Wednesday, September 30

So impulsive

I can be such an impulsive person sometimes.

Normally I'm quite reserved and will think about things, pro's and con's before making a decision. Not this time LOL

Russ and I got chatting earlier and I mentioned that I was thinking of having another tattoo. I've always wanted a dragon tattoo, but there are several things to take into account. I'm 41 and getting a bit old to be having new tattoo's done in places where they can be seen. But why have a tattoo and have it hidden? So where could I have one that isn't too obvious yet can still be seen? I have one on each shoulder on my back (including my beloved wizard reaper - not everyone's ideal tattoo, but I love him!) I have my butterfly at the top of my left arm, but feel that one on the top of my right arm takes me into looking like a thug territory. I have one that no one can see unless I'm in a swimming cossy, which doesn't happen often! So where to put it? Also, my taste in tattoo's (as you've probably noticed from the aforementioned wizard reaper tattoo) is not particularly feminine.

Anyone who knows me quite well will know I have a love of dragons. My living room is full of them. Well, not 'actual' dragons, but dragon candle holders, one hung from the ceiling and various other dragon ornaments, and wizards too. A bit of a bizarre thing for some people to deal with but they live in the living room with us. So I decided on a dragon tattoo. This is the design I've chosen.

I've decided to have it done on the outside of my leg/calf, with it's tail starting just above my ankle bone. That way it can be covered up with trousers, jeans or a long skirt (I don't do short skirts!) if need be, but in summer when I wear 3/4 length jeans or combat pants, it won't have to be hidden. I can't wait now!

One of the things about having this tattoo is that Eve gets to do it for me. It might be a bit of a strange thing to have your daughter tattoo you, but she's good. I spoke to Eve and she doesn't have any tattoo ink. Arghhh! So I've just ordered some online and it's winging it's way here. woohoo!

Eve is coming to stay for the weekend! Yay! It's been so long since we've spent any amount of time together. It will be lovely to have the human whirlwind/demolition gang in the house. We won't be able to get in the bathroom for hours on end while she showers and washes her hair etc. We won't be able to move for bags/clothes/personal belongings, but it will be lovely to have her here. Plus the fact, she'll get to do some tattoo's (she's doing one for Russ too), so I think everyone will be happy all round. The only problem is, I'll have to go and get a temporary tattoo for Isabelle. She had one over the summer holidays and absolutely loved it, so if we're getting new ones she'll want one too. She did make me laugh when she showed her tattoo to CG.. and announced "it's ok, it's not a real one" LOL

Sunday, September 27

Out the mouths of babes...

My sweet little 4 year old monster can be a little angel sometimes without even knowing it.

Yesterday she had both Mark and I laughing without even knowing she'd done it.

She's getting very interested in the world at the moment. The bigger picture of life. We were discussing hot and cold countries. She told us that Africa was a hot country and so was Australia. We asked her if she knew any cold countries. She thought for a minute and replied, no, I don't think I know any. Mark said, well.. Iceland is a cold country, to which Isabelle replied, Oh don't be silly Daddy, Iceland is a shop! We tried not to laugh because a) she said it in all seriousness, and b) she was right LOL.

Later in the afternoon, we'd been out and I needed to call at our local shop on the way home. Isabelle asked if she could go on the playpark right next to the shop. She was wearing a yellow sundress, white leggins and her favourite silver sandals that her Nanny had bought her (the mind boggles at the thought eh?) so when she asked if she could go on the play park, I said to Mark, I don't think she's suitably attired, to which a little voice came from the back of the car, Mummy, I'm not tired at all, I feel fine. Once more we had to restrain our chuckles at her.

Then last night before she went to bed, she spent ages writing on some little heart shaped post it notes. She placed them all on the floor and said, some have mum written on them and some have dad written on them. When I go to bed you can pick them all up and then here's two hearts so you can both write one to me.

She went to bed and I picked up the little hearts. Each one did indeed say Mum or Dad (she'd spelt them all correct) and on the back of each one was a little picture of a girl, a butterfly, a flower or something similar. It was so lovely it made me want to have a mummy cry. Silly really, but it was just so sweet. So Mark and I both wrote her a special little message and a picture on the two spare hearts. It was the first thing she looked for when she got up this morning.

