A big mess in the garden. The view from my office.
Two days before the builders arrive Husband decides to make chicken stock from a leftover carcass from dinner. I'm out with friends so I don't know this until I discover the litre of greasy liquid on the hob next morning. The same morning I need to pack everything up - all the crockery and glass - and haul it down to the cellar. By myself.
Next day, Friday morning 8 am, and here they are: four Polish builders at the front door. "Good morning Elizabeth!" says the good-looking one, the builder we chose to run the project for us (well, I chose to be honest, I wonder why?). He has a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step and so I let them in.
Coffee? I think, but then months of endless coffee making for four burly builders flashes across my inward eye and I decide not. In any case these guys mean business, no time for coffee, they immediately start clearing the kitchen of all the larger items I was unable to remove by myself.
Er... upstairs, our bedroom.
Big tiled mirror?
Pine cabinet on wall?
Er... cellar again.
Apparently if I don't tell them where to put things they will assume I want to trash it and throw it on the skip, so it's a bit stressful.
I start to grab breakfast things to take to the four boys upstairs (we had an extra one for a sleepover) but keep being interrupted. They need to turn off electricity for a while/where is the gas point?/where do I want things in the temporary kitchen?/where is the key for the patio door? Then they start to pull the old cabinets off the walls and smash them to bits.
I'm just grabbing the Coco Pops when I realise they are moving the fridge. I haven't emptied it. It didn't occur to me and now it is full of chicken stock, in glass jars...
They've already taken some of the jars out and put them down on the half-destroyed worktop, which is covered in wood dust and shavings, and a few of them must have been a bit wet because the wood dust and shavings has stuck to them.
They carry the fridge through to the living room, which will serve as our temporary kitchen for the foreseeable future, as a nasty stream of milk-coloured liquid follows behind.
That's cream, I think, from that opened carton in there, and possibly milk as well, mixed with chicken stock of course.
Just then the phone rings. It's work. "Is this a good time to talk?" says the woman at the other end, "About doing some filming for us?"
"Sure!" I say, grabbing a cloth and some Jiff and following the trail of cream/milk/stock.
"We were just wondering if you can make a video about rapping?" she says. "Two videos actually, for use in schools, for Year 5s, we need two children and a teacher. It's for the beginning of September."
For the beginning of September.
"No problem!" I say. Although I'm thinking it might be quite a big problem since I have no childcare, I'm about to go to Center Parcs for a week on Monday, then will be back for barely ten days and will go to France for two weeks and then will get back just in the nick of time to sort Youngest out for secondary school (the new uniform, the hair cut, the shoes, the bag, the nerves... his as well as mine). But this is work, you know, WORK!
Anyway, I clear up the mess. I get the boys breakfast. The temporary kitchen gets sorted and looks great (see below). We go to Center Parcs for a week. I spend a goodly portion of the time emailing rappers in Brixton but despite this have a wonderful time and upon our return, yesterday, we find that the builders have inadvertently turned off part of the electricity downstairs so that everything in the fridge has gone off and we have to throw it all away. Including all the chicken stock.
So now I'm going to phone some rappers...
Here is the temporary kitchen in the back of the living room.