Moving Tales: Part 2

In my last post about our recent house move I expressed frustration about a series of relatively minor but annoying problems that we’d had so far. The two main issues were the lack of hot water, and a mystery leak.

Shortly after posting I started pulling out wood cladding in the downstairs bathroom (part of the garage conversion) and found that the reason we had a water leak was because the pipe that took waste water from the sink and downstairs shower was not actually attached to the piping that should have routed it out of the bathroom and through to what’s left of the garage. Water was literally pouring onto the floor every time the shower or sink was used. Annoyingly, this had obviously been a problem for some time, as there were clear water marks and residue of damp that had been painted over. I called a local plumber in and had it sorted for £50, job done.

The hot water issue was slightly more complicated. Gaz and I fiddled with the boiler, we replaced fuses in mystery switches in the garage, we tried the thermostat on the wall but all to no avail. In the end I called in my regular trusty gas engineer (Telford Gas & Heating, highly recommend) to take a look assuming — hoping — it’d be something as simple as the boiler needing a service.

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. I knew that the problem was a little more complicated when, during the initial consult & having opened the airing cupboard to see the pipework to and from the hot water tank, my engineer uttered the fatal words “what on earth is that”. We were quoted circa £850 to fix the massive piping cock-ups that had been made previously, which we managed to scrape together, and the work was scheduled for this morning (9th July)

In the mean time, to keep us on our toes, the house decided to throw a little electrics issue at us. One evening after school, Izzy turned her bedroom light on and the upstairs electrics & downstairs bathroom lights went out. At first I panicked and thought the leak had reoccurred and was seeping into a light socket or something, but couldn’t find any evidence of that. Attempts to reset the RCD on the fuseboard wouldn’t work, and it’d immediately trip again. After 3 days of ignoring the issue like the nice responsible homeowners that we are, Gaz suggested it might be related to a switch in the loft that appeared to not do anything that he’d fiddled with when he was hiding some of our junk. Lo and behold, after climbing back up there and switching it off, the electrics came back on. Tada!

Anyway, back to the hot water. The gas engineer and his colleague turned up this morning and immediately started trying to make sense of the pipes while I cracked on with work. Just before 10am I emailed Gaz to tell him I was hearing a lot of perplexed “jesus, this is a mess” type noises coming from upstairs which didn’t sound great. 20 minutes later and I was called upstairs to the landing, where the floorboards had been removed to expose further pipework that I can only describe as akin to a game of Snake.

I’m not an expert on central heating installation or plumbing etc but it definitely didn’t require expert skills to see that there were Big Issues afoot. With that, on top of the work that was scheduled to be done this morning, and the reality of the state of the system, our best option (short of bumbling along with what we have for the foreseeable) is to replace the whole central heating system: pipework, hot water cylinder, radiators, possibly even the boiler at an estimated cost £5,000-£6,000. This is before we factor in the problems likely to be caused by lifting floorboards (i.e. removal of the laminate in the bedroom for access).

To say I’m furious is an understatement. That someone would knowingly misrepresent their house to get an artificially inflated sale price fully in the knowledge that we have two young children for whom hot water, reasonable plumbing and working electrics are, y’know, somewhat important; to look those kids in the eye and reel off the story of her husband’s sudden death to engender sympathy; to lie to the solicitors about “not being able to find the boiler certificate” knowing full well there isn’t one because the system was installed by an unqualified fucknugget; and, finally, leaving a “new home” card behind wishing “happy memories” when you know you’ve screwed over your buyer to the tune of several thousand pounds? Fuck, furious doesn’t even come close to how I feel.

Still, life lesson learned. Don’t be a dick and skimp to move faster (like we did), get the most in depth survey even if it costs you a small fortune in the short term. Ultimately, it may save you you a fuck ton more later on.

Lead photo by Joel Barwick.

Appearances can be deceptive, and other moving tales

Having blogged back in February about jumping head first and putting an offer on a local property that we were not really ready to buy, we finally exchanged and completed on the 22nd.

