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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The House 14 Months On - Hitches, Glitches and Progress

At this point in the building of the new house it's important to retain a sense of perspective. I am also finding this to be quite a lot harder than I'd imagined.

If you buy an existing house, you buy what you see. You might buy something that needs no work at all and you can just move in and continue on with life. At the other end of the scale it may be a doer-upper with a process to convert it into the mental picture you had when you bought it. Either way, you have a rough idea of what's going to be involved.

In our case it is essentially the opposite and we're watching the slow process week by week and month by month. I can only imagine it to be like watching a factory build a car. When you buy a new car you are given the keys to a beautiful, shiny, new-car smelling dream. In the case of a second hand car you can still see the finished product. What you're not expected to do in this situation is to attend the production line to see exactly how it's put together. But curiosity, as in the words of Steven Wright, killed the cat (even if for a while I was the main suspect) and it is this, along with in most cases a significant financial investment, that forces us to go and take a regular look. In fact it reminds me a lot of knowing what the present is before it's wrapped and given to you.

Alternatively, and much more in keeping with human nature in this case, Albert Einstein pointed out that curiosity has its own reason for existing. That reason is to ensure, even without building, architecture, plumbing or carpentry experience, that you get to point out what's been missed. As a tradesman I assume that's what they live for, to have a layman point out that "you've missed a bit". I guess nothing makes your day more than knowing that Joe Public has his finger on the pulse and your best interests at heart.

That being said, there is always a period after the build called "snagging" where you get yet another opportunity to go around and point out all of the areas where the tradespeople "missed a bit". In our case we do seem to have had some aesthetically-challenged bods as you can see from the photos but all is being put right.

The kitchen is better news. We found out that the wall tiles that we wanted were out of stock in five places that we called. Then finally the sixth called back and confirmed that they had them and we can go ahead with the tiling on Monday the 18th of January. The kitchen equipment company are in the process of updating the CAD drawings and have confirmd that they can install once the tiling is complete anwe have the sink, hob, extractor and oven with them ready to be built in to the granite.

Next up are the wooden shelves and brackets....

Monday, January 11, 2016

The House 14 Months On...

At this point we are so close to being into the house it's starting to get frustrating. For the last couple of months, little things seem to have been causing big, and unnecessary, hold-ups. For instance, the project manager confirmed that they hadn't applied to the national electricity board for connection. Seriously, what's up with that? He then went on to confirm that the water supply wasn't connected yet either!

Apart from that there have been the usual snagging issues and they'll take a while to complete. The little 'touching up' jobs. These have included some plastering work and some cosmetic bits too but the biggest issue for me is the door we had made to enter the back yard seems to have warped a bit. Anyway, problems are in hand and being dealt with.

So that means our main focus is on the kitchen. This part of the project seems to have taken over our entire lives and something that was supposed to add a little extra to the house, in terms of extra room as much as atmosphere, is starting to resemble Ahab's quest for the white whale.

If you've been keeping up with this subject on the blog you'll know that we had a plan to get the kitchen looking something like this....

well it turns out that because we have a U-shaped kitchen, just like this needs stuff like this...

8 metres of kitchen cupboard base units
8 metres of marble work surface
17 metres of ceramic wall tiling, grouting and adhesive
1 x sink
1 x tap
1 x surface-top gas hob
1 x extraction fan and exhaust tubing
1 x built in gas oven

The tiling will take 5 days to put up, the kitchen units will take two weeks to make and can't go up until after the tiling, the plumbing and gas installation is to do and then the shelving to be done.

At this point we could still go for a simpler approach but, as with Ahab, the whale is in our sights. 

On top of the kitchen the single main thing that needs doing is for security bars to be fitted around the perimeter of the back of the house. The area seems genuinely nice and this is really just a precautionary measure, seemingly done by everyone.

Current plan is to move in on the weekend of the 30th and 31st of January. Watch this space for details.

Monday, January 4, 2016

EFGS goes to Bogor... wait, or was it Puncak?...whatever, it was somewhere in the hills!

2015 EFGS Trip

Every year, by way of a treat from the franchise owner, Pak Agus, all of EF Swara's centres get to take an individual school outing. No, not an outing with the students, that would be logistically crazy especially when considering the diverse age range of our students. No, this is more of a bonding trip for all of the staff that work at the centre, Admin, teachers, support functions etc with the aim being to get to know new people and to hopefully ensure success through familiarity. It always involves games and activities that promote teamwork, it always involves communal dining and a barbecue and it is always a lot of fun.

"Oi mate, have you got wifi on here?"

2014 saw us board a bus for Anyer, a coastal resort to the west of Java island, but for October 2015 we chose to head for the hills to the south of Jakarta, to a place with the vaguely-humorous-to-westerners title of "Bukit Pinus".

