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I could not resist taking some further snaps of some of details of our recent renovations. I hope that my posting some of these to this forum will not try the patience of the gentle reader too far. This will – I promise – be an end of it!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Some before and after views of our just-about-finished renovation – before we moved back upstairs. Double click on the images for the full effect.

This is our living room:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Here is our sparkly new kitchen:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

This is my bathroom… yes, it is the same room:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and this is The Girl’s:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Master bedroom and entrance hall:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Now to clean thoroughly and to move everything back upstairs again.

Phew!

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Image from Pixabay…like an arrow – but fruit flies like a banana!

Terry Wogan

As I write this post I am awaiting the arrival of a shock (or whatever may be the appropriate collective noun) of electricians who should be the last of the contractors to add their expertise to our long-running renovation. Hopefully by the end of the day all that will remain to be done will be further painting and cleaning.

Glancing back over the scribblings that I posted last January (a mistake I know, but it is fascinating to see how the years vary… or even repeat themselves!) I find to my great surprise that it was exactly a year ago this very day that I visited the North Saanich Municipal Offices to deliver the paperwork for the application for a building permit for our new deck – which was eventually constructed last April and May. That project was just the start of the long process of renovation which has been going on pretty much continually since then.

That set me to wondering as to when it was that we had actually engaged the designer who drew up the plans that formed the basis of said application. Hunting further back on this blog gave me the answer to that as well – it was in September 2016.

The long and the short of it – and the point of this post is of course that the long occasionally feels both short and long (if you know what I mean) – is that by the time we are done this whole renovation project will have occupied us for around a year and a half – which feels both like the blink of an eye and also an eternity!

Needless to say we are eager to crawl – blinking in the bright light of day – out of our current subterranean dwelling place to resume our former lives above ground level.

I am also – naturally –  keen to take and to post to these pages a further portfolio of photographs displaying the results of our labours – that we might dazzle the gentle reader with the sumptuous fruits of our endeavours.

Hmmm – that’s quite enough of that, I think…

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“It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.”

Albert Camus

Ho, ho! Little painting related joke there… which is most apposite because much of our time at present is spent with paintbrush and roller in hand – or failing that with filler and sanding block.

The main floor of our lovely home comprises a living room, a dining room area, a kitchen, master and guest bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry, several hallways and four sizeable built-in closets… All of which must be painted before our renovation is complete.

As painters we are most fortunate that our dry-waller – who gave us splendid new non-popcorn ceilings – also painted them as he went. Further, our excellent contractor budgeted for his painter to handle the woodwork – baseboards (skirting) and trim. Indeed, he would have done the lot were it not that I felt guilty about our playing no role at all in the proceedings (other than in the financial sense).

So here we are – with several thousand square feet of wall to be prepped (filled, sanded and cleaned), primed as required and given two coats of decent quality eggshell (or pearl for the bathrooms).

In this enterprise we are even luckier to have a dear friend who not only operates a sideline in interior decorating but is quite the most ferociously perfectionist craftswoman I have encountered. When it comes to the laborious, time consuming and delicate operation of cutting in it is my view that she has no equal. Furthermore she seems actually to relish the challenge, leaving to the ‘oily rags’ like me the prosaic duty of wielding the roller – a low-order task if ever there be one!

Even luckier (for us!) she is gifting us her time and expertise – and extensively so – on a quid pro quo basis. There can be no doubt at all as to who is getting the better part of this particular deal.

We are truly blessed!

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 "Janus"- watercolour (and photograph) by Tony GristHerewith the promised 2017 update!

It feels as though a great many things happened over the last twelve months. The turn of the year feels like a pretty good time not only to take a retrospective glance at where we have got to but also – in an immediately succeeding post – to where we might be headed in 2018.

The Kickass Canada Girl’s job has occupied her greatly throughout the year and though much has been good about it it has not all been plain sailing. As is often the case with one’s employment, situations can change and not always for the better. The Girl is still tip-toeing around this particular evolution endeavouring to to determine exactly how it will effect her. It is very much her nature to start looking for alternatives when things are less than optimal, so keep an eye out for developments in 2018.

One of the great delights of the year was entertaining guests in our lovely home – both those traveling from the UK (two sets) and from elsewhere in BC. Being a new boy on the island I take great pleasure in showing off its delights to other newcomers and with the summer being really rather decent we had a splendid time both in our garden (yard) and out and about around Greater Victoria and the on island. I got to revisit Long Beach and Tofino, which is always a good thing, and we were able to dine out an impressive amount.