Excitement and trepidation had been building for some time, and with the help of friends and family we prepped and packed virtually everything that could be prepped and packed. Every room was thoroughly cleaned as it was emptied and once the keys were in our hands, we were away!

messy living room with upturned furniture
Moving day chaos with upturned sofa

My expectations were high for the new house, having been showcased as something that we could just move in to. With recent improvements to the bathrooms, a relatively modern conversion in the garage, new-ish windows, a decent kitchen etc it ticked all the boxes. I wasn’t keen on some of the paint colour choices, but smother everything in magnolia and you can’t go wrong (at least in the short term).

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. The move itself was fine, I’m never particularly bothered about packing and moving, but every day since has thrown up challenges.

The whole house was dirty with dog hair and debris like false nails left in drawers and in the carpet in my son’s room. There’s windows that jam, the extractor hood over the hob blew on the first use (and not just a fuse, it’s actually fucked). None of the internal doors fit properly in their frames which means they don’t shut properly, there’s no hot water and we’re not sure why, the back door drops in the frame when you open it and it won’t shut again, and there’s a mystery leak causing water to seep through the garage which seemed minor at first but we’ve just discovered is also affecting the cupboard under the stairs so suddenly becomes a big deal.

Walls had been painted between our initial viewings and the sale for some utterly bizarre reason, and every paint job was terrible with the various previous colours showing through brush marks on the walls. There’s screws half-in door handles, we removed a pinboard that was attached to a wall with an entire packet of blu tack, and we found a mystery Christmas present under the stairs. It wasn’t even a good one.

The smell of dog, probably not helped by the water leak, is overwhelming despite vacuuming the carpet again and again and suddenly explains why she had a lot of air fresheners running during the viewings. There’s scratch marks in doors and the conservatory windows where they were obviously shut away during the day.

Every house has its quirks, and it’ll take time to find and fix (or come to terms with) those in this one, but the huge disconnect between my expectations and the reality is crushing.

Update 2018-06-05: having ripped back some of the vinyl in the converted garage bathroom this morning, the leak appears to be coming from the shower, which is a lot easier to fix than if it were e.g. coming from upstairs. Still a twat, but less of a twat than I thought.

Lead photo by Stephanie Watters Flores. Not my new house, obviously, I’m just being dramatic.

Flippity Flop

Keeping with the “posts I didn’t think I’d write” theme, I have some slightly less traumatic but otherwise Important Life Stuff news.

Having earlier this week spent the Nth (I’ve lost count) night waking up — tossing and turning — stressing about work, I decided that enough was enough this week. The reasons are many and varied but… I just can’t lie in bed when the alarm clock goes off, dreading getting up and wanting to call in sick: it’s not sustainable and is having a massive effect on my mental health (which has been up and down over the past year as it is). I miss my mojo. I’ve handed in my notice at matm.

A couple of full time opportunities cropped up in the week (coincidence) but ultimately I’m 99% sure at this stage that I’m going to return to freelancing. The flexibility around the kid’s schedule will be a massive help, the ability to go for a run in the middle of the day if my mood hits a big low, not having to deal with petty office politics etc. It’s a win-win situation as far as I can tell. (Apart from having to earn a massive amount to cover my monthly bills, but eh, IT’LL BE FINE!)

One of the big things I struggled with last time, and a big part of why I stopped working at home, was an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I got to the point where I was talking to the postman and inviting Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a cup of tea. I don’t want that to be the thing that stops me from making this opportunity a success, so I will be addressing this as soon as possible. I am not sure how yet, but I’ve had loads of ideas (and nicked other people’s): volunteering somewhere a few hours a week, working in a client office occasionally, working in the local pub for a few hours (actually, maybe not this one… ;))

I want to be able to look at this opportunity the same way I looked at it last time: mostly positive.