Awwwwwww. It makes being a parent all worth while.

She can be such a sweetie sometimes without even knowing it.

Tuesday, September 22

This, that and the other...

Oh, I'd forgotten what a pain in the rear it is to fill in a job application form!!

I'm not really looking for a job, I am enjoying the space I have now that Isabelle is at full-time school. But I do know that it won't be too long before I start to go a bit batty from being in the house all day thinking about jobs that need doing.. washing, ironing, cleaning etc etc.... and then feeling guilty because I've had my bum parked at the computer instead of getting jobs done, that don't really need doing because I did them yesterday or a couple of days ago. My head tends to nag at me on and on...

Poor Russ isn't very well today. He's been to the Dr's this morning and it seems he has some sort of virus that has brought his Asthma on. So he came back from the Dr's feeling sorry for himself (he's male remember! and at 19 yrs old, he classifies himself as a man.. ) and said he needed 'man tissues' (these are the large tissues that are coated in some sort of balm so they don't rip your nose off when it's sore), lucozade and some cold and flu tablets. So off we toddled to our local Spar shop. There was a notice in the window saying they are looking for someone to work part time. Monday to Friday, 20 hours per week. Wow! I can do that! I haven't done any shop work for quite some time, but this would fit in ideal with Isabelle's school etc. Except, when I asked, she thinks the shift is till 6pm. yikes! That's a problem. I told her I could work any hours between 9am and 4pm (Isabelle could go to the afterschool club for 3/4's of an hour if I was working, but I'm loathed to leave her longer than that). She told me to fill the application form in anyway and bring it back, stating what hours I'd be available to work. So I've filled the form in and will drop it off later today (looking keen eh? lol).

I'd forgotten about how much they want to know on application forms and how irrelevant some of the questions are. They want to know the in's and out's of a ducks arse (as my dad used to say). But I've duly filled it in, wracked my brains for years from and to for wherever I worked, went to schoo, college etc... my long term memory is shocking! It doesn't exist. This is a bit worrying!

On another note, I now feel like a photographer again now my new camera is here. This is the first shot from it that didn't need deleting.

Such a bizarre looking flower, it's called a pincushion potea and is from South Africa. So weird it's beautiful.

I joined a camera club last night. I was very apprehensive about going. The thoughts of stereotypical photographers filling the room was a bit un-nerving. The thoughts of old men with long grey beards and wearing cardigans kept coming to mind. It seems to invoke thoughts of it being a Geek club. But can't anything be a geek club? a group of people all coming together to discuss whatever subject they are interested in, some being more knowledgable than others.. does that make them geeks?

It was actually a very friendly place. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed. I wasn't the only female there, I wasn't the youngest and I wasn't the only new person. People spoke to me straight away and I didn't feel like a plonker. For anyone not into photography, this might sound like your worst night out ever, but we had a slideshow from the Royal Photographic Society showing their competition winners from their annual competition. It was interesting to see what won and why. We then talked about the internal competitions, and I now have to get three prints done and mounted before Monday next week, and also three digital entries for the projected images competition. The worst part of that is deciding what to enter! The subject is an open subject... no specific topic, but OMG what do I choose to enter?

Mark is away tonight. It's not often these days that he has to work away and stay away overnight. I'm quite ok with this for tonight. Time to myself, TV remote to myself (the lost land of the volcano is on tonight and I love watching this!) and the bed to myself.. ahhh bliss! especially as Isabelle is back into her normal bedtime. Over the summer she just couldn't sleep and would often be singing to herself in bed at 10pm. She currently starts her witching time about 6.45pm. Nothing is right, she can't do anything right, nothing works right etc and she ends up in lots of tears for no reason. That's my cue to get her ready for bed and off we go upstairs for a story at 7.15pm at the latest, and she's usually straight off to sleep. It's heaven! She is a good little thing really for a 4 year old.. bless her. (can you tell she's at school by my tone? LOL)

Thursday, September 17

Music from heaven....

