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Passage progress

          With the “Passage started“, and the doors, doorframes and daedo rail glossed, all other decorating apart from the passage was put on hold (baring emergencies), especially so because there was one big part of the decorating which I wasn’t looking forward to and I know all too well that if I started something else, I would put off finishing the rest of the passage indefinitely.

          Since we moved in, the floorboards on the landing and passage floors have been bouncing, and radiator pipes have been making creaking noises. In normal conditions, even I can’t justify taking up any old carpet just to see what’s underneath so I was looking forward to the excuse to poke around and have a good look at what was under the floorboards before we get new carpet. I dangled this treat like a carrot in front of my lack of enthusiasm to paint the top half of the walls and the ceilings and once I got started, I was fine, there’s something quite satisfying about watching the pollyfiller dissappear behind the paint as you roller over it.

          Underneath the carpet was the very welcome view of good underlay. Hubby has enjoyed enormously the directions I added to help put the underlay back down in the right place, narrating his travels and following my directions expertly as he went “up” and “down” the stairs, and in and out of the “bathroom”. The house had been rented out for seven years before we bought it and the carpets had been quite badly treated by the “Tenant’s cats“, however, the carpets must have been laid by professional carpet fitters because the fitting showed none of the signs of “dodgy D. I. Y” found throuout the rest of the house … including the plumbing for the heating and radiators underfoot.

          To be fair, the original pipes for the heating look like a professional job, done by the sort of professional who would poke little slithers of wood between any pipes which were touching and were likely to cause a creaking noise once the heating went on. The adjustments to said heating is where the shoddy workmanship came into play.

          I’m guessing the heating pipe’s positions were discovered by a bit of trial and error as some of the floorboards were cut into tiny lengths, whilst some others were just broken as they were crowbarred up from the joists. All’s well that ends well, I cut some new lengths of floorboards to replace short or broken pieces, and packed the pipes with heatproof felt before putting them in place with screws for easier future access if needed. Then I went to play downstairs in the passage.

          Again the welcome sight of good underlay will help the budget no end when choosing the new carpet. I’m glad we hadn’t already changed the carpet when we had the new radiators fitted, you can see the water marks on the floorboards downstairs from where the radiator plumber left pools of water on the carpet. Needless to say we haven’t invited said plumber to return…..

          With the pipes separated with the felt, I secured the wobbly floorboard pieces and replaced the underlay ready to paint the skirting. I did however, enjoy the peek underneath the floor down to the foundations… Do you want a peep? …

          Just one little bit more exploring to do before the painting the skirting… The vinyl tiles behind the front door… They’re more than a bit yuk… But look at what’s been hiding underneath. …..

          The red tiles are going to need a lot of tlc to bring them back to life… But I’ve scratched off the layers of red, black and white paint from the sides, and given them a bit of a scrub. I’ll finish the rest of the passage and then look deeper into restoring them to their former glory.

          Meanwhile, back upstairs …

          I put the underlay back in place and set about the remaining banister spindles and skirting board with my little scraper and a paintbrush. Scraping and painting, painting and scraping, until I was happy with the quality of the foundation I had laid. Then after one last check, I hoovered up as many dust particles as possible and got out the gloss paint.

          Since the main symptom my body uses to tell me anything is wrong is a headache, it’s no surprise really that I get one while painting. Undercoat isn’t too bad, but gloss fumes, without precautions… Bang… Migraine. Learning by previous mistakes has taught me that lighting a candle or two while painting burns away the fumes, and drinking milk coats the stomach enough to stop an icky feeling while the candle gets to work.

          I almost followed the advice I gave to Middle Daughter during her latest D. I. Y venture… coffee is almost milk.

          Painting woodwork is not even bottom of my list of things I enjoy doing, it’s somewhere about six feet under it, but the finish it gives to the decorating, to me, is worth the woodwork painting. That nice white frame seems to set off the whole picture beautifully.

