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New Year forecast: showers

As we move into the final phase of our house refurbishment we start it with a new spring in our steps because it is an important transformation we are about to make. The plan is to install a shower in a large fitted cupboard connected to our back bedroom. We bought the pieces for this some weeks ago – the shower tray, the shower cubicle, two large plastic sections to make the walls watertight and a funny little waste trap – so all we have to do is to connect these bits together and its done. Easy really.

Except that this is a first for us both. We are complete virgins when it comes to shower installation, babes in the wood. So the first task is to convince ourselves that we can do it! Well we can check that one off because we did all the convincing necessary months ago before we started on the whole project. A shower is a simple thing after all, water flows in through some pipes and goes out through some other ones. Kate stripping wallpaperA shower cubicle is merely a means for airing the water for a short period, the time it takes to get the human body clean, and then it allows the used water to escape the house under gravity. Simple really.

Next comes the difficult bit. Where does one start on a job like this? Well there is the cupboard space to make ready, wallpaper to strip off (Kate loves doing this), some wooden bits to demolish (I’m getting good at this) and then… Well sooner or later we’ll need some holes for all those water pipes so this seems to be a good place to start. Gravity is the medium by which the water will flow away so this means that the pipes will need to be slanted downwards. Hmm, this is suddenly a little more tricky as the shower tray, by its very nature, is already level with the floor. So either it will have to be raised up higher in some way or else the pipes will have to run under the floor. A decision has to be made before we can go any further.

At this point we decide to read the instructions. Sadly this is not like assembling kitchen units where there is a clear path starting with “Stick the little round plugs in all the holes on part A” and ending with “Now fit the legs”. With the shower there is no one clear thing that has to be done first, no natural order. So after much deliberation we finally decide that the shower waste water must flow down the same pipes as used by the bath, which is in the next room, and I begin by making a hole in the wall at what I hope is the appropriate spot. This is by no means easy as our walls are solid but after a lot of noise and banging, whirring away with the drill, chipping away with a chisel, there is a passage through which a pipe can pass. Straightforward really.

But the other piece of this part of the project is the bathroom, the same one that lies just beyond the far end of the hole I have made. We have a whole host of ideas for smartening things up in there, starting with the pine ceiling boards (may they rest in peace) and moving on through new tiling and replacements for the sink and the toilet, both of which are cracked. Oh, and we have already bought those bits, too. There is just so much to focus on, too much is buzzing around our heads. We need to re-group our thoughts, take time off perhaps, and let our unconscious brains come up with a plan.

So we leap on an early morning bus headed for Taunton and treat ourselves to some New Year’s Eve shopping, not really our style at all but enough of a distraction to give our heads a rest. After a cold day ducking in and out of shops to find warmth Kate comes home with a nice new outfit and some shoes while I manage to force open my wallet sufficiently to buy a matched pair of cup shaped pieces made from a soft silicon-rubber. Be careful not to let the imagination wander here; these are PoachPods, the latest cooking tool for making perfect poached eggs. They float like green lilies in boiling water until four minutes later the egg is cooked right through and waiting to be flipped out onto its toast underlay. Quite exquisite.

En route home from Taunton we drop into our local pub, the Great Western, to sample some ale and we slip easily into conversation with the owner of a dog which has the head of a Great Dane and the hind quarters of a Bulldog. When this perfectly proportioned beast turns her large brown eyes towards us we are done for, trapped in their gaze, but she is fickle too and the next person to arrive gets the same treatment. She has a habit of leaning gently against your leg and will actually fall over if you move away, making you feel the guilty party. We like this pub because of the random nature of the customers and their willingness to chat to whoever comes in through the door. An itinerant portrait artist called Peter modestly starts to show us his latest sketches and talks too about dinghy sailing. He is about to head off to London for the New Year festivities whereas we stagger homewards to warmth, hoping for an early night. Fat chance! There is a party happening across the road. This and the fireworks make sure we are still awake for the start of 2011, which is sort of nice.

Soon we’ll be back at work after our short break. One thing we can forecast for this year is that there will be lots of showers.

Happy New Year all!

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