Alis Grave Nil

Monday, 28 November 2011

Three Bandidos Came to Fit my Carpets

At last, our carpets arrived.  The carpet fitter's van pulled into chez Printemps on Friday afternoon.  Three carpet fitters jumped out of the van, looking like three Mexican bandidos.  These shifty looking men entered my house, their eyes like sewer rats, scanning around as if they were casing the joint.  The boss man, Gerry, was small and skinny with a weasely moustache.  He started complaining as soon as he came in..."There's no grippers for your carpets.  Why are there no grippers?"  He looked at us as if we had committed a ghastly crime.  I explained that Tony from the carpet shop hadn't mentioned carpet grippers when we bought the carpets (he was probably too busy day-dreaming about a big sale from Sarah Beeney!).  "I'll see what I've got in my van", he said, muttering under his breath as he went. "Miserable old goat", I thought to myself.  Anyway, I made them a cup of tea, with extra sugar to keep them sweet and they got off to work.  NB: if I had £1 for every cup of tea I've made since our building work started, I would be writing this blog from my luxury cabin on a cruise liner somewhere in the Caribbean (savez?).  Living room and bedroom carpets are now fitted and looking gorgeous. 

Roberto started wallpapering our bedroom on Saturday.  The door was closed as he was working away and all I could hear was swearing and shouting coming from the room.  I told him to think more positive thoughts as he was doing it, but my advice fell on deaf ears (actually, more swearing was involved).  The Italian wallpaper was extra wide and very thick and the edges kept coming away from the wall.  I eventually had to go in and help by putting more paste down the sides of the paper with an artist's paintbrush.  Four hours later and I was swearing just as much as Roberto. "What was that you said about positive thinking?", asked Roberto.  I threw my paste covered paintbrush at his head. Another big job finished, but I feel as if I will be painting until the middle of next year.  So much more to do. 

Please don't get me started on the subject of solar panels.  One electrician and a plumber later,and Roberto would have been as well doing it himself!  Jimmy the spark and Bob the plumber completely screwed it all up.  Roberto phoned the solar company and the lovely man told him what to do, i.e. undo all the other work that had been done by the other two numpties. We just need some sunshine now and we will have free hot water from now on.  Result!

Now, what about that cruise, Roberto?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

On Seeing Builders' Pants.

I am getting a little bit fed up with seeing builders' pants.  The other day when Big Mike, the plasterer, and his son Mini-Big-Mike were here, Mini-Big-Mike's job was to mix up the plaster in the back garden which is directly outside my kitchen window.  He had his back to me and was bending over the plaster bucket with his huge electric whisk and I couldn't help but notice that half his pants were showing - brightly coloured ones; red, blue and yellow.  God, what a sight!  I tried not to look again for the next few days but it was a sight to behold, this huge backside of an 18 year old giant...and the pants were always the same.  Three days running, same pants.  I tried to persuade myself that he had three pairs the same, and they were clean on each day, but a little voice in my head said "You're having a larf, aren't you.  He probably wears the same pair  inside out and back to front on alternate days"    Am foreseeing another sleepless night!

We think that Roy the builder has an invisible friend.  I heard him on the roof today. At first he was singing "That's why the Lady is a Tramp", Gaga-style and the I heard him talking.  The conversation went like this:-

"How would you do it then?"
"No, that's not right"
"Okay, I'll do it like that"
"Where's the hammer?"
A few sweary words, then "Oh, I see what you mean now".  
I could have sworn he was having a conversation with someone but when I looked out,  Roy was completely alone on the rooftop. 

Things are looking up.  It's the electricians' last day today.  They are brothers.  One is called Jimmy, and we call the other one Scooby (because he talks just like Scooby Doo and nobody can understand him).  Anyway, they were working late to get the work finished and I asked them if they fancied a bacon sandwich.  "That would be very nice", Said Jimmy.  "Woooby wooooby dooooo!", Said Scooby.  After they had their Scooby snack, Scooby said to me "That was the nicest bacon sandwich I have ever had" (in Scooby Doo language, of course).  That was nice of him, wasn't it?

Big clean up tonight, ready for the carpets arriving tomorrow. 

