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Downsizing at last!

November 9, 2013

We had a very relaxing weekend and a pleasant Sunday roast dinner of chicken with all the trimmings but then the work started again. We finished the unpacking of the last two boxes and they contained all the display cabinet stuff. We took the opportunity to clean up the conservatory and at least make it look tidy. The pine bookcase went in with all the cookery books, we must start on sorting them out soon as we have way too many and we need the bookcase space.

One job we have been threatening to do was refilling the leather pouffe which we had bought online from the UK. However, the polystyrene beads we had bought in the US (because shipping them from the UK wasn’t practical) had over time crushed and turned into dust and had been leaking out for ages.  The company we bought the pouffe from recommended we use their beads so I ordered a bag. Getting the old stuff out involved a special filter on the shop vac and it needed three goes to get it all. Putting the new beads in was just as much fun and then there weren’t enough, so we had to order more. Eventually the job was done and it looks and feels much better.

The Great Downsizing Project is now well under way, we unpacked all the boxes with clothes in them, went through our wardrobes and sorted out all the ones that either didn’t fit, were not worth keeping or were never going to be worn again. Then we bagged them all up and took them to a recycling place that actually pays money for old clothes by weight. We had 38 kilos!!!! That at 55p a kilo was a good pub lunch paid for.

We decided we need to tidy the garage up a bit as we couldn’t get to much stuff but this is going to be a long project. I started to advertise some of the surplus furniture on Gumtree and Ebay – ended up selling an old dressing table and getting a “buy it now” for the Tapley wall furniture. Now there is a bit more room in the garage and we can start to see where things are.

Next up was to sort out all the bed linen we don’t need to keep – we found five duvets with covers, mattress covers, sheets and pillow case that we had kept for use when we had house guests. We sorted into what we might need to fit a double bed and two single beds – even that is probably overdoing it – the rest is headed for the recycling place along with the final clothes sort out.

We were very fortunate on Monday when the big storm hit the UK – the eye of it passed directly over us and although we got some strong gusts it was nothing like other parts of the country. Mumbles is very close and they recorded 89 mph there but we escaped it all.

This bungalow has several challenges with the plumbing, the typical UK gravity fed hot water system isn’t good enough to make the shower in the main bathroom work and then the shower in the other bathroom just stopped working. That turned out to be an airlock but the other issues and some very strange noises from the boiler and the control box resulted in a visit by the boiler maintenance people and the owner. The maintenance guy found the gas valve to be on its last legs and the water temperature had been set way too high. He also told us that the main shower would never work and the owner agreed it needed fixing. That got us a visit from the plumber and electrician and apparently we are getting a new electric shower – though the obvious solution would be to change the hot water system to a mains pressure one. The boiler guys apparently ordered the wrong part so that job has been postponed. Some day we’ll be done with “having men in” but it seems not yet.

There has been a problem on the car since we got it, the parking sensors don’t work and the system just beeps continuously and loudly whenever reverse is selected. The sales guy agreed to fix it under warranty so we arranged to deliver it back to them this week for a day. Joan said she would drive us there and we could go sightseeing until it was time to collect the car. Great plan but it started to come unravelled when we arrived to find the sales guy didn’t work there any more! After finding someone who knew him we got his mobile number and he gave us the owners’ number. The owner agreed and told us to leave the car and he would get a mechanic to sort it. We took off for trip to Tenby which is a big tourist place in summer and very picturesque but it was very cold and we still haven’t got used to dressing appropriately so not much walking around. We did have a good pub lunch of fish & chips, June had the moules which brightened her day up quite a bit.

The car turned out to need some parts ordering and the garage owner said he would take care of it and actually send the mechanic to our house to do the work. Then, as he was reversing our car out, we noticed the rear lights were half full of water!! He agreed to have the mechanic sort that out as well and reseal them properly.

Both the dressing table and the Tapley furniture have now been collected and we have emptied all of the boxes containing bed linen. We had full set of King size linen with pillows and duvet plus a bedspread – this was expensive stuff when we bought it but various attempts to sell it proved fruitless so on Friday we bundled all the remaining clothes and bed linen and headed to the recycling place – another 30 kilos worth!. There is now significantly more room in the garage and we can start to move all the boxes around and get to everything. Still can’t believe how much stuff we have that we thought would “cumminandy” one day. Ah well, it’ll keep us busy during the long winter evenings.

Returning to Britain after 22 years is proving a bit of an eye-opener, it seems there is a culture of ticking boxes and following procedures but not actually achieving the desired results. Regrettably it seems this is prevalent in the National Health System, I have been waiting for nearly six weeks to get a hospital referral and they have finally given me a date of 2nd December!  A far cry from the speed of response we were getting in France and in the US. Part of the problem is the excess of bureaucracy – just to get a prescription renewed takes a phone call to the doctors office to get them to sign a new prescription, then that has to be collected from the office and delivered to the pharmacy and they have to fill the order, which can take 48 hours, and then we have to go and pick it up. Even though the original doctors’ order was for 6 refills, each one has to go through this process. In France and the US, a doctor would give a prescription for three refills and we would just take that to the pharmacy and get it.  If we needed more it involved a short doctors appointment with a health check and then we would get three months more. I could go on but it could get depressing.

On a lighter note and another example of the ticking the box syndrome, I had a long exchange of emails with Sony because I could not get the TV to recognise the UK DVB-T digital signals which it claimed it could do. I got various responses from Sony such as “it was bought in the US so you have to get Sony US to sort it”. Sony US won’t talk to me because US is not my country of residence but I did manage to get Sony Europe to send me a software upgrade on a USB stick – the TV wouldn’t recognise it. Another response from Sony UK stated categorically the TV did not have a digital tuner which begs the question of why “digital set up” is on the menu. The TV set up only has three countries on it (Australia, Singapore and New Zealand) and I had been leaving this alone defaulting to Australia. Then just out of curiosity I changed it to NZ – bingo, full UK digital signals and loads of extra channels! Turns out Australia uses DVB-T2, NZ is just DVB-T as is the UK. The only problem is it thinks it really is in NZ and the clock is wrong and the programme guide is messed up. Anyway I let Sony know what I thought of their tech support and they wrote back and said “as you bought this in the USA we have no knowledge of this TV”. My response was “you do now!”

Anyway, we carry on and try to work out how to dispose of all the stuff we don’t need and have no room for.



David & June

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2013 14:04

    Ahhh,, the joys of the UK!! They are many but surely varied… 🙂
    Dressing appropriately for Wales vs Vannes… quite some difference I should have thought, given there would be more wind in Wales than Vannes?
    (We have found it the other way round: more windy here in northern Brittany than in Reading at the bottom of the Thames Valley 🙂

    Glad you got the car sorted out, and the tv all set to go now too. Dr appts are a bit hit and miss there, and it takes some getting used to. But eventually you fall into the rhythm of the system, and all will be well.

    Looking forward to some pics of the house and the environment – it is lovely over there!

  2. November 10, 2013 14:13

    The problem with clothing is we still think California, but it was more windy in the part of Brittany where we were than here – least its less often


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