Bathroom Renovations Pt.2

So the world has gone Bananas about COVID-19, a Flu-like virus that is spreading all over the globe and wreaking havoc across nations. It seems that the most noticeable damage is actually being done by the hysteria rather than people dropping dead walking the dog…

Yes it is highly contagious and has killed a lot of people, but also simple things like the common cold and normal Flu kill people year on year and there is not any hysteria about that. Perhaps, now we live out in a small country village and rarely travel into Stoke town centre, we won’t see how bad it actually is. In any case, the Government has sprung into action and put in place some measures which, from anecdotal evidence, seems to have been proportionate, timely and working for the time being.

The main thing being plastered everywhere is to “STAY AT HOME”. This is the one-line instruction (that some simpletons still can’t manage) distilled from the active ingredient required to contain the outbreak – Social Distancing. Basically this means EVERYONE in the UK needs to stay at least 2m apart from each other and not exchange body fluids by coughing or sneezing or picking each other’s bums with the finger you use to scratch your eyes…

Great for gamers hermits introverts, but somewhat testing for animated, friendly, social butterflies like me. I really enjoy wandering around the country in my van, seeing different people and being on hand in person for various bits of work that need doing. The Government has basically sent everyone home and said…

“If you can work, then great, but if not, take a holiday on us, and we will pay you 80% of your wage – just dont go outside and die, ok?”

This is all fine and good and it will “Protect the NHS” and it will “Save Lives” but it is terribly inconvenient because we are without a functional bathroom. And, when we are trying to socially distance ourselves, but also maintain hygiene standards, it’s very difficult to comply. 

But this week, at last, we have our bathroom nearly done. It’s not for lack of work, New Plumb, the plumbers and builders we had in, have been spectacular and worked their butts off. Turning up bang on time each day and putting in some serious hours and effort. They have done a fantastic job and the bathroom looks amazing! Even when there was a defect in the shower tray that depressingly meant that it needed to be taken out and replaced, they cracked on and got it done without any fuss. But CarpetRight have our lino floor covering trapped in their warehouse and the free standing bath cant be installed until that is put down.

The other thing that is not quite finished is the living room wall removal. It’s been taken out, propped up, bricked out and steely supported in all the right places. But the building inspectors from the council have all gone off for a worthless chat in the corner of some cupboard or something and are not doing site visits until CV-19 has blown over. This means the new brickwork and steel cannot be covered up until it’s passed inspection.

Its not the end of the worldor maybe this is how it starts? becasue we have our fantastic shower all plumbed in and working, a new boiler keeping us warm and while the living room has some building work still to be done, its been cleaned up and is now comfortably livable. The change in feel of the house since the wall has been taken out of the living room! WOW! It’s changed the space entirely! New Plumb managed to get the steel beam right up as high into the ceiling as possible meaning its almost invisible. It feels like one huge space and means we always have a line of sight out onto the wonderful view in front of our house. We are very lucky to have this view, so always want to make the most of it.

The bathroom is a bit quirky, compared to modern standards. We have gone for a sort of distressed looking tile, that is non-uniform in colour, texture and pattern. It’s interesting and different and really suits our style, we love it. Opposite walls are in dark blue and light grey with white sanitary ware and real wood bath stand and basin shelf. We will see in time, whether a waxed, real wood, shelf was a good idea in a wet environment, but it looks good right now! Another feature that took a bit of work to install were the over mirror lights. Restrictive regulations mean you aren’t allowed a normal switch anywhere near a water source or in a splash zone, so we had to come up with a low voltage switch solution. I found a motion sensitive switch that we have located just under the front edge of the shelf so when you wave at it, it turns on and then another wave turns it off again. We live in Star Trek times and I LOVE IT!

Normally at weekends we would head out into the Peak’s for a walk, or see friends, or go for a motorbike ride. But we can’t do any “Non-essential travel” under CV-19 restrictions so we are staying at home. I’ve already stripped my mountain bike down and removed all the seized bearings. My god they were bad, I’m not sure how the suspension even moved, they were solid! After some video call consultation with Stephen, I’ve got some new bits on order. Whenever they turn up, those will be going in and back together.

So now I’m turning into a proper OAP and starting to tackle the garden. I figured I’d start in one corner and see how enthusiastic about this I am. Turns out, I can happily sit for 2 hours in the mud, digging out weeds and rocks listening to chilled out music in the sun. It’s really enjoyable and doesn’t cost a penny, I can totally understand why OAP’s garden all the time. 

My little corner now has our stone bench on the edge of the concrete pad overlooking the view. It was covered in dry twigs from where Aimi had gone mental at the shrubbery and hacked it to pieces as soon as we moved in. She bought a view and was determined to see it. I spent an hour burning all the twigs and clearing the area of leaves, bricks and dead flower pots. This is the sunniest part of the garden, latest into the evening, so we are going to use it for some chairs and a fire pit.

Just next to the fire pit pad, is a small patch of earth and a reasonable size vegetable patch. This is now all weed free and turned to perfection. The small patch is going to get a healthy dose of wildflower seeds so hopefully it surrounds the bench and makes it look like it’s meant to be there rather than just plonked on some mud. Jane and Ali from next door have given us some sprouted potatoes and a lesson in how to plant them. Hopefully these will soon be joined by some carrots and onions and one day in autumn we will get to have our very own vegetable garden stew!!! Very excited for that!!!

I’ve also made a plan and started on the rest of the garden. After a lot of sweat and swearing, I’ve managed to uproot some invasive sapling trees and clear a lot of one border to our lawn. I’m sure when it was designed and maintained properly (by old people) it looked wonderful. There are loads of different flowering plants around the edges that must have given it colour and all sorts of shapes through the year. But it’s way too high maintenance for us. There is a circular lawn surrounded by all these shrubs, and then next to it is a circular patch of stones. Gravel topped with larger, rounded, river rocks and a few grassy plants poking out of it in places. It’s just too much, so I’m going to use the rocks as a sort of cobble footpath around the veg patch. The gravel will all be taken up and the grassy shrubs removed and earth flattened to become a normal lawn again. There is one really nice tree with red pointy leaves that we are going to try and transplant to the far corner of the lawn, but most other things will be cleared ready for lawn seed. It’s just so much easier to mow a lawn a handful of time a year than weed borders. As much fun as it is on occasion, and while I may be losing my hair at a concerningly high rate, I’m not yet taking a pension so will leave more complex garden plans for later in life.

The icing on the cake is that after spending a whole weekend on my knees getting muddy and sweaty, we get to enjoy the best bits of our half finished bathroom and living room. It’s looking like this CV-19, social distancing, everyone on shutdown, dont go outside or you might die, thing will be going on for another month or so at least. If that’s the case then those jobs that I’ve been putting off, the ones “I’ll get around to doing” will soon find themselves done…