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Exercising at home

Old CH boilerOur slow journey towards house refurbishment takes another stumbling step forwards. The new (and wrong) central heating boiler is no longer taking up space in our house. It has gone back whence it came, to be exchanged for a more suitable model.

Meanwhile the old, and now partially dismantled, boiler sits exposed, undressed as it were, with its bare pipes and wires open to view. Not that it is a particularly ugly thing, but if we had the choice (which we don’t) then this is not something we would choose to have on display in our food preparation area. It is both noisy and rather smelly, not its own fault of course, but its naked presence tends to dominate the room, acting as a bar to intelligent conversation.

When originally installed the thing was contained within a massively constructed airtight cabinet which, although larger than strictly necessary, did at least blend in well with the rest of the decor. Dismembering this unit for access (a singularly destructive process) has led us to an important realisation… we no longer need the rest of the varnished timber cladding that enriches the kitchen walls from floor to ceiling. This decision is partly, but only partly, driven by the fact that the damage already wrought upon this room is difficult to reverse… oops! But then again it does feel appropriate for us to be putting our own mark on our house.

So it is that I arm myself with a range of iron implements – crow bars, several hammers, chisels, screwdrivers and drills – and set to work laying waste to our kitchen. Splinters fly in all directions and dust begins to shower down as the kitchen is transformed, from something quite presentable to a barren wasteland, a mess of patched walls with holes peeping out like plasterboard eyes and the pile of wood on the floor growing around me. Somehow along the way I manage to ensure that the light and power switches still function as the kitchen expands back to the dimensions the builders gave it.

Once the dust has settled we are satisfied with the result as it means that we can get down to planning the kitchen design from scratch without any excuses. No longer are we constrained by the pre-existing decor. Our imaginations can run riot. At least they can as soon as the new boiler is installed; still waiting, I’m afraid.

So having little better to do than wait around for tradesmen to call, I take to the water to try to find a different sort of exercise and another use for my tools. Just beyond the protecting wall of Carradale harbour are four mooring buoys laid down for use by visiting yachtsmen. Proper maintenance for winter, when they will not be used, consists of disconnecting the big, brightly-coloured mooring buoys and lowering the chain to the bottom where it will be subject to less wear. (A rope attached to a much smaller buoy is left in place.)  PB230475The job involves undoing a large shackle which, having spent the whole year in the sea, is somewhat corroded. It is a task which involves two people using large spanners and a lot of muscle.

I find myself balanced on the deck of a small boat with friends John and Ian. John, very nobly I thought, makes no complaints when we heave the barnacle-encrusted chain from the water into his inflatable boat and pull off the long fronds of slippery kelp. Nor does he seem to mind when Ian and I start at the shackle with a crow bar and hammer, despite the risk of puncturing the dinghy. Sadly though our efforts are in vain. We reach the conclusion that the shackle pin needs more leverage than we can safely apply from this boat. And the immortal line, “You’re going to need a bigger boat” comes to mind.

Mal & James at bonfire

Exercise comes in other ways now. There are small boys, well one in particular called James, to be carried around shoulder high on bonfire night and then there is a dog to be walked, a large black and white one called Baillie, who tugs at his lead such that my arm feels like it might come right off. Baillie, who incidentally has his own Facebook page, is a dog we have ‘borrowed’ for a short while and as well as needing lots of exercise, he is Mal with Baileyan ardent bird-lover. When he spots a crow or a gull standing on the ground his whole personality changes as he gives chase. His brain becomes focussed on nothing else as he charges off into the distance at full speed – which is far faster than I can run. Whatever sense was inside him has vanished in an explosion of red mist and no amount of calling will bring him back. The mist only begins to clear after the bird proves that it can fly, something Baillie has yet to master. Welcome to the real world, Baillie.

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