Sunday 27 February 2011

The ceiling leaks again

Between three different sets of guests and Islay’s 16 mile marathon training run we weren’t able to fit too much work in this past weekend.  Chief achievement these past days was to rip out the manky and dank smelling cupboard from the family/media room and take it to the tip.  Doing so revealed some musty smelling carpet of an entirely different pattern to the rest of the room and some strange expanses of blown plaster on the back wall - we concluded we’ll have to get a plasterer in to strip some of it back and make good the rest.

On the very positive side I finally took delivery of my new projector.  I had intended to clean, fill and paint the appropriate wall of the media room, but with blown plaster and guests I just didn’t.  I was finally allowed to fire up the new toy at 11.30 on Saturday night and despite a filthy yellow wall and masses of keystone correction, I was stunned by the quality of the picture.  TV will never be the same again.

Of course by 9am today I wasn’t feeling quite so chirpy when we discovered that Islay’s assiduous sealing of the shower tray wasn’t quite enough and water was dripping into the hall after our morning showers.  I suspect it’s because the tile grouting has gone, so perhaps more work than anticipated will be needed.

Friday 25 February 2011

Why bother finishing the plastering when you can just cover it up with chipboard bookshelves?

Wednesday 23 February 2011

DIY begins

So we’re in now, the boxes are mostly cleared and most things are unpacked.  And now the fixing up starts.  Here’s what we’ve done in the last ten days:

  • Islay’s done more cleaning than I can comprehend, including attacking limescale with screwdrivers, bleach and a jutting jaw of determination.  The cloakroom taps now gleam where once they, er, didn’t.

  • Islay’s also resealed the en-suite shower cubicle, after four showers in rapid succession left a damp patch spreading across the hall ceiling she hacked it back with (again) a screwdriver and a jutting jaw and neatly resealed it.  The damp patch seems to be getting drier.

  • I spent £80 on rock wool rolls and, together with my dad, tackled insulating the loft above Ula’s room, disposing of a wasp’s nest in the process.  The loft space is now basically full of insulation.  We can’t tell if it’s making much difference as the weather is changing so much.  I’ve still quite a lot of loft space to go, but in order to do that we need to insulate the pipes and water tanks and get the timbers checked for wood boring insect.  That work’s on hold for now.

  • And with a screwdriver in my hand I’ve set about dismantling the extensive shelving at the back of the family room.  I had to dig numerous screw heads out from behind filler (missing three in the process that left holes in the ceiling).  The interesting discoveries so far are that there is a corner of the room previously hidden that was left unplastered for reasons we can’t determine, and the existence of some strange, small, regular holes in the ceiling that may or may not correspond to small damp patches on the top of the top bits of wood.  Further advice is needed.

  • We’ve also compiled a list of jobs both small and large, drawn from the survey and from our desires.  The list seems to do nothing but grow at the moment as we come to appreciate quite what Brien, our entertaining surveyor, meant when he said that the house was of merely average quality construction throughout.

Still the broadband is finally up and running, the house is plenty warm enough and I’m sleeping better than I’ve slept in years, so it’s not all work.

Saturday 12 February 2011

From out of the boxes

Now that we live in the country, I decided to try to sleep last night with the curtains open so that the first light of the day might wake us.  Instead, neither Islay nor I slept well, minds churning with the enormity of the job we have just taken on and every time I woke the blackness outside the window consumed my view.

A cup of tea later and things felt a little better, so we started, once my dad had turned up to help with Ula babysitting, to unpack the kitchen.

But it took ages.  Just a seemingly non-stop grind of moving boxes around, steadily unpacking them and discarding mountains of wrapping paper, putting items on the side so that Islay could find an appropriate cupboard and then breaking the boxes to lay them flat in the hall.

By the end of the day we could see most of the kitchen floor and the pile of boxes in the hallway had grown to knee height.

