Tuesday, 23 September 2014

All Done & Dusted ….. September 2014

08 – 15 September 2014:  London

And We Thought We Were Finished!!

P9050218 With all the rooms completed and the carpet laid we were seriously in the home stretch – but not quite finished.  Since starting work on our flat we had noticed a musty smell every time we come through the front door.  Over the weeks we have ascertained that the culprits were two shelves in different hall cupboards that have had leaking pipes above them at some stage.  The leaks are long fixed but the shelves have rotted and we had decided that we would replace them if we had time.

Having extended our flights by the extra 3 weeks we did now have the time so the very messy job began.  However we had also called our letting agents to advise we were ready for rental viewings.  They had been to appraise the property and had listed it straight away.  Having the property looking pristine while undergoing the following was no mean feat!

The major problem was in the hot water and water tank cupboard, and the rotten shelf had the water tank sitting on top of it. P9050221 Mark drained the tank as much as he could then stood tip-toed on a chair and several pieces of timber and stretched his arm in holding a small jug and scooped the rest of the brown sludge out – no that wasn’t our drinking water, just the bath and shower supply but the tank has been there 40 years so the sludge was well settled!!! 

Then he disconnected the remainder of the pipes and we slowly edged it out and lifted it down.  The shelf underneath almost crumbled, luckily there are a couple of steel supports!   We foraged around down in the garage and found suitable shelving replacement in some of the old kitchen units and set to sawing them to shape.  Yes the carpet had gone down just the day before so several drop clothes were used, doors were closed and the mess was contained the best we could.

Meanwhile I relocated myself inside the cupboards and started scraping, sanding then painting the internal walls and ceilings – that was cosy!

P9050216 P9050224

P9060227 Mark cleaned out the tank managing to remove all the lime scale, replaced the ball valve, fitted the new shelves and when the paint was dry we put everything back together and he plumbed it all again.  Then I painted the hot water cylinder – changing it from a nasty mustard colour to white, and to finish things off I carpeted both cupboards.   Every single surface has now been freshly painted and what a difference it has all made.

But Does It All Work??

With just 10 days until our flight back to Balvenie in Grenada we moved into the flat to test all the systems.  We had been staying the whole time with Marks Mum who has been a wonderful hostess, looking after us well and going back to hot showers, a clean and tidy environment and home cooked meals every night has been priceless.   But we thought it best to move in and check everything was operational for ourselves, we do not want emails in a month telling us this or that isn’t working.  So we borrowed Marks brothers airbed mattress and “camped” in the flat for a week. 


We spent the week finishing off little jobs, we bought a blind for the kitchen and fitted it, Mark tweaked a couple of light fittings that weren’t working, we installed a shower curtain and rail as our very nice looking and expensive glass shower screen did not stop water splashing on the floor.  We organised removal of all the rubbish accumulated in the garage, I cut and hand hemmed curtains for the lounge that had been given to us by our friends Helen and David and we fitted extra shelves in the wardrobe.  Then there were door bottoms to shave as the new carpet was too high, fresh paint needed to be scraped off a couple of door frames as the doors would now not close and a thinner coat reapplied, slowly the list was diminishing.  Oh and the big news was that we rented the flat immediately, with a young couple moving in in October.  All our efforts have resulted in an extra £300 a month rent, greatly needed to reimburse very empty coffers. 

Time Off For Good Behaviour & Hard Work

In between we managed a trip over to Helen and David in Teddington for dinner and to return their workbench and tools which have been invaluable.  Then we had a day up in London as tourists riding the new double-decker Routemaster buses through the City and East End,.  We visited the spectacular display of over 888,000 ceramic poppies “planted” in the moat at the Tower of London to commemorate all the British lives lost in the First World War.  It is an outstanding display and will keep “growing” until November. 

P9110241 P9110243

P9110248 P9110250

We watched as iconic London Bridge opened and traffic was ground to a halt for quite some time waiting for a mini cruise ship to free its lines and exit downriver on the tide.  A traditional wooden boat was in hot pursuit, slipping through as the bridge lowered.  We enjoyed the Riverside Walk and weaved our way along before meeting our good friend Lesley on the South Bank of the Thames for dinner, the area has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years and is now a fabulous, vibrant, scenic area, full of museums, art galleries and restaurants with the Thames lapping its shores day and night.

P9110257 P9110260

There Is Nothing Left On The List ~ Our Work Here Is Done


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Is There A Light At the End of This Tunnel? ….. Sept 2014

24 AugustP8250198 - 07 September 2014:  London

At Last the Living Room

With the kitchen, bathroom, hallway and bedroom  now only requiring finishing touches it was time to tackle the living room.  As it had been our “workshop” over the last 2 months we had acquired quite a pile of tools, paints, timbers and various other essential equipment that now needed to be relocated.  It was the bedrooms turn to be the new workshop.

The living room was to be “relatively easy” so we did a few other little jobs.  A morning was spent extending our car hire, another choosing and purchasing a new fridge/freezer and carpet for the lounge and bedroom.  We sorted through all our “leftovers” from the kitchen installation – panels we didn’t need, packets of this and that we hadn’t used, they equated to nearly £170 pounds in refunds so certainly worth the effort to return! P8280204

Then we turned our focus on the living room.  We spent a day pulling up the old carpet and preparing the floor then started attacking the walls.  We had patches where the paint was  peeling off, but we thought it was just contained to two of the walls.   When we started removing it, it became apparent that we would need to peel back all four walls.  Some came off in big chunks, others bite sized pieces but much of it came off in tiny flakes, it was a long, laborious, very messy and unfulfilling job but it had to be done. 

All the surrounding woodwork was sanded creating lots more mess, and then we spent a day trying to fill the hairline cracks on the plaster walls.  We had thought the lounge would be relatively quick and easy but things were not going to plan.

Plans, What Plans?P9040211

With all the surfaces finally plastered, clean and ready to paint we fitted in a day trip down to Lymington on the South Coast.  Mark had gone up the mast before we left Balvenie and removed our wind instruments which had stopped working last December.   We had arranged for them to be serviced same day so we did the 5 hour round trip in a day and spent some time exploring Lymington while we waited.  The good news is that there was a fault in the unit, it has now been fixed and should work again once reattached to the masthead.  P9040208

Day trip over, the painting began, and that was when our planned timescale of the living room completion took another turn for the worse.  While I did the first coat in the corners and on the edges Mark started rolling the walls.  The first coat barely left a white washed effect, the second coat was little improvement.  Two coats of Dulux Pure Brilliant White had not covered the grey plaster or the lines of white filler and we had used 5 litres.  This was not the result we were hoping for and we had to have it finished in time for the carpet to be laid.  We changed paint brand and bought a 5 litre pail of Crown, another 2 coats was applied to the walls, at last they were looking white but it was still patchy and another day had gone by.P9040214

Then we bought a 5 litre pail of Dulux One Coat, guaranteed to provide a perfect finish with just one coat.    On went the 5th coat of paint, then some spots had a 6th.  Finally we were happy with the finish.  The woodwork, window frame and door were completed, light shades fitted and a major cleanup and sort out followed.  The carpet layers arrived the following afternoon, the photo shows just the underlay – we haven’t put down white carpet!!

Weeks 8 & 9 Spent on the Living Room – Harder Than It Should Have Been