Thursday, July 22, 2010

On why I do not have time to quilt..

The house move is (touch wood) coming up on 11th August.
I pressed for a date so I could book time off and eventually my solicitor gave us the 11th as 'an agreed provisional date, subject to contract to be treated with caution.'
It is a good job I speak fluent lawyer!

So, on a practical level we are at the packing up stage. Or I would be if I didn't keep getting sidetracked with legal niceties;
We got the Land Registry deeds and there is a restrictive covenant that prevents the construction of a building or structure within 20 yards of the rear boundary. i.e. right where the studio is going. Ah.

Turns out you can insure against the risk that someone will come along and ask you to take it down. As the beneficiary is a dissolved company the risk is not high, but it still exists as they might have sold the benefit on. It will  cost about £500- £800 if I insure pre-build and less if I build and wait a year then insure, as they insurance company suggested. Right. So you want me to be uninsured for the riskiest period so that the premiums reduce. And the point of that is....?!! We are shopping around for quotes. I did suggest that I could always convert the loft as an alternative to a garden room studio anyway. Dennis became quite firm that I deserved a place out of the house for all my threads. I'd like to think he was thinking of me and validating my art, but somehow....

Then today I arrived home to find that the solicitors have done all the checks and searches on the house. It is not going to fall down a mineshaft and it does not have Bhopal like contamination in the ground. It does however have Chancel Repair Liability.

What? I am pretty sure I never heard of that when I was doing my 6 months conveyancing stint – and as I did my own conveyancing  for this house while I was in that post I was actually paying attention to my training.

Turns out that under medieval law if you owned land within the parish of a certain kind of church the parishioners were liable to pay half of the repair costs of the church and the rector had to pay the other half from the tithes. This liability attaches to the land and it appears that we are within a risk area for this.

Now you might think that this is nothing but in 2003 there was a House of Lords case where a couple who inherited a farm with this liability were clobbered for £196,000. As they were daft enough to litigate it to the House of Lords it also cost them over £250,000 in costs. As a result it has become a negligence issue for the solicitors not to search to see if there is a risk. And of course becuase that was so in the news, parochial councils are now aware that there might be a better way to raise money for the spire than coffee mornings.You can  insure against this risk. It is £15 for a basic search to see if you are in a risk area –that’s what we have. You can then pay £100 to do a full search to see if you have an actual risk and what proportion of the cost you might be liable for – although that would not help as even if the land is now in thousands of parcels apparently the church can just ask one party to pay it all! If you do that check though and there is a risk the insurance premiums rise because of course the risk has juts become a whole lot more certain. To insure the liability for £250,000 with a policy you can pass on to your successor is £145.88 to be insured for perpetuity or £100.88 for 25 years.... so of course you just pay up. I am finding this all terribly interesting. D is just bemused. (his word not mine). It has however proved an excuse to avoid packing in favour of an hour's internet research.

I rang the vendors to ask if by chance they had a policy. They bought in 1970 something when no one was aware of this so they don’t but they did invite us around to meet the neighbours over drinks and nibbles on Monday – isn’t that nice?

And finally I solved the T-mobile problem. Rather than a £35 iphone contract which is what I was begging them to give me. I have put my SIM into a £3.95 Virgin  pay as you go. When  ny contract runs out I am going to sign up for a £15 per month contract with a free Android smart phone and buy an I touch. I get everything I need technology wise and save £350. Yahboo sucks to T-Mobile.

PS The photo is not my parish church. It is Salisbury Cathedral. But it was the only copyright free photo I could quickly find. But imagine what it would cost to replace that roof!

PPS As I write Dennis has been looking at the cost of redirecting mail. They charge per surname not per address and of course I use my maiden name so we pay twice..... shall I just drain all my blood out now ready for moving date?

