house – day 251 – 254 – light my fire

We’d hoped we would have our new fireplace installed in the rear reception by now, but owing to personal circumstances, our supplier was unable to do the work last week. Instead, we should be getting our fire installed on Monday. I suppose it buys us some time – a commodity we seem to be pretty short of (that and cash).


My first task, should have been to clean the tiles for the hearth. But when I walked round the side of the house to plug the hose into the pressure washer, I noticed we had serious drain problems – the grate outside the kitchen was (literally) full of shit. I lifted the drain cover at the side of the house and saw it was backed up with sewage. Yecchh!

Tracing the problem back, I found that the sewer junction, under the manhole in the centre of the garden (thanks – great location for it) was solidly blocked with a nausea-inducing mass of greasy shit. It was fortuitous I already had the pressure washer plugged in and plumbed up, it enabled me to blast away at the crap, but even after clearing what I could see, the sewage in the drain by the house didn’t move. Eventually, using a combination of drain rods and a pressure washer attachment for cleaning drains, I got the sewers running freely again. Yet another morning spent dealing with crap!

I eventually got started on cleaning up the tiles in the afternoon,. Most of the tiles came up OK, but a few have a porous surface and some paint spots was hard to move. I have another attachment for the pressure washer and this one mixes sand with the water to create an abrasive blast. The previous owners had left a small bag of kiln dried sand in the shed (I suspect from doing the block paving at the front), so I gave it a quick go. It worked a treat, unfortunately there was only a small amount of sand and a lot of paint spatters to remove – another trip to B&Q, then.

Once back from the DIY shed, it was too dark to carry on cleaning the tiles. I spent the rest of Saturday in the office, installing the remaining Ikea furniture and adjusting doors, catches and drawers.


In the morning, I cleaned up the remaining tiles with water and sand. The feed pipe kept getting blocked (the sand  got wet), so it was a bit of stop-start process. Eventually all the tiles were cleaned to my satisfaction and I sorted out the best and arranged them on the floor for the fire installers to see how I want them to look, when it’s finished. I also cut and built a framework for the screeding for the hearth. I want the hearth to be level with the new wooden floor.

Fiona was busy painting in the hall, so after lunch, I went back up stairs to sort out more office stuff.


We were up early as we were expecting the fire installers before 9:00am, they turned up about an hour later. I showed them the room, the fire surround and the hearth. They didn’t ask many questions, so I left them to it. I had intended to start work in the loft, whilst the guys were working in the study (I need to re-lay the loft insulation and install loft legs and boards over it). In the end I didn’t do it, as I realised I would have got  in their way and slowed them down. Fiona couldn’t paint in either the hall or the study whilst this was going on, so we just hunkered down in the kitchen. The house was freezing, as the doors were open whilst the work was going on. The installers finished the job in the afternoon. The fire insert, firebasket, gas coals etc were in place and working – the heat was very welcome, but the guys weren’t able to install the fire surround. Despite all the work I’d done a couple of weeks ago to get it ready, it didn’t fit flat against the wall. The wall is curved, it seems the brickwork bows, so there were uneven gaps at the back of it. I said I’d take care of it. I signed a few forms, got a copy of the gas certificate and the guys left. By now it was too late to start anything new for the day. I’d also had a call earlier in the day from the garage to say the paper work for my MX-5 had arrived and I could go and collect it.  Again it was too late to do that today, so I’ll do that tomorrow morning. We went to the pub instead (partly to warm up) and ended up drinking too much. Well, we did start drinking pretty early.


I’ve got to head back to the flat tonight, as I’m working tomorrow. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to get much done, especially as I want to go and collect my MX-5. The garage is only about 25 miles away in Maidstone, but I have to go by public transport to get there, which means a short bus ride and two trains, or a single train journey and a much longer bus ride if I use an alternative route. I chose the former and that turned out to be a mistake. According to the timetable, there should have been at least two buses before the one I eventually caught, making me late, which threw out the train connections. As a result, I had a 25 minute wait at each station. At least it gave me an opportunity to get some lunch. In the end the 25 mile journey took 3 1/2 hours to complete, no wonder people around here drive all the time.

At the showroom, I had another quick look over the car (it had been too wet to get the top down when I first saw it), signed some more papers, paid a wodge of cash, collected the keys and set off back to the house. I called Fiona to let her know I was coming home and arranged to take her for a quick spin in it when I got back.

I picked up Fiona and it was late afternoon by the time we got to Faversham, we thought we’d have a look around a few antique places to get ideas for the house. We found only a couple of places open, one had some interesting leaded glass that might fit in the small windows in the study. But I wasn’t sure of the size I needed. The other place was a furniture shed that had stuff that nearly, but not quite, fitted with our ideas. I think it’s going to take a while before we find what we want, at a price we can afford. It wasn’t an entirely wasted journey as a plumbers merchant had a pan connector with a jubilee clip that should enable me to fix the leaking upstairs toilet (without having to return the toilet to the Plumbers) and we picked up groceries for the week.

I dropped Fiona off at the house, picked up my stuff and drove back to the flat in my new car, reflecting on what I’d managed to achieve in four days. Not a lot, it seems.

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