Saturday, 20 June 2015

Bloody tradesmen (or, the outcome of those phonecalls)

Regular readers (and I assume there are some) will recall my stresses over trying to make some phone-calls last week. Well, after some morale-boosting from various people, I managed to plough through all of them. Special thanks go out to the people who suggested catteries we could use, and even more special thanks to my friend Piglet, who upon reading the post immediately emailed me and offered to come round while we were away and tend to the daft moggy. Daft moggy is now booked in to a cattery, so we are cleared for take-off for our holiday. Daft moggy is also vaccinated and has had his bottom shaved. Well, trimmed, but even for a daft moggy he looks particularly daft, as it turns out that under the thick black fur is a little tuft of white, in a particularly comical location. Poor puss.

Car was booked in for a bit of TLC, and then the very next time I started the car the warning light wasn't on. And it hasn't been on since. Not even a hint of it. So I cancelled the trip to the garage. (And that was another phone call. Go me!)

My aunt and uncle were unable to take a trip to the family cottage to receive the furniture delivery, but the decorator said he would let it in. Then the furniture people said they'd deliver between 7 and 10pm, and I didn't really think it was reasonable to ask a man I've never met to give up his evening as a favour to let in some furniture, so I cancelled the delivery and tried for the fourth time to explain that it's a holiday cottage, and that one week's notice is not helpful for a 500+ mile round trip, and an evening delivery is not helpful for getting someone to do a favour. After singularly little help beyond "we'll call you when we next schedule a delivery" again, I sent A Stiffly Worded Email, which did the trick. I'm much more firm in writing than on the phone. Lo and behold we now have a morning delivery next week and the decorator will let it in, and they're going to call his mobile an hour before delivering and... phew...

BUT (and it is a big but).... the decorating....

I have been organising this job since the beginning of March. That's March. Three and a half months ago. Right back at the beginning I told Jonty (that's the decorator) that there wouldn't be anyone in the cottage until July, so he had until then. In May he told me that the plasterer would start on the 8th June. On the 9th June he told me that the plasterer had just got back from his holiday. At that point I reminded him that we'd be coming on 4th July. Unfortunately that reminded was by text, so I didn't get an immediate reply. Instead I got immediate silence. Lasting, resounding, echoing silence.

Yesterday I phoned Jonty to see how things were going. After all, it's only two weeks till we go. Apparently the decorator is due to start in a week and a half. I mentioned that whole two weeks thing again, which caused a bit of humming and hah-ing. I did point out we didn't necessarily need to sleep in the room that's being decorated, as there are other rooms. Apparently the furniture from the room in question is currently stacked up in the other bedrooms. The wallpaper's been stripped, the curtain rail is down, the room is empty, it's all ready to be decorated, so it isn't even as if he can easily defer the decorating until after we've been and it be habitable.

Oh, and did I mention we're taking GrannyBear with us? Since her cataract operations she's not regained her long-distance driving-confidence, so by coming with us, she gets to go to her cottage, and we get free baby-sitting while we go to the pub to spend some time with my mother.

There are three bedrooms in the cottage. A bunk-bed room, a room with two narrow single beds and the main (being-decorated) bedroom.

Best case...
... is that the room is ready enough to sleep in, even if not finished, LittleBear gets the bunk room, GrannyBear gets the two-singles room and BigBear and I get the main bedroom, in whatever state it's in. I view this as A Highly Unlikely Outcome.

Worst case...
... is that the room is not ready, and the furniture is still heaped up elsewhere. First step would therefore be to "un-heap" sufficiently to find the beds that can be slept on. Then LittleBear gets the bunk room, GrannyBear and I share the two-singles room... and BigBear gets the living room floor.

Most Probable Case...
... is that the ceiling in the main room has been plastered, and the beds moved back in, but no other decorating has been done. It'd be bearable but somewhat disappointing and not exactly a jolly, relaxing holiday atmosphere.
Oh, and you remember that furniture delivery? The delivery of a whole new three-piece suite? That will, until we remove and dispose of the old three-piece suite, be crammed into the living room on top of the old one. In that same (very small) living room that BigBear might be sleeping in.

And we're going to drive for a minimum of five hours, with a toddler and a Granny, after packing ourselves up and shutting down the house for the week, to be greeted with all of that. A cottage that will have an unspecified number of un-occupiable bedrooms and a living room that's so full it may not be possible to open the front door. This does not feel like an inherently good idea.

I was actually crying with despair when I put down the phone after talking to Jonty. This is the only week until September when we can go to the cottage. I haven't been since last September. This is the place I go to recharge my spirit. This is the home I carry in my heart wherever I go in the world. This is the one unchanging, unwavering, strong thread that runs through the very core of my family, binding us together across continents, years and generations. I've already had to cancel the week we were due to go in May thanks to that lovely Mr Sony requiring BigBear's presence at a conference in London.

So now, either we just go and say "sod it, it'll work out fine", even though there's a fair to middling chance it'll be a complete bomb-site. Or we don't go, we break LittleBear's heart and possibly mine as I don't get to have my longed-for holiday. So we're going. Sod it, it'll work out fine.

We are, however, reviewing our travel plans. In the past, we've often stopped at GrandmaBear and GrandadBear's house in The North for a night on the way up. This has the advantage of giving LittleBear extra time with his grandparents, splitting the journey into more small-child-friendly chunks, and allowing us to arrive at the cottage early enough in the day to do all the buying-food-unpacking-finding-missing-lightbulbs-and-putting-sheets-on-beds required without having a nervous breakdown. We weren't going to do that this time, as we'll have GrannyBear with us, and GrandmaBear and GrandadBear don't have enough spare beds for us all. And GrandmaBear gets a bit anxious about visitors that she thinks might judge her (yes, we do have quite a bit in common). We didn't want to drop an anxiety-bomb on GrandmaBear.

Change of plan. We'll do whatever it takes to ease GrandmaBear's anxiety if it means we can arrive at the cottage at lunchtime the following day, eat at the pub, and spend the afternoon trying to make as much of the cottage habitable as possible. And BigBear can sleep in the living room at his parents' house. He might as well get used to it, as that's what the rest of the holiday looks like it'll have in store for him.

Happy Frigging Holiday.

On the plus side, I no longer give a damn about sorting curtains out before I go. My noble aspiration to have it all sorted so that by the time the next member of my family goes they will arrive to a beautiful and complete bedroom has gone by the wayside. Screw them. If I have to go through this rubbish, they can live with hanging the curtains. And I get to take the pick of the bunch from this lot

with me and see what looks best. Which was probably a better idea all along anyway, so there's the silver-lining. A pretty small silver-lining, but I'll take what I can get at the moment.

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