Thursday, 30 January 2014

Roof and other various news update

I think that almost all construction projects have issues and ours couldn't be an exception. Last Thursday the roofers announced that they were almost finished and they’d be finishing the next day. However, apart from replacing the roof tiles, they hadn't done anything on the facia of the house and the guttering as previously agreed! Or at least that’s what we thought we had agreed!

Anyway, to cut a long story shorter, the head of the company had visited us before providing us with a quote. We had talked about all the extra work needed apart from the roof tiles. He then provided us with a quote. That quote was very technical. It mentioned a huge list of items with types, measurements and everything. We went through it, concentrated on key words like roof tiles, guttering and facia. We agreed to the quote and the work began. However, what they meant by guttering was the line between our roof and the neighbour’s. What we meant by facia is actually called soffit! So, all this extra work we thought we’d get was not in the quote.

So, we began negotiations. The secretary of the company was telling us that apart from the roof tiles, nothing was meant to be done. We managed to get a hold of the head of the company though that agreed that we had really discussed all the extra bits but apologised for not including them in the quote. He was generally apologetic and we agreed that we’d pay extra only for the cost of the materials and nothing else. Which to be honest is generally a good deal. We should have paid more attention to the quote, even if it was a bit too technical for us. However, it’s an extra cost that we’ll have to cover.

Changing the subject, we’re planning a small holiday escape with JJ. Our budget is a bit limited (see previous story) and instead of flying to Zurich to my old housemate as previously suggested, we’re thinking of doing a road trip in the UK. We generally love road trips and visiting a rural part of England that we’ve never been before will be fun. For the time being we’re thinking of going to the Peak District National Park. I believe it to be an amazing destination to escape from the busy London life. We’ll try to go hiking and explore the area there. For the time being we’ve booked a car and we’re looking into accommodation that we’ll book most likely tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to keep up with my running. I’ve registered to do a half marathon at the end of March and I’m trying to train for that. The weather is not really helping but I’m doing my best. I should remember next time not to register for a long distance race in early spring. It’s better to train in spring and run in the summer or autumn. So far this month I’ve run outdoors for more than 50 km. It’s not that great, but I don’t think it’s that bad either. I’m planning on my last run for January tonight after work, I’m hoping it’s not going to rain much. Then try to build up my distances to almost half a marathon two weeks before the race! Hopefully that will make me ready…

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sweet Sixteen – A letter to my 16 year old self

Recently, Stephen Chapman in his blog (here) wrote a post (here) that included a letter he could write to his 16th year old self. I found that post quite intriguing and I decided to do the same. What would I write to my 16 year old self?

Dear Me,
You're 16 and in what the Greeks call lyceum, right after high school and before university, and the year is 1997. You're dating 'her' for the second year and you've already started getting ready for the national exams for a university place. Last summer you visited your brother doing his MBA in London and fallen in love with the city. You're planning to go there, maybe for a post graduate degree, and stay to work and live a different life that offered in your little home town. I don’t want to give away too much. You know the whole time travel conundrum. But I can only tell you at the moment at that’s a really good plan and stick to it!

Not everything will go according to plan. It never does. You’ll get some ups and some downs. That’s basically life. However, you’ll see how it all gets better, oh, so much better. Your problem is that you worry too much, about almost everything! Sometimes, you get a thought on your head and you blow it out of proportions. Take you military service for example. You hear your cousin’s stories on his military service and you freak out so much that you lose your sleep over it for a couple of days. You fear that they’ll find out your big secret (oh, I’ll get back to that later don’t worry) and be horrible punished for it. But you know what? You’ll join the army in February 2005! That’s 8 years away! Why worry about it already? And the amazing thing is that it all goes well. Yes, it’s tough at times, but think that apart from you there are hundred newbies going through the same process. It will all be fine! You’ll see. And think that after that’s done, you might be free to apply to a British university! Just, think of that!

The other more important thing that keeps you up at nights, that also makes you cry to sleep, is the fact that you’re gay. Yes, you are. It will take time to sink in. You will remain in denial for some time and keep on dating women for years to come. In the meantime, you will spend nights wondering ‘why me? Why had this to happen to me?’ Well, the truth is that nobody’s living an easy life. Everybody has issues and problems. Yes, even that George Clooney you’re watching in the reruns of ER. He might be good looking, famous and wealthy. But I’m sure his life is not a never ending joyride. So, in a way, what I’m trying to say is quit worrying and the self-pity and start doing something about it. You’ll see, it’s nowhere near as bad. You’re so lucky and blessed. You’ll see that you have friends to support you, even family! Yes, you will tell them about it! Stop screaming in shock. It will happen and everything will start getting better. Your brother is an amazing person and far more understanding than you give him credit for. No, I don't need to know about those CDs he took from you at the moment.

