A Brucie-Bonus Two Day Post
So, technically speaking, this post covers two days rather than one. But the majority of both days was spent sitting in the car on various motorways. It seems a bit pointless doing two separate posts. So this was what we did on Thursday and Friday. In that order. Bored? Oh!
Thursday began with Kas going out for a run (that’s kind of like saying the day began with it getting light, or with the clock passing midnight, but whatever – it began with Kas going for a run). She was back in time for us to pack up the car and get moving not long after 10am. We were heading for the Channel Tunnel, as we have done on many previous holidays, and in ritual fashion, here’s the photo of the QE2 Bridge that is traditional in my first-day-of-the-holiday posts. Also part of the ritual now is stopping at the garage at the south east corner of Milton Keynes on the way down to the motorway to buy coffee.
We had a 2pm appointment at the tunnel (2pm for checking in) but being as the drive involves bits of the M25 I don’t like to push it with the time, just in case there’s an issue with traffic.
Away to Rouen
We arrived at the tunnel terminal rather earlier than the 2 hour to 45 minutes period that they ask. I hoped that we’d manage to get bumped forward onto an earlier train. We were. Our 2:50 train became a 1:50 train, which gave us enough time to grab a quick lunch in the terminal and turn our bikes around before heading through passport control and onto our train.
It was the first time taking the new motor onto the continent. I was a bit apprehensive about getting it onto the train. The ramps and corners look a bit tight from the driver’s seat. As it happens, we got a bottom-deck berth and the corner was fine. We parked right next to the toilets though. This meant it wasn’t possible to get the door open properly on the passenger side. The girls had to scrabble across the middle to get out.
France was as French as it normally is, and what with the time change and the duration of the tunnel trip our 1:50 train from Folkstone landed us in Calais around 3:30pm local time. After a brief stop at the garage on the way out of the tunnel for a bit more bicycle rotation we were off down the auroroute in the general direction of Rouen.
We hadn’t planned to stop at all during this part of the trip, and we managed a nice straight run with no breaks, and found ourselves at our chosen accomodation, the Novotel Rouen Sud, before you could say Jack Robinson. OK, maybe not that quickly, but not far off. It was about 6pm when we arrived, which included a fairly circuitous route that Elizabeth the Sat Nav took us around the outskirts of Rouen.
The hotel room was fairly spacious apart from the girls having to share a sofabed. We’d had a long enough day that we couldn’t be bothered with going out anywhere. We just ate in the restaurant at the hotel, which was remarkably nice. I’ve found this normal in even fairly moderate hotels in France. We chose a 2-course meal deal, which meant the price added up to somewhat less than I was expecting.
Most of France
Friday morning started at about 7:30 with the promise of a hotel breakfast. This was the only hotel on the trip where I’d picked a rate that included breakfast. So in true style, we all decided to get our money’s worth.
We were in the car by 9am. We had rather a lot of French motorways to work our way through over the course of the day. This was the day where I also started the “how many new French departments can we find a geocache in” part of the holiday.
We were scheduled to pass through seven new ones on the trip. I’d laid out a printed sheet listing places to stop for a cache in each one. They were all in service stations or rest areas, and I’d laid it out according to the location on the motorway (which road and which junction) and also according to the sequence we’d pass them. I’d put about 4-6 different stops in each department but had no intention of stopping at all of them. Not unless we were travelling much faster than expected, anyway. We weren’t traveling faster than expected, so I was happy just to stop once in each. A few of them occurred at places where we needed a natural food, drink or toilet break.
There’s not much you can say about a shed load of French motorways. You have to pay for most of them, but that results in them mainly having a nice road surface. And relatively little traffic. Certainly, up until the mid-afternoon we weren’t in traffic at all. To compensate for the general lack of interest, above are snapshots of the French departments we’d geocached in before and after this day. You can pretty much see the route the motorways take.
The new departments in which we stopped for a geocache were, in order of appearance, Orne, Sarthe, Indre-et-Loire, Vienne, Deux-Sèvres, Charente-Maritime and Gironde. The last wasn’t strictly necessary, as we could have done it the following day instead. But we kind of drove right past one and it would have been a waste not to stop. We’d made good time anyway and I felt we had enough time free to do one more before proceeding to the night’s accommodation, and the inevitable requests to have a bit of time in the swimming pool.