It’s just a shame that this is timed so spectacularly badly, given that I’ve not long listed WAHMweb.co.uk up for sale because of lack of time to dedicate to it. And it’s too late to cancel the sale, too :(

Anyway, I’d appreciate your well wishes and crossed digits in the coming months. And if you need a website…

Where I’m at with not-being-a-fatty

I have a blog post in the works about my Easter excursions with the kids, but unfortunately it needs pictures and they’re on an SD card 13 or so miles down the road, d’oh. Instead I shall ramble on for a little while about where I’m at with my lifting and running and generally not being a lazy lardarse.

So, having just joked about not being a lazy lardarse? Well actually that’s pretty much what I have been doing. I had a dip in my mood stability because of restarting the pill etc after my whole30 and this brought on the comfort eating of doom. Although that has now settled back down (mostly) 2 illnesses and 5 days in Norfolk have meant I’ve achieved a sum total of approximately 2 workouts and 1 run in about 3-4 weeks.

As a result of the comfort binging and the lack of actual movement I’ve put weight back on. I’ve not weighed myself (because it’s not going to help) but I’ve gone from nearly-size-10 to jeez-these-12s-feel-tight-again.

I don’t want my fitness journey to focus on weightloss — and this entire post probably screams hypocrisy and irony if you were reading my tweets on the F word (I don’t mean “fuck”) earlier — but I was getting to the point where I was genuinely happy in my skin and the reduction in weight was making me faster. I managed to shave some seconds off my parkrun time on the 21st March bringing me down to 28:35.

I think that if I feel happier with myself, if I feel fast and strong, then I’m going to feel better overall and with my mental health up and down like a yoyo at the moment anything is better than nothing.

And it all came crashing down

After a positive end to the whole30, which I carried on for several extra days, I had planned to implement a sort of 5 days on, 2 days off approach to clean eating. Eat well Sunday-Thursday, ‘treat’ myself on Friday and Saturday. This worked as planned at the beginning of the weekend, when I gorged on sweets and pizza on Friday (and quite a lot of alcohol) but the problem came on Sunday when I was supposed to get back on track. Not only did I fail to plan properly on the Sunday, but this carried on into Monday (when I had indian takeaway) and Tuesday (when I had a mood crash so severe I ended up off work and having a panic attack).

I’m not sure if it was a culmination of various different factors (including general exhaustion after spending all Friday night boogying) but it may be that I can’t handle a 5 on 2 off approach, and need to do all or nothing. My concern is that if that’s the case, I’m going to end up with “nothing” and I’ll be a lardy arse again in no time.

On the flip side, reintroducing carbs appears to have done wonders for my running / workouts. I managed a 10k run in 1:01:38 on Friday morning which is the sort of distance/time I was aiming for when I got injured the first time last year. I then beat that on Tuesday morning doing approx 12km in the same time (I thought it was 14km originally, which was a little surprising(!) but turns out the GPS trace was all over the place). I’m back to lifting at 11.5kg on the dumbbell after having to drop back mid-whole30, and have introduced an extra set into the mix.

I finally managed to justify purchasing weight plates for my barbell bar (Happy Mother’s Day to me!) & they arrived this week, so I’ll be trialling them later. Very exciting (I know, I’m a dork)!

My Whole30: the results!

Never mind my food, my lifting and whether or not I carry on this crazy lifestyle change, I know this is the bit you’ve all been waiting for. Have I actually lost any weight or fat?

To refresh your memory, my measurements at the start of whole30 were as follows:

  • Weight: 161.6lbs (73.3kg)
  • Thighs: L: 60.3cm / R: 60.5cm
  • Calves: L: 37cm / R: 37.2cm
  • Hips: 102cm
  • Waist: 84.4cm
  • Biceps: L: 28.6cm / R: 28.4cm

And so… my measurements this morning were:

  • Weight: 156lbs (70.8kg)
  • Thighs: L: 57.5cm / R: 57cm
  • Calves: L: 36.4cm / R: 37cm
  • Hips: 98cm
  • Waist: 79cm
  • Biceps: L: 27cm / R: 28cm

So, even accounting for me potentially being cack-handed with a tape measure, I have lost a significant amount of centimetres all over which adds up to a total 5.6lbs in weight. I have no idea if that’s good or bad as results go (and weight loss was not my motivation for trying whole30) but it does suggest that even as I moaned my way through it because “nothing was happening”: stuff was going on!

