Patience is a virtue…

That is what I have learnt recently. Of course I’ve always known that patience is a virtue but saying it aloud does have significant resonance at the moment.

Still no plaster. Nothing I can do about it. Yet.

Still no telephone line. No broadband. Poor mobile signal. Nothing I can do about it. Yet.

Still hoping Mr Clooney (the real one) turns up to visit Mr Clooney (the wheel one). Sorry…nothing to do with patience. Just thinking out loud again.

I require patience to wait for the tiling to be done properly. It’s not a job that should be rushed. It is getting done in those rooms that were plastered, and I am very pleased with the results so far. Nathan’s attention to detail is lovely to watch. Believe it or not, the first finished en-suite has used every tile purchased. That is either a genius effort on my part or I am a lucky little ‘sort’ and I ended up accidentally ordering the exact amount of tiles required.

I prefer the genius title!

Of course, this now gives me some minor concerns that the other tiles ordered may be under or over the quantities needed. Or perhaps I am really a genius and it’s only just coming to light. I am pretty sure my Mother used to ask me this question all the time. “So you think you’re a genius?” I always thought the question was laced with sarcasm…but perhaps not.

After the last week when my hormones were running riot along with my body temperature I am pleased to say I have settled down into what is normal for me. It’s just as well as this week we have a fully functioning boiler and, at last, we tested the underfloor heating downstairs. That meant starting at 20 degrees and eventually raising the temperature to 40 degrees. It felt warm!

To help with the warmth, we had the log burner fitted this week too. In for a penny…etc.

I wonder if the fellas working on site knew I was showing them what it’s like to work whilst going through the menopause?

Sometimes this is a difficult project for me to manage and then something happens and I realise how lucky I am. This week a long-time golfing buddy – a decent, honourable, good man died. His family are devastated and my heart bleeds for them.

Perspective.

RIP Gary S.

Not a typical week…

I start by saying that women who typically go through the menopause can be anything from 40 something upwards…Just saying.

Sunday evening – somewhere in Somerset.
The planned underfloor heating test has not happened so I am unnecessarily here earlier than normal. It is annoying but there have been so many missed deadlines on this project I am at the stage of just taking a deep breath, shaking my head and setting a new deadline.

Monday evening – still in Somerset.
Had the underfloor heating been on the property was going to be too hot to work in so I booked myself on to a 2-day tiling course fairly local to my project. It’s at a training centre that delivers apprenticeship training for the building trade so I expected to be in a class of 17-year-olds! I thought about cancelling it several times, not sure I could take the humiliation (in my mind) but I’d already worked up a handful of “older than your mother/grandmother” retorts to show the youngsters how hip I am.

Imagine my surprise when I turned up to find this weeks trainees comprise members of the armed forces and me! I cried a little (see first sentence!). Sometimes my timing is inexplicably good. Two groups. My class has 2 Navy, 2 RAF and 2 Army – all men. They will soon be turning Civilian and are taking courses that may lead to future employment.

As That There Builder Girl my normal daily attire is paint-splattered shorts or jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie for the cold days, along with my dirty, stained boots. Hair pulled back and tied up with a bandana. No makeup, no perfume. A glorious statement of womanhood! My tiling attire today was no different. The only change was my skin colour as I occasionally peeked at a sweaty bright red as another hot flush whizzed its way through my body. I think they believe I just embarrass easily.

Do you think it’ll look odd if I turn up tomorrow all spruced up; eyes a glitter with makeup, painted lips and casually attired in clean, ironed clothes? A summer dress, perhaps.

Yeah, me too.

I did offer the fellas the opportunity of a real-life project that they could practice their skills on. The house….not me…but they all have to go home to their loved ones!!

By the way the tiling training is good. I have been focussed. Yes indeed.

Thursday evening – in the Frozen North (I wish!)
Tiling in the property started on Wednesday. Not by me. Two days of training does not make Builder Girl an expert tiler. I am, however, going to be tiling the bathroom floor in the flat in Bristol. Nathan is doing everything here for the next 15 – 18 days. He started upstairs in an en-suite and will work his way through nearly 65m2 of tiling. Just the little that has been done so far fills my little heart with joy! How easily I get excited these days (see first sentence!)

