Category Archives: le château de grenouille


This credit crunch malarkey is just creating a whole pestle of work for me.  If anyone can share some time or maybe some recipes (I watched that nice Jamie Oliver chappy yesterday) then I’d be most grateful.  I know that some people have time to spare.  My time is precious which is clearly why I’m spending it on my much neglected blog.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

In other news I’ve got a new sledgehammer and I’m not afraid to use it.  As a consequence of these two facts I have one fewer wall surrounding le château de grenouille and a pile of rubble in the former fish pond.  I’ve been remodelling dontchaknow.  What destructive\constructive tasks have engaged you recently?

Now, about those recipes… Pass it on.


Filed under le château de grenouille, Reasons to be cheerful, Recipe for disaster

An Open Letter to Tiscali

Dear Tiscali

Re: Your letter demanding £7.92

I am somewhat confused by your letter asking for payment of £7.92.  You failed to indicate what the amount represented and I have certainly not received an invoice for this amount.  Furthermore you will be aware that I have ceased using your service.  I wrote to inform you in October that you had failed to uphold your part of the contract and that I was terminating it.  You kindly refunded me for the service that I had paid for but was unable to use due to your incompetence.

Forgive me if I don’t choose to ring the 0870 number indicated on your letter but past experience has show me that I will invariable be on hold for up to an hour before getting to speak to someone.  The person who I do speak to will either not speak any English at all or will have such a strong accent (Indian, Scottish or Irish) that I will be completely unable to understand what they have to say.  Even if we do manage to communicate the customer support person will either be unable or unwilling to help or will just lose all record of the conversation.  Hardly surprising if they have to deal with disgruntled customers like me all day long.  If you don’t mind I’d rather not pay for the privilege of calling you to sort out your mistakes.

With regard to the sum that you claim is outstanding I will not be paying it.  Even if it turns out that I do owe you the money I shall not be paying the bill.  You sent me a cheque to refund me for service charges billed and for compensation.  If you are so incompetent as to forget to deduct a fee for an outstanding amount then I hope that my non-payment will serve as a lesson to you.  Tiscali could so very easily have done better.

Besides which you should be aware that I know that you will never refer such a small sum to your legal team to threaten court action or to try to recover the money.  It simply isn’t cost effective for you to do so.  However if you do decide to try to recover this money rest assured that I will make it as difficult as possible for you even if it costs me hundreds of pounds.  Furthermore I will do my utmost to advertise your poor service to as many people as I can in order that customer confidence in you is weakened. 

Why would I do this?  The answer is simple.  You failed to treat me with the respect that a paying customer deserves at every opportunity that you had and I choose to treat you with similar contempt.

Your sincerely



Filed under Cull, le château de grenouille

Do it yourself

Last week I spent some time doing some DIY in le château de grenouille.  My dining room prior to adjustments stank of cigarette smoke and was very dated. 

Here are the very attractive curtains:

Here is the carpet:

Both had to go.  Up came the carpet.

We cleaned up the tiles underneath.  That’s Tiny Tash doing an impression of Mrs Mop.

Then we put down some laminate flooring.


I haven’t got any pictures but I also changed the sockets and ran new power leads for them.  The old owners had actually chosen to use extension leads plugged into each other for power rather than doing the job properly.  You also can’t see the spiffing new brown curtains as I forgot to take a picture of them. 


Filed under le château de grenouille

Tiscali and BT

As I may have mentioned I recently moved house to le château de grenouille.  Part of the harrowing experience that is moving house involves sorting out all the utilities and services that we, as consumers, have bought into.  Most companies have excellent and efficient procedures in place to ensure that the process of moving house is straightforward and efficient.

For example:

  • The Hung Council credited my Council Tax to the new address and sent me a bill that arrived the day after I moved in;
  • Gritish Bas sorted out my bills, transferred credits and sent me a lovely “Welcome to your new home” pack..which was dull so I threw it away..but that’s beside the point;
  • Both water companies just changed the address on the bill and reissued it to the new address.

Why then can’t BT and Tiscali be as efficient.

Tiscali cut my broadband connection off on 6th September when they should have cut it off on the 17th.  This was irritating but I figure that you’re allowed one mistake as long as you say sorry.  The call centre didn’t say sorry, in fact I’m not certain what they said as the call centre staff had such thick accents that I had trouble understanding them. 

Worse than cutting me off early they have so far failed utterly to reconnect me.  I’ve had to endure six long weeks without a broadband connection at home.  I’m reminded of poor Drunken Spaniel and how she endured a similar issue.

BT have also failed to live up to their part of the contract to supply me with a telephone service.  On Monday 8th my phone mysteriously stopped working.  I rang the free phone number from my mobile (which I’m now told isn’t actually free) for an hour in order to report the fault.  They told me that it would be fixed within 24 hours.  Fair enough, thought I, sometimes things break.  24 hours later I rang them back, the phone is still as dead as a dodo.  Every day for the past week has had me calling back to query why my phone still isn’t working.  Apparently it’ll only take another 24 hours.