Is it wine o'clock yet?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Roy the Builder Shakes his Pants

Today in the Printemps' household, we are past ourselves (quaint old Yorkshire saying that means we are at the end of our tethers, and then some!).  Roberto and I are exhausted with painting and decorating all weekend, and just having other people in your house constantly from  7.30 am every morning is exhausting in itself.

Today, Roy the builder went too far.  I came upstairs for the umpteenth time, having to squeeze past Big Mike, the plasterer and his son, Mini Big Mike (huge!) , who, between them, took up the entire length and breadth of our hallway,   On entering our bedroom where Roy was filling in a gap where an old window had been, I found him in the room with Roberto, my husband, and he was zipping up his jeans.   I gasped in horror and said "What the fluff are you doing, Roy?"  He replied, "I'm just shaking the rubble out of me undercrackers, Mrs P.  Ooh, you've made some more tea."  I wanted to cry.  It was just all too much. 

We called in Bob the plumber because some of his pipes had a few leaks here and there.  "It's nothing to worry about, it will all seal itself up", he said.  "Liar, liar, pants on fire", I thought.  He told us that when he was doing up his house with his girlfriend, Babs, they didn't have any hot water for two months.  Call yerself a plumber, Bob?  I told him that if I was Babs, I would have kicked his sorry ass. 

I met a retired lady I know from our village.  She told me that when she had an extension built years ago, she happened to come home one day unexpectedly and found all 13 builders and workmen playing cricket in her back garden.  Oh, the joys of building work. Doncha just love it?  Well, doncha?

I can't get the image of Roy and his undercrackers out of my head.  Think I need to lie down now.

Friday, 18 November 2011

There's a Wheelbarrow in my Kitchen

Upon my return from the supermarket shopping this morning, I was greeted by the sight of a huge wheelbarrow in my kitchen, filled up with cement.  Roy the builder was doing something building-like in my kitchen.  "Is there any tea going loove?", he asked.  I replied, "Are you lot handicapped or something?  You only have to flick a switch on the bloody kettle, you know!"  Am begining to get a bit tetchy with his building malarky, as you can guess. 

Today, I have also been subjected to the full repertoire of Roy's iphone tunes...Rawhide, the tune from the film, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", and more of the same.  He got fed up listening to Radio 2 and the Children in Need stuff that has been on non-stop all week.  Couldn't you just smash that Pudsey Bear's head in? (am still tetchy!).

It is relatively peaceful in the Printemps' household today.  We don't need the plumber and the two sparks until next week.  Our lovely Italian wallpaper arrived today for our bedroom and the carpets will be fitted next Thursday.  Looks like things are beginning to come together, although there is still a lot of work to do. 

Thankfully, we have not had any further ratty activity since Roberto, my husband, blocked up the 'ole that it came through to our kitchen.  It even went into my kitchen drawers from the back of the wall.  I bleached everything that was in the drawers - kitchen utensils etc.  We won't die from rat fever, but I think that bleach poisoning is a much better option. Jimmy, the spark thought I had raging OCD (I do!) because he thought I bleached the contents of my kitchen all the time. He asked me if I liked washing up so I threw a bleachy rag at his head. 

We have a busy weekend ahead - more painting and decorating.  Roberto asked me to go to Screwfix with him tonight (he knows how to show a girl  good time!).  I don't know if you have ever been to Screwfix, but I can't bear going there.  I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than go to Screwfix.  It's all pipes and bits of plastic and burly builders and plumbers.  It must be the worst shop ever created.  I only go with him sometimes to have a chat with Danielle behind the counter.  The big burly builders are mesmerized by her blacker than black false eyelashes.  They stand watching her in a daze, waiting for her to blink so the black spider legs move up and down.  It's quite funny to watch.  Anyway, think I will give it a miss tonight - I have some more bleaching to do. 

Have a good weekend, mes amis. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Story about Ospreys by Molly Printemps' Niece, Anna, age 9

I will get back to my usual blog about our building project soon but thought you might like to read this lovely little story by my gorgeous niece, Anna Nokerova.  She is a beautiful brown-eyed girl, only 9, with beauty as well as brains (she is a mini-me actually).  Anna wrote this story for a writing competition.   Hope she wins a good prize. 

