Cutting Corners: Wk 24 – Day One

It would appear the rose heard me…

On returning home from our holiday we discovered the rose to which to I so dismissively referred last week currently residing on Death Row….a section of the garden destined for a radical chop in order to provide O and S with a football-friendly lawn (my sister, a mother of four, has verified that prickly things pop footballs as well as fingers) …was blooming in protest of its fate. Its flowers, as large as saucers and smelling charmingly of old ladies talcum powder, looked spectacular… if a little wayward. Guilt washed over me. Perhaps the hard-nosed decision to cut back that corner should be re-thought and instead some cushioning planting installed in front as a kind of ‘crash barrier’? Not words usually associated with gardens, I admit, but given the ratio of male to female in the household at present and the number of sport related items that will undoubtably encourage….my sister has claimed no less than ten balls ever reside within a family with boys….and I justify both my choice of language and the direction of my thinking….goodbye to frilly and froufrou and hello to hard wearing and resilient. And with that in mind looking at our garden design dilemma a different way…at least the rose has a fair chance of fighting back.

But with the house receiving its first guest this week, thoughts of the garden cannot be indulged for long and instead must be diverted to the spare room and the conundrum we find there…

The bedroom, following an hours heaving about by S, is now free of any reminder of its brief stint as a kitchen with the units having been transferred instead to the driveway out front. Shut away inside the house I forget sometimes how awful the house must appear to our neighbours opposite…people whom reside in the childhood house of today’s curtain pole measurer who, mid calculation, announced “I used to live in that house when I was six.” Thankfully the neighbours all seem supportive and sympathetic whilst living in hope, I’m sure, that one day they will be able to pull back their curtains and be a greeted by a sight more favourable than an incrementally growing rubbish tip. In the meantime needs must and with the bedroom now empty and the walls plastered (whilst we were away…result) we can now turn our hand to converting it back into the welcoming guest bedroom we would like it to be. We have, I must confess here, cut a few corners as in a belated bid to save pennies we opted to plaster only the artexed ceiling and the wall affected by the bite the bathroom has taken from the room. The three remaining walls have been left untouched, one of which is in pristine condition having been ‘dot and dabbed’ by the previous owners (possibly to muffle noise from next door though as this isn’t intrusive its an odd length to go to) and the other two covered with lining paper. We had hoped that with a bit of filler and the texture of the Earthborn paint (working with us in this instance rather than against) we could get away with the shortcut. Its doubtful…

“We should have plastered throughout” S said as he surveyed the empty room, “some of the paper is peeling off…” He pointed to a corner, previously hidden behind a unit, which had started to reveal the crusty wall beneath.
“Should we strip the paper then?” I asked “or would that mean we then just have to plaster it anyway? Or perhaps we just stick that paper down, paint and get it operational?”
I had earmarked Thursday for the job with Earthborn’s ‘Eiderdown’ ordered whilst on holiday and with it already on its way I was eager to crack on….
S picked at the paper and rubbed at the wall below.
“It might be ok” he said eventually “it might not need plastering. That Earthborn covers a multitude of sins..”
I looked back at him, eager for a decision.
“What shall we do then?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged tiredly “We’ll decide later”
“It needs to be ready by Friday….” I pressed.
“I know pet. And today is Monday. Plenty of time”

With his yin balancing my yang….or whichever way round it is….I nodded my agreement but it was with reluctance. My impatience, always bubbling away under the surface, had been stoked over the weekend not just by the need to get the bedroom ready but also due in no small part to the disappointment felt on arriving home from our break to discover once again that K appears unable to ever fully complete a job. Furnished with a list of the snagging still left to do in the bathroom K used the time we were away to do a bit of it. The cabinets are, finally, on the wall but not in the position I’d asked. The hand-held showerhead for the shower cubicle is still not fitted and neither are the radiator taps. I’m trying to stop myself from counting the number of weeks it has taken for the bathroom to be installed but I know ill be shocked at the number so am resisting. Just.
“Try not to stress…its all doable” said S on Sunday, trying his best to soothe.
“It’s like pulling teeth” I retorted as I ground mine. “Does he not want this job to be finished? Does he like coming over here every bloody week to do fiddly little bits?”
I banged a few things about and realising that wasn’t really making me feel better but only making everyone else feel worse I took a few breaths instead. In truth it isn’t just K holding up the bathroom sign-off. We still need to embark upon the task of sanding back the window frame (my job) and having also decided to fashion a shelf using some of our leftover maple floor from the kitchen S has a project on the horizon too. Yet right now, with both of us grappling with a list of other tasks needing our more immediate attention I may just have to make do. (The twisted logic of being willing to paint over peeling paper but not make do with the bathroom’s state of incompleteness is not lost on me, by the way. But there it is. )

Another job that we know we should do but may need to find a temporary alternative is the replacement of our fence. Whilst the right hand one is fairly sound, having been replaced by our neighbour at some point in the fairly recent past, the other side… our responsibility….hasn’t been replaced in its entirety for quite some time. Much like the joke about an heirloom spade which is boasted to have been in the family for over 100 years and whose handle had been replaced only four times and whose iron end had been replaced just three, our fence has had numerous isolated replacements and additions with the result that it now looks like something lashed together by Robinson Crusoe. Today I caused the delicate structure, as well as myself, even more stress as, with the front door having blown shut behind me (O thankfully with his hand in mine), I was forced to knock shamefaced at our neighbours door and ask permission to scramble over said buckling fence in order to regain entry to the house through the (blessedly) open back door. As I clambered over using the diseased pear tree as support (and thankfully well away from the rose) I realised that the extra foot holes now made within the rotten fence slats may mean that our plans to do our own version of ‘dot and dabbing’ ….using some sort or reed or bamboo screening to mask the fence’s fragile unsightliness…may no longer be a feasible short term, never mind long term option.

Lessons here? Short cuts are probably not worth the effort. Developing a little more patience probably is…..







3 thoughts on “Cutting Corners: Wk 24 – Day One

  1. Another brill blog Mel…the roses look wonderful quite an old fashioned type especially as it has a good scent. Maybe a ruthless cutting back in the winter may do the trick. The other plant in bud looks like a paeony, that’s another old fashioned type of plant with lovely big flowers Mam used to have them in the garden so holds fond memories for me. Hope you are all ok and settling back in after your hol’s and looking forward to seeing your Mam, give her our love,

    Love to you.. S & O xxX

    • Ah yes… I wondered if they were peaonies… A few have opened and they are gorgeous. Think we will have to keep them both… ! X

  2. Rose is pretty. i must say its the only prikly plant in my gardern. But “old ladies talcum powder”? is that suposed to smell nice..!!! Maybe buy a new one that smells nice and put it nearer house and away from lawn!! Or dig that one up and move it somewhere “ball save”.!!

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