Monday June 26, 2006
A long, hard day in which I finished cleaning the kitchen, and Graham completed his blitz on the bathrooms, resorting to a scouring cream to remove the grunge from the baths, changing them in the process from a light greyish brown to a sparkling white. He finished by vacuuming all the carpets on the upper floors and both staircases.
“Right,” he said. “Apart from grubby walls where the kids have run their hands, the house is now first stage clean. I’ll shampoo the carpets next week and then we’ll be through to the second stage.”
“Haven’t we done well?”
“Yes, I think we have.”
“So, are we safe to show your mother round now?”
“Yup. Thursday, I think. Or Wednesday.”
“Fine, you fix it with her and let me know.”
His mother is on her annual vacation at the holiday camp, you see, staying in one of the chalets, enjoying the sea air and the company of her holiday-making peers. And she’d never forgive us if we let her go back to South Wales without seeing our new home.
The hardest job of the day for me was negotiating with British Telecom to get broadband enabled on the new phone line. After several calls and extensive waiting in queues ‘for an advisor to become available’ I discovered that the previous owners had their broadband from another company and that it’ll take until July 7 before the line is free to start processing my connection. Hey ho. It took only two hours to get to that point and, from what I’ve heard, that’s pretty good going.
I shall have to continue using the mobile phone data connection, ruinously expensive and horribly slow though it is, for another couple of weeks. Even though we’re not living in the house yet, I had hoped to be able to plug in once a day for an hour’s unhampered Internetery this week, doing my upload, post photographs, answer emails and look around to see what’s been going on with my diarist friends while I’ve been mostly off the air. This drop in, upload, and drop out fast as I can situation is getting tiresome.
Now the house is clean, the mild irritation we felt at the way the place had been left has faded almost completely away. It was only a mild irritation because we knew exactly what we were in for when we bought the place and don’t really blame the previous owners for it any more than we’re critical of them for their colour choices. Different standards and tastes apply to different folks and different lifestyles.
Even so, the fading process is encouraging as a precursor of the more important fading that will go on as we get the house ready to move our stuff in and get to grips with the job of furnishing and decorating the place to our own standards and taste. In a few months we’ll have forgotten this gipsy period, along with the inconveniences and restrictions under which we currently operate.
When we got back to the caravan this evening, and had taken short naps, with Dolly dividing her time attention evenly between the two of us, we settled down to sip our way through a pre-dinner bottle of Aussie plonk and relax from our labours. Graham was working on the latest version of his design for the back garden and, when he’d done, showed me the result.
“Nice,” I said. “I like the simplicity, and the planting. What’s this?”
“It’s a wisteria growing over a trellis.”
“Great. Thanks. You hadn’t forgotten, then.”
“Of course not.”
“I have great hopes for the front garden design, then. It’s unlikely you’ll forget my lavender hedge either.”