Shower tiled and underfloor heating in the ensuite

Saturday morning – in Bristol.
A good nights sleep. Cool and comfortable.

This week was steamy and not just on the tiling course. I am mostly pretending the menopause doesn’t affect me. It isn’t happening even though I have to go through occasional crazy weeks like the one just passed. On and off for years now. Definitely on this week.

I can tell you it was seriously uncomfortable heat during the day and even more so at night with Mr. Clooney. I spent much of the week priming woodwork and MDF anywhere in the property, regularly crying over spilt paint and leaving a little trail of sweat behind me as I meandered.

I spent my evenings throwing my bedclothes on and off and weeping at YouTube videos of puppies and kittens whilst intermittently sending angry tweets to my telecommunication providers.

Thank goodness Neil and Andy removed the big tools from the property.

What a life…


The pipes, the pipes are calling…

Progress is a little slow at the moment due (still) to the ongoing plaster shortage. Nevertheless we are still moving it on.

The first 3 days this week saw Courtney the plumber fitting in the boiler and loads of pipes. His work is very methodical and organised. I like things tidy and ordered and his pipework is just that. Yes, I did write that!

This in turn will allow us to test the underfloor heating. As I understand it, we will need to set the temperature at 20degs and then move it up 5degs each day till we hit 40degs. Maybe I should put up a poster and invite the neighbours in to what will be the largest, most expensive sauna in the village.

We won’t be doing much work whilst the UFH is tested although it would help with my ongoing but failing quest for weight loss.

The test is to assess the strength of the screed (and how dry it is) in case it cracks. This is best done before final flooring – tiles, LVT, wood etc goes down. We don’t anticipate a problem as the screed was laid in February, but if there are any cracks it’ll be a quick fix.

I did a final cleanup of the paintwork in the hallway and Steve the electrician fitted the smoke alarm and a gorgeous, modern chandelier – all before the tower scaffold was removed. Now there is no chance of doing anything up there without hiring in a human pyramid for me to stand on – or an extra long ladder.

Another friend – Susanne – arrived for a day this week following end of term closure. We spent the day painting the bathroom and one more bedroom. Great company. It all helps. Thanks lass.

With the scaffolding down it was time to move the boxes of tiles stored in the lounge downstairs to their appropriate rooms upstairs. The combined weight of the tiles shows 919kg amounting to 1260 tiles in total – so it’s a proper muscle job. I couldn’t carry the full boxes so I had to decant them. The tile sizes are varied and the really big ones meant me carrying only 3 tiles at a time.

Up and down the stairs I went – around 20 times. That is a lot of exercise and no Fitbit to record the massive effort. I was tempted to measure around my butt and thighs before and after but I only have a metal tape measure. I have already sliced several fingers on the sharp metal edges of the tape and had to suck them to stop the bleeding (First Aid not my go-to skill). Imagine the problem if I sliced my butt in a similar fashion….!

I have spent the last few days struggling to stand, sit, walk or even move as the tile transfer took its toll on my old muscles.

Apparently, there has been local comment about the mess I have made in the carpark. Fancy that …a mess on a building site? We now have a tidy(ish) carpark. All of the wood has gone to its future life as a village bonfire. Now I need to consider what to do with my pile of pallets. I’ve been online and think a potting table could be good or a collection of garden furniture – or maybe just another pile of wood for another bonfire! Watch this space.

In the meantime, I got 2 days off this week and headed to Wales for rest and relaxation.

Sorry…what am I saying.

I spent a full day with a drill, hammer and screwdrivers as I helped my sister, Shona, get her pub ready for re-opening in August.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I was still in a pub and I didn’t have to pay for a drink!!

Hic, hic, hooray…!