My #whole30 journey

Unless something happens in the next few days, I’m on track for completing my first whole30. Notice the word first in there? Yeah, that’s because I’d consider doing this again.

So what’s the deal? I thought you were fed up with it!
I have been fed up with it, for almost the entire 30 days. Fed up because I wasn’t noticing changes, positive or negative, and fed up because it was affecting my strength workouts and my running. But in dwelling on what I wasn’t seeing, I was missing the bigger picture: that if this “diet change” didn’t cause ANY negative side effects, then actually it’s probably not that big a change at all. I knew I ate well, but I have been worried about my increased sugar (cake) consumption again recently. If cutting all of this out meant NO carb flu, NO cravings, then actually I probably have this eating thing under control.

What about your workouts/running?
It was definitely super frustrating to find that this supposedly “ideal” diet was actually making me less strong, less fit, less able but in hindsight it was my own fault for not spending more time planning pre workout nutrition. Because I prefer to workout and run on an empty stomach, I normally rely on carbs eaten earlier in the day. (E.g. a pasta lunch would fuel my 7pm workout normally) But… this was obviously a flawed plan under whole30 because I just wasn’t eating as many carbs in the day – and there’s a long time between my lunch (1pm) and my workout/run (6-7pm) Eating half a sweet potato 2 hours prior seems to be the answer.

So what effects have you seen?
Visually, I can see that my boobs have shrunk. I can’t see any other changes but I guess I’ll reserve judgement until I take my measurements.

<TMI>In terms of digestion, I’ve had some weird issues with going to the loo. Normally I’m a regular-as-clockwork, first thing in the morning girl. Some days even twice. There are a few exceptions: e.g. if I eat carb-heavy meals all day I’ll sometimes find it difficult to go first thing the next day, and if I eat Indian takeaway it will often have the opposite effect ;) During the whole30 this changed. Some days I don’t go, some days I go later on in the evening, and there’s been a couple of times I’ve woken overnight needing to poop. Despite this random schedule, I don’t feel uncomfortable and bloated like I do if I’ve not pooped normally (I’m sure Gaz will testify how tetchy I get if I’ve not done a crap for +24hrs) When I do go, they’re smaller and less substantial than I’m used to.</TMI>

My nails are stronger because of my increased water consumption and my sleep is mostly better (kids wake-ups aside).

Physical/visual stuff aside, I’m planning my meals (all 3) better whereas before I only planned my evening meal and made up the other two as I went along. This often meant skipping breakfast or having porridge for both breakfast and lunch.

So what effects were you hoping for or expecting that you DIDN’T see?
I didn’t experience “tiger blood” or any of the supposed concentration / energy benefits. I don’t normally have a problem with my energy levels though.

I didn’t see any positive difference in my body’s reactions to hormone levels. Quite the contrary: because I experienced the peaks and troughs of normal monthly hormone levels my mood was much more volatile. I recognise that it’s normal to have those fluctuations throughout my cycle but the effects on my mood (high anxiety/weepiness during ovulation and then intense anger before menstruation – my doc reckons PMDD) have a massive impact upon my stress levels and as such my mental health.

I know some people claim that they need months and months for the effects of the pill to wear off but this isn’t the case for me: I can feel the effects of not taking the pill within a day and a half, which tallies with the science behind the pill (and is why you have to take it daily for the contraceptive effect to work!) I’ll be restarting the pill as soon as my period arrives (due over the weekend).

