Monday, 9 August 2010


Having now given in my notice on the rented house I live in, things have passed the point of no return; which meant dealing with the stuff in the loft. Once when helping my best friend L clear out her loft I was amazed at her fearlessness. She has arachnophobia, and any sighting of a small invertebrate with 8 legs sees her shaking and screaming stuff like “kill it, kill it, die, die” followed by language I can’t repeat. If possible I usually scoop up the offending creature and set it free in the garden. I don’t mean I am entirely comfortable with the larger types, which have to travel via jam jar, but I don’t have a phobia. Asking L why she was so un-phased delving about in a dark loft she replied “spiders don’t live in lofts: no food source”. I should explain that she and her ex used to run a loft conversion business, so she should know.

However the loft in this house is unlike any loft I have ever been in, for several reasons. Firstly it is Victorian, and just looking at the haphazard brickwork and gaps in the roof where you can see the sky makes me worry that the house is about to collapse. Then there is the dirt. All lofts get a little dusty, but put clean stuff into this one, and it comes out covered in a combination of soot, dust, bird droppings, feathers, spiders, dead spiders, parts of dead spiders and the webs (of spiders.) And did I mention the spiders? 

Yes, this file was clean when I put it in the loft...

So I decided, I would clear it in one day, and never go back up there again. Armed with disposable gloves, a vacuum cleaner, face mask of the DIY kind, and kitchen tea towel tied around my head in the style of a hijab (even I am not comfortable with spiders in the hair) I set to it. There was a lot up there, and the first thought was where to stack it all. Inspiration struck: of course, the teen is away! Hopefully I will clear it out of her room before she ever finds out... I won’t bore you with the details of all the crap in my loft, but will share the following tip: If you decide to store things in black plastic sacks, don’t use the biodegradable ones. It’s only been two years, but they had dissolved into a lightweight dust that took a week of repeated vacuuming to see off.

My hall, where plastic bags go to die:

In between, clearing out my loft, and wondering why I have six suitcases and paperwork from 1998, work has continued on the studio. Boyfriend has completed the woodwork inside, going the extra mile by making and routing surrounds for the windows. Now he is on the guttering outside, and I have been varnishing the bits of the studio I am keeping as exposed wood. It is now ready for painting on the inside. The outside needs a second coat of varnish in places, but the weather is not being kind.

It is a miracle I have done any painting considering my workspace now looks like this:

But I am intermittently working on two pieces; the never ending painting of the window and gardens of Layer Marney Tower I started weeks ago, and a garden painting I am doing on Thursday mornings at the course I am attending.

Work in progress:

I am feeling unsettled and lethargic, mostly due to the overwhelming amount of stuff to do, and the removal of most of the things that relax me, painting, sewing, gardening, gym, seeing friends. These activities have mostly been replaced with opening boxes, filling boxes, labeling boxes, taking stuff to the tip, trying to sell furniture, and hunting online for the elusive perfect plans chest for the new studio, the one I have being too big, all whilst eating disgusting microwave food that I wouldn't touch under normal circumstances.

I did however manage to get to the health club for a swim on Friday. As I looked for the membership card scanner which lets me in, a young girl behind the reception said “Oh we are using finger prints now” and proceeded to scan my fingerprint. Amazing! Now to enter my gym I press a finger on a pad on a wall. Fantastic, I was instantly a member of the FBI on NCIS, at least in my own head. As they say, small things please small minds. Although on reflection I doubt very much I will be able to sneak in after 5.30 on my ‘off peak’ membership any more...


  1. Glad to see I'm not the only one with a black and 'sooty' roofspace! Actually these houses are built in engineering brick that will challenge any Black and Decker, all stuck together with something made out of Merthyr Clay! I've never seen such black dust - even in the house! Still you'll soon put all that behind you - hope your lethargic state will past once you reach the 'tipping point' and you're more 'in' than 'out' of the new studio!