I’m back from London where I paid my respects to Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s cat, at Dr Johnson’s House. Hodge sits on a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary next to some oyster shells. He could eat only oysters in his old age and Dr Johnson went to the market each day to get them himself as he didn’t want his servants to resent the cat.
On a walk around Marylebone we came upon this enormous crane.
It was preparing to lift this: an instant loft conversion. They rip the old roof off the house and drop this on the top – it has a stairway, a bedroom and a bathroom. Incredible. It must be cheaper in London to do this rather than build something by traditional methods – I imagine it would save on labour, access costs, scaffolds etc. It must be nearly impossible in London to park, receive and store deliveries, and would cost a fortune for skip licences. With this they just close off the street for a Saturday afternoon, bring in a huge crane and it’s pretty much done!
And now for some house news. Yesterday a gas engineer was here connecting the lounge’s old gas pipe to the new system – here you can see the new copper pipe stretching along the back of the under-stairs cupboard. This pipe connects to the old pipe that goes under the terrazzo in the entrance hall and terminates in the lounge. My plan is to get a gas fire installed in the lounge but we needed to ascertain whether the pipe was safe to use, otherwise it would cost a lot more and we would probably have had to cut into the terrazzo to lay a new pipe. Good news – the pipe is safe to use, so now I can order the fire!
I have also been organising Stage 3: scheduling carpenters; arranging for D the floor guy to come and sand/polish the floorboards in Mark’s study; scheduling A, the other floor guy, to restore the terrazzo; scheduling the carpet fitters; scheduling decorators. Stage 3 will see the completion of the internal works.
Stage 4 will be the back garden.