Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Who needs a crystal ball?

I have seen my future and it looks like this:

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tradesmen make me want to leave home...

Why is it that tradesmen have to live up to their poor reputations? Why do they find it SO impossible to actually do what they say they're going to do?

Two years ago, at the time of the removal of the woodchip wallpaper, we also had a hideous (and redundant) gas wall fire removed from the living room by the chappie who comes to service our boiler. The gas pipe feeding the fire came up from the garage below our living room and my chappie tapped the pipe off about two inches above the floor.

We now want to lay the new floor so this will entail having the gas pipe re-tapped off below floor level, preferably in the garage. I tried ringing my usual chappie only to find he's away on holiday until 1 September. The Husband has work in September, probably for most of it, so we don't actually want to wait that long because if we do, then the floor won't get put down until, probably, October, and we want it down NOW (or even sooner).

So, on Wednesday this week, the ringing around to try and find a local plumber or gas central heating engineer who can nip over to do a 10 minute job began. I hate doing this sort of thing, but so does The Husband, so, quite often, I end up having to do it anyway. And then The Husband listens to my side of the conversation and I can tell by the angry/confused/sad/frustrated face he pulls that I've said something wrong, which always leaves me shouting in my head 'Well, why didn't you make the call in the first place? You know more about what you want than I do, you know the technical terms, I don't.....!' and feeling inadequate and stupid [Sorry, Husband, I know you read this blog but this is just the way it is, 'mmmkay?]

So the whole think is fecking stressful even from the start. Then, if you're lucky, you might get one to answer the phone. I explain, in my cumbersome way, what is required. "Okay", he replies "We'll give you a ring when we're in your area, it'll be either tomorrow or Friday", "Lovely," says I "we'll be in all week so I'll wait to hear from you". 'Brilliant', I think, 'Job sorted'. And smugly put the phone down.

Thursday came and went. I had to visit my mum briefly but The Husband was in. No phone call.

Friday (yesterday) - got to about 4pm when The Husband suggested that I ring the plumber again to find out exactly when they'll be calling round. I rang the same number, eventually got an ansaphone, left a message. The Husband asks if I rang the plumber's mobile, I said I hadn't got that number so I'd rung the only one I had. The Husband declares the mobile number can be found on the plumber's website (which is not the website I'd gone to) and points at it. So I ring the mobile. It rings....and rings....and rings....and is eventually cut off. Didn't even get to voice mail. I think that's as clear a 'Fuck Off' message as I'm likely to get.

All this now causes The Husband to curse and rant, which makes me stressed as well because (as always) the way my psyche works means that whatever causes him to be angry and upset is invariably my fault in some way (I know, I know - it isn't, but it's hard to retrain yourself when you've always been like this). So now, of course, we have to try and find another one. And probably go through the whole bleeding rigmarole all over again because the job's such a small one that they can't be arsed to come and do it, even though it's massively important to us and holding the whole redecorating malarkey up.


On the upside, this week I ate this:

It's a plate of ribs. I'll remind you I'm in England and you don't normally get something that looks like half a dinosaur when you order ribs! The Husband had a 10oz steak which you can see on his plate, for size comparison. Actually, looking at the picture, it looks like his actual plate is much smaller but they were both the same size - the angle of the picture has made it deceptive. Needless to say I didn't manage all of it!

Also, we put up the Indian textile wallhanging:

And the ceiling light:

So despite the best efforts of Britain's tradesmen, things are coming together.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Saga of the Decorating

Let me tell you the Saga of the Decorating - all gather round now and find a comfortable seat.

Many years ago, from a land far to the West, where they speak a musical language and particularly enjoy a game played by men with oddly shaped balls, there came a tall young man. We shall call him Simon Desmondson. He came to a town in a valley in the south east to become a scholar. The place of learning was beside a large cathedral (the sight of which caused the devil child Damian to have a fit in the 1976 original version of 'The Omen' - it'll do that).

In this place, Simon Desmondson was given a room in which to learn how to speak more effectively to the bright stars that travel swiftly across the night sky and which bring us communication from across the planet. Near to this room was another room, and in that room was to be found a lady we shall call Caroline Michaelsdottir. Caroline Michaelsdottir aided a cabal of young intellectual explorers led by a wise, but fiery, elder who hailed from a distant and mysterious land across the seas to the east. She would scribe their words and figures, and organise the hostelries and mechanical horses that would transport the group and their elder to other places.

