radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
Where did the time go?

We're still pretty whacked out after the extension. Snag list is outstanding, but it's essentially done. We live here now, and every day it feels less and less likely that the real owners are going to come back and evict us. Most of the boxes are even unpacked.

Our main object at the moment is to juggle the cashflow so that we squeak unscathed from payday to billpay, slaloming between our creditors like an Olympic athlete. Fun times. [We'll be fine. But it's a little hairy this month and next.]

To that end, we're penny-pinching. (Or cent-cinching, which is the same but in euros.) Problem is, we trimmed out a lot of the fat a few years ago, and it's tough enough to see where we can trim any further.

Things I'm perfectly happy to do, off the very top of my head:
  • Go back to washing my hair in bicarb and vinegar (reasonably effective, as I recall from 2006).

  • Shop more often in Lidl.

  • Find out which of our staple meals are actually cheapest and dearest, and plan accordingly.

  • Keep a hawklike eye on expenditure, and stop spending on non-essentials when the allotted budgets are exhausted.

  • Work for pay every spare minute I get (which is not very many minutes, admittedly, but I have been doing a bit of paid work).

Things I'd strongly prefer to avoid:
  • Stop buying organic food.

  • Cut out paid childcare and house cleaning (they're such a relief).

I dunno. What are your favourite money-saving strategies? I'd really love some inspiration.
radegund: (Default)
Too much life going on over here recently to post about it much.

The extension is nearly finished. We're in that irritating final phase where everything's basically there and mostly functional, but there are still bits of wood and plasterboard and bags of cement piled up everywhere because there are people coming Any Day Now™ to finish off various bits.

Still, though. KITCHEN.

We're unpacking boxes and assembling cheap shelving and moving furniture around at a fierce rate. It remains astonishing how much dust is actually accommodated in a given space following such activities as this house has seen.

The garden is a wasteland of black hardcore. But we have plans. Well. I have unrealistic and grandiose plans, more suited to a garden six times the size. K has some very specific plans that I think she may believe I understand rather better than I do. Then there's what the builders can do for the budget.

I've become an extension bore - you know when you're really wrapped up in something, and you meet your friends and just brain-dump at them for what feels like ten hours, eyes wide, teeth bared, fingers splaying with the earnestness and the importance of it all ... except that what you're talking about is formica countertops and semi-solid flooring, which have taken on a wholly unwarranted significance in your tunnel-vision landscape? Well, that. Argh.

Today I remembered that I used to go into town, occasionally, Before. Perhaps I will again some day soon.

Oh, it's all going to be magnificent. But it isn't yet, and I'm very tired of it.
radegund: (Default)
Saturday: Varied )

Sunday: Simpler )

And now it's Monday, and our new windows and doors have arrived! Yay!

ETA: Ohhhhh, you wanted doors and windows that FIT? Well, you should've said.
radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
Ding dong, the kitchen's dead!

We got out last week - ran away to a hotel for three nights while the builders wrought their destructive magic on our house. Got back on Friday to find a gaping hole in the hall wall (not a surprise, I hasten to reassure you: we're doubling the width of the old kitchen door). Through it, this:

The whole house was neck-deep [OK, tiny exaggeration] in dust and rubble. I'd taped up all the internal doors with masking tape before we left - VERY glad I did that. Even now, four days later, everything I touch still turns my fingers grey. We have the fridge and the microwave hooked up in the hall, the kettle and toaster in the living room, food stacked in bags and boxes around our ankles. We have mice. Again.

But none of this really matters. That there, what you see above? That is basically it. Henceforth, it's all icing on the cake. That's the space. That's what we've been dreaming about for the past two years. And when it has fewer live cables dangling from the ceiling - indeed, when it has a ceiling - fewer heaps of nails and screws dotted about the floor - indeed, when it has a coherent floor - fewer raddled old kitchen units squatting dourly in the corner (and more new ones, obv, in the right places), fewer lumps of plaster in the sink, less plywood in the windows and more glass - when all that has been achieved, it'll be EVEN BETTER.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
A Good Thing about the extension works: The builders are lovely. Most of them don't speak much English (they're (all? not sure) from Romania), but they're courteous and helpful, they grin at the children, they show up early and leave late - and they don't try to talk me out of reusing materials (bricks, paving, slate), which alone sets them apart from every other builder I've dealt with. They are generally very can-do, in fact, which is refreshing.

