Expanding foam is not a good hair gel

Welcome to a very wet weekend in Scotland. I don’t think it’s stopped raining at all up here this year!

The amount of water that has fallen on Scotland is unprecedented. Flooded roads are closed, the low lying fields have turned into skating rinks and the villages in the valley are stockpiling sandbags.

Since I’m about 600ft above sea level I’m not directly impacted. I mean, if I ever get to the point of having to buy in the sandbags, then frankly most of the UK will have drowned. But that doesn’t mean the rain isn’t causing problems. And I’m not just talking about the 20 mile detour I had to take to get to Dundee. The barn may be unlikely to flood, but it is very prone to leaks!

Anyone buying an ancient old barn for conversion might as well get used to the fact that it will be full of holes, which will need patching, filling or rebuilding at some point. For me it has been pretty much a constant battle keeping the water out of this building. And my efforts haven’t exactly been helped by employing a supremely incompetent builder who honestly did not understand the concept that ‘water does not flow uphill…..’

In fact, I’ve had so many problems that I invented a new phobia for it – ‘the-fear-of-the-sound-of-running-water-in-the-barn’.

But whilst it was depressing to get up to the building and find pools of water on the floors and windowsills, to be honest, given the sheer volume of rain we’ve had, it wasn’t really that much of a surprise.

Unfortunately it seems some of the remedial work undertaken in the Summer last year hasn’t been as effective as I’d hoped. I had most of the outside of the building repointed in an effort to keep the inside dry but somewhere the water is still seeping in through the stone, running down the walls and dripping through the plasterboard above the window. Well actually above three different windows…


I got the ladder out and in the pouring rain went out to check the gutters weren’t blocked. They weren’t. Unfortunately, beyond that, there’s not much I could do. If the problem is the pointing it will have to be redone. But not in weather like this. And not by me – I’ve decided to wimp out on that job and gave my contractor chap a call. He can sort it out.

It’s not that I’m not capable of mixing up a batch of lime mortar, raking out the old stuff and squidging in the new stuff. But in this weather – no thanks!

The contractor came up to inspect the damage. While he was there, I decided to point out a few other jobs he could have a look out. Most of them to do with unwanted water in the building.

One of these was the top of the wall/roof in the boiler room. It seems to be permanently damp, but it’s not entirely clear where the water’s coming from.

I’d had a go at fixing this one myself between Christmas and New Year. I’d decided to try squirting some expanding foam along the inside of the roof ridge, in the hope that it might fill in any rogue invisible gaps and stop the water running down the walls.

It wasn’t the most accessible of jobs; because of all the pipes running along the walls and the position of the rafters, I couldn’t get the ladder close enough to reach the top of the roof. So I was doing a bit of a contortionist act to get the nozzle of the can into the gaps in the top of the wall. And since there’s no light in the boiler room, on a murky Winter’s afternoon in Scotland, I was working in semi-darkness.

And that’s when I felt something land on my head. Now I may well be macho enough to trash a JCB or prance around the roof without a safety harness – but when it comes to unseen ‘creatures’ dropping on my head, I’m about as girly as you can get. I have a horror of spiders and creepy crawly things. I practically fell down the ladder in my haste to get rid of whatever it was.

It wasn’t a spider, bat, rat, bird or anything alive. It was far worse. It was a large blob of expanding foam.

If you’ve never used the stuff, it comes out of the can as a glutinous expanding mass. Very useful once it dries as it can be cut, sanded, painted, plastered or otherwise finished as you want. But at the point it first materialises, it is very, very sticky.

So the worst thing you can do is touch it. In my defence I will point out that I had no idea at that moment what it was that had dropped onto my head. But still, it really wasn’t a good idea to reach up and touch it, to see what it was. And in doing so, sort of smear it into my hair.

The next worst thing you can do (having smeared it over half your head) is attempt to wash it off. Sticky expanding foam doesn’t go well with water. It starts to set like superglue…

I blame the manufacturers. I mean surely they must know that there might be a need for a girl to find out how to get the stuff out of her hair – they ought to put the necessary instructions on the can. In big red letters – do not add water…..

The third worst thing you can do (after both of the above) is attempt to put a comb through it. The teeth of the comb all broke off and stuck to the matted superglued hair. I came out of the bathroom with dripping wet hair, looking like I’d had a hair-pulling contest with a treacle hedgehog.

(No – there are no photos. Not even for the sake of blog hits would I let a picture like that go public!)

At this point, if I’d been on my own, I’d have had to get the scissors out and cut a great chunk out of my hair.

Instead I did what any girl does in an emergency – went to find Mum – who patiently spent the next hour or so gently separating my hair and teasing all the congealed foam out strand by strand.

I felt like I’d spent a couple of hours headbutting a cactus – but at least I wasn’t bald!

That’s why my contractor chappy has now been given the job. And my New Year’s resolution is to wear my hard hat more often…….

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