A funny story…

It’s been family week in downtown Somerset. Firstly my brother, Stuart, arrived to help me with painting the newly plastered walls and ceilings, whilst we await the second plaster delivery. Not the whole house – a bedroom, 2 en-suites, a bathroom, a boiler room and the enormously high hallway. We will just about get it done but not without considerable time and effort.

For his gratis service, I booked luxury accommodation which arrived Monday morning. It’s like a ‘nicer’ version of Mr. Clooney. How can that be, I hear you ask. Indeed, good question. From the outside his caravan looks similar to mine….but it has a shower cubicle. Little Miss Envy had to be curtailed from not claiming the new accommodation..but I couldn’t leave Mr. Clooney after all this time.

However, I can hear Stuart whistling happy tunes when he showers. He’s lucky I haven’t released the caravan handbrake – with him in it.

Once set up, and after the delivery fellas left, we both stepped inside his temporary abode and our collective lockdown weight broke the rear stabiliser. Just snapped off. Ha…I thought. Mr. Clooney would never be so insensitive to a little bit of chubbiness!

Anyway, my brother now recognises that the daily grind of That There Builder Girl is not quite as exciting as it should be. The painting has gone well but the effort has been intense. Long hours, a couple of tea breaks and a lunch break but other than that a proper work effort. He is not laughing much. He is not sleeping well in his luxury accommodation either. Aw!

Then I received a visit from my sister and mother. Released from Wales, they turned up laden with food and gifts. It’s my birthday this week so a pleasant birthday treat.

I asked my mother if she read these blogs. Not really she said. They are just not funny.

That’s the thing about Mothers. Straight to the heart of the matter. All this time, I have been telling a story about my builder girl journey and have failed to denote how hysterically funny the whole journey has been. My bad!

Mind you it was ‘funny’ today. Andy turned up with a huge tractor towing a massive grain trailer. The wood I seem to have collected as a jolly memento of this journey has taken over the carpark and we have been thinking what to do with it. With Andy’s help it has now been donated to a local village bonfire (yes, for November). I asked Stuart to help Andy and myself load the trailer. That was funny as it took 3 of us 2 hours to fill the trailer and there is still more left in the carpark. Stuart stood on a few nails, punctured his thigh, pierced his hands with splinters and mentioned something about just coming to help with the painting – several times.

We broke him.

He didn’t go back to painting afterwards. He just let out a sigh and lay down.

I locked the gates to the carpark and hid the keys. I was sure he was considered doing a midnight flit back to Basildon and there was still painting to finish.

He was still here this morning. And I did and do thank him for his help.

In the meantime, I am going online to learn how to tell a funny story…

One step forward…

Another week done and dusted. Plastered and painted actually, but I couldn’t find an appropriate saying to cover that off.

Another week plastered suggests something else!!

Plaster – what we have of it – has been applied and is drying. 40 bags of Multifinish, a bulk bag of sand and half a dozen bags of cement along with some of the 25 bags of hardwall. The house is probably half done if you add up the m2. But there will be no more plastering now until mid to end August or even first week of September.

Frustrating to say the least.

Painting and decorating is now an in-house job. It’s not to say that I think I can do the job as good as a professional. Certainly not, but budgets have been stretched, mangled, crushed…you get the idea.

I spent a day – actually probably even more – with my trusty pencil, calculator, tape measure and notepad working out how much paint might be needed for the decoration process. I asked a very good friend who does this for a living in Bristol what I should be purchasing – Matt, Vinyl, Silk, Eggshell, Dulux, Amstead, Crown, F&B etc. He advised accordingly on the products but also on the tools I might need. I am now a trade customer for Dulux Decorator Centre and the local branch in Yeovil were also very helpful.

I read the technical details of the paint (I really did). I calculated the paint requirements based on coverage of litre per square metre and ordered my first batch of paints along with poles, brushes, scuttles, sanders, etc. This week I have been focusing on Bed 1/Ensuite 1 ceilings and walls to get the job started. First a mist coat, then a second and third coat.

