“I Was Just Thinking…”


 Mike’s newly skimmed wall


It’s a great job, considering he’s never done any plastering before, let alone done it with lime. The trick is to avoid it drying out too quickly. To prevent cracks forming he had to damp down the wall before applying the plaster and then repeat periodically as it cured, sponging the surface to help even it out. The picture really doesn’t do it justice.

In a former life I was, amongst other things, an IT Project Manager. This doesn’t mean I know a lot about computers, quite the reverse. What I came to dread were the familiar words uttered by a client: “could we just…” A project might have gone all the way through sign off and then as it progressed they’d thought for the first time a bit more about what the proposed software could do and suddenly found new and extended uses for it. With further development work, of course. There is even a technical term for it: scope creep. It’s one of the main reasons for a project going over time and over budget, unless it is very tightly managed indeed.

Yet when it comes to personal projects I am one of the worst. The work on our previous cottage started out as an attic conversion. Actually, it started out as a thought about getting a hamster and having nowhere to put the cage, but don’t let’s go there. Where it ended up was a new kitchen, new floors in every room, liner walls demolished throughout the old house to reveal the original oak structure and the replacement of the oak sole plate i.e. the bit that holds up an ancient timber framed building in lieu of foundations. Over £100k’s worth of work. And, as it turned out, still nowhere to put the hamster. So you’ll have guessed why the study is taking so long.

It was thinking about a door, and the need for yet another replacement, that led to the decision to take down the built in cupboard. If I did a serious cull of “stuff” I could manage with a much smaller free standing cupboard and create more space in the room. Except that removing the partitions led to a lot more plastering. Especially after we’d had to dig three channels in the wall to hide the electrical cables now exposed. Then there was the replacement of the louvred doors which originally I was just going to paint. And the ‘new’ door will have to open outwards instead of inwards so now all the architraves have to be changed..


Study 030 Wm[1]


With still more filling and plastering to ‘make good’.

And now that we’ve purchased unpainted rustic doors for the main doorway and the airing cupboard wouldn’t the architraves around them look better stripped as well..?


So no surprise then when one day recently, in the midst of a constructive discussion about some element of the work, I happened to take a proper good look at the radiator.


Study 022 Wm[1]


The side on view has never been pretty. And it was even worse on the other side, which happened to be the first thing that greeted you upon entering the room. The block of wood behind the radiator is a Devon Peg. The only sure way of attaching anything heavy to cob (remember it’s constructed of just mud and straw) is to drive a wooden peg into the wall and screw into that.


Study 023 Wm[1]


And then there’s the curious arrangement of the plumbing. But not to worry eh, at least Mike has some experience of that? * **


After much hoo-ing and haa-ing about btu’s and how big a radiator is big enough, we have ordered a new one. In a freshly decorated and contemporary space surely nothing short of a designer model will do, the same low profile type that I used in the kitchen. But of course when the furniture gets put back there will be far less room to manoeuvre here. Less room for valves. Meaning the pipe tails will now have to go into the bottom of the radiator rather than the sides.


Made to order.

From the factory in Italy.

Four weeks…

* A Crash Course In Plumbing (here) and Mike the Plumber (here)
** I’m required to let you know that the last photos, of the radiator, show the wall BEFORE plastering!!