Thursday, June 30, 2005

Finishing Post In Sight

We had a damp specialist go visit the house we are buying on Monday and we were delighted to hear that the house has got a clean bill of health. The solicitors are just getting hold of the last documents and we should be going in to sign contracts any day now. It's getting quite scary now as the realization dawns that this purchase is finally coming off and we've got to turn our attention to the logistics of moving day which is now just around the corner.

The champagne we bought when all this started is still on ice though, we won't be one hundred percent convinced it's happening until we get our hands on those keys and even then it's going to take months before it all sinks in!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Here's our new toy!


On Saturday, having had enough of our unhelpful mobile phone operator, we decided to go shopping for a pair of new phones. Now, we've done this loads of times before and usually it takes hours of flitting between the shops trying to find something we like at the right price. Not so this time around, our first stop was Superdrug who have a pokey little 3 shop in the corner but it;s not the size of the shop that matters, it's the staff in it and the phones deals on offer. With us still locked into our old contract for 6 months we didn't want to be paying too much and we we're pleasantly surprised to find that the right phone was on offer with half price line rental for the first six months. In effect we're now paying the same price having two phones on the go as we would have done just upgrading to the anytime tariff with our old operator.

So we walked out of the shop with a bargain tariff, a shiny new Nokia 6680 each and we both got a handy back pack full of goodies!

We've had the phones for a few days now and we love them to bits, the only minor down sides are that they don't have a radio and they don't come with any chuffin games! The 3 network, Planet 3, is cool which is just as well as you can't browse the internet, but their own offerings are enough to keep us occupied and it's totally free to browse. There is only are charge, usually 25p ro 50p if you decide to watch a video clip of anything but it does give you a clear warning before doing anything which costs money, which is nice. The games available through 3 are bit pricey though at £7.50 each, I'm sure we could get some for half that price elsewhere although I'm not sure we'd have time to play any games much anyway.

Sending texts is a dream, the keys are so easy to use I've even been able to use predictive text without swearing! Debbie is sticking with the normal method but either way, texting is a lot easier than it was on the old phones.

The phone comes with two cameras, a little one on the front for making video calls and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the back which takes really good photos and even has a zoom. The phone pack includes a cable for connecting to a computer and the software to handle everything. I've tried it out and managed to see piccies I took on the old phone in all their glory for the first time by transferring them to the new one via bluetooth and then on to the computer.

We've been chasing the zoo round the house trying to get some good pictures, here's one we managed to get of Lollypop.


We've not tried putting any mp3 files on the phones yet, I'm not sure how many we'd get on there, I think the memory card that came with it is 64MB so there should be room for a few. All in all we're really happy with the new phones and we're glad the weird and wacky 3 TV adverts didn't put us off


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Relaxing Weekend

It's been a while since we've been out taking photos of anything, the last time was a few weeks ago at Cawthorne Park near Barnsley.


Last weekend we managed to escape the house buying process for a couple of days, spending Sunday at Fairburn Ings, although with the new A1 now bypassing Fairburn village, we almost never made it though all the cones following the diversion

The lay-by was as busy as ever, thankfully with wildfowl rather than people. I've never seen as many Swans, I'm sure they almost outnumbered the Canada Geese which is a first.


Driving along we spied a Heron doing it's stalky thing in the middle of a lake so we pulled in and got a couple of lovely shots.


The Swans were soon around us when our loaf of bread appeared.


This fella was first in line, tucking into a lovely portion of Hovis.


One thing we didn't get a photo of was any butterflies, we thought there would be thousands of them around the reserve but even in the most likely spots there were hardly any.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Free Protection

We're not talking safe sex or anything here, our subscription for McAfee virus protection ran out yesterday. Instead of forking out another £50 or so for the latest security suite, we checked out Web User magazine to see what else was on offer. Amazingly, both the top rated anti-virus software and firewall software were free products.

