I’ve been rather slack at writing over the last fortnight due to us doing exactly what we’d always hoped we would do once the Pebbledashed Pad was ‘finished’ ….and that’s receiving guests. Of course I say ‘finished’ knowing full well that you probably understand by now that S and I both interpret the term very differently.
He feels we’re done.
I think we’re almost done but hell, why not start the whole process again?
Cue all kinds of ideas brewing for the re-redecoration of upstairs to include going the full hog with Stiffkey Blue in the master bedroom as per my recent post.
But back to our visitors.
First to arrive was my Dad and his wife….followed by my aunt and Cousin Z who, some of you may remember from early posts, has contributed both artistry and thoughtful opinion to the refurb thus far. So whilst both my aunt and cousin were well acquainted with our Pad (though admittedly my aunt saw the place last when it was a warren of mouse-infested damp rooms so her enthusiasm for its transformation felt like reward indeed) my Dad had not experienced the PebbledashedPad in any shape or form other than this virtual one. So their visit ranked, for me, as A Pretty Big Deal.
Let me explain.
They own a rather lovely and very comfortable villa abroad and my Dad, having travelled both land and sea in his busy working years…and by sea I do mean the very blackest depths aided by breathing apparatus, compressed air and, more often than not, a divers bell….is now shall we politely call a homebody…. much to the frustration of his ever patient wife who is eager to Get Away From It All and actually holiday. In fairness his resistance to cross the water might also be exaberated by the fact that in the past I’ve not really been able to offer a particularly ideal ‘holiday’ destination. Memories of the decidedly unhospitable conditions they encountered last time they took up an invitation to “come for an early Christmas” most likely still haunt….
It was at a time pre-husband-and-son and I had just embarked upon the full redecoration of a 70’s built flat. Their arrival coincided not with its scheduled completion but rather at the beginnings of what turned out to be an ugly dispute with the contractor who at that point had swanned off to Dubai leaving me with no kitchen, no flooring, not much of a bathroom, a flooded boiler and pretty much no roof. Every inch of the flat was either under water or dust and so we ate most of our meals…either takeaways or ‘picnics’…cross legged on the only dry patch we could find… their bed. Needless to say my Dad returned pretty swiftly to steer me through a legal battle and correct all the builders had done wrong …and believe it or not much fun was had in the process (it’s in the genes you see) but this time around I was convinced that if I even so much as looked in the direction of the tool cupboard I might set them both running all the way back to Gatwick.
But old habits die hard.
“Can you fix this, Grandad?” O asked proffering a severed part of a Fireman Sam plaything. “It’s Fireman Sam’s hose” he embellished. “I cut it with scissors.”
“Ah” said my Dad taking it from him “that would explain its current state. But Grandad Bob is very good at fixing things.”
“Grandad Bob is very good at fixing things” agreed Nanny Ann.
“People come from far and wide bringing me impossible cases…but usually Grandad Bob can sort it. He’s a very good fixer.”
(Did I tell you that Grandad Bob is also very modest?)
Despite it falling into the ‘impossible’ category the hose was indeed miraculously fixed …but the more I watched the more my resolve to protect them both from my own DIY requests weakened.
Finally I broke.
“If you are as good as you say….” I began “I wonder if you can fix this impossible thing?” and to the lounge I went to retrieve a tall wooden sculpture which hadn’t survived the move, over two years ago, from our flat to this house. Devastatingly it hadn’t even survived the original journey 15 years previous from Zimbabwe (where I had gleefully acquired it) to Heathrow but back then I had managed to make a pretty decent job of glueing it back together. (Those genes again?) This time around, with so much more competition for my time, it had stood abandoned in a corner looking unloved and forlorn.
My dad, true to his claim, really is a good fixer and helped by an eager apprentice, some strong wood glue and a colourful selection of bungees he carefully pieced the scuplture back together again.
But by now the floodgates were open…
“Um….” I began tentatively, “actually there is something else you could help me with…unless you wanted to go out somewhere of course?”
“I’m happy to stay in and DIY….” Dad offered.
Eagerly I continued.
“That breeze block wall….I’ve bought some reed screening to cover it which needs to go up. Then I got some Grow Your Own posters from Ebay which I thought I’d paste onto that old ply if you can help me cut it, and I’ll coat them with yacht varnish. Then I’ll hang them on the wall.”
“That sounds ….like it won’t work” my Dad warned, echoing his son-in-law who had expressed a similar view.
“Really? Even with yacht varnish? I mean….its for boats….?”
“I’ll be honest…I haven’t got high hopes.”
Despite his warning we proceeded regardless. The screening was expertly applied using some 2″x1″ salvaged from a neighbouring skip and nail extraction techniques perfected by the young apprentice brandishing a pair of his Daddy’s pliers to which he had become so attached “he would eat his soup with them” my Dad had commented “if we let him”.
And guess what? Just as the men about the house had prophesied, my hairbrained scheme didn’t really work. The posters bubbled, the varnish streaked and the first sign of rain played havoc with the edge where paper met wood which, despite care and attention, simply wouldn’t seal.
And those posters? Well. I figured they could stay until they, er, die. Which won’t be long….