A Bit of a Gem
The hotel in question was the really rather wonderful Château de la Grave, which nestles in the middle of a load of vineyards not far from the Gironde Estuary. They only have four or five suites. The one we had contained a massive four-poster bed and a couple of camp beds for the girls. It wasn’t cramped in any sense. and the bathroom was in the attached turret. Wicked with a capital wick.
After all the driving, neither of us was in the mood to try to find a restaurant. We enquired (in somewhat broken French) if our host could feed us. She offered to provide us with some tapas, and we agreed a time of 8:30pm. This gave the kids more than enough time to go and get wet in the swimming pool, before getting wet again in the shower.
Our tapas turned out to be an excellent selection of charcuterie with cheeses and pickles, and they were served out on the terrace in the comfy chairs with a generous accompaniment of wine made at the vineyard whose buildings occupied all parts of the site that the hotel didn’t. Our tapas were also accompanied by Damian and Ben from Leipzig, who were in the middle of a hippy-style, drive-round-Europe-until-the-money-runs-out trip in their campervan, which they were allowed to park down in some trees near the vineyards. They’d come up to the “big house” for some snacks and wine.
Initially, Damian was looking for some travel tips for Bordeaux, but we weren’t really able to offer any because we hadn’t been there (and still haven’t). So the conversation meandered in all sorts of strange directions, and I think that process was facilitated by the second bottle of wine. It wasn’t strictly necessary, and if Ben and Damian are listening, I can only apologise if we got a bit forthright in our views or if we kept interrupting.
Anyway, it was an absolutely perfect spot to watch the sun go down. It is probably the most French place I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a few.
The four-poster bed was good too.
Earlier in the year, I exchanged messages on Facebook with an old workmate, Scott, who is an occasional geocacher. I raised the subject of the Aberdeenshire Mega – the 2019 iteration of the annual UK Mega Geocaching Event. It was to be held about 20 miles from his house in Aberdeen. He very kindly offered me a bed for the duration.
Fast forward a few months. I finally decided around the end of June that I actually fancied it, despite the weekend being only one weekend before this year’s summer holiday. None of the family wanted to come up with me, which made it easier to plan on the basis that Scott’s family were also planning to be away. We’d got a weekend of quite laddish geocaching and beer drinking on the cards. Funny how things turn out.
Anyway, early in the week before I concluded that setting off early in the morning to drive to Scotland before a full day of caching wouldn’t be fun. It’s a long way and I’d be tired the whole time. So I thought it would be better to do few hundred miles on Wednesday night and make a fresh start on Thursday.
I looked for a hotel that was on the way. I didn’t see anything I liked at the top of England, so I went the whole hog and booked a place in Gretna. There’s a Days Inn at the motorway services there. The drive up was uneventful once I got out of the traffic in Northamptonshire. I arrived at the hotel at about 11 pm, having stopped for dinner on the way. The hotel was basic but functional and well positioned.
I planned to go up the west side and down the east side. Kas was taking the girls up to her mum’s, so there was an opportunity to break up my journey home by meeting up with them. That meant I could colour in a few more counties, and also that I could take my car over the new Queensferry Crossing. So Gretna on the way up, then.
You can tell from the map here that I’ve not done much caching in Scotland before. I made a business trip to Edinburgh in February. On that trip I went on the train and had no car at the other end. I managed to grab two traditionals and attend an event on the night I arrived.
This meant that the whole of Scotland was, essentially, my salt-water bivalve mollusc of the Ostreoidea superfamily. Starting Thursday morning in Gretna would mean I’d be able to get straight into it.
How many different districts can I find a geocache in on one day?
I couldn’t contemplate driving all the way to the Aberdeenshire Mega without a few geocache-based stops on the way. So for Thursday I mapped out a whole series of caches close to motorways where I could make quick and easy stops for geocaches. I wanted to maximise the number of different counties (or, in the case of Scotland, administrative units). The map shows there’s a lot of areas of white that could be turned to green. I did a similar thing on the way back down, except I was coming down the other side because I needed to go meet the family in Sunderland.
The districts I passed through and cached in were, in sequence, as follows :
On the way up:
On the way back down:
The Falkirk Wheel
I didn’t really plan in great detail. I was hoping to get roughly to the middle of the patch by lunchtime. Getting to Falkirk took me until 12:30, so I decided I could afford to spend a bit of time. I didn’t want to get to Aberdeen too early, as Scott was working all day. So I decided to do a few touristy things in the middle section – places I’d never been to when I lived in Scotland in the early nineties. To be honest, a couple of the places I planned to stop hadn’t been built back then anyway.
