How one thing leads to another!
It all started when I took on an elderly gentleman, a gardener recommended by a friend, to hack back my garden which was overgrown because I couldn’t manage it myself. He was going to do two hours a week for me. After he had hacked back most of my shrubs, and removed a few near the house that had got too big for their boots, I asked him to cut back the ivy which was climbing over my back wall and fence into the street. In so doing, he found that the fences had all perished. It was only the ivy that was holding the fences together. So, because the fences would be coming down and need to be renewed, and as there was good access to the road behind my house, I decided it was a good time to have my garden revamped by a proper garden landscaping company.
I duly contacted Gardencare Landcaping Ltd in Podington. They prepared plans for my easy maintenance new garden, which included chopping down my Eucalyptus tree, hacking back next door’s giant Leylandii and my huge Clematis Montana which was almost bringing down the roof of my pergola over the dog run and filling in the unmanageable giant pond I had been left with when my husband and I parted company.
Of course the plans had become more complicated when, out on a walk with my U3A walking group, I found a summer house sale near where we were lunching. There was a corner summer house that I thought would look very nice down the end of my garden, where my settee hammock now sits. So a paved base for that was in the plans, together with a base for a greenhouse that I hoped to get eventually, when I finally succumb to life in retirement.
I went back to have a proper look at the summer house again before I signed up for the garden plan. Maybe I could do without it for the time being, and just have the base ready for it. The garden plans were more than I had expected to pay. I asked the landscaper to prepare plans for an arbour instead. I had also seen a willow arbour in B&Q. I’ll decide on which to have when I have seen the finished garden.
How one thing leads to another indeed!
Parking near the summer houses I discovered a Wholesale Kitchen display centre. I popped in to have a look, and nearly popped out again, thinking that they looked too expensive for my pocket. However, the director was not going to let me escape that easily.
“Are you looking for a new kitchen?” he enquired.
“I can’t afford these!” I replied. “I’ll go back to Homebase where I saw one last week. They would be more in my price range.
“You’ll be surprised,” he replied. “We can fit you a bespoke kitchen cheaper than B&Q or Homebase.”
I went for a closer look. I was immediately struck with the finish of their kitchens, much better than those of the kitchen I had my eye on in Homebase. I then was cajoled into getting an appointment for the designer to come and prepare a quotation for me. After I left, I immediately proceeded to Homebase to book a designer to come and prepare their quote, for virtually the same kitchen.
These are the CAD images of what I wanted originally:-
However, my family thought the contemporary clinical look was too modern for my house and would soon go out of fashion. So I had a rethink and decided to look for a more traditional kitchen that blended in with my room doors. The kitchen company soon came up with alternatives. I preferred one with a wood grain, like my room doors, Coleridge, they called it. They didn’t do it in white, so I had to choose ivory and will now need to paint my doors to match. More work!
This is how the Coleridge kitchen is supposed to look when it is finished. They can start on 17th February. But, first I have to get my kitchen window double glazed. As I said, one thing leads to another!
I duly contacted PCS Windows, who had quoted for my double glazing last year, and said that they would do it in stages as and when I could afford it. Unfortunately the lead time on the kitchen window was longer than the lead time on the kitchen manufacture, so the commencement of the kitchen had to be put off until March 5th. Meanwhile, muggins decided that she would rather have a black window frame on the inside, as well as on the outside, so an additional window had to be ordered. Luckily the en suite window is the same size, and that needs a white frame on the inside. That will precipitate my plans for the front double glazing, as I won’t be able to live long without getting the front windows matched up. Ah well……….
Working on a Three Day Week
‘Twas on the Thursday morning that my handy man came to call.
He cleared away my ivy, and exposed a dodgy fence and wall.
Then I called out a garden landscaper to put my fences right
so I wouldn’t be seen by the whole world with my lights on at night.
But it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on the Friday morning that I found a summer house
and evidence in a storage drawer that I had a kitchen mouse.
Next I called out a kitchen company to plan a better design
so I could hide away all the edible paraphernalia of mine.
But it all makes work for the working man to do.
My daughter didn’t like the plans, they looked too clinical
so I had them changed to something more traditional.
Now do I need a new dishwasher? Well I thought not –
it could be put in the dog room, the one I’ve already got.
But then I had a rethink, when my house is up for sale
buyers would want it in the kitchen, so I added one in as well.
Now the kitchen can be started soon, I am so amazed
but they will not start it until I get my window double glazed.
So it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on the Thursday morning, my day off again
I went trolling round the shops, trying to dodge the rain,
looking for toning tiles to put upon my kitchen floor,
and fancy sockets and switches that I would need for sure.
But it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on the Friday morning the demolition man came to call.
He pulled down the fence and came in through the gap in the wall.
He sent his lad to climb up my Eucalyptus tree,
and branches soon were crashing down all around me.
But it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on the Saturday morning my friends came round to me
to take away the remains of my Eucalyptus tree.
The car was loaded and they stayed for coffee and a natter
and eventually we parted, after an hour of so of chatter.
So it even makes work for non-working men to do.
On Saturday afternoon I went to find more tiles
and I found some I really liked after driving miles.
They’ll match the kitchen well and even the hallway too.
and will look good in my cloakroom, but I’ll need a new loo.
But that will make more work for the working man to do.
Since I’ve been on my three day week, I’ve spent more than I’ve earned
I thought that years ago, I had this lesson already learned.
Next week I’m going back to work, and there I’m gonna stay
because every day that I’m off work I’ll need to earn more pay.
But that would make no work for the working man to do.
The Kitchen Project
The Kitchen Window – In hindsight, I suppose that the setbacks sustained during the kitchen renovation were pre-ordained. The whole project didn’t start well. Pete from PCS Windows duly arrived to fit the kitchen window when he eventually got it from his manufacturer. One window wouldn’t take long, I didn’t suppose. People have whole houses done in a day. I left him to it, and soon saw my crumbling old window in bits on my patio and a nice clean hole where the new window was to go. I took Myschka for a walk and came back to a half-glazed window and a frustrated Pete. Ooops! I could see what was wrong immediately. The split window, with an opening top third, had a piece of glass in the bottom two thirds that was about an inch too short. The two (supposedly the same measurements) windows for the kitchen and en-suite had been made differently, and in swapping the frosted glass from the en-suite window to the kitchen window it had demonstrated that the window frames did not match each other. Pete was not happy. I was a trifle worried I was going to be left without a window pane. Pete rang around and got someone to manufacture a new couple of panes with the correct measurements, and with the leading matching the adjacent window. However, he did not return until about 4.30pm.
Next time I saw the windows properly in daylight was at the weekend while I was Skyping with my daughter. I was showing her all the improvements to the garden and the new window when we both spotted that there was a larger than usual set of leading on the bottom of the window pane, and a short one at the top. I made a mental note to ask Pete why, but having looked at other people’s windows while I’m walking my dog around the local estate, it seems that is quite usual. Also, the top opening window has leading that looks correct, so I suppose they start at the top and match up the leading until they reach the bottom.
Anyway, with the new window in place, the kitchen could be started on 5th March, which was the first day I could get time off from work.
Day 1 minus 1 – I have an almost empty kitchen and full bins outside. Most of my kitchen stuff and food is in the little bedroom. There’s a doorstep full of junk ready to go in the skip which should be delivered first thing tomorrow, and a big box of stuff in my garage that needs to be taken to the Emmaus Charity Centre in Carlton. I am cooking a beef casserole that should last me four days, and a shepherd’s pie that should also last four days. In the freezer are the remains of the chicken curry I cooked last night for another two meals, and the remains of Saturday night’s bolognese for another day. I will still be able to use my rice cooker for fresh pasta and rice, and my microwave to reheat the rest, so hopefully I will not need to get takeaways or instant meals.
I have decided to have both the washing machine and the dishwasher plumbed into the dog room, and hopefully I can get the plumber to plumb in my old sink and worktop, then I can still wash up. I might even be able to coax him to fit the row of top cupboards above the sink as well. The freezer and little fridge will have to stand on the other side of the dog room for the time being, and my old fridge will be put on the skip first thing in the morning. The freezer will follow when I have my new equipment in and working, unless I can find a home for it. All I need to do now is find the extension cable that got put somewhere when we emptied the kitchen, and also my torch which has mysteriously gone missing, just in case the electrics fuse and I need to get to the fuses.
Day 1 Wednesday 5th March – I was up with the lark and raring to go. I had bathed and taken Myschka for her early morning walk all before 7am, then I set to clearing the remains of my kitchen stuff leaving an empty shell for the builders. I’m not sure what time they came, sometime just before nine I think. Then the skip arrived.
My kitchen, except for the sink unit, was soon in the skip which will be full when the fridge and freezer get put into it. I have decided to dump the old freezer when I get the new fridge/freezer and stick to three drawers of frozen food. It would be silly me keeping the freezer as it must be costing a bomb to run it half full, and it would only be in the way.
I wish I had ordered an eight yard skip now. They broke up all the units that I didn’t want to keep and they are lying flat in there, but it looks half full already. Unfortunately the cupboards were very difficult to get off the wall due to the way they had been installed, so they couldn’t keep all the top units intact, but they have managed to save some for above the work unit in the dog room. The worktop is in one piece on top of the dishwasher and w/machine in the dog room, and they are going to plumb both in, plus plumb for a sink in the worktop as well.
I knew they would find loads of stuff behind the cupboard units. Who on earth makes cupboard units with only half a back to them? There must have been at least ten rolls of kitchen foil or cling film that had fallen behind the cupboard, as well as umpteen packets of light bulbs, some tupperware lids, cutlery items and loads of instruction manuals for kitchen equipment, in fact there was a whole dustbin bag full altogether!
By lunchtime the guys had taken all the tiles off the walls and floors and the electrician was supposed to be coming later. These guys came back to do the plumbing bits as well. Tomorrow the plasterer will be doing his stuff. Friday they will come back and take out the sink unit as they say that will not hold up proceedings if they leave me with it until then.
I ordered the Kashmir porcelain floor tiles from Homebase and they are supposed to be coming on 12th. I didn’t order the grout, because I wanted to see it in the flesh as I want a light grey, but the kitchen company will provide the glue. The guys today said the whole kitchen should be complete before Wednesday 12th, so there will just be the floor to lay after that.
All was going well with the plumbers doing everything that I asked and then the electrician arrived. He said I could have whatever I liked, where I liked. So I took him at his word (having already been told that he would do whatever I asked by Steven, the salesman). I asked him for as many sockets and light switches as I thought I would need in the kitchen, and also in the dog room! Not only that, but he said he would repair my florescent light in the dog room and the outside light as well. I think I may have died and gone to Heaven! I’m just hoping I don’t get a bill for the extra work.
Day 2 Thursday 6th March – I had been told by Sparks (Alex) that he wasn’t going to come until noon, so I took advantage of my bed and had a lie in until 7.30, but because my garden bloke was coming to paint fences at 9am I got myself dressed and ready for the day. Thank goodness I did, because before 9am the plasterer arrived, a contractor called Darren. He was not too chuffed to find out that the ceiling had not been prepared by Sparks, and said there was no way he would be able to complete the job in a day now, as he couldn’t see the electrics being completed in time for him to do the ceiling as well. He commissioned some help for later on from a mate, as he had another job to do for the kitchen company the next day.
However, after the plasterer’s lunch when Sparks had arrived, I could sense that there was an issue between him and Sparks, and it wasn’t long before Frazer, the project manager arr
ived. He told me that it was impossible for the plasterer and the electrician to work together as they would be falling over each other so, as the plasterer could not come on Friday, he would be back Monday to complete his part of the job. I wondered whether the plasterer would be able to work with the plumber who would be coming on Monday to complete his bit. This then would put back the kitchen fitters until Tuesday, but Frazer was confident that if the tiles arrived on schedule on Wednesday, they would be tiling the floor on Thursday. The same day as Sparks would be back from his holiday in Marrakesh to complete his electrical work. We’ll wait and see what actually transpires!
Sparks got on with setting up the wiring for underneath the units, while he tasked me with working out a plan for the ceiling lights. I had not been told that I would have to do this, and it turned out to be a very complex design that I had in mind, according to Sparks!
