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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

bathroom taps

Can't decide on what bath filler to have. How can buying a flipping tap be such a show stopper? And how can a tap cost £2000? Is it just me? Ok, so our budget is limited, this might be why it irks so much, but honestly, it's a tap!

anyway, the tap we did buy, online, looked great on the net - it also looks nice in the box. but take it out, put it in our bathroom and stand it near our bath and it looks like something off a steam train. it's huge! like a fountain of chrome and levers. that's what £200 gets you.

'if it looks too good to be true, it probably is'.
Hmmm. not sure what to do, but it's taken 2 weeks of indecision, and still can't decide. Peter, our very patient builder has been very tolerant, but now needs to be able to close up the ceiling downstairs (for the kitchen) and to do that he needs to know which tap he's plumbing in.

this whole project is fast deteriorating into chaos. We've seen a tap 'the' tap we love. but even that is a grand. ie a grand over our budget which is already over budget..

i'm starting to think, sod it, let's do it. i could just see that approach leading to bankruptcy..

anyone got a gorgeous tap going free we could have (please?).

next up - bifold doors. agh!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Quick, tidy the house, the cleaner's coming!

I had a fantastic lady who helped me with the house work once a week, in my old house, my lovely shiny white box of a minimalist home. The one I no longer live in. The one I've swapped for an old wreck and a  ridiculous mortgage we can't afford, which is costing us a fortune to try and fix, and which still looks like a derelict squat. 

In moving to my new home it was immediately apparent I would not be able to use her services for the forseeable future because, frankly, where would she start? 

I hope at a future point (when, I have no idea) that I can offer her employment once again. But pending that happy day, and wanting to assuage some guilt I'm harbouring, I've invited her over for a cup of tea tomorrow. 

This has led to a spate of extra zealous dust swiping on my part. The fact there are no carpets, dirty old creaky floor boards and grime filled skirting, holes in walls and lightbulbs hanging bare from the ceilings is secondary to the first impression that i am trying to create upon her ie. that the house is fundamentally 'clean'. Clean meaning 'I'm coping' (I'm not).

So for a fair portion of this evening, I left my preschoolers to their own devices (thank goodness for FreeSat and TinyPops) in order to wipe down the dust (again), clean the builders bog, and straighten up the boxes we're still unable to unpack following the house move. 

It's struck me that I've always been like this: felt a need to clean before the cleaner comes. Even when it's just a social visit. 

Surveying the house, I'm not sure whether she'll notice first the gleaming side board, or the handle - less interior doors. 

She probably won't notice either. She's far too nice. And she is just coming for a cup of tea after all. I've bought some nice biscuits.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

scratched bath

Came home today to find that the builders have put skirting board around the width of the bathroom (despite specifying this to be tiled from wall to floor). They've cut the existing tiles to make room for the skirting. And we don't have any more tiles left. This is not good. 
Worse still, the £2300 bath we bought (a blow the budget whim; after a bottle of wine) has nicks and scratches around it. Having told the builders to protect it while working around it, even saying it again this morning, I sat on the newly plumbed in loo to stare directly at a new lot of white lines glaring back at me from the bath. It's starting to feel a bit depressing: the experience of spending a fortune on a bathroom that is looking cheaper by the day and having what should be a beautiful bath, looking 2nd hand before it's even had water poured in it. What can you do?
Don't know, is the answer. Feel a bit fed up. after a long day trying to entertain the kids, with husband out tonight Alice is still upstairs (8.30pm) crying out for 'a huggle'. 
Think I need a holiday. Can't be bothered to do my daily dust swipe tonight. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Don't do it my way

I would not recommend taking on and living in a complete refurbishment project with 2 small children. Actually I would not recommend taking on and living in a complete refurbishment project, full stop. But, if you are going to do it, I would definitely say to you, don't do it with children. Particularly small children. I have 2, alice and william, 2 and 4 years respectively. They are pretty average children, in that they are both quite bonkers, over-energetic, & inimitably cheeky pre-schoolers.
Trying to do anything that requires a modicum of concentration is impossible. An example: we went to choose bathroom tiles at ' topps tiles ' a one stop shop. How difficult could it be? Except while my husband engaged in meaningful conversation with the sales assistant, completely detatched from any parental responsibilities I was left running round after the 2 said children. Both of whom felt it necessary to run at full speed down each aisle, william occasionally getting alice in a neck-lock to halt her progress; both thought it funny to try and get out into the loading bay complete with moving heavy goods vehicles, every time my attention was drawn to a tile or two. My reaction to these antics, resentful of my full time childcare role the other 5 days of the week, was to follow my husbands example and check out the tile ranges without regard to the kids. Of course, I  secretly wondered at what point he'd notice the children were with us. So off I went. The result? William racing over to me shouting 'mummy, mummy! Alice has banged her head and fallen over'. Me rushing to find my little toddler, sprawled on the floor and groggy. She was suffering concussion, having run and bumped her head on the floor. I felt terrible. It was very frightening. And served me right I know. I can only say from my own experience that guilt seems to be a huge part of what being a mother is about. After a shaky few moments and screeching at my husband for help (or just some moral support please), Alice was fine.
I nonetheless felt awful. Awful for wanting to have freedom for one moment to look at the tiles (sounds ridiculous even as I type that sentence). Awful that one of my motivations was resentment at my husband's ability to relegate all responsibility to me, wherever we are, when it comes to the kids. Awful that Alice got concussion (it only happens to us!).
Once we established Alice was fine, the car journey home was that bickering blaming exercise of who should have done what and who didn't do such and such. Not a particularly noble response to the fear that our gorgeous daughter might have done serious damage to herself because, for one reason and another we both wanted 5 minutes 'off' to select a bathroom tile. Silly isn't it.
Through the chaos we somehow managed to choose the tiles. But it's not the way to do it really. Is it.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

What are the chances of me getting an allotment?

