Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Which I Gain a Double Oven and Lose Some Lighting

So, this refurbishment is, as I have probably said before, is a series of battles. Some you win, some you lose, and some you get a bloody nose but come back fighting the next day to be victorious.

The last two days have been a mix of all the above. Yesterday the granite was fitted - it's gorgeous and the single most beautiful thing in the kitchen so far. Electrician #3 arrived today to fit a new cooker circuit, consumer unit (that's a fuse box to us normal people) and fit the lovely double oven.

The new cooker circuit went in OK and the double oven was fitted, eventually, after we hacked up most of the back of the unit. Unfortunately, at some stage one of the cables to a living room light has been hacked through. So I have a partially darkened living room in which I cannot read. The RCD (circuit breaker) is also over-sensitive and may be prone to switching off the entire flat at a moment's notice. Electrician #3 has spent 14 hours here today and will have to return next week to try and solve the above problems.

Electrician #3 has also pointed out the poor quality of workmanship of electrician #1 whose work I had suspected for some time was rather makeshift. I don't want #1 to do any more work, but he will have to come back as it is not permissible to locate sockets and switches directly above a hob which is what he's done.

Tomorrow, more kitchen units are assembled. I still have to choose tiles though. All appliances are purchased.

Maybe I will have running water in the kitchen by the weekend....but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Snow

I'm just back from a weekend up North - the North of England that is - Yorkshire to be precise. That's where I'm from originally. Well, actually, as a small child it was Yorkshire, then they moved the county boundaries and it became Cleveland, but the area is also often referred to as Teesside, so that confuses everyone and people who don't know the area assume you're from Newcastle anyway so it's always a bit of a drag to explain it. So I'll stop now.

Anyway, my Mum still lives there, a few miles from the coast and the aptly named North Sea. Weather comes from all sides and, despite being a few miles inland you can taste the salt in the air when it gets particularly wild and the wind is in the right direction. When snow arrives, you'll generally get a decent amount, and it tends to stick around for a few days and doesn't turn into a sodden slush by mid-morning like you get in London. Lots of the North is like this, but since the media is London-centric in the UK, snowfall in the UK is always reported in the news with the same degree of shock as nuclear attacks or the suggestion of a Labour tax cut.

So, before I get too political, here are a few pictures of the village of East Cowton last Sunday. Granted it's not a big snowfall, but come on, it's Easter dammit, and I think it looks especially pretty and picture-postcardy.

It's also nice to get away from the flat for a few days as I still have no running water in the kitchen and the dust levels are getting really unpleasant. The granite is being fitted today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The electrical gloom of last week has hopefully been resolved. The problem was that there was no locatable cooker circuit in my flat. You need a 30 amp plus circuit on which to run most modern double electric ovens. You can probably get away with a lower rating but you run the risk of the fuse blowing midway through cooking your Christmas dinner or something. These circuits should exist but as I had a gas cooker before, it was not required and had long since, probably before I even moved in, been entombed in a wall and lost. To find I now needed to install a new circuit just after the kitchen was decorated and half the units fitted was a bit of a shock as it would probably mean fitting a complete new circuit requiring much burrowing into my newly decorated walls.

A panic to find a trustworthy electrician before more construction was done was undertaken. And I think I've found one. He's the third electrician I've needed. One to wire up the new boiler, one to install lighting and sockets, and now a third to install a cooker circuit. The good new is that all the cable can be surface mounted and hidden discreetly in coving or at ceiling level and hidden by units. The work hasn't been done yet, but the spark #3 arrives next week to install it.

Also next week the granite worktops will be fitted. In order to fit granite, you must first template it. This involves part constructing the kitchen to the point where the future locations for the worktops can be accurately measured. You can't just trim a slab of granite on a whim if it doesn't quite fit- it's got to be measured once, cut, and you have to get right first time. All the units, sink and supplies must be in place but disconnected. I have had no running water in my kitchen for over a week. The templaters did their work today and return next Tuesday to fit the granite worktops. After that, the cooker circuit can be added, the oven and hob installed, the sink and tap can be plumbed in, the tiling can be completed and the rest of the units can be fitted and finished.

I feel I've crested the majority of problems. There's the potential for many things to go wrong, but I feel none of them will be insurmountable.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Highs and Lows

As my kitchen and plumbing refurbishment continues and the cash and the will to live ebb slowly away, there is the occasional high spot. They are few and far between and one must treasure them like a pearl in an oyster before you choke on the little bastard.

This week's high, which has been counter-attacked by deep, gloomy depression over electrical issues, is the arrival of my kitchen tap. It comes in its own soft, fuzzy-felt, monogrammed, drawstring bag. Gaze upon its cruciform splendour. It's the only good thing to happen to me this week. One day I may see it in situ.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Great Book Related Meme

What a great idea for a meme. It goes as follows.....

  • Take the book you are currently reading
  • Turn to page 123
  • Skip five sentences
  • Post the next three sentences in your blog
So, here goes with my three sentences...

I believe it has never been used since Johnson's death in 1784.

There is an interesting picture, attributed to Reynolds, of Jonhson's (sic) black servant, Frank Barber. He was a Jamaican slave who received his freedom in 1752, became Johnson's man-servant, and apart for (sic again) a short period, served him faithfully until his master died thirty-two years later.

Who was responsible for proof-reading this manuscript? I hadn't noticed any mistakes reading the book until now and then I find two in three sentences. Anyway, it's an interesting book - In Search of London by H.V. (Henry Vollam to his pals) Morton. A Pevsner style book on London written fifty years ago, very evocative and, if you've spent any time in London, addictive to imagine how places you thought you knew might have actually looked half a century ago.

Tattoos and Tiling

Crouch End has now got its own tattoo parlour. I'm not sure how their market research concluded Crouch End has the right population demographic for tatts but I look forward to Amy Winehouse visiting the area soon to reccy the place out.

In other news, the flat refurbishment continues. It's slow, but not that slow, and as long as things continue to progress I'm reasonably happy. I'd worry if things stopped, but that hasn't happened yet and there's no sign of that happening. Walls have been replastered, the floor has started, and electricians arrive next week to put in lighting, extra sockets and to wire up the plumbing properly. The bathroom will have to be done next as, despite their best intentions, the plumbers had to wreck a lot of it to lay in new pipework for the heating. Latest photos herein....

My kitchen has now almost completely moved to the living area. I am perfecting the art of living off coffee and sandwiches and still go through the motions of trying to keep the place clean but I just find that trying to clear up the dust and rubble only really agitates it and it just resettles over everything fifteen minutes later.