Week fourteen: the great escape

Friday

Wake up with: £50

Go to bed with: £41

Another £50 week, to account for the purchase of wedding presents this month. I am very much looking forward to next week, not only because it will herald the return to the full budget, but also the return to normality on the home front: the DIY project is scheduled to finish on Monday. Phew.

The week starts on a real high, a drink and a gossip with a former colleague at The Book Club Basecamp, a pop-up outdoor bar, kitchen and playground that is screening the Olympics everyday until 12th August. It’s awesome, but unfortunately everyone else thinks so too. We finally manage to secure a bottle of rose, (£18) and a nook to drink it in (free) and so the gossip begins.

As the wine peters out, I check in with the husband who sounds unusually strained for a Friday night, so I decide that I’d better head home to ply him with some food and cuddles. Plus, I’m really looking forward to seeing our newly-installed bathroom floor…

When I get home, I discover exactly why the husband is tense. The tiler we have drafted in, the self-same tiler who promised it would take just a day to lay our new bathroom floor is still there. The toilet and sink are disconnected and there is precisely one tile on the floor. We try to cajoule the tiler into calling it a day: surely he wants to watch the opening ceremony? Apparently he doesn’t.

I walk into the garden, take a deep breath and resolve to put on my happy face. I am zen personified. The husband and I retire to the sitting room to watch the show, which is enough to banish all DIY stresses. It’s amazing, transporting us to another world where London is a dream city and the UK a utopia of all things lovely and wondrous. And I really want a pair of those glow-in-the-dark wings. Good job Danny Boyle.

The husband has bought us steak for tea and, when the tiler finally leaves at half ten (curiously, no noticeable progress has been made), we sit down to enjoy it on the balcony.

On this night, I am proud to be British, at least until Paul McCartney starts warbling, anyway! 

Saturday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £41

On the plus side, this DIY business sure is cheap. I’m so busy sanding, painting and cleaning today I haven’t got a second to spend any money—as long as you don’t count all the pennies I have to spend in the local pub; our loo is no closer to being connected at the day’s close, although we have at least got a few tiles on the floor now.

Looking on the bright side, at least I’m here today to remind the tiler not to smoke in the house, use my kitchen worktop as a tile-cutting bench, or to wipe up excess adhesive with my shower curtain. Honestly, I have spent more time over the last few weeks desperately fire-fighting after spectacular carelessness than I have actually doing DIY. It took an hour to pick the paint off my jute chair covers (they were in a room where NO DIY was taking place!), I have washed, dried, ironed and folded endless amounts of towels and teatowels that have somehow leapt from the serried ranks in the airing cupboard into a bucket of plaster. Not to mention the irreplaceable and precious fabric I was using as a window panel in the sitting room, which is now liberally daubed with white gloss paint and consequently ruined forevermore.

Humph!

Sunday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £32.90

I am no longer zen. At 3.45pm on day three of the bathroom floor debacle, there is no sign of the tiler, ergo sum, the bathroom floor is no closer to being completed. The tiler said he would be here between 11am and 12pm. So far, so four hours late. I am not impressed. He finally turns up at 3.52. Grrrr.

I try to distract myself with a trip to the greengrocers and a bit of kitchen therapy, but it’s an ask with all the bathroom appliances and several toolboxes underfoot. Still, we’ve got to eat something this week so I persevere. I make a couple of moussakas (one for now, one for the freezer), a dame blanche cheesecake and some quesadilla filling, as well as a pot of chicken stock. By the time I have shopped for and made that lot, the floor is no closer to completion.

I should point out at this juncture that our bathroom floor is approximately two foot by six foot; I could have taught myself to tile and plumb in the amenities by now. The clock ticks on, the floor is grouted but the ‘conveniences’ remain in the kitchen. Curious. Eventually, at ten pm, when I am ready to weep with frustration, the tiler decides he is going to come back tomorrow. It takes every single ounce of willpower I have to nod and smile, and not punch something (or someone). As soon as the door closes the floodgates open. I can’t take this anymore.

