Posts Tagged ‘London’

We’re home after a few days in London doing Londony things (art galleries, museums, the Tube, queues). The hallway is full of half emptied suitcases, books and random hairbrushes and the Queen is padding around in her cat onesie singing loudly and failing to organise herself for Guide camp. We were back in time for our Light Party at church last night – about 35 kids and a similar number of adults making things with paper and glue and felttips and then singing and thinking about the light of Christ before consuming plenty of chocolates and mini eclairs. Lots of fun to see so many families out together and lovely to be able to chat with many of them. We think we may need to prepare extra oranges for the Messy Christingle this year…

I came home to a couple of responses to my book in the actual proper post – a lovely encouraging letter from a Twitter friend but also a completely off topic response from a reader of the Express and Star, asking me about a tricky passage in 1 Samuel. I’m still working out if and how to respond to the latter.

And Lichfield Diocese have made the video of me public, so I can post it on here. The island in the kitchen isn’t looking any better today:

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It's amazing how much fun an underground train journey can be

That’s how we spent our half term holiday: learning to use the Tube. Well, we did a few other things as well, but when the Joker told people about what we’d been up to, the Tube featured rather heavily in his report.

My mother is a Super-Organised Nanna and we’d agreed to go and stay with her and Grumpy Grandpa in London for a few days. The Vicar managed to break away from his sermon prep long enough to spend some of the time with us aswell.

S-O Nanna had comprehensively surfed the net to work out the best things to do with an 8 year old, a 7 year old and a 5 year old in London during half term. So we had a trip to the Science Museum, a visit to the Tower of London and finally an activity morning at the Museum of Childhood.

Of course we visited all these places by tube, which, when you’re under ten and don’t have to do it all the time, is a wonderful treat. This is the first year we’ve been able to do this sort of visit because the Engineer is only just out of the buggy and not whining all the time he has to walk.

The Science Museum trip was the least successful, even though the Vicar was able to come on that one. Even though we were at South Kensington tube station by about 10.45am, there was already a queue to get in. And after we’d had our picnic lunch by the interactive section we would have had to queue again for around 45 minutes to get into the part with all the buttons. The children enjoyed it, but it was really too busy. I think we’d only return there on a school Inset day, when not quite the whole world is trying to visit. Apparently the Natural History museum is similarly heaving during half term. But it is free.

Our favourite part of the Science Museum was probably a story time session, where one of the staff told an interactive story about a visit to Iceland. Her story taught the children about snow, ice and volcanoes, using actions and a white parachute. It was most suitable for younger children although I think the Queen probably enjoyed it the most – she loves drama. Ooh – and we bumped into some old pals from Vicar college. We’d not seen them for nearly five years. London’s a small place. Or Vicars and their families like to do free things in half term.

More on the Tower and the Museum of Childhood another day. Wish we had similar stuff on in our town tho’. I’m thinking The Public could learn a thing or two…

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The Vicar's study has been 10°C today. Brrr.

Before Christmas, we had a nasty shock from our power supplier, e.on. They wanted to raise our monthly direct debit for gas and electricity by nearly 85%. Although our usage has gone up a bit in the cold weather, we were still in credit with them.

The Vicar had some long discussions with their customer services department, both on the phone and by email, but to no avail. They’ve estimated our usage for the next few months based on the records from when we didn’t live here and the decorators were in, heating the house 24/7.

Although we think they’ve made a bad call, we have to go along with it. It will cause a bit of cash flow trouble in the next couple of months, but once we’ve proved that they’ve made a mistake, it should even out.

The upside of all this irritation is that we went online and switched our tariff, saving another 8% on the charges. The other upside is that the Vicar contacted the diocese about sorting out some loft insulation and they put us onto the excellent Warm Zone team.

Warm Zone is an EU funded initiative operating in selected areas, including ours. They provide advice and can also help out with insulation and other kit if you fall into the fuel poverty bracket, which we do now, since a Vicar’s salary is not what you’d usually have if you lived in a house this size.

So this morning we had a visit from Seema, from Sandwell Warm Zone. She came armed with goodies, including a fancy plug to turn off printers when the computer is switched off, a timer switch, an eco kettle and some low energy light bulbs. Most importantly, she brought an energy sensor, which she’s lent us for the next few weeks. It monitors electricity usage so you can see the power used by each appliance in the house as it’s switched on. I’m a little scared about what it’s going to reveal, but it will be useful.

And we’re on the list for loft insulation and possibly cavity wall insulation in the modern extension part of the house. There’s a bit of a waiting list, so we’re not sure when that will happen. As we’re not in the lowest income bracket, we’re going to have to pay for their services. But only £49. We’re hoping that will make a big difference, especially to Happy, the Vicar’s Apprentice, whose room is in the uninsulated attic. It’s so cold up there at the moment that we’ve taken pity on him and brought him down to sleep in the spare bedroom a floor below.

So if you’re in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Devon, Gateshead, Hull, Kirklees, London, Newcastle, North Staffordshire, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Nottingham, Sandwell, South Tyneside or Swindon, give them a call. It won’t do any harm and you could find yourself cheaply warmer.

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