Stirring Up A Hornets’ Nest


It’s not a good omen.

In a bid to find the source of an electrical cable Mike had to climb up into the attic, only to be met with loud and insistent buzzing. Not from the wires, but large yellow and black flying things. He stuck his hand back up through the hatch and administered a liberal squirt of fly spray. I can’t help thinking that will just hack them off even more. Why is nothing around here ever easy?

The study doesn’t bear much resemblance to these pictures now but before we launch into the horrors of what has already been revealed I thought you should see how it was before. Quite a nice room really, if a tad on the cluttered side. I’ve been reliably informed that none of my piles of papers, brochures and magazines are coming back. Ever. So I have reduced it by over half already and filling the bin bags was actually quite cathartic.

The room has a nice view over the garden and when the window is open birdsong and the bubbling of the river are the sounds that fill the space. It’s a good place to work.



Beyond the louvred doors is a tiny en-suite bathroom from back in the days when the study doubled as a guest bedroom. It’s now a dumping ground for laundry. We’ll paint the doors for the moment, the same colour as the walls in an attempt to blend them in. I want to try and source an old wooden planked cottage door for the main entry into the room.

The built in cupboard in the left corner will go. It’s been useful for storage but an eyesore and an intrusion into the available space. I reckon with more culling of ‘stuff’ I can make do without it.. probably the most overly optimistic thing I’ve said all year and there’s no shortage of competition on that front. Nevertheless, a small free standing cupboard is to be appropriated from elsewhere in the house. It will occupy exactly the same floor space but have far less impact on the room.



The trouble is it’s not just the study that now looks like a bomb site. It’s the whole house. I had hoped the mayhem created by redistribution of contents could at least be restricted to upstairs but no, only one room, the kitchen, has escaped.

The dining room, complete with all its cold draughts, has become the new office. Curtains lie on the sitting room floor and the bedroom has virtually no free floor space left at all. The main culprit is books. Just how much space do they take up when stacked and spread evenly around, dutifully respecting the floor loading of this ancient building lest the whole lot should find itself unexpectedly relocating to the room down below as soon as my back is turned. The simple act of drying one’s hair now requires such a gravity defying bum over bosom manoeuvre to locate plug into socket that Mike has abandoned the unequal struggle and taken his own hairdryer elsewhere.



Before the wood chip paper came off the walls (how easy it sounds when you say it quickly) I look the opportunity for a spot of mischief by match pot. Once we had replaced all the little cans that had gone solid over the years we were left with about a dozen off-whites. None of them looked right. After the 30 mile round trip to the nearest stockist I acquired three more. And the next day, three more again.

The fabric is an offcut from silk curtains that I made for the last house. 2 pairs of single width floor to ceiling lengths. They will now be joined to make one very large curtain covering much of the window wall. That’s the theory. And given a following wind the only part of this whole sorry misadventure that will come in cost free.

Hornets may turn out to be the least of our problems. Mike is now casting doubt on whether it will all be done for Christmas. Perhaps he has adopted a strategy of under-promise and over-deliver. Let’s hope he has.