More of the same…

Neil has returned and we are back on the tiles. Neil is anyway…I am still painting trying to get upstairs ready for carpets to be fitted.

The front hallway and utility room, boot room and cloakroom all require tiling so it’s a matter of sticking on the knee pads and just getting on with it. A little bit of maths, a straight edge, a laser and he’s off.

I too am clad in much-needed knee pads (Silverline gel pads from Toolstation which I highly recommend) whilst I paint the skirting installed upstairs along with the architrave and door stops. Painting could or should be therapeutic giving you time to contemplate life, loves, etc. The only thing going around my head is that I will have to do the same amount of painting again once the skirting etc is installed downstairs.

Swear word, swear word!!!!!!!

Despite having lots of time on my own I am way behind on social duties …phoning family, replying to emails, contacting friends with a smiley hello. To be fair, if I sent a smiley hello to some of my friends they would be down here in a flash worried about my mental health. But you get the gist. I am feeling guilty about my lack of communication.

I cannot really account for the time. I do start pretty early – around 0630 rise and shine and on the tools as soon as I have had some tea and breakfast – this week I am loving a banana on toast! It’s also a physical job and I am not as fit as I was or as young as I was or as slim as I was or as capable as I hoped I might be! Or in more simple words, I am huffing and puffing my old, fat self up and down ladders trying to get jobs done and it is very tiring.

But …there may be another reason for my lack of contact. My inflatable mattress sits around 8 inches off the ground. Once I sit or lie down on it, I find it incredibly difficult to get back up and not just because I am tired…well you try it. There is no comfortable way to get up…its a matter of flapping and rolling about to eventually end up on my knees. Then I take the form of a Sumo wrestler (minus the oversized loin cloth) and haul myself up. My friend Annie (personal trainer) would tell me I need to work on my core. Maybe so…but actually I just need to sleep on a proper bed.

So …at the end of my working day, I visit Mr. Clooney for a warm hello and cook my dinner, return to the house for a hose-down and refresh, and sit or lie down on the mattress as it’s the only place that is comfortable. And there you have it…me stuck for several hours wondering how I am going to get up again.

And to think, I thought this was something to worry about in old age…Heck, wait a minute.

When does ‘old age’ start?

Knock, knock…

The internal doors have been fitted upstairs. This will be the first time in over a year that there is a door to the site toilet. My whistling career is coming to an end – thankfully!

It’s a very good week for moving things forward. Jonathan is here using his carpentry skills to fit doors, architrave and skirting – upstairs only at this time. Courtney has returned to fit and plumb the bathrooms and radiators – also upstairs.

We did have a moment on site – a minor incident with the plumbing. Courtney switched the water back on after fitting various bathroom items all day. After he headed home and whilst I was still painting, there was a rush of water in the kitchen downstairs. Water poured through one of the holes for the light sockets. I turned the water off, positioned numerous buckets and Courtney returned to site. A small problem with the shower fittings in the bathroom….quickly resolved.

However, I spent the evening trouncing up and down the stairs to see if any more water was escaping…unnecessarily as it happens as Courtney had indeed fixed the problem. But things like this play with your headspace. That night I dreamt that my inflatable mattress had turned into a lilo and I floated down the M5 escorted by a flotilla of white vans.

I told you my dreams are weird.

You may not be surprised to hear that I am still painting – and I have still not finished. In fact the painting will not be finished for weeks as once the skirting and architrave is fitted, I will be starting on the woodwork. When that is done, I have to finish the outside of the building and the garden fence….and it goes on and on and on.

I have incredibly sore wrists and thumbs now and am considering putting in an “injured at work” claim to myself. If this has a long term effect on my almost professional golf swing I will be most upset.

A couple of friends popped by to say hello and view the site for themselves. It was great to get feedback on all the hard work from people who know me well. Susie and Wendy even brought food with them so we lunched al fresco in the carpark sitting on pallets. I am after all an exemplary host.

They appeared very happy with my efforts and weirdly said nothing about the state of my being. Paint splattered hair, face, arms and legs. But I did have to explain why I was using a skipping rope as a belt on my shorts.

Why not, I said…

Dream, dream, dream…

My dreams are going a bit weird here.

I wonder if it’s because of the luxurious accommodation or the fact that I go to bed pretty exhausted and my little brain wanders off into some hopeful land of merriment to keep me cheery.

In one of my dreams I have been asked by some unrecognised wealthy entrepreneur – not someone I know – to build houses wherever I want and give them away to those that need them most. The first build means me travelling to Scotland….with Mr. Clooney in tow. I don’t have a tow bar on my car so I made one out of a door knob and a hosepipe. Absolutely no idea what that all means.

I also had a dream about marrying a professional rugby player who also loves playing golf. But I’ve had that dream for years and to be fair I am normally awake when it occurs! I also know exactly what it means and who the rugby player is!!