One day, Simon Desmondson and Caroline Michaelsdottir met and fell in love. "Let us get married", they said, "And live together in one place instead of two as we currently do".

And so it came to pass that 156 moons ago, Simon Desmondson and Caroline Michaelsdottir travelled by metal bird to the western edge of the world, to a dry and dusty (but very spangly) place called Las Vegas and there they were joined together.

Simon Desmondson and Caroline Michaelsdottir returned to their homeland after seeing many wondrous places including the largest, reddest ditch in the world and a prison on an island in the middle of a bay crossed over by a vast bridge that was Golden. They returned to a dwelling built on land that once belonged to the tribe of Godhelm.

Here they lived very happily for many years until one day, they woke up and said "Good grief, I can't live with this peach-coloured woodchip wallpaper any more - it's all got to come off!" And so the decorating finally began.

We're really not that far off finishing now, although the floor still has to go down which is a properly major job but, as I type, I can hear Simon Desmondson painting the walls which, possibly, might be done by the end of today. He'll then put up the new light fittings, change the lightswitches and start thinking about the flooring. We still need to get new curtain tracking and I need to sort out having the curtains cleaned. We're also contemplating getting a pair of new lamp tables so we can finally have matching ones.

I'm most properly proud of the incredibly hard work that Simon Desmondson has put into all this - we really weren't looking forward to hanging the wallpaper but we tried not to panic, and keep calm, and just take it slowly and - following a few hissy fits along the way - it all worked out extremely well. We didn't rush so it took 2 weeks to do the whole lot but that's fine - it's taken us 13 years to get round to this so what's an extra few weeks! So here's a picture montage of progress since 31 July:

31 July 2009 - the very first bit of lining paper going up.

Later that day.

Pasting around the corner. The outside light was going so we had to use a halogen inspection lamp while paper was pasted around the light switches.

It was decided that as soon as this part of the room had been papered, it would be painted and finished off so that the TV and associated paraphernalia (including a new thermostat and sockets) could be reinstalled.

The colour is Dulux 'Dusted Damson' which is fabulous as it changes colour with the light during the day.

Everything back in its place

Putting up the lining paper down the long wall. Supervised, as always, by one of the cats.

View from the other end of the room.

Papering up the stairs.

14 August 2009 - the pasting of the last piece of lining paper

The ceremonial sticking up of the final piece - yay!

So now came the torture of deciding what colour to paint it. We decided on a neutral shade in the pale beige/coffee/stone range. I understand the need for this as you really don't want your main living room to be too overpowering colour-wise, but I love colour and am not afraid of it, I mean, see these pictures below - this is our bedroom. Ignore the untidyness (guilty as charged - I'm not the world's tidiest person...) and just concentrate on the colours:

(The laundry basket doesn't normally live in the middle of the bedroom but it had to be moved from the landing for the painting - I realise this is an excuse. Okay, I admit it, I am that slatternly).

("Oh, Good GRIEF, couldn't you even have managed to straighten the duvet before taking a picture and showing it to the world?" - I'm channelling my own mother now.... sorry, mum, dunno what happened to your housework genes - I think I must have dropped them somewhere along with the Taking Exercise and Eating Sensibly genes).

So an unexciting colour it's going to be then. This will be fine because we have lots of lovely colourful pictures and I've an Indian tapestry wallhanging to put up, plus there's cushions and rugs to be considered.

But just how many shades of Boring are there in the world? Far more than an average person can cope with, it would seem. We ended up getting at least half a dozen tester pots of beige-ish before finding one that wasn't too yellow or too purple or too pink.

A selection of the samples. The candelabra is from Ikea, if anyone cares.

In the end we decided on a colour called 'Natural Hessian' which is at the very pale end of creme brulee/cafe latte/mushroom (smells a bit mushroomy too, which is weird) and is extremely pale brown - and occasionally browny-pink depending on the light. Hard to describe, but look, here's where just the edges have been done upstairs and you can clearly see the difference next to the lining paper (if you concentrate and squint a bit):

We've also decided, however, that we're going to do some of the walls upstairs with the dusted damson, just to alleviate the unrelenting beigeness of it all really, but that's not been done yet.

Will update with pictures again when all finally done and dusted.