On your marks, get set….

Do not go !

Not in Somerset anyway.

Still nothing happening with South Somerset District Council and their planning department. Seems that they are bereft of ideas on how to tackle the phosphate issues on the Somerset Moors. Next week they are 12 months over their approval date on a planning application that already had outline planning and that we know was approved.

Frustrating to say the least. What’s a builder girl to do?

The first thing is to stop pulling my hair out! A bald builder girl will only frighten future trades….and husbands!

I have had to look elsewhere for my renovating and building entertainment and am delighted to announce that Devon is my interim stop before returning to the new build in Somerset.

I have appointed an architect and will be building a new house on a plot of land in Salcombe and then renovating an existing property, also in Salcombe, which requires a touch of loving and tender care. The process should keep me occupied for 12 months by which time Somerset DC should have moved forward with the phosphate issues.

This means packing my bag of tools and work clothes and making another temporary move. Mr. Clooney will be staying in Somerset for the time being as he will still be needed here (and it’s doubtful if his transportation on the M5 would result in success).

My future accommodation will be more comfortable than my adored caravan and will include running water, electricity and other such mod cons. I am unsure as to when the move will take place but watch this space.

It’s likely to be weekday only too. Weekends will be back in Somerset, or Bristol. Salcombe is a beautiful part of the world (I grew up there pre-teenage years) and am looking forward to getting started.

Whilst this project has been in development I decided to further enrich my builder girl knowledge and signed up to a 4-week certified building course.

Three hours into Week One I was regretting it. We started with bricklaying – the sort of skill every girl about town should have in her portfolio. The learning was great but it was so physically demanding and the temperature for the whole week never dropped below 26degs. I became covered in cement dust and perspired so much I could wring my knickers out every couple of hours!!

I didn’t though.

I am one of 8 on the course. The other 7 are military men – the oldest of whom is 15 years younger than me! Clearly, there are certain delights working hand in hand with 7 men from the military – my love of uniform is not unknown – but the work itself has even exhausted some of them. They thought I might be in the military too – a Colonel or Wing Commander was the suggestion.

Hence the reason I did not wring my knickers out every couple of hours. We have standards.

My made up rank would put me in charge of them all. This builder girl had some funny dreams that first night!!

But I digress. I am now proficient at bricklaying.

Week Two was equally sweaty but different skills. In just a week I had to build a one window, one door room from 2×4 timber and plasterboard. If you ever try to fit plasterboard to a ceiling you will learn how difficult it is. Try doing it when you are 5ft 4in (1.6m). I had to ask for a bigger ladder and hold the plasterboard up with my head and still get the military to help me!

Then we learnt how to plaster. My first effort was a D- but by the end of the week I got an A. Plastering a ceiling should be left to the professionals, and I have no intention of plastering a whole house but I do feel capable of plastering a small room that no-one will want to go in.

As I write this draft I am learning more. It is electrics and plumbing week. A little bit of multimeter reading and lots of wiring followed by soldering (rather than soldiering which is another story), compression joints and fitting taps, sinks, etc.

There is plenty more to learn, then there is an exam. It might be the first one I ever pass but only if the military men follow my orders !!

And I should be able to get a job as a building site labourer!!

You Go girl…


Not really a builder. Nor a girl in the youthful sense of the word. Bitten by the building bug and keeping a record of the experience. Know a little but learning a lot!

2 thoughts on “On your marks, get set….

  1. Dear Ali, To say you are amazing is really not doing you justice! But you are amazing and Peter is also well impressed when I read out your posting. He’s done a lot of building work in his time – pity he didn’t go on your course though. He picked it up as he went along. I was always nervous of his plumbing techniques!! It sounds as though you are in the building trade for the foreseeable future but I hope we will see you. Are you able to come here for book club on 1st September? Look after yourself (and your back) – looking forward to the next instalment. Lots of love Heather xx

    Sent from my iPhone



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