Thursday, 2 July 2015

Lesley and the transformation project

Our good friend Lesley, who has been mentioned on this blog a few times here,  and here, is on the home straight after a mammoth transformation project on her house.

Lesley (aka ODS for Old Darned Sock – when she was my manager in the Home Office back in 2005 she used to call me SFO for Short Furry One – in relation to my being a kiwi and kiwifruit being furry. So I called her Old Sock – she’s not much on expressions of affection as they embarrass her I think [as this may, but who cares …] so Old Sock seemed appropriately disrespectful as well as just affectionate enough. Then she had a couple of serious operations so the Darned got added to the Old Sock – OK, up to speed now?)

So, let’s start again. Lesley never had much time for doing home improvements – she’d bought her house brand new when she was working in London as quite a young bod, and because she is a popular woman, she was almost never home at weekends, and only home during the week between the hours of about 7.30pm and 6am – she was a civil servant, and contrary to popular opinion, a large number of them, including Lesley (and me when I was a de facto one) worked pretty long hours.

A few years ago, my sister Dee and I stayed with Lesley; and, as Dee and I do, we thought about what Lesley's house and garden could look like with some imagination (ours) and money (hers). We drew up plans on the only paper she would give us – small scraps, so we couldn’t go too crazy, and we left – and she promptly lost them. There’s gratitude for you.

So when she fell out of love with work, took early retirement and was home a lot, she decided – with some fairly strong nagging from me on another visit – that it was time to make her house into the home she’d be happy to spend the time in. And that was going to involve a bit of a wholesale makeover.

When I stayed with her a couple of years ago, I took it upon myself to push her (nag her unashamedly she would no doubt say) into planning the makeovers for the bathroom and the kitchen. We got far enough along to buy red pots and pans and a red toaster and electric jug that were stored until the kitchen would be done, plus a new washing machine and new large fridge freezer.

The bathroom was completed last year before I arrived (we had to do a shopping trip for tonally uplifting tat) and the kitchen after we left – it does take her a while to build up speed … The kitchen flooring and the under-stairs cupboard (easy access storage solution, rather than jam stuff in and forget it and buy a new one …) are still both to be done when other stuff that would be detrimental to them is finished. Both the bathroom and the kitchen look fabulous and are a real improvement to the functioning of both.
Bathroom, with tonally uplifting deep erange tat in place.
Shower with two shower heads - very posh! Of course the mirror is too high for normal sized people ...
The old kitchen - OK, I NEVER saw the bench this empty ... and those cupboards - you had to stand back when you opened them to avoid a tsunami of stuff sweeping you away. Seriously, I kid you not.

Mmmm, this doesn't look too bad. Why did she change it? Ah, I remember, that gas stove you can sort of see on the left hand corner of the photo had a non-functioning oven, the bench was tiny, and everything was outdated. That washing machine is the new  that we (she) purchased at Curry's. It's amazing what deals you can get when you go in there with a bald head from chemo - I think it's especially helpful when you are wearing a Taranaki Hardcore cap!
The new microwave and oven tower. Cupboard above, drawers below.
The cooktop and rangehood

The kettle and toaster - the pots match too!

Last year was also the year of sorting out what to do about getting a conservatory built and sorting out the section. The section was a bit of a wilderness as Lesley had been unwell for a while and not able to get out there. I won’t call it a garden, cos it wasn’t. The previous year we'd found a guy to clear it; he did the job but he was a rip off merchant and a bit of a prick.
This is what the garden looked like after the rip off merchant had cleared it . But especially the efforts by Lesley, John (next door) and me after we had cleared the line of shrubs between fence sections. On the LHS, the fence was a gone burger already. That little shed up at the top was jampacked with stuff - so much so that getting anything out was an exercise in rubrik's cube - a pain in the arse.

The pile of shrub clippings. ODS was a champion at clear felling, and John got very keen on using Lesley's loppers.

So last year, while David was back in NZ visiting his mum in the dead of the southern hemisphere winter, Lesley and I were busy planning. Well, I was planning and she was holding her head in her hands …

We saw the demo model of a finished conservatory article at the factory and then at Andy's house. Andy is the owner of Trade 2 Trade. He drove us there to view the one installed at his house so she could see it in the flesh - now that is service! When they came to look at the section, and after partaking of cream sponge (purchased at Morrisons) and pikelets (made by me) Andy and Rob declared that they could sub-contract all of the work that was required for re-fencing, terracing the garden, building steps and retaining walls; and then their firm would build the conservatory and put a window high in her lounge wall (her house is end of terrace) so she gets some direct natural light into that room once the conservatory is up.

