News in from the site today was a mixed bag.
On the plus side, images sent over this morning offered a much anticipated full view of the space. Flooring is down, bifold doors are in, patio is laid and brick steps are looking …I admit….pretty good. Each element I had, of course, seen in isolation but today was the first time I saw it coming together as a coherent whole ….and I love it. Even the scarred garden, territory which has up until now been treated with little more than open disdain by the builders having used it as a storage area for tools and materials for the past eight weeks, is beginning to heal. Soon enough it will all go under the spade as we level off a lawned area, carve out and plant up some beds and build a vegetable patch, complete with new shed, but for now the grass can grow, bulbs can pop through and the unwieldy rose bush can continue to terrorise us with its wayward thorny tentacles as we brush innocently past enroute to the House that Jack Built. Considering that when I left the site almost three weeks ago it was just that – a building site – its all quite a significant reminder of just how much has been going on in my absence.
There was more excitement this evening as pictures arriving in my inbox showed progress on the makeover of what was an old school gym and is now our kitchen floor. As we had always hoped but at times doubted, the flooring is coming up well after a good going over with an industrial sander to remove the layers of old varnish, glue and dirt and reveal the beautiful creamy wood beneath. More stages are needed but as an indication of the finished product it has finally put to rest our harbouring fears about the challenge we had set ourslves in the laying of it. . . the bundles having been, much like our straggly rose bush, a thorn in our sides. Tonight I heard the relief in S’s voice as one worry was lifted from his shoulders ….ready to free up space for others…..
There was one ready to slip itself comfortably into the space vacated. The logistics of how best to organise the sealing of both the naked hardwood and the bare plaster before the kitchen goes in at the end of next week is proving tricky. At least two coats, more if we can manage, need to go down on the floor and one mist coat and a couple of layers of colour – once chosen – need to go on the walls. Given that S plans to travel North again this Friday to collect his wife and child and C will be busy sanding the snug the pressure was in how to find the time to get either job done. A promising start has been the arrival of an internet order of the Polyx Oil, a natural hardwax oil which we have used to pleasing effect in the upstairs bedrooms along with a trial tub of white claypaint for the mist coat. Wood sealing, we’ve come to the conclusion, must take priority over the painting so the experiment with the Earthborn paint, a product which a friend gave few stars finding within it clumps of actual earth, will be postponed until next week and late nights on all fours are planned for S…and that’s not going to be as exciting as it at first might sound…
The bad news is that we seem not to be able to shake off the spark who would appear to quite enjoy visiting our patch of South London. The electrics have still not been completed to our exacting aesthetic standards or even to the building inspectors functional ones. Wiring is dangling from the ceilings, sockets are yet to be buried flush and switches are missing. In addition the marmoleum in the Worlds Smallest WC has bubbled and lifted – the builders having laid a second layer on top of the scratched first resulting in a pigs ear. Ply must now be laid atop of the whole darn lot and a third attempt laid. To compensate for the fact that three times the amount of flooring has now had to be used we will be forced to abandon our plan to lay the remainder, of which there is insufficient, in the utility area and instead run the reclaimed wood through into it. Aesthetically this solution is perhaps more favourable but its the practicality of it which concerns us. However, as long as the plumber manages to do his job (bearing in mind that historically he has been better at creating waterfalls than sealants) we should be ok.
More concerning news is that of the budget which will, if the forecast holds, shortly tip over quite dramatically into the red. I offered S my reassuring words of comfort based on a decision I came to this afternoon.
“I think we should do as my sister has advised and simply tell C that he has to sand the boards in the hallway, never mind this ‘going the wrong way’ stuff. He has baulked at things before, the reclaimed flooring in particular, and look what happens. ..its totally fine. So we should just tell him.”
“You may be right” S mused.
I embellished to cement my point. “You see, the thing is we simply cant affford tiles. I’d love them, perhaps at a later date, but for now its an expense we just cant afford.”
“You see the thing is pet” S responded in the tone of voice I use on O when I tell him for the umpteenth time not to go in the kitchen cupboards, “there hasn’t been money in the budget for tiles from day one so I’m astounded that you keep trying to persist.”
I let the reprimand sail over me and continued on with more encouraging news.
“At least though, we won’t be spending a fortune on frames as I cleaned out a few more charity shops of their best ones today. So I’ve saved us a lot of money there.”
“Again, pet, we have never had money in the budget for frames of any sort so whatever you are spending on them will take us over.”
I sighed. . . and I thought I was doing so well.
The sanding begins