Well I’ve watched 24 and if Jack Bauer can do all the things he does in that show then BT can certainly fix one little fault.  It’s hardly too much to ask is it?

Anyway, I lost my rag at them both on Friday and cancelled them both.  I’m going with Virgin and a cable service for my phone and broadband and I’m getting some TV chucked in for the same price.

If you have my Tiscali email address please delete it.  I’ll get a new one next week and will probably let you know what it is eventually.


Filed under Cull, le château de grenouille, Shitbiscuits

Sur la table

I have already mentioned The Hildy’s shopping trip but now I have a confession to make:

I went into town on Sunday to pick up some essential shopping (beer) and came home with a brand spanking second hand table. 

The table was obtained for the princely sum of £10 from the local dump.  I now have a solid pine table handsomely decorating my living room.  It is mostly used to store the Sunday papers while I finish reading them.

I must say that I am surprised at the things that are thrown away.  Granted, the table needs sanding down and re-varnishing to get rid of the coffee rings but it is in fine condition otherwise.  Anyone in need of wardrobes, takes, dressers, rabbit hutches, etc would be well advised to check out the dump for some real bargains. 

Now you can call me a skip rat if you like.

In other news no-one seems interested in reading the pets’ blog.  Is this because it is silly or because you hate animals?  Eh?


Filed under le château de grenouille, Reasons to be cheerful

Never send a woman to do a man’s job.

Well if that title doesn’t get some comments then nothing will. 

We spent the weekend unpacking.  As much fun as this sounds I had really had enough of it by about midday on Saturday.

On Sunday we had reached the point where we couldn’t unpack anything else without some additional shelves.  With this in mind The Hildy set off into town with her sister and a list of specific bookcases to purchase….

…several hours later she returned with a rabbit.

No bookcases just a white, fluffy bunny.  Named Sapphire, Saffie for short.

We still haven’t decided on names for the rats though.


Filed under It could be bunnies, le château de grenouille, Rats

I’d like a Sainthood actually.

I’m so very tired today.  All this moving malarkey is no fun.

Quick update of the move to le château de grenouille:


  • Woke up at Unnatural O’clock in the morning surrounded by boxes and feeling decidedly ill.
  • Had a soak in the bath.
  • Packed like a slightly wobbly dervish…OK The Hildy packed while I performed manly moving boxes downstairs in silence.
  • At 7am I woke the tadpoles and fed them breakfast of croissants and tap water.
  • Ate a croissant really quickly.
  • Got hiccups.
  • More moving stuff around.
  • At 8:30am I sent the kids off to school and explained once again that I would collect them so they should NOT come back to the house.  Arranged to meet Snarly in the library.  Different school, different rules.
  • At 9am I went to the bottle bank.  I wouldn’t want anyone thinking that I’m an alcoholic or anything.
  • At 9:15 I return and briefly wonder why I hadn’t put the bins in the road to leave a space for the removal van.
  • At 9:30 the removal van arrives.  We spend the next hour and a half loading the van.
  • 10:48am I receive a text from the broker that we have completed and can now arrange to collect the keys.  I eagerly await a call from the estate agent.
  • We spend a while hoovering, mopping, cleaning and generally making the place spic and span for the new people.  I even empty the bins into neighbours bins (they said I could) so as to leave the place perfect. 
  • The removal chaps disappear off to lunch.
  • By 1pm I’m starting to get annoyed.  I’ve gone shopping for lunch and we’re left sitting on the stairs trying to keep a very stressed cat happy.  The estate agent is claiming not to have a phone number for the former owners of le château de grenouille and haven’t got the keys.
  • Six phone calls to the estate agent later I decide to go to le château de grenouille myself and see if they are still there.
  • They are.
  • They are sitting in the front garden smoking, drinking and laughing.  In.  My.  Property.  Apparently they are waiting for a phone call from their solicitor and can’t move till they get it.
  • I decide that politeness will get me further than incoherent rage and help them to load their tiny tiny van with as much stuff as I can.
  • 3:30pm I collect the kids and rush to the shops for some essentials.  Little Al drops a bag of shopping and floods a shop doorway in beer.  I tell him it’s OK and grit my teeth. 
  • 4pm arrives.  At this point I have not told the estate agent that I have the keys, the temporary squatters only have one more van to fill up and my two vans full of stuff are on their way to le château de grenouille to unload.  My hiccups are still tormenting me and I’m gasping for a cup of tea.
  • 4:45 the solicitor calls and tells me that I can move in.
  • 6pm, we finish unloading the vans.
  • Apparently it is socially acceptable to stand at the gate of a house and stare in through the doors and windows when people move in.  Comments are also welcome, particularly when they are intelligent and well presented.  For example: “Are you moving in then?” or “Is this all your stuff?”
  • 7pm I order Chinese. 
  • We put up one bed and give up.  Kids on mattresses again.
  • I have managed not to swear all day.


