Having grown accustomed to snuggles after our weekend of feeling in the wars it was to the sofa O scrambled again this morning, waiting expectantly for me to join him. Time on our side, I cuddled up next to him having first selected a handful of books. None of my literary offerings apparently made the grade.
“The Gruffalo?” I asked
He shook his head.
“Crunching Munching Caterpillar?”
He shook his head.
“Peppa Pig, who Daddy says looks like a hairdryer?”
He shook his head again. The three books were tossed to the side.
“Ah this is a good one.” I said. “A Squash and a Squeeze”. Perhaps we should have taken note of the wise old mans words a year ago as apparently to address the problem of having “not enough room in my house” its not actually a new, (pebbledashed) address thats needed. The suggestion instead is to fill your house with farmyard animals who wreak havoc about the place after which, when you let them go, you discover the house was big enough after all. A lesson learnt…but not apparently today. It was dismissed with a bat of O’s hand and dinosaur stickering took preference.
After later dropping O at nursery, picking up a couple of bathroom tile samples, visiting the doctor, picking up my course of antibiotics and attempting unsuccessfully to buy one more tin of paint I arrived home ready to fall back into bed. As my key turned in the lock C was already taking his in-breath, abandoning traditional greetings and instead hitting me on entering with a description of how the PTFE he was wrapping around a snake shaped pipe would probably not solve a problem I didn’t know we had. PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, Google explained later, is a a ‘synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene’. Enlightened, I noted that it didn’t sound very green. However, ethical values have a tendency to take a backseat when you have a leaking loo so after making appreciative noises that he was going out of his way to fix a problem he actually isn’t officially contracted to deal with, I retreated to the relatively dust-free haven of our bedroom. I have mentally congratulated ourselves on many occasions for having the foresight last year to decorate ours and O’s room but never more so than these last few days. I crawled beneath the duvet, shut the door and closed my eyes to the world for a couple of delicious hours.
Later, feeling refreshed from my kip I snuck downstairs to pick up the order form for some splashback tiles which had been delivered in error. C heard my footsteps, as quiet as I tried to make them be, and grunted at me from the doorway to the kitchen.
“Er…do you want to look at this door?”
Grateful for the time he has spent saving me the backache of sanding the larder door myself I obliged. The hard work has most definitely been done though parts of it, namely the beading around the panels, will need to meet a couple of applications of the eco stripper at a later date. I thanked him and made a mental note to ask him to do the same on the upstairs doors. That would be one headache gone, if only I could relieve the one in my forehead as easily.
Frustrated at not being able to do any of the physical work that so needs doing I figured I could use my time in bed, ipad on lap, to source and sort and so I arranged a collection of the incorrect tiles and redelivery of the desired ones in addition to ordering flooring samples for the bathroom. I then ventured downstairs again to ask C his opinion on hallway tiles…a trip to Fired Earth giving us (surprising) hope that there might be a cheaper way to tackle tiling the hallway than using Victorian tiles.
“C, can I ask your advice?” I began.
He placed his mug on our brand new radiator, inch deep in MDF dust, and stood tall in advice giving mode.
“Is it possible to tile the hallway on top of these floorboards?”
He shook his head firmly. “Nope”
“Not even with a ply base?” I asked.
He nodded his head, a smile creeping about his lips. “Yeeep. You can do anything you like” he said stabbing his finger downwards towards the floor “As. Long. As. You. Have. A. Ply. Base.”
I nodded my understanding. He continued.
“18ml I’d use in here. It was 12ml in there” he gestured towards the kitchen. “And I’d screw the ply down with the screws in small squares” he demonstrated the kind of size in which he was referring with his two middle fingers “That way the boards are pulled up to the ply and there will be no movement”.
“Ah, thats good.” I said. “The other thing is we like the look of a design with a border. I’m not sure what’s best….we could either have the border running around the perimeter but with this curved step I imagine that might not be an option. Instead I was thinking that maybe we could have a plain tile around the edges and then make a kind of tiled runner from the decorative tiles down the centre of the floor. It would also be cheaper. Do you think that might work?”
He moved from where he had been standing in the snug doorway to the hallway and as he did I sat down on the step. This might take some time.
“The problem with the first option is as you correctly indicated, the curved step but also” he paused for effect “the thresholds.”
“You see?” he asked.
I did. They were set back into each room making a border tile complex to lay. After a fair bit more explanation about why it wouldn’t work and how option 2 might be better he asked to see the tiles. Brochure upstairs I led him up, hesitant as once in the kitchen there is very little I can do to cut short any conversation and get us both back to our respective jobs. Indeed conversation did take a detour, as it so often does, to his previous portfolio.
“I was doing a similar tiling job when I had my car accident” he announced as the kettle boiled.
“Oh gosh, I hope you weren’t hurt” I replied
“No. I was going 3 miles an hour. It was on that really crap day, do you remember it?”
I thought back.
“Narrow it down for me” I said eventually.
“It was really snowy and sleety”
“Ah. There’s been a few of those” I said
“20th January” he said, guessing game concluded. The story not particularly of the accident itself but rather of the requirements of the customer utilising his tiling skills at the time of it continued as I made his coffee. Finally he simply said,
“Yep. Ok” and disappeared back to his woodworking workshop to continue with the utility shelving.
On S’s return he seemed pleased with the progress on the cupboards and larder door but is significantly less so with the Earthborn paint. It went on so promisingly with the mist coat giving excellent coverage but we are now 25 litres in and a coat (at least) away from a finished room. On the fourth day running S donned painting gear and returned, diligently, to the task in hand concentrating his efforts with the remaining half tin of paint on the area where the kitchen will be. It was an exhausted, aching S who ascended the stairs a few hours later, but not one without optimism.
“Pet, this time next week we’ll have a kitchen” he smiled wearily.
Antibiotics or no antibiotics, I’m putting the champagne on ice.