Monday, 26 April 2021

Isle of Wight

Last week I was blessed in that I was able to close my business for a week, pack a case, stick my little old Mum in the car and head over to the Isle of Wight for a week. She's been isolating pretty much for the past year and I only travel from home to work and back again (like most people around the world during these crazy times) so when the opportunity arose to stare at 4 new walls instead of our own, I took it and ran with it. 

I had originally had a trip booked there at another property; I booked it before the very first lock down in 2020 (because of the nature of my business in that I can take bookings up to 2 years in advance, I have to work out holidays in advance too). At one point I thought I was going to have to cancel, however, when Boris announced he was opening up self catering properties again on the 12th April my little heart sang, for I'd book our place from the 17th for 7 nights. What I hadn't expected was for the property I'd already booked to then cancel on me the day after he announced things were opening back up. I'd like to say this was down to an unforeseen issue, however, the very next day they had the property back on the holiday sites at 3 times - that's THREE times, the amount I had paid; I think they saw an opportunity and took it. The worst part was the company I'd booked it through tried to charge me a fee for it being cancelled - they didn't get a penny out of me and I got them (in the end) to return my original booking fee too. I would have named-and-shamed them, however, I checked the day I travelled over to see if they'd been able to rent it out and it was still vacant. Maybe karma does exist. Anyway, I then had to find somewhere to stay and knew I'd be up against it as a lot of people were then also looking for holiday properties, wanting to get away from it all. As I had a ferry booking from the original trip (which wasn't the cheapest I could have got) I didn't want to lose money so my main option was to look for somewhere on the Island. I'm quite fussy when looking; I don't like properties that are just a house in the middle of a housing estate. I prefer a detached property and I like to have a private garden (where possible) or at least an outdoor space I can hide away in if I have to share it with others. Because of booking so late I knew I'd probably have to take whatever was on offer, and for the most part all I could find were properties way out of my price range, or a mid terrace house on  a main road. Then, on the very last page there was this property - an old forge -  that whilst not perfect (it has the owners property directly opposite across a small forecourt) was perfectly suitable to give us a base to explore from. It was also a really good price, so I booked it there-and-then. I am so very glad that I did.

It's not the biggest place, although having said that the rooms are of a really decent size but it offered all we needed. Whilst the owners are just across the forecourt they kept to themselves, yet when we did run into each other were super friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them ( I say them, however, we only saw the gentleman all week, but if the lady who runs it with him is half as lovely as he was then she will have been a super person too). The back of the property though had a lovely private, fenced in courtyard area, and beyond that were 5 acres of grounds that we were free to explore as we wished (and explore I did). I went to bed each night amazed at how dark it was - there is no light pollution there - and awoke each morning to the sound of multiple birds singing (the blackbird on the wall outside at 5am for 2 consecutive mornings was a little bit of a downer but it's such a comfortable place to be I soon nodded back off to sleep again. The lack of light makes it a perfect place for those of you who might want to take some night sky photographs. The amount of birds and red squirrels flitting about make it a great place for those of you who like to take pics of birds/wildlife. Everyday there were Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed tits; Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Jays, Jack Daws, Pigeons (there are always pigeons as well as Crows) Wrens, Blackbird, Ducks, Sparrows, Dunnocks and on  occasion the odd Heron. Overhead Buzzards, Kestrals, Harriers and Red Kites were seen regularly.

Not a lot was open on the Island - including shops - and it appears that the recent events of the past year have affected a lot of businesses, so if you can get over there this year, do try to and give the remaining shops a little hope, but in a way being closed made it easier for us, as the whole point of getting away was to relax and unwind; had everything been open we'd have up at the crack of dawn and swanning here, there and everywhere each day. Instead we sat among nature (me up the top of the grounds, my Mum closer to the property) and read, watched the wildlife and allowed the world to just pass us by. I truly believe even the most stressed of people would be able to unwind and relax at the forge. 



