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Friday, 28 August 2015

And . . . relax

We are currently decorating Maggot 1's bedroom.  This is something of a "coming of age update" in that we are changing it from a child's to a teenager's bedroom.  So it is both satisfying to get it looking clean and new, and touching to be setting him up for the next phase of life.  I have also stated to anyone who will listen that this is it now until he leaves for Uni, when we will be renting it out before he thinks to come back*.

So, out is the mid-sleeper bed, currently on eBay, and in comes a "normal" bed, a wardrobe with hanging space** and a desk for homework.

The decorating itself has been as bad as it gets.  Our house, built around 1900, is of solid-wall construction, actually it does have a very small cavity according to a neighbour, though it behaves a lot like a solid wall building, which means that the inside walls need to "breathe".  Lining paper and silk emulsion on Maggot's 1 walls, combined with some external cracks***, meant some crumbling of plaster.  Removing the lining paper also removed, in plenty of places, small or large bits of plaster, so we have had to strip it right back, fill and sand, paint a scratch coat, fill and sand again as the paint shows up all the imperfections, and finally paint again. 

Maggot 1 wants a feature wall on the only internal wall, so the three external walls are now painted with white matt (the same as the ceiling), and the ceiling and three walls have taken 7.5 litres of white paint.  We have done four coats I think, but that is a massive amount of paint for what is a normal sized room.  The end result is very pleasing.  The worst wall will need some remedial work in 3-6 months I think, but overall it it is looking great.

As for the feature wall, Maggot 1 had originally set his heart on a metalic blue paint we saw in a DIY shop, but that is obviously so popular that we cannot find it anywhere.  He has gone instead for wallpaper, a white brick-effect paper that will give it the New York Loft effect, which, combined with the Plumen light fitting, will make it just right.

Maggot 2 has a football match tomorrow, but other than that, it is time at home for the whole weekend, finishing the room so that we can build and install the furniture and clear out the library, currently chocka block with stuff.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

* Only joking son
** now that he has shirts and blazers
*** which you may recall we fixed last Summer with a marathon cutting out of cracks with a grinding disk, filling in the mess we made, and and re-painting with several coats of masonry paint, a job that took most of the Summer

Friday, 21 August 2015

Now I need to relax a bit less

I am now at the end of my first week back at work after two weeks away.  It is always hard to return, what with the inbox overload, the "do I give a wotsit?" feeling and "wow, doesn't the real world go fast".

We had a most fantastic holiday.  Our accommodation was a static caravan, perhaps a "lodge" may be nearer the mark.  It was compact, but had everything we needed, including air-conditioning, which was very welcome on may occasions.  The lodges were fairly crammed in, certainly more than the online images had suggested*, but once we were in, as is usually the case, we got fairly comfortable with both our lodgings and our surroundings.  We had a table and 3 recliners on the decking, and a barbeque in our "front yard".
The main draw was being 1 minute from the beach.  We spent most of the first week on the beach, and most of the second weekend split 50/50 between the pool and the sea.

We snorkeled, we swam, we played volleyball, beach tennis and read**.  We ate pizza, drank 1664, and visited a number or excellent places, including Montpellier, Pezanas, Sete and Carcassonne.  We all got tanned.  Three of us got a little burnt***, but not too bad.  My legs, which started three shades whiter than the whitest colour known to man, even got a little colour, though if I am being honest, it is hard to tell.

Overall, it was just what we wanted.  It was not perfect, but as time went by, we did not want it to end.

Our journey down was horrendous.  We booked the tunnel about six months ago.  Good value, quick to get to France, just what we wanted.  On the day, however, Project Stack was in action, so we took an hour and a half extra to get there, and were delayed around an hour at the terminal, but we did get over to the other side without too much pain.

We then hit all the traffic, which added a further three hours to the journey.

Our hotel, half way, was very nice.  A local, one-off hotel, but neat, tidy, clean and good value.  It was in Bourges, which turned out to be a lovely town, full of interesting architecture, from Elisabethan onwards.

The second day should have taken five hours.  Unfortunately, and rather naively I expect you will conclude, we did not take in to account the French holiday season, which started on that very day, so our journey down was shared with nearly every French citizen from the North of the country.  The whole journey down followed the classic concertina principle, going from eighty miles an hour down to zero, over and over and over again.  After maybe three hours, we made an executive decision to get off the peage and go by "A" roads, all free, and much slower.  We managed to clear an hour an a half of the journey (at normal rate or travel) in around three hours.  The up side was that we got to see a bit of France, which was nice, though it did also mean plenty of villages and towns and their forty kilometre an hour speed limits.  We were aiming for a town on the Tom Tom, and we stopped there for one of our world-famous car picnics, the size and extravagance of which is in proportion to the hassle of the journey proceeding it, so this one was gigantic.

Once refreshed, we got back on the peage and had a fairly clean journey for the final hour or two.

Following the adage that there is no point getting old if you don't get crafty, for our return journey we decided to "leave early".  The alarm went off at 4am and we were out before 4.30am.  Our car was outside the site because the gates are locked overnight, and we set off on what should have been a five hour journey, to find that it was actually a four hour fifty-five minute journey, meaning we arrived at the hotel before 10am, and had to kill several hours getting some food, and doing some shopping, the latter inhibited by the fact that it was a public holiday that day, so many of the shops were closed.

Day two and the alarm went at 4.30am, and we were out by 4.45am, and again, the five hour journey took four hours and fifty-five minutes, so we were at the tunnel very early, so early in fact that we had to pay a supplement to get on the next departure, money we paid with pleasure to get home. 
Having been really worried about the French side of the Tunnel, in the end we had no hassle, saw no immigrants, nor any evidence of problems, apart from a small pile of burnt something, probably the remnants of the French lorry or ferry workers strike.  How those chaps love their burning tyres.

Now we are home, and are cracking on with the decorating of Maggot 1's bedroom.  It needs stripping back to bare walls, before we put it back together again.  I have help from Maggot 1 and this weekend should see us finishing stripping, filling and sanding, and maybe even getting the ceilings done.

While we were away, my dad also re-decorated the back room.  We wanted the silk replaced with gloss****, some general cracks and marks cleaned up, and wallpaper on the main wall.  The latter, I have to say, is absolutely fantastic, really lifts the room and if anything, makes it lighter, which does not make sense, but is empirically true.  We are absolutely delighted with it.

Finally, LO and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage on Wednesday, so with the nine years it took us to getting round to tying the knot, means twenty-four blissful years.  I am speaking for LO of course.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* What kind of fool believes the online pictures? Ed
** The Paperwhite Kindles coming in to their own
*** Me being the most sensible one
**** As part of your ongoing campaign to banish all silk woodwork paint.  Never again will we use anything but gloss