Oh, The Indignity..


Day 14. Easily the strongest floor in the house.


I suppose it was tempting fate, asking the question in the last post, “Could It Get Any Worse?”. Because of course the answer is inevitably “Yes”. And so it did. In pursuit of an elusive lighting cable the floor of Mike’s study had to be lifted, adding yet more furniture to the burgeoning pile in the sitting room downstairs. The kitchen is the only room left unscathed by the ‘bathroom’ project. I have bolted the door.

And then there are the continuing discussions, questions and decisions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exactly the way it needs to be. I have to admire those people who can just go away on holiday and leave the finer details to someone else. Or even dare to leave the house at all between the hours of nine and five. Because something always turns up as the job proceeds. Perhaps ours is just especially complex. Now there’s a thought. But for the last three weeks it’s been a full time occupation.

The tap. How high above the basin? The tap projects straight out of the wall. Is there an ideal distance that the water should fall? Mike rang the manufacturer. Yes, there is. But of course the final room dimensions were unknown at the start of the work. It was always going to be dependent on what we found when the builders stripped the old bathroom down. Fixing the tap at its recommended height means the mirror mounted above it will sit too high against the ceiling. Compromises would have to made.

There’s to be a new step linking the bathroom and the bedroom. The bedroom floor slopes. The door frame is crooked. The bathroom is (now) level. So what do we do about the tread in between? And so it goes on.



Old meets new. See the straw in the old cob wall?


‘Homework’ this weekend focused on the sourcing of slate for the new step. And so it was that we set off north, in search of an emporium recommended by the builder for stocking a particularly delicate shade of grey. It’s fair to say the occupant of the passenger seat was not in the lightest of moods. Another day given over to bathroom related stuff. On a Saturday when she surely should be granted proper time to relax. On a day when the weather was simply perfect for gardening. And if all that was not enough, the emporium in question closed promptly at lunchtime. Necessitating an especially early start.

Fortunately there are ways to sweeten even the most bitter of pills. We were to be travelling fairly close to one of my favourite gardens, Marwood Hill, which as it happens has a rather delectable Plant Centre. With a bit of creative navigation via google maps it could even be possible to engineer the route to go right past the door… as in “Oh gosh Mike, just look where we are..”



Morina longifolia, newly installed in the terrace borders. One of Marwood’s finest.

Anyone brave enough to fondle the prickly thistle like foliage would find themselves enveloped with the most delightful citrus scent. The plant produces whorls of pale pink blooms which have the neat trick of darkening once pollinated, letting future insects know which flowers they can pass over and thus increasing the rate of fertilisation. Native to the Himalayas. Will English pollinators have cottoned on?


But of course I digress.



When you have a normal loo, bolted to the floor, things are fairly simple. The Gardener, mais naturellement, isn’t doing simple. No, she wants a toilet which hangs off the wall. Because in a small space the more clear floor you can see the better.Β So far so good. The trouble comes when the plumber tells you that this type of loo is adjustable. Just as well, as it turns out, because the cantilevered loo is higher off the ground than a floor standing one. And it doesn’t take an overly observant plumber to spot that in this case his client is well down the southbound side of average height. A measurement might be prudent. Bum to Floor. From a seated repose.

I’d like to think that we have, over the last three weeks or so, built a good rapport with the team. And so it was that I took the plumber’s offer to construct a ‘mock up’ facility in the centre of the bathroom in the spirit with which it was meant. The builder, with no words but a glint in his eye, handed me his tape measure. Thankfully Mike had a much better idea. In the relative privacy of the sitting room an upright chair was bolstered by two, no three, hanging files from his fortuitously adjacent study chest of drawers. The hapless Gardener lowered herself carefully atop the utility bills to submit to his measuring. Too low a distance and the loo would barely clear the floor. Too high and ‘The Throne’ might have to be approached on tippy toe. Or, worse still, provided with a step..

Why me? Onwards.