Early January and I have finally succumbed to the virus that has struck just about everyone I know and that I smugly declared I had dodged. It got me. Sunday evening I woke in the middle of the night feeling so sick I was convinced I had food poisoning. When I was a teenager I foolishly enjoyed a drunken kebab from a van in the high street after a night of clubbing and whatever meat I had consumed contained a very nasty bacteria which made me terribly ill. I turned vegetarian after that for many years, indeed even the smell of meat cooking still turns my stomach sometimes. So, back to Sunday evening and the struggle not to vomit. I was feverish, achey and my head was literally banging. I spent the remainder of the night propped up next to my snoring husband, keeping dead still and finally drifted off to sleep.
My alarm went off at 7am as the builders were coming early to start ripping out our second bathroom. My husband had left a couple of hours earlier for three days in Birmingham where he works. I felt so ill I actually sobbed as I staggered around, seeing to the dogs and clearing the bathroom. I must have looked shocking when I opened the door to the plumber and his mate because they asked me if I was ok. They set about removing the giant corner bath and were soon hacking tiles off the walls, whilst I huddled in the corner of the sofa, sipping ginger tea, my head throbbing.
By lunchtime, there was a problem. Once the tiles on the floor had been taken up it was clear that there had been a serious leak happening for a long time. The floorboards were soaking wet. The old bathroom had been clad almost entirely in hideous green tiles and every single bit of pipework was boxed in so it had been impossible to tell if something had been leaking. We knew that the downpipe outside the bathroom went straight into the ground originally, a problem we had to fix soon after we moved in when we realised that rainwater soaked right into the walls instead of being channelled away from the house. My husband set up a makeshift solution involving a water-butt and a hose pipe but after several heavy downpours we got our builder to dig a channel along the side of the house and put a soak away into the drive. This solved the issue of the damp on the walls but no matter what we did, the ceiling was always covered in black mould.
The building contractor turned up and explained that the floor had to come up and be replaced completely. They then turned to the ceiling and once again it was found to be wet. The plaster came down easily, revealing a layer of ugly polystyrene tiles, every builders nightmare. What’s more, underneath the tiles was a third ceiling made of a strange fibrous material and underneath that was the original ceiling made of narrow strips of plaster. Beneath all this, the wooden beams were wet, signalling an historic leak coming from above. Thankfully the plumber quickly concluded that the leak had stopped so plans were made to replace the ceiling once the electrics had been put in place. Some heaters were installed to try to dry everything out overnight.
The following morning the builders returned to take down the rest of the ceiling. I was still feeling unwell so again I huddled on the sofa, watching tv while they hammered away next door. I had broken the news to Vern over the phone and although he was worried, we both were pragmatic about everything.
Today I got up early again and I felt a little better. My son decided he needed a bath before work so he had to use our beautiful refurbished upstairs bathroom. This is an added stress of only having one bathroom for the time being. It is the best room in the house and it is mine. Woe betide anyone who makes a mess in there! For the first few weeks my husband was too frightened to use it in case he got water on the floor. I was looking forward to the new floor going in downstairs but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Our poor plumber discovered something even worse under the floorboards in the hall. Turns out the waste water pipe which feeds out from the bath and toilet into the hallway ended right there rather than continuing out of the house. The void under the floor in the hall had standing water in it where all the water had been draining into the earth. We had opened a mahoosive can of shit-eating worms and now there was nothing to it but to push on and fix the mess left behind by the previous owners of this botched house.
So, tomorrow the builders will return and begin the laborious job of digging down into the footings in order to reinforce the rotten joists before they can replace the floor. It will mean weeks of sharing my bathroom with my smelly son but hey ho. I may just go completely mad before this house is finished. More to come as the project continues.
Thanks for reading. xx