Kitchenwatch – 1

It’s been a long time coming but finally I decided to upgrade my kitchen from stone age to modern age. Many things have prevented me doing this in the past. The main one being the ongoing subsidence which, although largely cured, has left me a bit nervous of splashing out a great deal of money on major internal improvements in case the walls fall down. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but if I had to do remedial work to the structure, it would probably involve removing internal fittings as well. And then there’s the cost. Have you any idea how much a nice drawer handle is?

Finally, there was the decision on exactly what did I want? Shaker, modern, solid, soft close, granite, wood, gloss, metal, overhead, underfloor? My kitchen is small, even with the extension, and I wanted to make the most of it. But how? I’m no design visionary and every time I tried laying things out I was left with a small square of space in which to stand while surrounded by units.

But then I had a brainwave. Before the extension, my kitchen was a tiny galley style affair. With the extension, I could return to the galley style and bring some of it back into the old kitchen area. With a built in oven, that would free up much of the extension for a breakfast table. If my life were a cartoon (some say it is), a small electric lightbulb would have appeared above my head.

Fast forward through the purchasing process to last week. I spent most of my spare time clearing out the kitchen. To give you an idea of what that meant, I found a brand new frying an at the back of a cupboard. I have no idea when I bought it. I found a collection of empty rubbish bags showing the progress in style of the council’s bag decoration. Early bags were made with thicker plastic, for example. And the font has changed on the directions printed on the bags.

On Friday, I was given my delivery slot. I was told at the time of buying that delivery would be today, and that I would be given a two hour slot. That’s great. I had the chance to take Rufus for a walk, clear the front room to allow storage of the units and take a trip to the local recycling site with a car load of rubbish. So imagine my surprise to get a phone call while Rufus and I were dodging stealth cows and watching a little foal playing with it’s parents on Fairwood Common. “It’s the delivery driver here, we’re 5 minutes from your house.”

20 minutes later, I was screeching* to a halt outside my house where the van was, indeed, parked and the guys were unloading the units. 45 minutes of huffing and puffing later, there was a complete kitchen, with oven and hob, sitting in some cardboard boxes in my front room. Everything but the kitchen sink. Which turned out to be there as well.

*may have been a gentle and considered parking maneouver, ensuring the vehicle ended up parallel to the kerb without the tyres touching the pavement.

Rufus and I started to gather all the rubbish that was going down to the tip. As you can see in the photo below, he did his bit in preparing the cardboard. Then, after a busy 20 minutes sorting all the recycling out and trying to figure which container it all went in (the guys working there were really helpful with that) I was driving back home and finally managed to get to sit down after 5 hours on the go.

They come to fit it next week. Between now and then I have to eat my way through the contents of the freezer (Rufus has offered to help with that), finish emptying the cupboards and set up a temporary kitchen where I can make tea or coffee while they work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The things humans do

By Rufus. Typed by Dave because I told him to.

I’m staying with Dave at the moment because my skills as an escape artist proved too great in my temporary home. To be fair, I never signed any agreements not to try and escape. Life with Dave isn’t too bad as I have him trained to a very high standard and I reluctantly admit that the service level and living standards are quite good in his house.

But he has some quirks. I may have mentioned before that he likes taking photos and I think it’s becoming a bit of an obsession with him, Every time I look, he has a camera in his hand. He has several cameras – why do you need more than one?  These days he tends to point them at very very small things in the garden. Yesterday I caught him trying to photograph a fly! As a reward, he turned the camera on me and started taking my portrait. I was trying to get my best side (right, if you must know) into shot but he kept moving. So I flopped down in the garden. Well, it was really warm out there and I hoped he’d get the message and leave me alone.

He’s off this week so we get to see a lot of each other. That’s fine, I like Dave. This morning I was looking forward to a nice lie-in (until about 5am) but there was thunder outside. I don’t like thunder. Don’t judge me, we all have our little phobias. Dave doesn’t like spiders. So It was nice to have Dave to cuddle up to until the thunder had stopped. And his bed is nice and comfy, so rather than disturb him when everything was quiet, I stayed there. It was so comfy that I over slept until 7am!

Later this morning, he was out digging holes in the garden. Now I’m not one to boast, but I am the king of holes. I can scratch a pit in the hardest of ground in minutes. But he didn’t want my help and instead proceeded to dig a deep hole and then plant a stick in it! Admittedly it was a big stick, but even so! Sticks are meant to be thrown, not buried. He spent ages putting big stones in the hole to prop up the stick, and then he filled the hole in and did a little dance on it!  He said something about birds and hung a very nice smelling fat ball on it.

I’ve got to stop now as I’ve asked Dave to finish off the bathroom. While I dislike taking showers, when I have to, I would rather do so in a completed bathroom rather than the half finished building site. There, that’s told him.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DIY – shall I compare thee to a summers day?

A summer’s day starts with a warm, empty morning waiting to be filled with nice things.  DIY starts with that dreaded ‘where the <insert preferred expletive> do I start with all this, then?’

A summer’s day has the sweet singing of birds to greet you. DIY has the clatter of dropped tools, the stubbed toe swearing and the agony of the trodden-on nail.

