Well, it has been an eventful and more than slightly manic time since my last musings on the EIOT blog.
Now I shouldn’t moan as we have all been together – firstly in deepest Welsh Wales at the wedding detailed in the last post and then back at EIOT Towers.
However, in true EIOT fashion nothing ever goes as planned and while much has been achieved, it has not been without its pitfalls and roller-coaster of excitement.
Well, despite his protestations at not spending his two weeks of leave sampling the local beer from the village brewery in the pub, himself excelled himself and achieved a whole lot of DIY at EIOT Towers. Mind you, he had little choice as I hovered over him threatening physical harm if he did not comply with my ever-growing list of jobs that needed to be done.
Yes, as the jobs were ticked off the top of the list, more were added to the bottom of the list and therefore the length of the list never actually reduced.
I think he noticed this fact but knew better than acknowledging it.
So, firstly, RIP Raymond the Rayburn.
Yes, we arrived back from deepest Welsh Wales to be greeted by a stone cold Raymond who had been disconnected from the household water system in our absence by the local plumber – or so we thought.
Yes, this was another curved ball from EIOT Towers, to add to the archive of hidden septic tanks and random water issues.
You see since we revived Raymond with a full service on buying EIOT Towers, he had provided Rayburn type cooking facilities but had failed dismally to supply hot water and heating services.
This had proved to be somewhat perplexing, the plumber had visited and scratched his chin at the lack of heat conducting up the rather large water pipes heading out of the back boiler and had declared Raymond to be too old and tired to provide such luxuries, (the gap of which I hasten to add were filled by the woodburner and immersion heater – we were not freezing and showering in cold water).
It was at this point that Raymond was condemned to the old folks homes for aged Rayburns, alternatively known as the barn.
That was the official verdict of the plumber.
So, the decision was taken that Raymond’s time was limited and as Christmas was coming with the potential visit of the silver surfers that a much bigger cooking facility with a more controlled cooking ability was required.
Regular readers will know that this was the point that the decision was made to retire Raymond – well that along with the fact that the plumber had declared Raymond’s oil tank completely illegal, about 3 feet away from Raymond’s raw flame on the other side of the kitchen wall while resting on a rotten wood roof of a rather rickety brick outhouse. A minor point, but one with potentially disastrous consequences.
So, Raymond flame was extinguished, Rayburn rigor mortis set in and the plumber was called to step in and detach the deceased Raymond from the household heating system to allow us to remove him on our return from the land of sand.
True to his word the trusty local plumber visited and when we arrived back from Welsh Wales Raymond had been unceremoniously disconnected and the pipes were hanging limply from the ceiling.
It was the bank holiday weekend and we knew that the local trusty builder was inbound in a couple of days complete with plastering kit to fill the great big gaping holes that were visible around Raymond and also those which were undoubtedly hiding behind the deceased Rayburn.
We knew that our bank holiday was going to be filled with dissecting Raymond and as soon as the gruesome twosome had finished scoffing their breakfast, himself and I set about the task.
Out of curiosity himself made a move towards the flaccid pipes hanging down from the ceiling. They were not a high priority, removing Raymond was the priority but curiosity got the better of him.
At this point a puzzled look overtook his face as he tried to move the pipes – expecting to be greeted by considerable resistance.
But no, there was no resistance, the pipes swayed freely with absolutely no resistance what so ever.
Further investigation followed.
It transpired that the pipes were not attached to anything – nothing at all, nights, rein, in fact diddly squat.
The pipes were simply open-ended, lying dormant between the kitchen ceiling and upstairs floorboards.
Now, this was our first impression but we could not believe quite what we were seeing. The pipes almost simply fell out of the ceiling.
We were puzzled.
A few days later I bumped into the plumber in the village and asked him about the pipes.
At this point he confirmed that the pipes had indeed been empty and disconnecting Raymond had simply involved the very quick job of cutting the pipes – no drainage was required.
He also added that whoever had left the pipes like that were distinctly dodgy and that we had been living with a dangerous back-boiler.
Well, no water in those open-ended pipes explains why no heat was being conducted up the pipes then……
All a tad frustrating as we could have done in a blink of an eye and not have called the plumber in instead.
Anyway, back to Raymond.
So, we were back, the pipes were out and Raymond was stone cold. Colder than a polar bear’s toe nails. Then there was himself and me, standing in front of a deceased Rayburn wondering about the best way to extract him from the kitchen.
