Wet Weekends and Wallpaper: Wk 4 – Day One

I’ve decided. Weekends are the worst. Cold January ones at that.

In an eerily quiet but drafty house with no work happening and so therefore no progress to uplift us at the end of the day, there’s time to contemplate the list of jobs still to do and the time we haven’t got to do them. In our childless days we would have ploughed on together but now we simply can’t as only one of us can work on the house at any one time as the other has to look after O, either out somewhere or cooped up in one room. I don’t mean to imply that looking after O is a bad thing….its the best…. but its wrapped up with guilt that you are out having fun while the other is busy working (me on Saturday…lovely day out with a friend), whilst the other feels pressure that the most must be made out of a set window before you both return and O wants his, in this case, Daddy again. When we do reconvene as a family it’s in a drafty building site with a frustrated little boy who wants to run and doesn’t understand why he keeps being scooped up and told no. Tellingly his first words are ‘turtle’ (he has a plastic one in his bath) and ‘no no no’ complete with finger waggle.

To add to the weekend pressure, we realised that we really do have to get a move on with wallpaper removal if, as the foreman says, they are nearly half way through already. In a bid to save money we have asked if his plasterer will continue on through the house while he has his equipment and materials here on site. So during one of O’s naps I got started on a patch of wall upstairs. The top layer of painted textured paper comes off like a dream but the underneath layer of brown victorian stuff comes off in pencil shavings. We have been here before..at our old flat we spent the record-breaking August heatwave with two steamers going. It took us every evening and weekend for two weeks to get a relatively small hallway prepped for plastering and we now have about three times the area to cover and the paper is just as awkward. I packed everything away after my hour window of O’s nap was nearing completion with a heavy heart. Even if I spent every day while he is at nursery stripping paper it would be painfully slow work.

That afternoon we went out for a couple of lovely hours as a family but we returned early so that S could continue taming the bundles of wayward flooring – another depressing job as each time he does it he wonders aloud if the bloody stuff will go down at all. So to give him space to continue I packed O up into his pushchair, grabbed his scooter and headed off to the park. Locked. So we headed up the road to another. It rained. Exasperated I about turned and arrived back at the house just as S had locked himself out. Tears and an SOS call to friends later and we were being soothed and re-energised by kind words, coffee and cake in the warmth of a family kitchen surrounded by lovely people doing lovely family things who went through exactly what we are doing only a year ago. We were reminded why we are doing it and we hugged each other tightly that night knowing we would forget all this when we too have that lovely space to exist in together.

So, with my head down and determined to crack on, I was pleased to see the foreman and his team this bright Monday morning. They seemed less pleased to see me. Stuff from the dining room had been moved by S into the kitchen which it would appear no longer belongs to us while they are working in it. I heard them muttering with annoyance as it was being chucked back into the dining room on top of the flooring bundles. Watching this I then had to explain that I couldn’t make coffee as the milk we keep in our ‘fridge’ (aka the windowsill) had gone off. I hurried upstairs to keep out of their way but was summoned down to explain myself on three separate occasions. The first was to explain a broken sink, torn from the wall in a temper by S when he discovered a leak and had to call out our plumber to cap it off.
“It fell off the wall…” I started
“Fell? That looks like pulled off to me…”
“Er, well, I don’t know the details but…”
“It didn’t fall…”

I was called down again to explain the disappearance of a missing hammer which S had borrowed and I later found in the under stairs cupboard.
“It cost me almost £40 so could you ring your plumber and find out if he picked it up?”
“Yes of course…he wouldn’t have though…it must be here..”
“Well its not and I can’t afford to keep losing tools like that on a job….”

And finally with three rectangular pots of Chinese takeaway in his hands.
“Is this meant to go in the fridge?”
“Oh..god yes….sorry…it was still warm when we went to bed last night…”
“So I’ll put it in…”

It was then he probably discovered the two pints of milk I didn’t know S bought yesterday.

The opening for the bifold doors


Our hallway to be stripped
The non progress on the paper. The yellowish patch in the middle of the brown is the bare wall…misleading as it looks the same colour as the yellow painted paper running throughout the house. Any ideas on wallpaper stripping techniques gratefully received….


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