Monday, 1 December 2008

Renovating a room or two

It's a good job I'm not a juggler because if I was I would have been sacked by now, not been so good keeping all the balls in the air recently.

The juggling is renovating the house, internet marketing, doing the garden, cutting wood for the winter and various other tasks that I have going on.

In other words I keep doing a bit of everything and finishing nothing (or so it seems) and have to admit I am particularly drawn to sitting on the computer which always seems to take priority especially versus hard physical labour, don't understand why exactly, that's just the way it is.

Anyway I knew I had to start work on getting a new kitchen installed in our living area for when the gite is rented out and that the computer would have to take 2nd spot for a while.

That holiday season seems a bit away at the moment but time goes so fast that you can be sure it will be on us again and the kitchen won't be done if we don't get on with it, just like last summer where the only place we could wash up was in the cave (cellar) and that's a pretty long trek when you are carrying a big basket full of pots and crockery, just couldn't put the wife through that again so it has to be done.

Well this old house is made of stern stuff and I found that just getting the pipework through for the new sink involved drilling 3 holes through about 18" of solid concrete, not so bad for the 15mm (0.6") pipes but proved a bit of a battle for the 52mm (2") waste pipe. After spinning around on the end of the drill a few times and about 8 attempts over 5 hours I finally got my holes done, Yay!!!.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I managed to focus long enough to get all the pipework in place and connect up the sink which now sits proudly on it's unit waiting to be finished off, no change there then.

In order to finish locating the new kitchen units we needed to decide what to do with a doorway that had to be closed off and form part of the wall that sits behind the new units. After a brief discussion it was clear that the best way to do this would be to fill in the hole with block work and then plaster it.

Sounds easy enough and the first stage of doing the block work went relatively smoothly and yes I was pleased with my handiwork, how hard could plastering be???

I am not a builder so as I said I was quite chuffed with the block work and set about the task of plastering over the new blocks it must be said, on a bit of a high.

Not wanting to mess up I decided to plaster the bottom half of the doorway first to see how this French plaster was mixed and applied. The first batch went on like a dream, slapped it on smoothed it out and seemed to have plenty of time to get the finish right.

All the bad press I had heard about this plaster was dismissed, it's a doddle I thought, that was until I mixed the 2nd batch which set as I carried it up the steps to where I was working. So nothing for it, I went back down the steps and chiseled the now rock hard plaster out of my bucket with not a trowel full applied, cleaned everything up and mixed another batch.

Now bear in mind all I am doing is a 6'6" x 3' doorway 1/2 of which I completed on my first go, it should have been easy. Anyway the 3rd batch lasted about 2 minutes longer than the 2nd batch which was just long enough for me to get it on the wall but not to smooth it out, what a disaster.

It was at this point I enlisted the help of my wife, all instructions were read again, kitchen weighing scales and measuring jugs were brought into play to ensure the correct proportions were being mixed and according to the law I should have had 30 minutes to apply and smooth out the plaster. I am not sure how many batches we ended up mixing or how many bucket fulls
of the solid lumps that ensued I had to chisel out, but I do know that at the end of this exercise I was a broken man.

We are still attacking the plastered doorway on a daily basis filling, scraping and sanding to try and get a decent finish, well we were going to tile over that bit anyway, honest!!

So be warned you budding builders out there, French plaster sets like concrete in anything from 1 to 10 minutes and no amount of additional water or powder is going to stop it, unless you know better, in which case can you tell me please because I am desperate to figure out how a French plasterer can do a complete wall.

Well you can imagine the stress this little exercise caused me so when the wife said 'shall we go for a nice long walk instead of working today, it is Sunday after all', I jumped at it and off we set. It's amazing as you walk along through gorgeous countryside looking at what nature has to offer how things can be put in perspective and what seems a monumental problem pales into insignificance.

That's when I took the picture above and realized that this was god's handy work, that he had put those clouds in the sky and it was then I thought 'he didn't get those too smooth either, so what am I worried about'.

Hope you enjoyed this little story, I know I didn't and I am certainly not claiming to be an expert now, this is one skill set I am happy to leave to the professionals the next time a little bit of plastering needs to be done.

The following sign was spotted on a plumber's truck, I think it could be put on a builders truck as well.

On a Plumber's truck:
'We repair what your husband fixed.'

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