Further travel developments found me in December paying my first visit to Mexico. If you have not yet taken the opportunity to have a look at the photos that I posted herewith you would be most welcome so to do. I love the colours and the light, and the whole trip was a delight.

This has also been my first year on the board of Intrepid Theatre. Not only have I met a great many fascinating and inspiring new people but we have also experienced some really good theatre. It has definitely been a positive year on the arts front (as spectators at least) with theatre and music providing many splendid moments of enjoyment, emotion and thoughtfulness.

A major issue hinted at in previous year’s retrospectives has been our long-running legal battle with the vendor and realtor (estate agent) who sold us our house. I am much relieved to report that the matter has finally been settled (in the immediate aftermath of Christmas) though considerably less content to reveal that the settlement was for a significantly smaller sum than we believe it should have been. Having been obliged to sign a confidentiality clause I cannot reveal the terms, but I feel strongly moved to cavil at a legal process that makes it extremely difficult to get a fair settlement without investing a considerable sum of money (with no guarantee at all of any return) to push the matter through the courts. As it is the defendants have paid us a not inconsequential sum whilst still protesting that this does not admit any wrongdoing on their part. I leave the gentle reader to try to reconcile these two apparently antithetical positions.

The monies have, of course, been most welcome in support of what has been perhaps the major happening of the year – the extensive renovation of this house into a potentially exceptional home. Regular readers will have observed the pictures that I posted at the start of the summer, as we had the back of the house torn off and a wonderful new deck built. At the end of October the second phase commenced and The Girl and I became basement dwellers for duration as this extensive project has steadily inched nearer to its conclusion. More on that in the next post.

Well – that is goodbye to 2017. It always felt as though it were a transitional year somehow, and it still does.

2018 though… That’s a different matter!

 

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“…a little becomes a lot”

Anonymous

A quick pictorial update on our renovations. This is where things stand after our wonderfully perfectionist dry-waller (and his partner) have spent a week and a half working on our walls and ceilings. What you can’t discern from the pictures is just how wonderfully smooth and silky the ceilings now are. The spaces immediately look larger and far, far cleaner than they did before.

Next up – floors throughout and tiling for the bathrooms:

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In the drama that is our ongoing renovation the first two acts are over and there is now a brief intermission before act three. The tearing out has been completed and the loaded bin (skip) of detritus has been hauled up onto its truck and trundled away. The new infrastructure has been installed; wiring, plumbing, gas, ventilation, sub-floors, windows and so forth…

We now stretch our legs gratefully and pop to the bar for a swift sticky whilst we await the fireworks of the cosmetic part of the project that start the second half.

The shell of the kitchen is ready for dry-walling and flooring:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe drawing room awaits its new ceiling and floor:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe bathrooms are also ready for the dry-waller:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidSome of the new windows have even been trimmed, though others must wait for further finishing:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidThe dry-waller comes on Monday to start on the walls and ceilings. The following week sees both the flooring and the tiling done and we will then be ready for the installation of kitchen cabinets and bathroom fittings.

All most exciting!

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The English boys’ school that was my penultimate place of employ before we moved to Canada is known for many things, not least of which is its plethora of distinctive customs and traditions. These are sufficiently extensive – and codified in such a unusual vocabulary – that the institution provides an extensive guide to its unique terminology for all new members of staff.

One of the minor (but particularly charming) traditions on the staff side concerns a ‘miserable Monday’ in November. In short, a long serving member of the school staff from times gone by bequeathed to the School a financial gift sufficient to provide – on one particularly miserable Monday morning each November – Madeira and Bath Oliver biscuits to be served at the morning staff meeting – ‘Chambers‘. The School Clerk is tasked with choosing the Monday to be so graced and the skill clearly resides in picking the most miserable of the days concerned. Of course, should one go too early there is always the possibility that the weather might get even worse later in the month.

However arcane this odd little tradition might seem to outsiders it had the effect of brightening not only the Monday concerned but, through anticipation, those that preceded it.

Talking of November traditions – now that we are resident on the far side of the planet we are beginning to create (as one does) our own customs and recurrent habits. As regular readers might therefore already be aware – if it is November it must be time for Barney Bentall and the Cariboo Express! As you can see I have extolled the delights of this particular evening’s entertainment before. Suffice to say that this year’s outing was equally enjoyable.

On a different (but also delightful) note, being a household currently without usable bathtubs – but being at the same time imbued with the British love of submerging ourselves for extended periods in hot water – we are delighted to report that our little hot tub is at last in action. For various reasons – having much to do with electrical supplies – it has taken far longer than anticipated to get it up and running. We finally ‘leveraged’ (bah!) our renovations to make things happen and we can now wallow under our new deck whilst the rain pelts down but a few feet away.