What is patently clear is my calculations for how much paint is needed means diddly squat. I have no idea how a professional gets 16m2/litre out of the paint I am using but I can tell you right now that I will be lucky if I achieve half of the stated usage. Of course, each session does mean I cover myself in a fair bit of paint so perhaps I should be accounting for that.

Not really the moisturiser I would normally choose!

I cannot explain how painful it is painting ceilings with a weak back. My first effort of just one mist coat in Bed 1 had me lying on the floor in Mr. Clooney doping myself up on ibuprofen and going through the stretch exercises my bestie, Annie, has given me over the years. My first night’s sleep (or lack of sleep) following the painting effort was ridiculously painful.

I told myself it can only get easier as my technique improves – and thankfully it did as the week progressed. Just one more coat required for Ensuite 1 ceiling . Bed 1 walls to be finished. It’s slow because it has to be done properly.

I also need plenty of rest breaks or my back won’t survive. I do have much stronger prescribed drugs to counter the pain but I would be worried about the paint job if I took them. Am not sure psychedelic swirls would be everyone’s decor choice.

There is always something else to do onsite when not painting, and I am still loading the skip and cleaning. Plastering is a mucky job so there has been plenty of clearing up to do.

In the meantime, the paperwork continues. I ordered the external doors. That was a leap of faith. I would have loved to get some beautiful front and back doors but (and you’ve heard it before) the budget has been stretched. So we are going pretty traditional.

I have also booked in the fitting of the wood stove. At this rate I will need it working before the house is complete. I also have an appointment this coming week with the flooring company to measure up for carpets and LVT.

So things are moving…but oh so much slower than I want.

In the meantime, I returned back to Bristol exhausted and filthy – again. I found paint everywhere even though I do strip wash every day in Mr. Clooney.

I had paint in my ears! I thought I had a streak of paint in my left eyebrow too but after much scrubbing it turned out to be a long grey hair. Reminder: need to get eyes tested.

I should go and get a haircut but I daren’t show them the mess and I am worried they will find blobs of paint, clumps of plaster, dollops of dust and dirt that I have missed.

Oh what a beauty…

Trials and tribulations…

I am aware that in the time of a global pandemic my little project has little importance. But that does not stop it from being a source of anxiety and stress.

The week started sweetly with a significant delivery of plaster – multifinish used for skimming and hardwall for… hardwall(!) – after placing the order over 6 weeks ago. Pete and Morgan turned up cheery and ready to get on.

We agreed the order in which rooms need to be plastered first. I am desperate for a completed bedroom and ensuite so I can move out of Mr. Clooney, sleep more comfortably even if on an inflatable bed, and have a shower and a flushing toilet. I am such a diva !

The store room needs to be plastered and painted so we can install the boiler, cistern and pipework – also required for my diva-ish need to shower. A working boiler is also needed to test the underfloor heating system before we start tiling and fitting any flooring.

The main hallway, which is an open space from the floor to the roof needs to be plastered whilst the tower scaffold is in place. As soon as the plaster is dry, it will be painted and the tower scaffold can be removed giving us much better access to the property.

Those are the priorities. After which the plastering can be done as necessary.

Or so I thought.

The problem with ordering materials for this sort of build is it is really difficult to gauge how much might be needed. Upstairs most of the the ceilings are sloped – which takes significantly more product than a flat ceiling. After just one week we realise that the 40 bags of skim plaster delivered on Monday is not going to be anywhere near enough for this job.

We think we may need another 30 bags. I have been told by one supplier I can get 10 bags – in the 3rd week of August. Another supplier says I will have to wait until the end of August and there will also be a limit on quantity. You get the picture.

All the recent planning with the tiler, carpenter, electrician, plumber, floor fitter and so on now have to be re-worked and their diaries are already full.

1st September was my ‘socially-distanced working’ completion date. It would have been possible to do it quicker but I have to be responsible with the numbers working on site at any one time. September is now impossible. It’s likely I will have another two months plus of expense that was not accounted for in my budget. I returned to Bristol feeling…frankly, exhausted and utterly defeated.

