Could It Get Any Worse?


Yes. It could.

The more observant reader may have spotted that this is not the bathroom. No, it is the dining room directly below.



It is also the epicentre of what had become affectionately known as Pipe City.

When the central heating was originally installed, many years ago, there was little attempt to bury the pipes in the walls or route them neatly out of sight underneath the floorboards. No, they were simply strung off the ceiling and along the beams like a set of Christmas fairy lights. But nowhere near as pretty.



In the sitting room too..

It’s always been our intention to progressively get rid of them all and, as we’ve travelled from room to room with the renovations, we have. But now we’ve reached a crunch point. Once the bathroom floor has been tiled it can’t then be lifted. Obviously. So if the remaining pipes are to be happily secreted away, now is the moment.

Virtually every room in the house has been impacted by this project, one way or another.



Channelling into walls is a messy business*. And noisy. Especially that.

So there won’t be any relaxing evenings in the sitting room for a while. And what isn’t hidden away under the dust sheets has had to be moved elsewhere. My study. His study. The bedroom.

The kitchen does remain uncluttered. So far. But there is no longer a hand basin in the downstairs loo. And why is there no longer a hand basin in the downstairs loo? Because someone in her infinite wisdom decided to use the toilet and basin which were coming out of the bathroom in the downstairs loo because they were so much nicer than what was already there. Except that, when it was offered up, the basin didn’t quite fit. So we’ve had to order a new one. More unplanned expense.

I give up.  Onwards.


(*Historic England acknowledge that to install modern services in old buildings channels into walls can’t always be avoided, but they should be minimised. This is what we have done, using voids under floorboards or other means wherever it is feasible.)


2018-08-25T07:38:47+00:00July 26th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. aberdeen gardening July 26, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I thoroughly enjoy your Grand Design stuff. I must admit, I hate to see exposed pipes. Wow, that is some library you have. Good luck with the rest of the restoration.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Alistair. I used to think Grand Designs deliberately had everything go wrong and that being over budget was a prerequisite for featuring on the show.. until that is we started some grand designs of our own. Where is smooth talking Kevin when you need him.

  2. justjilluk July 26, 2018 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica. You certainly bit the bullet. But do not lose sight of what it will be like…

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      There is a hole in the bathroom wall now. Daylight on the other side. And a big storm coming in tonight. We have stuffed the hole with plastic and hoped for the best..

  3. wherefivevalleysmeet July 26, 2018 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    You have my sympathy Jessica, especially in this very hot weather. It will be a relief for you both and a wonderful moment when it is all done and dusted.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      Too true. And it will take a lot of dusting!
      Thanks Rosemary.

  4. Kris P July 26, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    You’re scaring me. The project we face is expected to take 6 months but I’m fearful of all the sideways detours that may come up in the process, extending the timeline even further. Having already encountered one detour, the landslide hazard concern, before we’ve even started work inside the house certainly doesn’t ease my nerves. Wine or Valium – which is more effective?

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      I’ve no experience of Valium (yet!) but I can definitely vouch for the wine.

  5. Vera Coe July 26, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    What an effort you are making to get your cottage ship shape, and I am sure it will look gorgeous when all the work is done.
    We have some exposed pipes running along the timbers of our downstair ceilings. They are the electric cables for the lights, and can’t be hidden because we didn’t have anywhere we could hide them, so we put the cables inside copper piping and bought industrial looking lights, and that made an attractive feature in all the rooms!

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It really is difficult when you have exposed ceilings. Your solution sounds brilliant!

  6. karen July 26, 2018 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Oh no, those pipes! How could anyone do that!. Good luck with your continuing renovation work Jessica. It will be a delight when it’s all finished. All the best. Karen

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      The previous owners covered up most of the pipes with heavy curtains. But I want to have roman blinds.. or nothing at all. The pipes had to go!

  7. wherethejourneytakesme July 26, 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    I remember all that plastic covering when you decorated your living room. You sure like having fun – did you not fancy boxing the pipes in!!

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      The living room decoration has yet to come. But you’re right, the plastic looks very similar to the time Mike created a ‘spray booth’ so that he could paint the bookcases. It brings me out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.

  8. Jayne Hill July 26, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    “Oh crud”, or words to that effect; you’ve often said how much you were dreading this particular part of the refurb and now I can see why. Just wishing you good luck and no leaks . . .

    You mention Historic England. On top of everything else you are dealing with, is the building listed?

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      It isn’t listed. Probably should have been and in many ways I wish it had been. It would have prevented many a heinous crime on the part of previous owners, not least the totally inappropriate plastic windows. For our part, out of love and respect for the history, we are trying to do our best to preserve what’s left of the building in the proper way. Even though we don’t have to.

  9. Diana Studer July 26, 2018 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    With thatch from the 1500s it should be listed?

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Yes it should. But it isn’t. And wouldn’t be now most probably because it has been altered so much over the years. The bathroom needs to be modern and functional, but I hope what we are doing elsewhere in the cottage will bring some of the original character back as well as making it a comfortable home for the future.

  10. Linda from Each Liitle World July 26, 2018 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    You wonder what those other folks were thinking leaving everything exposed. Money is always an issue but so is the quality of what you see or don’t see everyday.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed. Perhaps we’re also more demanding and design conscious today than 30 years ago.

  11. janesmudgeegarden July 26, 2018 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I feel your pain. Brick dust everywhere, and it’s a nightmare to clean up afterwards, even after covering everything. It will be very satisfying when you gaze upon your unblemished walls.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      The dust does get everywhere. I suppose I should be used to it by now. But it comes to it when you have to wipe a layer of muck off the kitchen hob before you can put a pan on it!

