Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Viennese whirlwinds

I don't often talk about travel really, other than posting photos from time to time; but that's mainly because a lot of the travel that we do revolves around work and noone wants to know what I do during daylight hours.

But this summer's work break took us to Vienna then onto Munich by train; first for a meeting, then for an instrument training. We managed to squeeze a few days actual break between the two, because it wasn't cost effective for us to fly home for three days then fly back out again.

We spent the few days in Salzburg; a place of stunning landscape totally spoilt by marzipan and Mozart.

I found a friendly cactus.

And played with my food. Yep, that was about as exciting as it got. Next year, I'm choosing the conference.

Water, water everywhere... part one

I was going to try and sort these posts out room by room, but if there is one thing I've learnt is that everything takes three times as long as you think it is going to take and the posts will end up being mahoosive if I don't split them up... So I apologise for adding... erm... the entire house... to my half done work in progress pit.

We did make a start in the lounge, but it's now full'o'stuff, so it won't be done until we've fnished the bathroom. The whole house feels like a giant slider puzzle at the moment. Once we finish the bathroom, I can move the suite out of the main bedroom. Then I can put the bed in the main bedroom, freeing up the second bedroom. Once I've done that, I can move the clothes out of the small bedroom, then I can put the crap in the lounge in the small bedroom... I am currently pretending the kitchen and the garden doesn't exist. Soooo.. the bathroom.

A place of sanctuary, of peace, of calm, of serenity...

Not this one. It's gross. Really gross. Body hair and ermm.. splatter... aside, you can see into the kitchen if you stand in the shower tray. It takes open plan living to a whole new level. Bizarrely it doesn't look that gross in the photo, but up close and knowing that the drains are slightly more than blocked, I reckon it was Patrick Bateman's holiday home. I've put all the hair in the recycling too, I thought about listing it on Etsy, but there are only so many voodoo dolls the world needs.

The suite is covered with burn marks and everything leaks. And I mean everything. It's taken us several weeks to fix the plumbing; including dropping some of the pipes into the ceiling void to make it look a bit better. My dad has very kindly made us a box to hide the complicated pipe spaghetti in the corner that we don't want to touch in case we hit an artery. I'm sure it's there for a reason, but even with having spent half my teenage years playing pipe dream and mario, I can't work it out. If I could be bothered, I'd polish up the copper and have them on show, but I can't, so we'll chuck something over it and pretend it doesn't exist.

It looks like this now... It's all in the "garden" (I use that term loosely) for the time being.

We decided, before we realised that the walls weren't flat, to tile floor to ceiling in standard small white ceramic tiles. It looks nice now it is done, but it was a pain in the backside. The walls aren't flat, the corners aren't 90 degrees and the plaster is hollow and weak sounding. So weak in fact that it doesn't stick to the bricks. This was the first set back, as you can't tile onto fresh plaster for quite some time and you can't tile over really big holes.

White tiles - floor to ceiling. We didn't calculate how many we needed, we just guessed. We had a couple left over. Two in fact. The hole in the wall is 10 inches wide by 10 inches high or their abouts. Could I find an air grate that goes across it? Could I hell. After weeks of searching, one is on it's way from Switzerland, via Germany. Or at least it would have been, had the box contained the grate we wanted rather than a tumble drier hose.

The toilet pan is staying; it's about the only servicable thing in the place. I'm not sure I have the knowhow to fit a loo, and actually, if you ignore the fact this one doesn't have a seat or a fully working flush mechanism, it's fine. In that it doesn't leak that much. It has spent the last week full of blue toilet cleaner and has had something that looks like a tribble wedged down it to keep the loo cleaner in contact with the life forms that have built themselves a little fossilised commune on the pan. But it's okay. It can be rescued. It will be traumatised, but it's savable. Hardcore cleaners, a new seat and a new flush and it's all sorted. I'm hoping that the dripping will stop when it's lifted back into place.

We wanted to put a shower quadrant in, not sure why, probably because there was once here when we got here, except it was nasty. When I ordered the suite, I sort of didn't measure things properly so we ended up with a 3/4 length bath and a larger than normal quadrant. I could say was purposeful design - and it does make the bathroom look larger than it actually is. And we are both midgets, so a short bath isn't a problem and it gives me space to fit a unit between the loo and the tap.

Anyway, we pulled up the floor, treated the joists with waterproofing stuff just because, put new floorboards down. Nailed down hardboard, bedded in the shower tray, sealed it... Then we had to drill holes in the wall as the plumbing for the shower is in the room next door for some daft reason. Moving away from above the electrical socket seemed like a good plan (!?).

That covered everything with black powdery crap. I think I'll reseal it when we're done with the drilling.

Installing the free-stand tap was easier than we though and it's not leaking (touch wood). Well, I don't think it is leaking, I can't see, but I'll know tommorrow because the kitchen ceiling will be wet again. I must remember though, that I nailed back the floorboards before removing the drip tray, so there is an ice-cream container in the kitchen ceiling void.

We're putting a decoupling membrane down the floor in the hope that it is a nicer surface to tile onto and because the tiles are slate and the floor is wooden; which, according to most things I've read isn't a good combination. The decoupling membrane is also waterproof - as its the same stuff that can be used to tank wetrooms, which we figured would also give some level of protection for the floor; or at least it would have, had I not butchered it with a craft knife when laying it. Prepping the floor took an age as there were layers upon layers of adhesive, vinyal tiles, glue and rubbish stuck onto the long suffering and rather creaky floorboards. We replaced some of the floorboards under the shower as they were pretty horrible, but the rest were saveable and the creaks could be dealt with with some strategic hammering. The decoupling memebrane went down over a layer of adhesive on the hardboard. I pity the fool that tries to lift this floor in the future - and if anything else leaks, it's getting fixed from the kitchen.

It might look a bit more like a bathroom soon - I hope so, because Holger has invited family over to stay in a couple of weeks and at the moment, that loo seat ain't gonna hold...