How come you managed this but not Sugar-Free September?
Who knows?! Perhaps the strict nature of the whole30 – the idea that if you screw up you have to start again – kept me on track. I do work best under pressure.

So day 31 is pizza and cake day?
Probably not. I am seriously considering continuing a mostly-whole30 approach to food. I will be reintroducing butter ASAP (as I looove my butter and know I’m not sensitive to dairy) and peanut butter in moderate amounts. I will likely continue avoiding white pasta and bread most of the time. I am looking forward to a glass or 2 of wine on a Friday night again, the odd bit of ice cream and cake, ohh cake. I’ve no interest in paleo-ising my favourite desserts, if I want to indulge I’m going to do it and do it properly.

I’m thinking if I could stick to a whole30/paleo-esque approach Sunday-Thursday, that gives me Fridays and/or Saturdays to chill out a bit, go out if I want to, enjoy a pizza with friends. Sensible, balanced approach. Or something like that.

Probably stressed

Bit of a blogging hiatus here recently, although not intentionally. I’ve been struggling with my mood a lot recently, which I had mostly attributed to PMS but had also considered the possibility of a reaction to the reintroduction of alcohol after going dry for July. It all came to a head on Saturday night when I broke down sobbing on Gaz for the second time in a week and I realised something was amiss.

Having got to the point where I am struggling to motivate myself to drag my lazy arse out of bed in the morning, I saw my counsellor again yesterday. Turns out that my negative mood is probably neither PMS nor alcohol, but a little more complicated than that. As usual, talking things through and having them repeated back at me for an amazing amount of money that I can’t really afford gave me my moment of clarity and I know for definite what I need to do now. More on that at a later date, though.

In other (more cheerful) news, I have ticked off another item from my 30 things before I’m thirty list, having completed my first parkrun on Saturday 9th August with a time of exactly 29 minutes. I am really, really pleased that I managed a sub-30 minute 5k, although credit goes to Rachael who basically abused me around the course to keep me going ;) Now just to compete in a race to cross the other running goal off my list…

Comfort Shopping

I realised yesterday that I’ve been comfort spending over the past few weeks.

It’s somewhat ironic that a shopping hater would reach out to shopping to fill a gap where my sanity once was, but I guess it’s easy to click your mouse button a few times when you compare it packing a toddler and baby into the car, driving to the shops, herding the toddler and baby into a shop, try and find what you want whilst preventing the toddler from getting sticky fingerprints on the shop goods, pick out the item and get it to the checkout to pay before the inevitable boredom tantrum sets in (toddler, not me ;D)

Except that it’s not all been online purchases anyway. Silly extra purchases at Tesco are adding up again; going in to buy a loaf of bread and spending just shy of £20, buying a box of chocolates “just because”, splurging on pizza because I can’t be bothered to cook. The budget is slipping.

I blame stress (saves me having to take responsibility, you see). Trying to juggle a little girl who’s suddenly realised that Oliver is here to stay and is regressing to babyhood: extra cuddles, wanting to sit in the highchair (we fished it out so that the novelty of it being there would wear off before it’s actually needed), wanting bottles and dummies despite never having had either (thanks, nursery); then there’s the increasing pressure to work & earn whilst juggling housework and a teething, grumpy baby; fast-approaching holiday requiring organisation and £££; lack of sleep… the list of excuses is endless.

I’ve mostly bought things that will actually be used, like more clothes for fat baby Oliver and a kettle that works and doesn’t take an hour or so to boil. But there’s also the extra nappies that weren’t really necessary, the ring sling that will get used but I could have lived without, the cute sleepsuits that were twice the price of a second hand bundle from ebay… you get the picture.

Still, Karl’s mum has paid for us all to go to Wales this weekend so it’ll be a good opportunity to have a break and get away from my screen. When I get back I need to sort through the various purchases and clutter, sell stuff off to get money coming back in, then it’s back to budgeting big time!