Monday, 28 March 2011

Blossoms of Cherry and Plum Trees Herald of Spring

The blossoms are just starting to come out on the cherry and plum trees near Leazes Court

not sure if this is cherry or plum, but in late summer every year these cherry and plum trees  provide lots of fruit for the birds to enjoy

Gated Community (Leazes Court) on New Mills

Entrance to Leazes Court, aka Leazes Dwellings (New Mills Side) built around 1920

Benwell Cricket Club New Mills area

cleared land on the site of the Old Benwell  Cricket Club (Walter Terrace NE4) looking towards Spital Tongues and Jesmond (not to be confused with modern Benwell Hill Cricket Club, which is situated near Denton Burn, about 4 miles away)

Here we can also see Castle Leazes (University of Newcastle) Halls of Residence in the background on the right hand side
Does anyone know what is planned for this site? 

Saturday, 12 March 2011

George Shaw at the Baltic

On Thursday Jeff and I got the Quaylink electric bus to the Baltic to see the exhibitions by George Shaw: "The Sly and Unseen Day" and "Paine's Grey". The paintings were so wonderful, I loved all of them and could not even say which I liked best, probably the forest ones, not shown in the video. but if you do a google image search for george shaw sly and unseen  you will see them. Thank you George, Thank you Baltic!

Bizarre VAT rates

Anyone shopping at Lidl might notice weird facts about VAT as they itemise the VAT on the till receipts.
Food is zero rated and has a letter A beside it. Non food and luxury goods are charged at 20%.
So bizarrely, I see Energy Drink Light which is basically a chemical concoction soft drink  (sugar free copy of Red Bull) at 0.29 p, zero rated for VAT but multivitamin juice, which is pure fruit juice with added vitamins and minerals, is rated at 20% VAT and so more expensive, £0.99!

planting diary

Since a few years ago the communal gardens have become neglected. Contract ground workers come round a few times a year to trim the hedges and grass. No pruning or planting gets done.
So I asked our part time caretaker if he thought it would be OK if we did a bit ourselves, such as re-planting the lavender hedge under the kitchen window.
So when I saw blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes and climbing roses in Lidl at only £1.49 each, I bought them.
Wilkinson's had healthy looking lavender bushes at only £2.48 so I got one of those as well.
On Wednesday Steve from Time Exchange came round to help me with the planting. It looked like the soil was in quite good condition, but one of the Lidl bushes looked like it might be dead. We planted them anyway, and I did a bit of pruning on the leggy and  woody old lavender hedge, the bit that the winter frost and snow  had not killed off. Lavender plant went next to the old lavender  hedge near the kitchen window, climbing rose next to that so it can climb up the hedge, and the 2 fruit bushes outside the bedroom window.
So now we have to wait and see what grows.
The following day I heard a motor going and there were the contract gardeners, trimming the hedge, right above where we had just planted, covering the newly planted bushes in twigs and leaves!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hunter's Moor

Approach to Crossroads at Hunter's Moor, junction of Ponteland Road, Barrack Road and Brighton Grove, with BBC building in the background

Early March Crocuses At Nun's Moor Park

more crocuses

Crocus carpet and Brighton Grove crossroads in the background

Nun's Moor Crocus Carpets

On Sunday Jeff and I made our first visit of the year to Nun's Moor Park. We had some bread for the birds.
The crocuses were in full bloom.

Friday, 4 March 2011

More on Gutters

Still no news about the renewal of our broken gutters.
On February 18th I received an email from North surveyor about the guttering.
Since I have not had any news, I decided to post it. 
If I feel the need to say who the landlord is, I will have it all here  in writing for anyone to read.

"we appreciate that you reported the broken guttering ...
in December 2010, and although these guttering repairs are still outstanding we would like to assure you that we are taking this matter seriously. However, we are not able to supply a start date for the repairs at this time, as due to the scale of the work required to carry out these repairs for the whole scheme, it has been necessary to refer the work to our insurance company for action."

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Broken crockery

A few days ago I had Paul the Painter in to paint and renovate the ceiling in the kitchen and long hallway.
I had some Ecos insulating paint left over from the bedroom ceiling so we used that.  I had to clear all the clutter off the surfaces in the kitchen. The pan of brown rice which was sitting on top of the stove got put away in the back of the cupboard.
Unfortunately I was not giving my whole attention when I got it out again, and the crappy shelf in the cupboard went askew and down fell my dishes and broke on the floor into many shards of glass and pottery.
One old casserole dish, maybe from ancestors in the distant past. One large  glass trifle dish, from Jeff's mother or maybe even older.
Oops, farewell to old dishes. Unfortunately now I have no casserole dishes at all.
I have been asked by Jeff to remind him to see if there are any spares in his kitchen or outhouse.
Also Deb gave me some scented candles in exchange for a radio I no longer needed, so Jeff is also going to look for old candlesticks lurking in the clutter hiding place of old dwellings.