My new found beauty regime is going well. The dust and dirt application was the chosen method for a while but I have moved on. I shower at least once a day now and then cover myself in a mix of emulsion, vinyl, silk and eggshell paint. This requires a great deal of expertise. Sometimes I do it delicately by splashing a little drip here and there from a roller or brush – a method that is particularly useful for face splatter. Other times I am more carefree and simply drop a paint pot from height to encourage a more artistic coverage. Either way is effective.

Anyway, back to business. Although much of the painting is complete (thanks again, Stuart) there are still a number of rooms to finish. Ceilings are particularly difficult. My height does not lend itself to this job and I am mostly balancing on the top rung of a very high ladder to do the work. My reach is also limited so I am up and down the ladder several hundred times a day at the moment. My calves are sore. My wrists are sore. My thumbs are sore. And I think I have painters elbow – if that exists.

That’s all I have done all week. Paint.

I have been on my own. No trades. No visitors. So I have formed a very deep relationship with a number of spiders that share my bedroom. There is Mr. Speedy – a large long legged fella that can cross the room in less than a couple of seconds. On first sight he scared me silly…but I am used to him now. There there is Mr. Acrobat who hangs around most of the day, dangling at varying heights from his ceiling-based web. He can reach down to my coffee mug but I have warned him against a possible overdose of caffeine. He appears to have taken it on board. Our Mr. Lethargic has positioned himself on my ceiling and cannot be bothered to move at all. There’s always one! And finally, Mr. Jacuzzi who lives in the shower and appears to get quite excited when the hot water sprays about. He runs around wildly avoiding the spray (I imagine shouting out loud) but always returns in readiness for the next shower.

I would get rid of them (humanely of course) but I suspect they would only be replaced by other family members. I see them as my guardians – but I do have a little concern about their goings-on at night when the lights are out and I am sleeping. I have not yet felt a tickle on my face – or worst still in my throat – but I would be worried if one of them went missing overnight and I woke up feeling full!

The house has broadband now – only took 3 months from order – so my entertainment is a little more interesting. I have access to Netflix and other such delights but I still spend most of my evenings checking on prices and ordering materials whilst listening to podcasts. There is a growing shortage of manufactured materials and delivery times are getting longer for everything so I will be finalising a lot of orders over the next week or so as a precaution to the longer lead times or (hopefully not) another lockdown.

Next week will be much more engaging. For me…still more painting but the carpenter returns. That’s Jonathan, not the old fella from 2000+ years ago.

Until then…

Turning a corner…

Do I speak too soon? I hope not.

It does feel like I am turning a corner and I can now see the end – albeit through myopic, dust crusted, paint splattered old eyes!

My brother Stuart, who stayed another week to help with the painting, would tell me off for saying this because saying it out loud might put the spanner in the works. But there have been so many ‘spanners‘ that I figure it’s worth saying it just to make me feel better.

Throw whatever you want at me. That There Builder Girl is made of strong stuff – she weeps.

So – plastering and painting. That was still the order of the day. Upstairs has been painted. All ceilings, all walls, all window boards have been sanded, filled, misted, primed and painted. They look pretty good too for a couple of amateurs! The door frames have been primed in readiness for the door stops, doors and architrave; the walls are ready for the skirting.

We have taken delivery of 15 doors, 200m+ of skirting and 130m+ of architrave. Stuart and I carried the doors upstairs so they can be laid flat and away from the moisture caused by the plastering. The doors weigh between 25kg and 35kg each. There was a moment when Stuart, sweat soaked and lungs bursting, looked at me just as he did when he was 10 years old and I pinched the chips off his plate. I was expecting him to call our Mum and tell her I was being a meanie…! I think he called his wife instead!!

I will need more skirting for sure but this will get us started. The carpenter arrives in a week when he will get on with fixing everything. Then I will have the joy of more painting.

Downstairs received a lot of hardwall and sand & cement treatment before the final skim of plaster this week. Some of the walls were plastered last week so it was deja vu for me and big Bro. Mist coat again…more ceilings…more neck ache, back ache and thumb ache. Lots of masking so we don’t inadvertently paint the beautiful wooden beams. It takes some doing. My language skills have progressed. Lots of quiet abuse as concentration slips and I accidentally paint my face, the floor, a window, a coffee cup, the kettle…anything that is in the way.

Stuart finished painting the kitchen including the ceiling – it’s 9.4m long! More quiet abuse bouncing off the walls. The mist coat, which is watered down paint and therefore tends to splash about a bit, left him an interesting colour at the end of the day. I don’t think he knew how funny he looked – and I sent him to the shops for some milk just to humour me and scare the shopkeeper!

The long days proved worthwhile. We got a lot done. Stuart has returned to his wife and children bearing the scars of working this project. I am so grateful.

He will no longer get woken by me at 0630hrs but I suspect his kids will do a good job of ensuring he doesn’t sleep in. Hee hee!

I only have the hallway, snug, utility, boot room and cloakroom to paint. Oh, then the stairs, wainscoting, window boards, skirting, architrave, fireplace….

Oh flipping heck!!!