PPPS I was about to post this and D looked over. What happens to the chancel liabity, he asked, if the Church of England is disestablished?  How should I know? Only an Irishman.... I did ask him a little later what we were going to do for tea. "I don't know," he said, "Can I take out an insurance policy to cover it?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One way loyalty

Warning: Consumer rant follows.

I have been a T mobile customer since 1999 which I first acquired a mobile phone. I even run my account in credit. Today my Nokia phone died. No screen. Nada.
Not good when my husband is at the airport trying to text me.
Ah well, I was waiting until my contract ran out on 30th Sept to get an I-phone. So I will have to pay 2 months contract and change now. Such is life. I need a phone now.

Now, T-Mobile do not offically do I-phones. But a lady in a T Mobile shop told me that if you ring to say to are moving to get an I-phone they will do you one. And indeed, when I press 2 then 4 then 1 to speak to the Customer Loyalty team they will indeed. They will do me a 24 month contract on the 3GS for £35 with 600 minutes and unlimited data and text. Just what I need. And the phone will cost £90.

Ah. But Orange will do the exact same price plan and the phone for free.
I ring T-Mobile back.

T-mobile appreciate my problem. And, when they officially launch the I-Phone 4 ( which I am  not bothered about having) they will be able to give me the phone for free. That is in 2 weeks time.
So they want me to pay £90 for 2 weeks use of a phone?
I need a phone now. I suggest they talk to a manager.
The manager, Sandra, appreciates my problem too. But they cannot give me a free phone.
But they probably will in 2 weeks.
They tell me that is is not good business practice to lose a 2 year contract for the sake of two weeks or indeed for £90 but they are sorry, that is what they are going to do.

But, all is not lost - because I am such a loyal customer, they tell me, I will get a very good deal on the I-phone 4 ( which I do not want)  in two weeks time ( which is too late).

It does indeed seem that for T Mobile the I-phone 4 will change everything again. Because for this user the future appears to be orange.


Thursday, July 08, 2010


Last night in the middle of the World Cup semi-final all the small appliances in our house went off. Including the TV. Which didn't really bother me but the sewing machine went off too which was a different matter. We fairly quickly worked out that a trip switch was down, flicked it up and resumed our respective activities.

Zoom forward to 3 26 am. Now, I am happy to say that my husband does not beat me up.You can imagine then that I was a little suprised to be abruptly woken from a happily deep sleep by him whacking me on the leg as he sat up, flailing his arms in alarm and asking,
"What was that? That noise.What was it?"
Given that he had just assaulted awake a woman who once slept through an earthquake of such intensity that a member of my family ( who is best nameless in this context) ran out to the street assuming that 'The Lord has returned!", this was a very silly question. He got up, prowled down the landing and returned,
"There are books all over the floor".
I didn't even dignify this with a reply. I know that I married a very tidy man and that me having books stacked all over the 2nd bedroom floor ready for packing is not the best housekeeping, but I was not rising to such criticism/ comment at now 3.28 am.
I was about to fall asleep again when the noise starts. Even I heard it.
It was a kind of progressive series of thuds getting faster and faster. Thu...thu....thu..thu thuthuthuthuthud.


I went to the 2nd bedroom. Piles of books very still in their allocated places on the floor.
I went to the studio.
Ah. I see what he means.

Every quilting book I own ( except for some reason the Quilters Guild Collection; Contemporary Quilts) had jumped off the shelf.
I snapped a few photos ( becuase dear readers, even at 3.30 am I am thinking of your entertainment), pick them up, go to the bedroom and see that all the small appliances have gone again, including the alarm clock. So if the poltergeist had not pushed the books off we would not have set backup alarms on our mobile phones and I would have been late for work. What a nice helpful ghostie.
Either that or I should have listened to myself when I did wonder if that slightly wonky shelf would hold all thsoe books in my temporary studio.

I get back in bed.
"This," I say, "is why I need a new studio."
Dennis huffs. "Your Mum would say you need fewer books. I've noticed that. Your sentences always have the word 'new' in them and your Mum's have the word 'less'."