Your life is not perfect. You will be heartbroken at times (like everybody) but you will find your place in the world. It might take some time (and maybe some tears), but hang in there. You’re even luckier than older generations because during your time internet will take over and things will be simpler and easier. It might sound weird, but people start meeting through online dating websites or chat channels like mIRC. Believe me when I say that you’ll get your confidence and you might be a bit popular at times with men. It might take a while and it might happen in later age than other people, but it will happen. Be positive.

Another thing, and please do it for me, try to pay a bit more attention in gym class. I know it’s really not your thing. And I know it’s easier to play your computer games and read your horror or sci-fi books. But there could be a way to do both? We’re never slim and we never were really fit. But, if you try a bit harder at the age you are, it might be a bit simpler for me now, trying to make up for all the lost years!  

To sum things up, I’d like to tell you that you shouldn't worry that much about everything. You're doing a great job growing up. You have lots of great friends that you will keep for decades to come. You have a supporting family. It will be great. At believe me, you'll love being a university student. But you shouldn't worry about things that are out of your control. You can’t make everybody like you and there are some thing you simply can't change. Just learn how to best bet on the hand you're given. Ah, try to spend some more time with your grandparents. They won't be around for that long. Also, I know you won't like it but keep studying as hard as you do. It will open some doors for you in the future, maybe including a one way ticket to go to live abroad and have a wonderful life.

Monday, 20 January 2014


Not for me… No. No. I’m not considering plastic surgery. At least, not yet. Give me a couple more decades and maybe I’ll reconsider. I hope by then, medicine will be so advanced that plastic surgery will be instantaneous, pain free and without any side effects. That, or we’ll be able to transplant our brains to another ageless host…

Anyway, our poor little house is the one going through a facelift. When we were in the process of purchasing it, we were advised by the building surveyors that some work would need to be done to the roof. Without it being a huge problem (yet), there were some surface cracks in the chimney and some roof tiles looked broken. That was causing issues to the way and cost of the house heating and also there was danger of mildew spreading.

So, we decided to have the whole roof and guttering replaced. We had called a number of roofing companies to provide to us with quotes. We wanted new tiles, guttering, sky lights for the loft and new insulation. Out of all the quotes, we picked a company that looked professional with the best guaranties. We didn’t go for the cheaper and neither for the most expensive of them. We went for the company we liked the best. Hopefully, we will not live to regret our choice.

That’s a photo I took on Saturday morning. The house was without a roof but hopefully water proofed. We’re battling against the weather. Probably January wasn’t the best choice to have the work done, but JJ has two weeks off from work and is able to be there to help the builders out. We feel a bit vulnerable and exposed with the house looking like a construction site. However, we’re hoping for the work to be completed soon and for the house to be warmer with a new loft conversion under way…

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

2014 Update

Happy New Year everybody! I know it might be a bit late, but it’s my first post of the new year and it’s never a bad thing to wish something nice!

Anyway, 2014 has already began and from what I can see it’s going to be quite a year. Already, I’ve moved offices. I’m now based in the general area around Monument, Tower Hill and Aldgate underground station. I’m still in the same company and team, just in a different building. We’ve also started some major changes in the house. The scaffolding was put up yesterday to help the builders that will come to replace our roof and guttering and install windows and insulation for the loft conversion. In the meantime, we ordered to get connected to the gas network again. I need with JJ to prepare the house for that, digging a trench, routing some plants, etc. It’s all very exciting. And all these are only planned for next couple of weeks.  

In the meantime, my lodger who stayed with us for the last year, will move out mid-February. We had some ups and downs as all people have living together. I believe there were more ups though during that year. We had said we’ll help her out till she finds a proper job and everything, which we did. It is time now she moves on and for me and JJ to enjoy our house alone. I’m saying that because it’s been decided that in the summer we’ll be getting a dog! I can’t say how excited (and scared) I am of that prospect. It will be amazing! More of this, I’ll definitely explain later.

Since I’m talking about arrivals and departures, I need to add how excited I am of the arrival of my nephew in spring. If all goes well, and I pray that they do, the dynasty of my family will live on through my nephew that is due in April. It will be my only brother’s first child! With the child of my first cousin arriving a month earlier, these two children will be the first of that generation. It’s going to be truly amazing! And my parents will become grandparents which means that they will have something else to worry about! Hopefully that child will keep them occupied enough!

This is more or less how my year will go. It is said that in order to make God laugh, tell him your plans. So, I’m going to stop here and try not to jinx anything. I will definitely keep you posted on what happens though