Now there is nothing wrong with McAfee, it's done us proud over the last two years, appart from maybe the message to upgrade the firewall appearing every two minutes because after the first year we only upgraded the ant-virus. However, why pay when you can have something just as good for free, so we downloaded both Avast and Zone Alarms which are now working away in the background keeping all the nasties at bay ....... we hope


PG Tips Mobile

It's still hot hot hot here but the forecast is for thunderstorms again later which will be great for cooling the air down a bit but not so good for anyone living in a flood prone area who will be at risk from flash floods again, including the poor folk that were hit on Sunday.

We were supposed to be upgrading our mobile phones this week but despite our service provider saying we could, when we actually tried, they said we couldn't even though the shop thought we could and their web site indicated we could. We had the same problem when trying to upgrade before, on that occasion our contract had expired but they still wanted to charge us more for an upgrade than the cost of buying a phone on it's own! Never again, they can go and stick their price plans where the sun don't shine!

We're going to try and refrain from using the mobiles except for when it's free then we're not giving them any more money than we have to. If this turns out not to be practical with all the phone calls we're having to make at the moment, we'll just go with someone else any way and switch the old phones off as paying for two price plans will be cheaper than what we've been paying recently with the extra charges for daytime phone calls.

It's crunchie time, it's Big Brother eviction day and there are rumours of three new housemates going in tonight....Top Banana!


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cool Flicks

We're really looking forward to Autumn, not just because of the current hot weather, we've noticed that there should be quite a few great films out on DVD in a few months time. We don't usually look at films coming out in the cinema as we never get around to going but we did stumble across a few films due out at the box office soon which we can't wait to see in the comfort of our own home.

Here's what we're eagerly anticipating appearing in a living room near us...... Star Wars - Revenge Of The Sith with more action than you can shake a light sabre at, Batman Begins looks like a very dark atmospheric film, War Of The Worlds looks like it will be right up our street with those pesky aliens trying to take over the world again, Fantastic Four should be fun, we loved X-Men and this looks more or less the same.

The one Debbie is really looking forward to is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, not for the chocolate or the oompa loompas, but a very tasty Johnny Depp!


Monday, June 20, 2005

Thunder & Lighting

Yesterday afternoon we took Dad out for a Father's Day meal at a local pub hoping to escape the oppressive heat for a while but alas the pub didn't have air conditioning or any fans so we continued to melt away! The food was lovely though and was worth going through a box of napkins wiping our foreheads every two minutes By the time we'd finished and retired to the beer garden, the clouds were building and the sun took time out for while and the temperature dropped very slightly.

After dropping Dad off we headed home, it got darker and darker until the heavens opened, drenching everything with lovely cool rain giving us some much needed respite from the heat. The showers continued on and off all evening and we had some of the loudest claps of thunder we've ever witnessed. The temperature inside the house refused to budge though and we had another hot and humid night. Still, we should be thankful that we didn't get washed away like the poor folk in North Yorkshire where flash floods caused havoc yesterday.

It's much fresher this morning but the sun is out so it won't be long before everyone is melting again, thank goodness we've both got air conditioning at work!


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Sunshine!

The sun is out the sky is blue theres not a cloud to spoil the view, but boy is it HOT, HOT, HOT....

Its nice at work as we have air con and our office is kepted at a nice cool temp, but once you step outside its a different matter.

Yesterday reached a high of 27 degrees and now its nearly that and its only 10am in the morning, this afternoon has forcast thunder shower and going cooler by evening.

I wonder how you all go on in hotter countries, this is unbearable, we have got all the windows open two fans on and Paulie is just sat in his shorts and is still moaning, the cats are all flat out and Lucy and Lolly are panting like mad....

Happy fathers day, lets hope that all the dads are being spoilt today and are just chillin in the heat.

We were planning on going to the coast today but decided not to as its not fare on the dogs being cooped up in a car for a couple of hours while we get there, so I think it will chill out with a few nice cold beers.....

Have a nice day!


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pulling Teeth

We're not going through the buying and selling houses lark again, it's like pulling teeth and just as painful at times. I've just heard that out mortgage lender has appointed a surveyor, so we're now where we should have been three weeks ago. We've had the damp guy in this week, he's not damp obviously, it's our internal wall which hasn't been treated and apparently is suffering very slightly from rising damp. We've never noticed it before and I've definitely never noticed anyone resembling Leonard Rossiter mulling about the place.