The first of these was the Falkirk Wheel – a rotating boat lift that raises (or lowers) boats by 24m between two canals. Parking was easy, as was the cache I tried in the car park, but I have to say the wheel itself was a little disappointing. Maybe with a bit more time I would have got more into it. They’ve made a spectacle of the whole thing, but on a sunny afternoon in the school holidays that just meant it was crawling with punters and their kids. And anyway, the way into the woods, and loads more caches, was blocked off by some inconveniently placed fencing.
So I moved on to what proved to be somewhere much more entertaining – The Kelpies. These are basically a pair of 30m high horses heads sculpted out of stainless steel. They sit astride another bit of canal. When I got there it was a very sunny afternoon and there were loads of people (again). In this park there’s enough room for them all to spread out a bit. There was an interesting selection of caches there too, and a good park to walk around. I ultimately stayed there a good hour and a half. One of the caches there was an augmented reality game thingy. I’d never done one of those before.
It was really rather warm while I was at the Kelpies, so I helped myself to the “holiday rules” staple of ice cream (and some more drinks) before leaving. A worthwhile place to stop.
…but they’ll never take our freedom
Next up was a completely unplanned stop at the Wallace Monument outside Stirling. Well, I’d planned to do a cache at the bottom, but hadn’t planned to stay any longer. Time was still in my favour though, as it was only about 3 pm when I arrived. Plenty of time to walk up the hill to the monument. I tried not to let on that I’m English, just in case anyone noticed. I think I got away with it. The walk up the hill was another welcome leg-stretcher after spending all morning in the car.
At the bottom I started to realise the time, so I quickly turned my bike round and grabbed another drink, and then jumped back in the car.
From here it was all driving. From Stirling I passed through the best-named district ever – Clackmannanshire. How could you not enjoy a name like that ? The road took me along the foot of the Ochil Hills in an easterly direction.
Once I entered Perth & Kinross I had a near disaster. I’d planned three potential cache stops, but the first two didn’t really have anywhere to stop (despite looking like they had) and I was frustrated enough with trying to find somewhere to stop that I drove straight past the third potential. This placed me on the motorway north to Perth still needing to find one. Whilst stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway I noticed I could sneak in a cache if I got off at the next junction. It needed a bit of dodgy car parking, but was then an easy find. I’d come back from the brink, as it were.
By this time it was getting late and, as I discovered just as I passed Perth, the City of Aberdeen is still quite a long way. It’s a long way from anywhere, to be honest. By the time I’d stopped again in Dundee and Angus, plus an unplanned one in Aberdeenshire, it was more or less 7:30 pm before I arrived at Scott’s house. His family hadn’t gone away for the weekend, as planned. I nicked his son’s bedroom for the duration, forcing him to go share with his older sister. They also fed me, which was unexpected and very welcome.
After eating we talked about this and that, and Scott revealed there were caches a few hundred metres from the house. It was too much to resist, so off we went. It took us three attempts, but I eventually got my 12th district of the day. At which point we retired to a nearby pub for a well-earned beer.
Soggy Friday – Weather that Scotland is famous for
The weather forecast for Friday was typically Scottish, by which I mean cool and grey, with the likelihood of heavy rain. It was wetter than something that’s very wet.
Scott volunteered to drive and we decided to go and have a pop at a bunch of the Munro Mega Mystery puzzles to the north-west of Banchory. Staying in the trees seemed like a good idea if it was going to rain. Optimistically there were two or three separate-looking loops of caches we could go for, depending on how fast we were covering the ground.
It was a day of learning from each other. Scott and his family had never really tried to do any puzzle caches before, so Scott was learning a bit about that. And I’d never walked in the woods in Scotland before. Scott’s main guidance tips were a) the caches are pretty much bound to be next to a path, as going anywhere else would risk dangerously boggy ground and b) it’s a good idea to assume that the path you’re on is likely to loop around rather than looking for another, or trying to walk cross-country when you don’t know the terrain. Wise advice indeed.
In some areas, the ground was what horse-racing commentators would describe as “heavy”. The footpaths also alternated between quite wide paths with bracken and pine detritus underfoot to very narrow paths with neck-high undergrowth. Those with the high undergrowth were obviously fun in the rain. We were basically soaking up to around chest height.
Hmmmmm!…. Still Wet
After completing the first loop (of about 24 caches) we retired to a nearby garden centre for a bit of lunch. The one in question had some nice warming soup. Not an obvious choice for most places in August, but very welcome on this particular day.