First I suggested a line of 2 x 4 lights in the middle of the room, and one extra over the table area, but that didn’t seem to be quite right, bearing in mind that the end of the kitchen near the hall had a narrow corridor of ceiling. Sparks suggested that as the kitchen was 285cm wide at its widest point, that I should divide that area near the window into three and put two lights at each point in a line down the kitchen, leaving only one offset, as there is a broom cupboard under the stairway that takes up a quarter of the length of one side, so that would look odd to me. I went away with my notebook and after about ten different attempts, I drew out a plan that I thought that I could live with. A row of three lights between the two doors opposite each other from the lounge to the dog room, exactly central to the lounge door. The first light would need to be 600mm out from the wall, as that was the width of the bottom units, and was also almost half the width of the staircase wall, thus meaning that the two lights on that side of the room would be in the right place for the table area. Then the next light should be central to the hallway door. Which was exactly in a line with the two existing lights. The gap between those two points was 830mm, thus governing the distance away from each other of the remaining lights. Working from the central point at 830mm gaps as far as the hallway door, three more lights would give enough light down that end of the room which had tall units and a broom cupboard. Then add another light 830mm towards the window and see what space was left for the remaining two lights. I hoped that would take them to over the sink unit. I would then decide whether or not I wanted two at an angle 830mm away, or only one in a continuing straight line. Sparks was impressed! Easy, when you know how, and also when you have straight kitchen walls. However, in the event, we measured exactly 600mm away from the wall above the lounge doorway, 830mm towards the staircase wall, and 600mm from the wall at that point. Sparks drilled the two holes with confidence. I looked at them, deciding it didn’t matter that they didn’t line up according to my eye from in the middle of where a unit would be, because I would never be able to stand there when the kitchen was finished anyway. But Sparks was not happy. He said he would wait until he had proper lining up tools and put it right. Fine by me. I didn’t want to be forever haunted by cock-eyed lights!
I left him to it, and took Myschka round the block. On my return he had packed up for the day, probably in frustration and told me someone else would come to finish the job on Saturday morning, as he was off on holiday to Marrakesh the next day, Friday. Hmmmm!
The plasterer was coming to finish off on Monday, so was the plumber. No-one was expected on Friday, so I rang work and said I would be coming in. I didn’t want to spend a day’s “holiday” without a kitchen if there was no-one coming. I cleaned up the mess Sparks had left as best I could, laid mats all over the kitchen walkway and vacuumed the dog room so I wouldn’t be walking in plaster dust until Saturday. I quite like my little kitchenette in the dog room. Shall I change my mind and have the kitchen in there and keep the old kitchen as a dining room cum party room?
I went out to clean up my driveway before it rained and the plaster that was plastered all over it would mean that I would need a new driveway. I loaded into the skip all the redundant electronic equipment that my son had left on my doorstep ready for the skip, and also all the broken pots and bits of trimmings from my garden that my gardening bloke had left scattered all around my front garden, tutting and muttering “Men!” as I did so. I then went to see what damage the gardening bloke had done to the climbing plants he had pulled away from my fences and left lying horizontal, for what would be at least a week, while he painted the fences. “Men!”
Meanwhile I noticed that the new grouting in my patio was already cracking and coming out. “Men!” Mental note to self to ring Stuart the Garden Landscaper to complain. I wiped the fresh plaster off the frame on the new kitchen window. “Men!” Then went to cook my dinner in my new makeshift scullery. My smoke detector was ticking away, having suffered the shock of falling off the wall with all the hammering and drilling that was going on. Sparks had put it back together. “Men!”
Is it me?
Day 3 Friday 7th March – Didn’t happen when day three should, on the Friday. Sparks was on holiday until next Thursday. Relief electrician couldn’t come until Saturday. No-one else could do their bit until electrics were finished, so I went to work for a bit of normality.
Saturday morning arrived and I went out to put something in the skip only to find that all my old equipment had disappeared overnight and instead of an almost full skip, there was a half empty one! Oven, hob, TV, computer screen, two printers and other old IT equipment had all gone. They had even gone through a dustbin liner full of old bits and bobs that I had put on. Just goes to prove that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The word had obviously spread to diddicoy land that there was an interesting skip on our “posh” estate. At least they were honest diddicoys because they didn’t touch my son’s motorbike that was parked beside the skip. If I had known it was that easy to get rid of my old junk I’d have piled it on the pavement years ago!
I never heard a thing and, as I sleep very lightly at the front of the house, that certainly surprised me. Lucky that the council has just replaced the street lamp outside my house so that they could see what they were doing! I wonder if they will be back for more when the job is finished, because my son and I are going to tip as much as we can fit in what space is left, so it would be useful if they come back at regular intervals. Now I know why I keep hearing heavy vehicles driving up and down my close during the early hours of the morning when I can’t sleep.
10am Saturday morning, and no sign of the electrician, Alex’s mate, who was supposed to be arriving between 8.30am and 9am. So I called Steve, my salesman/kitchen designer friend from the kitchen company, to say I needed to take my dog out. He rang Frazer, the project manager, while I was on the phone, and said that Frazer would contact Alex to find out where he was. Steven said I should go and walk my dog and he would ring back in twenty minutes.
11.30am. No call as yet. I called Steven again. Neither he nor Frazer could get an answer from Alex. Well, of course they couldn’t. He was on his way to Marrakesh! Steven said they would keep trying, and that it might mean that finishing the electrics would have to wait until Monday. I pointed out that the plasterer was due to come back to finish the plastering on Monday and that he
would not be too chuffed to find that the electrics still had to be done when he turned up again!
Lord Sugar would not be pleased! Nor was Lady Tams! I pictured who I would fire in the Boardroom later. Would it be Frazer, the project manager, for not coordinating the job properly that he unrealistically said would be finished by Tuesday and was looking more and more like being finished possibly in the 10 working days that Steven and John, the kitchen company Director, had said it would take? Sparks, the gorgeous electrician who came late and didn’t complete the job before swanning off to Marrakesh and left my kitchen in a complete mess? The second electrician, a mate of Alex, who failed to turn up when he should? Certainly not the two obliging kitchen fitters/plumbers, actually directly employed by the kitchen company, who had done a rapid demolition job, clearing up as they went, and got my scullery up and running so I could continue my domestic life at home without going mad! Certainly not Steven who did a damned fine job of designing my kitchen, in spite of me changing my mind several times. Not even Darren, the independent plasterer, who suffered the frustration of wasting his planned working day at my house, in spite of the fact that after doing all that he could do he left a mess on my driveway, and didn’t wipe the plaster mess he put on my new double glazed window frame. So far I think I know who I would fire in the Boardroom, and it might even be a double or triple firing! Pity that two of them would be electricians, I need an electrician to wire up my water feature and pond fountain.
What could I do now? I had walked the dog and written a poem. It is very boring having nothing domestic to do. No point in cleaning, as there will still be plaster dust flying around everywhere when the electrician eventually comes to drill more holes in my kitchen ceiling for my lights. My washing was all up to date, and I couldn’t go out in the garden to clear up the ivy leaves that had been steadily falling from my ash trees, as I wouldn’t hear if anyone came to the door. I felt like a prisoner in my lounge. Ah well…..there’s always something to search for on the internet. What on earth did we do before the days of the internet?
Now, what else do I need? I have bought a new sink for the plumber to fit into my dog room, but do I need the plug and overflow equipment as well? I have got to get the black nickel switches and sockets I want from Screwfix. Let’s see if they do plumbing stuff as well. Every minute I sit at my laptop is costing me a bomb!
I gave up waiting for another unreliable electrician to turn up and went out into my garden for a couple of hours, clearing up the ivy leaves that had dropped off the ash trees, and clearing up the debris that my “gardener” bloke had left when he ripped plants off my fences to paint them. What is it about some men? Why do they never clear up after themselves? His wife, who is old and has lots of medical problems, cleans a local church. Maybe she has been clearing up after him all her life and just clears up after him as he does her garden as well? Maybe he just doesn’t see a mess? Another one for the Boardroom when he has finished painting my fences, methinks. Does green fence paint come off garden ornaments and patio slabs eventually?
4.30pm I get a phone call from an electrician who said he would be coming tomorrow (Sunday). I told him I would not be here as I was committed to a walk and lunch with my friends, and that I had been told he would be here on Saturday. I also told him that the plasterer was due on Monday and that he would not be best pleased to make another fruitless visit. The guy on the end of the phone said he would call me back after he had made a call. He didn’t. However, I rang the kitchen company and spoke to someone about it who said he would tell John, the Director, on Sunday morning.
Again I say, is it me?
Meanwhile I thought I had better report to the police that my skip had been raided. I didn’t expect them to be interested, but I thought I had better cover myself just in case I get burgled later because the diddicoys now know that I would have new computer equipment as I was throwing out old. They gave me an incident number of NP52637/13. I got a call later asking me for full details of exactly what had been taken. Perhaps they will be patrolling car boot sales tomorrow to see if my equipment is on offer. Anyway, they also said they will send an officer around to see me as well, in spite of the fact that I said I wasn’t really that bothered. It was a bit late by that time, after 8pm, so I doubted an officer would have time to call round to see me on a Saturday night. I cannot imagine that they are short of more important crimes to solve!
Day 4 Monday 10th March – Monday morning bright and early, I had put on a load of washing, cleared the kitchen of anything that might get dusty and just got out of the bath when there was a knock at the door. I wasn’t expecting any workmen until at least 8.30am, but looked out of the window and saw Frazer’s car. He had come to find out what the problems were as he had been away for a long weekend, and had come back to a text on his phone:- “Tams electrician and plasterer issue”.
I was surprised to hear that this was the first he had heard of it. Now who do I believe? Steven, the salesman/designer who said that both he and Frazer had been trying to contact the electrician after my call on Saturday, or Frazer, the PM who quite obviously cannot manage his way out of a paper bag?
I explained that the relief electrician had called at 4.30pm on Saturday to say that he was coming on Sunday, the plan which I had rejected. I also explained that Darren the plasterer was expected at 9am, and the electrics had not yet been completed. Frazer then made a couple of phone calls from the pavement. He told me that they had their own electrician, who would come to finish off the electrics. Fine by me, I thought. At least he won’t be in a hurry, because he will be paid for his time, not for the job.
Then Frazer surprised me again when he said that Darren would come and plaster the ceiling, even if the electrics had not been finished and they would put in the ceiling lights afterwards. I was horrified. Sparks had said that there were problems with the joists, and I could foresee the new ceiling being damaged. I explained to Frazer that his unrealistic time scale for finishing my kitchen would have to be extended, as I wanted the job doing properly, no matter how many days it took, and the electrics would have to be finished before the plasterer came again. To reiterate, at the risk of being boring, is it me?
Darren turned up at 9am, as planned, but had apparently refused to do any more plastering until the electrics were finished and had fortunately managed to reschedule the job that he had planned for Tuesday to Monday, so he did not have to lose another day’s work. After all he is self employed and his time is money.
Another electrician turned up as requested, and Frazer briefly explained to him what was required and left. Darren and I had a chat, and he left to go to his rescheduled job, promising to see me again next day.
I made the young foreign electrician a cup of tea, and he will hereafter be referred to as “Onesugar” because he is the only workman I have encountered on either of my projects that only takes one sugar. He asked me where the plan was for the electrical installation. Sparks had taken that. Luckily, I had been project managing the placing of the electrics myself, so I explained to him precisely where everything should be, and where the connections should be. We got the holes positioned in the ceiling for the lights, no problems. All looked straight and symmetrical both to me and to Onesugar. Unless anyth
ing goes wrong with positioning the actual lights, I will only have myself to blame if my lighting scheme is inadequate or cock-eyed. I left him to the wiring, and got on with my work.
Making Onesugar’s second cup of tea I discovered his origins. He had apparently come from Bulgaria thirteen years ago and was well settled over here. He had lived in the East End of London, which he thought was too rough for his wife and baby, so they moved to Milton Keynes where they were much happier. He said that the previous electrician had made far more mess of my ceiling than had been necessary in channelling out for the wiring. I’ll leave him to report back to the kitchen company. None of my business. I had just thought that the first electrician had made an awful lot of mess and had not cleared up. Mental note to self not to ask him back to do my garden wiring for my water feature and pond.
Unbelievably Alex’s replacement electrician arrived at 12.50pm, supposedly to finish off Alex’s handy work before the plasterer was scheduled to turn up at 9am. Frazer obviously hadn’t told him not to come. This guy wasn’t best pleased to find that another electrician had been called in, and said he would let me deal with Alex! What? Why me? Am I supposed to be the Project Manager? Is there no communication between Frazer and his contractors? My opinion of who would be fired in Lord Sugar’s / Lady Tams’s boardroom has again been reinforced.
At about 1.15pm Onesugar had finished. At least he cleared up the mess he had made himself, after a fashion, and he left me with the use of a kitchen light (connected to the garage light), which Sparks had failed to do. I hope that will not present another issue. I don’t want the garage light and kitchen lights to be on at the same time when the job is finished. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? At least a plasterer, to finish off his part of the job, I hope.
