Tuesday, 18 October 2011

(Work) Day 7: Ahhhhhhh

Well, the weekend was kinda hell. Eyes itched, flat was a mess, kitchen not really functional, yuck, yuck, yuck. But on Monday, Chris son of David (very sweet guy) came and finished up everything that can be finished now. Today (Tuesday), we moved ourselves back into the kitchen. The flat is looking relatively normal, and the stress level is falling rapidly.

We still have the floor to do; then the plinths; then painting and tiling under the window and possibly over the cooktop (we hope to get the tiles in Andalusia next week--I have a 3-day teaching gig in Granada, and we'll be touring there and also in Cordoba and Seville. Sweet.) So I'm betting it will not be totally done until December, but the worst is over, by far.

So, John Lewis did come through, although in 6 days rather than 5 . . . and the weekend made that extra day esp. excruciating. We do have lotsa complaints though:

--the flooring scheduling is a disaster.

--our John Lewis designer (Noor) screwed up two critical building code items--he designed a microwave shelf too small for the smallest microwave (once ventilating room is added); and he told us we could have shelving in a boiler area where No Shelving Is Allowed.

--Noor also sold us a tap (aka faucet) that has the weakest hot water flow imaginable . . . and there's no way to fix it.

--Noor also let our countertops be built at UK standard height, even though our freestanding appliances going under them are built for the (lower) height of European counters. Being short people, we would have been happy with counters dropped the 2 inches or so. Now, they'll have to build in fillers.

As you might imagine, poor Noor is getting a piece of our minds. But really, ain't bad.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Day 5: Well, John Lewis Came Through

Here's what we found when we got home last night:

Might not look like much, but it is joy to us!

Now, there's lots to quibble about, and there's another day needed to finish all those quibbles: the "upstands" are not installed; the handles are not on the cupboards; the walls need to be prepped for painting; the washer etc are not yet elevated to proper height; the fridge is not in place. But the basic kitchen is in, even to the extent that the guys set the time on the stove's clock.

We are happy campers, not least because our hallway has gone from this, which is more or less how it looked at 5 p.m. on Friday:

to this at 10 p.m.:

And here's the kitchen contrast. This on Monday:

something like this on Friday at 5 p.m.

to this Friday night:

and this on Monday:

to this on Friday:

Ahhhhhhh. Lotsa dust to clean up. More to do after Monday. And floor and painting and tiles still to sort, but the worst is over.

I shall blog on for all our many fans, until the deed is fully done. But, hey, John Lewis really did come through. A-, we figure. Blackberry and RIM, on the other hand, let us down on the week when it really mattered. F, for them. Yay Brits. Blame Canada. And, of course, Yanks rule.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Day 5, AM: Junk Food Consumed to Date

-->Data gathered unscientifically.
-->Data based on non-comparable single units (note esp. that Cynthia's chocolate bars make her look unduly virtuous since 1 bar = 1 crisp).
-->The John Lewis Challenge, Inc. takes no responsibility for data or any statements made from it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Day 4: Dinner

Indian food won out (it was closer). Here's Cynthia, well-fed at Palms of Goa.

I have somehow failed to mention that every night includes a mandatory stop at the one local pub that has LEFFE ON DRAFT. Heaven (to me). Here I am, indulging.

Day 4 . . . depressingly little progress

Well, I thought we’d come home today to a transformed kitchen. Not so. Much the same as yesterday, which ain’t much as you can see.

Today’s woes:

--a microwave that will not fit into the space provided. Well, it will fit, but it might burn up because of inadequate ventilation. Possible solutions: spend 500 GBP for a fitted microwave; use the iffy microwave anyway; put microwave on counter and try to be thrilled to have a bookshelf in the kitchen. We chose the last. Finally! A home for all our cookbooks! Ha!

--lotsa wiring challenges, all explained beyond my ability to comprehend. I just realized that all the explanations were by way of getting me to agree to what will be extra charges. Duh. Talk gibberish to me, cite building code standards, and I'll agree to anything. No need to mention money.

--no turn-off for our hot water system. Well, there are turns-offs (two), but they do not work. Ascertaining this problem apparently took hours. And the solution will involve freezing some pipes tomorrow. Not sure why they did not just turn off the hot water, but I guess we should be grateful for that.

They still think they will finish tomorrow. I cannot see how. Maybe it all goes together lickety-split once the electrics and plumbing are done. The various bits are all look like a kid's construction set. Anyway, they promise (threaten?) to be here by 8.

Meanwhile, here's the state of our hallway:

I know this will be excruciating for all my avid readers, but a final report won’t come in until Saturday. Tomorrow at 5 p.m., instead of gazing at our new or not-yet-done kitchen, I’ll be giving a paper on cross-dressers in late medieval London. Not the best timing, but so it goes. My cross-dressers (mostly prostitutes) have proven a happy distraction this week. Ah, if only I could have had a good shower before the talk!

