Our recent heating crisis led, as is often the way in old houses, to yet more work needing to be done. The need for a new shower has effectively meant a whole bathroom refurb. As a project manager (albeit in IT), sorting this out should not have been too challenging for me but I forgot about risk management so, of course, nothing went to plan.
In theory, it was straightforward. “We’ll get your shower,” the heating engineer told us. “When we’ve installed your boiler, get a tiler in to retile the wall, then we’ll come back to flush the system and fit the new shower.”
D and I both hate baths. I know people who relax for hours in their baths – glass of wine, candles, maybe even a book (although the librarian in me shudders at that particular thought). I have tried over the years to embrace a bath. Taken the wine, the bubble bath, the candles and climbed in, thinking that this time maybe I will get it. Invariably, I am bored within seconds. D just finds the whole experience unpleasant. However, it was only for a couple of weeks. Surely we could manage that long?
We decided to use the tiler who did such a good job on the kitchen. Unfortunately, he had come with the kitchen fitter and so wasn’t local. However, he agreed to do the job and we set a date. “Just one thing,” he said in a casual tone worthy of Columbo. “Because the tiles run behind the toilet, you will need to remove the cistern. You’ll need to flush the loo with a bucket.”
A bucket!! This hadn’t figured on my radar at all. Still, it had to be done so we agreed to go ahead. After an abortive attempt to find a plumber, my mum and her husband stepped in to help, they removed the cistern and we found ourselves a bucket.
The next day, the tiler arrived fresh from his 90 minute journey from Hull. The plan was for a three day job, with the heating engineer due back on Day 4. The schedule fell apart – literally – on Day 1, when all the plaster fell off the wall along with the old tiles. All of it, down to the brick. So, instead of removing the old tiles and preparing the wall, our helpful and handy tiler spent most of Day 1 plastering.
Getting it to dry was another matter altogether. On Day 2, we talked nicely to it and put a heater in the bathroom to keep it cosy, to no avail. On Day 3, we bought a dehumidifier still with little noticeable difference. We had damp plaster on the walls and the tiler had to stay at home – just as frustrating for him as for us. On Day 4, the tiler still couldn’t come but at least the heating engineer was coming back to flush the system. Or was he? He rang first thing – his van had broken down so he couldn’t come, and it would be another week before he could get here again.
So, where did that leave us? Over a month after the shower came out, we had no shower and no flushing toilet. We didn’t want the plaster to get even wetter, so we couldn’t even use the bath that we had started by hating and now dreamed of using. We have resorted to what my grandmother used to call a Good Wash Down. (Funny how those three words always have capital letters, even in my head).
When we moved to achieve a simpler way of life, this wasn’t quite what we had in mind! Remind me which century it is again?