Sunday, 3 August 2014

Through the valley of kitchen despair, and fireworks

After a promising start on Monday when the kitchen company ripped out our old kitchen, smashed out the hideous 40s tiled fireplace, broke through the wall to open up the former doorway into the dining room, and generally created an incredible amount of noise and dust while I holed up in a sealed room across the hall - virtually nothing has happened the rest of the week except aggro.

Tuesday the supervisor showed up for a maximum of 60 minutes of intermittent floor sanding, in between taking calls on his mobile. Wednesday I was at work but he called to say the sanding was done and he would be varnishing on Thursday, but when I got home there were large areas that hadn't been sanded because he was too lazy to get a hand sander out. So all under the radiators, in the corners of the room, in any hollow in our old floor that a big floor sander couldn't reach, was still all black and caked with carpet adhesive, old paint etc.  I was so worried that I got DH to drive me to the store to buy a small sander and I spent 2.5 hours trying to improve the result.

Thursday this guy called to say he had put two coats of finish on the kitchen floor and that I might think it was a bit dark.  I questioned why he was finishing the floor at all when the walls hadn't been plastered and the big gaps in the floor hadn't been patched in yet but he was all 'I know what I'm doing, don't worry your non-builder little head' tone of voice.  Then when I got home after knitting group, my kitchen floor is a dark reddy brown which might look nice if we lived in a Tudor cottage but is totally unsuitable to my chosen blue-painted country kitchen.  I emailed my concerns and called the next morning from work, and didn't really get anywhere with him except an agreement to re-sand the floor next week as the plasterers were coming in later.

Saturday the electrician showed up in the morning, and reported that the plasterers had filled in all the channels in the wall that he had carefully carved out on Monday, and then asked me where he should put the ceiling lights and the extractor fan wiring.  With DH about to blow a fuse himself, we drove down to the kitchen company and asked what the heck was going on and why was no-one supervising the job properly???  To do them justice, the boss' son-in-law came straight back with us and gave the electrician his required information, and inspected our concerns.  We are now told that the boss will be taking over the job directly, cutting out the (useless) supervisor, and that things will get back on track next week. They agree the floor hasn't been sanded properly and are promising everything will be put right.

Thankfully we are fairly comfortable in our temporary kitchen in the basement but there is a lot of money at stake and I was beginning to wonder if we were at the mercy of cowboys. Time will tell.
The red-brown floor, after it had been ruined anyway by the plasterers

Meanwhile, also this week we have had to keep our bedrooms fairly empty and the furniture moved into the middle of the room so that a different lot of plasterers could get on with installing plaster cornicing.  They haven't given any trouble and we are really pleased with the result - the bedrooms look so much more elegant and the cornice looks like it has always been there. It looked strange before to have high ceilings but no trim where the walls met the ceiling.

BEFORE: no cornice

AFTER: lovely plaster cornice

Before this I've only ever installed cornice in my dollshouses so it feels a bit strange to be doing it in 1:1 scale!  This room, like all the rooms, will be painted.  I've already since taking the BEFORE picture painted my bedroom fireplace gloss white since it will be decorative rather than functional. The white paint really shows off the scrollwork of the cast iron.


Last night we went to the Firework Championships at Stanford Hall, which is about a 40 minute drive away. A lady in my knitting group had recommended it, and we really enjoyed it.  I'd been dreading it all day because the weather was terrible: grey and raining so hard that one point we were trapped in our car in Tesco's parking lot for 5 minutes waiting for it to abate.  It was still spitting rain at 6pm when I was packing our picnic, but miraculously we drove into clear blue skies and the evening was perfect for fireworks: clear sky and no wind.  There was quite a big crowd, all camped out with folding chairs and tables, eating their picnics and quite a holiday atmosphere.  We found a good spot and enjoyed our copious picnic, then listened to the music while we all waited for it to get dark.  From about 9:45pm, three teams fired a 10-minute display each, timed to music. Then the crowd could vote on their favourite by text while the organisers fired another 10-minute display. Parts of each display were really wonderful, much better than the usual 'lots of bangs that don't sync at all with the music' displays.  Quite an enjoyable evening and I shall always expect in future to watch fireworks comfortably from a chair while wrapped up warm in fleece blankets.

On the craft front

I went down to Fibre East in Ampthill last Sunday for a couple of hours.  It's mainly a shopping show and there were tons of stands to look at both inside and outside in marquees. I had a good look and lots of yarn fondling, but my only purchase was a bargain buy on the Texere stand. They were selling a 'mystery yarn' in 70% silk, 30% cotton that a 'major well known manufacturer' had rejected because the skeins had become tangled while being dyed and thus couldn't be skeined.  It was of course Rowan Summer Tweed, a yarn I really like, so at the bargain price of around £2 per 50g I bought a sweater's worth in purple and a lesser amount of blue.

I also came across a machine knitting instructor who is based in Northampton, not too far from me. I took her details because eventually when I get my machines set up I could probably benefit from some coaching. As well as being very out of practice, I've never really gotten to grips with my ribber and haven't tried lace at all apart from using the lace carriage to transfer stitches for a picot hem.

I'm casting off my Shetland lace stitches shawl after knitting a border based on the Holden Shawlette pattern. This yarn, Zitron Filigran, has surprisingly long colour runs, so my shawl started out in lighter blues, progressed to darker blues, and now just as I am casting off it is getting lighter again.  Of course, it doesn't look like anything until it gets blocked.

I've finished knitting my Colourwork Baby Jumper but I can't block it with all the dust floating around the house so instead I have started the Monsier Bearnard teddy bear kit which came with Simply Knitting magazine.  I'm enjoying it but I think I am going to run out of the gold yarn which seems to have happened to other readers as well.  I could apply for more but I will look first to see if I have anything in my stash to match.

This decrepit table and somewhat battered chairs are going to be our new dining suite - we bought them today at a warehouse and they are going to be refinished so they will look a lot better when they are delivered in six weeks.The table is fully extended with two leaves in the picture - we will normally use it without the leaves when it will seat six. It's challenging buying furniture for a room which currently is painted the wrong colour, and has a half sanded floor and a gaping hole where the fireplace should be. But we also bought a bookcase from the same warehouse which will be a china cupboard between the windows of the same room.  I hope it is all going to look nice and that we don't get buyers' remorse.  I just couldn't find any modern dining suites that I liked that I thought would suit the room.  Antique furniture just seems such better value than buying new, or at least it does now that we don't want to go the IKEA route that has been our mainstay over the last 30 years.

Soon the scaffolders will start erecting scaffolding around the entire house, and once that's up the painter can finish the outside woodwork and our chimneys will be lined and our fireplaces put back in. I'm still waiting for quotes on the outside masonry work and the guttering - I hope the numbers aren't going to make me regret buying the dining room furniture...


swooze said...

Just keep after them until it's done right! It will all come together.

Mairead Hardy said...

Gosh you have had an awful time with your builders! I hope things improve now the boss has taken charge. I love your dining furniture!

Daisy said...

What's the difference between cornice and coving? I've always called it coving, but I may be missing something!

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