Day 5 Tuesday 11th March – Up bright and early again, a washing load on and dog dealt with ready for the plastering. Frazer arrived to see if all the electrics had been finished and to point the plasterer in the right direction. Thank goodness everything was now going to plan, albeit 5 days later than Frazer’s original unrealistic plan.
Darren arrived on time raring to go. I made him a cuppa and we got chatting about paint colours and this and that. It turns out that Darren has an offshore title bought from the principality of Sealand. Baron Darren thought that I should be a countess – Countess Jezebel Myschka has a certain ring to it, so does Baroness, which is cheaper. Maybe I’ll go for a title when I become rich and famous!
Baron Darren patched up with plasterboard the oversized holes that Sparks had made in the ceiling. He also reiterated what Onesugar (apparently whose name is Bobby) had said the day before that there was much more mess made of the ceiling than necessary. I think that maybe Alex Sparks is going to come back from his holiday in Marrakesh to a Frazer firing.
The huge task of re-plastering my artex ceiling took most of the day. I think the Baron said that he did three coats. Halfway through the afternoon he had enlisted help from a plasterer mate of his, or he would never have finished by 5pm, but I believe he actually got away by that time, having foregone his lunch to do so. Fortunately he cleared up the mutual mess made by electricians and himself before he went, but there is plaster dust all over my driveway, which I hope disappears before long, or there will be a driveway painting job to do.
Meanwhile I was trying to make up my mind which shade of sage/olive green to put on my walls. I had painted patches on my wall of cerise pink and apricot, plus a couple of pale shades of green, but during the day I had been searching for a better colour scheme that would tone with my ivory kitchen. I will wait until it is in place and then try a few match pots of different shades. The Baron had told me that I would need three coats of matt paint on the ceiling, and advised me to use a cheap paint for the primary coat. I suppose that holds for the re-plastered bits of the walls as well. I’m not looking forward to that task at all.
Day 6 Wednesday 12th March – Up bright and early again to get all the plaster dust vacuumed up from the kitchen floor before the workmen arrived. I didn’t want my new kitchen to be fitted on top of muck, which has a habit of creeping out from nooks and crannies for months after building work. Went into garage to get a banana to put on my breakfast cereal, only to find that they had been eaten. Yes my mouse (mice) had found a new food supply! Daft place to put food, I suppose, but it’s hard to think where else to put stuff. Mental note to self to get something to deal with this rodent situation, which I could see might be getting worse, judging by the fact that a whole bunch of bananas had been eaten, and I don’t think one mouse could have managed that, even in a week.
Today the cabinets are coming, in two lots apparently. According to Frazer they should be here at half past nine and the kitchen fitters should be here at nine. But at 9.10am there was no sign of them. Homebase will be delivering the floor tiles between 10am and 1pm, according to their driver who rang me at 6.55am to let me know. Previously I have had a daily call from a mechanical voice telling me that they would be coming on 12th, and yesterday the mechanical voice said it would be between noon and 3pm.
Michael and his mechanic arrived at 9.15am, just as I put the kettle on. The kitchen came at just after 9.30am, along with Frazer. By that time I had already negotiated a price for Michael to paint the whole kitchen with three coats before it got fitted completely (i.e. the visible bits). £185 was £15 less than I expected him to say. A private job paid cash, of course. Frazer was happy for him to go ahead with that but said it would probably mean that the kitchen might not be complete until Saturday. Rather that than me having to paint it myself, or waiting for Richard to come and paint the ceiling that I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage.
The guys were just bringing in the kitchen units when along came Homebase with the tiles, which they piled just inside the front door, as I instructed them. Suddenly there was no room in my erstwhile empty kitchen
Then I had to find out what the plans were for the window sill. Michael said a plastic sill would do the job. I didn’t like that idea, unless it was a sill that matched the double glazing, as I don’t want yet another type of surface. Frazer said a piece of worktop, I thought maybe pieces of floor tiles. We agreed to complete the kitchen before I decided.
I left Mike and the Mechanic to the job of putting the units in place and went to order on line the black nickel plugs and sockets from Screwfix, which will come the next day. Frazer said that I wouldn’t be able to have the screwless, flatplate sockets, which is a shame because I liked them more. However, I saved quite a bit of money by having standard black nickel ones.
Tonight when they’ve gone home I’ve got to get the paint:- 5 litres matt Barley White for the ceiling, 5 litres silk Olive Green for the walls and 2 litres water based Barley White for the doors and skirtings. Baron Darren, the plasterer, advised me to get matt paint for the ceiling as it wouldn’t show up any blemishes so much, against my preferred choice of silk to reflect more light. Then Mike will do all the painting tomorrow before completing the units, using some left over white paint that he has for a base coat. Sorted! Hope I like the Olive Green that I choose because there will not be enough time to get a match pot and try it out first. If not, I think I can manage to repaint the walls myself later on, at least th
e ceiling will be done and dusted. I am wondering if it would be better to have a barley white wall extending from the staircase slope behind the table area, which will at least lighten up that dark bit of kitchen.
All I now have to do is convince Mike that fitting the new radiator I have ordered and also fitting the sink in the dog room was part of the kitchen plan.
Day 7 Thursday 13th March – The plugs, sockets and radiator that were due to be delivered before 6.30pm arrived at 8.30am, delivered by Parcel Force. I managed to fit the boxes into my already full little hallway. I hurredly opened up one of the boxes to make sure that I actually liked black nickel in the flesh. I had seen it in Homebase and B&Q, but didn’t like the B&Q version. Screwfix plugs and sockets, much cheaper, might be entirely different. However, I was quite happy with the switch that I opened. Phew!
Oh how I wish I would go with my own gut and not be influenced by others! In a bit of a quandary about which colour I should choose for my kitchen, rejecting as being too gaudy the cerise pink that I had seen in Kat and Alfie’s kitchen in Eastenders, even though I thought it would make a statement about me. Having already decided I liked a light olive green that was shown with a jasmine white kitchen in the Dulux catalogue, I asked my daughter whether I should go with olive green or terracotta. Her immediate response was terracotta. Bearing in mind that I have had a lime green kitchen for years and still love it, I wonder why I chose to go and buy terracotta paint. I am not a terracotta person! Fortunately I bought a match pot and put a sample of it on my wall first. I hate it! Now I have to take it back to Homebase and swap it for Melon Sorbet, a yucky lime green colour, because they didn’t have any Overtly Olive in stock. Why Melon Sorbet, if it is a yucky lime green colour? I hear you ask. Because when I was getting dressed in my bedroom I spotted a picture on my wall that said all there was to say about my favourite colours, and Melon Sorbet would make a super background for it. I now have decided which picture I will be placing on my feature wall!
I waited for the workmen to arrive so I could break the news that I was going back to Homebase to swap my panic purchase before they could paint the walls. I thought they would have enough to get on with anyway, painting the ceiling in jasmine white. I do hope that looks okay with the units. I have deviated from my usual Barley White on the walls and ceiling which goes perfectly with the sample unit door. The reason for this is because the woodwork comes out darker than the walls, and I think it looks dirty against the unit. I may live to regret that decision as well, because the Jasmine White match pot paint looked too light when I put it on the walls. However, as it is going on the ceiling, I think it will be okay. If it looks too white when I get it on the woodwork, I can always redo it in Olive Green!
The kitchen fitters, Mike and the Mechanic, arrived almost at the same time as the gardener. I made them a cuppa and went to deal with the gardener. I wanted him to put in a few plants before he started to paint the fences. As I watched him stride over my tiny plants set in the gravel, I’m not altogether sure though that he has quite got the hang of a gravel garden! I really think I’d better ask him to stick to walking on the pathways.
With a hallway full of kitchen units and floor tiles, I could well have done without having to take in a large parcel for number 9. If anything else comes I will not be able to get upstairs! However, being the kind hearted soul I am, I took in the large box, hoping I wasn’t going to have to carry it over to them later, but it wasn’t long before Elaine came over with her eight week old baby to fetch it and the Mechanic took the box over to her house for her.
Mike was screwing units together while the Mechanic helped him. I went to sweep up the organic debris that angry blackbirds had excavated from my guttering, which had landed on my back doorstep and all over the dog run that I had already swept once this morning, after they had been rooting around in the gravel. I think they are taking revenge on me because I have covered their garden with gravel, on top of a membrane, and they cannot get to their worms.
The lads carried on putting cabinets together, while I went through the entire colour spectrum looking for colours that suited my persona and my kitchen cabinets and equipment. I was back to where I started, with Berry Smoothie and Barley White by the time Frazer came, along with the doors and kick boards. I think the worktops are coming tomorrow. I asked Frazer’s advice on colour. He preferred a stronger lime green than the Melon Sorbet, as did I, but that was too close to what I already had for the last twenty years. When I told him my preferred choice was Berry Smoothie, he actually agreed with me, but said that I should put it on the window wall and on the staircase wall, with barley white everywhere else, as he agreed that the units match my lounge walls perfectly. Sorted! I’ll ask Lord Sugar to keep him when he gets to the board room now. He has redeemed himself.
While the lads took their lunch break I whipped all the Jasmine White and Warm Terracotta paint pots I had purchased the night before back to Homebase, and swapped them for Barley White and Berry Smoothie. I will have the Berry Smoothie just on the window wall for the time being. I’ll add it to the staircase wall if I can live with it. I really wanted to paint the new radiator when it is in place, as well as my old round wooden table in that colour, however that colour is not available in wood and metal.paint. With the picture above it, and the two smaller pics that came with it, that would have been enough colour unless I decide to paint the window sill and radio shelf as well. I will see if I can get the paint matched up by the Dulux machine. I need a window sill first though. Floor tiles? Wood? Or shall I splash out on some cheap wall tiles and paint them?
Now, can I bring myself to paint the archway wall in the lounge the same colour? I’ve been thinking of doing it for ages.
By the end of day seven the Mechanic, Josh, had painted another coat of paint on the ceiling while Mike had carried on screwing cabinets to the wall and each other. A few doors were on and I could see the kitchen starting to take shape. Tomorrow will be a long day, with Mike working until 7pm. He should have all the units in place, the worktops on and he thinks he will have laid the tiles and the walls will have been painted. I cannot see all that happening, but who knows?
Day 8 Friday 14th March – As the mains has been turned off, I have been using water left in the tanks (obviously boiled for drinks). However, just as I finished shampooing my hair in the bath, the hot water ran out, so I had to rinse off in a trickle of cold. There still was some water left downstairs to fill the kettle, but running very slowly, so I hope that today the sink unit gets fixed, because until it does they cannot reconnect the water. Methinks I’ll be going to Sainsbury’s for some large bottles of water tonight. Not sure what I shall do loo wise – I’ve only got a very small amount of water in the bath to flush with. Trouble is, I don’t think that the correct sink has been ordered, as I asked for a less modern one than that which Steven put in the original kitchen that I wanted, and I don’t think he remembered to amend the order.
Yesterday they showed me all the handles that had been delivered. These were the original ones I wanted for the original kitchen. Again, I think Steven has forgotten that he said they would send a selection so I could choose the right ones to go with the new kitchen. I’m wondering if I will be getting t
he wrong ovens as well, as the original had a stainless steel one, and I wanted black. We’ll see.
The lads got on with things while I was catching up with emails etc and suddenly Frazer was here along with more deliveries. Frazer had bought a few door handle samples with him, but nothing tempted me, so I went with what they had decided for me. The ETA of completion is now Monday, because the appliances will not be delivered until then. However, three men are now working flat out in the kitchen, with Bobby Onesugar wiring up the lights in the ceiling while Josh wields a paintbrush and Mike fixes the units. I’m keeping out of the way!
I asked Frazer what sink was actually coming because I hadn’t yet chosen a substitute for the one that I didn’t like that Steven had put in the original kitchen. He went off to email me a catalogue, but in the meantime I looked on line and thought that I would prefer a black composite sink, now that I am having a sink in the dog room. I also asked Frazer what was going to happen to my driveway, which was covered in plaster. He said when the skip was taken away they would come back and get it cleaned up.
It all happened in the afternoon. Worktops arrived. Equipment arrived. Bobby arrived. There was absolutely no room left anywhere. The worktops were in the dog run. The equipment was in the driveway. Good job it wasn’t raining. Mike was working his socks off trying to get the units together, and the equipment into the units. Josh was wielding a paintbrush at the same time as helping Mike. Bobby was wiring up the ceiling lights so that the guys would be able to work after it had got dark. I kept well clear. 7pm came and went, and still they were there beavering away, with no sign of finishing what they had planned. But then they had to give up and leave.
