Single leg squats with a paintbrush…

Some of my bits of ‘finishing off’ last week meant that I could finally get round to painting the walls of the steps by the kitchen – the last job that needs doing before the kitchen floor is laid.


I admit, this has been another one of those procrastinating ‘I’ll do it next week jobs’. Not because I don’t like painting; I do as a rule – it isn’t difficult or fiddly, and it’s quite rewarding in the sense that the results of your efforts are immediately visible.

In theory. But of course, with my barn nothing is ever that straight forward.

Anyone who read my last blog about painting will remember the issue I had with how to reach the top of the 5 metre high walls and the vaulted ceilings. The answer was a 12-rung stepladder balanced on some boxes of slate and a paintbrush on a stick…

This time it’s the same high ceiling, but with the added issue that stepladders don’t work on stairs.

Or at least, they don’t work without a bit of creative ladder work…..

IMG_1069A ladder needs a flat surface to be be set up safely. Stairs aren’t flat – obviously. The answer? A folding builders bench, a some left over bits fence posts, and a few random lengths of decking with which to build yourself a level surface.


We are only talking about six steps up into the kitchen. So by constructing two different platforms, one at the top and one at the bottom of the stairs, I could set my step ladder up in a way that pretty much allowed me to cover all of the walls.

Pretty much…. But the top edge of the wall/ceiling was still out of reach. Which left me no other option – I would have to stand on the dreaded ‘top step’; you know – the one that all the ladder manuals say should not be used other than for resting your paint pots on…

Actually, I’ve never really understood why not. If you’ve got a reasonable sense of balance and your stepladder is safely set up on a flat surface (which mine was – albeit a flat surface created from aforementioned folding bench, leftover fence post and bits of decking) and you’ve got something to hold on to, I can’t see what’s wrong with standing on that top step – carefully. Admittedly it’s probably not an option for anyone who suffers from vertigo.

IMG_1068Fortunately I have no fear of heights. So duly armed with loaded paintbrush I made that final step. Up on to the dreaded top step so I could get to the top of the walls. It wasn’t quite enough. Even from the top step, and leaning backwards as much as I dared, there was a 15cm strip at the top of the wall I couldn’t reach. The paintbrush on a stick had to come out of retirement.

At last every inch was painted. All I needed to do now was get back to solid ground safely. You see the problem with the ‘top step’ is not the getting up. It’s the getting down. Surrounded by pristinely painted but still very wet walls, and with your hands full of paintbrush, there is nothing to hold to keep your balance as you manoeuvre your way back down the ladder.


The answer is all in the thigh muscles. Take one foot off the ladder and standing on one leg, execute the perfect single leg squat. Until your free foot finds the next rung down. Repeat the exercise a couple more times and then you’ll be able to get your hands on the ladder too. The rest, as they say, is history….

Thank god for the personal trainer and his single leg squats, that’s all I can say. (So grumpy as I can be at the gym – I love you really!)

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