A Bad Thing about the extension works: Fucking convenience food. I mean, M&S ready meals really aren't the worst - even when I'm restricted to what's microwaveable and dairy-free - but MY GOD I'll be glad to see the back of them. In case you overestimate the scale of my ordeal, I should point out that it's only this week that we've had to resort to them (some trifling demolition in the kitchen rendered it too dust-coated to use for a few days). Do you think I might be a bit of a foodie? The major internal demolitions are happening in the coming week; the boys and I will be decamping to a hotel for three nights.

An Amusing Thing* about the extension works: The foreman, who has excellent English, has clearly internalised the Irish Way in some respects. Talking about a section of wall where we might have a recessed shelf, he said, "We'll make it about five hun— about a foot-and-a-half by a foot." (He even dropped the t, just like a working-class Dubliner.) This despite the fact that I've been talking in millimetres all along, as have the Irish project manager, architect, and engineer. I suppose he's reading me as "Dublin housewife" (AHAHAHAHA ... wow - it's kind of true, though, isn't it?), for whom millimetres are clearly right out. Bless.

* Well, OK, amusing to language nerds.
radegund: (wine-pansy)
Ahahahaha. Slightly manic, here. It seems that until today we had experienced merely the antechamber of hell. We have now been admitted to ... well, not the inner circle, because we still have a vaguely functioning kitchen. Maybe the lobby.

Here in the (cramped and ill-appointed) lobby of hell, then, it is, principally, very, very dusty. Masonry dust, as you may know, is particularly filthy. It's not the good, clean dirt I'm used to - the mud, the crumbs, the fragments of leaf and twig that get tramped or strewn about the place as the kids do their inimitable thing, nor yet the soft, cobwebby fuzz you find gathering in corners when you don't clean your house (and we don't, much). No, masonry dust is stealthy. You walk into a room, and everything looks fine, but as soon as you touch anything - there you go, your fingertips are grey. It arrives in a haze you can taste, a cloud you can barely see except out of the corner of your eye. Your eye, I might add, which stings, just as your throat aches naggingly and your nasal excreta look as though you'd spent the day on the London Underground. Ugh.

Things the builders took away from us today:

* An amusing selection of the electrics in our kitchen - boiler and sockets (including fridge), but not oven or lights. Not sure what happened there, as the fault didn't set off a trip switch on the fuseboard. I rang the ringleader at about 19:00, and he sent around a henchperson, who very kindly and apologetically rigged up something to get us through the night. He'll look at it again tomorrow, he says.

* Use of the Oyster's room. In order to replace the old steel beam with a longer one that will support the extension roof (the new one is also much thicker: apparently the old one was risibly under-specified - eep!), it was necessary to drill two whacking great big holes in the wall under the Oyster's bedroom window, so that this whole section of the house could be propped while the beams were switched. The props were left in place this evening, as the free end of the beam has yet to be bolted to its colleague, so the holes remain unfilled, and there's a bit of a gale in there (besides the dustsheets, wet floor, and general filth). So O is happily asleep in his old cot in our bedroom.

[Aside - being a HUGE plus: the builders levelled out the floor, while they were at it. The ends of the joists rest on the new beam, and there was a discrepancy of about 20mm between one side of the room and the other. So they just hoiked the lower joists up a bit, and now they're all true. You used to be able to put a marble on one side of the floor and watch it roll down the slope - it'd be lovely if that were no longer the case.]

Things they will take away from us tomorrow:

* The kitchen window, which will be cannibalized for its beautiful granite lintel and cill (to be reused on the front façade of the extension), and thereafter boarded up to await the internal demolitions next week. And thus our doomed kitchen will be plunged, yea, even into utter darkness, evoking a symbolism that is by no means lost on me.

We will, needless to say, pass through this as through a cleansing wossname. But we're definitely moving into the hard part now. Internal demolitions will, let us say, exacerbate the dust issue somewhat. The boys and I will be decamping for a few nights next week. I may tape up the internal doors.

But! But but but! It's SO EXCITING to see the innards of my house like this. I may have seemed a trifle loopy this afternoon, prancing around and squeeing at the builders as they showed me the beam joint and the joists and all. I just really, really love this stuff. One of the best bits of this whole experience is that I'll live in the new space with the knowledge of exactly what went into it. The thought of that is like a highly polished bell of glee going bing! in my middle. If you see what I mean.


radegund: (Default)

September 2013

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