Now, for those people who are not familiar with Rayburn’s, or Aga’s, they are heavy – very heavy.
The weight was an issue, but so was the state of the wall behind Raymond which was missing some quite large chunks of stone and to be honest both himself and I had sneaking suspicions that actually Raymond was holding the wall up.
As at this point the oil tank, (albeit an empty oil tank), was on the other side of the wall and while simply using some brute force and ignorance to dislodge Raymond was appealing, the possibility of the oil tank crashing into the kitchen was not particularly attractive and while the builder was inbound in the following days he may not be too impressed by the fact that he would have to rebuild the wall rather than simply make good and plaster.
So, himself and I played that infamous game. You know the one where people who know nothing at all about the design and structure of the focus of their attention start to go about it with screwdrivers and spanners.
Yes, we played the game of, ‘lets undo a screw and see what wobbles’.
Yeap, the next couple of hours were absorbed by our newly invented game and there was quite a lot of mess.
At one point our very own goddess of mess and disorder, the strawberry blond hand grenade, (TSBHG), walked into the kitchen in search of food, took one look at the explosion of Rayburn parts, tools, insulating material and two rather dusty, grubby looking parents, tutted loudly, made some derisory comment about how she wished she had ‘normal’ parents, turned on her heels and left.
Anyway, our entertaining little game continued and the time came to pull Raymond’s remains away from the wall.
Well, I am pleased to say that the wall stayed upright and more to the point the oil tank stayed exactly where it should, on the outside of the house.
Yes, there were a few bits of shrapnel and falling stone but we survived and more importantly so did the wall.
Raymond offered very little other resistance and before too long he was transferred in a million pieces to the barn where he still lies in state, waiting for the great Rayburn rest home in the sky – well the scrap metal man anyway.
So, suddenly there was a great gaping hole in the kitchen – well several great gapping holes in the walls and a gap on the floor where Raymond had stood until recently.
We were ready to roll.
The gruesome twosome had been briefed that for the foreseeable future we would be on barbecues, bagged salad and baked spuds at the pub.
Now, about this time I informed himself that the builder was also poised to tackle another wall in the kitchen that, (surprise, surprise), had been subject to a bodged DIY job at some point in the past.
This had led to a very dodgy wall and an even more dodgy plug socket.
I then also informed him that the builder, (aware of himself’s talents at DIY), had suggested that himself could take the dodgy plaster off the wall in preparation.
No problem there and himself started designing his plan of action for the next day.
An early trip to the supermarket the next morning, back we came and himself decided the time had come.
Out came the high-powered electric drill and away he went.
Unfortunately what did not go away, and I was outside so did not notice, was the contents of the kitchen and also the shopping.
Yeap, the stone dust flew, various pieces of stone flew, plaster could have had an eye out and in the midst of it all was a dusty looking himself, the kitchen with all its stuff and the shopping.
Now, it was at this point that I had to make a split decision and I knew that the wrong decision could end in disaster, a downing of tools and himself stomping down to the pub in a haze of brick-dust and dented male pride.
Alternatively I could say nothing, pretend all was well, remove the brick-dust from the celery, carrots, humous and cheddar cheese and carry on as normal.
You will be pleased to hear that I chose the latter rather than the former, there was no male strops and downing of tools.
Once the wall had been stripped, prepared and the new plug sockets sorted ready for the builder the next day, himself swept the floor, removed the rubble and retired with a beer.
I then set about starting to remove the layers of stone dust from the visible surfaces of the kitchen, washed the veg, wiped the humous pots and decoked the bagged salad and hosed down the milk.
Now, knowing that the builder was inbound the next day I didn’t bust too much of a gut and only focused on the necessary areas.
Himself was quite happily sat supping his beer.
The next day came and in came the builder saying that he had decided it would be wise for him to drill the big 5″ hole in the wall now for the cooker-hood ducting.
I walked into the kitchen to see him delicately placing dust sheets over every surface, saying that there was likely to be some mess but he would do his best to keep it at a minimum….
At this point I suggested he should not bother…
Anyway, the next few days were pretty uneventful, very dusty and lots of stone flying about, but pretty uneventful.
Two big burly men arrived with a hoist and flat-bed lorry to remove the oil tank to the oil tank graveyard.
I am pleased to say that removing the oil tank did not provoke the kitchen wall to collapse the other way, it remained resolutely upright where it has stood for a few hundred years.
Next came knocking down the rather rickety old building thingy that had supported the oil tank.
Well, if in doubt, give a child a sledge-hammer and pick axe and let them go for it.
