The tree is down. The detox has started. Can’t put off the decorating any longer then.
A week or so before Christmas I gave up the unequal struggle to get the study done on time. Better, surely, to have the job done well than rush it for the sake of a date on the calendar and forever more regret it.
But progress has been made in one respect. Remember the beautiful old boards hidden underneath the fluorescent orange carpet that previously ‘adorned’ the room? It wasn’t all good news. Some time in the recent past there has been a ‘repair’. Note, below, the ill-fitting narrow boards and crosshead screws. Fine under carpet of course. But not now my heart is set on restoring the lovely old floor.
Early in December I spent the best part of a day scouring the internet and testing the patience of every architectural salvage merchant in the South West. Having reached the sea in every direction bar one my virtual journey continued north. Up the M5, a brief detour around Bristol and Bath, then hang a left somewhere around Hereford and on into Wales.
The conclusion? Sourcing 12″ wide old floorboards is harder than looking for those proverbial hens’ teeth.
A different solution would have to be found.
The original boards are pine but apparently even trying to find new wood in that width is not so easy these days. And then, by pure chance, and not too far from home either, we came across this:
A small section of floorboard taken along for comparison purposes is perched upon the top. Result.
The beam was sliced into boards the exact same thickness as the original, delivered, and each section manhandled down the 84 steps by the long suffering decorator and his able assistant.
This is the point we have reached today.
Whilst they acclimatise in the study the boards should be weighed down, the recommendation being to use breeze blocks, as a defence against warping. An exhaustive search of the premises turned up only the one block.. sundry renovating paraphernalia has had to be enlisted in order to fill the breach.
Once the new floorboards are fitted, and the whole floor sanded, the colour will be a much closer match. We’ve also held on to the wood trimmings, the offcuts from the beam. Any gaps between the boards that do remain can be filled with fillets, as was the traditional way.
All well and good then until the night last week when I happened to be working late in the temporary office downstairs. It’s the most peaceful time there is. No sanders, drills or hammering. No washing machine or TV. No phones ringing. Just…
.. a strange rustling noise emanating from the ceiling. Little claws on wood. Seemingly located in the underfloor cavity directly between me and decorating ground zero.
But oh good grief, with the work on the floor yet to be done, aren’t there still huge gaps up there.. easily big enough for a mouse to squeeze through?
And thus by torchlight in the dead of night I am to be found shifting buckets, blocks, boards and anything else that could feasibly be used to block up the gazillion holes. The mouse keeps his counsel in silence. But he is still there, oh yes he is.
At first light a trap is hastily deployed and another chalk mark added to the tally chart. And is that the end of it?
A couple of nights later the scratching resumes.
Mousey, it seems, wasn’t working alone.