Handy tips for living in a building site

As an experienced building site resident, I feel qualified to offer up a few nuggets of wisdom for any fool stupid enough to embark on a DIY project and attempt to live in it for at least a year…

1. A kitchen is the least of your worries. Set up a table with a hot plate, a kettle, toaster and coffee maker. Buy a mini fridge and install under table. When things get really bad, admit defeat and buy paper plates and a microwave. We have just bought a microwave.

2. Running water is a precious commodity. Keeping clean is very hard when you don’t have a bathroom. It’s amazing how clean you can feel if you can brush your teeth and wash your hands. Wet wipes are useful but not as good as running water. Anything is better than nothing.

3. Do try and keep a toilet working for as long as possible. If you get to the bucket stage you’re in trouble. We are not at the bucket stage but we have been there before. It’s not fun.

4. Love your launderette. Try to change your sheets every week as the dust and filth as well as lack of a shower isn’t doing you or your linen any favours. Unfortunately the sheets you’re using will never be clean again so dream of the day when you can buy new sheets to go in your brand new washing machine. We’re at the dreaming stage.

5. If your head itches, you need a shower.

6. Cleaning seems futile but keep fighting the resistance. If you give up, the filth will win. Dusting is essential and is an exercise in either sanity or madness depending on your state of mind. I’m clinging to the yellow duster of sanity.

7. If you can smell something, it’s probably you.

8. Always have a Plan B, exit plan, backup plan. Hmm, we seem to have forgotten that.

9. Do not buy a property which needs a simple renovation, you know, like just knocking a wall down to make a bigger kitchen.

10. Remember to have enough money to finish your project otherwise it will take years. Oops.

And with my top ten tips of coping I would just say the smartest thing is simply…do not live in a building site. Just don’t do it!

Living conditions

It’s been a while since I updated our living conditions mainly because it’s quite challenging.

We are now down to the old toilet on a piece of plywood for a bathroom. It’s been two months since the shower packed up but the pipes are in so perhaps there’s light at the end of that very dark tunnel.

The kitchen foundations apparently have to dry for twenty eight days. Which is a month so this is what the kitchen looks like.

There are lots of holes in the floor and it’s a bit precarious.

The hall is cordoned off with sheets and there’s a sheet hanging across the bathroom entry as there’s no door.

Unfortunately Big T walked in on one of builders having a sit down. I shall be coughing loudly (which I am anyway from the dust!)

Anyway it’s all a bit challenging and the photos don’t really capture the filth so here’s some parquet floor we looked at on Saturday. We can dream!

And it’s the end of September. Will we be finished by Christmas? Hmm…


Our final stop on the whistle stop tour of Iceland was the capital city, Reykjavik.

We were quite tired and hungry when we arrived but managed to find the old city centre hidden among what seemed to be massive recent development.

After being immersed in nature, the outskirts of Reykjavik could have been anywhere but the centre was quaint and we discovered a nice shopping area below the iconic cathedral.

Before long we were dropping off our car and boarding our cheap, no frills airline to return to the glamour of Luton.

We’d travelled by Wizz airlines, a budget Hungarian company which meant we arrived at Luton airport at 2am and finally got to bed around 3am. Luckily I’d booked a taxi!

Going into work that day was hard but it had been worth it!

Geysers, Waterfalls, Black Sand and Glaciers

There were four main themes in Iceland, all involving natural at its best.

Following the ultimate spa experience we spent a night at Geysir and saw exploding geysers, boiling pools of water and filled our nostrils with the smell of sulphur. 1E3F8D7C-5D00-4382-9C6C-4EBA1BDE22E2img_1228Waterfalls were aplenty with the giant Gullfoss (foss being fall, we think), Skogafoss and more. We walked behind one, hiked to the top of one and stood inside one. It really was the land of waterfalls and with waterfalls came rainbows like we’d never seen before.IMG_1230.JPEGimg_1282img_1341img_1254img_1268img_1182