Of course I am grateful that he worked through the weekend to finish the job. Of course I appreciate that you can’t have good, fast and cheap. But: builders please note: if you think it will take three days, say so. But don’t tell me it will take one day and then drag it out to four.  And yes, that is a newly-painted wall you have just smeared with grout. Thanks. I’ll just repaint that before I go to bed then.

Monday

Wake up with: £32.90

Go to bed with: £28.86

I’m not the greatest fan of Monday mornings, but boy is it a relief to be at work today. There isn’t dust on every surface and I don’t have to leave the office to relieve myself. Bliss.

One big shout out has to go to the husband, who got up at 6.45am to clean the bath so I could wash for the first time in three days. The husband is amazing. FACT.

It’s lucky I’m feeling buoyed up because the carpet fitter calls in sick. Oh joy! On the plus side, the husband tells me the tiler is on his way at 11am. All he has to do is re-plumb in the loo and sink… When I get home from work at six-thirty, guess who’s still there? Yep, the tiler. Oh joy! And neither the loo nor the sink are plumbed in. How is this possible? What has he been doing for six and a half hours? Reader, I am baffled – and furious. This is beyond a joke now. Maybe I should stop feeding him? The tiler eventually leaves at nine-thirty pm (after I’ve cooked him dinner), so another night ruined, but at least we have a working bathroom now. Thank god.

Tuesday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

Hurrah! The carpet fitter has been and I am going to sleep in a proper bed tonight. The husband and I spend the evening re-assembling the bed, and gradually shuffling the furniture into the right position in the right room.

At just after midnight, I climb into an actual bed, in the actual bedroom and delight in the clean sheets. This is the definition of bliss.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £28,86

Go to bed with: £28.86

To say I have a humdinger of a day at work would be an understatement. Luckily, I have the perfect antidote up my sleeve: we’ve been invited to cuddle the brand new supper club baby this evening over dinner. The tiny one is utterly gorgeous, and I scoop him onto my lap, apparently just in time for his evening ablutions. I quickly try to hand him back to his dad but it’s too late; he’s christened my dress. I mean, really, really christened my dress. His mum and I are so busy crying with laughter that we can’t even wipe it up. Luckily, it doesn’t put me off my dinner (I’m not sure what it would take to put me off my dinner!)—delicious chicken satay—followed by my dame blanche cheesecake.

On the way home, I reflect on the day: there has to be something wrong when the high-point of your day is being poo-ed on! Luckily, I am escaping from everything tomorrow: I’m off to Venice for a meeting with a client. No more DIY, no more ‘challenging’ work situations: just me and Italy. I need this, reader, I need this.

 

Thursday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

My sister has gone into labour. MY SISTER HAS GONE INTO LABOUR! It’s a huge surprise when I get a text telling me that her waters broke yesterday as she isn’t due until the 27th. I rise at 5am to catch my flight to Venice, frantically checking my phone every 30 seconds for news. I know this giving birth business can take a wee while, but I can’t stop myself.

There is literally nothing in this world that can rival the feeling of arriving at Piazza San Marco from across the sparkling lagoon. Venice is just magical and I feel my spirits soar instantly; now, I remember why I love my job. Our client is waiting for us at The Cipriani dock, and immediately ushers us poolside for lunch and a bellini—that’s what I call a welcome. We retire to the bar to brainstorm contents for the next issue, followed by an aperitif on the terrace and a tour of the hotel. After a magnificent dinner, I’m ready to sink into my five-star bed. It’s ridiculously comfortable, like  sleeping on a cloud, but I toss and turn, constantly glancing at my phone in case my new niece or nephew has made an appearance… To Be Continued.

Had any DIY dramas of your own? Dreaming of escaping the daily grind? Get it off your chest, or simply divulge your dream destination in the comments box below… Thank you, as ever, for reading.

 

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