The cold wind was starting to blow. In her nest the osprey new it was time to leave, her thoughts behind and go. She got up and flew off. She could barely fly because she was expecting a baby. She didn’t feel too good. Her stomach was pulling her down. She expected a long journey before the perfect tree would come. She was so terribly wrong because out of the corner of her eye was a beautiful tall strong tree. She flew over to it and started to gather some leaves and twigs. It took her quite a long time and every minute she was getting weaker and weaker because of the baby. Soon enough she had got lots of twigs to start her nest off. She didn’t make the nest to high up incase the eggs fell out, so she started to build it half way up. After a while of working and building the nest was finished. It wasn’t very soft and the osprey new she would have trouble sleeping on hard chunks and bumps and so she gathered some leaves and grass and carefully placed it in the nest, now it was complete. The osprey had a feeling it was time for the eggs to come out. So see sat up on her nest and waited. It wasn’t long before they came out but to her amazement there were not one but two eggs. She put some grass over them to keep them warm.  The next day the eggs hatched. The osprey was so happy. The babies were beautiful, they had lots of lovely colours reds and blues and oranges and yellows and greens. The osprey named one Patrick and the other Andrew.  Summer came quickly that year. It was the babies first summer and they enjoyed it. It was then the osprey told them the news, she was expecting another baby. This time she new not to just expect one this time she could look ahead and expect maybe two.  After summer left so did the osprey.  She had to go and leave her tree because of the weather conditions but she found a lovely tree far away from her old one. She new she could never go back and she missed her old tree but she settled quickly in the new one. She built her nest bigger because she was having another baby.  A while after they moved from the old tree the osprey had the new baby. It was only one this time but the osprey wasn’t disappointed because the new baby was beautiful.  He was the same colours as the first two but a lot smaller than the first two where. She decided to call him collin
This year summer came late, and when it did come it wasn’t the best weather. Even though the weather was not the best the osprey decided that it was time to teach her children how to hunt. So she took all three of her children to the river too hunt for fish. Patrick and Andrew were better than Collin. The osprey didn’t worry about this because she new he would get better at this as he got older.  Winter came and the snow fell, down in her nest with her three boys the osprey announced she was going to have another baby.  Collin was excited but Andrew and Patrick didn’t care they had seen it all before and they were bored. Collin kept asking questions like how does it come out and when will it comes out. But the mother osprey did not answer she was so tired. The next day to her extra amazement the egg came out and the boys were so amazed at how quick it came out. Again only one but when it hatched the next day she did not care what colour it was she did not care how many there was, it was a girl. So she named it colleen.  Patrick and Andrew had been dreading this would happen they did not want a girl to be the only girl and be the favourite osprey in the family. So they decided to try and get rid of her. They wanted to try to get Collin up to it as well but he refused but promised not to tell. That night Andrew and Patrick thought up a plan, they could take her and lock her at the bottom of the tree she wouldn’t know what they were doing because she was far too young. So that night they grabbed her and took her to the bottom of the tree. They covered her in a black cloak so she wouldn’t be seen. The next morning the osprey wondered were colleen had gone. She was getting very worried and she was scared colleen had been kidnapped. She flew down to look for colleen but she was nowhere to be seen. The osprey did notice the black cloak and something moving under it she pulled it off   and under was colleen shivering like crazy. At once the osprey new what had happened she had heard the sound in the night. She was furious but she didn’t know witch one had done it. So she tested all of them but Patrick and Andrew didn’t own up. That night when Patrick and Andrew were asleep, Collin crept over to his mother and told her that it was Patrick and Andrew did that to colleen. The osprey was even angrier knowing that the two eldest ospreys had been so childish in their moves and actions. The next day the osprey gave the two boys a punishment for their actions while Colleen and Collin got to play. Patrick and Andrew had a pretty tough punishment, they had to clean out the nest and fill it with new leaves it was harder than it looked because it was coming up for autumn and the leaves were all falling of the trees and they were harder to get. Then when the boys were finished the osprey gave them another punishment and trust me this was something you don’t want to know.

by Anna Nokerova (Molly Printemps' niece, age 9)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Of Rats and Builders.

