It’s amazing what you can get used to with just a bit of time.
I remember when my Father turned the house over to me back in the mid-eighties, I was shocked at the state of the place.
I’d moved away from home when I was just a young lad. At the age of 18, I’d grown tired of our small town community and wanted to see more of the world. After heading off travelling for a couple of years and learning my trade overseas, I returned home with a wife and a child on the way.
My Dad wasn’t surprised.
I’d followed pretty much the same trajectory that he had and he was proud of my accomplishments out in the larger world. He insisted on making way and giving me the home. With Mum having passed away a few years before, he’d found himself knocking around the big house, with no motivation to keep it in good repair.
When Eliza and I moved in there were so many things wrong with the place that I wondered how he could have managed to live there. The heating system had all but stopped working and to make matters worse, the water pressure would mysteriously drop without any warning, making showering a bit of a nightmare.
My Dad had long since given up on cooking for himself once Mum passed away.
His good-sized belly was living proof of his close friendship with the manager of the local chippy. So it came as no surprise to find the oven totally nonfunctional.
Sometimes I wonder if he left the place in such a state as some sort of final test for me, before the real challenge of raising a family reared it’s head.
If it was a test, he never told me if I’d passed or failed.
I won’t be leaving any outstanding gas oven repairs for my daughter to fix. In fact, I’m intent on getting the whole house up to showroom specification (or close enough to) before she arrives here in a couple of months time with her lucky husband and baby in waiting. (With a little help from Home Appliance Care)
Progress on the kitchen, by far the biggest job, is coming along well.
The very old tiles in the floor have revealed themselves to be embedded deeper into the ground I previously thought. Once removed, they resemble classic red bricks more than anything else. The sides facing up have been truly worn down by years of feet clattering over them, so I’m going to do something rather devious.
Instead of finding similar materials to replace them with, I’m simply going to wash them down and flip them over.
Once this floor has set it’s going to look brand new, as if my Father himself had just finished laying the it back in 1963.
In my evenings I’ve been spending hours of ‘fun’ taking apart the kitchen table and chairs, that have served by family for over fifty years.
They really are in quite the state.
Over the years I can remember countless occasions where these sturdy oak pieces, bought at auction before my Dad had moved in, were used as make-shift stools, walls for forts and even weapons (a streak of dramatic adolescence runs through our family). So far I’ve rubbed down each piece.
Next week I’m going to give them a fresh lacquer of varnish before piecing them back together with brand new fasteners so they’ll hopefully last another fifty years.