First of all I hope you are impressed. Yes, during my sojourn back to EIOT Towers I stumbled across a lone, unarmed, unprotected and frankly quite vulnerable BT/Openreach Engineer, (yes, I am still referring to them in relation to both organisations, despite official protestations that they are two completely operate organisations, we all know that actually they are not and that it is all part of the monopoly that they jointly hold on the UK telecoms network and therefore by default hold by the nether regions on the UK Telecoms requiring public).
Yeap, as the above photo clearly shows the engineer in question was highly vulnerably placed up a telegraph pole, on the outskirts of the village and completely at the mercy of a passing telecoms starved woman who quite frankly has been brought to the edge of sanity by BT/Openreach and was therefore a sitting target for revenge.
But no, I restrained myself and left the poor chap to his telegraph pole. I did this largely because of the fact that at this point I was heading away from EIOT Towers and so keeping him in the car boot as I went around my errands could draw attention. I also noticed that he was blowing hot air onto his hands as he was perched high up the telegraph pole and so the discomfort of freezing cold hands and being employed by the behemoth that is BT/Openreach was punishment enough.
By the time I returned to EIOT Towers he had left his telegraph pole and so was safe from any threat of imminent kidnap.
So, here I sit on the BA big bird, (normal disclaimer applies – although I have to say that today’s crew appear to be of a higher calibre than those we usually get on this route and the aircraft is actually quite sanitary). Yeap, the gruesome twosome have been deposited back at school.
Not that there was any hesitation on their part to leave their old Mum and head back into their respective boarding houses. No, the small testosterone one murmured as he walked through the door, ‘I wonder what this weekend’s activity is going to be?’ and the strawberry blond hand grenade simply grunted a warning about kissing her in front of her friends and embarrassing her.
Apart from the emotionless departure from the gruesome twosome, compared to my much more sentimental and wet eyed reaction, the return to school on Monday morning was not without its trauma. You see, if I had a molecule of common sense I would have known that getting the gruesome twosome out of bed, cajoling them into the shower, breakfasting, loading the car and getting to school argument free on time would not have been particularly easy.
You would think that after over a year I would have learned, but no – what a muppet!
I should have known that the best advice would have been to deliver the gruesome twosome and all their kit to school last night, but no common sense does not seem to be prevalent in my life at the moment. In fact, it would even have worked better of I had delivered all the kit on Sunday evening and the actually living, breathing specimens on Monday.
Yes, it was more than a tad stressful. The small testosterone filled one was fine, he is relatively easy to get into order and as long as he has food in one hand a rugby ball in the other, he is fine.
No, it was the strawberry blond hand grenade who could not see why she had to get out of bed, have a shower, wash her hair, have breakfast and generally sort herself out.
Now I adore both of my children equally, but on Monday morning I would quite frankly have been happy to leave her in a Cumbrian field and take a random sheep to school instead.
Yes, I was in trouble for packing her hairbrush in her boarding bag and it was then unceremoniously unpacked by her pre-teenage hands and used in an attempt to detangle those strawberry blond locks. Needless to say that she did not feel the urge to repack it afterwards and I subsequently found it on a shelf in the kitchen next to the food processor – oh, such a hygienic young lady.
Anyway, I am sure that Matron was ecstatic that the strawberry blond one did not have a hairbrush and I am equally sure that the young lady in question firmly placed the blame for the errant hairbrush at my feet. I have subsequently found out that I was firmly to blame for the apparent lack of the strawberry blond one’s gum shield on the hockey pitch – apparently I had not packed it in the ‘right place’. The PE teacher in question, who may be petite but has the bite of a Rottweiler, apparently did point out that perhaps it was not my responsibility……the missing gum shield was then found in the sports bag where I had placed it in the first place….
Anyway, we eventually made it into the car on Monday morning. But we were not alone. No, as well as me and the gruesome twosome in the car were:
2 School rucksacks
2 School sports bags
2 Very large school boarding bags
1 Random dressing gown that could not fit into a boarding bag
1 Rugby ball
2 Hockey sticks – one in a very large, bright orange hockey stick bag
1 School wax jacket – not sure where the second one is but hey ho it will turn up
1 Riding hat
1 Riding body protector
1 Tennis ball
1 Justin Beaver
1 Muffy The Marmot
4 Spinning® bike pedals
5 Spinning® bike chains
1 Mum – driving
Now, I am sure that there were more random things thrown into the car, but to be completely honest by this point I had lost the will to take any notice.