Well it's not actually from heaven, it's from sky.

We had our sky TV installed this morning. Russ already had a sky package and got an offer through to have a sky HD box if we took up multi-room sky. As Russ already pays for the package, all it will cost us is £10 per month plus the £30 installation fee.

So the engineer came this morning, took 3/4's of an hour to install it and off he went. A quick flick for me, straight to the music channels.

Ahhhh I'd forgotten how good music is.

Music has always been a very important part of my life. As a teenager I had to sacrifice my love of rock music a bit because all my friends were New Romantics. I did tend to sway towards the darker new romantic stuff such as the Bahaus and Sisters of Mercy, but of course, when you're 14 you have to fit in with your peers. Once I realised I could actually make my own mind up about what I listened to, it's generally been rock, and quite heavy rock at that.

So I was scanning through the music channels and came across a heavy rock channel.. oh yes! joh of all joys! Rock music to my ears and loads of it. Not only that, I can record it and watch/listen to it as and when I please. It's heaven. It wasn't until I was listening to it all that I realised just how much I've missed it!

Bring it on!! and Rock onnnnnn!!!

I've bought a new camera!!

At long last the wait and indecision is over!

Exactly a month ago today, my 20D Camera got run over and died.

I managed to haul together £320 and started looking on ebay for a replacement. The 30D is the next camera up followed by a 40D and 50D. The 50D is the most recent release and is still selling for around £1,000 on ebay. I've been watching prices of both the 40D and 30D. 40D's were selling for between £450 and £500. 30D's were selling for around £300 to £370. What to do?

Do I opt for the 30D and have my own camera back, or do I wait it out trying to haul some more money together for the 40D? The money was there, ready to be spent and my patience was starting to wear very thin. Mark tried to convince me to wait it out and save some more, but the niggles about not having my own camera were getting louder in my little head. I know I have the use of a 5D (biiig camera costing biiiig money) but as daft as it sounds, I really didn't like to use it. It's not my camera. I am forever indebted to the person that loaned it to me, but I also didn't want to take advantage of the loan.

I had several cameras on my ebay watch list and they were finishing soon. A 30D was sitting at £165 with an hour to go. eek.. what to do, what to do! I decided to go for it. As long as it didn't go to high on the price, I could save what money I had left over to buy a new lens. I really do need to replace my macro lens. It only manual focusses (which isn't a problem because I manually focus with it anyway) but it's falling to pieces. I keep having to glue the front back on, and it's only a matter of time before it gives up completely. OR.. I really do quite like the thought of getting a 28-200mm lens. This would be great for all purpose walking around without having the wrong lens on. The 28-200mm is relatively cheap (in lens terms).

Anyway, the auction for a 'MINT' 30D with only 10k actuations (it has an actuation life of 100000) finished at 8.30pm. I got Isabelle to bed started to get anxious. I HAD to have this camera, I'd decided. I paced like a caged tiger waiting for 8.30 to tick around. By 8.15 the price had risen to £171. This was looking good. I decided that the most I was prepared to splash out was £260. I have no idea why really, especially as I had £320. I had a second page open on my browser with my bid in place (I decided on £261.71 for some bizarre reason LOL). The seconds were ticking down and the price was rising. 2 minutes to go and it went up to £240. I waited until 6 seconds to go before clicking to submit my bid. I was the highest bidder with 2 seconds to go.... oh please don't let there be another bid.. please.. noooo don't bid! I won the camera for my full bid.. £261.71!! The bid below mine was for £260. I'm so glad I put the quirky extra £1.71 on top. So my camera should arrive on Friday and I have £60 left over to put towards my macro or 28-200mm lens (of which I have several on my watch list right now)

Life is good again :D I'll be a photographer again come Friday LOL.

Wednesday, September 16


At what point in a couple's life together do you start morphing into the same person?

