Renovating in lockdown! Got to be one of our more ridiculous ideas. I had no idea what to expect, but then I guess none of us did. While the sun was shining, open doors and windows were no hardship and I thought we’d be fine. The plan was to be finished by November, so with good luck and a following wind we’d be done before it got really cold. And it might have worked – if we’d stuck to the plan. But that’s never really been our forte, so it was inevitable the job would take longer.
So it was that November turned into Christmas, turned into spring and summer. Fortunately we’d been to Lapland to see the Northern Lights a couple of years before, so we had all the cold weather gear. And we used every last bit of it!
I have to say, I’ve rarely been so cold. We didn’t have windows and doors for a few weeks in the kitchen, but even when we did, they were open. After a while and a lot of moaning, we managed to fill the space with old sliding doors from the double glazing company plus batts of pavaflex insulation. Hope you enjoy our pathetic attempt at mocking up our beautiful Gubi pendant lights – it sorted of helped, but not a lot!
A little building hack:
It’s a trick worth remembering if you ever have to wait for new windows in a build. The double glazing companies store up old windows and doors they’ve removed until there are enough to take to the dump. With their permission, we just helped ourselves. A pair of sliding doors put end to end were a great help, giving us a bit of protection from the elements and a little light into an otherwise pretty bleak space.
Back to the cold
The builders weren’t much help in terms of keeping warm. I never found a tradesperson who was fully on board for the whole mask wearing thing. They started well on day one. By day two the mask had slipped off the nose and by day three is was worn around the chin. I’d nag and they’d do their best to please me, but it was an uphill struggle. So we opened every available door and window and tried to back away the full two metres without falling down a hole.
There was an upside though – no time to get bored. John moved out to the garden office – his work was already on line so he just kept going – and I always had a full ‘to do’ list. The house demanded my full attention and I was happy with that.
Except when I wasn’t – then I needed some peace and relaxation. For me that means cooking. I had one square metre of work surface and produced some amazing food given the limitations. I’d discovered online cooking courses with Breadahead and I signed up for the first one in November. So in my tiny space, woolly hat on, coat buttoned up to the neck, I followed the chef as she made amaretti biscuits. Got to be one of my dafter moments, but they were b****y good biscuits. And we had the best fed builders in the town!
My other safety valve was exercise. Needed for a number of reasons, not least all the biscuits, cakes and bread I was baking. It would have been easy to stagnate, but the big kids in my bubble introduced me to Joe Wickes PE. It was a life saver until my back decided to pull a sicky. Then it meant setting out to walk off the pain each morning. In snow, rain and shine, I’d limp to the end of the road before it eased and then I was fine for a good long walk. Normally the osteopath would have sorted me out in a couple of days, but I managed to do it myself in about six weeks. Good to know!
I’d always been a bit shy about exercising in front of others, but that wasn’t going to work now. I never knew when a builder would climb the scaffolding and appear at the bedroom window intruding on my 40 mins of leaping about like an idiot in a 3 x 1 metre space. At first, I’d stop and wait for them to go, but I soon had to give up being shy or I’d never finish.
Then there were the Zumba days. Working out with my daughter, collapsing with laughter at my legendary lack of co-ordination. It was the postman this time who cheered us on each morning. I’ve finally settled on Fabulous 50 workouts which suit me well – but now I’m blasé. Now I just carry on, chatting as I step, oblivious to how I look or what others think. So something good came out of covid after all.