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Thursday

The bad news - the cistern is broken
The plastic wrapping held it neatly together but when it came off a huge crack showed up and a semi-circle that I thought was funky design fell out of the back. The builders say it wasn’t them, the plumbers merchant says he checked it but he’ll replace it and I guess I should be glad it’s only the cistern and nothing more expensive.

So the pipe work going in is just the pipes for the sink (thin and flexible tubes rather than pipes as such, one with H for hot written on it). No more pipes for the loo; Mark will wait to fit it until we get the cistern, which should be tomorrow or Saturday. All the plumbing will be done by Monday, more or less, so then we need a tiler. The shower cubicle doors haven’t arrived yet, but they don’t go up till after the tiling, but we do still need to find out what’s happened to them. Yes, I can have an outside tap - huzzah! Watch out noisy neighbours!


The towel radiator/rail is up and in and looks v v posh. For some reason a large towel rail looks much flasher than a small one and this is over a metre high. Am suddenly wondering about painting behind it and suppress thought for later. The white of the shower tray and the towel radiator look very good against the toffee bamboo floor. Half of this is down, but only half because the rest of the floor has only just been replaced and there is now a trapdoor cut in the floor in the doorway. Soft foam inlay that’s rather like what good shipper wrap books in is going under the bamboo and that’s taped in place with grey bodge tape. Think my other roll of bodge tape has made its way upstairs with the dustpan and brush!

The towel rail in the old bathroom, which I am starting to think of as the small bathroom (because with the door in it’s compact and bijou all right) is also back on the wall - much higher up instead of just off the floor and so much more convenient. More likely that towels will get splashed if I have an enthusiastic shower too, so I shall reserve that for upstairs I think.

The switches and sockets are going in around the bedroom (dirty great holes in the plaster where some of them will be but neatly patched, including where the last of the tiling on the front slope has popped the plasterboard fixing; I wonder if that one board was nailed! Everything else was screwed and looks lovely and neat!). I think we asked for ten double sockets, two of which will be behind the bed for all those essentials that need plugging in from the phone to the portable DVD player and notebook charger to - well, the essentials.

Working out where to put the lights over the bed takes a while and much running up and down to measure the width of the bed, the height of the bedstead, the height of the existing lights. We discover switches on the side of the lights so no need for wall switches either. Big Dave spends a while hunting for the handles for the sink cupboard, which are A tiny and B six to a pack. He wonders if there’s some intricate pattern that we have in mind. I explain that they only come in six-packs! We both decide they’re too small and fiddly for the doors into the storage space under the eaves, so those get little round wooden knobs just like the ones Tanais used for feet on the record cabinet he built us.


The plasterer who didn’t come in the morning but sent his brother to measure up and then came back to clear up what they can and can’t do sends his brother down with an estimate that’s within what the insurance will pay (although it doesn’t cover painting the hall ceiling afterwards). Which is just as well considering that the roof terrace railing might be rather more than we’d been thinking it might be.


I rush home from a press conference because the Aardvark sculpture people have finally come to visit. I miss the tricky discussion with the builders about who’s fitting the glass block wall and retaining metal frame (builders: you are!) but catch the agreement of where there needs to be wooden supports and where the metal frame will tie into the walls. We discuss finishes and the kind of flower shapes and leaves and twiddly metal tendrils I like. I explain that I want to have metal that looks like a plant both as a joke when there are real plants there and as a substitute plant when there aren’t.

We agree to stagger the glass bricks and leave the corner clear so we can look into the grass and bushes across the embankment where the fox basks in the afternoon sun and just to have the handrail we have to have on the side that carries on as roof. The screening side needs to be 1.8 metres, the handrail side has to be at least 1.1 by law, so I’m hoping we can extend the sculptural metal plant/vine/triffid thing as the handrail. Weight is not a problem so we decide on glass bricks rather than polycarbonate; Simon reassured that glass bricks are not structural as Tim explains the joules of pressure that the frame will take. I wonder if this is a little extravagant, but would really rather hate the metal louvre screen the council asked for. And it is a lovely spot in the sun; so high, the light is so bright, the birds and trees and blue sky lift us up out over the world and from London afar.

We also try and work out ballpark money figures where they don’t want to frighten me off with a price and I have no idea how much these things cost. Manage to arrive at figures we might both see as reasonable without sounding too mean; they’ll do a few bits and pieces with finishes for us to look at. As usual, what I want sounds like the most expensive alternative! Exchange notes on irritating clients who don’t pay and then want lots more work done on really short notice; they’re working on a night club in Shepherds Bush with lots of metalwork and no cash flow from the owner to them at all so far.

The brickwork outside is looking really rather flash; the party wall has been built up in matching yellow-pink brick and there’s a course of something like clay tiles below the top sideways course (the captain course, the castle course? Must check the name with small Dave). This looks very neat with the red line against the bricks, although the flat roof and flashing will come up to just below the level. The roof terrace brickwork has the same top course on the party wall on the other side. The messy ‘orrible bricks at the bottom will be rendered. The tiles are going up on the sides of the mansard following on from the two rows of tiles at the edge of the roof terrace to keep rain out of the wall and the flat roofer should be back from holiday next week, so they’ll seal up the triangle of wall along the cut-out edge of the roof. So, tiles or slate for the terrace floor?

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full steam ahead
marypcb
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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