We talked about goals not so long ago.  And today I need to talk about a big goal of mine.

There’s a third party in our marriage.  She’s old, creaky, crotchety, and rather battered.  But as she was born in 1857, she has some justification.  Welcome to the house.

I never intended to have anything quite this enormous or decrepit.  I was looking for a four bedder, with enough space to host my mum plus an office, a piano, and a rather uncontrolled collection of books.  Everything fell through.  Then one day the estate agent rustled through his filing cabinet and came up with the details for this place.

She had sat, unloved, for over a year.  No one was prepared to take her on.

A local firm of builders had bought her for offices, but failed to consider that little thing known as planning permission.  They’d rewired her.  Florescent lighting, was perhaps not the best idea.  They’d stood in the downstairs hall and turned on a rabid and insatiable artex dispenser, which wasn’t so great.  I came to see her, and I was seduced.  Never mind the artex.  She has a stained glass window on the landing punctuated with fiery suns and more beautiful glass in the sitting room, a cellar with a brick arch for wine, elaborate cornicing and ceiling roses, beams on the top floor, and way too many bedrooms.  Did I tell you just how seduced I was?

I made an insulting offer which was accepted.  Somehow the rooms got filled.  I became the scavenger of eBay and auction houses for furniture too big to fit anywhere else.  The two seater sofa from my previous cottage got lost in the sitting room and was relocated to the top floor.  I corralled all those books into one room and made a library.  Ah, be still my beating heart.

I acquired a husband.  We both work from home, so two rooms turned into offices.  We came to ignore the artex, unless a specially pointed piece went into attack mode on the stairwell.

House Behaving Badly

Then the house decided to give us some reminders of our complacency.  Her guttering turned out to be inadequate for the volume of rain, and she became gradually incontinent of the back corner.  She’s certainly no climate change denyer.  Two roofers proved inadequate to her challenge, but the third fixed her.

By that time, she had decided that a little dry rot in the kitchen was needed as her next dirty protest.  It wasn’t somewhere cheap, but in the corner that has the kitchen door, the back door, a large window, and the boarding that contains the pipework and the alarm box.  She likes to be treated like the lady she is, with lots of pampering and expensive new gear.  And of course nothing about her is of a standard size.  Her skirtings are twelve inches tall, her door frames are no longer made and her ceilings too high to reach other than from the top platform of a step ladder.

She needed some electrical work for that alarm box.  That led to a total rewire.  Ouch.  Fortunately we managed to schedule that for a fortnight when we were out of the country.  (And don’t worry, we knew the contractors.)  They did a grand job but did warn us that dust would continue to fall for some months to follow.  And it did.  Dust from 1857 to be precise, which is sort of entertaining the latent archaeologist in me, while troubling Henry the vacuum cleaner.

Goals for 2017/18

And so to the goals.  I am working on the principle that if you share goals, you become accountable.  So here it is.  The fine lady/recalcitrant beast has enough rooms to take my attention for the next year.  This is of course ignoring her vast stairwell, corridors and two flights of stairs.  Every room now boasts the zebra plaster stripes of the rewire, along with the occasional ceiling adornment of new plaster, and remedial plastering where sockets and switches were moved.

I’ve been ramping up to this slowly.  In November, I was simply entranced by the ability to see properly all through the house.  We had lights over the kitchen worktop!  I could read in the library at night!  We had lights outside the front door, so I could see to get my keys in the locks!  In December, well, we had Christmas.  In January, life took back over.  In short, I was becoming slothful.  I found myself apologising to the meter reader that we still had a random loose radiator in the hall.  I’ve got used to the fact we only have half the flooring remaining in the kitchen after her little incontinence phase.

Work In Progress

In April I took myself firmly in hand.  I looked at the cost of getting the house decorated.  I felt a little faint.  I tried again.  Still faint.  Then I remembered last time we decorated the sitting room.  My mum was really well then, and we hired a scaffold tower.  Mum, unlike me, had no fear of heights, so she went up and I stayed down.  We cranked up her favourite Queen CD.  At one point, I wheeled her, singing loudly, atop the tower, to the next patch of ceiling to paint.  The memories made me smile, and I decided to crack on with the work again.

There’s no scaffold tower this time, just a roller on a very long stick.  I’d forgotten how long it takes to get all the masking tape in place.  I raked out and plastered a big hole in the corner, which turned out to be surprisingly like icing a cake.  The fireplace wall will forever be associated in my head with the Catfish Season 5 catch up.  But it’s done.  It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s done.  And there will undoubtedly (unless I win the lottery or get the urge to learn to plaster properly) be artex about this place forever.

June’s project is the back bedroom on the first floor.  That’s destined to be husband’s new office.  It’s got a long corridor outside for books, and a beautiful garden view.  It’s stage two in the game of House Tetris.  I paint, we get the flooring down, then he moves in there.  The room he vacates will become our new bedroom, with a shower room and two dressing rooms alongside.  That’s a good and drool-worthy incentive.

A room a month.  I’m going in.

Author: Bernie

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