Today, I am horrified, just HORRIFIED!!  I came downstairs into my kitchen this morning and found that three pears in my fruit bowl had been half eaten.  Bloody mice, I thought.  Bloody builders leaving the back door wide open all day.  We found out later, to my total horror,  that it had in fact been a rat.  Not to put too fine a point on it, the droppings in the cupboard under my sink were certainly not left by Stuart Little.  I will not be able to sleep tonight.  We have put poison down so hopefully little rattypoo will eat it and die, tonight preferably. 

Twas a bit of a funny day all round today.  Roberto and I went into Hull to get some tiles for the new utility room.  Found some that we thought were the same as our kitchen tiles but when we got home, they were smaller and totally the wrong colour.  Back into Hull to change them, back home (stopping off at the bakers for some Scooby Snacks on the way).  Back out to get some cash to pay Willie the window fitter who was coming at 1pm to put the last two windows in.  Then, it was back to painting the living room for me.  Bob the plumber was upstairs doing things with pipes and Roy the builder was laying a new concrete floor,while singing Rawhide, in the hallway, trapping me in the living room.  Like I said, bit of a funny day.

Just one question, why did the rat leave the satsumas and bananas? 

Friday, 11 November 2011

Destroy it Yourself Stores and Other Musings

I don't know about you, but I hate Destroy it Yourself shops like B&Q.  Last night, Roberto (husband) and I had to go for some coving and a ceiling rose for the living room.  Our B&Q in Hull is enormous and could we heck as find the coving section.  Roberto, who is a typical man, would rather die than ask a member of staff for directions.  Well, blow-me-rags (as my late mother-in-law, Beatrice Printemps, used to say), he completely surprised me and said, "I'll just ask where it is".  He turned round to ask what he thought was a member of staff and it was one of those bloody cardboard cutouts of a human being that they have in B&Q stores.  That's it, he will NEVER ask for directions again (mainly because I laughed so much). 

We finally unleashed Bob the plumber who managed to fix the central heating by lunchtime today.  I forgot he was still in that room, tied up to the boiler with nylon rope,  and wondered why his big red Jag was still in our drive at 7.30 this morning when I looked out of the window.  He was a bit shaken up, but relatively unscathed, but after getting the central heating going and testing all the pipes, he flew out of our house like a bat out of hell.  We'll probably never see him again. 

Our friends up the road, who are farmers, also had some building work done recently.  William the famer's builders were Irish and he kept telling us that it was so embarrassing because he couldn't understand their strong accent and he was having difficulty in communicating with them.  Anyway, it got to the end of the week and he said to one of them, "I'm so sorry, I'm still having problems understanding your Irish accent".  The builder replied, "No Irish - Polish". 

On Monday the electricians will be returning.  They younger one talks just like Scooby Doo (seriously, that is the way he speaks normally).  Must remember to stock up on Scooby snacks. 

A bientot mes amis!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Confessions of a Plasterer and Other Musings

Today was big Mike the plasterer's last day.  He finished about 10.30 am and packed up all his big plaster tools into his big 4x4.  I will miss his great hulking frame and the sound of his high pitched voice as he sang along to the the latest Gaga melody, and his duets with Roy the builder. 

Isn't it funny, though, how perfect strangers, who come to plaster your house, tell you the most personal things?  Big Mike was talking to my husband, Roberto, as he was packing his stuff away.  He told Roberto that about 10 years ago his wife had an affair, which left him devastated.  He promised himself he would never forget it and that he would leave her when their son turned 16. 

He said, "My son turned 16 last week".

"So what are you going to do about it?" Roberto asked

"I don't really know because we've had 2 other younger kids since". 


Wahaaaaaay!!  Bob the plumber has returned.  He is, at this moment in time, tied very tightly with nylon rope onto the boiler until he fixes it.  Then we will let him go and think about paying him.  I did tell him that I'd had the same washing out on the line every day this week and it still isn't dry and that I desperately needed my central heating.  He said, "Well, your heating wouldn't have made that much difference anyway".  Do I have "Stupid Person" tattooed on my forehead, Bob?  Anyway, he's not being untied until the central heating is working again. 

World Affairs According to Roy and Bob

Overheard conversation between Bob and Roy this afternoon:-

Roy (Builder): Well, Bob, looks like Greece is well and truly f****d.  They're getting a banker for a president.

Bob (Plumber): It was the effing Germans that f****d Greece's economy up.

Roy: Do you know that Angela Merkel Bob?

Bob: Not personally Roy, why do you ask?