It was dark, and my street light outside my house had packed up again. I wielded a torch which throws out a tiny beam. Mike had my wind up torch, which throws out an even tinier beam, and the two guys took the obstacle course that is the pathway from my front garden to my dog run, stumbling over the odd rock and step as they did so, and carried the three very heavy 3 metre worktops back down the alley way and through the front door to put them into my kitchen for the night. There was no way they could manoeuvre them through the back way.
By this time all the equipment, except the sink and hob, was in situ, although they had to cut the back out of the integrated fridge/freezer cupboard to get it in.
After the men left I surveyed the kitchen at my leisure. The ovens look awesome. The lights look awesome. The silk finish barley white ceiling and walls look awesome with the lights on and tone in with the units perfectly. I’m not so sure that in the daylight the match is so good, but bearing in mind that I have it in my lounge and two of my bedrooms, I know that it will tone down. Next issue I have is the room door handles. Gold! Yuk! Back to my laptop to search for black nickel door handles to match the switches and sockets. Hmmm. I’m still not sure I want a stainless steel sink, or silver coloured door handles. I wonder if they do them in black nickel too?
I looked at the cockeyed holes in the wall for the sockets and switches and wondered how Bobby was going to line them up. There was no way I could cope with the position that they are in at the moment. Ah well, tomorrow is another day. I wonder if I will have a complete kitchen by the end of Saturday? All the units need finishing, the work tops need putting on, so do the pelmets. The painting needs finishing, and the floor needs laying, then the kick boards need to be put on. Somehow I think they will still be working on Monday when Bobby comes to wire up the appliances.
Meanwhile, I have another job for them to do……….will it ever end? My money plant has dropped another branch! I see another £500 worth of work still to be done. I doubt if they will run it in with what they have already charged me.
I have far too much worktop, although I can see why Steven ordered that much. Maybe he planned ahead. I could have a breakfast bar where the table used to be. That’s all I need in there really, plus a couple of funky bar stools. That would give me the dumping area I need for my post, a TV and radio. Plus it would give me the space I need for the food at my frequent bottle and plate parties. If there is still enough worktop over after that, I could have a matching worktop in the dog room, instead of using my old worktop. Then………
Why spoil the ship for a h’pth of tar? The dog room needs painting. I think barley white would make it lighter, with another funky feature wall in Berry Smoothie. I need to buy more barley white wall paint anyway, for a second coat on the kitchen walls. The guys could come back and lay matching tiles in ten days time (it takes ten days to get them from Homebase). £15 x 9 for the tiles is not too much to complete the view from the kitchen. If Mike makes a good job of the floor laying, I think I will ask him to do the hall and downstairs loo as well. That’s another £15 x 6 for the tiles. Mike also fits bathrooms. I will also need a new loo and basin, plus a few wall tiles. I think funky pink would also look good with white. A cheap loo and basin from Homebase will do, won’t it? Did I say another £500 worth of work? Make that £1500 at least! Ooops. Here goes another branch from my money plant! Good thing the bathroom is upstairs and doesn’t connect with this job! Or does it?
Day 9 Saturday 15th March – Saturday, and no respite for the kitchen fitters, or me. Another early start because the lads were to arrive at 8.30am. Up at 6.15am to get Myschka sorted and clear up the debris in my dog room. The water supply which I am using to fill my washing up bowl is in the garage. I have a bowl of bleachy water in there as well for wiping down. There is not much light in the garage especially now it is full of kitchen cupboards and things, and I wondered what the object was that had dropped into the bleachy water. I picked it up out of the water, only to drop it again quickly when I found it was a dead mouse! Serve it right. I hope that was the one who stole my bananas. Mental note to self to remember the rodent killer when I go to get more paint.
I asked Mike his opinion of the floor tiles I had set out against one of the units. One was one of the Kashmir tile that I had already bought from Homebase. The other was one of my left over en-suite tiles which during the night I had decided would look so much better on the kitchen floor than the Kashmir tiles that reminded me now of my kitchen floor as it is now with plaster dust everywhere. I could always use the Kashmir tiles in the dog room if I decided to get the other shiny black polished marble tiles. Mike said the en-suite tile would be too slippery, that if I had them I would have too much black and that he preferred the contrast. He said that the Kashmir tile looked more natural. More natural indeed! That is almost exactly what the floor looks like now. I suppose I had better stick with what I’ve got.
I asked if there were any black cupboard handles at the kitchen company, and Josh said he had never seen any in all the kitchens that they had fitted. So I left the guys to it and went away to look on line, before it is too late to change my mind. Mike was fitting the sink in case I changed my mind about that as well, while Josh was sanding away like mad.
I am so fed up with living on a building site. I have been okay up until yesterday, but now I have been squeezed so far out of my dog room scullery that Myschka and I can hardly move and kitchen stuff is now encroaching into my lounge as well. I am sick of plaster dust and the like. I doubt my laptop will ever recover. Although I try to vacuum the dust
out every day, I think it’s probably got inside. I am sick of a gritty taste in my mouth all the time. There is a fine dust coating in every room upstairs, even though the doors have been kept shut. It will take me weeks to get straight again. This is what I had been dreading and why I have never bothered redecorating properly. Usually I just add another coat of paint after a cursory rub down of paint work with a damp cloth. Now the lads are sanding down my kitchen doors to get rid of my bad painting, I suppose.
Lunchtime and the lads went to buy some bits while I went to Homebase to get some more Barley White for the walls and a small can of Berry Smoothie Satinwood paint mixed up for painting the radiator. For the back door I found a locking door handle that I liked that would match the cupboard handles, but no matching handles for the other non locking doors. I would need to see if they were obtainable on the internet. I did not have enough time to go to B&Q or Screwfix to find out if they had any, because the lady in front of me in the paint mixing queue was having paint mixed for her entire house, I suspected. The guys were only expecting to be gone for an hour, and I only just beat them back as it was.
I came back to find the sink set into the worktop which stretches across the window wall. Of course, I have had to go with the stainless steel one that they sent, but it is not too shiny because apparently I already told Steven I wanted a satin finish, not a polished finish. I must be going senile, because I do not remember actually telling him which sink I actually wanted. There was a piece of worktop left over from the 3 metre worktop big enough for the counter next to the oven unit, so it was quite obvious that I would have a length and a half left. Plenty for a breakfast bar. However, Mike said I would have to ask Frazer about that on Monday.
Can I stand any more dust? The worktop cutting seems to be creating even more dust than the plaster and paintwork sanding did. This lot gets right up my nose and keeps making me sneeze even with the door shut between us. However, my laptop is covered again so it is obviously getting through the gap in the door. This is the skilled bit for Mike the fitter. He has to get the angles right. I’m keeping out of the way in case I put him off.
3pm and there is only one worktop in place. Are they coming again tomorrow? Or will they wait until Monday when Bobby comes back to wire up the equipment? The ten day deadline is fast approaching, and I have only booked time off work until Tuesday. Wednesday I should be back at work. Methinks I’ll need at least another day, and that’s not counting the time I will need to put the house back to rights, or the time to get the dog room done, or the time to get the downstairs loo and hallway done. Will my house be ready for my Kichen Garden Warming Party, I wonder?
4pm and I made them another cuppa. Unfortunately the round corner of the worktop has beaten the fitter, and the corner is notched. That means he will have to cut into the third 3 metre length and do it again. That’s a bit worrying, as there are three round corners to cut. So much for having a breakfast bar. Now I see why they ordered so much. Mike told me the electrician will be here on Monday morning and they won’t be coming until Monday afternoon as they will be ripping out another kitchen. His ETA of finishing is now Tuesday night. That is, of course, if he doesn’t wreck all the round corners!
Personally I’ll be happy to go back to work for some normality on Wednesday, but obviously if the job runs over, it looks like I might have to take another day off. I keep telling myself it will be lovely when it is finished, but I wonder if it ever will be. I have never seen so much sawdust, and it is everywhere, all over my new units. I hope they operate a good clean up system. This all begs the question – why did they not cut out the worktops in their factory where they put together everything else? And why on earth were the appliances delivered early, when they were supposed to be coming on Monday? And why were the doors put on the cupboards before the messy work was finished? I will ask Frazer on Monday, because I am not too chuffed about this latest hold up or the mess that has been put over new appliances and units. In fact, if there were any point in doing so, I could cheerfully cry!
The guys carried on working again until it was dark, and although Mike said he should be finished by about 7.30pm, I went and cooked my dinner, because I decided they were there for the night. The floor tiles were actually laid very quickly, considering. They did them so that they would have plenty of time to dry before there was a lot of traffic on them again on Monday. They finally left at about 8.45, with all the tiles down except for a few in non traffic areas. I cannot understand their bitty way of working. A bit here, a bit there and nothing ever seems to get finished. I suppose it will all come together in the end. Well, I certainly hope so.
Anyway, tomorrow is Sunday. The workmen and I are getting a break. I’m off out with my friends for lunch and hopefully I will find some appropriate door handles in B&Q on the way home. They looked okay on line, but I want to see them in the flesh, and if they match my light switches and plugs. If not, I want some that match the cupboard handles. I must remember to buy some more tea bags as well. The workmen have gone through a whole packet. Mike is convinced that they will be finished by the end of Tuesday, but I have my doubts, and I’m not sure whether that includes building the breakfast bar that he said there was still enough worktop left for, plumbing in the sink unit in the dog room and the new radiator, which also needs painting. I’m really looking forward to seeing my feature wall, but they are determined to leave that until last. Mike says he’ll need sunglasses to carry on working after that wall is painted!
Day 10 minus 1 – Sunday 16th March – A day off for the workmen, and a day of peace for Myschka and me. I decided not to go out to lunch with my friends, and just stay home and potter with Myschka, trying to get a bit of normality into our lives, albeit with chaos still everywhere. At least the kitchen floor was tiled, and I had mains water at last. The weather is so lovely at the moment, and I decided to leave my laptop alone and get out in it, picking up ivy leaves that keep falling from the ash trees and seem to manage to cover the entire garden. The frogs were croaking away in their pond. A suppose that means they are relatively happy, even if their lake has turned into a tiny pond. I set mouse baits in the garage and I hope that will sort out my rodent problem. If not, I will have to call in Rentokil when I have sorted some space in my garage and upstairs in my junk room.
I took my last home cooked meal out from my freezer and put it in the fridge for later on. Hopefully I will be able to cook properly tomorrow after Bobby Onesugar has wired up my oven and hob, and hopefully my sink will be fully plumbed in so I can use it properly. It would be good if the outside tap were to work again so I can water the garden properly. I have been using 2 litre milk bottles filled from the garage tap for the past week or so, and that is no mean feat with so many young plants in the garden, and the relatively hot weather that we have been enjoying for the past week or so.
I am hopeful that the kitchen job will be complete on Tuesday. My only reservation is the problem with the round corners being cut out of the work surface. Counting my breakfast bar there will be four round corners to cut out, so I hope Mike gets his act together. I wish the experts had done that job in the factory, not used a fitter practising on MY worktops that I have paid for. There’s a large piece that has been wasted, tha
t could have been used in the dog room. I will be writing a complaint to the kitchen company about that, and about them not getting the jobs coordinated properly. I cannot imagine how anyone else would have coped with all this upheaval for so long. It is just as well that I am not a family of four or five, with young children without the benefit of having a scullery room. No drinking water available for days. That’s dreadful.This disruption has been because they are used to working for housing associations or in new houses where they have an empty house to work in, I suppose. They need to be told that the job should cause minimal disruption to a paying customer. Sawing up worktops should definitely not be done in the customer’s home. Unbelievable!
Day 10 Monday 17th March – Well today should be a breeze! My appliances should be all wired up and working. My switches and sockets should be all wired up, straight and working, and my ceiling lights should all be in their rightful places in the ceiling, and working. My under-cupboard lights probably won’t all be working, as there is a cupboard missing because they sent the wrong size. Hopefully my plumbing should all be working properly. I have a mountain of washing to do.
Bobby Onesugar arrived at 8.45am in his van and just sat there. Presumably waiting for Frazer or the fitters? He’ll have a long wait if he is waiting for the fitters because they are ripping out another kitchen this morning in Irthlingborough. However, eventually he came in at about 9.10am.
Earlier, Myschka and I were enjoying the peace in my garden while I sat drinking my early morning cuppa. The frogs were at it again, and croaking away. The doves were coo-cooing constantly, the wood pigeons were shouting “I feel full” over and over again. The dunnocks were rooting around in the little bit of garden near the house that I had dug over yesterday. A goldcrest stopped by the feeder then whistled a merry tune in my silver birch, but his mates never came along so he flew off again. Blackbirds were singing away their morning song, so was my robin, sitting near me in next door’s Leylandii. All was right with the world, until I spied next door’s Siamese cat lurking under my conifer, quite obviously studying something. Was he after my dunnocks? I shooed him away, but could see no birds where he’d been.