In the afternoon the rain seemed to have slowed up a bit, so we went for another one of the two circuits hoping to be able to finish that quickly and see how we stood. That one had 16 caches on an elongated loop starting from Banchory’s Cricket Club and Curling Club. Neither sporting venue was in use. They have an open-air curling rink which was, for all intents, a very square-looking pond. The cricket pitch looked much the same.
Anyway, it didn’t rain again for about three-quarters of that loop, but then the heavens opened once more and we got completely drenched just as we were starting to feel like we’d dried out. “Booooooo!” And “Hissssss!” I say. The drenching dampened the enthusiasm as well as the clothing. I looked at the proposed northern loop (the planned final one of the day) and suggested that 6-7 of them looked as if they could be done as a drive-by, so we went off with that in mind. Scott stayed in the car, while I jumped out, got wetter, and dashed as quickly as I could to and from a few more caches.
Once we’d done all the drive-bys the time was looking pretty much against us, and I think we were both completely drained by the wet, so we gave up and went home.
Once at home we got cleaned up and went out for some Italian food with the rest of Scott’s family, followed by a couple of quite half-hearted beers in what I’d think on any other night would be an excellent bar – six°north. By the time we went out the rain had stopped but it was foggy. When we left the pub the fog had gone and it was a lovely night.
Back at Scott’s gaff, we amused ourselves for a while by looking at photos of the entrance to the camping field at the Mega Event site. The rain and traffic had turned it into a quagmire. Eventually they stopped people from going in or out, as most were failing even with help from a tractor. They were just making the problem worse. It’s days like that when I’m glad I don’t like camping. The camping field isn’t normally a campsite, so it was just grass. The entrance to the field was just mud, no paving at all. Once it’s wet it stays wet until it dries out, as it were. The entrance to the field was impassable. Oops ! You have to feel sorry for the event organisers though. Weather as bad as that is something it’s difficult to anticipate, even in Scotland.
I didn’t take any photos during the day. Neither my phone nor my camera are sufficiently waterproof.
Finds on Friday and Saturday
Saturday is parkrun Day
The actual day of the Aberdeenshire Mega looked a bit more promising on the weather front. We started off with the distinctly non-geocaching activity of running a parkrun. Scott’s closest is, funnily enough, Aberdeen parkrun. Because it’s quite dark in the mornings in the Scottish winter, it starts at 9:30 rather than the more traditional English 9am.
This gave us the opportunity to grab a couple of geocaches before it started. One was a puzzle I’d worked out on the assumption we might come to this parkrun. The other was a trad which was located, as it happens, about 2 metres from the parkrun director’s table. That was a good thing, because I’d left my pen in the car for the run, so needed to borrow one. The table had a notebook and pen, and at the time was devoid of human presence. Ideal then.
The parkrun itself is a flat out-and-back along Aberdeen’s seafront promenade – out goes along the upper layer and back comes along the lower layer. The whole thing is over tarmac, fairly wide, and completely flat. That lot, combined with cool and slightly foggy weather, made for a fast run, and I set a new PB for this year.
So back to Scott’s for a quick change of clothes and then into the new cachemobile for a drive over to Banchory.
The Aberdeenshire Mega – I was beginning to wonder if this post would ever get there
I was very much hoping that the car park for the event wouldn’t involve grassy fields. The new car is a little closer to the ground than the old one, and I’m not keen on going off-piste in it, especially if the grass has suffered 24 hours of continuous rain. When we got on-site it was apparent that most cachers were parking in a grassy field. The man in the hi-vis jacket did say we were welcome to drive up to the top and see if we could get into the “proper” car park, though.
We considered pretending not to be geocachers, but just at the crucial moment, HHHP20 spotted my car. He was walking past just at that moment, and that ended any pretence. Still, the guy let us go up to the top, and when we got there, we found a parking space that was pretty much as close to the castle as we could ever get. Gardner parking-karma strikes again.
The event was being held at Crathes Castle, which I’m sure is a place I’ve been to before (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away). When we parked up, the whole place was blessed with bright sunshine, so we decided to go have a good mooch around the event site to see what, and who, we could find.
We found a bunch of people from the Beds, Bucks, Herts area and also found the new “Adventure Labs” caches in full swing. They are much like the old lab caches, except you have to log them through the phone app and, more importantly, you actually have to be in the right place when you attempt to log them. If you’re too far away, you can’t submit an answer.