Sunday, 4 April 2021

Think it's dead

In 55 years of home ownership, my Mum has only ever made 1 insurance claim - almost 30 years ago when all the sheds/garages where we live got broken into (ours included) and all the tools her and Dad had built up over the years got stolen - oddly they left behind bikes and things, so her claim was minimal but needed to replace the lost tools. My Dad had not long died either so all DIY was down to Mum. 
Aside from the 3 car claims I've had to make - none of which were my fault; first was a guy who didn't stop at a T junction, came across 3 lanes of traffic and smashed into the side of my car (writing it off). The 2nd was some little scrote one new years eve who broke into my car and tried to hot wire it; when he couldn't get it started he trashed it; writing it off. The 3rd was the 40 ton uninsured foreign lorry driver who almost wrote me off at the same time as destroying my car, when he decided to ram me into the hard shoulder on the motorway. All 3 ended up costing me - and people wonder why I'm so angry as a person! 
Anyway, today, like a total dick I wrote off my macbook. To say I'm gutted would be an understatement. I have a shitty little windows laptop I can use that was given to me when I needed publisher (the only downside to apple is not having publisher) which is a bonus or I'd only have my phone and I am still old school. I'd rather use a computer than my phone. I never have a drink anywhere near computer, or phone equipment but today put my can on the table whilst sorting some bits out, turned around, caught the can and it hit the keyboard of the macbook, spreading brown liquid over the whole thing. All 330 ml ended up on the keyboard. Straight away I turned it upside/down to shake out as much as I could. I then dowsed it in kitchen roll to mop up what I could, before opening it right out, putting it in the garden in the sun upside/down to let any more bits I'd missed drip out. I was so hopeful that maybe, just maybe, they were made with some kind of protection in case such things happen - I cannot be the only person on the planet to have done it? 4 hours later it was obvious it was beyond help. It will power up, showing the light to say it's taking power, but it won't switch on, no matter what I try, so I found myself with a dilemma. I accept I was a fucking idiot, live without it - it's fully backed up, and I do have a mac mini I can use, albeit I have to sit upstairs like billy no mates to use that, and I have the windows if I need one, or, I could make a claim on the insurance; that is, after all, what we've been paying for all these years. 
I decided to do it online via their own claim form; I figured with it being Easter there was unlikely to be anyone answering the phones, and the info on their website said to let them know as soon as. The insurance is in Mum's name, but covers anyone living here, and as she's not the best with computers and her eyes are not really that good, she nominated that I fill the form in too, telling me what to say (she wasn't very nice about me at one point) and signing what needed to be signed (not easy when she can't see and had to do it with a mouse!!). She gave them my number if they need to speak to anyone. 
The form got filled in as best I could; questions asking me what year it was made, what memory it has and how many gb it is were things I couldn't answer as all that info is on the laptop which isn't working for me to access the answers; asking for a receipt to prove when I bought it was also something I couldn't do; I think I got it 6, maybe 8 years ago. I don't keep receipts that long as usually a shop will only give you a refund or replacement within a set time. I do know where I bought it, so have told them where it was bought and said the company may have a record of it, although I would think that's pretty doubtful, so I've really not been able to give them much at all. Then at the end it asked if she (me) would be willing to record a video verifying the information given as being a true statement of facts. I looked at Mum; hair sticking out everywhere, in her PJ's, then looked at myself in my own PJ's with my hair stuck to my head because I've not showered for 2 days, both of us looking as rough as we've been feeling, so I clicked the "no" option. Now, I'm wondering if that was the right thing to do.? 
I filled in the form as requested, gave the details of what happened, took photos (asking to show damage which I wasn't able to do as damage is on the inside, but I took a photo of it all nice and shiny where I'd wiped it all over). They had also asked for a video of the damage but the fact a photo couldn't show it (I'm not prepared to open up the inside of it; partly because I've not a clue what to do, mainly because I'm pretty sure doing that would invalidate any claim straight away) I said I wasn't prepared to share a video of that either; pointless when it would show nothing more than the photo. However, since submitting it without either video I am thinking I did the wrong thing. The video could have shown me trying to switch it on to prove it's not turning on - I'm guessing the person who it goes to, to be fixed, will be able to sort that out, and are they really going to be bothered about us recording a declaration in our PJ's.
Pretty sure my ignorance of how these things work, and being so useless when it comes to filling in forms (I really am shit at such things) will find them refusing the claim, and I have to go buy me a lottery ticket to be able to replace it. 
I am so angry at myself, for being so bloody clumsy and stupid. 
How people who make claims all the time is beyond me (Mum's brother creature will claim for anything; he even deliberately burned a whole in his carpet once because he couldn't be bothered to pay for a new one, and he is not short of money - that was back in the 80's and whether he still does it now I couldn't say as we've not had anything to do with him in nearly 3 decades, however, he was that kind of person so I'm pretty sure he still does).
It all might before nothing though as I've just received an email from a Nigerian cousin I didn't know I had who has several million pounds waiting for me. Hurrah!!