Raising the ceiling, after removing the old one.

January 10 2021 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

2021 and the new decade started off pretty much as the previous year and decade finished, with Brexit shitness added on for flavouring. The UK has now left the EU and the transition period is over. Bring on the unicorn filled sunlit uplands of ‘sovrinty’ and blue passports. As I write this post the Brexit failures are being masked by the appalling UK Covid statistics; over 1500 dead today alone. The UK (and the USA) is not in a good place right now, and while we have the great news of vaccinations on the horizon, the grim statistics will be with us for a few more weeks yet.

Eleanor had a medical appointment in Walthamstow last week so I used the opportunity of her not being at the flat to get some very messy work done. While she was away she received an email from NZ Immigration, the first communication we have had from them since they acknowledged receipt of our partner visa request. The email was a request for a lot more information regarding our relationship, fortunately it has all been fairly straightforward to collect. We both hope this is an indication that we have a case worker now working on our case. Our fingers remain firmly crossed.

A few months ago a crack appeared in the Victorian lath plaster in the master bedroom,  and it has been getting longer and wider, with an ever increasing sag,  ever since. In December it got to the ‘I now need to be concerned’ stage, so I arranged to get plasterers in to replace the wall/ceiling, before it collapsed by itself.

The bedroom is in the roof space so there is more ceiling than wall.

Even though we are in lockdown 3 (the crappy sequel) in the UK the rules allow for contractors to continue working as long as safe practices are maintained. I had a long conversation with the plastering company and decided to go ahead with the work. There is every chance the rules could change any time, and if the ceiling did collapse, it could be months before I could get someone in, and the room would not be habitable as there is only roof tiles between it and winter weather. It was also a good opportunity to get insulation put in as the bedroom is the coldest room in the house.

A couple of weeks ago we moved our bed and the dresser and set ourselves up in the spare room, it is quite cosy in there and seeing as we are really only in the bedroom at night we have decided to see how it goes and make the room swap permanent, making the master bedroom the spare room and Eleanor’s work space. I moved all the rest of the furniture out over the weekend.

The guys started on Tuesday morning, there was five of them at various stages during the day and they used hammers to break the old plaster down. I was working in the room below and it was a hell of a racket. I cannot believe the amount of dust that covered the house. 

The work went on all day and at the end of it, and with a significant amount of moaning, they carried about two tons of rubbish down the four flights of stairs.

I ate dinner huddled in the lounge surrounded by bedroom furniture and a washing hung all over the place as I attempted to clean up some of the dust. It was bad.

The guys were back Wednesday, less of them than previously and they stuffed a pile of insulation into the wall space before lining with plaster board and then laying plaster over the top. It took all day, but was significantly less noisy.

I was certainly glad when it was all over, and it is looking pretty good.

On Saturday I drove up to Walthamstow to pick up Eleanor and we spent the rest of the weekend cleaning and putting the house back together; setting up the old master bedroom as an office and spare bedroom and keeping our bed in the smaller, cosier room. Everything in hear was covered in dust, each book, CD and picture were taken down and cleaned before being put back.

I think it makes sense this way, it is a big room and though it has the best view in the house it did seem a shame for it just to a bedroom. The plaster is almost dry and I will soon think about what colour to paint it, though will wait for spring when we can have the windows open again and not let the wind and rain in.

I snuck a picture of Eleanor working in the new space.

We will see what happens when spring and summer come around and we miss those mornings with coffee in bed looking out over the sea.

Progress report on the flat.

August 25 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

Time for a great leap forward in, err, time. The previous post was set at the start of June and here we are now, entering the last week of August. Photographically, it has been a fairly uneventful period; we have not been up to much in the preceding three months, so there was nothing really to write about. Though it has not been completely quiet, we have been to the flat a number of times. I have slowly been filling the space with, mainly second hand, furniture. In the one and only prior post about the flat I commented that I was going for a 60/70s vibe and I have very much stuck to that. The antique/vintage shops in St Leonards have very much benefited from this.

The other thing that has happened was being successful in applying for another job, which I will start sometime in September. The role is with another government department, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. I am still working in technology, though for the first time in 30 years I am not working in an IT department. I will be working in a data and analysis team, though I am looking after their technology, I am looking forward to it. I have yet to agree a start date so I have two, maybe three weeks off between jobs. I am now into week two; hence the flurry of posts in the last week. I very much need this time off as I was burning out, though at least this time I read and understood the signs and took action.

I have mostly completed the things I am going to do the flat in these first few months of ownership. It is now time to visit and just enjoy it all, rather than continuously spending money and doing small jobs. I have bought all the furniture I am going to buy, the last thing was a bed for the second bedroom. My sister is visiting from New Zealand at the end of September so I thought it appropriate that I have a bed for her, much better than making her sleep on the floor!

Below are some updated images of the place.

Often the little things make all the difference, like this little rack I bought from Ikea. Simple, but it has allowed me to use the very small amount of drawer space in the kitchen much more effectively. I quite like the look of it as well.

The same with the mirror I bought for the bathroom. There was a mirrorless cabinet here which I moved as this was the only space for a mirror. Simple things done well. The Nordic way.

Unsurprisingly the main room has had the most spent in fitting it out. I have bought dining chairs since the last post which just showed a table.  Recovered 60s Danish chairs, they were pretty close to being the most expensive thing I bought, El went halves with me on them. I have also (finally) gotten around to getting a couple of street art prints I bought framed, that poster was from the 2013 Baroque the Streets exhibition in Dulwich.

I am still to work out what to do with the weird square white plaster thing on the wall. Current thinking is to do a large portrait diptych of one or two photos. Not sure yet. I am going pick up some cheap frames this week and see.

The record cabinet is 60s Danish; the amp and turntable are very new. The speakers sound amazing, though are not quite the right colour, but they were £30 from a charity shop and they are a great purchase. The red square you see in the bottom corner, and they appear elsewhere are old power-points. I have no idea why they are red, but they will be going. Which reminds me; I must ring the sparky!

The sofa is English, made not too far from home in Walthamstow, again from the 1960s. It is great to have space to put some of the absolute loads of books that El and I have, as well as finding a use for the space under the extensive hearth area.

Since the last post the main bedroom has been painted, mostly a dark grey, with one light grey wall. The room is really big so the dark walls and roof reduce some of the space. Having sloping walls means it is hard to fill the empty space with furniture and it is impossible to hang pictures on the walls. It is also gets a lot of sun, so the original pale walls were far too reflective. The dark works, though the painter was very unsure !

I have also gone for a mustard and grey colour scheme, which is quite ‘on trend’, this will flow further through the house as I decorate, though you can see that in the soft furnishings I have bought.

The flat has a ton of storage, so this sideboard I bought to act as a dresser is semi-redundant, but I really like the look of it and needed something in the bedroom to fill space, as well as store more books.

The final room I will work on will be the second bedroom. But it does have a bed, so no floor sleeping for my sister, or any future guests.

That is it for now. As I said at the start, I doubt I will do much more to the place till winter, when I may start to decorate. In the meantime I have more prints to hang on walls, and a whole load of records to take when I go back down in the next few days.