But a good night’s sleep after lots of hugs, laughter, food and wine with my Bristol bubble and I am back on the positive path.

So I will be spending the weekend working out how to best carry on with the project on a room by room basis. The property will have to be partly plastered, partly painted, partly tiled, etc, until we can get the supplies we need.

I will set another completion date. Initially March, then almost immediately May then realistically September…Let’s say Christmas now.

The good news this week? The plans went in for the new house build on the carpark.

Am I mad…?

No rest…

I thought my week would be very restful and cool.

In a hot, hot week I am back in Bristol and sleeping in a proper bed, in a cool flat. Joy!

But most of my plans went awry. It was always going to be a week of admin. Lots of bills due to be paid; quotes to assess and so on plus the car booked in for an MOT and service. But I anticipated long lazy walks, meeting with friends and relaxing in the sunshine with a good book.

In actual fact my week has consisted of lots of unexpected expense. I needed new brake pads, discs and tyres for the car so with a service and MOT I was quoted £700 in all! I spent a lot of time phoning around and managed to save a couple of hundred but …ouch.

Then, whilst working in the flat, a hiss and a bubble and drip, drip, drip…..and I had a radiator ‘moment’ in my flat. Disaster averted but time for action. I was warned last year when I put in a new boiler that the 30+ year old radiators looked less than good but you know what it’s like when you have budget constraints. Alas, my hope of them holding out for another year or two has been diminished. I have spent a couple of days sourcing new radiators – 7 in total – along with thermostatic valves. Delivered Friday for fitting by my friendly local plumber in a weeks time. Let’s hope the new ones last another 30 years.

Thank goodness I have trade accounts all over the place – that saved me a few pennies.

Back onto the project. I reviewed the new timeline and realised that I should get my tiles on order and a date set for delivery. I have literally spent hours and hours over the last few months choosing tiles through different suppliers, getting samples sent out, changing my mind, etc. before making my final decision. I returned to the various sites to make the purchases only to find that several of the chosen products are now out of stock and not likely to be re-stocked in readiness for my timeline.

Hurrumph…I said. Or words of a similar nature.

So I spent another day online to start the process again, ending with a final no turning back decision. 63m2 of tiles have been purchased through Victoria Plum and Total Tiles and a mid July delivery date booked. Next decision will be colour of grout…and working out how to get the tiling done!

In the meantime, I am still trying my hand at furniture renovation. A while ago I purchased an old dining table and chair set from Facebook Marketplace for £20 and have slowly been updating the upholstery and painting the furniture. This too has been part of my routine this week – in the carpark behind the flats. In the raging hot sunshine!

I don’t really know what I am doing and if it doesn’t work out, the cost is mostly labour. At the moment anyone who visits me in the flat has to take their meal on a tray so it’s got to be worth a go, don’t you think?

So, not the week I was planning but I am still happy that I did not have to spend my nights with Mr. Clooney. It’s been roasting hot in Bristol. I’d have been medium to well-done if I had been in Mr. Clooney.

Next week, things go up a notch – assuming the plaster arrives on Monday.

Fingers crossed…

Quick, quick, slow….

Stop.

That’s what it feels like. One moment nothing seems to be moving on. Then there are significant changes. Then we stop.

We had to order a further 22 sheets of plasterboard this week as the previously delivered 190 sheets were all used up. This seems an extraordinary amount of plasterboard needed for one property. They are now all but fitted…with just a couple of sheets set aside for finishing the boiler room and the cloakroom.

Neil and Andy have also been finishing off a few awkward areas. A dollop of cement here and there. A touch of timber for reinforcement. A jiggery pokery with a drainpipe or two. I think you can tell my builders terminology has improved over the last 9 months.

I had my last exciting foray into the loft. Neil kindly lent me his paper suit to protect me from the worst of it up there. I managed to rip the backside out on a nail – which went deep enough to also rip my shorts and puncture my ass! I also split the leg seam open as I straddled a joist and caught another nail. Neil just laughed when I apologised about the state of his paper suit. Bless! When I emerged having completed the job, I was again soaked through to my undies and filthy. I am so, so, so very happy that there is no more loft insulation needed. It is truly a horrid job.

