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Fridges, Freezers and Right Angles

30th July 2014
The plasterer duly arrived yesterday and demonstrated the black magic art of making gloopy stuff, stuck on the wall with a trowel, look smoother than a banana smoothy stuck on something smooth.


The roof window recesses are now looking just lovely ūüôā

No sign of the worktops yet, so we decided to pop the fridges and freezers in.
When I say pop, of course I mean struggle like buggery to get them in.

As we have two commercial spec fridges and two freezers, which aren’t standard size, we’d specified an exact gap for them to fit into. (Mistake number 1).
We also hadn’t realised that when a kitchen fitter sees a drawing showing a fridge or freezer at 600mm wide, what they really see is 595mm. (Mistake number 2).
Lastly, when we measured one of the fridges at 600mm, which use¬†exactly the same casing as the freezers, we expected the geniuses in Denmark¬†to make them all the same size. (Mistake number 3!). Apparently it’s just fine to make four¬†“identical” appliances any width between 600mm and 608mm. ūüôĀ

Having said all that, our excellent kitchen fitters returned in a trice to see what they could do to find a solution to this somewhat vexing issue.

After much umming and ahhing, a cunning plan was hatched Рnot quite as cunning as a fox, but close enough.
As the builder, who originally built The Laurels, apparently didn’t own a set square, we’ve ended up with walls that are approximately 100 degrees to each other instead of the normally accepted 90 degrees to represent a right angle. ¬†
The plan then, involved removing the plasterboard on the wall adjacent to one of the fridges, so the fridge¬†could sit orthogonal (that’s technical¬†for 90 degrees) to the wall and larder unit. This would then enable everything else to shift across sufficiently to fit in the rest of the white goods.
With the agreed plan clear in my mind, we started hacking off the plasterboard to reveal the wall behind – thereby gaining around 20mm of extra width.
All that was required now, was for someone (me) to re-plaster the wall.

 Plastering around Fridge

You’d have to look very closely, but you can probably just about make out the difference between a proper plasterer’s job (at the top of this post) and my representation of the¬†Himalayas¬†(above).
Just as well it will be hidden behind the fridge, so no one will see it! ūüôā

Velux or Not Velux, That is the Question

26th July 2014
Whilst waiting somewhat impatiently for the kitchen worktops to be made and fitted, we busied ourselves with finishing off some bits and bobs before making a start on the tiling.

It’s surprising (to me at least) how much extra loft¬†insulation you end up with after¬†fitting two, rather large roof windows. This meant I had to spend another couple of very sweaty hours redistributing the excessive itchy stuff around the Toblerone Tomb. Of course, the only sensible time for me to undertake this activity would be during one of the hottest days of year. Even after two showers I was still feeling more than a little uncomfortable. In the meantime Helen was on the roof painting on more magic gloop, claiming she was “a little warm”.
This was followed rather swiftly by us finishing off boarding out the roof window recesses, so the plasterer could come and show off his black magic on Tuesday.

According to a book I read when I was young (Genesis, I think, although I’m sure Phil Collins wasn’t alive then), some bloke once said “Let there be light – and there was light”.
This is certainly true of our window lights. What a difference!
The kitchen, which was once dull and gloomy, even on the sunniest days, is now light, airy and warm. Fantastic ūüôā

Kitchen SkylightThat lead nicely on to the tiling. 

After trailing around, what seemed like most of the tile shops within a 10 mile radius of us, we finally decided on a purple and light grey composition.

Kitchen Tiles

You may be wondering, looking at the photo above, why we didn’t remove the grill above the cookers before starting the tiling. Simple really – the enormous extractor hood was clearly fitted after the grill, which means it’s impossible to remove the grill without first removing the extractor!
Despite this somewhat irksome oversight, we managed to get enough access behind the Bacon Frazzler to adhere some tiles ūüôā

Tomorrow brings another day (in this case a Sunday) so we’ll be slapping some more tiles on the wall, in a vain attempt to bring us one step closer to finishing the kitchen and enjoying a non-microwave meal for a change.

Templating and Roof Gloop

23rd July 2014
After a couple of days away visiting friends and family, we recommenced duties updating and repairing things.