Mark and I, although we have always got along really well and share the same warped sense of humour, have always been very different. I'm very laid back and easy going. There is no rush for me to get things done, they'll get done in time, whereas Mark is always on full steam ahead, running around like (what seems to me) an idiot. It just doesn't seem necessary to be racing from one thing to the next at 100 miles an hour with barely a pause for breath between each 'thing' he's doing. But despite these differences, our relationship works.

The past few days have been a bit bizarre. There have been several occasions where we've been thinking the same thing at the same time. I don't mean things like what's for dinner when it's almost dinner time, I mean, out of the ordinary things, which makes the whole thing a bit bizarre. For instance, we heard the theme tune for Eastenders on the TV the other night. Now we don't actually watch it and so we rarely hear the theme tune, but as it played I said, you know, after all these years you think they'd have made the theme tune to Eastenders a bit more modern. Mark said, my god, I was just thinking, it's about time they udated the theme tune.

This is only one of about 6 or 7 things that we've both thought at the same time, even if we've not been in the same room. I've maybe gone to Mark and said something and he's said.. my god, I was just thinking about that, or vice versa. It's really odd. We were talking about how long we've been together. We've been married six and a half years, but been together for 10 years. Wow he said, it's the longest he's ever been with someone and said, it must be because you make good steak pie, right at the same moment I said, I must make good steak pie then. Is it just a case of knowing each other really well? I dont' know, but it is bizarre LOL.

We have had a lot of differences and a lot of hard times during our relationship. Mark's alcoholism almost resulted in divorce 4 and a bit years ago, but since he's been tea-total the raging and violent arguments have stopped and we can discuss things in a more humane manner. It seems that during the past six to eight months we have actually settled down into a very civil relationship. I'm sure there will be blow-up's to come, but I think we understand each other a lot more now. I do know that we both feel quite settled and comfortable with the way things are. I understand that Mark is a million miles an hour person and am happy for him to do his thing at that pace. He understands that I'm not that way and is happy for me to do things at my pace. I think he's also come to terms with the fact that sometimes, due to my having Fibromyalgia and CFS, that I am not capable of doing things at any sort of pace. He knows now that I'm in pain of some degree all the time. Sometimes it's worse than others. He's learnt the signs, the slow shuffling walk that I sometimes do when my back/hips are really painful or sometimes the way I turn slowly at the neck when my shoulders and neck are playing up. He is a lot more aware of these things and is very much more considerate towards me when he notices these things. This is something Mark would never do previously. He was very much all for himself and what he wanted when he wanted it.

I do wonder if this is all due to him becoming more aware of what's around him generally in life. He has become very interested in wildlife over the summer. This came about due to a couple of reasons. I grew up with a very knowledgeable father and a registered blind mother. Because of this I was taught, from a very early age to see and be aware of things around me, about nature and wildlife. I know a lot of plant names, animal and bird names etc and through the years have passed this information on to my kids. Mark had a different up-bringing and when Isabelle was starting to ask, what's that plant/animal/bird? Mark didn't know. So he set about learning. My photography has also played a part in his wanting to know more. He's seen some of my photographs, particularly the close up macro shots of insects and butterflies and has been amazed at the detail. (it's very hard to amaze Mark with anything!) so he's set off on his mission to learn. To learn, he's had to look around him and become aware of his surroundings and what's actually going on in the world. He's realised there is a whole new world outside of himself. So I think he's opened up a portal in his being and allowed himself to become aware of what is going on around him and what the people around him are doing. It's a bit of a novelty for me because he's never been like this. He's always been (by his own admittal) a selfish person, but due to this change I think it's allowed us to get a bit closer to each other. We are getting on so much better these days. The conversations we have are not soley about motorbikes. He's also been very supporting about my broken camera. He can understand what it means to me. This time last year he wouldn't have understood. It's just a camera... but for some reason, he's been really understanding and has even given me some money that he made from selling old bike bits on ebay. Now that WAS a surprise as he was selling bike bits to fund new bike bits needed to repair his project bike. The fact that he sacrificed parts for his project bike to put towards my camera fund really does show a huge change in him. I really do hope he doesn't revert back!

Monday, September 14

Monday once more...

And another Monday rolls around. They seem to come by so fast these days. Life is on fast forward it seems.