Now, Mum reads this from time to time so I had better make it clear: There were only two people mentioned there and only one was being approved of and it was not me.
But I get to have the new studio anyway because I have a big bruise and I know how to make an application for a Family Law Act injunction......

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thirty one hours in London

I am back from a little mini-break with my Mum in London, practising my skills in Extreme Art. This is what we did.

Fisrt ( and I suppose before our thirty one hours officially started) we enjoyed a very civilised full breakfast on the train. Checked in at the Kingsway Hall Hotel (mini review: chosen for its fantastic location for our plans, hotel perfectly comfortabe nothing special 7/10) and headed out for the latte  and cake at the London Review of Books

 with a quick pit stop at Blade Rubber stamps next door to see the African Gallery at the British Museum so I could revist and show Mum my favouriote works:

El Anatusi's metal kente cloth and the Christian Aid Tree of life made with decommissioned weapons.
Then to the special exhibition there The Kingdom of Ife . (mini review - interesting enough for half an hour but at £8 would have been overpriced save that given all the other times I've ben to the museum for free we did not begrudge paying for once! 7/10).

From there to my beloved October gallery to see the calligraphy panels by Rachid Koraichi (Mini Review: This gallery never ever disappoints. Beautiful series of inspiring panels. Lessons in simplicty, repetition and variation. Eminemetly stitchable. 10/10). Usually they have a cataolgue for about £5 and I always buy them as they have never had an exhibition which has not inspired me. But this time only a book of poems illustrated by him  at £17.50. I resisted as money is flowing housewise at the moment. But I  regretted it, came home and checked Amazon. £12.76. It is on its way!

A quick nip to the London Graphic Center to pick up some leaftlets about airbrushes and get a sale assistant to explain the ranges (more expensive than I thought - an item for post new studio building I decided) . Then, back to the hotel to paint each others nails, watch Wimbledom and get dressed up. Dinner at the Covent Garden Grill ( mini review: good for people who need interesting but plain food for allergies. Leather seat ripped. Got orders totally wrong and then charged us for the wrong meal and the right meals as well. Did give Mum balloons becuase I said it was her birthday. Food 6.5 / 10)

Mum was reluctant to just leave the balloons and as we walked out the door a little boy was passing with his parents. My Mum asked his Mum if he would like them and as my Mum went back into get them the boy's Mum showed me a deflated baloon she was carrying that the boy had just burst, to his dismay. You can imagine how pleased he was with the four helium filled replacements!

Then to the whole point of the trip. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to see Placido Domingo in Simon Boccanegro. (Mini review:  about 25/10)

Mum managed the gym for a bit before I even woke up (shame on me) breakfast then to the National Portrait Gallery - unplanned but we were passing so we chose one room (40) to see portraits of William and Harry including this one .

Through Trafalgar Square to see the Fourth Plinth ship in a bottle made out of African Dutch wax prints by Yinke Shinabore and then through my beloved St. James Park to the Queens Gallery at Buckingham Palace for the exhibition about the art collection of Quenn Victoria and Prince Albert.

(Mini Review - did you know Queen Victoria had a budget of £2000 per year to buy art and often didn't have enought money to buy what she wanted. I warmed to her! I found this exhibition suprisingly interesting - especially the flat pack throne from India! 9/10)

We then grabbed a cab to the V&A to meet up with best Quilting Buddy Lesley and her sister Claire who had just been to the Quilts Exhibition which is where we headed. (10/10  Obviously. Even though I had seen it already.) That left just enough time to get a taxi to Tavistock Street. Or at least as near to it as the Gay Pride traffic controls would let our driver get. The pristine Trafalgar Square we had been through a few hours later was now filled with rubbish strewn on the streets (0/10). So we walked the rest of the way to find the Primrose Bakery

 which turned out to be nothing all that special but which I had wanted to find since I bought their cupcake book and realised it was close to the hotel. And then 'twas time to collapse onto the train and read House magazines!