As you'll know if you've read previous blog entries we usually wait until work has been concluded on the Saturday before boarding a coach and hitting the road. This year was different. This year coincided with....Halloween! It was because of this that it was decided, due to the need to organise events before people arrived at the venue, that I would drive the school car and along for the ride would be Nina the Centre Director, Katherine the Assistant CD, Lusi the marketing co-ordinator and Weina, one of the Gading Serpong teachers. Everyone else would be following onboard the coach.
We arrived relatively quickly considering the erratic nature of Jakarta traffic and I was immediately struck by the remarkable beauty. I was also struck by how remarkably easy-to-find the resort was as I'd had visions the night before the trip of us getting lost in the wilds of Sukabumi. These trips are great because even living in a relaxed place like Gading Serpong you can sometimes forget just how built-up the area is so it's always appreciated to get out into the fresh air.

anyone hungry?
After lunch, time was spent relaxing, if you were one of the four girls, or in my case it was spent preparing the games and activities that we'd be doing over the next 36 hours. At this point I should mention that in much the same way the weekend is about teamwork, it could never happen without teamwork too and Alex the assistant DoS is just excellent when it comes to helping to create activities and atmosphere alike.
So it was that when the coach arrived, having taken a bit longer than we did, everyone was ready to tuck into the meal that had been prepared and. once that was over, people were split into their teams for the weekend and given the first task. Find the pictures of horror movie characters that had been hidden around the resort and bring them back to Alex and I to redeem points.

As much about helping people to orientate themselves with the resort and its facilities, the people of EFGS are competitive to a fault and took swiftly to the task which, once completed, was quickly followed up with a team quiz with both Indonesian and English questions.

The evening is always about downtime and relaxing and that was the order of the day as a prelude to the evening barbecue. The resort has a swimming pool, pool table, strategically located gazebos and plenty of communal areas as well as extremely clean and comfortable rooms. Bukit Pinus also has the luxury of a fire pit around which everyone sat eating the barbecue until late into the evening. Even this had a competitive edge as points were available for which team could tell the creepiest fireside story. Well, it was Halloween!

Sunday morning arrived and with it was a solid breakfast to fortify everyone for the games ahead. These included the energetic "British Bulldog", the hillarious-to-watch  "Snake" game in which blind-folded participants have to be led around a course collecting objects, team volleyball competiton and the concluding basketball shooting.

Lunch was served prior to our departure and for the first time in the weekend it rained. Not that this mattered as we were well undercover but then again it was the beginning of the rainy season and we were in the wettest area of Indonesia. To conclude the weekend, points were tallied, prizes were handed out, congratulations and commiserations were shared and multiple, multiple photos were taken. It was an exceptional weekend highlighting the camararderie that exists amongst such an assorted group of people. We're going to have to get thinking now to stand any chance of 2016 beating this.

2015 Is Over, What Does 2016 Have In Store?

Well 2015 was a mixed bag of a year, wasn't it? It actually started off alright with the discovery that we could make pretty good shortcrust pastry here in Indonesia but then it all seemed to go downhill from there. We started paying the mortgage on a new house that we wouldn't be moving into for over a year and that seemed to go ok, no huge changes to lifestyle just stopped thinking about holidays and knowing that it would be the last year paying rent.Then, in April, we lost my Dad which kind of put the kibosh on things for a while. This was followed a few months later by the passing of one of Dad's best friends and Dermot will be hugely missed by all of his family and friends.

But, as with all things in life, everything gradually returns to normal. Work continued in 2015 with new teachers coming and old ones going, things with the house progressed faster than expected meaning we were looking at being in by December. Mum came over for a holiday and got to see Singapore and Bali for the first time and then, seemingly out of nowhere, Christmas and New Year were upon us. Phew!

So as the New Year starts, with thoughts of resolutions and hope for what's to come, I thought I'd look forward to the year ahead....


Well we're still not in it. There's currently no electricity or running water hooked up and we've been told that the cable tv and internet service we currently use won't be available. On the up-side we're pretty close to finalising the fitted kitchen we want and think we can actually include a built-in hob and oven too. We've boxed up everything in our current house and have a man (actually 3 men) and a van organised for once we have the greenlight. We also have a contingency of paying an extra months rent on the current place if we need it. Hopefully one more month from now. fingers crossed.

I believe that I should get my repaired CBR 250 back this month (January 2016) which means that the Honda Beat will be available to rent out or sell. The CBR will certainly make driving the increased distance to work better than the scooter.


We've extended the membership at The Springs so this means that badminton practice can continue and allow me to stay fitter and healthier. Uchiel reckons that she'll be attending regularly too but I have my doubts....


My contract finishes at the end of June with a new one due to start immediately. The big thing this year is to get something called a KITAP which will mean that I'm sponsored to stay here by my wife and not by my employer. I have been waiting for the paperwork to arrive but, as with all things, it's taking its time. Employment regualtions have changed again so we'll have to wait and see what recruitment of new native-speaking teachers is going to look like too.


While the house continues to take up all available funds, we have some great stuff to look forward to. Mum is planning on returning for a few weeks in Spring and, just as my contract ends in June, we'll be heading to Bali for a weekend to celebrate Colm and Nova's wedding. Then in early July, Myles, Karan and Megan arrive for a couple of weeks and we've plans to visit Yogyakarta by train and then on to a beach holiday. That will probably be it for this year although it would be nice to think we might be able to do Korea for a few days skiing in December.


I've been enjoying writing #StokerScore ( as much as I've enjoyed the movies in 2015. There have been some surprises and some shockers too and from the look of the slate for 2016 it's going to be another cracker!!

So as ever a fun packed year ahead and I hope that yours is equally filled with awesomeness and that it produces many memorable moments. I plan to take 2016 by the scruff of the neck and wring out every last bit of enjoyment.

Love you and miss you very much, Dad, hope you're enjoying yourself.