Amidst the renovations and general chaos life rumbles on and we all settle further into our new roles and places, inching ever closer to autumn. The nights are drawing in visibly now, although it's still very mild.
While Bella just sailed through the transition from primary to secondary school, I'm still getting to grips with it. Not a day goes by without some email from Parentmail telling me I have to do or sign or buy something. No matter that I spent an eye-watering amount of money on uniform back in August - there's still more. Black leggings and a plain black t-shirt are required for dance class apparently, and two different types of PE t-shirt along with sweatshirt and bottoms, and don't forget the scientific calculator, and while I'm at it would I like to put down a £100 non refundable deposit for a school trip to France next year too, while I'm at it? I need a PA just to manage school admin. It makes me nostalgic for primary school when all you needed was a Smiggle pencil case. Meanwhile, Bella and her precious new mobile phone have discovered youtube, Zoella, and cake decorating tutorials, which led to a Saturday afternoon during which both children showed me that they were far better at piping icing than I could ever hope to be, although I was permitted to do the washing up. The new phone and Facetime has also led to Bella picking up some old and dear friendships from Leeds which is absolutely lovely, with girls I knew since they were tiny. It's great hearing her giggle away while she talks to them. Technology, it has it's pros and cons.
The house is an appalling muddle, with everything in completely the wrong place, and so I am constantly misplacing things like birthday cards I was supposed to post and my keys. The kitchen is the only undisrupted space, and I retreat there often. Soups and stews are starting to feature more now, and I am becoming great friends with my slow cooker. I also made a dress, completely taking over the whole kitchen for a day while I did it, and I will show you the results soon.
Work on the house has taken over any free time we have at the moment. We are doing everything ourselves and so it has to happen at weekends and during the evenings, which is slow going and tiring, but saving us a lot of money. We are, as ever, on a tight budget, but since I last posted about work on the house, we've been busy.
We pulled up that glossy dark laminate flooring in the hallway and found....more laminate. Only this was the really thin kind (the era of Changing Rooms, we thought) and glued to the original parquet floor.
Removing this laminate was one of the worst DIY jobs I have ever done in this house, it nearly broke me and my parents, who were helping me that weekend when John was at work. Each strip had to be softened with a heat gun then lifted with a scraper.
While the thick layer of glue left behind had to be softened again, scraped off, then scrubbed with wire wool and white spirit. It was the most unpleasant, toxic, sticky job ever.
And the floor is still sticky, hence the attractive carpet stepping stones we are using until the new flooring is laid.
Other than that, we've been filling and levelling in the hallway, getting it ready for decorating. We still need to lay the floor, fit skirting, paint everywhere (walls, woodwork, ceiling, metalwork on the stairs), sand and varnish the wooden stair treads. Not much then.
Meanwhile, in the living room, we pulled up the laminate and found more of the same lovely parquet floor underneath.
Unfortunately, it only covered two thirds of the floor, the other third being concrete as it was a later addition. Also, quite a lot of the original floor is water damaged and with loose pieces of wood.
Now, while restoring the original floors would, of course, have been wonderful, it would have meant digging out, lowering and levelling the concrete areas, then sourcing reclaimed parquet that matched ours, then paying a carpenter to lay the floor. Not something we had the budget or the stomach for, I'm afraid.
Then we thought about engineered oak, for both the living room and the hallway, but at £2000 we quickly thought again and decided to go for this, which was less than half the price including underlay.
Yes, it's laminate (which I feel has unfairly become a dirty word in floor coverings), and it's really nice. Thick and warm with bevelled edges and a matt, textured feel, it looks fantastic in the living room.
John and my brother in law Paul spent all weekend laying the living room floor themselves and I couldn't be more pleased. It lets so much more light into the darker corners, and the matt surface is infinitely more forgiving of dust and dog hair than the previous shiny flooring.
John has been busy fitting the skirting and this weekend we hope to decorate. I think we are just going to paint everything white. I like it that way, then all the wood and plants and little pops of colour can shine against it. It will be October, realistically, before we are anywhere near finished, perhaps by half term. But, eyes on the prize, I just need to keep thinking about how beautiful and airy it's going to look when it's finished, about how much more space we will have, how much more light bouncing around the house. I may need to buy some more houseplants!