What I did in the holidays

IMG_3882[1]Yes, yes, I know. I have been strangely silent. But in a good cause! I had some time off work and instead of sitting around blogging, I spent it doing exciting stuff like spring cleaning my flat (look spring was late this year) and decorating the sitting-room.

Boy, was it hard work. When you only clean twice a year whether the place needs it or not, the procedure is more like excavation than mere dusting. It’s remarkable how much sunshine we get in London once you’ve cleaned the windows. I discovered I’d been living in a permanent twilight of dust and birdshit and now I can look out and see that the garden really needs work. A lot of work.

But THAT’S all in the future. Or, as they say in meetings these days, ‘going forward, we want to . . . ‘ Going forward I want to tackle the garden. Going backwards, I concentrated on decorating the sittingroom, last done 14 years ago next month.


I learned many things, which I would like to share with you. I’ve rounded it up into 14 points so that you can learn one a day for a fortnight, then remember them always. Here goes:

1. Before heading to Homebase, check that you haven’t already bought everything you need and stashed it in a cupboard, unopened
2. Check that the paint pads fit the handle you bought. Sod’s Law says they won’t
3. Make sure you still like the colour of the paint you bought a year ago. It’s tough titty if you don’t, of course, because you can’t afford to buy more
4. You’ll end up with more paint on you than a Jackson Pollock and the effect will be much the same. See if you can frame and sell your clothes when you’ve finished
5. It’s hard on the knees, painting a skirting board, so you’re going to be rolling around on the floor. If you didn’t bother to clean it first, you’ll become a sort of human mop
6. When painting overhead, do not look directly up, unless you want to spend 15 minutes removing emulsion from your eyebrow
7. Anywhere two colours meet, you are going to end up with 10 coats as you try to get a straight line at the join
8. Having a cat underfoot does not help matters, no matter how much the cat says it will
9. Keep the kettle full of water and a supply of tea bags handy at all times. Gin may seem attractive but it’s not a good idea till you’ve finished. Really
10. That blobby bit you think won’t show, will show. Anyone who walks in the room will notice it immediately. And mention it
11. If you expect a paint job to take four hours, it will take eight
12. Cancel this week’s yoga or pilates class. You’ll be doing enough bending and stretching for a whole rackful of fitness videos
13. Fluff is attracted to tacky paint by the aforementioned Sod’s Law. Make what you want of that. #justsayin
14. Wipe up any drips on the floor straight away. If you don’t, the next time you notice them will be when you get that tacky sensation on the sole of your flipflop/foot
I did all this so you don’t have to. Hope you’re grateful.

11 thoughts on “What I did in the holidays

  1. Thank you for the advice from your vast experience. You and I seem to be on the same cleaning and decorating schedule. Wait, weren’t you talking about moving? Did you get a better heat system? I love the picture of your sitting room, but I’m curious–your cat doesn’t dig in the plants and chew on your curtains?

    Re: 14 points: Terrific (and funny) observations! I do know not to paint with a cat underfoot. Apparently, the lid to the paint can is fascinating to a cat, and not in a good way. I also discovered that I can’t reach where the wall meets the ceiling to cut it in. Our ladder just isn’t tall enough, so it’s my husband’s job. Lucky me! Unfortunately, the ceilings are lower on the second floor.

  2. I am laughing right out loud, clear over here on the other side of the world almost, with delight and fellow-feeling. The room looks lovely and what you went through to get it to that state can be your secret. Or could have been if you had not shared it with the world. For which I thank you!

  3. Only one other question – how do you avoid getting multiple cat hairs stuck in the paint? My laptop is covered with them cause my kitty thinks I have better things to do (pet him) than type. I assume your cat feels the same way about painting.

  4. Wonderful blog Ducky. I’ve had lots of experience painting so know where you’re coming from. Your sitting room does look lovely. I’ve got painting to do as well, but have been trying to get the outside work done at the moment since the weather is finally cooperating (not too hot and not raining – much).

  5. After a year, it takes FOREVER to stir the paint to get the pigment back into it.

    I am a Jackson Pollock painting. I am wearing a paint shirt as I type this.
    They are all I own. Dots are IN.

    Keep the floor DUSTY, the paint drips won’t stick when dried!

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