Bits, Bobs, Odds & Sods – the confessions….

This was supposed to be written yesterday – sitting in an airport lounge with a G&T in hand, doing the ‘Confessions of a self-builder’ thing. Unfortunately the fog intervened, my flight was cancelled twice, and so I’m now stuck on a train – hey ho, the joys of the 500-mile weekly commute.

Anyway, confession time – did I spend all weekend prevaricating, or did I get any of those odd jobs done?

Well one thing I did realise this weekend – there’s actually only a few reasons that jobs don’t get done:

Excuse #1.  I hate sawing wood by hand…

… so the steps leading into the snug have been put off for quite some time, because I need to trim a whole length of oak flooring that I was using to finish the steps.


This weekend, I thought I’d discovered a crafty alternative to the  hand saw – a router with a flush trim bit. A whole lot less effort than sawing. Unfortunately I hadn’t really bargained with the amount of sawdust it creates and since it had to be trimmed in situ, the wood trimmings scattered far and wide into the music room below. It probably took me longer to clear it all up than it would have done to saw by hand!

Excuse #2. It’s just too fiddly

I put so many jobs off because I know they require time, patience, and attention to detail – 3 things I don’t have much of!

Having trimmed the oak floorboard and secured them all down, the steps needed some sort of finishing edge. Cutting the trims to fit isn’t difficult, but getting the corners to mitre properly isn’t just fiddly; as far as I’m concerned it’s Mission Impossible. Which is why wood-filler can be a girl’s best friend…

Still, one thing to be said for this kind of job – it’s not messy and there’s no heavy lifting involved. So as an expert in the art of procrastination, putting off some of the less palatable alternatives, I went on a bit of a mission to finish trimming everything I could find….

The landing by the stairs:

The shelf in the snug:

The edge of the bedroom flooring:

I know there’s a few I’ve missed, but they’re the extra fiddly ones. I’ll get round to them next time. Promise.

Excuse #3. I hate cleaning the cement bucket


So I never actually bother. Whenever I’ve finished a job requiring cement or grout or any similar kind of goo, I dump all the tools in the bucket, fill it with water, and ‘leave it to soak’. Well it used to work in university days on the burnt spag bol pan – most of the time.

Unfortunately, dried cement is a bit more persistent than even the best student cooking efforts, so cleaning it takes considerably longer – which is why I keep putting off any jobs that involve ‘the bucket’.

But this is non-procrastination week – so the bucket got cleaned and a few long overdue jobs got done.

The steps in the kitchen need some plasterboard and plaster filling, so I’ve been
putting them off because of ‘the bucket’.

But unfortunately, until I get them finished, I can’t paint the walls either side, and I can’t put the kitchen floor down. So there’s a couple of major jobs dependent on getting that bucket cleaned!

It may not look much different to most of you, but it was a couple of hours work with my bucket of cement and a tub full of plaster skim.

I also had a bit of plasterboard to cement to the wall on the cupboard I’ve built to house the heating manifold. Most of the board was screwed onto a wood frame – a nice, easy job that creates no mess and doesn’t require ‘the bucket’. But there was one small strip that had to be cemented in place – which means it’s been left hanging randomly ever since I first built the cupboard (quite a few months ago!)

Another job to cross off the list – and I think I can put the bucket away again (without cleaning it). Though I think between the kitchen steps and the cupboard, I’ve now let myself in for a fairly major painting job next weekend…

Excuse #4. I really haven’t worked out how I’m going to do this…..

I think I’ve mentioned wonky walls before. Well one of the issues this created was a huge, irregular gap between the string of the staircase and the walls. I hadn’t really worked out what to do with it. A few weeks ago I got a bit trigger-happy with a can of expanding foam:


And not knowing quite what to do with it next, I ignored the giant slug-like protuberance growing out of the side of the staircase.

But since it’s ‘finish the job’ week, I decided this was probably a good one to tackle.

So I attacked the slug with my trusty Fat Max knife, sanded it to within an inch of its life, covered it in layer of plaster skim, and finished with a coat of paint. IMG_1012

It seemed to work out OK. And it’s definitely another job I’m really glad to see the back of.

Excuse #5. I just never got round to it…

For the wall between the bathroom and the stairs, I’ve painted (or at least base-coated) one side, and tiled the other. But I never quite got round to finishing the end of it. But in the spirit of ‘just get on with it’, a couple of bits of plasterboard, an edging strip for the tiles, a bit of plaster skim, and a lick of paint….. jobs a good’un!

This next one’s a good one. I made the steps up into the dressing by building a frame and buying some stair treads which I cut to size. But I never quite got round to securing them. Which meant that if anybody stood on the edge of the tread, it could have tipped up and pitched them down the stairs. Well there’s only three steps, so maybe that wouldn’t be too catastrophic, except that those three steps are directly opposite the edge of the gallery, which doesn’t currently have a balustrade. So a tilting step could have pitched someone down the stairs straight over the edge of a 10ft drop onto the music room floor. Oops – possibly a bit of a health and safety issue.

Well you’ll be pleased to know they are now all secured:

(Though it will probably still be a good idea to get the balustrade installed…)

And the last job of the weekend? Well remember that rat-trap I mentioned a couple of weeks ago – the one that was being shunned by the mice because of its lingering aroma of BBQ mouse? It appears there was an intrepid Dangermouse in the house who decided to explore. A flash and a bang, and Dangermouse was no more. Unfortunately, I’d been away for a couple of weeks; I don’t know when he was zapped, but he’d been dead in there long enough to become a bit ‘sticky’. It couldn’t be put off any more – the trap had to be blitzed. It was a job for latex gloves inside the Marigolds, but I do now have a shiny, clean, odour-free rat-trap.

At this point, frankly, I think I deserved the rest of the weekend off. Actually I think it’s been quite a productive weekend; lots of irritatingly small jobs done. But I don’t think I’ll be doing the whole confessional blogging thing again – much too much like hard work!

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