We spent the weekend at Mum's. This is the first time we've been able to make the 3 hour drive since we went to see Metallica at the end of February. Was it THAT long ago? We were supposed to go in July, but my sister in law had Swine Flu and mum had been in contact with her and her kids so we all decided in the interests of safety and not wanting to encourage the swine flu spreading, to postpone our visit. So we drove down on Saturday. I won't go into long and boring (for you, the reader) details, but will say we had a lovely weekend with gorgeous weather on Saturday which meant we could spend the day and most of the evening outside. It also meant I got to see Eve and her boyfriend, and my brother and his wife and kids. Their baby is now almost 10 months old. I last saw her when she was 2 months old. She has the most kissable cheeks in the world, and is such a happy baby, especially as there were quite a few of us around whom she didn't know.

This is the kissable Olivia (Livvy)

On a different note completely, I now have the internet back at home! It's been a nightmare two weeks trying to get it all sorted out since Tisacali cut off my connection even though it was due to their ineptitude and competency at the start of this long 4 year battle with them. I now have a shiny new BT internet hub which looks very space age with it's black shiny sleek surface and blue lights and doesn't quite fit in my cave like living room with my dragons and wizards LOL but who cares if it means I'm in contact with the outside world once more?

We are actually in danger of being dragged into the modern times. We have always had an issue with paying to watch a pile of crap on the TV, but we grumbled and put up with the compulsory license fee. Then came Freeview. OK, we still had to pay the license fee, but we got more channels. Then we realised that they mainly had a pile of crap on them too. The things we did want to watch were on channels you had to pay for. Lately though, it's become increasingly annoying, especially during the past fortnight with no internet. We've sat down to watch TV at night to find absolutely bugger all on there. Or... two things we want to watch at the same time. This is the 'busses' syndrome. You know.. nothing for ages, then two at once. Russ had Sky installed in his bedroom. That's ok, it's his room, he pays for the Sky TV and it's his responsibility. He said that if we wanted we could get 'multi-room' where you share the Sky signal but can watch what you like in his room or our living room. (I think we're in a minority here too, because apart from Russ's TV which we never watch) we only have one TV. Mark refused to pay anything else to watch crap on TV, so we didn't opt for the multi-room thing. But it's getting so frustrating with nothing on to watch but knowing that on Sky TV we could get the Discovery Channel, The History Channel and information channels like that with the kinds of things that we'd watch. So I've bit the bullet and decided to go for the multi-room sky thingy. I mentioned it to Mark and sold it to him by saying if we have a Sky Plus box it would mean that we could record things to watch at a later date, so when there is nothing on, we'd have a library of programmes that we could watch at any time. He hummed hand haaaaa'd for a while until I said, he'd be able to watch and record the British Superbikes, World Superbikes and MotoGP (devious women, aren't they? LOL) SOLD! He just said, get it ordered and installed but don't tell me about it. If I don't know, I'll arrive home and it will be there. OK, deal. It's going to cost £10 per month but that's all because Russ already pays for his Sky package. We don't go out drinking or to the Cinema, we don't rent DVD's out (god we sound like we have such a sad life!) so I think we owe it to ourselves to have a bit of entertainment. It was actually quite nice during the evenings this past two weeks to be able to sit together and try to watch the crap on the telly rather than us both be sat at a computer doing our own thing. Hopefully, having programmes that we want to watch available on demand will mean that we can share more evenings together again.


In a couple of months time, I'll be writing a post here complaining about the amount of crap there is on telly, or that I can watch nothing more than Bike racing and football LOL.

Wednesday, September 9

Today life is good!

Not often I say that eh? LOL

The sun is out, I have the house to myself, I have no washing or ironing waiting to be done... (shock!) and my vow to myself is to try and keep on top of it so it doesn't build up again.

