Yesterday was an amazingly productive day out at the house. And today I ache all over. Not as much as I’d feared though, so I guess I’m toughening up a little!

Finally, I got to use tools! I am now quite confident in the use of the electric screwdriver, a pair of sort of pliers with a wonk (don’t know the real name of it but the handles are on an angle to the head – you grip a recalcitrant screw with the head and use the long handles as a lever to turn it when a screwdriver won’t work, plus an assortment of implements for bashing at concrete and chipping tiles off walls. Much fun was had, and much achieved. Everything is now out of the bathroom, so we’re down to removing the rest of the layered flooring (discoveries: 1950s or 60s lino, a blob of furry blue carpet under the loo – ew!) and then it’ll be onto getting rid of the damn Artex. Who came up with the idea for that stuff anyway? There is no excuse for it!

We had a skip delivered yesterday too, and even though we weren’t really even trying to fill it, it’s now half full. Suspect we may go through quite a few of these, especially in the next few weeks!

The exciting discovery for the day was a patch of ancient wallpaper which was revealed when we peeled away some of the hanging Artex (a lot of it has been very badly applied, so where there’s a gap you can just grab it and pull it away) in the hall outside the bathroom. It looks like it could be made of leather and has a beautiful design – hoping I can gently remove some of the surroundings and see more of it. It’s on an original wall so could be any age back to 1830 or thereabouts.

Wallpaper detail

The huge achievement for the day was getting rid of the whole of the bathroom that was in the ground-floor back room (to be the kitchen) – so much space now! We unscrewed stuff, ripped off panelling, chipped tiles off walls and Djeli manfully stepped in and dealt with the absolutely disgusting toilet. SO glad we bought a steam cleaner – it’s just wonderful to know that every inch of the house will be sterilised before we do anything on top of it! So the kitchen space is now basically clear and my job over Friday and Saturday will most likely be to get it as clean as possible – removing Artex and normal wallpaper from walls, replacing nails in floorboards and scrubbing like a demon, probably. It’ll be great to see it looking like a proper room.


We’ve also come to a conclusion on the bathroom – the shower will indeed be by the window looking out over the garden. I polled the hive brain that is Twitter because I was concerned that a window inside the shower cubicle could be offputting for those of a more modest disposition, but out of 13 responses, not a single one said a categorical no and the majority (6) voted “Love it!”, with 4 opting for “Meh. Don’t really care” and 3 for “Depends”. So now we know where we’re putting the shower, we just need to work out where to position the window for maximum light & air vs maximum privacy. That’s Friday’s challenge.

I also finally got to meet our neighbour of 3 doors up – she’s been doing up another house that was owned by the same guy who desecrated our place and she’s nearly finished it. And WOW. It’s gorgeous! She’s got a wonderful carpenter in who managed to duplicate the original newelposts (?) and handrail to restore the stairway. He’s also built absolutely lovely bookcases in her sitting room and I think we may need to steal him once he’s done redecorating the house she’s living in at the moment (apparently her plan is to move into the house she’s doing up once it’s done then redecorate and rent out her current house). Really interesting to see some of the changes she’s made too – in particular, she’s put the kitchen in the basement, and extended the basement out to make a beautiful dining area, with a skylight and big french doors out to a little patio with a couple of steps up to the garden proper. It’s going to be gorgeous and I am SO jealous! Also jealous that while cleaning up the place, she discovered that most of the fireplaces in her house were intact. I suspect they’re not in ours as only one room had a fireplace boarded over – the rest seem to be proper plaster, which is a shame because her fireplaces are fascinating – all quite different and the basement even has the original kitchen fireplace! It was really interesting to see that it was quite as plain as I’d expected it to be, while upstairs has slightly more decorative mantelpieces, mostly with very ornate Victorian grates (probably updated later, although it’s hard to tell as these houses were built right on the Regency/Victorian cusp. It’s possible her house is a little younger than ours though as it has more exterior decoration whereas ours is plain as plain can be on the outside).

The biggest problem at the moment is the lack of working loos in the place. Obviously, this is mostly a problem for me as to use my Granny’s oh-so-elegant phrase, Djelibeybi (being a boy) is “built for a picnic”. While there are public loos about, they’re a decent walk away, and while the good people of the town are just lovely and helpful when it comes to letting grubby individuals use their facilities (the security guy at the Civic Centre on Sunday even cheerily unlocked the loos for me to use them!) I don’t want to abuse their kindness. Yesterday, finishing quite late, I walked the 7-8 minutes down to the station, only to find those loos were shut. Walked another 5 minutes to the shopping centre and down the stairs – those ones were shut too. Our estate agents had long since left for the day, and I ended up having to head back via McDonalds, but the whole thing took about half an hour’s walking and totally finished me off, which is just insane. So I’m petitioning Djeli to get the plumber to reconnect the outside loo so it flushes and once that’s done I will Domestos it to within an inch of its life so I can actually use it (although it has to be said that that loo is less repellent than the ones inside the house were – I guess it didn’t get used that much with the garden being all full of triffid). So that’s my new campaign – loos for workers!

Today I’m home to get some client work done and recover a little – back to the house on Friday and Saturday!

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