14 February 2023

On the tiles

I have been having some work done on my guest bedroom. Having had painters in to strip some woodchip off the walls, replaster and then paint, I still have one alcove unfinished. It is a small alcove with a wash basin in it. I want it tiled round the three surrounding walls and round the basin itself.  It is not a massive job and the tiling is only 2.65 square metres.

Finding a tiler to do that work has been like looking for the Loch Ness monster. They're either too busy, or don't bother to answer my approach to them or, in one case, quote an exorbitant price in the hope I'll go away. Bear in mind, I will provide and already have the tiles, one quote just for labour was £800.  Seriously? At this rate, I may end up attempting to tile it myself. 

04 February 2023

Taming the Wilderness

My daughter Kay and her fiance Darcy (not real names obviously) have been living in their first owned home for three months now. They both have extremely busy, tiring and arduous jobs which take up most of their time and energy, so have little time for anything else. 

The house is an Edwardian terrace in a quiet road just off the  High Street. The previous owner was an elderly lady who has gone into a care home.  The house is in a bit of state, which is why Kay and Darcy were able to afford it, as London property prices are easily three times and often seven times those in other English cities and towns. Despite the high price tag, it needs a hell of a lot of work on it. Not a lot has been done to it in the last 50 years I reckon. There is only one electrical socket in each room, so badly needs rewiring. The plumbing is in a state and the antiquated central heating needs replacing. There is a downstairs bathroom and a miniscule bathroom upstairs which is little more than a toilet cubicle with a shower squashed in, so there are plans to make the upstairs bathroom bigger and move the boiler on the landing downstairs to make room for it.

So far, Kay and Darcy have painted the kitchen cupboard doors to make the kitchen brighter. Originally it had very dark hand-made mahogany cupboards, but now is a peaceful light blue which has cheered the kitchen up no end. No other major work has started yet, because they are both so busy with their careers. 

The front garden, tiny as it is, was so overgrown, that the internet provider could not get in to put his ladder up to connect them to the internet and went away, cursing that they would need to address the garden before he would return. I managed to hire a gardener to prune a tree, dig a trench of earth away from the house that was blocking vital air vents  and remove a tiny pond (yes, there was one in the front garden and the garden is only about 10 feet by five feet!!). The internet man returned and wifi was finally installed in early January.

Over three separate days, Kay and I have tackled the back garden together.  It too was badly in need of some tender loving care and looked like a wilderness.  I could picture the prince hacking his way through the forest to get to the sleeping beauty. You get the idea. Virginia Creeper had grown up the back of the house as high as the roof and spread across the upstairs windows so you could not see out. It had even spread across to the neighbour's windows upstairs. Ivy bushes lined both borders to the left and right and had grown to a height of about 12 feet, so badly needed chopping back. There were all manner of dead bushes and two fruit trees ( a pear and an apple) that were so shallowly planted, they rocked from side to side. Brambles had soared 15 feet high and tangled into trees, ivy and bushes, so it needed a brain surgeon to painstakingly pick through what branch belonged to what. We filled bag upon bag of garden waste and made many trips to the local tip. There is still a lot to do. 

There is a pond that takes up most of the back garden. There is no lawn at all but a tiny path that meanders through the wilderness and around the pond.  I almost fell in it the first time I visited, as the brambles and ivy had completely covered the pond, so i did not know it was there! But it is stagnant and full of brown rotting apples that float across its surface. That's a job for another day. We keep discovering all sorts of metal objects - two rusting cockerels, a lobster, dragonfly and a flowerpot man to name a few. I'm  sure we'll find more.

There's still a quarter of the garden to tackle, but that involves more brambles, more ivy, a dilapidated shed and what looks like a fox or badger hole that burrows diagonally down into the centre of the earth. We have seen two foxes brazenly stroll across the back fence during daytime, so we assume that is their home, but hopefully for not much longer, as we have barricaded the hole up with bramble cuttings. They'll have to use an alternative exit in future.

a corner of the garden before

A few hours later