The kitchen templating man duly arrived to make up the templates for the worktops. This is a man who knows the meaning of attention to detail. He spent over 5 hours measuring and marking things up, to ensure the sinks and taps etc go in the correct place, before disappearing with his big pile of plastic sheets.

The great thing about this supplier is that¬†they use¬†an end to end process. This means¬†the guy who does the templating also does the cutting of the quartz and then comes back to fit it too. This should cut out the opportunity for miscommunication to mess things up ūüôā
We’ll see in a week or so, when he comes back, if it works.

Somewhat unusually¬†the weather has been extremely hot and dry recently (hooray!). To take advantage of this freak meteorological phenomenon¬†Helen decided to spend the day on the roof over the kitchen. As half¬†of this roof is flat it¬†was¬†only a matter of time before it started to leak. Luckily I’d discovered this new wonder material which you paint on to flat roofs to make them waterproof again for another 10 years (or so they claim).¬†After much sweeping, brushing and sweating Helen had cleared the old gravel off half the roof in readiness for the wonder-gloop. An hour or so later we had a brand new looking roof, which will hopefully remain waterproof for a good few years to come ūüôā

The Hammer Drill and Blackcurrant

15th July 2014
The two Kitchen Fitters turned up nice and early today to start err, fitting the kitchen – We don’t just give these people names on a whim you know, they’re thoroughly thought through. (That may be slightly too alliterative even for me).

Kitchen Installation

Those of you with an eye for detail will notice the large glass of blackcurrant squash lurking on the window sill. I mention this, as it became the source of much wetness to me.

As we needed to modify the existing plumbing to accept 3 sinks, I was dispatched to drill a large hole through the wall for the new outlet.
This wouldn’t normally be a problem, except the bricks from which our walls are made were clearly designed to withstand a 40 megaton nuclear explosion. Hard doesn’t even come close to describing these blocks of impenetrable clay.
As a consequence, the big guns were brought out to play.
My SDS drill packs a real punch, so when I began attacking the wall with it, Helen likened it to someone enduring one of those vibro-plate thingies, that are so popular in gyms, with miracle-seeking people at the moment.

The real impact of all this percussive persuasion, however, was to jiggle the aforementioned glass of squash to the point of unbalance on the window sill, toppling it onto my lap. Not impressed!

Apparently the boys will finish the main fitting tomorrow. We’ll then be visited by The Worktop Man who will create the templates for the¬†piece de resistance – The black, sparkly quartz worktop ūüôā

As an aside, we’ll also be visited tomorrow by the main engineer who’s designing the piling scheme. Exciting times!

Itchy and Scratchy? Or Just Itchy?

11th July 2014
With only 3 days left before the kitchen fitters arrive, we’ve still got loads to do.
Today Helen busied herself filling and painting, whilst I returned to the hell hole to lay in more wires for the electrician.

Kitchen Loft

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being up there, with my head covered in cobwebs and my arms being attacked by a million tiny glass shards, courtesy of the insulation.
Unfortunately, I’ve got to return to my Toblerone Tomb tomorrow, to finish the roof windows from the inside. Helen will no doubt continue with her quest to paint everything in sight, whilst being interrupted by me asking her to pass the various tools I’ve forgotten up to my fibreglass funerary ground.

Linoleum Lunacy

8th July 2014
In preparation for the new kitchen flooring to be laid, we stripped everything out this morning.

          Empty Kitchen

       Empty Kitchen       

This was closely followed by the arrival of the Screedy Men, whose main task was to remove the original vinyl flooring.
Which reminds me. Whatever happened to lino?
Linoleum was invented by Frederick Walton in 1855 or so and is made up of such amazingly diverse things as linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour and calcium carbonate.
There was a grade of lino called¬†“battleship linoleum”. It was originally manufactured to meet the specifications of the U.S. Navy for warship deck covering, hence the name. Rather sensibly most U.S. Navy warships removed their linoleum deck coverings following the attack on Pearl Harbour, as they were considered too flammable.
One place it is still being used, however, is in break dancing as it’s smooth and durable.