Later I found what he was studying. It ran from the bushes across the circular paving under the gazebo. Then a couple of minutes later it ran across the patio to the old clematis trunk, where it disappeared. A mouse was heading for home in my garage! I hope he finds the bait I left for him yesterday. I have no objection to the odd mouse living in my attic, or in my garage for that matter, so long as they don’t procreate and cause a problem. I don’t even mind hearing the patter of tiny feet above my head when I can’t sleep at night. But if they are going to make a nuisance of themselves eating my tubes of writing icing in my kitchen drawers or a whole bunch of bananas, then they have to go!
The first problem/issue reared its ugly head at about 10.10am when I went to see how Bobby was getting on. It appears that I have bought the wrong isolation switches for my hob, cooker, dishwasher and fridge/freezer and worse that Screwfix do not apparently have the correct ones in the style of switch that I have chosen. It seems that Bobby has not been told exactly where Alex Sparks wired everything either, because he was gaily wiring up the light switches differently from the way I had asked Alex to do them, i.e. with a two way light switch by the garage door for ceiling lights and garage lights, and a two way light switch by both room doors for the ceiling lights and the under unit lights. Bobby said there was no two way wiring by the lounge door for the unit lights. I am sure that Alex understood what I wanted, but there is a bit of a language barrier between Bulgarian Bobby and I, perhaps. Maybe I’m not exactly au fait with how wiring works. Maybe I shouldn’t need to be! This job is an absolute electrical fiasco, in my opinion. Lord Sugar is not happy!
There are more issues with the location of the fridge/freezer isolation switch, which does not seem to have a place in my kitchen at all. Bobby now needs to wait until the fitters get here to take out the fridge/freezer so that he can put the wiring in place. The isolation switch for it will go in the cupboard. Luckily there are two isolation switches in stock in Wellingborough Screwfix so later I should be able to pick them up, and get a refund on the incorrect switches. I’m going to raise this as an issue with Frazer when he gets here, because the customer should never have had to be responsible for actually getting the correct switches. I should have been responsible for choosing what I wanted and the kitchen company should have got what they needed and charged me the extra.
Frazer turned up, then the fitters turned up. Suddenly my house was crowded. Myschka wanted to get out, and I don’t blame her. As it was another warm sunny day I left her in the dog run, sitting on a couple of kitchen mats, while I went to Screwfix to take back the wrong switches and get the correct switches for Bobby Onesugar. While I was there I asked to see their range of black nickel door handles, and bought the Bordeaux range. One locking handle for the back door, one locking handle for the toilet door and one normal handle for one of the kitchen doors as that was all they had in stock. I managed to ascertain that there were enough in Screwfix Kettering to complete the downstairs and ordered two more on line. I also bought some new dimmer switches for the lounge in black nickel. I may as well have an integrated look downstairs.
I got back to find Bobby taking a break in his van while Mike and Josh were fixing things, trying to adapt the 1000mm unit to 900mm. Bobby came back in so I made them all a cuppa. By this time it was lunch time. It was too crowded in my house, so I sat outside with Myschka eating the sandwich I had bought on the way back while I was replenishing my tea and milk stocks. When I came back inside, the fitters had gone somewhere, and Bobby was still working on light switches. This electrics job is going to take all day, by the looks of things. Sigh…..
The fitters returned and they are now all three falling over each other. I wonder how they would get on in a smaller kitchen? There is even less room in my little scullery, as their stuff is now in there as well. I find myself counting the hours until when they all go home again.
As Bobby was occupying most of the kitchen with his bits and bobs, step ladders and unfortunately smelly body, Mike and Josh went out onto the driveway to do their sawing, and drive my neighbours mad as well as me. Good thing it is a sunny day, and not raining. At least that will mean that the dust that is created will not actually be in my house.
A bang. I recognise that sound. A short. What’s Bobby done wrong? Or is it something that Alex prepared earlier in the task? Things lightwise aren’t working quite how they should be yet. I think there is a bit of trial and error going on. I’m not so sure about Bobby’s expertise now. Maybe Alex is a better electrician, but quite obviously unreliable.
Ah well, so long as everything functions correctly in the end, it is not my problem, however I think maybe their costings for labour may have been a little on the low side. I’m thinking that it is all working out that the workmen will be getting less than minimum wage if they are paid on an hourly rate. Either that or the kitchen company have absorbed labour costs in the profit they will be making on the units, appliances and worktops. I heard a rumour that the kitchen company are slow to pay their bills. I’m also thinking that they might not be in business much longer if all their jobs take
as long as this one and if the labour charge is as low as what they’ve charged me. I hope they don’t go belly up before this job is finished. No wonder the kitchen designer from the other company I asked to quote for the exact same kitchen raised his eyebrows when I admitted that his labour costs were double what the kitchen company were charging, and for less work.
The working day ended at about 5.30pm for the fitters who left Bobby clearing up his mess. After Bobby had gone I drove to Kettering to pick up the two door handles I had ordered from Screwfix. On my return I had a better look at the kitchen. There is no way that the walls around the work surfaces are good enough to paint. They will need some serious sanding down or replastering to make them presentable, I will speak to Frazer about that tomorrow.
I now have some round cupboards in place – the top ones. They look awesome. There is an upstand on the window wall and some pelmets are in place as are some kickboards. The fridge/freezer is wired in and working according to Bobby, but I cannot open the doors. All the switches and sockets are wired up, but hanging loose, and I have some working unit lights. It is starting to look good. I even have a partly plumbed in sink, so I can wash up, but apparently I can’t run the hot and cold together yet as the return valve has not been fitted,
I wondered where was the worktop with the round edge that had gone wrong. I found it in my loo, with a seemingly perfect round edge. Somehow Mike had fixed it, so it looks like I might still have a full 3 metre piece of worktop left, I think. That man needs a medal. Josh had been busy with George (or was it Henry?) vacuuming out the junk before Mike had fixed the kickboards, I nearly went out to see what was happening when I smelled paint, but decided to keep out of the way. Josh had also been busy painting what was left of the ceiling when he could get at it after they removed all the pelmets and kickboards from off the top of the tall cupboards where they had been stored. Josh seems to be a little gem. Bobby seemed to have managed to work out Alex’s wiring in the end, although I did not get what I actually asked for with the unit lights being switched on from either doorway, but I can live with that, I suppose.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Day 11 Tuesday 18th March – Today should see the job finished, I hope. Tomorrow should just be snagging and payment, if I am satisfied. Then hopefully Mike will return at his leisure (and when I have my next two days off) to fit the breakfast bar, tile my hall and cloakroom and to finish off the dog room. That’s the plan anyway. However, I fear that best laid plans have a habit of not working out as they should.
In my sleepless hours during the night I remembered the door knob on the under-stairs cupboard door. I hadn’t purchased a black nickel one with all the door furniture I purchased yesterday. I am not inclined to return to Screwfix just for one door knob, so I think that can either be a matching cupboard handle or be painted pink to match the radiator.
I also spent the night worrying about the kitchen walls that had been tiled and looked really rough now. They would have to be dealt with somehow, even if it means buying some cheap tiles and painting them pink too. Frazer won’t like that, I’m sure, so I hope he will come up with a better plan.
The guys were due at 8.45am so I prepared myself for another agonising day, drinking my coffee sitting in the dog run, listening to the birds and croaking frogs. I saw the little mouse run across the patio again. He obviously hadn’t found the bait yet. Pity next door’s cat hasn’t found him yet either! He seems to have found a place under one of my conifers to lurk in wait for any passing bird, mouse or frog. I would rather that he caught the mouse! The other day the sneaky feline took a swipe at Percy Woodpigeon who is a regular resident and was taking a drink from my bird bath. The cat managed to grab a large handful of feathers but Percy survived, and nothing daunted has been back since.
The forecast says it will rain later, good for my newly planted garden, but not so good for sawing worktops out on the driveway. I think it may be a noisy day here again. Poor Myschka, even though she’s quite deaf, suffers quite a bit with the noise of the angle grinder and sanding machine etc.
Reflecting on this whole kitchen project, and reading my daily diary of it, makes me realise why I write. Many years ago, in a previous life when I suffered a near mental breakdown, my psychiatric doctor had told me that when I suffer any future trauma I should write about it, and about how I feel, in order to release any pent up emotions, which hopefully would prevent a build up of pressure inevitably leading to another psychotic episode. I remember once, not long after that, it took me nearly a whole day to paint a radiator in our family bathroom because I had to keep stopping to go and jot down my feelings about an incident that had taken place the day before. It helped then, and writing about this kitchen project seems to have helped me get though this traumatic upheaval in my life.
9.09am and the workmen are here at last. Myschka was peacefully sleeping, hoping that it’s all over now. I wonder what she thinks about all this. Unsurprisingly she has become very clingy, and usually will not leave my side. When I leave a room she sits looking at the door until I return, and she’s not happy in the dog run unless I am there with her. She will sit on the mat by the back door until I open it, even though I have put a nice big rug on the patio patch down the end of the run so she can stretch out in the sunshine.
I mentioned to Mike that I could not live with the walls as they are, but he said not to worry, they have painted them to show up the blemishes then they will get them sanded down nice and smooth. Phew! I reiterate – it’s going to be a very noisy, dusty day again!
10.50am and the little worktop by the oven is in place, with a perfect rounded corner, following the curve of the rounded unit exactly. Clever Mike had made his own template. Mike says he is a perfectionist, and I quite believe him. Why on earth this is not done in the factory, I’ll never comprehend. Josh had been wielding the sander again in the kitchen, trying to outdo the noise made by Mike’s grinder out on the driveway. I hope he manages to get them all done before it rains. It’s looking very grey at the moment and the forecast is heavy rain at about noon.
Almost bang on time the rain came down and Mike had to bring his machine into the kitchen. Meanwhile Josh had been sanding and painting. I was keeping out of the way searching for pink accessories for my kitchen. I have found a bar stool
which would be just perfect, as would some Mackintosh
mugs and a Swan kettle and matching toaster in Wilko
, although these are all possibly the wrong colour pink. I need to get up close and personal with them before I entertain buying them.
Lunchtime came and there were three rounded worktops in place, with still enough left over to make a breakfast bar. More painting had been done by Josh, after having sanded down
most of the morning. Unfortunately he had dropped the radiator on one of the tiles, which had broken. Remind me not to drop anything heavy on them!
Mike said that he hoped to work late and finish tonight, even if it meant coming back on Saturday to finish off bits and bobs, so I hope I will be able to go to work tomorrow and get away from it all for a while. I suppose they have their schedule in the Irthlingborough kitchen to work to. Bobby was going to be doing his stuff there this morning and coming here to finish off this afternoon. Hopefully I will have a cooker after that, and hopefully I will also have the use of my washing machine back.
15.35pm and Frazer turned up, along with the delivery van. I carried on working, in the hope that there was nothing going drastically wrong, as I had heard a crash earlier on. I dare say whatever it was can be put right before I get to see it. I think it is better I keep well clear at this point. Having witnessed the garden reaching its deadline a few weeks ago, I expect they are in panic mode by now. Frazer didn’t come in to see me, neither did he this morning when he came to check on how the job was going. I could hear a lot of cleaning up going on, and it is best I am not around while that is happening. However, it is a little unnerving hearing the clattering of something broken being swept up. The hob is still in the lounge with me, all wrapped up, so it can’t be that. Maybe it is another tile gone. Good job that there is a spare pack to finish off with.
I decided to wait until about 4pm before offering the guys another cuppa. In spite of the racket that is going on, Myschka is well asleep after her lunchtime walk and I don’t want to disturb her. There has been no sign yet of Bobby coming back to finish off the electrics. Maybe his job in Irthlingborough this morning took longer than anticipated.
Just after 6pm the guys went to get some fish and chips. I wish I had asked them to bring me some too, as I am now down to bought fish pies and the like as all my home cooked frozen food has gone. I walked Myschka and to get her dinner I struggled into the painted under stairs cupboard, now with no door knob, using one of Mike’s screwdrivers as a lever. I then went out of the patio doors, across the patio and into what is left of my little scullery to cook my fish pie and make the guys a cup of tea when they returned. While they are working that is the only access I have anywhere, apart from upstairs, as there are tools and bits of cupboards everywhere. While they were out I had briefly glanced at what they had achieved during the afternoon. The walls were certainly looking better, and the work surfaces had their trim on, but I really cannot see them finishing tonight, unless they are planning on working all night! They restarted their work, and it sounds like it’s going to be a noisy night. I hope I manage to stay awake until they go. Mike says he will finish up at about eight, but I’m not sure whether he means eight in the morning!