Monday was quite a big day for me although a little stressful. We've had problems with our bank and for reasons I won't go into, they cancelled all our direct debit payments half way through the month. This meant that half our bills including the mortgage weren't going to be paid. I spent Monday morning on the phone to everyone we pay each month re-arranging direct debit payments from a different bank account. I also made the payment they were due for this month over the phone right there and then. By half past one, I had spoken to everyone, set up all new direct debits, paid all money due and still had enough money left over to last us to the end of the month!! What a relief. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The black cloud of stress and anxiety and money worry vanished. It also means that when we get paid at the end of this month we are completely in the clear. No bank charges (even though we are in dispute about the ones they have been taking and putting us further and further in the red!) so everything that is earned this month after bills are paid, is ours.

It's such an awful feeling knowing that we were going to be so short of money each month and wondering how we were going to manage, but we're not going to have that next month. I will be able to put some away to save towards Christmas and still have enough to survive for the month with a bit spare to splash about. OK, it's not a lot spare by a long way, but at least it means I won't have to watch every single penny that's spent.

I can't even tell you how good it feels to have it all worked out.

I had to pop to our local shopping area for a few things I needed. I'd honestly forgotten that it can be quite a pleasureable experience. For the past 4 years I've had Isabelle with me. To start with I had to time my trips out between feeding a baby. Then I was limited to which shops I could go in because of a pram, then buggy, then walking child that likes to touch everything. I had none of that today. I walked around at my leisure and went into any shop I chose, even if it was just for a wander. I didn't have to rush back to get Isabelle from Nursery at 11.30 - I had as long as I wanted to just wander and browse. OMG.. it was just so nice. I walked around in silence, not having to answer endless questions and reason with a 4 year old that didn't want to go into the bank or a particular shop, or keep saying no you can't have that...

today was bliss! LOL What a sad case I am being so happy about something like this.

Tuesday, September 8

I'm sure life is out to get me!

I've not posted for a while, so this might be a long one. If you're going to read it, grab a cuppa first.

Firstly, a nice positive note. Isabelle started full time school last Thursday. She has moved up from her morning Nursery session to full time school in reception class. I was a bit worried about how she'd cope going to school all day, but she absolutely loves it.

Isabelle is the kind of child that needs constant mental stimulation. She asks questions at 101 miles per hour. She isn't fobbed off with an answer either. She will question your answer and then question that answer until you get to a point where you run out of explanations or answers. She is and always has been, a very inquisitive child. She will even go as far as correcting you if you give her a half answer or a wrong answer. She's only 4!! But her school is aware of this and they are pretty good at catering for her and her abilities. I'm not saying she's a genius or a super intelligent child, she's just very competent. In fact, on her Nursery School Report at the end of the school year, one comment said that you could easily be fooled into thinking you were talking to an adult and that she has the ability to go to any level of conversation or discussion and will push for more. I'm happy that the school are aware of this, and I hope they don't try to stop her. It does become a pain in the bum when you're out shopping and she starts with questions like why are you buying that one instead of the other one... how will you cook it and why don't you do this instead? But on the whole, she is a pleasure to be around because she wants to know everything. More than that.. she retains the information and has an excellent memory to recall at any time. She shocks me sometimes. Mark is having to spend time learning plant names and bird names. This is something I have always known really because my mum is visually impared and so taught us as children to see for her and then pass information on. It's put me in good stead for adulthood because I have always been very visually and spacially aware of the things around us in life. We'd go out somewhere with Dad driving the car and mum would ask us what we could see. Then she'd ask us to look further away than that, and then further again. We grew up describing our suroundings and what we could see as far as the horizion. If we went somewhere we learned what plants were around. Mum could tell us what birds were about from their bird call, then we would describe what colour the bird was if we could see it etc. So my general nature knowledge is quite good. It's a good job, because Isabelle is VERY interested in the world around her and constantly wants to know more. She's like a little sponge and I love it. Mark didn't grow up the same way, and even now, as nice as his mum is, she has very little 'world around us' knowledge. So Mark is learning too. He's been getting books out of the library and has been researching on the internet and asking me.

