Following almost 2 weeks of intensive labour my house has given birth to a new kitchen. It’s not the flashest new kitchen in Godzone but it’s my new kitchen and I’m suitably thrilled. It posed something of a challenge for the “Kitchens For Less” man, the space available being only a tad larger than the average family’s bathroom. But he came up with an ingenious plan that involved moving the back door and knocking through to the laundry/loo. This would enable me to actually have a pantry, as previously I’d made do with a narrow wall-mounted cupboard, the upper shelves of which could only be reached by a step-ladder that I kept handy just around the corner in the lounge. The new plan would also allow me considerably more than the 2 foot square bench space I have made-do with for several years.
There being some upheaval involved in ripping out the old and bringing in the new, it was also decided to simultaneously replace the asbestos-coated 85 year old copper superheater along with the clogged-up antique water pipes which had all the tap-turning immediacy of dial-up broadband.
It all started as a bit of a lark. Large cartons were procured, filled with pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, foodstuffs and sundries. These were parked around the lounge. The electric jug, teabags, coffee and sugar found a new home on the sunroom coffee-table. Him Indoors had a whale of a time with a crowbar that evening, the plumber and builder/carpenter arrived next day…..but not at the same time.
When embarking on any renovations it is of paramount importance to appoint a site manager.
Texts flying between Him Indoors At Work, Me At Home, and various tradesmen tend not to dovetail. This resulted in many a mix-up, including the plumber arriving to instal the kitchen sink before the carpenter turned up to place the bench. The flow-on effect from this involved two boilings of the jug, two coffees (milk and 2 sugars), half a packet of Tim Tams and an extra $47 an hour on our bill.
When the kitchen components arrived unheralded, a second able-bodied person was required to help lug them up 2 sets of steep steps from van to house. That person wasn’t about to me. Neither was it Him Indoors summoned via the XT Network which didn’t appear to be working that day.
The plumber wasn’t keen (a bad back and surfeit of Tim Tams)but fortunately the carpenter arrived (a plucky wee
Scot) so he obliged but then needed to rest and fully consult with the plumber before embarking on the job, necessitating further jug boilings, more coffee and milk, tea-bags and the cracking-open of a packet of chocolate shortbreads.
On and off for about 8 working days the noise drove me to distraction. If it wasn’t the carpenter with a buzzsaw or hammer, it was the plumber up in the loft banging away doing something with the header tank. Or it was the pair of them “dans armchairs” yakking away while I did the metaphorical French Maid thing with Dilmah, Nescafe, the cow’s udders and half the biscuit aisle of Countdown.
For 2 days I could not see the lounge carpet – it was covered in piping and assorted pieces of plumbing accoutrements which were left languishing for 24 hours as Mr Plumber was called to an “urgent” job. For an entire week the toilet became open-plan due to the demolishing of part of a wall. I took to rising at cocks-crow (next door has a rooster), doing my business and then abstaining from liquids. During those days I was never aware of a tradesman using the toilet (are they
catheterized?) despite their need for tea or coffee plus the biscuit tin on a strictly hourly basis.
And then the hot water packed-up after the installation of the brand new super-heater. Noting the switch had tripped I phoned an electrician. Two of them arrived. One youngblood and an older one in “advisory” capacity. The latter had a cup of tea and 3 Mallowpuffs whilst maintaining a running commentary on the lounge decor, the view from the sunroom window and the state of the nation whilst his apprentice beavered away. Both left after rewiring and telling me all was hunky-dory but for some inexplicable reason failed to flick the switch in the cupboard right next to the hot water heater that ensures it is actually turned on. Thus, several hours later I was scratching my head wondering why no hot water was gushing forth from my shiny new mixer taps.
But it’s all over now and, like giving birth, I reflect on the past pain and reckon it wasn’t so bad after all. I love my new “baby” so much that I have provided it with a “layette” of mammoth proportions from the supermarket: herbs, spices, cans of this, jars of that, packets of the other, condiments, chutneys, and baking ingredients galore.
After all, when you transfer the meagre contents of a miniscule kitchen cupboard into a huge new pantry it does tend to look a bit Mother Hubbard.