Once I was back on the boat, she got Rob to do her a plan, and for some ungodly reason she said she wanted a lean to style – FFS, it looked like a bloody shed or an outdoor bathroom! She told me yesterday morning that she had exaggerated my response to it when discussing it with friends – she said I’d suggested she put a toilet in it and go the whole hog. If I'd thought of it, I would have said that. But with 20/20 hindsight I told her I would have said it would have been the (w)hole bog.

So she rethought it – lucky for her or I was going to send the boys around to sort her out. And she chose the Edwardian style. Good choice. Her intention was to have it look like it belonged there, not like it had been tacked on, so it was to have brick walls up to window height. (How she thought a lean to would look like it belonged I have no idea …)

The shed has gone, so had what remained of the grass

A fire is far more satisfying than carting stuff to the tip ... The steps that Lesley's dad put in place when she first bought the house would soon be gone.

Work started on terracing the garden and getting the fencing up on the correct boundary quite a few weeks ago. 
First tier almost in place

And the second tier takes shape
The terraces, the fab steps, the fences, the shed and the patio. On the right of the top two terraces you can just see the railway sleeper raised garden beds.

Those steps are the business
The first plant which will need to be transferred into the appropriately coloured pot - royal blue, black or grey.
John and Julie, next door, have added a couple of bits of trellis to the top of two fence panels - they look cool.

Doing the terracing was fine, but the fencing was a bit of a mission.  However, it is now done, it looks cool and the garden is terraced, retaining walls are up, stairs are in place and well designed, the kitset shed is in place and its roof secure (thanks, Mike), the railway sleepers that form the garden plots are in position and joined up and stained.
No conservatory but a big mess in front of her lounge doors.

 Over the last week or so, the conservatory has been taking shape – the brickies had completed their work and then it was time for the framing, the roof, the windows and doors. Her doors are fabulous – bi-folds and they are the dog’s bollocks.
Block and brickwork for walls in place. Lesley was very impressed with the brickies.
Windows are in both sides and doors are in. Roof framing underway.

Roof goes on. I wonder if she did a roof shout? Must ask her!
And the view from inside. If I remember correctly, the large windows don't open. They are on the eastern side so she will get morning sun in there.
These doors are the dog's bollocks!

In the late arvo sunshine

Morning tea is consumed here.
Yesterday morning, ODS sent me the above photo of where she’d sat having her morning cup of tea – made me feel quite emotional thinking of all the planning and thought that has gone into getting this large piece of work done. I did have to harden up and send her a message back saying the only thing missing was the pack of Griffins gingernuts … (She is a big fan of gingernuts, as you will know if you have read her comments on various posts, and this year we didn’t bring her any.)
A few days ago the wiring work was completed, and yesterday the plastering was underway - the guys had to work fast because of the heat.
The skylights are in and the ceiling was plastered - on the hottest July day on record!

ODS has already been making use of the conservatory – drying washing (her clothesline needs to be re-installed on the second terrace), sitting in the afternoon sunshine, sitting inside, sitting outside, feeling smug - and why not? She’s accomplished an enormous amount that people (e.g. David and me) usually do over a period of years (20 years in our case) – and she’s done it in under two …

I think I need some time off from boating so I can continue my well-established pattern of helping her spend her money – a dining suite, a new sofa, chairs for in the conservatory, a new dresser, a patio table and chairs, new carpet, and a new TV. Plus garden pots, plants. I am sure I can grow that list ...

Where and when can I leave the boat? Can David steer the boat and look after the grandsons at the same time? It would be dangerous for Lesley to be left too long alone with such a shopping list! Dee, where are you? Can you come over now?


Jenny said...

Job well done, Marilyn. Good on you for offering such a lot of encouragement - or should we call it bullying?
And you are right, those folding glass doors are wonderful!
Now your friend can continue to enjoy cuppas in the English sunshine.

Robin and Jenny

Marilyn McDonald said...

Encouragement is a nice word, but bullying sounds so harsh! Lesley can't be bullied though - she wanted to get the work done, and she just needed a bit of a shove towards getting started. It was a lot to take on. Looks great, eh? An NZ friend will probably bring gingernuts over for her so the picture is complete! Mx

Lesley Bateman said...

I admit that sometimes I may require a small prod to get me going. OK a massive shove, but once I get going I can work up a head of steam. It will though, take me years before the bloody dust finally settles.

Lesley Bateman said...

I admit that sometimes I may require a small prod to get me going. OK a massive shove, but once I get going I can work up a head of steam. It will though, take me years before the bloody dust finally settles.

Mia Gomez said...
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