I’m working in East Sussex so I’m up early.  Everything aches and I’ve developed a cough.  The whole day isn’t even worth bullet points.  Except the last bit.  Everyone seems to have forgotten how to do their job so I spread my germs and explain all over again what it is that they are supposed to do.  I also have a surprise job interview for someone. 

When I get home I find out that the upstairs loo is broken and the electrics are a bit dodgy.

The estate agent still doesn’t know that I have moved in. 

I receive the solicitor’s bill.  This is the most efficient that they have been.

The Hildy has cheered up the house by purchasing four beautiful girl rats.  They escaped and played “hide in the boxes” and “let’s see if the cat is a stupid as she looks”.  We have nearly decided on Smudge and Templeton for two of their names but I need more.  Previous rat names have been Spike, Oz, Peter, Jack and Harry.  The ringleader of the Great Cage Escape may end up being called Houdini.


Today I am so tired that I think I may fall asleep at any moment.  My observations of the day are simply blurred as a result.  One thing comes to mind though.  Some people who get buses are a bit strange.  Don’t stare back at them.

I still can’t find my coat…or my dressing gown to cover my nudity during my morning ablutions.  Either would do.

Now I’m going home via a train and a bus or possibly for a long walk.  See you tomorrow.  hopefully I’ll get some rat snaps on my camera…if I can find some batteries.


Filed under le château de grenouille, Rats

Thursday Thirteen

I am moving house on Monday to le château de grenouille.  My broadband connection has been terminated already and I will be frantically packing* for the next few days so I won’t be around until at least Tuesday.  I know that you will all** miss me terribly so I thought I would share a Random Thursday Thirteen before I go.

Thursday Thirteen is a meme with one purpose:  to get to know bloggers better. Thirteen secrets they’ve never shared before, Thirteen random things about themselves or their lives that give the reader a better idea of who they are.

  1. I open all the cards before I open any of the presents even though it annoys people.
  2. I love getting letters but hate sending them.
  3. I’m more concerned with “how?” than “why?” and I always have been.
  4. I think that it is more important to have an opinion than to be right.
  5. I can sit in the lotus position.
  6. I can’t dance when I’m being watched.
  7. I prefer a little grocer, baker, paper shop and chemist to a supermarket.
  8. I can’t drive.
  9. I never swear out loud.
  10. I think that the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.
  11. I read the ingredients of packaged food before I buy them.
  12. I think that rainbows are the most amazing phenomenon in nature.
  13. I think that the moon would make an ideal location for a retirement village.

 Have a good weekend everyone. *waves*

*I have more to pack even though my house looks like an explosion at a cardboard factory.

**I know that some people read my gibber jabber even though hardly anyone comments.  I suspect that I only attract shy people or that I’ve offended everyone and you only come by to see if disaster have befallen me so you can gloat. 😉


Filed under le château de grenouille, Thursday Thirteen

I have a theory…

….it could be bunnies.

Having taken the decision to buy le château de grenouille (my 5 bedroom house that I shall be moving into on Monday) and sell l’étang de grenouille (the current home of the EU surplus box mountain) I have come to appreciate the benefits of good and efficient customer service….or rather I would have appreciated it if I’d had any.  I’ve been having trouble trying to understand how such diverse groups of people as estate agents, solicitors, and Internet service providers can all be so utterly crap.

It isn’t like they all work for the post office or anything.  I can understand how a monopoly can degenerate in service level to the lowest possible point.  Lack of competition breeds apathy.  If you don’t have a choice but to use a service then it really doesn’t matter how well or how poorly they treat you.

However for a company that operates in a normal competitive environment an upset customer will likely take their custom to a competitor and slag off the poor company to anyone who will listen.  Why then do they all seem to be so rubbish?

hoverFrog’s First Law of Customer Service Apathy

A company will naturally gravitate to the same level of service as it’s competitors.

hoverFrog’s Second Law of Customer Service Apathy

A company with sufficient customers to meet it’s payroll needs will cease to value them.

hoverFrog’s Third Law of Customer Service Apathy

The motivation of an employee is inversely proportional to the number of departments in the office where they work.


Filed under Cull, le château de grenouille, Shitbiscuits, You decide

Human Cull III

OK in addition to estate agents and solicitors I now have to add Internet service provider admin staff to my human cull list.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this in the past 😉 but I am moving house shortly.  My completion date is now 17th September.  In preparation for my move I have contacted several utility companies and asked to transfer service to the new address.

Tiscali (my ISP) cut off my broadband yesterday.  Presumably this is because the 6th looked similar to the 17th.  Honestly though, everyone makes mistakes.  A quick phone call should have sorted this out, wouldn’t you think?


No apology, no admittance of error, no fix.  I am now looking for a new ISP and have to come to the library for my blogging fix.

Still, we exchanged contracts today and I’m on a promise so it’s all worked out OK. 😉


Filed under Cull, le château de grenouille, Reasons to be cheerful