Efflorescence in our cellar

Since moving in I’ve noticed a strange white fur growing on the walls and floor of the cellar. Originally I just figured it was mould caused by the damp in the cellar and ignored it, but yesterday I went into the cellar and noticed it’d grown all over the solid stone table that’s down there. It wasn’t on it the day before, somehow it’d just magically sprung up overnight.

Having lived in mouldy houses before, I’ve never encountered the stuff just appearing overnight. A bit of Googling told me that it was something called efflorescence, a deposit of minerals and salts that leech out of stone and masonry that is damp. It makes sense I suppose, brickwork can’t go mouldy it grows slime and moss instead.

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British Paper-shuffling gone mad

To rent a van I need to provide the following

  • Driving licence (this makes sense)
  • Proof of my address (fair enough)
  • A credit card to take the deposit (if you insist)

The proof of address must be two documents, a mixture of a bank statement and a utility bill with my address on.

To rent a new house I need to provide the following

  • Photo ID (I suppose this makes sense)
  • Proof of address that cannot be a credit card statement

(This is in addition to the lengthy credit and background check they did a month ago)

Yes… to move into a new house I need to prove where I live. Or I need to prove where I just moved out of, which also makes no sense – “Hey look! I don’t live here any more and I have paperwork to prove it”. I might just wave the tenancy agreement at them and point out “you posted this to me, I have it. I think you’re probably talking to the right person”.

Madness. Especially when I went to print a gas bill and it had my old, old address from three years ago on it which caused five minutes of hold music and a confused man on the phone.

To get a resident’s parking permit so that my car doesn’t get a ticket I need to provide the following

  • Car details
  • Proof of address

Again, this makes sense… except what do I do with my car when I’ve just moved in and haven’t had time to fill in forms, post them off, wait for them to be processed and then wait for the sticker to be posted back to me. Or the rental van…

At least the woman sorting out my home insurance was more helpful and made sense.

Moving house Version 3.0

Yes, I’ve done this before once or twice. Thank god the Internet has become more of a useful tool in the past three years (well, two and a half, but nobody noticed when I put ‘three years 4 months’ on the reference forms. Saves me having to remember the past sixteen addresses I’ve lived at).

Went on Google, stuck in “houses for rent in <new place>”, started clicking on links. Found house on Monday, arranged viewing for Friday. Friday snowed, Amy was in Leeds on a train in the snow, I was driving from work to <new place> getting stuck in rush hour traffic. We only arrived 20 minutes late, but that’s OK I’ve never been on time to a house viewing for a house we’ve actually taken.

Also it was snowing, did I mention the snow? I got Monday off work because it was that “bad”. This worked out really well because on Monday the letting agency rang us back and had a chat.

Anyway, we went to the house. It’s a terrace, but like most houses I live in, it’s a bit weird. There’s rear access and a garage, but you drive under the house to get to it. It has a secret cellar (secret in that I didn’t know it existed until I went there and went “oh! cellar!”) and a really long corridor going to the bathroom and really high ceilings.

After politely pestering the letting agency all week using various tactics from “what’s going on?” to “oh err my phone is broken can I just check you have another number… and how’s it going anyway?” we’ve just had confirmation we can move. This is good, I gave notice to my current letting agency this afternoon.

Now to go through the pain in the arse of telling BT I want to move so that I get a phoneline and some Internet (not from BT).

CFL bulbs behaving oddly

Like most people, my house is full of energy saving compact flourescent light bulbs. Like most people I bought the cheapest I could find – 50p each cheap from Tesco. Those long 21w CFL bulbs that are about six inches long.

I’ve just been sat in the dark staring at the one in my bedroom ceiling light fitting. Why? Well it was flashing at me. Only the switch is off and the bulb has been off for at least an hour.

It randomly, but every five seconds or so gives off a brief flash that either lights the whole bulb or just the end – with the power off.