I purchased some Danish Oil to bring some life back into the numerous beams dotted around the house. Initially 2 litres, then another 2 litres. 8 litres later and I still have one beam to oil. It’s probably taken about 3-4 (wo)man days to do all the beams but they do look better for it. Each evening I retire to Mr. Clooney and count the rings of oil splattered across my arms and legs – and sometimes my face. I am not sure that Danish Oil is considered a beauty treatment elsewhere but it’s been a daily dose during the last week. I now have a silky glow and I am creaking less than I was!

It’s good news the plasterboard is finished because it means the plastering can start….but of course it can’t because there is still a shortage. My order is on its way and all things being well it should be with us on 29th June. Pete and Morgan are booked in to get started and should be with us for a few weeks. In the meantime, Neil and Andy depart for a while and get to work with other people. I’ve asked them not to enjoy that experience.

For me, this delay means time to obtain further quotes for tiling, painting and decorating, floor coverings, doors and more. I thought I had a tiler lined up but it seems inflation has hit hard in South Somerset as he wants a further £500+ to do the job. Sure I said. That makes sense, I said. Let me sign the cheque, I said.

OK I didn’t.

That is not going to happen. I gave him the go-ahead on his original quote pre-lockdown and presumed that was it. So now I need to reassess the tiling requirement. Neil tells me I can do it so I might just have a go. What can possibly go wrong?

Painting and decorating is a necessity too. I can do some but not all if I want the house finished before the end of the year (and if I am busy tiling!). So I have been meeting up with individuals to get quotes on the job. One fella told me 6 weeks minimum for the work – 30 days at his not insignificant day rate. I am not sure what is going on in South Somerset? Has the lockdown affected their common sense or do I have a sign on my forehead that says “this girl can be mugged”?

The other two quotes suggest 18-20 days max. I will do a couple of the rooms myself so hopefully save on that time too.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Plaster arrives a week this Monday which allows me a week to rest, recuperate, play golf, go shopping (for lights and stuff), get the car MOT’d, pay the bills (and boy are they big now) and go out to play.

Onwards…for the end is in sight!

What’s the definition of a house..?

I don’t mean the word. I mean the feeling. I think I know.

It’s a collection of rooms with walls that you cannot walk through – all courtesy of sheet after sheet of plasterboard. With a huge amount of effort we almost have a house – apart from the fact there are no bathrooms, kitchen, etc. But you get the gist!

Upstairs has 4 bedrooms, 2 ensuites and a bathroom, a hallway and even an airing cupboard. Proper rooms defined. Of course, no doors or architrave or skirting or anything else for that matter. But they are actual rooms.

And so to downstairs. A slightly easier plasterboard job as no sloped ceilings, but still much to do. You’ve heard this story before. Insulation, plasterboard, clean up. Insulation, plasterboard, repeat….

Courtney the plumber has been back to fit the shower trays. Steve came back to fit the electrical back boxes – all in readiness for plastering.

Adam from Mec-Serve (our fab underfloor heating company) has been back in to assess the final area that needs screed. We couldn’t do it first time around as I hadn’t purchased some of the plumbing materials which were supposed to be fitted before the screed was laid! My bad!

The 8 yard skip filled by me slowly but surely last week has been exchanged with another empty one. It seems the shovel will never leave my hands, although there is a rumour that Andy has access to a digger this weekend and may be able to clear some of it by machine. Either way, hopefully this will be the last skip…until the next one!

I have worn out yet another pair of gloves.

I have been trying to get a telephone line and broadband put into the house. At the moment I use the data on my phone to run my computer. It’s incredibly unreliable and deeply frustrating. The O2 mobile signal in this area is weak and erratic even on 3G, so even normal telephone usage is impossible on some days – and not just O2 apparently. Ridiculous. Someone complain. Oh that’s a job for me!