A summer’s day has the distant hum of a bee making it’s way between delicate flowers. DIY has the ‘BRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!’ of power tools on the verge of being out of control.

A summer’s day has the sweet fragrance of grass. DIY has the acrid smell of drill-burnt wood, brick dust and lightly oiled metal.

A summer’s day lets the sun caress your face and hair with warmth and the lightest of breezes. DIY assault your pores with cement dust, which also clings to every bodily hair and threatens to set hard if exposed to moisture.

A summer’s day brings a dew-like glow to the skin. DIY forces sweat out at high pressure, guaranteeing lasting discomfort and rock hard cement hair.

A summer’s day inspires you to write rich prose to celebrate the gloriousness of the day. DIY inspires you to chant swear words over and over and over. And over.

I’m off now to chant some more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elephants in the Room

As part of the ongoing development of my bathroom, I’ve been trying to decide what to put on the walls. The development was halted earlier in the year with the realisation that the guys that had put in the bathroom (in the 70’s) had made such a hash of the walls that I would have to take the walls back to brick to get it done properly. The house has black lime mortar which crumbles if you stare at it to hard, so trying to take tiles and wall paper off is a nightmare. Removing the tiles would have been easier and less destructive of the mortar if I’d used small amounts of gunpowder.

So I went on the recommendation of the guy that put the shower in and decided on aquaboard as a facing on which to tile. I had some vouchers to spend in a DIY shop by June, so today I calculated the number of aquaboard panels necessary and went to get them.

DIY! I don’t understand the attraction. The purchasing experience was a nightmare. The trolley was knackered but it didn’t start playing up until I’d loaded the 17 sheets onto it. Then it wouldn’t turn. I had to drag it around corners. The board was heavy – it’s made of cement to be waterproof. The board was as far away from the checkout as it could be. The trolley squeaked and wobbled it’s way down the aisles. Negotiating the car park was hard – there was an uphill slope and several corners. The board wouldn’t fit properly into the car so they were piled up in the boot with the lid partially open and held in place by bungees.

Back home, I had to carry each board up from the car to the house. Each board now weighed the same as a small African elephant (although to be fair, it was easier to hold and didn’t struggle so much – my African elephant carrying days are now long gone but the memories survive). I had 17 of them and to make matters worse, dark rain clouds loomed and I didn’t want the boards to get wet before I’d sealed them in place on the bathroom wall. My hall and kitchen now have aquaboard everywhere but at least they take up less room than the elephants did.

In exercise terms, I’ve had a good day.


African elephants, disguised as Aquaboards, graze in my hall.

The continuing saga of the bathroom of lost dreams

When I started work on the bathroom (see DIM post) I thought it would be all over in a week. Shortly after the new fittings were fitted, I thought it might take a month as the walls were in pretty rubbish condition. But it’s been about 5 months now and through no fault of anyone else, I haven’t moved on.There have been weekends away and holidays and stuff and a hundred other excuses that don’t stand the test of time.

My bathroom without the carpet fitted

Bathroom without carpet

I was getting fed up of the multitude of carpets on the floor that needed cleaning and rearranging so I decided to fit a temporary carpet while waiting to make my mind up about what to put there permanently. Getting those curves right was fun.

Cutting the carpet

Cutting the carpet


This is a risk, of course, because the carpet may look good and then I’ll decide I don’t need to do anything else. But the walls still look awful so there is still hope.

My bathroom with carpet fitted

Bathroom with carpet

Now all I need is tiles or boards, or maybe a plaster skim. If I stuck posters up as a temporary measure…



Do it myself.

Stages of bathroom development

Left to right: Old green bathroom; toliet and more toolboxes than I thought existed; shower on the left; mirror and towel rails in place.

Well, get some one to do it for me. I had a green bathroom. It’s been there for ever and it was time to go. The taps dripped, the bath took too much water and I didn’t have any room for a shower. So I found a decent shower unit, added some pottery (toilet and basin to you and me) and got someone to put it in for me.

The shower is fantastic. It has a monsoon head, body jets and a radio, all in addition to the standard shower head. The toilet seat and lid are the kind that drop slowly, and they drop at slightly different speeds so they kind of fan out as they go. Every time (I know because I’ve watched them). It’s great.

I have yet to decide what to do with the walls as the people who put the previous bathroom in made a real mess of the walls, covering up their sloppy work with bathroom fittings. It would need major plastering work and my initial idea of tiling it myself is looking a really daunting task.. The guys that installed the fittings recommended against it as the preparation work would probably be beyond me. So I’m thinking of some kind of batten and board finish, which has the added advantage of being easier to clean and maintain. As a bloke, I like the way that sounds.

So this evening, I put up some temporary accessories. I needed a mirror and a towel rail and a toilet roll holder. They’re all in place. They’ve shown up the dreadful misalignment of the walls and the tiling. I measured the level of the mirror and shelf with a spirit level but because the tiles are out, it looks as if the mirror is wonky. IT’S NOT! (I have to say that in capitals to convince myself).

The floor is covered in a mish-mash of carpets and rugs and bath mats at the moment. I won’t be doing the floor properly until I know what the walls will be looking like. Besides the rugs and mats and things give it a vaguely Eastern touch to it all.

Okay, it doesn’t really.