          I’m so close now… The floorboards no longer bounce, the heating pipes haven’t stopped creaking completely, but are way better than they were. The pollyfiller has worked its magic, and the white paint on the walls above the daedo rail and ceiling looks almost good. I have a dark grey carpet in mind but Hubby’s a bit worried it will make the whole passage look too dark so next I’ll add my trump card… A nice bright splash of colour on the bottom of the walls. The brighter I paint the walls… The darker I can have the carpet. All we have to do then is wait for the carpet shop to open up again after lockdown.

          More from before : “Finishing and fixing“.

Positive

          I woke up this morning with a feeling that has escaped me for a while. I had been dreamming again, but not the usual foreboding dreams of late, one with a bit of hope maybe?

         There was no alarm, I have a couple of weeks off, a couple of weeks I wasn’t looking forward to as the plan had been to visit the Girls and Grandson, like that was going to happen… So I have a couple of weeks with no visits or visitors, no coffee and cakes with friends, but now also no shop, no colleagues and no customers who have become a lifeline to my mental state of mind. With my two weeks holidays looming on the horizon I’ve been like a bear, unable to hibernate, and one with a sore head at that… Poor Hubby…

          I haven’t had my jab yet, but it’s going to be my turn in the foreseeable future. ….

          In my dream, I was living in an underground, quite desolate world where everything seemed to be matt black in colour, quite like an empty stage with no props. My dream began with me sitting in a chair not unlike a dentists chair, after just having an implant in my right forarm, lines like a circuit board started to show on my arm and as I glanced down at strange red markings which had appeared, I watched them come alive with colours as I moved my wrist. A group of excited people caught my attention as they ran past laughing and smiling, I followed, and learning by watching the others, I became able to create illusions with the flick of my wrist, and these illusions gradually became a new reality…

          I’m not one for political conversations, I have my preferences, and some of my opinions are very strong, but the will to impose my preferences and opinions on others is not strong at all so I usually just watch and listen from the sidelines… And vote with my feet.

          I’d been following the Brexit unfolding, and of course the virus information quite closely including the downing Street briefing from yestetday where the latest “Road map” for finding our way back to normality was unveiled. I wonder if the briefing with its plan laid out to follow has given me some new hope that we can soon see families again, and share coffee and cakes with friends, and of course, the jab in my arm to help me turn it to reality speaks for itself.

          I got up and wandered down to the kitchen, gazing out onto the garden as I usually do. The sun had just come up. The sky in the background was blue, the wind was blowing quite hard yes, but it was blowing pink fluffy clouds across the top of my garden wall. The “Crazy patio” was drying out after the recent rains and the upcoming daffodils were dancing about in the wind.

          The get-up-and-go which has eluded me of late seems to have found its way back home, after a couple of coffees, I set about the second part of decorating the “Passage“. I pulled up the landing carpet and started to explore underneath the broken floorboards to investigate the creaking radiator pipes.

Long distance

          When we moved to Weymouth to find Semi-retirement by the seaside, we had no idea covid was on the horizon. The plan was to have visitors to our seaside pretty much all summer, and to spend the winter visiting in return. Well, the mice and men put paid to our best laid plans with a virus and so any visiting for the last few months has been virtual.

          It seems an age ago now that I was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when Little Sister gave me her old smartphone and showed me how to use it. My world would be a whole lot smaller, and sadder, without the technology I now carry around in my pocket or the tablet Hubby gave me for Christmas.

          Grandson arrived into this strange world we live in today, where most people hide their mouths behind a mask, and it’s quite natural to have a conversation with a face on a screen.

          Grandson has turned five months already. We did see him at the beginning, and had cuddles, albeit from behind a mask. Eldest Daughter keeps us updated with photos, voice recordings of Grandson yabbering away in his own special language, and video calls. We’re holding out for the time when freedom is restored and we can visit again, but until then I can take comfort from the fact that he knows no different, he hasn’t had the joy of a house full of visitors, and the fun of other children at playgroups, but he isn’t missing them as such, because hasn’t had them taken away…..