So, the car was bulging at the seams, the strawberry blond hand grenade was not impressed about being marshalled out of bed and the small testosterone filled one was up to something but I could not identify what it was.
Before anybody starts going into fact and principles of physics – look carefully at who the quote is attributed to….
It was pouring, no bucketing it down, with rain and quite frankly not my best morning ever.
So, by the time we got to school things were pretty tense.
It was at about this time that it became clear what the small testosterone filled one had been up to. In the corridor he met one of his boarding house buddies. Now, this young man is a couple of years older than the testosterone filled one, but age is the only difference. There were both at the front of the queue when mischief was dished out. The testosterone filled one is considerably bigger than this young chap and the housemaster has noticed the blooming friendship between the two so they share a dorm. They share a love of mischief and mayhem and despite being in separate years take every opportunity to do activities together or generally cause chaos.
So, the testosterone filled one saw one of his school buddies and could not resist the urge to exclaim, ‘ I have smuggled in one of my Nerf guns and bullets – it is really cool’. In response his buddy said, ‘cool – we will have one fun with that’.
At this point a shiver of pure terror ran down my spine, I knew I had to divorce myself completely from any association with this as if I was considered to be implicit then I would be receiving emails not only from matron on the girls house about whatever the strawberry blond one had been up to, but also from the boys boarding house about the small man and his Nerf gun.
Emails from matron in the girls boarding house are scary enough but emails from the boys boarding house are enough to scare the living day lights out of anybody.
So, I told anybody who would listen, teachers, cleaners, parents and most importantly the Head Master that I knew nothing of this illicit activity and took no responsibility.
Hopefully that will mean I am void of any responsibility.
Anyway, both children were installed at school, the various appendages were unloaded from the car and delivered to the appropriate destination and I beat a hasty retreat towards the gluten free bacon butty shop a few miles away – only to find to is closed for an extended holiday until 19 Jan – bugger!
Oh well, home-made gluten-free bacon butty it had to be……
Anyway, there have been a few developments at EIOT Towers.
Firstly, I was, and still am, highly impressed by the speed and delivery of the four packing boxes which somewhat stressfully made their way to the compound’s mail room last week – Shifting Saudi, Packing Pandemonium & Obsessive BT Behaviour…
Yeap, despite the traumatic start to their journey I was delighted by the speed and efficiency of their journey. I received a phone-call as I collected the hire car from Avis in Manchester airport to say that the boxes were in London and then they were delivered, stress free next day. That was less than 24hrs from door in Riyadh to door at EIOT Towers. Now that was impressive.
The small testosterone filled one was delighted by the arrival of his Nerf gun armoury and promptly took great pride in using his sister as target practise. The strawberry blond one was quite chuffed that her loom band collection was back and even raised the top half of her body off the settee to make some jewellery in celebration.
Secondly, the carpenters quote for the windows and doors has finally arrived – after around 8 weeks.
Now, if you were expecting some sort of printed, computer generated, technical quotation with design specifications, complicated calculations and recommendations for insulation and energy conservation against the Cumbrian elements then you will be sadly disappointed.
No, the quotation is hand written in the most exquisite ink handwriting on A5 receipt book paper. It is armed with hand drawn diagrams of what each section of the quote relates to.
Needless to say I have deleted the handwritten address blocks etc…..
It is a true, hand written and hand drawn masterpiece that quite frankly I will frame once all the windows, doors and staircases have been replaced – whenever that may be. I love it!
I have never seen anything like it and I feel I ought to don white cotton gloves before I touch it.
It is fantastic.
Now I have to say that I have been rather relieved to get this quote and every time I have seen the carpenter or his son I have reminded them of the need for a new front door. The cat flap is more of a gaping hole that the postman uses for mail rather than wrestling with the savage and rusted letter box that attacks with all the savagery of the till in ‘Open All Hours’. The rather odd ventilation plate is more of a vague, half-hearted attempt at a wind break and when you approach the door from inside in the midst of gale force winds outside it is like one of those film clips of people fighting against full on blizzards in Siberia.
So yes, I am quite pleased to finally have the quotation.
However, my concern is now that is it took over 2 months for the quotation, how long will it take to get the finished product…..oh well Spring is coming and in theory better weather and the chance to save up to pay the bill.
