Living on the lower ground floor of a block of flats prone to burglary, I had concerns about our security.

And so this week we installed new locks and window grilles by the top of the range in security, Banham and then promptly locked ourselves out.

It was an exercise in stupidity as I said the keys didn’t work so we all stepped outside to check and closed the front door behind us. Duh!!!!

Luckily we hadn’t closed the window grilles so were able to break a window to get back in, alerting our next door neighbour who is a very active leader of neighbourhood watch.

It turns out the window keys are identical to the door keys and the cost to replace the broken window was not worth the discovery.

And to add to the neighbourly challenges we’ve had recently, now they all think we’re complete morons!

Still, now we have proper locks and two secure windows at the front, the back is another story…

Plastered, in a non-alcoholic way

The last two weeks have been extremely busy, rather chaotic and very, very dirty.

We’ve had a plasterer (Dan) in working on our next two rooms and while things are progressing, it’s been hard work.

I spent three weekends shaving paper off the walls by hand only to discover that most of the plaster was going to have to come off.

The original lathe and plaster living room ceiling needed to be replaced so down it came with dust and rubble everywhere. It was like a nuclear holocaust.

And then bliss, new plasterboard, new plaster, a final glass-like skim and now we wait for it to dry so it can become our second good (albeit dark) room.

In the meantime Dan has moved into the little bedroom to replaster and we’re now sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the good room. Now the not-so-good room.

With deadlines looming, Big T and Little Bags heading to France on Tuesday for the summer, it doesn’t look like those rooms will be finished before they go.

What’s next?

I have now been left with no gas which means no heating or hot water for the next two days (apparently).

The only thing left is the electricity having now had our windows blocked, the gas turned off, no kitchen, a handicapped bathroom with a design which can’t be agreed upon and threats with legal action from an outstanding bill which predates us.

It’s probably fair to say that I’m not exactly having fun.


Scaffolded, boxed, scuppered and gutted

What a difference a week made. From the installation of the new fireplace, to the installation by a neighbour of scaffolding right outside our living room window.

Let’s step back a month or two.

We had discussed with an upstairs neighbour their wish to install scaffolding to renovate (one of their two) flats in the building. Unfortunately the scaffolding would be right outside our window for about six months. SIX MONTHS!

We reviewed the plans and elevations and understood that this would be the path of least resistance for the majority of the building however we would have reduced light in our already light-challenged lower ground floor flat.

We had only been in the building a couple of months so we did our good neighbour thing and reluctantly agreed to scaffolding with an access platform from the street.

Coming home on Thursday this week, I was horrified to discover a giant plywood box installed outside our window blocking every last vestige of light and sky. We had been boxed in. It wasn’t exactly a platform with access to scaffolding as we’d been led to believe.


It goes without saying that we’ve been scuppered. We certainly didn’t agree to a giant box being installed above our heads and in front of the window for SIX MONTHS. There was a certainly economy of information by our very strategic neighbour who has screwed us royally.

The room intended to be our living room is so dark it’s like the middle of the night and it goes without saying that I am completely gutted and will be for the next SIX MONTHS.


I can only hope that plastering and painting help improve things.

Lying in bed

This is my view.

It’s a bit like being in an insane asylum especially the patch of “insanity green” I haven’t managed to get off yet.

The worst thing is, it’s become normal and I don’t notice it any more.

Better get things moving or we’ll be living like this forever!

Trying to continue the momentum

After all the progress yesterday with the gasman finally leaving at 8:30pm but now with a working gas fire, I was keen to try and keep the momentum going.

I was up with the sodding lark, off to the laundrette, back with two bags of wet washing to hang dry, walked the dog, washed the dog, collected the dry cleaning and dropped off some more and then it was time to start sanding.

I spent a good hour sanding and chipping old paint off the front door so we can paint it before we get new locks. Frankly it looked just the same as it when I started.

I then spent another three hours chipping off the remains of the wallpaper in the front room. And here’s a surprise, it looks just the same.

How can a room have twenty layers of wallpaper that are all brown?

I cleaned everything up, chipped a bit more wallpaper off in the hall and I can’t see I’ve done anything.

One positive thing though, having cleared out all the rubble yesterday, we now have the brown room back complete with Christmas plant, broken window and flowering camellia.

To celebrate, Agnes did a wee on the carpet.

All fired up

After ripping out the fireplace, the logical thing was to put one back in, so that’s just what happened today.

I took the day off work to get some stuff done and by lunchtime had cleared out all the rubble with a waste collector. I hadn’t planned on helping but as he showed up single handed, it was the only way. That was fun.

So with that done, the fireplace was moving along nicely.

And finally by 8pm as the gasman was running late, we were all fired up and ready for a sit down.

So here it is and what a massive improvement! I love the clean Edwardian design, perfect with our simple coving and sympathetic to the building.

Just a bit of plastering and painting to do!