We went into the event tent for a while too, where it was hot. Really hot.
To finish off the adventure labs we walked down towards the grassy car park, and by the time we got there we found ourselves amongst some new “real” caches that had been set for the event and were only released after I’d left home on Wednesday. We had to do them on the phone as a result. After doing the labs, mine was getting a bit shy on ziggies, but we had enough to get round the ones we did.
Once we’d finished, we decided to go head for a few more of the Mega Mystery ones. These included the few on Friday’s third walk (which we never did) and #34 – the one which required you and nine other people to be physically present at the event site at the same time. Or, in our case, finding someone who’d got the coordinates already. This one proved to be about 100 metres away from the first place we’d parked on Friday, but we didn’t know that at the time.
Saturday night was a bit of a “M’eh!” night. I needed to leave early in the morning and Scott needed to fetch Fraser back from work at 10 pm, so no beer for us.
A Long Way Home
I’d briefly entertained the idea of driving north through the districts of Moray and Highland but had been advised not to unless I fancied getting up before I went to bed, so I left Scott’s house at about 8am and headed straight back down the most direct route back to Dundee and Perth before stopping in Fife for a coffee and a couple of caches. Well, one cache, as it turned out. I wasted 20 minutes at the first planned one because I couldn’t find it. The second I tried was closer to the car and I found it straight away. Not to worry.
My target for the day was to get close to Sunderland between 2 and 3 pm so I could meet the ladies of the house and we could drive the rest of the way home in tandem. I didn’t really know how far that was.
The advantage of driving down the east coast was, of course, that I could stop in a bunch more districts to do a single cache. I limited it to one in each of the Lothians and two in the Borders. Time was disappearing rather quickly. I had no need to visit Edinburgh City as I’d found a couple of caches there earlier in the year on a business trip. Payback came just at the point where I left good roads to work my way down the single carriageway section of the A1. It started raining. Rain on a busy single carriageway means traffic slows down to about 35mph. This added a good 40-50 minutes to the trip.
I eventually arrived at Grandad Dennis’ house at about ten past three, where I had a quick cup of coffee and a biscuit before jumping back in the car at four o’clock for the drive home. At least I had Ami riding shotgun for that section, so we could talk a bit and sing to some dodgy music as we went. We were home after 9 pm, just early enough to go into the Co-Op to buy breakfast and beer. I made a fairly half-hearted attempt at beer, because I was a bit tired.
By the end of it, my caching map looked a bit more full, especially in the vicinity of Scotland. Mission accomplished.
A sunny Sunday afternoon in July, and I over went to Eltisley and Caxton, to the west of Cambridge for a bit of geocaching.
I’d fiddled with this year’s Groundspeak souvenir hunting exercise. They do one every year, They publish souvenirs to cachers who meet certain criteria for finds over the summer period. This year’s one includes some massive complexity in the setup. Caches were arbitrarily identified as being various parts of some crime detection game. You had to first find a policeman, or something. Next you had to find a handful of different clues and finally you had to locate five different jewels. On the previous day I didn’t really understand how it worked. I ended up making a couple of finds that didn’t contribute towards my progress. A friend told me it was best to just go out and find lots of caches, and see what happened. So that’s what I tried.
The village of Eltisley has a couple of relatively new series stretching towards Caxton. One series between the two villages was mainly over agricultural land, and the second, running east from Caxton, skirted the edge of the nearby town of Cambourne.
On with the walking
I parked up in Caxton, which meant the series formed a kind of figure-of-eight shape from where I parked. I decided to head west first mainly because it was the larger of the two loops.
It turned into a very warm day, and like a complete numpty I wasn’t carrying enough drinks. I’d got some, but only put one bottle in my bag. That was barely enough to sustain me around the first loop. This being the countryside, there’s not exactly a plethora of corner shops en route. At least I was able to pick up another bottle when I got back to the car.
By the time I started the second loop from Caxton my legs were starting to ache a bit. This part took me over a stretch of what I would call fields, but maybe more accurately scrubland. No real agriculture, as such. It took me to the edge of a new housing development in Cambourne where the builder had obviously been forced to construct a small linear park along the edge, ideal for walking dogs, screening off noise, and hiding tupperware.
A Change of Scenery
When I got back to the car it was still quite early in the afternoon. I’d sort of run out of enthusiasm for a while, so I decided to drive back towards home. On the way back I made a quick stop at Caxton Gibbet services to grab a McDonalds milkshake do a couple more caches. When I got nearer to home I elected to have a pop at a few new caches in Milton Keynes.
