The rules to project management are, the books say,‘Do’, ‘Delete’ and ‘Delegate’. This week I can’t do very effectively as O and I are both in North Yorkshire, enjoying the dust-free fresh air and the company of family. Deleting is not possible. . . our list grows longer, not shorter though the builders are nearing the end of theirs and may be gone by the time we return home. Delegating, on the other hand, is something I can do. S, forgetting the paper bought with his train journey back to the metropolis in mind, was given alternative reading material by way of a to-do list scribed by me.
1) Check with the builders that they are removing the concrete path which bolts up the length of our garden.That along with parallel lines of flower beds containing tattered looking trees and bushes make our garden seem particularly narrow when actually it’s a fairly generous (for London) five and a half metres wide.
2) Check all the electrics have been done as requested. This item came with an appendix of a lighting and electrics plan so each item could be inspected in turn before the final readies were handed over.
3) Prise a quote out of K the plumber and, of increasing importance, a start date. I’m just not sure how long the temporary pipework running along the wall at O height will withstand his inquisitiveness.
4) Calm down the carpenter. Despite being an ex kitchen fitter for John Lewis and a skilled chippie, our trusted carpenter is having a bit of a flap about laying the flooring and installing the kitchen. To give him his due, the flooring may well be a nightmare but not over and above his capabilities… of that we must assure him.
5) Ask the worktop guy for a few extra samples. I know I know….we have drooled over the sample we have in our possession for months but we just want to make sure…
6) Attempt to get a ‘mist coat’ onto the new plaster in the extension thus taking advantage of having no flooring to spill the paint on.
A report from S this evening informed me that:
1) The arrival of two pallets of sandstone on Friday has led the builders to think the cash cow hasn’t been fully milked. They will remove the path but at a price.
2) Lights are indeed now working and some can be checked as they are, helpfully, inside. Others require a rubber neck action from the upstairs window as we don’t yet have access to our garden.
3) No mention yet of either of the required numbers.
4) Baby steps.
5) We are now outed as officially indecisive, but yes, samples ordered.
6) A call from B&Q to check which paint was needed proved this was being done, at great effort as I have the car so S and a 10 litre pot of paint had a bus trip home.
By contrast my list this week looks far less like actual work. The most pressing is probably to conduct some online sourcing…the bathroom sanitaryware and fittings in addition to a hallway flooring solution (the shaky carpenter drawing the line at sanding boards going the ‘wrong way.’) In addition I’d like to do a bit of general research into both eco paints and eco carpeting (is there such a thing?) There is a danger, however, that I may be distracted from my primary tasks and move to others down a list as yet unapproved by S. These include Northern vintinquing (a car boot sale and a reclamation yard are on my wish list) and some targeted Ebaying. . . specifically (yet inexplicably as there are far more urgent items to find) for spice racks in which to attach to the back of the larder door. A self-imposed caveat being that bids can only be on used items. As an aside, they are proving harder to find than you may imagine (OK so I have started with the spice racks and intend to graduate up the list) as what I thought I could pick up easily for a few pence are either not available at all or described as the misspelt ‘chabby chic’ and priced just as optimistically.
What I hadn’t planned for was the opportunity to do some loft combing, an activity turning out to be much underrated. My mother in law has offered us some nearly-new, fully lined curtains and this weekend she hunted them out to show us. Accessing the loft requires entry via a Narniaesque mini door in the back of a wardrobe so, being the younger of the two but it would appear no more agile, I offered to go in and look for the accompanying tie backs (to enable us to keep a sample of the material handy in which to match paint etc.) On my hunched journey I stumbled, literally, over some enticing boxes containing leftover tiles she had used in her kitchen and bathroom. I mentioned them as a possibility for a splashback in the Worlds Smallest WC to S and at first he sounded approving.
“We could do a whole wall in the red ones” he suggested before adding “they’ll help to hide the blood”
“From banging our heads”.
On Sunday evening, whilst S home in London was already diligently working his way through his list, my mother in law and I sat curled up on our respective comfy chairs, gin and tonic in hand, tuned into some fabulously rubbish TV. I texted S.
“Keith Chegwin looks just like K the plumber!”
His reply beeped back.
“Feel free to let him know if you want £500 added to his quote”.