Anyway, while our buyers instruct every tradesman they can think of to come and check out our home, we're feeling less guilty about our side dragging on for so long. With any luck, this time next week all parties will be confident that none of the houses in our little chain are likely to crumble into a heap in the next 100 years.

Aside from all this, over the last couple of weeks we've been glued to Big Brother. It's been amazing witnessing the non stop bitching by more or less everyone in the house and the complete lack of respect they have for each other, fabulous!

It's time to dig out the sun cream and aftersun now, the forecasters are promising a heat wave this weekend. Although still cloudy at the moment, the temperature seems to have shot up n the last hour or so, making it very hot and humid. Luckily there's a healthy supply of ice cold Bacradi and coke waiting for us back at the ranch!


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Slowly Moving Forward

Well, the new mortgage was set up on Friday morning and we were faxed the papers to sign which we faxed back within an hour so it could go for underwriting. The latest update yesterday was that it's with underwriting and a surveyor should be appointed imminently. We just want to get the survey out of the way and start looking forward to moving, however we've had the report back on our house and we've got to be visited by a damp expert, an electrician and a roofer. I don't think it's going throw up any issues but it's another worry we could do without.

Having ditched the other mortgage company, we were getting a taste for exercising our rights as consumers. We ordered a new car on Saturday and when Debbie called the insurance company, that she'd only just changed to, they said they couldn't offer a quote to existing customers. So, they lost a customer even before the policy came into effect, muppets! Anyway, we've gone back with Toyota insurance who have been very helpful in handling the renewal and a change to a new car in a few weeks time.


Friday, June 10, 2005

The Biscuit Has Been Taken

I had a few more conversations with the mortgage company yesterday and things did seem to have progressed very slightly, then came the bombshell, the copies of the driving licences etc. aren't clear enough on the fax, can we get them posted to them again. That would have probably meant another weeks delay and that's only if they didn't loose them again.

I'd had enough by now, if I'd carried on I would have ended up with the men in white coats coming to take me away. Debbie took up he challenge late in the afternoon and experienced the same lack of professionalism and service. When Debbie did finally get through to the elusive team leader and threw down an ultimatum to get everything resolved by noon today, he just laughed in her face. That just took the biscuit.

We considered our options last night and after talking things through with our advisor decided to pull the plug on the ill fated mortgage application. Our advisor is now in the process of organizing another mortgage though another well known lender but this time it's virtually all done on-line. This means that the application will be accepted in minutes and a surveyor will be instructed immediately, all we have to do is sign and return the papers that should be with us by Saturday.

Debbie has written to the top people at the original mortgage lender, 'Team Farce', detailing everything that went on, then they can send their staff on a course on how to tell your arse from you elbow.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Trying Times!

Laid back Paul has this week become a nervous wreck and physically ill at the hands of our mortgage company and our worse than useless mortgage advisor.

On Monday, not being able to get in touch with our advisor as usual, I spoke to the mortgage company direct and was told again that they had not received the application through the post but they had received the fax and it would entered on the system later today and we'd get a call from a surveyor later that day or on Tuesday.

Not trusting anyone by this stage, I called them again in the afternoon and they assured me I would get a phone call on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, not hearing anything by lunch time, I called them and this time they said they hadn't received the fax, could we fax it again. I explained that I'd been told they had it so asked me to get the fax number it was send from so they could search for it. I asked to speak to a manager and while I was put on hold called our advisor to get the fax number. The lady from the mortgage company was back on explaining that a manager wasn't available but they had found the fax again and then put me through to the guy who would be inputting it. He said it would be done as a priority on Wednesday morning.

I actualy managed to get through to our advisor who said she would speak to them mid morning on Wednesday to check on the progress and would call me straight away.

Not hearing anything by lunchtime on Wednesday, not being able to get in touch with our advisor, I called the mortgage company again and they said it hadn't as yet been entered onto the system but it would be done today, not impressed I asked for a manager again who turned out to be in a meeting. Not deterred I demanded to speak to someone in authority who duly promised that the manager I needed to speak to would call me back between 4 and 5pm.

