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 lime mortar?


‘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.


2018-08-22T08:57:59+00:00August 6th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. Caro August 6, 2018 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    As usual, an excellent read, Jessica – although I don’t envy you all the trials and tribulations. Also loving the creative navigation that serendipitously took you close to a garden centre. Did you find the grey slate at plumber’s said emporium?

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      We found the slate and have ordered some. Sadly someone is going to have to go back sometime this week to pick it up. Well, it was all a bit rushed at Marwood the first time.. πŸ™‚

  2. justjilluk August 6, 2018 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    You may want to slap me. It will all be worth it in the end! Did you get the slate and visit the garden place?

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      Regrettably I only got as far as the plant centre, there wasn’t time for a garden visit as well. But I’m working on it!

  3. smallsunnygarden August 6, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    It’s so nice to know a few people as small as myself – there certainly are the unexpected challenges! πŸ˜‰ The vision of a step for the wall-hung loo will keep me happy for the rest of day… XD

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      I will put up with a lot to avoid the step! In fact I will put up with a lot to avoid anything other than the manufacturer’s recommended height.. the thing was designed to have a proper gap underneath it and so it shall.

  4. Penny Post August 6, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Nice to know I’m not the only person who faces height issues like yours. There is one particular campsite we use on a regular basis where I can only use one of the ladies toilets as the others have been put on a step which means should I try to use them I would have legs dangling in mid-air.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      The problem for me is sofas.. including our own. They are usually far too deep so I can either have my feet on the floor but back unsupported, or have back supported but dangling legs. I get around it by having my feet up on the sofa all the time.

      • Penny Post August 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

        Yep that’s me too.

        • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

          A footstool is on my list of things to find and maybe reupholster..

  5. Barbee August 6, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    As we aged, we found that a taller seat on the loo was easier to rise from.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbee and welcome! I’m certainly not getting any younger so that sounds perfect.

  6. Anne August 6, 2018 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I do admire your high standards Jessica, and your determination to reach them. Sorry to laugh, but you make it all sound so funny. It must be hellish to live with though. As Churchill said … β€œKBO”…

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Having got this far there is very little choice but to KBO.. I am just looking forward to the day when things start getting better rather than worse. One room back in decent order would be nice. We can’t even sit together in the evening anymore. Him in his study, me in mine. Thanks Anne.

  7. Virginia Atkin August 6, 2018 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Goodness Jessica, the project is complicated. The plumber is right about the height of the loo. i’m short, but friends had one that was so low you kind of ‘fell’ the last couple of inches. height an be adjusted somewhat by the choice of seat. we’ve got a very flash ‘self closing’ one that is considerably thicker than the one in older bathroom.

    I’m sure you did well at Marwood Hill, but did you find the right slate? And is it available now, or requires special ordering and won’t be here til Christmas?

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Thankfully the slate only takes a week. We don’t need much, they have it in stock and just need to cut it. The bathroom though.. perhaps I will yet be hanging fairy lights on the exposed pipes. Better not joke about it too much. These things have a habit of coming back and biting you on the bit that comes into contact with the loo seat.

  8. Charles August 6, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    You want a loo that is attached to the wall in a house made of mud, well cob to be polite. It may well be that the height issue becomes academic unless there is a good structural solution, maybe one of Mikes files jammed underneath it?

    I admire your dedication, I would be looking at the bills mounting up and would run off to the nearest Barrat Box I could find!

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      If we could sell in the current state of disarray that might still be an option! I’d miss the wildlife though. They may eat everything in sight but, on balance, yes I would.

  9. janesmudgeegarden August 6, 2018 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Sorry to hear about all your tribulations Jessica. As a rather tall person, the height of a toilet is something that would never cross my mind. How will your (most probably) taller husband manage I wonder? Knees up around ears? No, let’s not go there!😏 I am enjoying reading about your trials, frustrating though they are to you.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      I was miffed at the time that it was only me who had to be measured, not him. He is taller than me, but not by that much actually. He will be fine!

  10. Beth @ PlantPostings August 7, 2018 at 2:18 am - Reply

    I’m enjoying following your journey, Jessica. Soon, it will be done, and then you can show us how beautiful the end result will be. Hang in there!

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth. It’s going to drag on a bit longer yet sadly. As long as we can get it all done by the end of the summer.. having restricted heating isn’t such an issue at the moment. But it soon will be!

