Saturday, 9 July 2016

A holiday to look forward to

A preface:
To the members of my family who read this. I am tired, and pissed off today. I still love you all though. And mostly don't begrudge you anything.

The truly dedicated, or stalkerish, amongst my readership will recall a certain amount of Stress and Drama last year as I attempted to have a bedroom at our family holiday cottage decorated, while living 250 miles away. It was enormously stressful, but it did all turn out OK in the end. I have just re-read my words about it all turning out OK in the end, because right now, I need to try and hold on to that thought.

The upshot of the entire decorating saga was that the room ended up looking lovely. Apparently. I still haven't seen it. And I'm not going to either, because it has already been trashed. This winter, during the epic rains that flooded vast areas of the north-west, water was driven in through the slate walls, under the eaves and beneath the roof slates. And whither goest the rain, groweth the mould:

Under the slates and down the side of the chimney

Straight through the wall

Youngest BearCousin found this state of things when he paused overnight en route to Scotland, so he was unable to do anything about it. Nor was he able to do anything about the discovery that there's a leak in the bathroom plumbing. Fortunately we leave the mains water turned off when the cottage is empty, so there isn't a knee-deep flood in the bathroom now, but when the water is turned back on, the leak will recommence.

There had been a vague plan to get a plumber to visit as soon as possible, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside, and I've now been informed that there is no plan. Since I'm the next person to go to the cottage, this strikes me as A Little Bit Unhelpful. I will be arriving with only LittleBear after driving 250 miles single-handed. I don't need a leaking bathroom. But apparently I can just make sure I only turn the mains water stopcock on when I need water. Yay.

There is also a more general plan to have the mould and damp affected sections of the bedroom repapered and painted. We are unanimous in thinking that it would unwise to simply have the paper stripped, replaced and re-painted without making more sterling efforts to kill any mould spores*. So instead of calling Jonty the Ever Helpful Decorator to come and deal with it, the next person to go will strip the damaged wallpaper, and treat the walls with something appropriately anti-fungal. Who is the next person to go? Oh yes, that would be me...

I have also (helpfully) been told that the curtains that I agonised over are too long. They're not, but Jonty the Ever Helpful Decorator did not put the curtain rail at the height I requested. And though they've been up for a year, nobody has done anything about the unsatisfactory length.

I've pretty much given up on the cushions I was making to match the curtains. I mean, really, what the fuck is the point?

Packing for the holiday is now looking like a barrel of laughs - in addition to the usual collection of clothes, bedding, towels, books, games, boots, waterproofs, food, drink etc I will also be taking a steamer, wallpaper scrapers, stanley knife, exciting anti-fungal chemicals, toolbox, plumbing spares and a sewing machine.

For the first week of the holiday, I will be sharing a mouldy bedroom with LittleBear, while Tigger and her family occupy the other (hopefully healthier) bedrooms. For the second week of the holiday, I will be sharing a mouldy bedroom with BigBear while GrannyBear and LittleBear argue over the other bedrooms. At some point in this "holiday" I will be attempting to sort out all the things that are wrong. And probably spring-cleaning, weeding, removing moss from the flagstones, polishing the silver, and the other 101 tasks that need doing every year.

It would be fair to say, I'm not enormously looking forward to some aspects of this holiday. The mould and the leaking plumbing aspects mostly. But it's OK isn't it? This is the price we pay for owning a holiday cottage in one of the most beautiful parts of the country isn't it? We all pull our weight and contribute to the upkeep as part of the cost of ownership. Except my family has not yet left the 19th century, and the cottage is in fact owned by the two eldest sons on each side of the family**. I do not have, and never will have, any ownership of it. And I only have the assured goodwill of BrotherBear and CousinBear that "we're all in this together". Best not fall out with either of them had I?

On the plus side... both the photographs at the top of this page were taken on holidays to our cottage. And it all turned out fine last year. Repeat after me... it all turned out fine... it all turned out fine... it all turned out fine...

* There's an even more substantial plan that involves having the rear, weather-facing, wall of the cottage rendered and weatherproofed to prevent the rain driving in again.

** Once upon a time there were two sisters, each of whom received a half share in a cottage from their parents. The elder sister had two children, and the younger sister had three. When the time came, despite both having degrees in science, it was apparently "too complicated" to divide one half into a further two halves, and the other half into thirds, resulting in a quarter, quarter, sixth, sixth, sixth division. It was also "too complicated" to merge the two halves and then divide it into equal fifths. So each sister gifted her share in the cottage to her eldest son. I am neither the eldest, nor a son.


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