Pesh had planted a few new ones for his summer geocoin fair, and I hadn’t been to get them. I thought I’d be able to do them as a series of short walks, but once I started walking to the first one I concluded I’d be best off just walking around.
They were in a housing estate where parking opportunities are limited. Leaving my car in the only large car park in the village seemed best. It did make for a slightly longer walk than I could have done with. There was a cricket and jerk festival organised by the Friends of the Caribbean on one of the playing fields which involved lots of music and cooking, and also an ice cream van. I’m not sure how authentically Caribbean a 99 with flake is. After a long day out caching I wasn’t in the mood for food, even though it smelled fantastic. Maybe if I’d gone back in the evening.
I found 79 caches on the day. Most were near Eltisley and Caxton, as shown here.
There comes a point in the life of every house where you look at various parts and come to the conclusion that they just need to be changed. Time for a kitchen refit.
In the case of our kitchen, this came just under 20 years after we moved into the house. We’d still got the original builders-fit in place. Much of it was starting to look worn or damaged, and it was generally a mess. On top of that, we had a problem with the boiler. Gas service engineers had been telling us for years that they soon wouldn’t be able to get spares for it. We also knew we had a problem with the floor in one corner as a result of some water leakage out of the back of the dishwasher. We didn’t know quite how bad the problem was, but a spongey floor is rarely a good thing.
I figured if I was going to have to replace the floor, then that would mean the units over the top of it would have to come out, and hence the seed was sown that we should replace the cupboards with new ones rather than putting the old ones back.
We shopped around a little bit, including visiting a couple of the big chain suppliers, but in all cases these would require some extra effort in project managing the whole activity, and typically they also won’t quote for anything other than simply installing new units. Everything else becomes a job for “custom pricing” once the work starts. In this context, “custom pricing” means that you’re more or less held to ransom. Once the job has started and your old kitchen is done, you have to do whatever the contractors say. And pay them as much as they ask. Otherwise they’ll leave until you get someone else to do it. By which time they’ve started a different job. Because we wanted more-or-less of a rip and replace job, we wanted to avoid this.
We visited a small local company called Lima Kitchens to see what they were about – partly because of a recommendation from a running friend of Kas’s. They had some nice stuff in the showroom, and very importantly they offer an end-to-end service. So we thought we’d get them to do a design for us to compare against the chain competitors.
The design they suggested was so completely and utterly not like the big-chain suggestions that they more or less had us at that first step. They did it by actually sending someone round to the house and talking to us. Talking to us about what we wanted, what our gripes were, and how we wanted to use our new room. All very good, and when we went in to review the proposal we had a bit of a jaw-dropping moment. It was definitely good. In fact it was better than good. It was fan-dabi-dozi.
So once we’d finished admiring the design and giving some basic hints on the types of finish we’d want, we needed some lunch. We went to a nice pubstaurant in Stony Stratford to get fed and to think about what we’d just seen. We didn’t think about it for very long, though. On the way home from Stony we went back to Lima and paid them a deposit. We’d kind of decided just to get on with it.
There was a wait of several weeks after this while we finalised the design while Lima ordered all the stuff. That suited us because we didn’t want to disturb Ami’s period of mock exams during May. So we asked them to start after that. Anyway, it meant that the guts of the job could be done while we were away.
Everything went more or less to plan, with the notable exception of the wet floor being somewhat wetter than anticipated. This required a small “upgrade” to the work schedule to bring in a builder to replace a fairly significant portion of the chipboard and underlying joists in the soggy corner. Apart from that, though, all was pretty good.
They left us with water, power and heating every night, which was a challenge for them on a couple of days. On the day when they changed the boiler, for instance. That was a late night for the plumbers. When we got back from our holiday we had a functioning kitchen albeit with a dusty floor still and with a few doors missing from the units. Subsequent work rushed along nicely and after 3 complete weeks we were basically done apart from the decorating and a few superficial bits on the cupboards.
Now that we’re completely done, we have started using the kitchen as intended. The layout allows us to sit and hold conversations whilst cooking is in progress, and there’s more than enough space to sit and eat at the centre island. Deep joy.
Footnote (in 2021)
When we originally did the kitchen we didn’t think about the interaction between the door (which opens inwards) and the new island. After a while it became annoying. So we had it changed for a pair of French doors that open outwards. It is much better that way.