She is also very good (for a 4 year old) at motorbike mechanics. She spends a lot of time in the garage with Mark when he's doing a bike up. She knows a lot of the bike parts and even surprised me when she said (pointing to a bike bit) that's a set of cams. She is Mark's little helper. He asks for a 12mm spanner and off she goes and gets one. 10mm socket? no problem, off she trots and fetches it. Obviously she's reading the numbers on the relevant tool, but she never gets it wrong. She knows the names of all the tools in the toolbox, and believe me, there are a few strange ones in there that I've never heard of LOL.. motorbike specific tools.. She loves helping Mark as is going to fix motorbikes when she's older and she's going to have a pink Kawasaki (apparently) and it will go 200 miles per hour. Bless her.

Here she is ready to go to school on her first day with her lunch box, which she's very proud of because it's pink and purple and has a kitty and a puppy on it LOL

OK, so now the groans.

Tiscali!!!!! These people are a bunch of incompetent bafoons!! I have been using Tiscali as my ISP for about 12 years. Several years ago they phoned me and asked if I wanted to have their cheap phone package aswell as the internet through them. I decided to give it a try. Gave all my card details etc for them to set up the direct debit and off we went. 4 months later I got a bill for almost £200. If I didn't pay they were going to suspend my account. I phoned and they said.. oops very sorry, we didn't instate your direct debit. I paid the bill with much disgust and gave them my details to set up a direct debit for monthly payment (AGAIN!) Almost two years down the line I was busy doing some banking paperwork and couldn't find out what date the Tiscali payment went out each month so I phoned them. The guy in billing told me that no payments were being taken, my account was in arrears of £675 and if I didn't pay it my account would be suspended. WHAT? I wanted to know how this bill had racked up. Someone would phone me back. Within an hour I couldn't connect to the internet or make phone calls. (I had Tiscali's phone re-route remember). I had to phone from my mobile phone to talk to Tiscali. They'd suspended my account because it was in arrears and I refused to pay. Legally, they are suposed to give a month's notice. It turns out that the billing department hadn't set up the direct debit payments once again. Tiscali hadn't noticed for 20 months that payments weren't being taken, it was only the fact that I phoned them that had alerted them to it. Because I had alerted them, they suspended my account. They wouldn't re-activate my account till they had at least half the arrears paid off. I couldn't phone anywhere for help or advice because I couldn't dial out because of the account suspension. I phoned BT the following morning and they de-activated the Tiscali re-route on my phone line as it was a BT line they had the power to do that. So I got back on the phone to Tiscali. I went through several different departments having to explain the situation each time despite me saying that I needed to speak to accounts. By the time I got through to accounts - having had to re-dial a different number each time because apparently they can't put you through to a different department... I was really angry. I asked to speak to the manager. He eventually said that Tiscali accepted liability for the arrears. I wanted to know how a direct debit hadn't been set up TWICE. I even knew the dates I'd given the details and he said that yes, he could see that on the computer. So why weren't they set up??? He couldn't explain. He again asked for £350 to re-activate my account. I refused and said I'd be taking legal advice and action about the situation. I got a phone call later apologising and my account would be re-activated within the next 24 hours. I asked then how on earth I was supposed to pay for my internet connection if Tiscali wasn't capable of collecting payments. They said someone would phone me each month for payments. Ha! now that's a laugh. If they can't set up a direct debit, how are they going to remember to phone me each month? About a week later I got a letter from a debt collection agency requesting that I pay £100 a month to clear the arrears I had accrued on my Tiscali account. hmmmm... straight on the phone to them. Explained the situation, told them I'm not working and couldn't pay that amount.. and oh, by the way, are you aware that I haven't run this debt up, Tiscali didn't take payments and didn't notice until I alerted them? Yes she said, Tiscali have accepted liability and are obliged to accept any payment offer that I made. More on principle than anything else, I told them I could only afford £10 a month. She said that would be fine. That was 8 months ago. Payments have been taken, and all is good... erm.. no!