Another difficult job for Mike was setting the hob into the worktop. These units are 60mm narrower than my old units, and the measurements for everything are very tight. By 9.30pm I supposedly had a working dishwasher, fridge/freezer and sink, but as Bobby didn’t come to finish the electrics, the hob and oven still are not working. While Mike was screwing on cupboard door handles, Josh was screwing on the door handles that I bought, having painted three of my doors. The painted walls looked a little better, but still need another rubbing down and another coat of paint. There is still a cupboard missing:- the 900mm one that was delivered as a 1000mm. Architraves are still missing and also some kick boards. What I am going to have on the window sill is still subject to discussion. the floor still is not finished, nor has the pink wall been painted. The radiator needs fitting and so does the breakfast bar, but those are extra to the job. One door has still to be painted. The outside tap still needs to be reconnected, but apparently I can use my washing machine. The guys eventually left at 10pm and will be back on Saturday, but Bobby still has to come and finish the electrics in the evening before they come back to finish off. Mike thinks it will only take half a day, but I’d lay money that they will be here all day.
I’m back at work tomorrow and it will be a welcome relief to get away from the chaos that is my house.
Day 11 plus 1 Wednesday 19th March – Up bright and early to get a washing load on and out on the line before work, as it was supposed to be a sunny afternoon. It wasn’t to be. My washing machine started beeping at me a couple of minutes later. I supposed that it was water related, as it had worked perfectly well after being plumbed into the dog room a couple of weeks ago. I rang Mike, leaving a message on his mobile. He rang back to say he would come round tonight on the way home from his other job, which will have to be after I get back from work and Sainsbury’s. I need to do a shop desperately. I had searched the house for food to take to work, but could only find some cereal bars and an apple. I’ve nothing left in the way of microwavable meals either, and I doubt I will be able to cook again until Sunday at the earliest. Mouse was spotted again this morning as I went to water the new plants. He’s a resilient little devil, but I’ll get him in the end.
Day 12 Saturday 22nd March – Actually it is really day 17 after the job started on 5th March, but I am counting supposed working days. This was to be another day when the workmen did not turn up when they were supposed to. 9.30am I rang Mike to see where he was. He said that Frazer had rescheduled the job until Tuesday because there was no point in the fitters coming to finish off the job until the electrician has done his bit, and that couldn’t happen until Tuesday.
I suppose I should be a mind reader really, but I fail to be in touch with Frazer’s mind, and he failed to inform me of the change of plan. I think I have held my patience very well up until this point, all things considered, but this was the last straw. I telephoned the shop and spoke to Steven. He was surprised to learn that I had no appliances working yet, and said that he would come out and look at the job himself on Tuesday as well, after I complained that there were things I was not happy about, like the state of the walls. I put down the phone and burst into tears.
It has gone on so long now and I am sick of living with the dust and mess. Today I am going to give the house a good clean up, a bit pointless really as there will be more dust created on Tuesday. I just cannot stand living like this any more. I am also sick of living on microwaved food, and yearn to have my life back to normal.
My son came last night, and although he likes the overall appearance of the kitchen, he agreed how dreadful the walls look from where the old tiles were removed. He said that I cannot accept the job as finished until I am happy with them. I am looking into the possibility of having them re-tiled in a brick-type cream tile
(if the colour matches okay) because the walls really need re-plastering again to put them right, and that will cause more problems now the kitchen is almost finished. I cannot believe that they went ahead and fitted the kitchen while the walls were so obviously rough, even after I pointed it out at the very beginning. It was not my idea to leave the walls bare, but Steven’s suggestion that I did and had worktop up-stands instead. The principle is attractive, but one needs perfect walls, which mine definitely are not. I rang Topps Tiles to see if they had the tile in stock so I could see them and compare the colour with my sample door. I will need 4sq me
tres, and they luckily have 7sq metres in stock. So I got in my car, armed with my sample kitchen door, and a piece of broken floor tile to see if I could match the wall tiles with my decor. In the shop neither of the two samples I bought looked right, but when I got them home they both seemed to go okay. I will live with them in all lights over the next few days before I make a decision.
I popped into Homebase and B&Q as well just to see if they had anything suitable. I walked out of Homebase with nothing, but I walked out of B&Q with a sample of some jazzy wallpaper, which I thought might be an option for the breakfast bar wall.
I then went into Dunelm (where I perhaps should have shares) to see if they had any towels and tea towels in a hot pink, which they did, and I also bought an induction-hob-friendly non-stick frying pan because mine had to be thrown away. Unfortunately I couldn’t resist looking for other things and I came away with a fancy cream letter rack for my son’s post and important documents I need to deal with, plus a smart Sweet Pea 24 piece dinner set with cups and saucers, mugs (which broke as soon as I poured hot water into them for a cup of coffee so I will be taking them back for a refund), table mats, coasters and cutlery to match. I resisted the other matching trays, containers, tea cosy, apron and oven gloves. I also resisted the hot pink Brabantia bin, but I did buy a round black linen table cloth to put on my old round kitchen table if and when I have more than 9 guests to dinner. I also resisted new bed linen and curtains for my spare bedroom. But there is always another day!
It is such a pity that I have had this further set back. Both my son and I love everything about the kitchen per se, we love the units, the cupboard handles, the floor tiles, the switches and sockets, door handles, the light fittings, the ceiling, the appliances, the sink and tap and the window that I had installed. When the job is finished properly it will be wonderful. The only issues are the walls, and the rounded corners on the worktops. Although I love the worktop, I am wishing that I had spent the money on granite worktops, as there would not be the edge finishing issue. Even the fitter doesn’t like it.
On the plus side, my double glazed back door has arrived and will be fitted next Friday morning, together with my en-suite window. I hope nothing goes wrong with that, as my en-suite is the best room in my house, after my son’s magnificent tiling job. I asked if I could have a windowsill made in the same material as the kitchen window, as no-one in the kitchen company seems to be able to come up with a suitable windowsill.
Meanwhile, to cheer my disappointed self up, I sit drinking my Earl Grey Tea from my new cup and saucer, eating my egg custard tart bought from M&S, along with three microwaveable meals, contemplating whether to put wallpaper on the breakfast bar wall and forego the breakfast bar for the time being, because the tiles will cost so much extra and I am running out of money allocated to my home improvements. I could always paint my old round table in Berry Smoothie this weekend, to give myself a bit of a lift.
I wonder what Tuesday will bring. Hopefully I will have made a decision which tiles to have, and hopefully the kitchen company will agree to do the tiling for free because the walls weren’t plastered properly. If I am having tiles, that means I will not need the glass splash back that I have paid for but has not been delivered yet. That costs as much as the Metro Cream tiles
and Jasmine grout
for the whole of the splash back area will do, so I don’t expect to have to pay any more. The kitchen company get 15% discount from Topps as well, so it will work out cheaper for them anyway. Then all I need is a new Black Sparkle Venetian blind
which I will be buying on Monday night when I take back the mugs which cracked when I poured boiling water into them.
……and it all makes work for the working man to do…….
Day 12 Actual – Tuesday 25th March – Bobby, the electrician, arrived just after 8am when I was in the bath. Fortunately he stayed in his van until I had got dressed and could let him in. I made him a cuppa and left him in the garage setting up the circuit board, I supposed. Mike and Josh arrived sometime after 9am as usual. I explained that I was going to see Steve about having the walls tiled instead of the glass splash back which hadn’t yet arrived, because the walls were unsatisfactory however much they sanded them down. I made them both a cuppa and left Josh cutting down the 1000mm unit to make it fit the 900mm gap on the wall. Mike was going to concentrate on getting the worktops finished, getting the pelmets and architraves finished and grouting the floor.
I am definitely not happy with the join on the curved edge of the worktops, having seen them again without their sticking plaster protection. I told Mike that I really wished I had paid the extra for composite, granite or quartz worktops and that had I known that they were not manufactured with the edging already in place on the curve I would not have had laminate worktops. Fortunately Mike has insisted that Frazer has scheduled no more work for them this week, so they can take their time on finishing my kitchen and the other one in Irthlingborough which needs more work doing on it as well. I am glad that the finishing is not going to be a rushed job.
Some time after 10am Frazer turned up, apologising for not having notified me that the lads were all coming on Tuesday instead of Saturday. Mike had told him that I wasn’t happy with the walls or the worktops and wanted the walls tiling. He said that I should let the lads finish what they had started and live with it until he gets back from his holiday in Cuba. He will speak to Steven about the worktops and get him to come out and discuss replacing them with an alternative. He also said that the tiles would not look good with the up-stands and should be tiled as far down as the worktop. If the lads do not finish everything today, then they will keep Friday free and return then when I am off work again having the back door fitted.
Meanwhile Bobby had finished everything except screwing the switches and sockets to the wall which could not be done until the walls were finished. He will also be back on Friday to do that. By lunchtime the cupboard was made to suit the gap, but it only has one shelf instead of two and there are big holes where the second shelf was fixed. Mike said I shouldn’t accept it, as it obviously was not made for my kitchen. When they had grouted the floor they went to lunch to let the grout dry.
I was just about to walk Myschka when Steven called round. We had to walk carefully on the floor tiles so we didn’t tread on the joins. Steven took a photo of the join on the worktops and said that I should let them finish the job before I made any further decisions, but he did say that they would tile the walls as I wasn’t happy with the plastered walls.
Mike and Josh returned from lunch and I left them to it until about 4pm when I went out to make them another cuppa. Mike wasn’t there as he had gone to get more bits and Josh was getting on with cleaning up things. I had eaten my microwaved meal at lunchtime so decided to keep away from things and wait until they asked me for a decision on something before I disturbed them again. That moment came when they needed to know if I wanted a pelmet on the unit above the hob which wasn’t on their plan. I said I did want one and that there was one on my CAD drawin
Unbelievably I did not notice that the window wall had been painted. Mike called me back to show me. Wow! It will be stunning when it is finished. Even Mike said that he liked it. I look forward to hearing what Steven will say when he sees it because he was dead against it when I showed him the paint colour.
Eventually I asked them how long they would be there and if they wanted another cuppa. They were willing to work later, but I said that I would rather they took their time and not rush the finishing off, so Mike said they could come back on Friday when I am off work again to finish off the kitchen, and then again on Tuesday to do all the odds and sods in the dog room etc. Meanwhile Mike fixed up my new blind, which fortunately slotted into the existing fittings.
I tried out my ovens. I got them working okay, but I’ve no idea what I’ve done wrong because I cannot seem to stop them running, even though the controls are off and locked. I have had to turn them off at the switch and every time I switch back on they start belting out heat again. Weird. Maybe I will read the instructions before I try them again.
Day 13 Friday 28th March – Will this be lucky day 13 and I end up with a finished perfect kitchen? Or will it be unlucky 13 and problematical like the rest of the job? It wasn’t looking like it was going to be a good start when I received a telephone call from Pete to say that there was no glass delivered for the back door he was going to be fitting today, and he rang to ask whether it was clear or obscure glass I wanted. Durrrr! Surely he knew what he had ordered? He said he was madly chasing around to find some glass for it. Is it me? Is it just my jobs that go wrong or does this happen to everyone?
I sat waiting for the lads to arrive, with my table laid with my new black table cloth and new Sweet Pea china, as if I was expecting four guests to arrive for a full English breakfast. Well, I wanted them to see what the kitchen they had worked so hard on would look like when it was eventually finished.
The oven was working and showing the right time. I had tested it out last night when I cooked an instant aubergine bake from M&S. It had worked fine, but again would not turn off when everything was switched to off, so I again had to turn it off at the wall to stop it and wait until the next morning to turn it on again. Now today I read the instruction manual and find that this is normal! “So that the cooking compartment cools down more quickly after operation, the cooling fan continues to run for a certain period afterwards.” So I don’t need to call out a Bosch engineer to find out what is wrong with it!
I had also tested the hob with a saucepan of vegetables and some fried pancakes. Everything seemed to be working fine, and it even worked with a microfibre cloth between the saucepan and the hob (protecting the surface from scratching or spillages). Impressive!
Mike and Josh arrived just after nine. I had left my kitchen bits and bobs set up as a lived in kitchen so that they could see the finished effect of their hard work. They were well impressed. Mike then had to drop Josh off at another job while I dismantled the table setting and got rid of my bits and bobs so he could get on with his work.
