WILL the last man out please switch off the lights . . .Or, in this case, on, as it’s Michael the electrician and his boss Steve. Fifteen weeks yesterday since the project started and suddenly – and amazingly, given the scale of it – it’s all over. David’s been and gone, this time for good, and today Michael replaced the non-illuminating stair lights and completed the final test of the electrics. The intercom works a treat, the model railway room resembles NASA’s main control centre, and Edward’s newly-carved Bottom Chapel sign looks so authentic that three old ladies come to check the service times. As Paul and Matt put the finishing touches to the decorating I institute a new rule: no dogs. Especially scruffy, wet, border terriers with an uncontrollable urge to dry themselves on the white – sorry, jasmine white – walls.
As it all draws to a close I feel a bit like Beth who’s just finished the last ever essay for her degree course. It should be a mighty relief, but instead there’s an odd sense of anti-climax and even a bit of sadness. How odd. I must pull myself together and start preparing for our first paying guests. We certainly need ’em . . .
Meanwhile my good friend Alison reports that she’s had a stressful few weeks, working as she does for NHS Direct. Training people to answer questions from a panic-stricken public who’ve been whipped into a state of frenzied hysteria about swine ‘flu, and frequently dealing directly with their calls, not unnaturally she feels in need of a bit of R and R. She’d like to stay for a couple of days in the Dales. “Just relaxing,” she says in her email. “Reading, eating, maybe a bit of dog-walking. Nothing too strenuous.” Perfect – I can organise doing nothing quite effectively. By the time she leaves 48 hours later she’s transformed the garden – digging, weeding, planting and re-siting – lugged several items of furniture up the spiral stairs, furnished two bedrooms, left me a week’s supply of vegetables from her own garden, and a bottle of wine. She waves goodbye looking surprisingly happy and relaxed – it must be the prospect of a quiet weekend a home.