Sunday, 23 June 2013

Lessons - patience, insurers and tragic beauty

I haven't written all week because, to be honest, I have been empathising with my all time favourite actress Meryl Streep in one of my all time favourite movies.

By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”
Miranda Presley (Devil Wears Prada)

Just like my girlfriend Meryl, I have spent most of the last week being annoyed with the glacial pace at which insurance companies seem to operate.  Now everyone says you can't choose your family ...but readers, you can choose your friends - and you can carefully choose your insurers too!

I give you exhibit A - yes, there is no doubt we have had a fire - right?  This was the ballroom on 19 March.   And I am sorry to say, the ballroom looks much the same now (actually worse) 14 weeks later.

Thankfully we do have insurance! And it covers fire - so you would think that gives me just about as much peace of mind that I need after the tragic fire to put some confidence in the future, right?

Well, I think I might be  expecting too much. It's over 3 months since the fire - shouldn't we be starting to move the Grand Lady towards repair?

Nope - sorry to disappoint - we are still in lock down!

Still in disrepair - the roof is vulnerable and with all this rain lately, I seem to spend the great majority of my week wondering if the roof will be there tomorrow, or whether it will have caused further devastation at HH.

So what lessons have I learnt so far?

1. Contracts Work insurance - For any of you building, have you ever even bothered to see your builder's contract works insurance? Thanks Builder HH - his was current and comprehensive.  But if you are building or renovating, and have not seen your builder's, hot foot it and ask your builder for theirs now. Because when you start to build or renovate, you are handing over control of your house to them (and that is when their insurance kicks in)

2. Choose your builder carefully - Builder HH was the third person after me and Husband HH to arrive at the scene within about 10 minutes of the fire - and has been on it almost every day since, helping me through the maze of insurance and investigations which seem to have consumed us at HH since the March fire. I was thinking how much more difficult this would all be if you didn't get on!

3. Insurance can be just as emotionally taxing as the event - Just because you are insured, it is not as easy as you think.  We have insurance (both the builder and I) but we are still in lock down as the insurers fight about who is responsible for what. 

This logo is about pet insurance (and, point of clarification, I have no pets) so this insurer has nothing to do with my house - but I laughed because how many times have we heard insurers claim their cover gives you "peace of mind"  - I have spent the last week giving insurers a "piece of my mind" as an alternative as I am growing increasingly impatient! You insure in good faith, you expect them to deliver their product if you are unlucky enough to need it.

4. Oh and lesson number 4  - stay clear of fire-worn gutters. I narrowly escaped one coming down in the rain this week - the Grand Lady is venting her anger too (but I wish she had been more discriminating about who she is taking her frustration out on) I could have suggested many more people deserving of the gutter's wrath than me!

HH is suffering most of all and I fear she will be far more damaged than she currently is if we don't commence repairs immediately.

So stay tuned, I will provide more lessons soon (and might even go so far as to name names if I get really angry!)

Ok, I feel better now that I have shared this with over 11,000 viewers- thank you for indulging me!

On a brighter note, I was looking for the right opportunity to share a selection of post fire images - I know sounds like an oxymoron, but the passage of time has allowed me to appreciate some of the beauty which the fire has left behind.

And there are two people in my life who have done this beautifully.  I will share the work of one of them in this post.  I told you that you can choose your friends - my Fabulous (F)oto Friend who is mega talented took these insightful shots of HH after the fire.

Would you have even guessed this was the floor?
The peeling paint is encapsulated in this fine snap
The devastated doorways and windows

Fabulous (F)otographer Friend captured the "writing on the wall" shots which I so love


Read the previous post "The writing's on the wall" here to find out more about the 1890s message on the HH walls

She captured these sad and sorry shots of the kitchen

and took one of my favourites shots ever of the sooty ash figures on the kitchen wall - I still swear there are four women  - and I will maintain this view until the day I am carried away accused of unsound mind!

I appreciate these shots more now than I did all those weeks ago... but I am looking forward to the constant reminders of the fire being removed soon.  I would be blissfully happy to just search out the photos as a sorry reminder of what happened - instead of being confronted with the reality each day.
Thank you Fabulous (F)otographer Friend - I loved that you took these images.

And she was the first to the rescue when I started this blog and realised that I did not have a single image of me at Hanworth to use on the blog.

and it was She FFF who took the shot we finally chose to launch the blog
Hope your weekend was amazing! And here's to a brighter week ahead for HH.


  1. very cute mamma, love you xxx

    1. love you too little anonymous Daughter HH x HH

  2. That's terrible about the insurance, but a good reminder for renovators to check their building contracts! The neighbours house behind us burnt down last year and it took about six months before the house was eventually just really dragged out.
    Anyway, strength to you for persevering through it all. xx

    1. Thanks Brismod - comforting but infuriating to think your neighbours had to wait so long too. It is all bureaucratic which makes me even madder. Lovely to have supporters though to always enthuse and inspire me so thanks for caring x HH

  3. Oh HH,
    Really feel for you and your disappointment!
    Sending positivity & patience your way!
    It will all be worth it!
    I hope things get sorted soon
    X A

    1. Hi A, you are right I know that - just patience is not one of my virtues - fortunately, however, positivity is! x HH

  4. I love your positivity HH. The "Peace of mind" "piece of my (your) mind" thing made me chuckle. Very witty but ever so disappointing. Can we mount a class action to sue for false advertising? Great photos too :) You look so sweet at the window. I wish for one day for you to have such a snapshot of yourself from every window of the house. And I wish for resolution very soon.

    Lots of love :) xx

    1. Thanks Anon for your lovely and heartfelt comments (feeling very special on this very rainy Sunday afternoon) - I am crossing fingers and toes for resolution (and this week) - all systems are on go and the rain even makes me more miserable seeing the demise of the grand lady HH. So I will keep you posted! x HH

  5. I love the photos of you looking out of the window, they are my favourite windows ever!

    everyone wants your navy Lily P blazer on my blog.

    1. I'm forever going to think of those windows as your favourite FF! I just looked at the comments on the navy blazer and the smart follower of yours who found the blog which commented on it being so great. And it is - it really is my very favourite blazer of all time. You can tell your followers to try Splash of Pink in the US - I have found them willing to ship - and they are great to deal with - thanks for a lovely catch up last week. Another one - and soon! x HH (PS thanks for the traffic too - my hits spike and all it takes is a mention from you - big blogger thank you x HH)

  6. HH is very lucky to have you - I'm sure you will bring her back to the life she deserves - thank you for sharing your stories and those wonderful (FF) photos too!

    Christine x

    P.S I found you via that inspiring, entertaining, and always sunny blog of FF - it is a must in my daily read and I look forward to following you too!

  7. Hi Christine, thanks for popping in and sending your enthusiastic support. Yes I agree - the every inspiring, ever entertaining, ever sunny FF - I particularly loved the nylon hair comment made about Barbie in the last post - I so laughed at the way she laughs at herself. I feel privileged to be in her blog company on your read list! x HH

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