The first job Mike did was to strip the rolled edging off the little worktop to see if I could then live with the laminate worktops, with straight edging all round. I thought that was the best place to start as if it looked dreadful, then if another worktop was necessary because it failed, it wouldn’t use too much of my extra bits. I want to keep the rolled edge on the sink worktop, but the rolled edges of the worktops with round corners will all need to be stripped and have square edging to make them look remotely passable. I have also found a blemish on the LHS worktop that I doubt Mike will be able to do anything about. These worktops are really letting the job down.
Having lived with my new kitchen for a few days I have discovered that the top cupboards are not very deep. In fact a dinner plate will not fit on the bottom shelves without interfering with the bottom edge of the carved door, and it will only just fit on the second shelf. However, as luck would have it, my round cupboards will accommodate my plate rack, and the dinner plates just fit in them. So my china will be stored in the end cabinets.
I also discovered that my spice rack will not fit inside the cupboard door properly, and the shelves will have to be cut down an inch so they clear the spice jars. Mike said he will sort that, and also screw onto the door below the sink my carrier bag holder. Silly bits and bobs jobs one doesn’t think about until living in the kitchen.
I also tried to open the dishwasher to find out what appeared to have been missing from the dishwasher, two etager knife holders that hang on the top shelf. Unfortunately the dishwasher door wedges on the kick board, so Mike is going to have to cut a bit out of that too. I busied myself learning the operating instructions for my new appliances and left Mike to it.
Then Pete arrived with the back door. It will be so good to have an inward opening back door. I cannot imagine what possessed the builders to have one opening outwards, unless it was to create more space for parking two cars in my original tandem length garage. Who on earth would park two cars in their garage anyway? It is too narrow for a big car, and two small cars would fit anyway wthout needing an outward opening door. It has marred my life for 26 years, so I will be glad to have this new door.
I warned Pete that my son would not be a happy chappie if his perfect tiling in my en-suite got damaged. No pressure there then, Pete! I’m not sure how long it all took because I was busy doing other things but Pete was leaving just as Mike was coming back from lunch, and to look at the en-suite window, it was not at all apparent that anything had been disturbed. No damage was done at all to my son’s tiling in there. The back door had been a more difficult task for Pete, because of the high threshold on the old door, and the rough bit of ceiling on top of it, but he managed to make a super job of it. I was happy to pay the £1080 that it had cost for the two windows and door. Good jobs well done, thanks to Pete. Now I’m not worried at all about the rest of the house being done. It should be a doddle.
Mike returned from lunch with his samples of Apollo composite worktops, which can be cut into any shape, because they do not have chipboard in the middle. I’m not really keen on any of them, but one of them is as close a match for the kitchen as I will probably get anywhere.
Three 2500mm worktops would be £517 each, not sure whether that includeds VAT, as it is a trade catalogue. One would have to do the length between the utility room door and window wall, plus there would be enough left over for the little bit next to the ovens. One would do the remainder of the window wall, and the third would do from the edge of that one to the lounge door, leaving enough over for a small breakfast bar where the table is. Mike has already said that he could use the whole of the 3m sink unit and worktop himself, so maybe he would do the fitting for free, if they were to agree to replace the worktops at no extra cost. I would need upstands as well, which are £76 each. Sink to fit would be £91. Total cost £2032 instead of the £1123.93 that I was charged. A mere £908.07 difference I would have happily paid at the time if it had been explained to me that laminate worktops were unsuitable for a curved kitchen. I don’t know that I can cope with any more upheaval though. I think I will have to accept what I have got and ask for a rebate because of shoddy workmanship, not Mike’s fault, I hasten to add.
End of day 13 and nothing disastrous had happened, but the kitchen still wasn’t finished. Infill panels had been added; doors had been hung properly; architraves had been fixed; the fridge and fre
ezer were finally put together and working; the kick board below the dishwasher had been modified to allow the door to open properly; my spice rack had been hung up and shelves in that cupboard shortened to allow spice jars to fit and other finishing jobs had been done, but I still had no cupboard doors on the remodelled cupboard due to the fact that the office had failed to deliver the hinges to hang them with that had been missing.
The little worktop by the ovens had been modified to a straight edge all round, as it had looked ridiculous before with 300mm of rolled edge and the rest straight edge. It looks much better like that, so I will have the other two worktops done like it as well. However, there are tram-line marks on the worktop now, presumably caused by the machine used to cut the rolled edging off. These laminate worktops are a nightmare in rounded kitchens. Mike says he now has another kitchen to do with rounded laminate worktops. Good luck to them! I shall be complaining to the kitchen company that they don’t advise customers that laminate worktops are not suitable.
Mike cleared up as best he could and left at about 5pm. I got on with the job of vacuuming out the sawdust from everywhere including all the cupboards. I was perched on my stepstool vacuuming out the cupboard above the hob. Then a slight mishap occurred. I shut the cupboard door and the door came off its hinge and hung precariously over my new hob. I quickly covered my hob with towels in case it fell down altogether and hurriedly phoned Mike, leaving a distressed message on his voicemail. An hour or so later, having washed my floors twice to get rid of the grouting film that still persists in spoiling the look of the floor, and having restored my “ready for a meal with friends” kitchen table and chairs, just as I had given up any thoughts that he might return and was getting ready to walk Myschka before dark, he knocked on the door. He was quite surprised to see the door hanging at an angle, wedged against the neighbouring cupboard door, but not surprised when he saw the size of the screw that had been holding it together. I am really not very impressed with some of the fittings used, as I was led to believe that they were far superior to competitors’ fittings. Another complaint to add to my list.
Surely day 14 will see the job finished? Mike will obviously remember to fit the two missing doors, and attach the switches and sockets to the wall. Hopefully he will also remember the modifications to the other two worktops. Maybe I should write a list of things that also need to be done, just in case Mike or I forget:-
1. Stopcock tap under the sink
2. Reconnect water to outside tap.
3. Lights under 900mm cupboard
4. Five door handles fitted
5. Another coat of paint on walls, and two coats in some areas that have been missed
6. Door to lounge needs painting plus bits of skirting need touching up
7. New radiator needs fitting and wall behind needs painting
8. Carpet edging in lounge needs refitting
9. Ends of worktops need strip attaching
10. Some cupboards need screw holes covering
11. Narrow shelf under sink needs fitting
12 Damper rods in drawers under ovens need fitting
Now, wait a minute – isn’t that already a full day’s work? And there is still the utility room worktop and sink to fit with cupboards over it, all agreed by the kitchen company when the deal was agreed. And I haven’t included the additional floor tiling in the hall and cloakroom that Steven said they would run into the job. Then there is the missing glass splash back. Now that I have decided to replace the damaged walls with tiles, I don’t need it, but where is it? I need a rebate for that, or an agreement that they buy and fit the wall tiles as well included in the price. That will be another day’s work, at least. It is never ending.
I have asked Mike to quote to come back and do the hall, cloakroom and utility room floors when this is all over. I will also need a noo loo and basin, plus a few new tiles in the cloakroom. I cannot face all this hassle again in the bathroom, so I will also ask him to quote for fitting new taps etc, for re-grouting the tiles and to fit a silicone strip around the bath. I like the existing tiles and if he could fit a new white suite without damaging them, I will ask him to quote for that too and for fitting a new towel radiator and a mirrored cupboard. That should do for me. I want my life back.
Next week I have to work Monday to Wednesday because it is month end, so Mike will be coming to finish off (again) on Thursday or Friday when I am off. Meanwhile, I am starting to bring things back into the kitchen as I use them. I will be chucking out anything that doesn’t get used before I have the remaining upstairs windows double glazed by Pete. Harsh words, I know, but there is less room in my cupboards now than there was before, strangely enough, and I need to de-clutter my life.
I’m not sure now whether to throw out my old freezer. There is very little freezer space in the fridge freezer. I either have to cut down on the freezer food I buy and keep for years, or keep the old freezer going, costing me a fortune to run, until it finally pegs out. I certainly cannot fit it on the skip, and I won’t have eaten all the additional contents by the time the skip goes.
Day 14 Thursday 3rd April – Actually 29 days after the kitchen was started! I wasn’t sure whether anyone was going to turn up today, as I had heard nothing from the kitchen company. Eddie, the gardener, turned up at 9am to continue fence painting, although I realised that he would soon be running out of fence paint, so after he had fixed the clematis back to the fence, I asked him to get on with painting the wrought iron gate in Hammerite. Then there will be the patio set to paint. I will also need the garage door re-doing when they have finished mucking around in my driveway, so that should keep him occupied for the next few weeks, as there is not a lot of gardening left to do at the moment. I also decided I need to get the patio slabs sealed in some sort of shiny surfacing, as I had spotted next door had done something similar the other day when I came home to an acrid smell of some sort of paint substance. I may also need to get the driveway painted in bitumen paint, due to the mess that the plasterer and fitters made. So it all makes more work for the non-working man to do………..
At about 9.30am I left a message on Mike’s mobile asking him to let me know whether or not they were coming today, but I remembered that he was now working in a low signal area, so I didn’t expect to get an answer until lunch time. I was just thinking about contacting the shop when Bobby, the electrician, turned up to fix the sockets and switches. I emptied out my kitchen so he could work and made him a cuppa. He busied himself making more mess, digging out the sockets again. Will it ever end?
Having already told the workmen several times over the course of the last month that I am obsessed with things being straight, I left Bobby to the job of screwing the sockets and switches to the wall. Imagine my horror when I went into the kitchen, while he was in the garage fixing the circuit board, to find that the three switches by the back door were all cock-eyed with each other. A glance around the rest of the kitchen showed that none of the other switches were straight either. When Bobby was leaving I told him that most of the switches and sockets were wonky. He just grinned and said the fitters would put them straight when they filled the additional holes he had made in the walls.
This is totally unacceptable to me, and another issue that I will be taking up with the kitchen company, either when Frazer returns from his holiday, or if and when I get to speak to Steven, the designer, again. This is ridiculous. What do I have to do to get the job done right? Supervise their every move?
So much for the “We’re all professiona
ls” which John, the owner of the company, had told me before the job started when I voiced my fears about things looking right. I pity poor Frazer, who is in for a tirade of complaints from me when he gets back.
I asked Bobby if the fitters were coming in the afternoon. He said that he thought so, but they were tied up with another job and would probably have to work late. I waited until 6pm, decided that they weren’t likely to be coming today and restored my equipment back in the kitchen for the evening. I wonder if they will turn up tomorrow or if I will have to waste another day waiting for workmen to turn up. As it happened, I managed to occupy myself today with writing for the writersdigest.com April PAD challenge. My days off work are supposed to be spent doing things with U3A, but I cannot leave the house while I am expecting workmen, so I will have to miss the Friday walk tomorrow. I will not be pleased if I stay home for nothing!
I had restored my kitchen to a working model, swept and washed the floor, written the above paragraph and was just deciding to take Myschka for her evening constitutional when Mike’s car turned up outside. It was after 6.30pm, not quite sure what time. He had not received my message because he had dropped his mobile in a bucket of water and it was not working. He called round on the way home after finishing another job to see if he could come tomorrow.
However, Mike decided to get a couple of hours under his belt there and then. I got my list of things left to do and he got stuck in, while I emptied my kitchen again. By 9pm they had completed the painting of barley white, put handles on the doors that were in place, fitted a shelf under the sink, put a few screw hole covers in place, dealt with the dampers in the drawers under the ovens, put trims on the work top ends and Mike had piped a seal around the window, ready to paint the pink wall the next day. Funny how little jobs take so long. Mike said he would be back at lunchtime the next day to finish off. Of course, afterwards I remembered other things that needed to be done before the job was complete, like screwing up the architrave above the corner cupboard, and replacing my radio shelf. Poor Mike!
I can actually believe that tomorrow will see the job finished as per the original specification, except for placing the absent glass splashback. However Mike is arranging for Scott to come and look at the finished job on the walls and worktops so we can all discuss what can be done to put them right so that I am happy with the job and pay the balance. I will accept nothing less than the walls being tiled for free. That will not cost them any more than extra labour costs because the absent splash back cost is more than the cost of the tiles. I think they owe me that for the hassle I have had.
I am not sure what I will accept regarding the worktops. We will have to see what Scott (the boss’s son) suggests. I think that I will only accept replacement composite worktops, at wholesale price, meaning that I should only have to pay an extra £1000 max. Failing that, I will be withholding my final £1200 payment.
The kitchen company must be wishing that they had never taken on jobs with round units by now. Another customer is apparently hitting the same problem with his laminate worktops this week, and has already said that he doesn’t like the edging. I hope they have learned a valuable lesson and never sell a shaped kitchen with laminate worktops again. Shame that my kitchen had to be the guinea pig!