I had an appointment to see the GP which I had made a few weeks ago when I was not feeling great. I had been short of breath and very tired. As usual last time I saw her she asked me to get a series of blood tests. So yesterday I went with Jeff to see her and get the results.
I had also been concerned about my ears.
 They hurt when I go out in the cold, I often have pains in them and I get drumming vibrating sensations when I hear certain pitches. So she had a look in my ears too. She says I have hyper acuity which is extra sensitive hearing.  My ears are so sensitive they overreact to certain sounds.
So everything else is ok and within normal ranges.

Duties of a Landlord Part 2

Paradoxically, I found that it would be helpful to put my letters about the poor state of the building on here, its as if I am putting it "out there" rather than hanging on to it.
So here is my letter of last year about the broken guttering, sent to the resident liaison officer of the landlord's repair contractor:

I am writing to ask if you have any more  news on the status of this repair.
We are into the third week with parts of the gutter completely missing and the part above the main door loose so you can see the sky through it when you look up. The rain and snow melt is running down the outside  walls, and onto the electrical cables which run above the main door.

In a recent leaflet sent by [landlord] we were asked to check leaking gutters and drains and report them.
We have reported them, so what happens now?

As they are attempting to meet Decent Homes Standards, this gutter problem will be compromising such plans and cause  the building to become increasingly damp and no longer weatherproof.

There are now at least 2 voids on the ground floor flats nearby, it is the ground floor flats (which all have concrete floors and poor ventilation) which will be affected by the broken guttering. My neighbour  next door and I have obtained dehumidifiers to help manage the damp conditions and are having them on all the time, also the heating bills are very high due to needing to combat the damp conditions.

As there are deadlines for completion of repairs, whether this would be classed as urgent or routine, my neighbours and I would appreciate an update on the progress of these works. 

The Duties of a Landlord

I have decided to post about what has been happening at home, with the state of the building.
It was strange that over the winter I was not feeling too good. There were a lot of things preying on my mind. Mum had a heart attack at the beginning of winter and we were all dealing with that. Then being stuck at home when the weather was so bad.
I went to see the GP and she said I was suffering from stress. 
I  decided to go to  Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey for an intensive 3 day  meditation retreat...
Begin meditation at 6 am; Continue in different forms through the day, mainly in silence; Not much tea; lots of water; healthy wholefood, mainly vegan.
When I came home on Sunday I felt totally de-stressed. In fact I had forgotten what I was stressed about.
So now I am trying to change my life so that I don't react with stress. Not take on board worry work which is not my work. Let other people take responsibility for themselves and not try to conflictingly  "control" them. Take the advice of the occupational therapist and delegate more.
So, I am not going to try to do the landlord's job for them, and not worry about maintenance of the building . If they want to let it decay that is their problem.
Here is the letter I wrote a few weeks back.

 Dear Sir/Madam,
I am writing to you today to ask if you can tell me what is happening with the planned replacement of the broken guttering which I reported to [your contractor] on December 3, 2010.

As tenants we expect the landlord to provide prompt repairs to guttering and the external walls of our homes and this current  situation is completely unacceptable.

Earlier correspondence on this matter is copied for your attention  at the end.
I have now been told by
[your contractor] that the work is out of their hands, that all relevant personnel are aware of it  and [You] are now dealing with it.
The broken guttering is causing damp patches on the walls and on the floor near the external walls. At 3 points water came into the house after heavy rain and I had to get
[your contractor] to come out and fix the leaks.

I read in [your] Residents' Annual Report 2009/2010 North East:
95.5% homes meet Decent Homes Standard (weatherproof) and those which do not live in homes meeting Decent Homes  to be told why;
Residents to be involved in planned works.
[your contractor] staff have told me that:
1. we have to wait for improvement in weather conditions;
2. we have to wait for scaffolding contracts;
3.  it will be very expensive as both Newcastle [1] and Newcastle [2] estates have to have guttering replaced.

In the meantime while we are waiting (over 2 months now) our homes are deteriorating and becoming damp. My neighbours and I  have chronic health conditions and are  under the care of hospital doctors  and the damp is affecting our health, and making our homes very expensive to heat.

I would appreciate a detailed explanation in writing (email is preferable) as to why this work has not been carried out and to be given  a date for commencement.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter,
Your sincerely, Please visit there for latest news from Herbwormwood