Now, thus far there is no sign of the quote for the new water tank. I did see the local legend who is the highly esteemed sheep farmer and water expert in passing but took the opportunity to spend some time with his fantastic wife the other day. Yes, I have mentioned this lady in the past who is a gem and hard-core Cumbrian farmers wife. Yes, she has raised four boys in remotest Cumbria and nothing fazes her – apart from her new baby grand-daughter who quite frankly has her flummoxed after four boys.
Now, I am no wimp but compared to this lady I am a positive wall flower.
Anyway, the quote is on its way, but our legendary sheep farmer/water expert is not happy with it so he is working on it……
I have to say that in the current conditions I have not actually ventured down the field to the spring and water tank. As far as I am concerned the water is flowing fine into the house and while it is fulfilling our requirements then let holey water tanks be.
In any case, himself is back in a couple of weeks on a break and I thoroughly expect him to be a whirlwind of water supply activity and generally spend much of his two weeks off sorting the whole system out and making plans for its future.
Did you read that oh husband of mine???? Have you taken note? The writing is on the wall, oh darling husband of mine.
So to BT……go and put the kettle on, sit the kids in front of the TV, unplug the phone, (but if it is a BT phone on a BT line you probably don’t actually need to do that as it is probably faulty in anycase….).
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin…….
Well, the week started with the news from Ms W – (yes our Senior Executive Level Complaints bod), that there was now an application in to the National Park in which we live for various bits and pieces to do with our installation and this was going to take a long time to be approved.
Well, I am sorry but enough is enough. Firstly I sort out the fiasco with the person who was objecting to the Wayleeves, then this and in between the apparent need for an application to The Environment Agency – which by the way I had shown to be completely unnecessary thanks to a friend who happens to be an Environment Agency Environment Officer in the very same national park.
Anyway, one MAJOR stropogram later, asking politely but firmly for specifics and concrete information and that I would take over the project management of this entire fiasco.
Yes, it has taken more time than I care to think about but I now know what is going on – apparently.
Now, Openreach have proven themselves to be at best flakey and inconsistent in their explanations and at worst out right liars. I have to say that I do have the slightest, most vague and barely visible sense of sympathy for Ms W – our Senior Executive Level Complaints bod as the evidence points to her having been lied to by Openreach. But that flicker of sympathy only extends so far.
It now appears that it is not actually a planning permission request that has been submitted to The National park, but a mere act of courtesy to tell them what is happening. It all appears that with concurrent activity planning, we may, possibly, at a stretch, barring any Cumbrian earthquakes, sheep eating through cables, farmers felling telegraph poles or other unforeseen circumstances, may just possibly have something by the end of Feb.
Now, let’s not get excited by this. The end of Feb is still 6 weeks away and anything could happen in BT/Openreach terms between now and then.
I may still be reduced to kidnapping Openreach Engineers and keeping them captive in the barn.
But it is a start.
I also have an answer as to why we cannot be connected via the existing telephone wire and Openreach box in the lounge. I have to admit to not being convinced by the explanation but hey ho.
So cages have been rattled, shaken, stamped on, crushed and generally rearranged.
So, I am heading back to the land of sand with it’s ironically relatively efficient phone system and broadband. There will be regular posts……
Leaving EIOT Towers this morning was hard – the place grows on me every time I am there and even the freezing gal force winds rattling around the rotting windows and through the front door could not dampen my love for the place.
I do have to say though that at 0200 hours this morning the riotous party loving noise from half a dozen sheep who had clearly escaped from one field to the one directly below our bedroom window was a tad annoying. Yeap, somehow the gales had shown them an exit to apparent freedom and they had grabbed the opportunity – only to find themselves marooned in the water tank field.
I am not sure what had happened in the intervening two hours but by the time I left EIOT Towers at 0400 they had relocated, (I can only assume that it was the same half-dozen rebellious, adolescent youngsters), to the lane and were partying in the lane. They insisted, in their party mode, on guiding me down the road in the light of my headlights before finally veering off in the opposite direction.
I apologise now to whichever farmer will have had to have gone, sheep dog in tow, and guided them back up the hill to the correct field.
Anyway, we appear to be heading towards Saudi air space on the BA big bird, so bit I take full advantage of the drinks trolley before it is reduced to a couple of orange juices.
Stand by for more regular posts from the ironically relatively well-connected Saudi……