Day 15 – Friday 4th April – The guys arrived at lunchtime, with hinges for the missing cupboard doors and told me that the boss, John, would be coming later on to discuss the worktops. I gave Mike the additions to the snagging list. Mike was convinced they will be able to complete the job as it stands by tonight.
At about 2,30pm John arrived. He agreed that the worktops were unacceptable and said he would look into crediting me and replacing them with granite and ring me on Monday night with the additional cost. The uneven walls he said should be re-screeded, but I told him that it would probably be better to re-tile, especially if I were to be having granite worktops. That would save the cost of the upstands.
The guys worked like Trojans and completed the snagging list I had prepared by 5pm. They won’t be back now until Saturday 12th when they are coming to finish off the work in the dog room that was promised, or when they get sent back to do whatever John and I agree to have done to make me (and him) happy with the kitchen.
I have got Mike’s email address to get a quote from him for tiling the dog room, hall and cloakroom, plus fit a new cloakroom suite. At least I know he will do a good job, and he’ll accept cash so he will be cheap.
I put my kitchen stuff back, half filled the new cupboard with provisions, cleaned everything down yet again and heaved a sigh of relief that most of the pain was over. Now I look forward to testing my cooking abilities in my new oven on another cooking contest at work. I half promised to make a simnel cake or hot cross buns for Monday. I doubt if I’ll do the hot cross buns, as I’ve never done them before and I have a full social weekend ahead of me, so it looks like I’ll be making the simnel cake tomorrow morning. I’ll also be baking some fairy cakes or a coffee and walnut cake to take to the party I’m going to on Sunday. Fingers crossed…………. 🙂
1. Lack of coordination between first electrician completing his job before plasterer came to patch up. Not enough time had been allocated for the electrician to do his work anyway. It was expected that he would complete his job during the afternoon of the first day, so that the plasterer could come on the second day. This was a totally unrealistic target. The plasterer came to patch up in the morning as planned, but the electrician did not arrive until noon to finish his job, and then left before the job was complete at 3pm.
2. A working day lost when first electrician went on holiday and no other work was done on the third working day.
3. Substitute electrician did not turn up on Saturday as planned by first electrician, then rang at 4.30pm on Saturday to say he would be coming on Sunday, which I rejected due to prior commitments.
4. Third electrician had no plans of what he had to do, so I had to advise him what I believed first electrician had done.
5. Excessive mess in ceiling and walls made by first electrician meant that plasterer had more work than necessary to do.
6. Mess made by plasterer on driveway not cleared up which will mean driveway will either need pressure washing or painting
7. No drinking water was available for days after sink was taken out. A tap to provide drinking water was promised in the showroom.
8. Worktops being cut out on site instead of in factory a) meant more time spent in customer’s house, b) caused huge amount of choking dust for customer and c) means that when cutting went wrong customer’s paid for worktop got wasted.
9. Appliances and cupboard doors should have been the last things to be delivered after all the work that creates mess is finished.
10. Wrong size cupboard delivered caused extra delay when it had to be cut down to size. Number of shelves in it are different and unneeded holes where a shelf was removed are a mess. I believe this cupboard belonged to another job, not mine.
11. Handles were delivered before I was given a choice. I was told that I would be brought a selection to choose from when the cupboard doors were in place. When I complained, I was only offered a small selection to change to.
12. Dust sheets should have been laid to protect the remainder of my house.
13. Estimate of job timing
. I was told at the beginning by the project manager that the job would be over in a week, having already been prepared for the ten working days that had been mentioned in the showroom by the kitchen designer. This was a totally unrealistic target. Had I listened to him, I would not have prepared enough meals to get me through the period I actually was without cooking facilities.
14. Lack of communication. Frazer failed to inform me that there was a change of plan and that the fitters would not be coming to finish off on Saturday 22nd, as arranged, but would come on Tuesday instead. Another example of lack of communication.
15. Plastering. The walls that had been tiled previously were so uneven that it was impossible to keep them as plain walls, with just up-stands attached to the worktops. This was pointed out to the fitters and to the project manager before they fitted the worktops and the walls should have been re-plastered, rather than the fitters keep trying to rub them down and make do. This has cost more money by forcing the need to buy wall tiles to cover up the bad walls.
16. Laminate Worktops. I am not happy with the rounded edges to the worktops. They do not match up with the rolled straight edges, and I am sure that in the future the edging will come adrift at the join. Also there are marks on the worktop where they had to be machined, and glue marks on the work surface. I should have been warned that laminate worktops are not suitable for rounded corners, as I was when I approached a competitor after the event.
17. Wonky electric points. In spite of me insisting several times that I am obsessed with things being symmetrical, the switches and sockets were still fixed up wonky. The electrician said that the fitters would straighten them out when I pointed this out to him. Why does he not use a spirit level?
1. Kitchen fitters were quick to take out original kitchen and cleared up any mess they made.
2. Project manager did actually respond quickly to any issues as they happened, although I had no means of contacting him over the weekend, when work was scheduled to be done and the workmen did not turn up.
3. Second electrician (Bobby) made as little mess as he could in the ceiling, and did actually clear up as best he could after he had finished the job
4. Plasterer pulled out all the stops, enlisting help from a mate when it was obvious he was not going to finish in a day. Did an excellent job of the ceiling and window wall although the other walls that were previously tiled really needed a proper re-plastering before the worktops were put in place.
5. Kitchen fitters worked well together with one doing additional smaller tasks while the other was doing the fitting and plumbing, then worked as late as they could to complete the job they were on. They cleared up as best they could each day before going home.
6. I absolutely love all the basic elements of the kitchen fittings and equipment, and just think that it is a shame that the unsuitable worktops let the whole kitchen down.
Lord Sugar’s Boardroom:-
Company Director (John) – Hired (Well one does need a Company Director)
Kitchen Designer (Steven) – Hired (Did an excellent job of designing a kitchen to suit my requirements, although he did forget the window sill)
Project Manager (Frazer) – Fired in round 1 but then redeemed himself by sorting issues out (I suppose a Project Manager is a necessary and expensive evil, he’s there to take the flack) but failing to inform the customer that finishing the job was to be rescheduled was unforgivable, so fired.
Fitter/Plumber (Mike) – Hired (did an excellent job of everything, putting right anything that went wrong)
Assistant Fitter (Josh) – Hired (behind every successful fitter is a willing mate)
Electrician (Alex) – Fired in round 1 (even though he was gorgeous. He should have turned up at the right time and worked until the job was finished and ready for the plasterer)
Electrician (Alex’s mate) – Fired in round 1 (he never turned up on the day agreed, never called back when he said he would, and then had the cheek to turn up halfway through Monday uninvited)
Electrician (Bobby) – Not sure (he’s slow and methodical but has difficulty understanding what is required or explaining what is required, and he needs to take more care with personal hygiene)
Plasterer (Darren) – Hired (but he must learn to make less mess)
Lord Sugar’s Apprentice – Mike (I reckon with Josh’s help he could have done the whole job himself, without needing a project manager, electrician or plasterer)
The Aftermath Saturday 5th April. My first night’s untroubled sleep, and I didn’t wake up until 8.30am. So much for my good intentions of getting up early to start baking. First I had to find my baking things. One thing led to another, and by the time I had filled my kitchen cupboards it was lunchtime, and I was shattered from going up and down stairs with heavy bags and things. I have tried to categorize all my cupboards sensibly.
The big bottom cupboard in the corner near the sink, which opens out wide, is now filled with tupperware and other containers, and my marble things. I can now reach everything in the cupboard and may get to use things more. How many Party Susan’s do you think I possess? Suffice it to say that I could hold a banquet for the whole of the street here, and still have serving containers left over. Remember I inherited my Mother’s stuff as well.
The opposite bottom cupboard has half of it hidden away and unreachable. That is where I will store stuff that I never use, but cannot throw away.The reachable bit will have utensils I need when I’m cooking at the hob.
The tall cupboard by the fridge/freezer holds all my electrical cooking equipment:- pressure cooker, fish fryer, bread maker, slow cooker, rice cooker, Kenwood Chef, food processor and all the attachments, electric hand mixer, toaster, George Foreman grill, sandwich toaster, old slow cooker that fries as well and coffee grinder. There is no more room left for the microwave which was supposed to be going in there! However, I was a bit dubious about actually using the microwave in the cupboard as Steven had suggested when he designed the kitchen, and as I use it nearly every day either for porridge, heating soup or reheating meals I’ve cooked the day before, I think it needs to be out on show, next to the ovens. There is still room in front of it to “dump” cooking pans or casserole dishes as they come out of the oven.
The freezer compartment is full with stuff that I use all the time:- bread, frozen veg, fish, mince, chicken, ice creams and meals I’ve cooked ready for another day because I seem to only be able to cook for four most of the time. There is no room for me to buy stuff any more that I might keep for a rainy day and never eat. I am gradually working my way through all that is still in my old freezer.
The fridge is nice and half empty at the moment and at last I have room to store my fruit and veg again where I can see it and remember to eat it. There will now be room for me to put salads, trifles, and any other perishable stuff that I need when I hold a party. I am told that fridges run better half full, and freezers run better full up, so I hope that is true.
Above the two ovens there is a useful storage area for things that I don’t use often and I now call it my party cupboard, because in there are two dozen cheap glasses, plastic and paper plates, paper serviettes, plastic and paper tablecloths, Xmas crackers, party poppers and some Union Jacks.
Below the ovens are my baking tins – two big drawers of them!
My new china will only fit in the rounded top cupboard by the back door, and the narrow cupboard next to it holds all my cheap glassware. The narrow cupboard below holds tray
s, boards etc and empty storage jars (at the moment) and the rounded cupboard next to it holds my old everyday china and cutlery baskets.
The rounded lower cupboard the other side of the back door has my old glass casserole dishes, measuring jug and pudding basins on the top shelf and all my Chinese stuff on the bottom shelf, with my plate warmers.
The rounded top cupboard now holds coffee, tea, sugar, hot chocolate and cereals, while the larger cupboard has three shelves of food, cans, bottles and packets.
The double cupboard only has two shelves, and I found it best to put all my white cooking ware in there – two soup tureens fit on the top, with my big white casserole next to them and the rest of the white stuff and my biscuit and cake tins below.
In the round bottom cupboard next to the hob are all my saucepans and frying pans, and in the rounded little top cupboard above are condiments, sauces, cooking oils and vinegars.
In the bigger top cupboard the other side of the hob are most of my cooking ingredients in jars or still in their packets, with herbs and spices in a rack on the door, which unfortunately means that the door doesn’t shut flush yet until I get an inch taken off the shelves.
In the five drawers below the hob are my everyday cutlery in the top drawer and my best cutlery in the second drawer, with room for tea towels and various other items when I empty the old kitchen drawers. In the third drawer there are all sorts of cooking related things:- foil, kitchen roll, sandwich bags, cling film etc. The fourth drawer is full already with barbecue paraphernalia. I had no idea I had so much! The bottom drawer has instruction manuals for my equipment in it at the moment, but will be full of junk by the time I have emptied my drawers which are still upstairs. I’ve no idea where I am going to fit all the packet mixes, stock cubes, icing sets etc that had two drawers to themselves before.
Lastly there’s the cupboard under the sink. Oh dear! Not enough room for lifting the lids of my bins hidden in there now I’ve got a shelf in it. I will get Mike to cut the shelf back six inches or so. I only need a narrow top shelf for bottles of cleaning materials, then I can use the whole of the bottom shelf for two bins one side, and a pull out cleaning materials tidy the other side, plus my carrier bag holder which fixes to the door.
My kitchen may be well laid out, but I don’t seem to have as much room now as I did before for my junk. Just as well that I’ll be having my old cupboards on the wall above my old work surface in the utility room!
Sunday 6th April – By the time I had finished emptying the contents of all my old drawers into my new drawers or the dustbin it was late afternoon and my son arrived. Another inspection of the “finished” kitchen did not thrill him, I’m afraid. He’s a perfectionist and has fitted several kitchens himself so is very super-critical. No-one will ever match up to his or his dad’s high standards. Silly little things that I admit I wasn’t really happy with myself but, being also super-critical and fed up with waiting for the job to be finished, I had not moaned about. I guess we will just have to accept that one never gets a job done by others as well as one can do it oneself.
No time yesterday to bake the simnel cake and hot cross buns I had promised my colleagues for Monday, and no time today either, as I have a B&P luncheon party to go to which will last most of the day. C’est la vie. At least I was able to enjoy grilled Welsh rarebit last night when I came in from the concert I had been to, a treat I have not been able to have for years since my old grill packed up. I had been looking forward to that all through the concert, because I had no time to eat anything all day except a cuppasoup, a couple of biscuits and a banana. Mmmmmmm! Wunderbar!