  11. Kris P August 7, 2018 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Too funny! Perhaps I shouldn’t ask but will the selected seat height accommodate your spouse and visitors as well, or is this to be a private loo? I wonder if I’ll find our remodel as amusing, assuming it ever gets off the ground. We’re still awaiting the geologist’s report so be can submit our request to the city for stage 2 and 3 evaluations.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      In the end I went for pretty much the height recommended by the manufacturer, so it shouldn’t really be a problem for anyone else. I did think about future buyers but I doubt the taller person would spend too long looking at any English country cottage. The ceilings are generally far too low. Those medieval dwellers must have been much shorter than we are!

  12. Cathy August 7, 2018 at 6:53 am - Reply

    The saga continues! Wonderful recounting, as expected from a Master Storyteller…thank you Jessica πŸ˜€

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      And thank you for reading!

  13. karen August 7, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

    It’s always a lovely start to the day reading your blog. You always make me smile. Good luck with the continuing project. We are going to try to build an eco house in the future. I bet we will have just as many challenges with our plans. xx

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      That sounds very exciting! I hope, as a gardener, you’re going to have a green roof?!

  14. Christina August 7, 2018 at 7:19 am - Reply

    It may be stressful for you but for your readers this is a moment to sit (wherever suits), read and smile 😊

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      Now you’ve got me thinking about where my blog ends up.. and thank god that the screen is not two way! Thanks Christina.

  15. Linda August 7, 2018 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I’m 5’4″ with quite short legs. I know just what you mean!

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      It’s a pain isn’t it. I remember growing up there weren’t nearly as many petite clothes ranges as there are now. Everything I bought I had to chop 4-6″ off the bottom.

  16. derrickjknight August 7, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    And still you manage to be entertaining πŸ™‚

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      Thank ye kind sir!

  17. Heyjude August 7, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Oh, dear. I am so glad I didn’t start on renovations in my house, tempting though it is. But then again, you are getting what you want. Eventually. Hope you found the exact shade of grey slate for your step. Me? I’d have happily stayed at Marwood Hill.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Don’t let my experience put you off.. this house has unique challenges! We don’t always get what we want because often it’s just not possible to achieve it within the constraints. But within the fundamental laws of physics I do try. If it all gets too bad you will find me sitting on the edge of Marwood’s lake with the ducks and geese for company.

  18. Mary August 7, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    At least you were able to secure a new plant in the midst of slate-searching. And I must say, I admire the restraint of your builder–not to mention the glint in his eye. That isn’t a measurement to be taken by just anybody. Though short, I’d go for a higher, though not toe-dangling, measurement.

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      The higher measurement is what I opted for. The builder has been perseverance personified. They all have. This has been their most difficult job ever. But we’re not giving up. It will be wonderful. It will..

  19. ginaferrari August 7, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    I’m sure you don’t want to hear it will all be worth it in the end… you make it all sound so entertaining and do make me laugh

    • Jessica August 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gina. It is the vision of how it will look eventually that keeps me going. It’s taking so much effort and the cost isn’t lightweight either.. none of us want it to be anything other than worth it.

  20. Sarah August 7, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Just been catching up on your posts, I don’t know how you have had time to blog with so much going on! Your new thatched roof looks wonderful and I am sure your upturned house will be magnificent once everything has been done. At least you are having it done in the summer, as the wintwer would have been far worse.Sarah x

    • Jessica August 8, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      The heating hasn’t been connected for the last week.. I think if it had been in winter we’d have been moving out. A bathroom is definitely the most disruptive room to do. At least if it’s a kitchen you’ve an excuse to go down the pub!

  21. Denise August 8, 2018 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Have you considered a hoist with which to mount the loo? But cunningly fashioned into a swing? Oooooh…just think of THAT, Jessica! A SWING in a bathroom! With an extra lever to crank it to ceiling height it could even become a trapeze. Do you know, I think I may have missed my true calling of creative bathroom designer. Dragon’s Den, here I come…

    P.S I found a dead mouse in one of our water butts yesterday, if that cheers you up at all?

    • Jessica August 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      I’m not ready for a hoist quite yet, thank you very much! And before you get too carried away as a bathroom designer remember the First Directive.. check the strength of the ceiling joists before recommending a trapeze. Especially if the building is old. The Second Directive states that you can use any colour you like as long as it’s grey. (Sky Blue will also do.)
      There was a mouse in the greenhouse with me this evening. They are picking Mike’s tomatoes and then leaving them scattered around the floor for me to squish and then traipse back into the house. Pure evil.

  22. aberdeen gardening August 8, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    As a vertically challenged family, we were fair tickled with your post.