Dinner tonight . . . still be be negotiated. Indian? Lebanese? More anon.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Day 3: Dinner

Tonight we sought comfort at Gaby's, an long established and soon-to-disappear (alas) deli on Charing Cross Road. Here I am eating falafel and pita.

By the way, I forgot to mention the highlight of last night's dinner. It was when Cynthia (Cynthia!) said, "I gotta have a drink." Cynthia! Alcohol! That's when you know the stress is hitting new highs!

Day 3; Trudging Along

Well, hey, they arrived (two of them!) at 8:50 today! They put up more shelves, hung doors, installed the fan, etc. Nothing very exciting.

Stress is high, though. Not sure why, as we are not doing the work. Could it be this?

Yup, this is the sad state of our usually orderly dining room. Very sad.

Or maybe it is this:

We thought it would help to keep one area completely normal, so we stored nothing in our bedroom. What we had not figured is that it would be a challenge to get in and out of said pristine area. Please note especially the obstruction at foot level (it's the end of a many-foot-long "upstand"). There have been no major 3 a.m. accidents yet, but here's our new standard middle-of-the-night dialogue:

--rumble, rumble, someone gets out of bed . . .
In Bed Person: Watch your step!!
Out of Bed Person: Yeah, yeah.

Tres romantic.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Day 2 Dinner: Comfort Food

Tonight, we went for "quantitative easing" (thanks for the comment, Louise--what a thrill!) American-style.

BTW, I accidentally promoted Judith Maltby last night. She is not a "Right Reverend" which is, so she tells me, a bishop. She is not even a Venerable (archdeacon). Nor even a Very Reverend (dean). She is a mere priest and canon . . . and soon to be Honorary Canon Theologian at Winchester Cathedral.

Day 2. It's not Getting Easier

We are not so happy campers today.

--Appliances arrived just as we sat down to breakfast. Oops! They forgot the microwave. (It rolled in later.)

--David rolled in at 9:30. You gotta love British working hours. No Chris (he’s on another job--sounds ominous). No Barry (he’s going to the doc with his pregnant girlfriend).

--Flooring nightmare. Details are boring, but getting the flooring in will be much more complicated than we had been led to expect. (But the floor was never meant to be done this week, so I should not complain. But John Lewis flooring does not talk well with John Lewis kitchens.)

--You know the sort of tape that is supposed to NOT take off paint? Well, we used it on our bedroom and living room doors to try to block the flow of dust. Guess what? It does remove paint! Oh joy.

There is good news, however. The basic rewiring is done, and the cabinets are going up. They seem a little high to our short selves, but we are trying to ignore the stretch. Here’s a pic:

Monday, 10 October 2011

Day 1: Dinner

The best part of rehab: eating out guilt-free. Tonight, we dined at the Pie Room at the Newman Arms, just off Charlotte Street. Chicken & sweet chili pie, followed by blackberry and apple flapjack crumble with custard. We wisely--and oh-so self-righteously--shared both. Almost no calories, truly. Here we are before our waistlines began the week's expansion:

(photo courtesy of The Right Rev. Judith Maltby)

Day 1: Out of the gate, but s l o w l y

Well, they had promised to arrive 8-9, but they rolled in closer to 10. Not a propitious beginning. Main conversations before I decamped to the BL were about the lousy parking and whether to begin with tea or not.

They left before 4. Supposedly to fix some snags from a previous John Lewis job in Enfield (these guys live in Stevenage, btw, so they do a lot of driving).

Hefty 6 hour day.

They ate NONE of the cookies, dunked not a single tea bag, and consumed a tiny bit of milk. (I feel like Santa didn't like our offerings.)

Dust everywhere. Kitchen disassembled. All the new stuff blocking our hallway.

Not the greatest start, but a start!

Here's the kitchen, after one day's work:

And here's the hallway:

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Challenge Ahead

Okay. Here we go.

John Lewis (an employee-owned department-store extraordinaire, for non-Brit readers) is redoing our kitchen *in one week*. We approved the design 6 weeks ago; we have paid all the costs; we met with the kitchen installer (David Cook) last week; we have today emptied out the old kitchen and made the flat as dust-resistant as we can.

David Cook and his guys arrive tomorrow--Monday morning. Will they be finished by Friday? Follow 'em here!

Finished means: everything except lights, painting, tiles, and floor. In essence, a working kitchen.

Fingers crossed . . . . here we go.

Here's the vintage-1974 kitchen, in all its glory:

Here's the kitchen from the hallway.

Right side . . .

. . . . and left side.