So Near And Yet So Far..


Apologies for absence. Again. Life’s like that at the moment.

I can’t find the words to describe the last couple of weeks. So I won’t. There was originally a Brexit analogy in here but given how that seems to be going this morning it would indeed be tempting fate. The things that I thought were fraught with danger, like relocating the bath from its summer-long residence in the garage at the top of the hill, went far more smoothly than I ever dared hope. Others, well not so much.

The only major thing left is the installation of a wash basin. Easy you might think? Well, no. We’ve just sent the second made-to-order unit back to Italy for replacement. So near and yet so far.

If you decide to save money (ho ho) and project manage the work yourself then the burden of sourcing everything falls upon you. And it doesn’t stop at the obvious things, like the bath, the loo, the basin, the tiles etc., it’s every bloomin’ detail in minutiae. The hinges for the doors, the mechanical gubbins that work the shower hidden deep within the wall. The downlighter fittings. Warm or cool light? Angle of the beam? Tilting or fixed?



Remember the pee light? The night light that was supposed to discreetly illuminate a tiptoe to the bathroom but instead chose to proclaim one’s mission to the world in a burst of high strobe disco lights? Well now it works. The unit’s driver was indeed at fault and a new one did the trick.

But the story was never going to end there was it. We may have the light, but how to turn it on? In the UK standard light switches either need to be outside a bathroom altogether or the light be operated by a pull cord, thus avoiding any possible contact between damp fingers and electricity. I didn’t fancy the cord. And Mike turned a funny colour when I suggested channelling wires into the recently lime plastered and decorated bedroom walls. It would need a more innovative solution.

Enter, briefly, the PIR. The Passive Infrared Sensor. In theory then, no need for a traditional switch at all. Just walk into the bathroom and the pee light would turn itself on. Simples! Well I’d spent weeks trying to find the right one. If not months. Thank goodness google is free. Sort of. Google may have tracked every move I’ve made over the last ten or so years and probably knows me better than I know myself. But at least they haven’t sent me an invoice. Yet. The trouble is PIRs need to be placed in full view if they are to work and, frankly, they aren’t the prettiest things. Which pales into insignificance when we delve into the mechanics of how they actually do work. On installation of the PIR one is required to set up a time delay, i.e. the interval between the light being triggered (turning on) and the light then automatically shutting itself off.  So how long is long enough? You can see where this is going. And there would be no scientifically controlled timings of nocturnal visitations, thank you very much. It was bad enough having to be ‘measured’ for the wall hung loo.

The thing with the PIR is that it’s all a question of compromise. Leave it set for too long and the light will continue to glow (through a glass door in our case) even after the night rambler has returned safely to bed. But set it too short and risk being plunged abruptly into darkness. Which is why the location of the PIR might prove so critical after all. Not waving but..



One last ditch dive into google came up with the solution. C’est voilà! A touch switch with the front surface comprised of a single, impermeable sheet of glass. Said to withstand 97% humidity and suitable for Bathroom Zone 2. Yes, the electrician would happily install it. Neat huh?



The challenge posed by the doors was even trickier. Given the proximity of the main entrance door to the shower area I wanted the door to be set back within the frame. That’s not a problem with a standard glass door bar handle but being the sort of girl who values her privacy in the bathroom I wanted an actual lock. Normally a door lock would be aligned to the edge of the door frame, not sit within the middle. Otherwise the bolt could drag across the door lining and damage the wood.

Cue yet more late nights nestled up with Messrs. google. This girl knows how to live let me tell you. But the answer is so often out there if you can spend the time looking. The most frustrating thing is usually knowing the right question to ask..



Inside the lock keep, buried into the doorframe, there lies a magnet.



As the door closes, and the lock passes through the door frame, the bolt remains retracted until it reaches the dead centre of the door recess.. level with the magnet. The magnet then pulls the bolt out of the lock and holds it in place. There’s a soft click to prove it’s engaged. Pushing down the door handle releases the bolt and there’s a privacy knob so the handle can’t be operated inadvertently from the outside. That’ll do nicely.



Four months to reach this point, not to mention over a year of advance planning. Almost as long as Brexit. I remember saying at the start of the bathroom work that I’ve never felt a sense of foreboding so strong. Next time I say that will you remind me to take better heed?