January Blues (and Reds)

Well Christmas was lovely, and now we are back to school, back to work, back to dealing with Chateau d’Omnishambles and all her leaks and mould and general disaster areas.

January has been an odd month – swinging wildly from huge uplifting moments of happiness to irritable grumpy rage.

Yes, thanks for asking I WILL tell you all about it!

January has been really good in many ways.

I’m going through a painful process of calculating how high my remortgage payments will be later this year and how I will go about paying them. Currently it looks like I will need an extra £200 a month for my energy bills and an extra £200-£300 for my mortgage, so am figuring out where the extra £500 a month will come from, as I don’t tend to have all that much left over from my salary as it is.

Thankfully my amazing family have stepped in to help, and between my parents I have finally cleared my remaining student loan, and the remaining balance off a couple of smaller outstanding interest-free loans, so I am now officially debt-free and it frees up close to £300 a month altogether.

I’ve also cancelled my ridiculously expensive gym membership that I never used and which I’ve been trying to get out of since last February, and cancelled Amazon Prime etc so we are making a few savings here and there. Food shopping still seems extortionate no matter how much meal prepping I do but we are getting there. I have struggled to get our food bills under £350 a month (that’s my target – in reality we are spending more like £550 a month most of the time) but talking to some other families I know who are spending closer to £1000 a month on food I feel much better about our bills now!

Overall I am feeling far less panicked about it than I was in December, and while it will certainly be painful and things are likely to be tight by next winter, I am feeling very optimistic about it all.

It feels great to have cleared the last few debts, especially the remains of my student loan before interest rates climb any higher.

I have also done the classic January thing of making a resolution of trying to be healthier, and have been doing lots of yoga and pilates and gentle workouts at home trying to remind my muscles they are there and get fitter and healthier. I’ve been consciously drinking a lot less alcohol and trying to eat healthier meals here and there, and I must say I am feeling really good about it all.

I’ve managed to shift 3-4kgs since my gout diagnosis in November, and didn’t put too much weight on over Christmas in spite of all the biscuits and mince pies, and am hoping to continue to get a bit fitter and healthier and keep slowly losing some weight this year.

Overall I am feeling really optimistic and upbeat and enjoying the exercise etc.

BUT in amongst all my feeling-good moments there have certainly been a few downs. The leak in the conservatory got worse, and during some heavy rainfall recently it was effectively raining indoors, and I keep finding huge puddles on the floor and now a whole new load of mould on the toy box etc that is not ideal.

The conservatory is where I dry my laundry (on the heated airer, which also keeps the cats warm in winter out there). Also because drying laundry inside the main house can exacerbate mould and damp/humidity, I keep it out there to try and help with our mould problem.

So basically it’s now raining indoors where I attempt to dry laundry.

Of course it is.

I have had some fancy Smart Vents installed to replace our current vents in the bedrooms, as it’s very unclear at the moment if the mould in the bedrooms is helped or hindered by our vents. In theory you need good ventilation to keep the air moving and avoid damp air lingering in corners, but ours are pretty huge gaping holes in the walls which also let a lot of damp air in when it’s cold and wet outside. Not to mention sucking all of my very expensive heating straight outside.

So the new Airex vents should in theory use our Wifi and temperature sensors to close when the heating is on or when it’s damp outside and open when it’s optimal to let fresh air in. Or something similar. Hopefully it will help.

The other thing that will help is installing a bathroom extractor fan with a humidistat sensor to monitor humidity and continuously draw damp air back outside where it belongs.

Except that I seem to have hired the handyman equivalent of the Chuckle brothers to install it.

It’s a very long and frankly boring saga in which they drilled a large hole in my wall and then it took another 2 weeks of waiting around for people to show up, who did not in fact show up. Many many hours were wasted, plans were changed or cancelled so I could be at home and I got ever-more irate and frustrated by the idiots who took over 2 weeks to install a bathroom fan, which is a job that shouldn’t take more than half a day to actually do.

Thankfully the guy did FINALLY show up and I now have a functioning extractor fan but I’m furious I had to poke and prod every day to get a response and sit at home day after day waiting around for people to come. It was stressful.

However on the postiive side it is definitely helping – after running the fan at full speed for days we are now waking up and the windows are NOT running with water and condensation – no more puddles on the windowsills and I no longer need to run the expensive dehumidifier all the time.

I have also found an extremely chirpy and reasonably priced handyman who is helping me to re-lay the insultation in my loft properly and add a bit of tin-foil bubble wrap to the inside of the roof to try and keep a little bit more of my extremely expensive heating inside the house where it belongs. January was the first month I went into debit with the energy company, but it should right itself fairly easily now that the weather is warming up a bit.

January was a mixed bag for the girls – some days were fine, other days they both pressed all my buttons and turned me into a grumpy screaming shouting mess. I HATE those days, because I hate myself for not having more self-control. It’s awful when your kid makes you utterly lose your shit and scream and shout like a banshee. And what’s worse is that it takes me hours and hours to calm down again afterwards.

But some rays of sunshine were certainly in there – my youngest daughter has been learning phonics at school and one day came home and sounded out a word and read it! She couldn’t work out why I was so ecstatic about it all, but it was rather astonishing watching a kid you’ve had since they were in nappies suddenly READING. It’s nothing short of miraculous.

In other bad news my dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer, (this is the second cancer he has had now) which is very sad and worrying of course. We are waiting to hear what it means for him in terms of treatment, but I am glad that our long-awaited and much cancelled trip to Australia is finally going ahead this easter. I’m glad that he’s going to get to meet my kids at last!

So lots of ups and downs in January – roll on February!

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