IMG_1276.JPEGIncredible black sand beaches at Vik were a highlight as it was like stepping into a world of monochrome. White foam smashed into the black sand and with grey skies rolling overhead, it was a powerful setting.img_1302IMG_1306.JPEGIMG_1287.JPEGIMG_1295.JPEGTravelling east we entered the land of glaciers where we had intended to get a boat tour around Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. It was the worst weather of our trip as we battled torrential rain and wind on the road to the lagoon and then the boats were cancelled. An hour later things had cleared up but we’d headed to another lagoon, Fjallsarlon which we had to ourselves and saw the stunning scenery without tourists, boats or a price tag so the weather helped us out.img_1328IMG_1330.JPEGOne of our favourite places was a hike to a lovely canyon in Skaftafell National Park. Called Fjadrargljufur (yes we couldn’t pronounce it either) it was a stunning view of moss covered rocks, wind and water.IMG_1350.JPEGimg_1351Our final day in Iceland saw us hiking to a hidden hot spring 3.5 kilometres up a mountain. It started hailing and we almost stopped but with perseverance we kept going and after an hour or so reached the bathing area where a few other persistent folks were dipping into the warm, sulphurous water.IMG_1367.JPEGIMG_1376.JPEGWe stripped and dipped (with swimsuits of course) before drying in the icy wind and trekking back down the hill. We saw shepherds on horse back rounding up sheep on the fells and upon returning to the car park, saw the sheep in pens ready for auction.IMG_1368.JPEGIMG_2223.JPEGAnd to top it all off, a full rainbow.

Just another Sunday in Iceland!


The best spa ever

Part of staying at The Retreat was the complimentary four step spa treatment.

We started after breakfast and went back into the lagoon, this time in daylight but still as magical.

From there we enjoyed the steam cave. True to name it was a cave lined with cedar benches and filled with steam, perfect for a dust-inflicted cough!

I took a brave plunge into the cold pool (6°) before we headed into the dry sauna.

We lay in suspended oval nests for a while to relax before we headed over to follow the ritual.

Four steps of different scrubs, two masks, algae showers and finally body and face oils took a couple of hours and for these two dirty chaps living without a shower, it was the ultimate paradise and what a way to spend a birthday.

It was truly the best spa I’ve ever been to and the minimal modern Scandinavian architecture sat perfectly against the backdrop of dramatic scenery.

Far too soon we had to check out but we were excited to see more of the natural beauty which was tantalising us from the many windows.

We set off in search of Geysir.

Icelandic details

We arrived late on the Wednesday evening and having hired a car, found our way in darkness to the Blue Lagoon.

We were staying for a night at The Retreat, a super fancy spa and hotel with a private section of the lagoon.

Upon check in (it was about 11pm) we were told we could float in the lagoon until midnight and so we quickly donned swim suits, heavy towelling robes and flip flops and made our way to the lagoon.

It was dark, silent and warm as we entered the water and floated in the main pool.

Before long we realised there was more to it and swam through a narrow channel, wading to the next level below.

The lagoon river wound down several levels for four hundred metres, the rocks were dark and the water glowed white in the night. It was one of most magical moments, never to be forgotten. I savoured the moment not wanting it to become a memory.

By midnight we returned to the main pool and went back to our lovely clean, luxurious room where we slept on a white cloud of pure joy before waking to reveal moss-covered lava fields and a rainbow, the first of many we would see.

It was heaven and I could have stayed forever except for the fact that we couldn’t afford it!


My forties are coming to a rapid end in a few short hours. The end of an era indeed.

It’s been my best decade to date with life-changing decisions to relocate, get married, buy property, get a Welsh Terrier (good grief!) and get and keep my job (to date).

There have been challenges along the way of course, not everything I’ve wished for has materialised and it’s becoming less fun to look in the mirror but it’s been a great ten years where I’ve felt empowered in my life and while I never envisaged being fifty (who ever thought beyond thirty?) here I almost am.

My goals for the next decade are a bit more low key,… be mortgage-free (haha, a fantasy as long as we have Cashworth Mansions,) be healthy and fit (more achievable) and go on some adventures with Big T and Agnes, preferably in a camper van.

And so here we are, about to board a budget Hungarian airline to Reykjavik on September 11th. The adventures start now!