10th Jan: New Year, New House, Indoor Toilet

Apologies. Apparently there are people reading this blog who are less than satisfied with the lack of progress reports on The Meaden Project (and that includes some quite well-known ones, but I don’t like to namedrop). They say time flies when you’re having fun, but have you any idea just how frigging quickly it goes when you’ve got a stack of decisions to make and a deadline in which to do it? No, didn’t think so.

All is good here. Actually, all is utterly brilliant here, apart from the stench of the Turdis. That’s one thing that’s wearing a little thin, especially when your beer consumption is as high as mine and the Hubsters. Please Steve, do put one of those magic fresheners in next time you come or I may have to do something drastic!

The Crimbo celebreations just went on, and on

The Crimbo celebrations just went on, and on

So to the house, the absolutely wonderful house. Where do I begin? Crimbo came and went in a blur of booze, more booze and turkey. We had a splendid night of pre-Christmas  japes, pikey-style, complete with full-on turkey and trimmings  with Chris P, the Crown Jules and Jimbillybob and Looby (they had to bring their own plates, I didn’t have enough) in an effort to win a new abode-on-wheels. Sadly, I haven’t heard anything back. Never mind, the rate the house is progressing, we won’t be needing it. Crimbo Day we went to Jimbillybob’s for another load of delicious scran, and, later, what a treat, watching some telly!

Roof nearly there and looking very fine indeed

Roof nearly there and looking very fine indeed

Stu and DependaPaul came back looking not very refreshed from their Christmas break. Stu got on the roof to pick up where he left off and I think, if I’m not very much mistaken, he’s still there. ‘Well Em,’ he’s oft explaining, ‘These tiles are lovely, but very tricky and I don’t want to get it wrong.’ Actually, I feel for him, 60 tiles per metre and on the North face with no company even from the Building Inspector (although he’s still around, shitting on our walls). Brrr. After a mercy dash to Heritage Tiles in Gravesend (thanks Tony, you’re an utter gem)for a few extra gable tiles and we’re nearly there, just a few more cuts to do up the valley, the ridges to put on and we’ll be complete. It really does look great.

Not a lot else has happened outside, because there’s not a lot else to do, apart, obviously, from the monumental task of landscaping and creating an entire garden.  Rich made a start by buying himself a chainsaw against the advice of Uncle B (too dangerous, apparently) and chopping up a few stragglers. Having been abandoned for the best part of 60 years, the grounds are in a bit of a mess. Still, or should that be Stihl, have chainsaw, will massacre. And have lots of fires, to boot. The Hubster, who appears to have a slight aversion to fresh air was out there for three days solid, covered in mud, wading round the dyke and looking like a pig in shit. In twenty odd
years, I’ve never seen him so happy. Apart from when he married me, obviously. Best £350 we’ve ever spent. I’d glad he enjoyed it, because he’s covered about 1/8th of an acre, another 3 and 7/8th still to do 😉

I think, without looking back, the last thing that happened in the blog was the screed going down. I tell you what, waiting for that to dry was really quite exciting. Anyone that thinks watching paint dry is boring has never waited for a screed floor to go off. That’s it, it had been tipping it down for days so took a little bit longer to dry than it should have done. I think it was about three days afterwards when we went in there again and what a total transformation. All of a sudden, it looks like a proper house.  Totally excited about the dried screed (well, we still don’t have a telly) I spent a day cleaning up some lovely yellow bricks we’d found while ripping the place apart last summer to place them out for the hearth and see how they looked.

Ooh, the saved yellow bricks will make a splendid hearth. If only we weren't one short

Ooh, the saved yellow bricks will make a splendid hearth. If only we weren’t one short

Now the yellow bricks may seem insignificant to anyone else, but they’re original, and lovely and, for us, quite a big part, ridiculously, of the story. I carefully dug them out of the dirt and stashed them, with a view to using them when we put the house back together. Stu, however, had a different idea because they were the perfect sized brick to use when putting those massive steel lattice beams in the roof. Every day, back in late summer last year, I noticed the brick stash was dwindling. When pressed, Stu (and Paul, he wasn’t working alone) confessed to using them when a normal brick was too much and a load of slate fillers weren’t enough. Now, when I’ve cleaned them up, sealed them, and laid them out for the hearth, we’re one short. No, kidding, Stu’s thanking goodness we’ve got enough as his life wouldn’t be worth living right now…

My lovely man Gary has been back to tinker with some of the first fix electrics and, having heard me moaning about the cost of lighting, fabricated me some lovely brackets  from which to hang some lights – rather than spending £400 on some fancy schmancy designer ones. Good work Gary.

We're going for this one

We’re going for this one

Nigel, the plumber, has been and, without laughing or taking the piss, entertained and encouraged my ideas of ‘Liberace’s playroom’ as he’s nicknamed the bathroom and given me instructions to buy shower trays, wastes and showers before coming back to install them. We’ve decided on the bath, by the way, we’re going copper with tin inner, if only so it won’t show a reflection of your arse when you get in. That might be a little scary 😉 We’ve chosen the lighting for in there, too, it’s chandeliers and a rococo style, very flamboyant console table on which to perch the basin. But hey, like Richard says, it’s only for looking at, not actually using!

This stuff

This stuff

Is now on the walls

Is now on the walls

The really big news is the upstairs though.  DependaPaul (I cannot tell you how appropriately we named him) has worked like a Trojan since coming back in the New Year and has basically finished the upstairs, singlehanded. The other night, he was still here at half past seven. Man, he works hard. Actually, to be fair, he’s been joined by another of our very merry band, Brett.

Thanks to this 'boy' Brett

Thanks to this ‘boy’ Brett

Brett started with us after Christmas and boy if you need someone to do some plastering, then he’s your man. Actually, despite his baldness, he’s still just a boy so don’t let the look of him deceive you. Brett rocks up with his toastie machine every day (pre-filled) and just gets on with the stuff Paul has been and prepped for him. He is a very, very good plasterer.

What a lovely job he's done

What a lovely job he’s done

I have yet to find a fault and, believe me, I’m looking. Having spent last week doing some final boarding, this week has actually seen some plaster go on the walls and well, what can I say. It’s a bit of a glory job but it’s no wonder, it looks utterly brilliant and has already started drying out. Best get the old paint charts out, woo hoo. (Er, that’s you Farrow & Ball, can we have a substantial discount please?)

It's going to be quite light in our bedroom, what with these windows and two skylights

It’s going to be quite light in our bedroom, what with these windows and two skylights

Other bits and bobs that have happened are that Julian has been back and made a couple of steps for the upstairs between old and new. I tell you what, I’m soooooo glad we had a change in height between the two parts, it’s the kind of detail that’s going to make this place uber special.

A lovely pair of steps, rather than the previous leap

A lovely pair of steps, rather than the previous leap (er, not the ladder, the steps on the right)

He knocked them up in an afternoon so I did ask him why he couldn’t do that with the staircase (have you seen the price of them lately?) and charge me five hundred quid for the pleasure. I was rewarded with a smile and a chuckle. That, from Julian, is worth five hundred quid alone. Aaaah, and so to tomorrow…





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