          Youngest Daughter has been using the “at home” time to decorate her bathroom. When I last visited with her and Son-in-law we spent time doing the usual ” Mum and Daughter” activities and we put up tiles in her kitchen.

          Instead of actually helping in person this time I’ve watched her progress through regular photo updates and exchanged ideas and sent a couple of helpful thoughts her way with a bit of virtual troubleshooting. Her house was a newbuild when they moved in. Of course you have to wait for a certain amount of time before you can personalise a newbuild but when you can personalise it you have pretty much a blank canvas to play with. The bathroom had the very basic quota of white tiles around the bath and shower walls, and behind the sink taps. Youngest has taken off the sink tiles and matched the bath tiles to carry on the splash proofing around the sink and into the window, then added her own personal touch with the coloured grout. Nicely done!

          Middle Daughter has been busy during lockdown too. When the girls were little, they each had their own toyboxes. Youngest had a large dark wood one, and Eldest and Middle had a pair of what used to be linen boxes made to sit at the end of a bed.

          The big deep brown wooden box moved on to be another child’s toybox years ago, but the other two toyboxes moved on with the girls to their respective houses. Eldest’s toybox has reverted back to a linen box at the end of her bed and Middle’s has moved into a coffee table/footstool near the sofa downstairs.

          Middle Daughter bought some firm foam and some nice thick material, and on one of our previous visits I got to play with her staple gun while we covered the lid and made it into a seat. The seat looked good, but the attempt to nail on some cladding to the outside didn’t go too well so the box was given a quick coat of paint to spruce it up while it waited for more inspiration.

          Middle’s chosen style is a sort of upcycled mis-match and she’s never happier than when she has a project on the go so I wasn’t at all surprised to see pictures of the box changing once more. Nicely cut pieces of wood have changed the flat sides into panels, and a bit of wood filler underneath a new coat of paint has given the box a new lease of life. A few tips were asked for during the fixing on of the new hinges, and of course, were more than happily given. And the result… Very satisfying, and very comfortable to sit on and to look at. I don’t think it will be long before Eldest’s toybox is given a revamp as well.

          Troubleshooting with my “growed-up” Girls over the phone gave me one of those strange roll-reversal feelings again… I told you before how the carer in me became the cared for in “Adult snacking“. But this time I’ve very much identified with my Dad.

          I used to help my Dad with fixing things, I loved getting messy, or watching him take broken things apart and put them back together in working order … much more fun than learning to cook …and washing up afterwards. When I grew up and had my own house to play with. Dad used to come round and help me to fix broken things there too. Then, as I got older and my confidence in what I could do grew, I would do the taking apart and fixing things myself. My Dad was my safety net (I work better with a safety net) I would very often plan my latest play with my biggest toy, and discuss my latest decorating project or fixing plan with Dad before I started. As we moved further away from home, out into the big bad world as “growed-ups” with children of our own, technology advanced, I would often be sent a photo of a hand drawn plan of Dad’s advice, and in return would send a photo of the end project when I’d finished.

          I have snippets of memories from many a time working on a project with my Dad on the other end of the phone. One time in particular I remember something was wrong with the hot water tank in the attic, I remember describing the details with a torch in one hand and the phone held to my ear in the other.

          I also remember delving into a broken washing machine on many occasions with my Dad troubleshooting at each stage, starting by checking the fuse on the plug and eventually diagnosing the fault. I have my limitations though, I know how a lot of things work, and often my confidence is my bigest limitation, but I know how much damage electric, gas, and water can do if you get it wrong, so on these things I call in the professionals.

          Since moving to my seaside, I do miss my trusted tradesmen, the ones who have gotten used to me over the years and were quite happy to just drop in and do the little bits of jobs I was stuck on. So far, we’ve had our radiators changed by a plumber who left dirty water marks on the carpet, walls built in the back garden by a builder who couldn’t measure a gate, a shed door and window built by a carpenter who’s work I quite frankly wouldn’t allow in the house and a bathroom fitter who seems to have evaporated. However, I now know a very good double-glazing firm, and I’ve found a handyman who is almost as much of a perfectionist as I am …