For those of you who have read the children’s book – A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler you will be aware that it is a wonderful tale – one of my favourites actually. If you are not familiar with the story – here goes – it is about an old woman who moans about the inadequacy of her small house. A passing wise old man suggests she takes each of her farm animals into her home, one at a time. Finally when the house is heaving with stampeding livestock, said wise old man tells her to put the animals back outside. Of course, the book concludes with the old lady being thrilled with her newly appreciated spacious house, which has the same amount of room as it had originally but she has now learnt to be grateful for what she already had.
Well after all that, this story pretty well sums up our present situation. We are undergoing a building project to give us more space, as well as to deal with damp, leaking conservatory roofs and a kitchen where we all struggled to sit down. Yet as the build goes on, we are living in more and more confined quarters as walls and sections are taken down around us. Some days I feel as though we are being walled in.
It is not the space that I want to talk about however, it is the commodities. You know, those simple little every day luxuries that we all take for granted. Like a washing machine, dishwasher, flushing toilet, running water, drinking water, heating. One day there was no heating, coinciding with the fact that for some reason the plumber thought it was compulsory to leave every door in the house open so we could appreciate the extra chill. He fixed the heating forthwith but then there was no hot water in the shower so it was very quick douches all round, ducking under the freezing jet, quick scrub, then back out to warm up. The plumber eventually returned and sorted this so we had hot water, which we were thrilled about, as you can imagine, but then the water pressure went totally so the shower was like a gnat weeing. This meant we all became extremely adept at jumping in, getting hair wet and shampooed as quickly as possible, then washing it all off immediately before the water pressure disappeared.
I mentioned the issue to the plumber who obviously has a sense of humour, as he pointed out this way of washing is very environmentally friendly. He admitted however that this problem might linger until the build is finished.
‘That’s ok,’ I found myself chirruping happily, in a way I would never do normally about not having the right amount of water pressure. Odd, I know but it is simply because I am so pleased and relieved to have hot water and some pressure and heating – I mean it could be so much worse. Have you noticed by the way, that if you ever think things could be worse, they invariably often do deteriorate as though to prove a point?
Next the builders had to remove our cooker. ‘That’s ok,’ I said cheerfully, ‘we have a gas hob and small oven in the caravan, I can use that.’ It is a bit of a nuisance but basic things can be created food wise out there. We also have a microwave and a slow cooker so who needs a kitchen? This build is a piece of cake.
Well it was, until the builders decided they needed to take away the kitchen sink. ‘We just need to remove this, won’t be for long.’ they said.
‘That’s ok,’ I replied gamely, ‘I can wash up in the caravan, not a problem,.’ It wasn’t really an issue, until I found that the pump had broken on the caravan water system. So for two days, washing up piled ominously round the van, food stuck on like glue until things became desperate, we were down to the last fork, the last bowl. How were we going to survive?
Well we did, as my husband finally went and bought another washer for the pump. So I could wash up again, until the plumber returned and turned the water off all day – so it was back to piles of dirty, greasy plates.
More to the point, I suddenly realised that along with the sink, our source of drinking water had gone. So the solution was frequent trips to Tesco to buy large bottles of water, which we then drove thirty minutes away to my Mum’s to refill.
Thank goodness, the builders took pity and after a weekend of drought, they rigged the sink back up on the wall. I was so grateful it was pathetic, ‘Thank you so very much’ – I really felt quite emotional about it.
Therefore the build continues apace, the house covered in dust, holes in the floor, I still have no cooker, or heating in the back rooms, everything is crammed in one area….. but we have drinking water, washing up facilities in the caravan and hot water with a bit of short lived pressure for the shower – so we are extremely lucky and grateful for it. The moral of this tale? All those daily necessities of life which we expect – make the most of them as they are treasures indeed, which we only miss when they are not available or go wrong. Either that or if you are having building work done, take my advice and move out if you can afford to……