    • Jessica August 8, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      There are more of us around than I thought. Given that, more attention should be given to our requirements don’t you think?

  23. hb August 8, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Yet your patience and good humor seem somewhat intact. An achievement worth celebrating with a new plant.

    I wonder if someone will be remodeling your home yet again in 100 years, documenting some of the things you did just as you documented some of the work of previous owners. What a story the house will tell.

    • Jessica August 8, 2018 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      There may be quite a few new plants by the end of this.
      I’d love to see what someone does in 100 years time. If the house is still here. Gosh, how much the world will have changed. For the better? Probably not.

  24. Chris N August 9, 2018 at 12:28 am - Reply

    You are such a good writer!! love your posts. I’m losing height as I age and a compression fracture. I’m at 5’3″ ok maybe 5′ 2 1/2!!! hoping it all is worth it in the end which I’m sure it will be!! I’d love to see your kitchen??? hint???

    • Jessica August 9, 2018 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks Chris. I round my height up to the nearest whole number.. it’s probably nearer 5′ 1/2″!
      The kitchen was the first room we did, no choice really, the previous version was horrible. See this post: ‘Tis Done

  25. bitaboutbritain August 9, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

    That’s hilarious. One day, you’ll look back and laugh; if you’re not already. Meanwhile, of course, you have your new plant to enjoy. Wonderful piece of writing.

    • Jessica August 9, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mike. Not laughing just yet, but I’m hoping we might get a couple more rooms restored to rights next week so maybe we’ll have a sofa to sit on and relax in the evenings again. These little things help!

  26. 1gus1 August 9, 2018 at 11:10 am - Reply

    You are creating a wonderfully entertaining record of the trials and tribulations of owning and redesigning/refurbishing your cottage and grounds. it will make a fantastic book – I hope you know some good publishers. I can just see it now, ready for the Christmas market – though who can say with certainty which year? Chin up and KBO.

    • Jessica August 9, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      Hi! Wonderful to hear from you and I hope you’re all well.
      I’d love to do a book one day. Perhaps it will happen. Any publishers reading please make yourselves known. Maybe not for this Christmas though.. 😱

  27. Indie August 11, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    At least you’ve kept your humor! (I’m assuming it’s one of those, it’s better to laugh than cry situations?) Oh my, the ordeal at the end, too funny… I, too, am of shorter stature and can perceive what a problem that might be!

    • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      The whole project is turning into one of those laugh or cry situations. It seems to be never ending!

  28. Carrie Gault August 11, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I love the way you can see this as a great adventure and not let it get on top of you. (At least in public!) I do hope that the team you have around you are all calm and oh so very flexible, as is always required but more so in a house with ‘personality’. It will all be worth it, even the indignity of being measured for the loo, hahaha (thank you for that story), but you know that. x

    • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Flexibility is absolutely the key. With a house like this, however much you plan ahead, it is still a case of making it up as you go along. So much is revealed along the way that you just can’t anticipate. It will be worth it. Every day gets us a little bit nearer..

  29. Carrie Gault August 11, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I wrote a lovely post and the internet ate it! i’m sad now….
    Great post xx

    • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply


  30. Carrie Gault August 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    why is your blog not letting me leave a comment – everything is ‘a duplicate, looks like you have already said that’ !?

    • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      My apologies. Sometimes when the server is running a little slow that happens to me too. I’m glad the original comment reappeared and thanks for persevering!

  31. Jacqueline Mumford August 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    All part of renovating I guess ….. the older I get, the less I want to do it although, we have always lived in old houses and they need constant maintenance don’t they ?
    The manipulation of including the nursery en route was brilliant by the way !!! XXXX

    • Jessica August 13, 2018 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      They certainly do. And even when there’s no attempt to remodel them there’s still plenty to do. A (relatively) small price to pay for the character though? And you’ve reminded me that an injection of horticultural retail therapy is once again well overdue!

  32. Peter Herpst August 14, 2018 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    The fun never ends at your place! Sometimes I dream of moving from our old house to a nice single-story, modern home with a metal roof and vinyl siding. When all of these projects are completed, whatever will you do with all the spare time you’ll have on your hands?

    • Jessica August 14, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      Return to the garden. I have neglected it terribly and it shows.
      I have the same occasional dream. Of a new build that I can design to my precise requirements and live out my remaining years in peace and tranquility with no builders and minimal maintenance. But old houses have so much character. Wouldn’t we miss that?

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