This week saw the arrival of a router from Vodafone and an engineer from OpenReach. A simple job….but no. The engineer couldn’t reach the telephone cables on the telegraph pole immediately outside the house so we had to wait for a platform vehicle. The platform vehicle arrived, which was used sparingly as it was ‘the wrong one’ (something to do with the passing traffic and danger !). In the 3 minutes it was used, the engineer couldn’t find the necessary lines (pairs I think he called them) on the pole needed to input a telephone line into my property. Difficult to understand really as only last July there was a telephone line, broadband and a card machine data-line. But for this week, no phone; no broadband. So they have to come back.

It’s not the engineer’s fault. I know that. They will be back with a bigger platform vehicle, which means putting in a traffic control system as they will close off one side of the road. They will run cables to another telegraph pole and onwards to a big box. Gosh, I will be popular with the neighbours….again!

So..back to the renovation thing. I still need to do research on tiles, lighting, doors, architrave, skirting and other stuff online. I am so pleased the shops are starting to open. I will, at least, be able to view some of the needed items and get out of the caravan now and again.

And…drum roll. I have plaster. I don’t have it yet, but it’s coming at the end of June.

So another week of frustration with with a ridiculously poor mobile data signal and no broadband. This has lead me to (a) drink (b) profuse swearing (c) writing letters to the authorities (d) all of the above.

Answers on a postcard…!

The never-ending story…

When you start on a project like this it’s nigh on impossible to set an accurate timetable. Ripping a building apart opens up all sorts of surprises (understatement!), and these inevitably affect the timetable and the budget.

When I met with a number of builders prior to starting work with Neil, they all said it might be done in 6 months but best allow for a little longer to allow for anomalies. In my head I thought (hoped) it would all be done by May – allowing 8 months in total.

Unsurprisingly, the lockdown hasn’t helped. It’s not just the 7 weeks in which the property was closed. Many manufacturers closed their factories so it’s now difficult to obtain materials, particularly plaster. The knock-on effect in terms of timing and money is unhelpful. Another understatement.

I will be pleasantly surprised if I can get all the finishing touches completed by 1st September 2020. We started the work on 2nd September 2019. 8 months to 12 months. More than 30% more time needed.

Imagine, if you will, what that has done to the budget never mind my sense of humour!!

But continue we must. Plasterboard on the walls and insulation in the loft, the walls and the floors. We are not far off finishing upstairs. It takes so much longer when there are sloping ceilings, and much of upstairs is just that, but it’s almost done.

First fix plumbing is more or less complete. Just the shower trays to be positioned. First fix electrical will be completed once the plasterboard has been installed.

Carpentry continues. All the door linings are now positioned. Window boards are all but fixed. There is the formation of an under-stairs cupboard, and the start of an airing cupboard.

My tasks this week include once again covering myself head to toe in protection and masking up before rolling out more insulation throughout the loft space, whilst simultaneously batting away spiders and trying not to knock myself out. It is physically arduous!

A-rolling I do go.

I have a large shovel, an 8 yd skip and an enormous pile of rubble in the carpark. I have developed a rhythmic technique for filling the skip but can only put so much effort into it at one time. It is physically taxing!

A-labouring I do go.

Me, my skip and my shovel. What has my life become?

And of course, I am still the broom witch and cutting plasterboard and carpentry is dusty and dirty work. It is…what it is.!

A-sweeping I do go.

My evenings are still centred around paperwork and researching materials and suppliers. I also spend time listening to podcasts (this week Louis Theroux – Grounded) and reading (this week Norman Mailer – An American Dream) interspersed with phone calls. Thank you callers!

And every evening I have to make a bed up out of seat cushions. Caravan living may sound ‘romantic’ to some but if I can give one tip, make sure you have a separate sleeping compartment. Assembling a bed every night gets a little tedious.

It’s the end of a tough week but the sun is shining and everyone I know and love is safe. Today I will be heading back to my home and friends in Bristol.

A-drinking and eating I do go. Yay!