10th May 2006

Back again.

I hope you are sitting comfortably (either that or getting broadband).

First, the bad news. We have squatters!

O.K. - it's a family of Robins that has nested eighteen feet up in our half built lounge. Yes, IN... and said family are staying put for the time being, and a window upstairs has to be left open for dad to fetch the food for mum and the kids. Of course, the builders are working around them. (Builders are as soft as soap).

The good news is, the Robins will fledge and hopefully leave in the next five weeks. Well that's what Google says. Google also says they can do the whole thing twice in one summer, so the plan is to move the nest into a box outside when the chicks have flown.

Below, a long lens pic of mum, who obviously doesn't think much of us - or our plans.

Some non avian stuff: Robert 'The Bruce' has assembled a great team of joiners, and things seem to be progressing quite swiftly (at last). It's costing me a fortune, but the care and attention to detail is showing, and I'm keen to do it right. It also looks like August is a go. If it isn't, I'll be in the market for a caravan.

That bloke from 'Grand Designs' would probably say something like "This house seems to sit comfortably in its surroundings" - so I won't.   The fireplace is yet to be fitted, and the space above will end up as a tall wall with balcony to the right (currently sporting 'safety rails').
Charlie has finally found some use: as giver of perspective and scale.   Outside, the staining and guttering is now finished, so I can stop whincing while watching the weather forecast for the northwest Highlands.

The back half of the music room... needing sound proofing (and a wall or two).


The back half of the house - finally finished.


Charlie doing what he does best (chasing seagulls).


...and of course, we have to slum it once more in the Torridon Hotel.

(by the way, as you can see - it rains all the time in the Highlands).


11th May 2006

Today I got my fifth final reminder from the tool hire company to whom I don't owe any money. Whoopee.

12th May 2006

I think I might be starting to get the hang of this. I just sacked a firm of decorators who hadn't even started.

22nd May 2006

Eleven months and five days after I applied for a grant for up to 30% of the cost of an eco friendly ground source heat pump system; after several letters, four phone calls and a half a dozen e mails, my application (which has been 'near the top of the pile' since October) finally seems to have found its way to the top. I got this on Tuesday... "I am hoping you get your application and offer processed before the end of the week."

They didn't, of course. And I still don't know if they are going to give me any money. This is because they expected me to wait until the application was processed before I started the installation (and built the house - the former must precede the latter on my site due to space). So to abide by the rules, I was supposed to postpone the build of the new house by... eleven months, one week and three days (and counting) until they got round to doing some 'processing'.

Yea right.

Now. There is a rumour of a photo of a family of hatched robins doing the rounds amongst certain members of the building trade in the Highlands. I am trying to get hold of a bootleg copy of this photo. If I do, you'll be the first to see it.

Oh... the house is still being built by the way.

23rd May 2006

Six decorators turned up at 07:30 this morning to do taping/plastering (yes, 6) - having driven in two vans for about 90 minutes. You can wait for months, then six turn up at the same time.

They stayed 10 minutes and left.

Apparently they wanted the upstairs plasterboard finished before they started downstairs (which is finished). I'm sure it makes perfect sense to them. My site manager and I were left scratching heads. I hope they will return, and I hope they won't charge me six times three hours plus mileage times two.

Talking of money, the Energy Saving Trust finally decided they WOULD award me 30% towards the cost of the ground source heat pump system (yippee).... so I phoned my new Scottish bank today to check my balance (or lack thereof). They boast an automated only service, which means: dial number, listen to guff, choose option, choose option, enter sort code, enter account number, enter three digit password number, listen to guff, get transferred, re-enter sort code, re-enter account number, re-enter three digit password number and wait whilst listening to Jumping Jack Flash arranged for flute and piano... this equates to (I kid you not - and yes I've changed two numbers)

0 8 4 5 7 8 0 1 8 0 1 guff 1 1 8 0 9 1 2 6 0 0 1 5 4 6 4 5 2 3 6 guff 8 0 9 1 2 6 0 0 1 5 4 6 4 5 2 3 6 - crap musac

On a scale of 1 to 10 on the annoying stakes this equates to more than 12, but it gets worse, as when eventually the musac stops and you get to speak to someone analogue, they ask AGAIN for your sort code, account number and three digit password number.

That'll be progress then.

Have just written a letter giving three months notice on our rented house, so we WILL be moving before the 24th August.

Anyone got a tent I can borrow?


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