Two weeks have passed and to the untrained eye our little house looks much much worse than when we moved in early Feb. The floor in the kitchen looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a year as dirty footprint upon dirty footprint has tramped through it. The white goods, delivered on the first Monday we were here, are all shinyand new but propped up against them are paint pots, paint rollers, mirrors, rubble bags and mops. Plants, traumatised from the London to Cornwall move, sit warily on the edges of table sharing space with screws, paint sample pots and bits of old carpet.
Red wires are hanging out from the ceilings and walls reminding us that even a small (tiny even) business like ours is subject to ridiculous health and safety laws that don’t require us to spend more than £0.50 on a bathroom but do need us to have a fire safety system installed that would ensure that had you died in the night and the building was on fire you would be woken from your death by deafening sirens. At this stage I’m just hoping we don’t burn the toast in the morning. The last thing our guests need is to be jarred awake by the sound of the fire alarm going off and my cursing. I suspect that unlike the B&Q battery operated smoke alarm I had in my flat, this one won’t be silenced by me jumping up and down waving a tea towel in front of it.
If I look down I can see paint stained jeans that used to be worn with red stilettos but will now never see the light of day again. My trainers are decorated with shards of plaster and my hands are no longer soft and manicured, but dry and hard with 3 day old paint forever wedged into my cuticles which no amount of handwashing seems to shift.
Pirate FM (Cornwall’s answer to Capital Radio) has been playing for 144 hours non-stop, both at home and in the car, and I’ve been staring at the skirting board for so long I can’t actually tell which bit is the old ‘Ivory’ colour and which bit is the new ‘Antique Satin’.
This is definitely not my thing, having grown up in a household where DIY was something that other people did and the construction of a flat pack coffee table was a day’s work, I am finding myself a bit like a fish out of water.
Danny on the other hand is happy as larry. Darting around, he actually doesn’t sit still for longer than 5 minutes. If he’s not insulating every single room in the entire house he’s filling in holes in the walls with gunky stuff and sanding things down. I look around and he’s up a ladder painting the ceiling, I look around again and he’s darting off to B&Q to buy things that I didn’t even know existed. It’s nothing short of a miracle that we’re still talking to each other, and just a few hours ago we even shared a smile which is even rarer than the aforementioned miracle.
I had such different visions of this two weeks. I was going to meet loads of people, go to lots of events, visit a few restaurants (for research of course) and maybe do a bit of walking along the coastal path; but all that has gone by the wayside as our car now automatically drives from our house to B&Q, the Penzance Build Centre, Plumb Centre, and Carpet Right, and there is very definitely a worn path in the road where either Danny or I have walked to the local hardware store and back.
I now know the difference between flexible adhesive and super flexible adhesive, I understand that plastering walls is not something that can be done in a day, I’ve realised that there’s more to making a bathroom than putting up 4 walls and plumbing in a toilet, and I am astounded at how much rubbish the removal of just one wall creates. Oh… and I’ve found out the hard way that insulation is not as soft and fluffy as it looks and that at the back of our garden is a barbed wire fence, a field and a car park – this was discovered the afternoon my parent’s dog escaped from the house (the evil Lord Louis) leading our plasterer a merry dance round St Ives as he ran through people’s gardens calling the dog’s name… it was only afterwards he commented that he wished it was a name more obviously belonging to a dog as running through people’s gardens shouting ‘Louis – here boy’ sounded a little dubious and not really designed to ingratiate us with our new community. Fortunately for the dog my parents’ presence was infinitely more welcome than he was unwelcome, but Danny pretty quickly withdrew his invitation of ‘looking after Louis for a month while my parents go on holiday in May’, and it took a good 3 hours for my breathing to return to normal.
The last 14 days have been long but not without their reward. Two particular things to note are a) it’s very very easy to get things done here; when you pop down the road to the local retail park to pick something up it’s a very short round trip; there’s no traffic, no traffic lights even, and you can see the sea as you round the corner on the A30: And b) everybody is amazingly lovely, whether they are delivering tiles, helping us find dining tables, or even when we are complaining about duff products; no one can seem to do more for us and it’s brilliant. It makes boring shopping an infinitely more pleasurable experience and special thanks goes out to skip man Ricardo from Les Allen, the staff at B&Q, Colin at Colenso’s hardware store (If they don’t have it, you don’t need it), and the staff at Bookers cash ‘n’ carry who ensured we had a coffee in our hand before letting us loose in a store that made me feel like Gulliver in the Land of the Giants.
Unlike my great plans about this fortnight would have had me believe, I have not actually seen much of St Ives although every time I look out of our window, or step out of the front door I am rewarded with breathtaking views that remind me why we chose to move down here in the first place. London and the office seems like a long way away and with our fresh, annual parking permit stuck to the windscreeen of our car we are very definitely Cornwall residents.
It’s been a good two weeks… turning a blind eye to the fact that our guest house looks like a building site, and forgetting that I’m terrified that not everything is going to get done in time, it’s been fun, and while I’m looking forward to a slightly cleaner two weeks in London I cannot wait (already) to get back to my permanet home in St Ives. Right now the house is really quiet, the boys have gone out for a few drinks and I am sitting down to write a blog for the first time since arriving: It’s beautifully peaceful and in the words of the eponymous Orphan Annie, I think I’m gonna like it here.