  12. Beth @ PlantPostings July 27, 2018 at 2:26 am - Reply

    Gotta give you so much credit for doing this! It will be so wonderful when it’s done, and you are doing a heroic thing restoring an historic structure. Bravo. Hang in there!

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      This is probably the hardest room. Everything after this will be easier. Let me kid myself OK?
      Thanks Beth.

  13. Gerrie Mackey July 27, 2018 at 6:26 am - Reply

    Your renovations are interesting to watch, but must, at times be exhausting … I hope those thick walls are keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      It is a cool house in summer and this year we’re appreciating it especially. Not so great for the builders with the strong lights and all the equipment they’re using. They’re taking a lot of breaks and we’re getting through a lot of water.

  14. Torrington Tina July 27, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

    My, oh my. It really is tough trying to do all that work while you live there. Anytime you want to get away from the dust and noise just invite yourselves for coffee.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      We’ll take you up on that.. thank you!

  15. derrickjknight July 27, 2018 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Magnificent job continues. Watching is good 🙂

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Quieter and less dusty.

  16. Mary July 27, 2018 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Lordy! Hope that decent weather holds for a while so that you can at least lounge outside a bit in the evenings. Though I imagine what you mostly do in the evenings is walk about the house thinking “What have we done?” Hoping that the rerouting of the pipes doesn’t include any more unpleasant discoveries. Your house is really glorious and will be worth the effort–even if it has you chewing your nails at the moment.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      We’re almost always left with ‘homework’.. some problem or issue to think through and provide an answer for by the time they return in the morning. Most evenings are spent googling!

  17. Caroline July 27, 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Oh boy! Well you seem to be keeping in good spirits, from a blog readers point of view anyway. It will be lovely when it’s finished! Onwards 😉

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      There are bad days and better days. But we will get there in the end. We’re getting on well with the builders which helps to overcome most of the obstacles.

  18. Charles July 27, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Alas alack the shower in the en-suite has died and the other two showers are on the way out. No you cannot just replace them as they are old and no longer manufactured. The plumber has been located and we hope to start work soon. The thermostats have gone as well so that when you do wash you get very hot water, so refreshing in a somerset heat wave.
    It sounds like you are properly in the woods but no doubt it will look fantastic at the end. I hate concealed pipes because when they leak it is a mighty job as usually they leak for a nice long time before you find out.

    Loved the books in the sitting room. I am an avid reader and hoarder, my wife reads and discards. It was nice to see a large mass of what look like well used books. I imagine there are other shelves for the inevitable OS map collection (I actually buy old OS maps so I can look at what has changed, sad I know.)

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      We are also having to use a shower in an ensuite and the water pressure is terrible. It is especially terrible before 7.30 in the morning when the garden irrigation is competing with it. I really don’t understand it as the pressure everywhere else is super high.. even for the tap in the same room which more or less explodes each time it is turned on.
      There are probably some OS maps in there actually, just out of shot. To the left of the Michelin travel guides (bright green).

  19. Christina July 27, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Oh! Jessica. When wee were looking at houses here we found one we both quite liked and it had a lot of land including an amazing cherry tree, but all the pipes, gas, electric etc were exposed, we decided that in the end it would all be too much trouble. Good luck.

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      It’s a lot of trouble and it’s expensive, money that isn’t an investment because the work is invisible to future buyers. But we’d have had to do it sometime in the future so it’s good to get it out of the way. It will make decorating the downstairs rooms so much easier.

  20. Em Parkinson July 27, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Arghhhhh! X

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Nothing much changes round here does it!

  21. Freda July 28, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Your resilience is an inspiration to me Jessica. Thank you!

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      I would have to bounce the compliment straight back to you Freda. We inspire each other.

  22. offtheedgegardening July 28, 2018 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Oh my dear, I feel for you. I send you strength and energy and optimism and a smidgeon of fairy dust. And I am definitely not going to say “it will be worth it in the end” (although I am sure it will be) xxx

    • Jessica July 28, 2018 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      It will be worth it in the end because that’s the only thing keeping me going at the moment!

  23. Indie July 30, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Wow, that is a job! It does look like utter chaos and destruction now, but it will look so nice when it’s done! Love your wall of books.

    • Jessica July 30, 2018 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      It is utter chaos and it’s getting worse by the day. As I said to one of the builders today, it’s like gardening in the rain: after a while you just don’t notice it anymore because you can’t get any wetter.

  24. snowbird July 30, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    I bet you lose the will to live at times! I’m with you, we’ve practically rebuilt this house and it gets old fast, especially when you keep on going backwards. But….order WILL be restored! Wine is most helpful while waiting… good luck, here’s to things running

    • Jessica July 31, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

      It’s awful isn’t it. Yesterday I seemed to spend the whole day googling and ordering lights and light switches, while the electrician pulled the dining room and Mike’s study apart looking for a single cable. Every moment of silence is something to be cherished above all else.

  25. Chris N August 4, 2018 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    It just amazes me what you two are doing. If it was me I’d just look up at those pipes and go, my, they do just blend in, don’t they???? No, really kudos to you and Mike. BTW, what a wall of books!!!

    • Jessica August 5, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      It’s amazing how the whole room has changed now the pipes are gone. The previous owners had heavy drapes which covered some of them. I want roman blinds, or nothing at all. I’d have been forever looking up at them!

  26. hb August 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    This, too, shall pass. Or is the more appropriate quotation “What fresh hell is this?”, a quotation that has been in daily use in the USA.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed. Your side of the pond and ours!

  27. Peter Herpst August 14, 2018 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    You are so brave to attack all of these expensive and time-consuming projects. The results will be wonderful once the dust settles.

    • Jessica August 14, 2018 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      The dust has settled everywhere! It’s a perfect excuse for avoiding housework though.

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