More Ranting!

Well, moments after I posted my blog last week there was a colossal bang from the kitchen! I ran through to find disgusting mouldy water flooding out from under the washing machine. The machine was officially dead. Luckily, it had managed to wash all the bedding and underwear for the week, so I wasn’t left trying to sort that out, but I still had to pay a quick visit to Mum and drop a couple of loads off for her to do – thanks Mum.

I hadn’t realised how many times the washing machine went on during the week until it died and over the four days before my new one was due to be delivered, the laundry baskets grew scarily full. Anyway, Thursday dawned, and Argos texted me again to let me know it would be delivered between 3:45pm and 7pm. Great, bang on dinner time. Book twelve was also being launched on Thursday so it was shaping up to be a busy day.

About 5pm a huge lorry pulled into our road. Thankfully, it made no attempt to try and get any further in, otherwise it may have had problems getting out. A masked guy rang the bell. Luckily, he looked nice and burly and like he’d had his Weetabix that morning, but he was alone – which was concerning.

I showed him where the machine was located. He pulled a face behind his mask but shrugged good naturedly and went to get his mate who thankfully was still in the lorry. His mate came in, also a fine strapping lad. He looked around the kitchen and frowned.

HIM: Did you buy your last machine from Argos?

ME:  Yes.

HIM: I thought so, I was the one who delivered it. I remember lifting out the tumble drier last time!

Anyway, bless them, they heaved the drier out, unplugged the washing machine, slid the drier back, and started to pull the washing machine out. There was a thunk and a crunch, and as they lifted it out a big concrete block was left behind. It was broken into several big chunks with smaller bits lying all around it.

My washing machine was indeed very, very broken they informed me with knowledgeable shakes of their head. Just as well I didn’t waste my money calling in the repair man. Whilst they took the old machine out and brought the new one in, I took the opportunity to quickly sweep up and wash the disgusting floor. I also found one of those cap things that you put laundry liquid in that had gone down the back of the machine. Now, these caps have recently become rarer than rocking horse poop. Once, you got one with every bottle of laundry liquid but over the last couple of years they have started rationing us in that only one in every four bottles will have one – I guess the reasoning being to force you to horde your precious cap and constantly reuse it.

I remember last year I went to buy more laundry liquid and I needed a cap because mine had cracked through overuse. Not a single bottle of the liquid I wanted had a cap on it. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to use a different liquid, neither did I want to pour the liquid directly into the drawer because that makes the drawer disgustingly manky. I looked along the shelves, and noticed that a different brand of laundry liquid had a cap on one of its bottles, hmm… I bet you’re wondering if I did, well, I’m ashamed to admit, yes, I did. That cap disappeared up my sleeve in a sleight of hand the Magicians Circle would have been proud of and I innocently took a bottle of my normal liquid, sans cap, to the till to pay for it. So, discovering one was a find akin to buried treasure and I fell on it with a cry of joy. It has been washed and put safely away as a back up when my current cap finally dies.

I’m also happy to report that the new washing machine works just fine, it’s quiet and doesn’t move, which is great. But I have a new problem in that the outside drain that the kitchen sink, the dishwasher, and the washing machine empty into is completely blocked. It’s flooding the path every time the appliances are used with soapy dirty water which is defacing the slate tiles. I’ve tried plunging it with a long, study stick but it seriously feels like cement has been poured down there and left to harden. I even bought a very expensive bottle of drain un-blocker – guaranteed to unclog even the most stubborn drain – well, I’m sorry, Mr Muscle, but I want my money back as it did absolutely nothing to help. I’ve called upon expert help – aka Dad.

Anyway, when Miss F read last week’s blog, she came through pulling a face and said – “You didn’t tell them about your tablet, Mum.” And she was right, in the long list of woes that I ranted about last week, I completely forgot to include the sorry tale about my tablet.

As regular readers and followers of me on Instagram will know, my wonderful daughter bought me a very expensive Kindle Fire Tablet for Christmas. It’s beautiful, has a large memory, and a fantastic battery capacity. It has some annoying little glitches including a very aggressive autocorrect that is convinced it’s right all the time, and it’s a little slow downloading my emails, but apart from that it’s great, or rather, it was great.

A couple of weeks ago, it suddenly and rather rudely, switched itself off mid-post. Annoyed, I tried to switch it back on. No go. Had the battery drained, I wondered, and plugged it in. I left it a few minutes and tried again, nope, black screen with the Amazon logo continuously flashing. I waited until the IT Department got out of bed and showed it to her. Let it drain completely of power, she advised, then charge it up. Sometimes tablets do this, but that should sort it. I left it alone for days, then tried charging it up. Nope. Black screen. Flashing Amazon logo. We tried connecting it to my laptop. What tablet? Asked my laptop. I can’t see anything there.

A bit upset, after all it was her Christmas present to me and was not cheap, Miss F contacted Amazon customer services. After a bit of toing and froing they informed us, they would repair it and would email me a return label within a few hours. This was Wednesday evening, by Friday morning we still hadn’t heard anything so back onto customer services we had to go. How may I help you? We explained the issue, they went to find the previous messages then came back and tried to convince us that we had said the screen was badly cracked. Umm, no, the tablet is in perfect condition, it just won’t switch on. Oh, they said. Are we sure the screen isn’t cracked? Yes, absolutely sure, the screen is black apart from the Amazon logo that continuously flashes.

