towel among other things in my post the other day.

So here’s a little something to review it. I was wrong that it would arrive after the thunderstorms because I’m horrified to say there’s not been a drop of rain just muggy heat with the occasional bit of promising cloud that never comes to fruition.

Now most people I spoke to had dampened it and wrapped it around their neck. That is lovely but I found it was warming up very quickly and I was faffing with it constantly as it wasn’t comfortable. So in a moment of inspiration I decided to wrap it around my head like a headscarf and Bingo! it stayed nice and cool for a while, I didn’t need to mess about with it and with my misting spray to occasionally renew the moisture I’ve now decided this is my way to use it. I love this towel and will probably invest in a second for when this one is in the wash as have most of the other ladies I’ve spoken to who have tried it out.

Are you ready for the embarrassing head shot? pardon the bags under my eyes, bad skin and treble chin but at least I wasn’t bright red thanks to the ice towels cooling properties!13738124_10154269858919484_5378851026048618046_o

In discussions on the women with MS group on Facebook there’s a few other cooling ideas that have cropped up so I may bore you with more about it at some point. Till then I hope you’re enjoying your weekends, I’ve got to go and prepare my house for a furry invasion tomorrow by the name of Angus 🙂