A couple of hours later the building thingy was no more than a pile of rubble.
I am also pleased to say that not even a child wealding a sledge-hammer could provoke the kitchen wall into falling down.
Perhaps it is pretty firm after all!
So, by this point the plastering was done, the oil tank was gone, the building thingy was gone – well reduced to a pile of rubble in the garden, best I get painting!
Before you think it, yes I waited for the plaster to dry and yes I sealed it.
Now is the time to remind the reading masses, well the one person who reads my ramblings, that I had project managed this whole project to within an inch of its life.
The tradesmen involved had been hassled by my constant messages, texts and emails for weeks for them do their funky thing at the right time.
The paint had been ordered with days to spare.
Everything had been put in place with milli-second accuracy and as per the plan I finished the decorating the Sunday evening before the scheduled delivery of the cooker on the Monday.
I hasten to add that by this point there was starting to be mutiny in the camp from the small testosterone filled one, (TSTFO), who was getting more than a little fed up of barbecues and bagged salad.
Yeap, he is a confirmed carnivore but even TSTFO can have too many barbecues.
He was craving rice pudding, apple crumble, lamb casserole and more to the point flap-jack.
So, as he departed to school on the Monday morning he asked for reassurance that on his return on Friday the new cooker would be in situ and at least a rice pudding would be available.
I duly gave this reassurance and deposited him and TSBHG at school, before returning home to await the delivery.
So, you are probably thinking that my meticulous planning was to be let down by the cooker delivery.
The cooker arrived as planned.
No, the problem came during the delivery.
Now in fairness to the company I bought the cooker off it did say on the emails that the delivery would be on a pallet to the outside of the house.
However, I had hoped that by doing my helpless, defenceless female living in the middle of nowhere impression that I may be able to persuade the delivery company to deposit it on the inside of the front door instead of outside.
Well that failed dismally – it was never really likely to work in the first place, I have never been a convincing liar
One delivery guy, an air pump trolley and a cooker appeared.
I ended up helping to heave it up the uneven and muddy path and there was absolutely no prospect of him helping me inch the monster cooker over the threshold.
No, it was going outside and there was no negotiation.
With that off he went with his air pump trolley.
I must admit I did snigger to myself as he asked for directions to a nearby town nd out of a sense of sheer mischief and in light of his reluctance to help me shift the cooker an extra 5 yards I sent him up the back road – through the gated road with all four gates and as he was on his own it may have taken some time to get to there…
Infantile I know, but revenge is sweet.
Anyway, there I was with a brand new, rather large, rather heavy range cooker in the garden, partially blocking my neighbours drive and no obvious way of shifting it.
It wasn’t raining – yet!
There was nobody anywhere in the near vicinity to help.
Everybody I knew either had bad backs, broken fingers, (thanks to an incident involving a tractor and a cattle bar) or were not at home.
I paid a visit to the pub to see if there were any big burly blokes who would like some beer money – no for the first time ever the pubs were empty.
I went to the campsites where there are usually Hells Angels type biker groups camping on their biker tours through deepest darkest Cumbria – not that night there weren’t.
(I hasten to add that I am not in the habit of inviting big burly Hells Angels bikers up to EIOT Towers while my husband is away, but when needs must….)
By this point I was starting to get a tad concerned.
The light was going, the rain was coming and I had a very large, very heavy range cooker sat outside – partly blocking my neighbours drive.
I have never done this before but I reverted to Facebook.
Yeap, I went through all my FB friends and found local friends, sending a group message begging for help.
Well, I am delighted to say that it worked and knight in shining armour appeared – making light work of moving the monster and positioning it in the kitchen.
To say I am grateful to these guys is an understatement – I owe them beers.
So, onto the next problem.
Well, my milli-second project management had meant that I had been giving the electrician day by day updates in the hope that he would be able to visit as a matter of urgency to connect the cooker – bearing in mind that TSTFO was about to lead a mutiny if on Friday he was greeted by another barbecue and bagged salad.
I called the electrician to inform him of the arrival, to be asked what the job entailed and told that if I was lucky he may be able to squeeze it in by the end of the week…..
I will not go into details but the cooker was hooked up pretty quickly and is working perfectly.
TSTFO was fed with good home cooking this weekend and is a happy chappie.
TSBHG looked at the cooker, tutted, muttered something incomprehensible and walked away.
So, there we are – we are cooking again, only just and after much stress, but we are cooking again………
My casserole is ready.