Following on from my zealous garden efforts, I've just applied to join the waiting list for local garden allotments. I have a latent memory that 'no one ever gets an allotment', that ' the list for an allotment is 10 years long', that 'you get evicted from your allotment plot if you don't maintain it'..  but despite these putting-off gems of received wisdom donated by friends in recent years I've gone ahead and put my name down. So will it be 1 year or 10 years. Either way I'll be under 50. Still plenty of gardening time left in me. And how cool to have a garden allotment. Where I can make my mistakes, grow some interesting things, take the kids. Recall the Arfurr of Eastenders fame. Hopefully a better ending awaits me.

Just thought I'd mention it. It's an exciting phase. Any tips on how to get up the list quicker, from anyone who's got an allotment already much appreciated!. ta ever so.

Dans le Jardin, or, 'mud, mud, glorious mud'

Spent the day in the garden. My efforts comprise hoeing all the weeds into infinity. It's a boring job yet strangely satisfying to reveal what's underneath all the weeds, ivy and various bits of debris which has been tossed into the garden since 1901. Soil. that's what all my efforts result in revealing. The sciatica I've developed in the last few months due to the 75degree posture I adopt is well worth it. it's a rectangular garden 70 by 45 ft. grass in the middle and 2 wide borders running down the length. due to the width of the borders (about 6ft) the amount of soil I'm uncovering is disproportionate to the amount of grass or any other form of vegetation in the garden. to any one else, the garden still looks a delapidated messy project. To me, it's becoming a very satisfying piece of therapy. I can block out anything else in my mind, all other distractions become secondary, and away I go. The hoe, the rake and the shears are my only friends. And I love it. the range of things i can do to this blank canvass in time (and budget permitting) stretch before me. Paving, grassing, a shed!, some plants, some veggies, and maybe a chicken or 3 (I've spotted one of those eggloos while out recently and I can visualise it already going into the space currently occupied by the garden waste and original fireplace from the front room (how could they rip it out?! ).  the garden is my oyster. can't wait to get to grips with it.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A woman's work...: the big build

A woman's work...: the big build: "So, we moved into our 'new' house 8 weeks ago. Except it's not new in any sense of the word. It's an Edwardian wreck. a project, with potent..."

A woman's work...: la salle du bain (bathroom)

A woman's work...: la salle du bain (bathroom): "8 weeks on, & still the bathroom is not yet finished. But it's soo close I can almost feel myself indulging in a big huge enveloping bath, a..."

la salle du bain (bathroom)

8 weeks on, & still the bathroom is not yet finished. But it's soo close I can almost feel myself indulging in a big huge enveloping bath, a hug of bubbles wafting skyward, big glass of wine & most of all no children in sight. 

As of today, the sash windows are in; the new loo is in; the sink is in; the shower is in; and the bath (a lovely 'tubby tub' roll top!) has feet on and is standing proudly on the tiles. 

The tiles are on the wall, most are grouted, and the same goes for the floor. we've gone for a grey and white theme. white tiles on walls (bit sanitarium, but ok) and cool grey tiles for the floor. having a bit of a problem with the floor standing tap for the bath. it's like a fountain, huge. but budget just doesn't permit replacing it yet. So this huge chrome jet is going to be in place at some point. trying not to let it spoil the image, but will see.

no door to the bathroom as yet, but it's a small consideration all things considered. 

will be wonderful to close off the downstairs 'bog' experience altogether. it's so grim. i cillet bang every surface daily (it really does work). 

I must admit, since moving to this house my ocd tendencies have become increasingly pronounced. the builders look at me like i'm mad, with my marigolds on trying to clean, wipe down and dust each day, only to do exactly the same every day. it is a pointless task. I do know that. I just can't bear the grubbiness and seeing my poor kids playing on the floor only to emerge grey and dusty every time. 

So, roll on that bath. any week now!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

the big build

So, we moved into our 'new' house 8 weeks ago. Except it's not new in any sense of the word. It's an Edwardian wreck. a project, with potential... and a building site, in which I am living with my husband and 2 children under 5. I wouldn't recommend it.

I think it's best to surmise the last few weeks for context. And then bring the story up to the current time so that I can down load my experience as it unfolds in real time.

we moved, boxes, chaos. No kitchen, no bathroom. A downstairs 'bog' which me, the kids and hubby share with the builders. Interesting, grim. not least because my newly toilet trained 2 year old, keen to test out her new skills, proclaims 'wee wee mummy!' 15 times daily. And off we go, to the bog, a thin partition wall between me and the builders and said child. It's just not nice. And then, if i use the opportunity to use the loo at the same time, my daughter provides a running commentary on my activities, ' wee wee mummy? no? yes? poo poo?' (No!) ' no? wee wee? ... yayyy mummy wee wee, yayyy' (clapping) ' better mummy?'. God alone knows what the polish builders make of it.

we have a temporary kitchen set up in the back reception. rickety table, padlocked back door, and the life and grime of the previous 100 years firmly ingrained in every nook, cranny and broken tile or floorboard. my 4 year old son proclaimed happily that he ' loves the outside of the house, the red brick, but (he) doesn't  like the dirty inside of the house'. I know how he feels.

more tomorrow.