Friday, February 8, 2008

A Shonky Company?

Or just a lesson in not buying things over the Internet?

Firstly let me say that our new bed and mattress is just wonderful, we are perfectly happy with it.

However, we did not receive what we thought we were buying.

We bought, over the Internet, a Sandringham bed set from Pine Solutions. We researched as much as we could - not being able to see and bounce on bed to check it out - where, and how, and from what materials, and by whom it was made. The only information we could find was that the warehouse nestled in the countryside in Sandringham near to Sandringham Palace ... it all sounded very British, local even, and we imagined the local Oompa Loompas hard at work hand-tufting our new mattress.

So when it arrived with a totally different brand name and a "made in China" label, and "Sandringham bed set" written in biro on the packaging ... we felt a little let down.

At first we thought maybe they had actually delivered the wrong mattress to our address. But after a number of phone conversations we have been reassured that it was all quite intentional. That is what they call the Sandringham', apparently. No mention on their site of the fact that they merely import and rename cheap Chinese mattresses. The label says "Club Orthopedic", not the "Sandringham1000" we were expecting. Amongst other things, the Chinese mattress has only 960 springs, not the 1000 the imaginary Sandringham has.

We are not at all impressed with their lack of integrity.

Monday, February 4, 2008

So now we know!

We KNOW why they have such squidgy little beds ... it's because of the squidgy little stairs!

Wow that was hard work! There were quite a few moments when logic said: This can't be done. This shouldn't be attempted. Turn back now!

But by then the 5' mattress with full orthopedic support and pillow-top was thoroughly wedged in the stairwell, jammed between the stairs and the ceiling. So we struggled on. I shoved and grunted, and Peter pulled and groaned.

We had to actually b-e-n-d it a bit to get it through the doorway at the bottom and into the stairwell, and then another bit of a b-e-n-d to get it through the bedroom doorway. We thought maybe we could back out and put it through a window - but there are no windows that open more than a crack. (I guess in a fire we'd be smashing windows and jumping out - they are not actually double-glazed as far as I can tell.)

And then, as we dropped it onto the bed - which had arrived flat-pack and Peter had painstakingly screwed together following the wordless instruction pictures - we noticed the label. A very nice mattress, but not the one we ordered.

If they show up with the right mattress, they can jolly well get it up and this one down by themselves - don't want to do that again for a long time. I guess we'll have to not only stay in Norwich, but in this house ...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Touristing around Norfolk

We weren't sure what there is to see in Norfolk. Someone suggested the north coast, places like Cromer and Sheringham. Looking on the map there are lots of red touristy symbols around there, so we thought we might take a look.

It wasn't difficult to find a parking spot, and yes, we did 'pay and display' ... though I'm not entirely sure why.

Ah, there's a sandy beach. Not exactly the wildness we were expecting - that must be further along the coast out of the town.

I'll bet this place is humming in the summer!

We were so so cold, and as usual we needed to find a toilet. We wandered around the small township of Sheringham, and were pleasantly surprised to find that their public toilets (unlike most of these little towns') weren't locked.

Around midday a few more people started to appear on the streets, and some of the shops opened up. We found a little shop and had a cappuccino.

And then we got out of the wind in this charming little shop. What amazing stuff this chap sells. Great place to go for that little something different.

Then we tried to drive along the coast and see these great beaches. But all we could see was fields with the sea beyond - there seemed to be no way to get nearer.

We were hungry, and needing the toilet again. Someone had told us that there is an old Roman Village at Caister-on-Sea, so we went there. They didn't tell us it's a ruins with barely a metre of wall still standing. And the toilets in Caister were locked and barred, and there didn't seem to be any eating places open at all.


We drove back towards Norwich, and came across a little place called Filby. Couple of houses and a pub, and a road-works traffic light that made us sit still long enough to turn off the engine. That was when we noticed a sign offering a pub lunch ... and pubs have toilets too.

We ordered a meal each - Peter had pork and I had turkey. They served up a huge plate - like a large serving dish - absolutely loaded, but rather lacking in colour! There was the (off-white) meat, and (off-white) stewed cabbage, (off-white) lumps of cauliflower, a couple of (pale brown) roast potatoes, a (pale brown) yorkshire pudding filled with (light brown) gravy, a few cubes of (pale yellow) swede, and some ORANGE slices of carrot.

English food, ay! Not something to write home about. There are so many amazing cooking programmes on TV here, same as Autralia, and yet these chaps can't be bothered to chuck on a sprig of parsley or something to add a bit of visual appeal.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Squidgy little British beds

Somehow the feeling of being small and cramped pervades every area of life.

This is a double bed. Yeah, right! It's four foot wide. They do admit it's a 'small double', but in Australia it would be a 'King Single'.

This is our sofa. It's low, and hard, and converts into a bed.

This is the bed upstairs - under the doona (they call it a duvet) is one of those sofas like the one downstairs, only they have stuck a cheap sprung mattress on it because that thin futon mattress thingy really is hard. But it is all only 4'6 wide.

In Australia almost no one uses 4'6 wide 'double' beds any more. Most people have a 'Queensize', which is 5' wide. Quite a lot of people have 6' wide Kingsize beds.

We bought this lovely "sleigh bed" in Torquay and were very sad that we couldn't fit it into the car to bring it here. In Australia people commonly have 6x4 car trailers that you can carry all sorts of stuff around in. Some people here have trailers, but they are tiny little box things.

So, now that we have reached our first pay day, we are getting a new bed. One with a headboard and a tailboard. A British 'Kingsize', Aussie 'Queensize'.

Everything has to be dragged up these steep, tight stairs, of course, no matter how big the bedroom actually is.

February Snow

It was the even-more-than-usual number of emergency vehicle sirens we kept hearing in the busy street outside our little terraced house that made us peek outside and realise it was snowing. Just the other day everyone was commenting on how the mild weather had brought the daffodils out in flower a month or two early, and the grassy street verges are bursting with crocuses in bloom. And now it decides to snow.

It snowed for quite a while, but not all night. We had to do a bit of scraping before we could go out in our car this morning - good thing it's a Saturday.

Unfortunately that's no longer snow on the pavement. It has turned to hard, slippery ice - and I'm not much good at walking on ice!

You can tell he's not a Brit, because he's out photographing snow!

And the funny thing was that at first he headed out the door like any good Oz, in bare feet - not for long, though.

I was out the back too, in my pink fluffy slippers. Our tiny back yard is all snowy, but the sun is beating on our house ... if only there was a little warmth in it.

The kitchen window looks out onto the 'conservatory'. It has no windows, but at least the roof is perspex. The other night it was windy and a tile clattered off the roof right through the conservatory roof. But we still have our little windowsill garden of pot plants.