• Alison Cowell

Room for improvement


The news that the purchase of the cottage was finally complete was like a starting pistol for Steve. He literally sprinted into action within 5 minutes! I took Asia for a walk and returned after 90 minutes to find the plasterboard pulled off the kitchen walls, the ceiling was down, and deeply cemented tiles had been drilled off the hallway floor! It was like a team of builders had been at work. It amazes me how he knows so much and can do so much all on his own. I have absolutely no clue, although I am trying my best to be supportive and appear as knowledgeable as possible.

I enthusiastically praised his efforts and set off to make a cup of tea as a reward. I considered it warranted. As I waited for the kettle to boil (it takes ages on a low voltage kettle – a caravan fact I have learned), I heard him call for me to “come and look at this”. I entered the cottage and heard muffled sounds from under the floor boards. I peered down a hole at what I presumed to be a damp course, some insulation, some pipes, some wires and a startled spider. What was I supposed to be looking at? “Look” he said again and shone his torch on the pipes (aha!) “Look what they’ve done”. He muttered something about joints, connecting pieces and millimetres, but his tone gave no clue as to whether I needed to tut and roll my eyes or nod approvingly. I encouraged him to crawl out of the hole and discuss it over the cuppa (I know - genius!)


It turned out it was a good discovery (I still can’t explain why) saving him time and money. Great! I asked him if he needed a hand, really hoping that he didn’t as I was coming to the end of a Words With Friends game and I had to be creative with my remaining three i’s and a u. As he looked around thoughtfully and rubbed his chin, I hastily retreated before I was allocated a task, telling him he could come and get me if he needed anything.


Ten minutes later he came to the caravan and asked if I was doing anything important. “Just some research” I replied, which was quite true. I had disappointingly discovered that there is no such word as iiui.


He wanted me to hold some plasterboard which had been cut and measured to fit round the wall featuring the bedroom window. I dutifully placed my hands as instructed while he fetched his drill (or screwdriver). “There, that’s spot on, hold still”. You learn many lessons when renovating. One is: It is not possible to ‘hold still’ when a sneeze strikes.


So the cottage is transforming nicely and it’s exciting to see the changes. We’re still living in the caravan until the structural building work is done and the heating is in, then we will think about finally moving in. Not sure when that will be, but a few more weeks won’t matter after all this time.

If I’m not yet able to offer any meaningful assistance to the building side of things, I’ve at least been able to busy myself in the garden. Steve helpfully bought me (yes, he declared they were for me, not ‘us’) a wheelbarrow, a leaf rake and a jumbo garden bag. I set to with the garden rake first and wondered why I’ve never had one before. They are great! As I started in the furthest corner, I uncovered a small plaque inscribed ‘Here lies Spud’. Assuming it was for a pet and not a much-loved potato, I cleaned it and re-instated it. Good news - during my raking frenzy, I revealed some happy little snowdrops who promised to brighten the garden dreariness very soon. Not so good news - I have yet to own up that I caught the jumbo garden bag on a hidden rose bush and it now has a jumbo hole in it. Asia saw it happen, but she is being given treats in exchange for keeping schtum. Disappointing news - after a day of raking and wheel-barrowing, the garden looks the same.


Meanwhile, I completed the first of my speaking engagements this year and it felt great to get back to familiar territory after far too many months feeling cast adrift. Yes 2019, I think you and I are going to get on very well indeed.


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Copyright © 2019 Alison Cowell

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