What I did this summer … 3

So we got a plasterer around to give us a quote for boarding and plastering the 2 x three foot strips of brick wall that were once in the outside porch but now were in the inside porch and he said something like “You buy all the materials and give me £150 and I’ll do it”.

I say something like because by then I’d already decided to do it myself, even though I’ve never plastered a wall in my life, well actually thats not true, there was that chimney breast in the other house, but we’ll talk about that another time, another time we need a disaster story to cheer us up.

So I went to the DIY store again and I bought plasterboard, plasterboard adhesive, browing and finish, I bought a hawk and a flat trowel … what … no not a real hawk, not a kestrel, a plasterers hawk – look it up, I’m a busy man.

And I replastered the two bits of wall that were now welcomed as bits of the “inside” house instead of bits of the “outside” house and I have to say that in my eyes I didn’t do such a bad job of it, especially after I’d gone through eight sheets of sandpaper and nearly worn out an electric sander trying to get a smooth finish after the plaster dried – in the end we just wallpapered it with really thick lining paper and you can barely see the bumps at all, not unless the light shines the wrong way anyway.

“I think we’re ready for the carpet fitter now” I cheerfully remarked

“These skirting boards need painting” she said “but the old paintwork needs to come off first, its awful”

Why do women look at the detail ?

So out came the hot air paint stripper and I spent many and evening sitting on the hard wooden floor scraping burnt bits of paint off the skirting boards and door frames until eventually every piece of wood that had ever been painted white in our hallway and up our stairs was now bare pine again, our hallway looked like the inside of a TGI Friday.

“Right” she said, “Now we can take the wallpaper off the hall, stairs and landing”
“Huh ?”

I left her to it, decorating is her forte, I’ve always left the wallpapering to her, its like a tradition in our house, “Oh theres some wallpapering to do is there, right I’ll just sit here on the settee and watch you do it then”, except when it gets to the high bits, the bits at the very top of the stairwell where the normal ladder won’t reach and so we have to get out the “special” ladders from the garage, the ones we bought because in the DIY store they showed these two ladders standing on a staircase with a platform stretched between them and a man standing on the platform happily painting the ceiling of his stairwell.

Seemingly this portable scaffold was specially designed to allow non-acrobats like myself to easily reach the very highest bits of your stairwell with minimum, nay, no danger at all to life and/or limb.

I kept reminding myself of those diagrams on the packaging as I stood there shaking like a shite-ing dog on my platform and reaching tentatively for the really high bits of our stairwell, I’m sure that the ladder platform on the packaging diagram didn’t shake as much as this, and the stairs looked like an awfully long way to fall down, I reckon a couple of broken legs at the very least, maybe death, thats right, talk your part up I thought.

“So just remind me again why I am doing these very high bits when its you that does all the decorating ?” I ask my decorating wife

“I do all the decorating except the very high bits” she replies forcefully and to be honest there’s not much you can say in reply to that is there.

Lining paper all stuck to the wall and painted afterwards I then varnished all of the skirting boards and pine stair parts that I had previously and painstakingly stripped only for “her” to stand there and declare that she didn’t like it and that the skirting boards should be painted white again, lets remind ourselves here, I spent two weeks removing 55 years worth of white paint from the skirting boards in order to varnish them in their natural pine state, only for her to get me to paint them white again – so I did, I know better than to question my master.

And in the meantime I’d raised the floor in the new hallway by means of building a new floor and I’d removed the old radiator that was about as useful as burning a candle in order to provide heat through the winter and replaced it with a big super duper double radiator that will hopefully drive us from our home this winter, gasping for cold air outside with its effusive heat delivering capabilities – and I’d installed some new lighting in the hallway.

I think thats it.

So yesterday the carpet fitters arrived and after two months of standing on those spiky gripper-rods in your bare feet on every step down the staircase every day, we now have a lovely soft, springy carpet to stroll back and forth on, coo-ing in delight and reminding each other how soft it feels – Jake slept in the hallway last night so it must be soft.

So thats it then ?

Well not quite.

There is a list of “Things to do” magnetised to the fridge door and there is a “thing to do” in every room in this house and I remind myself that although some rooms only have one “thing to do”, so did the hallway only have one “thing to do” on the list two months and £1000 ago.

I may be some time with this DIY stuff.


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