Today’s delightful discovery was a pungent smell of oil from the cupboard next to the Aga, I don’t think that’s normal - must get a service booked.  More positively, a couple of very friendly neighbours popped around, providing yet more wine.  I like this village life.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Moving [in] day

Yazz had pretty much cleaned home, Doris, the old house, whatever we’re supposed to call it now top to bottom by the time we pitched up at 8.30.  A brief poke around the empty place, some tears (from Islay) and showing a trepidatious looking Dick around his new home and we were off again.

Walnut Tree House was nearly quiet when I arrived, a nervous looking Simon and Sarah finalising the cleaning and leaving of their own childhood home and the claggy fog of a February day.  They left just at Butch, Jon and Julian pitched up and reversed their vans, shouting at each other, into the drive.

It was pretty intimidating to walk through the new house in its empty state.  With each room unfurnished the fairly careworn state of the place was abundantly clear - “not so much tired as exhausted” as Betsy commented.  And as the rooms filled up with cardboard boxes, furniture and dirt tracked across the carpet it only became more intimidating.

I busied myself erecting furniture so that we could have somewhere to sleep for the night.

Some of the neighbours popped round to be social, and by the end of the day we wound up with three bottles of wine, a freshly baked Victoria sponge cake and a loan fridge courtesy of Denise.

Dinner was fish and chips on the table, loomed over by cardboard and grime, still feeling a bit rootless.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Moving [out] day

Drizzle and tea.  And a chance to take Ula to the chaos of Church Mice in the morning.

I found moving out to be unaccountably stressful, and I didn’t really have to do much.  The burly removal team rolled up on the dot of 9 - Jon, Julian and the correctly named Butch - and even whilst being shown around the house managed to come down the stairs carrying boxes to load on the lorry.  They seemed to work slowly, but the volume of boxes in the house went down and the volume of boxes on the lorry went up in a simple monotonic process.  Yet I fretted.  Worried about whether it would all fit, worried about how much would break, worried about whether they’d finish in time.

Islay despatched me to Church Mice to spend two hours with carousing toddlers and friendly mums, which helped calm me.  Then we left them to it, spending the afternoon at Granny’s whilst the guys slowly stacked it into lorries.

We had more stuff than anyone predicted.  The abiding image of the day was watching the three of them pushing hard on the back of a truck to get the door to close and hold back the mattresses that threatened to topple over them.  And they had to send for another van to get the stuff from the storage unit.

But then, an empty and quiet house and a night in limbo.

Monday 7 February 2011

Boxes consume the kitchen

Life in the boxes

D-day minus four and I’m sitting in the lounge surrounded by bare walls, cardboard boxes and scattered toys.  At then end of this week we’re moving into Walnut Tree House.  We’ll be nearly doubling our living space, more than doubling our mortgage and taking on a list of necessary and desire improvements so long I can’t even begin to think about writing it all down.

This is the biggest life change since the last one (Ula, not yet two years old) and somehow the most daunting.  Life here in Doris is comfortable and easy.  I’ve developed a happy routine and Islay and I have have created a lovely, if slightly drafty home.

And at Walnut Tree House, who knows what new routines will develop?

Like my father, I’m a worrier, so in no particular order, here’s what I’m worried about:

  • There’s so much work to be done, and so much work we’d like to do.  How can we afford to do it, and what will it be like if we can’t

  • I won’t be able to have a beer after work and wobble home from the station on the bike

  • Islay will have no immediate support network, how will she cope?

  • What are we going to with 3/4 of an acre of garden.  At the moment we barely cope with a tiny patio, now we’re getting so much lawn we need two mowers, an unmaintained tennis court and a vegetable patch bigger than our current back yard.

  • I like walking into town when I’ve nothing better to do of a weekend, what will I do instead?

Ah well. The die is cast now, on Friday unspeakable sums of money will shuffle between bank accounts, and fifty boxes and crates will bounce in vans the 15 miles from here to there.  And when that’s done we’ll have to get on with answering the worries above, not worrying about them.