The arrival of March signals not just the expiration of my bank card but, more encouragingly, the promise of daffodils. . . their green tips already having pushed their way up through the cold, compacted earth in readiness to bloom into a blaze of feel-good sunshine. It also, accompanied by a long exhalation of relief, marks the end of our foreman’s two month residency. He will be back, with a representative of the extension company, the building inspector and probably with both the plumber and electrician in tow (as it is their lacklustre contribution which has let his rather good work down) in a few weeks time to sign everything off and complete the inevitable snagging. Meanwhile the baton has been handed to C who has already had a weeks headstart on what everyone onsite has officially termed a ‘pig of a job’ (when they were being polite…more colourful adjectives used at other times) – the repatriation of the reclaimed flooring. It would seem, judging by his considerable progress, that it is less awkward than we have lost sleep thinking and already more than half has been laid. The ambition this week is for C to have completed its installation to include sanding (with maybe the sanding of the boards in the snug thrown in) before O and I return to London on Sunday. With that done we can bid farewell to the hardest (by which I mean dirtiest) phase of the building work until we start tackling the bathroom…..though I’m not holding my breath as ambitions are foolish things to have where C is concerned as we learned to our peril last year. More than a month before my sister, brother in law and two pairs each of nieces and nephews were due to spend a weeks holiday with us, we engaged C to sand the floors and plaster the walls of our bedrooms. Fast (by which I euphemistically mean slow) forward a month later and C is still sanding floors as S and a kindhearted mate return from Stansted bearing a family of six, all destined to sleep uncomfortably in one room for the duration of their stay. Make that two rooms as midweek they were forced to relocate so he could continue on. With that episode still at the forefront of my mind, rather than be deluded by the dangling carrot of an over enthusiastic promise, I’m instead rather enjoying seeing C’s mood change from lethargic and overwhelmed to zealous and determined. Whilst I might live to regret saying this, I don’t mind if his deadline creeps into next week as his company whilst in a motivated frame of mind is welcome and his work, only his lack of confidence in it, has never yet let him down.
His enthusiasm was evident in his request to work Saturday, so whilst S spent a lovely weekend reunited with his family – entertained by O obligingly showing his Daddy the pictures of Daddy he has spent the last two weeks pointing out to us – C continued on with his project. Photos were emailed late Sunday evening on S’s solitary return and there was much excitement upon their receipt. Somehow it seems a shame that the colour variations in the floor will be sanded away to an even, creamy finish though S and I are trying to think of other uses for the leftover boards where we might still be able to retain some of its character. The banquette…if we decide still to go down that route…is one idea. A wall panel is another and a table yet another. S is quite fancying trying to make something himself after being gifted an inspirationally beautiful stool his dad made as a young man.
“My dad would have done most of what the builders have done” S lamented at the weekend “and I know it’s not the same but I really want to physically do something myself.”
With no (suitable) shed in which to start a similar woodworking project he has instead elected to scratch the hunter/gatherer/nest builder itch by tackling the mist coat needed on the bare plaster. I’ve been asked to order some of the white eco paint in order for him to get started which will also serve as an interesting trial. It would appear our chosen make is not supported by the recommendation of friends which means our eco paint search may not yet be concluded. . .
Meanwhile our attention is being turned to the hall floor. Ever since C refused to sand the existing boards as they are ‘going the wrong way’, we have been faced with the choices of belt sanding by hand (which wasn’t the kind of woodworking project S had in mind) or A N Other. . . so I have been exploring some alternatives.
Choice number one would be laying encaustic tiles – perhaps something adventurous with both colour and pattern. I spent a good while browsing the Reclaimed Tile Company snd the Antique Floor Company’s websites in addition to scouring EBay and Salvo but the price to lay something like this in our hallway would escalate prohibitively into thousands.
Choice number two is parquet – but if we went down that route we would end up with a hotchpotch of wooden flooring throughout the ground floor. Add to that not necessarily the cost of materials (reclaimed its fairly reasonable) but the extortionate cost of labour and it edges itself out of the running.
Choice number three is a toss up between extending our reclaimed wood so it runs throughout… causing a change in level at two doorways which is a hurdle we’d have to find a way of jumping (or tripping) over and marmoleum. The wood option relies upon the seller having a few more metres in stock …I’m waiting to hear. The marmoleum relies on a number of things. I abhorred the idea originally but am coming round to it as a hard wearing option for a family hallway which is likely to play host to the additional traffic of scooters, bikes and muddy football boots. However, the marmoleum has scratched quite easily in the World’s Smallest WC so the jury is still well and truly out on it for me. In fact, its position as floor covering of choice for the bathroom is also now under review.
The patio steps, on the other hand, which you may remember I disdainfully referred to in one of last weeks posts, look more favourable dressed with the spring morning light. It’s the first time either of us has seen the patio in the daylight and I’m now starting to think that perhaps, once its furnished with table, chairs, pots, plants and BBQ (this summer, we pledge, our patio will host The Year of the BBQ following last years washout) it may all work out just fine.
And so it seems that March has brought, along with the emergence of spring bulbs, a much needed dose of optimism.
The patio and brick steps