Posted by: lucylastic | May 29, 2007

It always comes in threes……….

Our major project last year was the partial re-design of our Victorian house – with the addition of a large kitchen extension and a new dining area.  The result – everyone seems agreed, is a lovely space – painted a rich cherry red and with lovely walnut worktops in the kitchen and a massive walnut dining table and chairs providing focal points for the room.  So imagine my dismay, last Friday evening to return home, (full of a stinking cold, but that is by the by) to a letter from our local council headed ‘Alleged unauthorised building development’.  The letter went on to say that, post external inspection, ‘the external materials used in the construction of the extension were not compliant with the planning permission granted’ and that even retrospective planning application for use of said materials wouldn’t be looked favourably upon and that the best course of action, (it wasn’t clear on best for whom) would be to demolish said extension.  We have 28 days to comply or appeal.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know much about building – hence we relied upon ‘experts’ – we used a reputable, (if somewhat slow) local builder and all our building work was carried out under the (very expensive, but obligatory) supervision of a buildings inspector – who, as far as I understood anything – was meant to be ensuring that the work the builder was doing was compliant with the planning application!  So who is really to blame?  The main culprits it seems are the tiles – which are not ‘harmonious or similar’ to those in the surrounding area – they are red roof tiles – most around us are dark grey slate – but no one suggested they were unacceptable before they had been put on the roof!  I am not sure I have the energy for this right now, but we have to deal with it promptly – otherwise the council may exercise its right ‘to cause the extension to be demolished’. 

Second on the list of three was waking up on Sunday morning to the news that my God-son’s car had been broken into in Bath, and all his worldly possessions, (packed in because it was the end of term and he hadn’t had a chance to unpack them yet), including his passport, had been stolen.  This included a laptop, guitar, all his clothes and toiletries and all his college work – about to culminate in exams in just a couple of week’s time.  Worse, he was meant to fly to Belgium later that day, (home for him as his parents are in the forces and are based there) together with one of my sons for the half-term holiday.  Much frantic telephoning ensured.  The police were totally uninterested to hear of the break-in to the car – “leave a number, we’ll call you back” – which they did, on Monday afternoon – over 36 hours after the break-in was reported. The airline agreed over the phone that a Belgian issued forces ID card together with a British driving licence constituted sufficient ‘photo ID’ for him to fly, but the staff at the airport disagreed and refused to allow him to board.  So I have a son in Belgium and a God-son at home – which wasn’t the intention at all!  The damage to the car – a bent and ‘jimmied’ door – is sufficient for an insurance write off, (it’s a ‘K’ reg Metro, a teenager’s fist car), but my lovely husband and his crew at the garage are going to try and fix it up – just to keep God-son motoring a while longer – I hope they manage it OK.  In the meantime, lovely husband spent most of Sunday driving around the countryside between the wettest Swindon there ever has been, Bristol airport and Bath and Trowbridge trying to recover the damaged car and collect items left with various friends to supplement God-son’s (now) meagre wardrobe, (basically, the clothes he stood up in).  Thank goodness for Florence & Fred at Tesco – stylish underwear and clothing without breaking the bank!!!!

As if that wasn’t enough, Monday morning brought the news that my brother and his girlfriend had their flat broken into overnight – while they were sleeping.  I don’t know about you – but this brings all sorts of horrors and ‘might have been’s’ to mind – very luckily, they slept through the whole thing – waking to find the living room window forced open, many possessions gone and the front door to their flat and to the main building wide open.  I have heard many people talk about the feeling of personal violation after being burgled – and to add insult to injury, the thieves had nabbed wallet and car keys from a coat pocket and taken the car as well.  It’s clearly good that neither my brother nor his partner suffered any personal injury, but the aftermath is a nightmare to deal with and as the day progressed they were noticing more and more things that had ‘disappeared’, which is very distressing.  It’s a crying shame.  The police response – “buy better window locks, there’s a lot of it about” – thanks; I’ll bear that in mind!

By coincidence, I heard on the radio this morning that Swindon is one of the towns in which one is least likely to be burgled – the most likely being Nottingham, apparently. It’s not a lot of comfort at all.

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