It's been a while since you got an update on the building work, so I decided it was high time to fill you in.
When we left off, the builders had been sacked, but most things were finished. The downstairs room was more-or-less complete, aside from a pane of glass above the double doors which go into the living room. One of the neighbours helped me out with this, and it's now all done; Papa Smile has been and decorated and it all really looks rather fabulous. I even managed to sort out curtains and make a Roman blind, although I haven't yet figured a way of attaching the latter to the window frame. One step at a time.
But the bathroom. Ah, the bathroom. This was less complete, requiring as it did a window, a door jamb (not sure how to spell that) and a lock to attach to it, sealant around the bath, and a shower screen.
The above-mentioned neighbour is handy with glass, and sorted out the window for us; my dad completed the tiling around it and it all looks well and no longer lets air in. The door jamb is too complicated, and has been left alone for the time being, while we build up our DIY experience levels; without this there's nothing to attach the lock to, so it is waiting on my bookshelf (I tell you that here so that when we finally get the jamb attached, I'll be able to look this up and remind myself where I left the lock). We'll come back to the sealant in a moment, but before it went on we had to get the shower screen up.
Now, you will recall that I mentioned, back in January, being off work for a time; this was due to stress. The first day of the stress was a Friday, and I had woken up in the grip of a severe panic attack (which kicked off the trip to the doctor which led to the time off). Anyway, I was in a hysterical sort of mood, and by coincidence my dad chose that day to come and install the shower screen (thinking, of course, that I'd be at work). My dad is generally full of confidence when it comes to DIY, and even with that it doesn't always work out in the expected manner, so it was a bit ominous when he arrived and said (after calming me down and feeding me toast) that he wasn't really sure how this shower screen worked and he's not very good at this sort of thing anyway. So I went back to bed, and lay there learning new swear words; when I re-emerged, I had a shower screen which was more impressive than the level of swearing had promised.
A quick squirt of sealant round the bath and that was that, except that there was a gap in the sealant round about the place where the water pools when you have a shower, so a week later the living room ceiling started to leak. I added a bit more sealant, but then the bath sunk a bit (worrying, under most circumstances, but as a relative thing, somewhere near the bottom of the list) and created a whole new gap, so the water is still pouring through and the paper has fallen off the living room ceiling. So this still needs fixing.
And finally, the landing cupboard. To set the scene, because I realise I haven't mentioned this cupboard a lot, what with all the other exitement, we were left with an empty cupboard with no shelves and no door. My dad, energised by the (relative) success of the shower door, decided he could tackle this, or at least the shelving therein. So he had to construct 3 shelves and attach them to the inside of the cupboard. Fortunately, my dad is a great believer in the saying 'Measure twice, cut once'; unfortunately, he tends to be in too much of a hurry to actually implement this belief, and so it was that I went out into the landing to find one not-too-bad shelf, and one which was 2 inches higher at one side than the other.
Realising that the window of acceptable remarks which could be made about this was quite small, and that this window was sandwiched soundly between (on the one hand) lying through my teeth and saying it was fine (thus being patronising and risking having to live with a sloping shelf forever) and (on the other) saying something nasty and unhelpful, I suggested that I should put the kettle on, and this went down quite well. Happily, my dad had realised that the shelf was the wrong height at one side, and was quite prepared to rectify it after a cup of coffee. I say 'rectify'; I'll not be using it to store loose tennis balls, but it's better than it was.
For those who are here to deepen their DIY knowledge, my dad has an interesting approach to finding the 'struts' in a wall (walls are made, apparently, with bits of wood arranged in a sort of grid thing, and then with plasterboard nailed to them - to put up a shelf, you are best to attach it to a part of this grid - the struts - rather than just the plasterboard, especially if you want it to stay up when you put things on it). This approach of my dad's is basically 'bang a nail in and if it goes in easily, you're on plasterboard; if it doesn't go in easy at all, you're on a strut; if it goes in quite easily but there is a big bang and everything goes dark or you die, you've hit a cable'. The approach can be further adapted to include water pipes in the list of things you might hit (specifically, if you bang the nail in and water comes out, you've found a pipe), but on this occasion that was not a problem.
The third shelf was measured 5 times, presumably to get the days' 'measurements' verses 'cuts' ratio back into balance. It looks good and is very sturdy.
Finally, last week my dad came up and re-decorated the hall, stairs and landing, and very nice it is too - you'd look at it casually and have no idea that we'd drunk a bottle of more-than-averagely-strong wine between us by the time we got to the gloss work.