Our advisor then called me to say she'd had been in touch with them and they said they had lost the fax again! She said she'd speak to them again and call me back. Half an hour later she called back and said they have now found the fax again and they would input it this afternoon and guaranteed it would go for underwriting today and we should get a call from a surveyor today or Thursday morning.

The hours window for the manager to call me came and went so at one minute past 5pm I called them. They said it was now on the system and had been passed for underwriting, thoroughly pissed off with all the pathetic lies and covering up, I still asked to speak to the manager and was told he'd left for the day. Well, I went bananas after he had promised to call me and was duly put through to him. He apologised for the problems (the first apology I've had from them in the last three days) and confirmed everything was now moving along and a surveyor would call me on Thursday and that he would call me before lunch time to make sure this has been done.

We got home last night to find an envelope through the post from our mortgage company containing the payslips and bank statements that we sent with our original application. Lost in he post MY ARSE! They will have some explaining to do today!


Monday, June 06, 2005

Back On Track

We've had a fairly relaxed weekend, tempered a little wondering why no-one had arranged for a survey to be done on the house we are buying. All was revealed today though, the mortgage papers sent by our advisor to the mortgage company have gone missing, awol, lost in the post, misplaced, abducted by aliens or something. Anyway, we've had them faxed through and have now got things moving again with a phone call expected regarding the survey today or tomorrow......phew!!

The survey has been done on our house today and that seems to have gone well, we've got to wait 3 or 4 days now for the report and find out if our buyers are happy with the report. Hopefully the other survey will be done some time this week and then we can get a completion date arranged.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Birthday Girl!

After a long week, we visited Paulies Grandma on saturday as its her 86th birthday on monday.

Congrats Grandma, have a lovley special day!

This is the flower that we bought grandma for her birthday and she was thrilled to bits with it.


While we were there Aunty Lynne wanted some advice on her new digi camera and wanted to know how we got such lovley flower piccies. These are some of the ones we took in grandmas garden and Lynne did some good ones as well using the macro thingie on her camera.




I feel like David Bailey on a bad


Friday, June 03, 2005

Preparing To Be Surveyed

We were supposed to be off to the camera club last night but to be honest, we were just too knackered to contemplate anything other than chilling in front of the TV! At least it's crunchie day, we're definitely not planning on getting up much before lunchtime tomorrow!

We've reached the next stage of the house moving process, the surveyor for our buyer has now arranged to come and inspect our house early next week. I'll be glad when we're over this hurdle, as long as our house gets a clean bill of health, it should be plain sailing from hereon in.

Tonight we'll be chilling again with bottle or three of something nice and watching Big Brother which seems to be a little bit more entertaining this year, probably due to the housemates being younger, louder and in some cases, just plain weird!


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Knowsley - May 2005

We had a ride over to Knowsley Safari Park on Friday, having got most of the paper work out of the way, we thought we'd have a chill out day in our favourite place.

It wasn't too busy, allowing us to drive round at a leisurely pace and lingering for ages in the lions enclosure.




We got some good pictures of the lions but there wasn't much action in the warm sunshine, just lots of snoozing.


The otters put on a great show again, hiding in the grass and then poking their heads out to see if we were still there


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Primrose Valley

We had a great time at Primrose Valley, the weather was kind to us, being sunny the whole time apart from Tuesday morning when it threw it down We went off to Cayton Bay on Sunday, the Sea Life centre on Monday, Filey on Tuesday and Whitby on Wednesday before heading home on Thursday.


The weather was great at Cayton, a little windy but it kept the edge off the warm sunshine.


Looking at these pictures, it could almost be in the Bahamas.... well maybe not, but it was nice


Lucy and Lollypop had a great time racing around on the beach, which we more or less had to ourselves.


Lucy loved the caravan, so many places to crash out or keep watch on what every one else was doing.


The sea air worked wonders for Lolly, just managing to keep his eyes open long enough to take this photo before collapsing for the afternoon