At this information, customer services went very quiet for a few moments, then informed us that they would replace it, not even attempt to repair it. Ah ha, I thought, this is a common glitch then that you know isn’t fixable. We will email you a return label, they promised. Will you? We asked. Will you really? Because you said that last time and yet, three days later, here we are again. Yes, yes, they promised, it will be with you soon. True to their word, an hour later, yes it was. So, I printed it out, found the original box and wrapped the tablet in lots of bubble wrap, but I made sure we took several photos first showing the perfect and uncracked state of the screen – just in case. I then took it to the post office and sent it tracked and traced.

Now, they had assured us that the moment the post office scanned the label, a replacement would be sent to us. But here we are, a week later, and still no sign of it. I only hope we don’t have to chase up customer services again because it all takes time, precious time that I don’t have an endless source of. Plus, I really need my tablet. I’m managing with my old one but it’s slow and glitchy, and has the memory capacity of a gnat to the extent that I now leave it on charge 24/7 yet it will still abruptly close down with no warning.

This week has been a busy one as well because I launched my twelfth book – Kiss & Tell, book four of the Blackwood Family Saga. For once, Amazon behaved themselves, the book was published exactly when it was supposed to, and the paperback linked like a dream to the eBook version. The first book, Lost & Found, ran its free promotion exactly when scheduled, and book two Fixtures & Fittings was on for 99p at the same time.

It is a total experiment offering one of my books for free and one for 99p. It’s too soon yet to tell if it’s one that will bear fruit, people certainly downloaded the book, but it remains to be seen if it will result in an increase in reviews and purchases of the other books in the series. It did mean that Lost & Found shot up the Amazon rankings, as I’m writing this it’s sitting at no 16 in family drama and no 80 in romantic suspense. Considering how huge a category that is it’s a bit of a result. Being in the top 100 of its category also means that Amazon will start promoting the book as well, so, there’s that.

I’m working all weekend to cover the other part-timer who is on holiday this week. I’m expecting to be busy, but as I’m already through my target I can relax and count every extra sale as a cherry on top. This is why I’m sitting here writing my blog on a Friday afternoon instead of on a Saturday, and I must make sure I schedule it for Sunday morning and not Saturday morning by mistake. Once the weekend has been survived, then I have a whole week off. I had planned to start writing book thirteen, but the week has already quickly filled up with other things, so I have a suspicion that not much writing will happen.

If the weather is fine, there is a lot to do in the garden. The weather so far has been appalling. When I remember what it was like this time last year, long hot days spent pottering around the garden painting and tidying it up and then compare it to now when I’m still having to light a fire in the evening because it’s so cold. We have my parents coming for lunch on Wednesday and it will be the first time they’ve properly been in our house for over a year, so there’s shopping and prepping for that to do. Thursday I’m out for lunch with a friend whom I haven’t seen since last November. It will be nice to go into a restaurant again – I’ll need to try and remember how to eat in polite society. Friday afternoon is my zoom meeting with my local author group, and there will be the usual housework and laundry etc. So, as you can see, time to write is rapidly diminishing.

We have been without a lodger since the beginning of January and as we are now allowed into other people’s houses, I am beginning to think about advertising for a new one. The room is basically ready, I just need to dust and hoover. Also, I moved the little desk that I wasn’t using from the corner of my bedroom down to the basement. One thing everyone who comes to view the room seems to ask is – can I put a desk down here – and I suppose that’s only to be expected in these days of people homeworking and all having laptops. I think what with having a nice desk and a proper office chair, plus the TV we put in the room, it will increase the rooms desirability. But the desk is currently a very pretty shade of green which is completely wrong for the room, so it needs to be sanded down and repainted to match. So, there’s that to do as well.

I also need to repaint the bench that I bought last year for the garden. It’s a lovely big bench and very comfortable, but the paint job on it was awful and less than a year lately the white paint has almost completely rubbed away. I’m going to have a go at shabby chic and have the same pale blue I painted the fences with to use. It needs a cushion, but when I looked them up online, I was shocked at how expensive a simple bench cushion was with even the cheapest being over £70. For a piece of foam with a cover on it? I think not, there must be a cheaper way of doing it. I had a look on Amazon, I could get a piece of upholstery foam the exact size for £10, then found a pale blue gingham waterproof garden tablecloth which was twice the size of the foam. Surely, I can make that into a cover and because it’s waterproof and mould proof it can be left out all the time. At a total cost of under £30 I’m hoping it will work, but that’s something else on the list for next week.

As you can see, the days are rapidly filling up.

And now, I must go. There are posts to make, a book review to post, and a large late lunch to make because Miss F must catch the 4:30pm bus to work and will need to eat before she goes. Life is so busy.

Anyway, take care of yourselves and I look forward to chatting next week and telling you all how my week went.

Julia Blake

4 thoughts on “More Ranting!

    1. Things didn’t get any better, but after this week off and a determined effort on my part to catch up at least, I am starting back to work with a level playing field, well, for the moment anyway.

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  1. First, congratulations on Kiss and Tell. I have each book downloaded and copies here or on the way. It will be my most enjoyed early summer reading, I am sure.

    Oh my! Hope your laptop arrives. That is truly frustrating. This model must have had some duds and sadly you got one of those. And glad your washing machine is in place without too much trouble….except for the mess to clean up from the old one.

    The way caps for liquid detergent are handled in England was a surprise. Our government hasn’t quite gotten into mandating those fine details, though it’s going that way. And if a company chose to do that it would go out of business.

    Yes, this will be a good time to look for a lodger again. I think you will find one fairly quickly. The room sounds comfortable and perfect for a student. I wish you luck in finding someone who works well for you.

    Have a most wonderful week off and enjoy your social events. I had my first dinner out this past week too and a lunch in NYC yesterday with a stop in at Sotheby’s. It felt strange and amazing at the same time. Knowing you, even this busy, some writing will happen, even if not as much as you would like. Enjoy!

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