So, apart from potential demons in the loft chewing on the wiring I am left with an explanation equally strange. Earlier this evening there was a huge rain storm and some lightning. It is still raining but the lightning has stopped. All I can think is that the hous wirin is acting like an antenna and picking up enough stray energy to briefly energise the bulb. CFL bulbs are odd like that, you can light them using static electricity, microwave ovens or those cool plasma domes.

It’s cool, but also a bit freaky when your bedroom light starts flashing, it’s a bit X-Files.

Weird things in my house

Moving into new houses is fun, they usually have all sorts of odd quirks and this one is no exception. It features crazy heating controller which has no manual and an alarm box that lacks any explanation of what the lights on it mean. Next to the electric box a bright yellow sticker warns people that both versions of BS7671 are in use and to be very careful when wiring things up.

Those are normal things and to be expected, but we have this odd thing screwed to the wall at the top of the stairs…

What is it?

Approaching normality

Parts of my house are now tidy and unpacked. The front room has a pleasing arrangement of items within it, and my bedroom looks like a bedroom, rather than a room where I store a large bed.

It’s a subtle thing, but just like photography and art, the arrangement of items in your room can either look harmonious and pleasing, or somehow grate and look wrong. This house is unfortunately infected with the magnoila paint disease and also has beige carpets. Good job I buy pine effect furniture from Ikea then and have a cream sofa!

I still have the back room to sort out, and earlier came to the horrifying realisation that I have 10 CRT displays. Yes, ten…

As it was my birthday at the weekend I went over to Amy’s and we had a BBQ which was fun. I went for a bit of an explore around town yesterday while paying in my birthday money and ended up buying a wireless keyboard for my media PC/server. It has a trackball on it for controlling the mouse too. The local Currys has iPads for sale. While they are quite swish, one didn’t come home with me, I have better things to waste £450 on at the moment.

Amy has an iPhone 3G and I discovered it doesn’t like charging using my in-car dock, so my desire to get an iPhone 4 has kind of gone away. If I had to get anything to replace my 1st gen iPod Touch, I’d probably just get another. My T-mobile G1 is working happily on Tesco and despite not having broadband Internet at the moment, I don’t miss mobile Internet on my phone.

Living in a warehouse

Having finished moving on Tuesday, I am now left with the unpacking. I’ve moved from a small two bedroom terrace into a larger three bedroom detached house. I’ve gained a dining room which is currently crammed to the ceiling with most of my stuff and the rest has overflowed into the front room and landing. I made some space by storing all my outdoor gear and music CDs in the loft.

No real idea how all this stuff fitted in my old house really! It’s a bit like buying a new hard drive and filling it.

I made a run to the local “recycling centre” too to get rid of some stuff.

Now I’m waiting for my Internet to be activated and I think I’ll spend a quiet week just unpacking and sorting things out, and definitely not driving up the A1 and M62.

House move confirmed

Today I have done many things. Let’s put them in a nice list…

  • Confirmed with letting agency that I can actually move
  • Told current landlord agent that I am moving out
  • Had a nice chat with BT but utterly failed to move my line because their computers are “down”
  • Had a strained chat with the van hire support line after their website ate my booking
  • Found my van booking in my spam folder an hour later
  • Was asked if I wanted to switch phone providers, internet providers, car insurance, buy more TV channels and did I know there was a special SHUT UP I AM MOVING HOUSE GO AWAY!
  • Went and watered some plants because it didn’t involve repeating my name, address and new address to everybody
  • Renewed my car insurance (which has gone up)
  • Spoke to people in at least three different countries
  • Discovered my phone has a rubbish battery
  • Gave out a non working mobile phone number to everyone

There are other things I’ve done today, but I can’t remember what they are. In general, I have found the companies with websites to be easier to use than the ones where I have to speak to a human. The humans try to be helpful and efficient but get sidetracked by trying to sell me extra things. I am moving house, it’s hard enough without someone trying to sell me car insurance.

Especially when the car insurance quote is 200 quid more than my current one. MoreThan live up to their name 😉