Moving on

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent their best wishes after our house fire three weeks ago. We've been overwhelmed by your support and offers of help (including loans of cameras, studios, computers, even holiday houses!!). We're still living up at Alistair's mother's house and will be for at least another month. If our house isn't ready by then we will move into a motel or apartment at that stage, as Allison will be returning from Scotland and will need her house back! Our lounge has been transformed since my last blog post. The insurers got some specialist fire-restoration cleaners in extremely quickly: they removed and itemised everything in the lounge and kitchen, down to every last 15g box of herbs. Here are two views of the lounge: one the day of the fire, and one now.

And here's another angle of the lounge: first photo taken a month ago at a pyjama party for Eva's sixth birthday, and the same view now.

I couldn't help but snap a couple of photos on my iPhone of the cleaners' sooty exercise book listing all the contents of our pantry. The details recorded included the exact number of pieces of fresh fruit we had, "some kind of seeds, 300g" and "Blackmore's Vitamin C, 31 tablets" - they must have been there for hours and hours.

Here's my personal favourite - a 2-litre container of Cattanach. Surely that's priceless?

The photo on the left below is the light switch beside the kitchen table, and on the right we have a library docket that was stuck with a (circular!) magnet onto the side of the filing cabinet in my photography studio.

The good news is I got my photography gear back from Canon and it got the all-clear. I do need to send both the camera bodies and flashes back on Monday for further assessment, as I'm getting intermittent over-exposure problems. So there's definitely still an issue there to be resolved, but it's quite probably just one flash, as opposed to thousands and thousands of dollars worth of cameras and lenses. So the insurers will be very happy about that! The camera bodies were both out on the desk beside my iMac, which is a write-off, but then cameras are built to withstand much bigger temperature changes than computers are. I have yet to hear back about my studio lights.

Somewhat predictably it's been a bit of a nightmare on the computer front, with various issues cropping up, couriers not delivering, phone calls not being returned etc, with the upshot that I'm still typing this on my laptop. But, fingers crossed, I should be collecting a new 27" iMac later this morning with all my back-ups pre-loaded onto it. It will be such a relief to be able to start clearing the backlog of editing work. It has been impossible to edit photos on the laptop, because every small adjustment of screen angle changes all the colours completely. Thanks again to my lovely, patient clients!

There's been no action at the house for a while now but our insurers reckon they'll have the builders in before the end of next week, and if they're anything like the cleaners they'll go hell for leather and make good progress. I am starting to get a little nervous that we won't be able to return in time for me to do a lot of the unpacking and sorting jobs before I head to the US for a couple of weeks in late October. Alistair will be looking after the kids on his own (with Allison's help) and juggling his extremely busy job, and I really don't want him to have to be dealing with lots of fire-related issues as well. If worst comes to worst hopefully he and the kids can 'camp' at the house and leave a lot of the jobs for me to sort when I get back.

Really though, if you have to have a house fire, do it like we did it! Get out safely, live around the corner from the fire brigade, save most of the house, time the fire to coincide with the start of your mother-in-law's overseas trip, choose a quiet time of year rather than the middle of the wedding season, and insure with ASB.  :)

We are lucky, lucky, lucky.

Bill and his little sister Connie Jean

Up in smoke