“DID your husband mention we were going to have to drill through the dining-room ceiling?” Stuart the builder asks innocently. “Or did he bottle it?” He bottled it. “I thought you needed to hear it from a professional,” explains Ian, not very convincingly.
So here we are with not just holes in the ceiling, but iron pillars and bars in the dining room, to support the stonework above, where they’re blocking two doorways into the main body of the chapel, and making a new one in the middle. Stuart explains why – something about making sure that the 100 tons of stone above the doorway don’t come crashing down – and gets on with the job. He’s arrived four days early, with Ashley, and they assure me this is the worst and dirtiest part of the whole job. I hope they’re right.
MEANWHILE Simon the stonemason (trained at York Minster says the text on the van, reassuringly) has arrived two days late, but does such a fantastic job of replacing the corroded iron bars and resulting holes in the stonework of the main south-facing window that we forgive him anything. He didn’t even complain when Harry the dog ate his last cheese and cucumber sandwich.
We realise very quickly that our bright idea of putting books and Ian’s railway stuff (sorry, Ian, but there’s no other word for it) into a few boxes in the middle of the room and asking the builders to work round them, is not going to be an option.
We end up hiring not only a shipping container from a storage firm, but also a removal firm to take the boxes to it. Which, needless to say, are not yet completely packed. Moral of the story: plan ahead and never underestimate the mess that even the best builders must inevitably make. Like all the people we’ve had contact with so far on the project, they’re lovely – friendly, helpful and professional.