Cool! (or more accurately, hot!)…

Hmmm! I think I hear the tub calling now…

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Two weeks into our renovation project and good progress is being made – though not all such will be immediately apparent to the quick glance.

First appearances, for example, would suggest that the kitchen is practically unchanged from its state of a week ago – whereas in fact much has been done. The gas feed for the range has been run in; the plumbing for the sink and dishwasher laid on; the electrics for lighting, appliances and so forth installed; and the extraction facilities for the range hood put in place.

The kitchen is actually very nearly ready for the drywaller to come in and to make it look like a real room again.

Similar progress has been effected in the bathrooms, for which first fix plumbing, electrics and extraction have been completed.

At one point it looked as though we may have found ourselves waiting for more than ten weeks for the delivery of our bath tubs, such being the current shortage in north America of the model that we (and clearly others) have chosen.

Mine is the larger of the two tubs (I have expressed before my feelings regarding the diminutive size of many Canadian bathtubs) and we were concerned that it might prove difficult to source. As it turns out we were most pleasantly surprised when it was delivered within a couple of weeks of an order having been placed, enabling our plumber to crack on with the installation.

Acquisition of the other tub promised to be a more difficult proposition and I thought it a good idea to visit the other bathroom equipment wholesalers in Victoria to see if anyone had an alternative that would do the job. To my great delight the second supplier that I tried had in their warehouse one (and one alone!) of the very tubs that we were seeking. It was duly delivered the very next day and installed forthwith.

In addition to the above mentioned construction tasks good progress has been made with the stripping of the ‘popcorn’ from the ceilings and on the laying of a new sub-floor – that which had been uncovered during the demolition phase being deemed unsuitable on its own for the task of carrying our splendid new flooring.

There have been times when our humble abode seems to have been hosting an apparently never-ending round of tradesmen. Our contractor and his young accomplice (or two) are constants; the electrician and his two sidekicks have done a number of days to complete their first fix; the gas fitter and his mate have done likewise; the plumber has worked alone but is a large enough character that he more than makes up for it; and the roofer (who put in the extractor vents) came and went before I knew it.

Add to this multitude the man from the flooring company and the window supplier and you will get an idea just how busy the place has been. We have not yet seen the drywaller, the kitchen cabinet installers, the counter-top templaters (and installers) or the roof insulators.

What a merry throng; all appropriately dedicated – it would seem – to the creation of our splendid new home…

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn the midst of last week Victoria was basking in pleasant sunshine with temperatures hovering in the mid teens Celsius. By Friday morning (at the point at which our kitchen ceiling and all of the insulation had been ripped out, leaving the main floor of the house open to the attic and the fresh air vents therein) the temperature had plunged to around zero.

On Thursday night a storm blustered its way across the Saanich peninsula and we suffered the first power outage of the season (the which lasted more than three hours!) as the lines were brought down by falling branches. When I was awoken in the middle of the night – by all of the lights coming back on – I looked outside to find the garden (yard) covered with a blanket of snow!

All of this caused no little consternation since I was due to travel to Vancouver on the Friday to join the Kickass Canada Girl (who had been participating in a work conference there) so that we might attend BC Place for the much anticipated rugby encounter between Canada and the Maori All Blacks. It was our further intention to enjoy a weekend of wild hedonism in Vancouver before slinking back – tail between our legs – on the Sunday evening. According to the forecast, however, the weather was clearly in no mood to co-operate with our agenda.

Further concern arose from the realisation that – as our retreat into the basement for the duration had been accompanied by the closing off of the heating vents on the main floor (along with the cutting of a temporary return air feed into the downstairs ductwork) – the heating thermostat, being yet upstairs, was faced with the futile task of trying to engender some warmth into what had effectively become an outdoor space, whilst in the process almost incinerating everything that was now below stairs. The only alternative seemed to be to turn the heating off completely and to let everything freeze. The thought of going away and leaving the house in either state for the weekend did not fill us with enthusiasm.

Fortunately – having some little experience with cabling – it was not a overly difficult task to disconnect the thermostat, to pull the cable back down into the furnace room in the basement (being careful to leave a draw-wire in place for later reinstatement) and to reconnect the thermostat temporarily to service the lower floor alone.

Mighty glad by the end of the (chilly) weekend that I did so!

The Maori All Blacks? Well – no unexpected tales there. They gave the nearly 30,000 strong crowd a great exhibition of the finer points of the game of rugby and Canada a lesson from which they should learn a-plenty!

And we had a great time…

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