We are inordinately grateful to have been given the opportunity to stay in a cousin’s house, in a pleasant location and within reach of some major cities. He has been working abroad for some years and has been keen for selected people to make use of the house.

Apart from doing some general maintenance, there have been some major problems we have sorted out, old leaking pipes, with mountains of sodden papers and stored household items floating in the sour water; then there was poor work done by tradesmen who created additional watery problems, and a major breakdown in the central heating system. We were up and down the road for the best part of six weeks dealing with it, each journey being a 600 miles round trip. During that time, we camped in the house and boiled kettles for hot water for washing ourselves. We dressed up like Eskimos. The best bit was visiting the local pub, wherein there was good pub grub and warmth.

After a short but settled period, we have visited the house again, albeit briefly. On each of the visits, with what we saw and found, we began to wonder what we might be faced with next.

There seems to have been a JCB through the house most recently. There was nothing for it but to set to, and create some floorspace, clean the floors, where we could, wash the couple of work surfaces that were left intact in the kitchen, then see how things looked. We did find the kettle, the toaster, some plates bowls and cups. Eventually, some cutlery cane to light.

It transpires, this latest scene is in preparation for an external roof repair on a flat roof, the preparation and installation of a new kitchen floor and a re-designed kitchen. There will be a new utility room, which to date, has been a damp, unused downstairs bathroom. It had an aubergine coloured suite and years of unwanted domestic horrors stored in it.



  1. We might enjoy it sometime in the future, if the job gets done, and is done by tradesmen who don’t try and get away with half a job. Otherwise, I can see we may become ‘the fixers’, that is, us doing the fixing like we have done in the past. (I sincerely hope not).

  2. Indeed. The new central heating system is not right; we have ‘rescued’ the pressure several times. It is worrying and not something that we are able to do more on.

  3. Well-spotted! It was okay in the early years when, like now, we called in to stay, mostly for the odd night or two, once or twice a year. The bit of maintenance and lower level DIY was our pleasure, as was leaving cleaning materials and buying domestic equipment for general use. We always carefully and thoroughly cleaned up after ourselves.

    When the decay became major, we did our best – the relatives knew we would – but, we did draw the line at cleaning up other people’s really dirty habits, in more recent times.

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