On to Monday morning and no internet connection once again. I phoned Tiscali. My account has been suspended again. They want £350 to re-connect and then the outstanding balance cleared within 4 months. Unless I agree to this, my account will remain in suspension. WHAT? You caused all this, it isn't my fault, I've tried to pay you, I am re-paying the debt you accrued because although I didn't run the bill up myself, I have had the service and I therefore have to pay for it (legal advice kindly told me that). I have had no notice of suspension again, it's just been cut off. How on earth, when I've been paying the arrears off, has it all of a sudden changed at Tiscali's end of the deal? The only reply to any question I asked was "I'm sorry we can't re-activate your account until £350 has been paid and we reach an agreement to clear the outstanding balance within 4 months. I asked again, how has the agreement been reversed without my knowledge even though I've been paying as agreed.. again, I got the same answser. Frustrated and furious I told them I'd be taking legal advice and further action about this matter... "I'm sorry we can't re-activate.... " click.. I hung up. So, no internet and no way of signing up with anyone else unless Tiscali released my MAC code. I thought this would be highly unlikely given current circumstances. Due to modern technology coming on in leaps and bounds, I had the option of buying a dongle to give me an internet connection. It was going to cost me money and you only have a limited amount of data transfer per £10. It's a bit like a mobile phone top up. You buy the dongle and add credit to it. Pay as you go internet access providing I can get a signal at my house. Our mobile phone signal is terrible here.. but it was my only option. So the next morning I decided PC world would get a visit.

Before I left for PC world, I phoned Tiscali. There was an option to press 3 to request a MAC code, so I did. The girl on the end of the phone asked why I was changing my ISP.. I really needed that MAC code so I couldn't say because you are all a bunch of incompetent arseholes.. so I fibbed. She said, you do realise that your account is in suspension at the moment? I told her yes I was aware of that and I was dealing with it with the billing department. OK, she said, give me a minute to process the MAC code. She put me on hold for ages and I was ready for her to come back and say I'm sorry we can't issue the code because of your account supension, but she didn't. She said, ok that's gone through. It will take 5 days to process and will be posted to your home address. Did I want her to email the code through to me. Erm.. I have no internet access.. you already told me my account is suspended! doh! She said, oh, I can text it to you if you like. I was shocked.. it came through within 10 minutes. So I phoned BT, and requested a broadband connection. Everything will be delivered on Thursday this week between 7am and 7pm. Nothing like narrowing the delivery time down eh? But that means that I will be able to connect back to the internet whenever I want after Thursday without worrying about how much data has been transferred. I managed to get a dongle from PC world. 3 Gig data transfer. Apparently 1 Gig would give 2 hours of internet access for a month. erm.. not in this house LOL. But 3 Gig would definately last us a week if Mark didn't sit viewing the iplayer to watch the motorbike racing, because video's eat data transfer apparently.

So I got home and tried to install the dongle. No go. It just wouldn't work. So I had to phone their helpline. Oh god.. not more! The lady on the phone was lovely, if a little hard to understand. It beats me why they have to have tech support in India. I am not racist in any way, shape or form, but when you're trying to get technical support and you can't understand what's being said, it really does add to your frustrations. But that said, the lady was lovely and told me (something that the lad in PC World forgot to tell me) it would take 24 hours for the sim card in the dongle to be activated! Oh good grief... why is everyone so incompetent?? So, 24 hours later, the dongle connected and I had the internet again. This was on Thursday tea time.

One thing that has come from this entire episode, apart from a few grey hairs and a lot of stress and frustration, is that how much we rely on the internet in our house. Stupid things like needing a recipe for a white sauce, telephone number for BT to order their broadband and the complete lack of communication with my family and the outside world, which is all done via email and the internet. I felt very cut off. How do people who don't have the internet manage? It seems that a large part of my world is inside the computer. Most of my friends are inside the computer. Everything I need to know is inside the computer and I have been cut off from it. What an extremely sad way to live. Perhaps I need to do something about it? It seemed strange having a break and a cup of coffee and not sitting at the computer to see what's going on in the world. I haven't been able to check the news headlines. I don't read newspapers or (generally) don't watch the news on TV. I like to be selective in what news I read. I get depressed with all the doom and gloom on the news, so I only read the bits I'm interested in. Perhaps I need to re-organise my life a bit so it doesn't rely on an internet connection so much.