Anyway, as our original flooring was stuck down with a substance stickier than Sticky the stick insect, stuck on a sticky bun, it needed three Screedy Men to remove it.
All of which then enabled them to screed the floor in preparation for the new kitchen to be fitted, before coming back to do the final finish. This will be a rather fetching dark grey, marbled coloured thingy. 

Formula One or Roofing. You Decide

6th July 2014
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I tend to look at other people’s jobs and find myself thinking whether I’d like to take it up as a career or not. In this case, I think it’s fair to say that I reckon being a roofer sits on the opposite side of the list to be a Formula 1 driver.
I realise Formula 1 drivers don’t spend¬†all their time surrounded by fast cars, fat wallets and beautiful women, but they sure don’t have to spend half their life clinging grimly onto a 45-degree surface, hoping not to slide off to a squelchy death, whilst simultaneously carrying half a hundredweight of concrete tiles.

The last two days have seen us both facing this particular challenge, whilst fitting the first of our new roof windows above the kitchen.
Having spent 8 hours straight on the roof, I now know how those sheep feel you see on the side of a mountain in places like Wales. You know – the ones with two long legs (facing downhill) and two short legs (facing uphill). This clearly enables them to graze very effectively, as they traverse the mountainside, although I’m sure they must (like roofers) tumble to their deaths if they try to turn round and walk in the opposite direction.
Luckily, having coaxed Helen up on the roof to help me, we were able to install this provider of light and warmth into the roof without so much as a raindrop falling, until this evening when a sudden downpour provided a perfect function test.

Skylight Fitting

Skylight Fitting

So, ¬†barely 36 hours after I confessed to Helen I’d never so much as removed a roof tile before, we have a perfectly waterproof skylight ūüôā

Rooflight Fitting

    Rooflight Fitting

Once the next one’s done, I think I’m done with roofing. Bloody rubbish job!

 Wiring or Wiring

4th July 2014
We spent the morning humping¬†more stuff out of the kitchen, into the guest dining room. Inevitably we now have a nice¬†spacious kitchen, but a very full dining room, in which it’s now impossible to find anything. We’ve also disconnected the cooker, so it’s take-aways and microwave monstrosities from now on.

Despite the Civil Aviation Authority deeming me suitably qualified to rewire a Boeing 747 from end to end, it seems I’m not worthy to even sniff the boots of a house electrician and certainly not allowed to wire up my own cooker.
As such, I busied myself with feeding wires into and out of the loft to enable the electrician to move a few sockets and things around. This may not sound too arduous a task, but the ‘loft’ over the kitchen actually resembles a Toblerone. This particular triangular-shaped hell hole is only big enough to either have your face buried in fibreglass insulation (itchy and unpleasant) or stuck in the spiders’ webs in the rafters (just unpleasant).

Having grunted, groaned and gasped for air through my mask in my¬†claustrophobic choky, I realised I’m way¬†too old for this lark!

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.


Nailing Soil and Draining France

3rd July 2014

We had the insurance loss assessor round today, who confirmed the following:

  • The Boffins are scribbling away on their doodle pads, in an effort to finalise the design of the ‘remedial works’. (That’s tech-speak for fixing the cock-up caused by the builders)
  • A French Drain is going to be installed along our border, to deal with the groundwater. Having looked it up, it’s clear a French Drain is entirely different from a French Letter, in that it collects unwanted fluid and diverts it elsewhere. On second thoughts, maybe not so different.
  • A number of¬†earth nails¬†will also be installed in the excavation site to stabilise it. We¬†hate to think how big the hammer will be – but, who knows, it’s possible we’ve missed the point entirely
  • Although lots of work will be carried out in the adjacent field and excavation, nothing much will happen up here until January 2015 when the piling will start

In the meantime, to take advantage¬†of the time we have left before reopening, we’ve decided to completely revamp the kitchen.
 Kitchen Before

As you can see, we’ve pretty much ripped out most of the useful stuff, which is going to make things pretty tricky in the next few weeks, whilst trying to create our usual culinary perfection ūüôā

In the next few days (weather permitting) we also hope to install two rather large roof windows, which will flood the current gloom with masses of natural light.
Fingers crossed!