The kitchen is progressing. Joe insulated the floor.
He boarded it too, but that took longer than expected. He discussed with us carefully whether to use tongue and groove boarding to get a tight fit between the boards – we don’t want crumbs to be feeding rodents out of sight! He thought plain boards would do the job, and they cost half the money, so we went for that. He said the only difference would be you can see the nail places in straight boarding, even after they’ve been filled. I don’t mind that. I’m a Christian. Nail marks have a special place in my heart.
Then Nick got in on the conversation later in the day and said straight boards wouldn’t do, they’d shrink. The novelists among you should pay attention to this. The opportunity to observe interactions such as this is the source of colour and texture in fictional narrative. All novelists benefit from travelling by public transport, eating in cafés and sitting in hospital waiting rooms, eavesdropping shamelessly. Anyway, Joe stood there with a section of tongue-and-groove in his hand, looking a bit uncertain, reluctant to commit us to an extra two hundred pounds (that’s $315 right now), but we bowed to Nick’s absolute certainty (Nick is absolutely certain about everything) and went for the tongue-and-groove. As Joe had all the timber on his van by this time, he had to go back and change it. When he got the tongue-and-groove back to our place and began to lay it, it came to light that about a third of what they’d given him was sub-standard, so he had to sort through carefully, keeping this and setting aside that to take back. Plus he wanted to use full lengths where he could for a pleasing finish, but use cut lengths where it didn’t show too much, to save money. So this wasn’t quick and easy. But by last night the floor was down.
Kevin said we needed some more paint, and showed me on the wall while Joe was fetching the replacement timber, how undercoat was grinning through. Hebe and I mutter amongst ourselves that this is because they insist on painting with a roller. Using a brush and determination Hebe got two coats on the chimney breast with just a sample pot. Anyway I said I’d go to Tunbridge Wells (where the shop is) for yet more mega-bucks Fired Earth paint. I’d promised to visit my beautiful mama in the afternoon, 3 o’clock, usual time. So I slogged over to Tun Wells, got the paint, stopped for a sandwich in the lovely Nutmeg Tree where all is comforting English tradition with fragrant teas and waitresses in frilly hats and aprons, then got back with the paint by twenty to three. I had to get a new network card (for rail travel discounts) which cost me £28 ($44) ouch! The ticket to Tun Wells was £12 ($18). The lowest qualifying price for the discount turned out to be £13 ($20). Sigh. The paint was £29 ($46 nearly). So I spent about £100 ($157) today!!! Double-sigh! Thank heaven for editing work tiding me over while I wait on the publisher frowning over the sales of present books before making a decision to publish (or not!) my next novel.
When I got back four hours later I took the paint to the kitchen. Joe glanced at it. Kevin had gone – he drives the bus for the old people in the afternoon. “Thanks,” says Joe. “I think we had enough in the tin, but that’ll probably come in handy.” He’s lucky he didn’t die right then.
By the time I left the house I was just early and late enough to reach the end of the road with a clear view of the 304 bus sailing by on its way to Mama’s village out in the country. The No 5 was due in 15 minutes, but it didn’t turn up. In a hurry, I hadn’t stopped for my coat, and as the day grew toward dusk it was beginning to freeze. I could see my breath like a dragon. I waited ages for the bus, but no luck. The Badger had to go back up to Oxford, but he is kind to me. Before he went, he took me out to Battle in his car, took Mama’s car and put gas in it for her (the pumps defeat her), shared a cup of tea with us, and took me home – this adding 45 minutes driving around to his already 3 hour drive back to Aylesbury. My Badger is a sweetheart.
It was a full day, we were tired, Hebe had been cutting granite all day at the masonry, the night was cold – but we enjoyed a big plate of baked beans, cabbage and carrots, and (forbidden dairy, what the hey) macaroni cheese for supper by the fireside, the happiest people on earth.
Today? Perhaps I’ll tell you about today tomorrow. It includes getting that tiny toolbox in the post to you, Deborah, because I didn’t manage to fit that in yesterday. xxx
365 Day 31 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
Every month I write a column in this magazine, so they send me a freebie copy. The deadline for April’s is tomorrow as it happens, so I’ll be writing an Easter article today. It’s only a little column, 290 words, on living in Gospel simplicity. The reason I included the magazine in my 365 throw-out is really to do with disposing of things mindfully. Because when I’ve read it I don’t put it out with the recycling bin – ooh, that reminds me, dustbin collection today! Any magazines I have, including this one, I keep in good condition, reading them quickly so I can pass them on before they are out-of-date for someone else to read. If I can’t think of anyone who would like them, I give them to the surgery waiting room. This magazine, Woman Alive, I usually put through my next door neighbour’s door, as she is also a Christian.
And that’s January gone!