Roy: Because Angela Merkel is an anagram for Rommel, Bob.

Bob: Wonder what our lass is cooking for tea tonight?

....And another thing.  Why, why, why do they all troop into my kitchen to wash their hands and then dry their hands on the dish towel? 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Doncha Just Love Having Building Work Done? Doncha?....Doncha?

As I came downstairs this morning, music was blaring from the radio as usual as work was beginning for another day. I heard the dulcet tones of our diminutive builder, Roy and big Mike, the plasterer, who is built like a rugby player, singing a duet at the top of their voices, "Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me, doncha...doncha?" It was far too early for my mind to be boggling. I shut the kitchen door and put the kettle on.

Things are beginning to take shape in our new extension. Mike, the big plasterer, has finished in the living room and has started upstairs in the bedroom and new dressing room/walk-in wardrobe (Note to self: need more clothes to fill the new walk-in wardrobe. Nature abhors a vacuum). We just need Bob the Plumber to return and connect pipes, or whatever it is that plumbers do, to the wood burning stove and solar panel, as well as putting boiler back and return our central heating. Where the hell is Bob?

Roy, the builder, is always larking around. He is like a 10 year old boy in a 50 year old body. Anyway, he found an old pair of wellie boots and stuck them into a pile of gravel to make it look as if someone was buried under the least, I think it was Roy. Still no sign of Bob, the plumber!

Could this be Bob the Plumber?

We ordered our carpets last weekend. I was just browsing around the carpet shop to start with and found a carpet that I really liked but there was no price on it. I went over to the counter to ask Tony (his name was printed on his polo shirt, in case you were wondering). Tony very kindly told me the price and then proceeded to inform me that Sarah Beeney had bought that very same carpet for her "Renovation Disaster" property, and then he said, "If it’s good enough for Sarah Beeney.....". I felt slightly insulted but the carpets we chose turned out to be much nicer than Sarah Beeney’s, so stick that in yer pipe Tony!

Roy just informed me that he’s going to his fishing club Annual General Meeting tonight. Apparently they have one every week.



Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Musings on a House Extension chez Printemps

The Printemps household has builders in. I know..I know, worse things happen to people every day, but our house is now in total turmoil. However, I am just taking one day at a time and trying to stay calm (while silently screaming inside).

Each morning as I am crawling out of bed and staggering half asleep to the shower, the builder, Roy, arrives at around 7.30am. At 7.31am, the radio is blasting at peak volume and Roy is off. At 7.35am, the drilling, hammering, banging, F’ing and Blinding begins...and that’s just Roy. We have a plumber, two sparks and a plasterer, though, I must admit, not all at the same time usually.

The plumber, Bob, was summoned the other day to move our boiler, amongst other things. Bob has just turned 60 but still thinks he is a 35 year old stud. Unfortunately for us, Bob has the attention span of a goldfish and can’t stick at the job for very long. He announced after removing our boiler on Monday that he would be back on Thursday because he needed more parts and pipes. "Parts and pipes, my a**e", I said. We have now had several cold and damp November nights without central heating. I want to kill Bob.

Our plasterer, Mike, arrived yesterday. Mike is a big bloke, about 6 feet tall or more and built like a rugby player. During their tea break, I brought the biscuit box in and offered him one. He told me he didn’t eat biscuits because he is diabetic. Anyway, when it came to lunchtime, I asked him if he was having a break with the others and he said no because he wanted to keep going and get the job finished. "Don’t you even stop for a sandwich Mike?", I asked. He said, "No, I just keep going". This concerned me somewhat because of what Mike told me before about being diabetic. Don’t diabetics have to eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels up? I was a little bit worried that this big bloke who is built like a brick outhouse would collapse in my house before he finished the plastering job, so I made him a ham sandwich just to be on the safe side.

Everyone knows that British builders and tradesmen drink a lot of tea. Well, we nearly had a walk out one day when Bob the plumber was here for longer than his usual goldfish attention span. He came to me and said "I need to switch off the water today". I said "Bob, no water, no tea. Simples". I looked behind him and there were suddenly three sets of meerkat eyes in my vision, staring at me in horror. "Okay then", said Bob, I’ll be back on Tuesday". Look of relief on meerkat eyes. Catastrophe averted - phew!