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The Refurbishing

Holly Cottage as it looked in November 1997. Old decaying windows, fraying internal decoration, furnishings straight from the 1960s, a creaking central heating boiler that would struggle to warm a matchbox, no upstairs heating, external drainage and gas pipes running the full length of the kitchen wall...............

... why on EARTH did we buy the place ? (See views ).

This is the chap who helped us transform Holly Cottage, the brilliant Mike ("now you`re not to worry") Ainsworth. When we were able to prise that mug of tea out of his hand, he demonstrated amazing joinery skills, organised builders, plumbers, central heating engineers, and generally ensured a first class job. A real gem. (there Mike, thats a tenner you owe me!)

Compare this to the photo of the staircase on the home page. Both were taken from almost the same position. To create room for the new ground floor shower and loo room, it was necessary to remove the staircase (and most of the ceiling!). This revealed that the existing supporting timbers for the first floor were dangerously insubstantial - more expense! The stairs were eventually repositioned two feet closer to the front door. Would we be able to save the existing carpets ? No. (groan)

Our luxury kitchen - or how it looked after we ripped the old one out. I was hoping to save those attractive wall tiles (j-o-k-e). The walls had to be thoroughly cleaned and painted before the new kitchen units were fitted. That flimsy electric heater was the only source of warmth available for several chilly winter weeks.

My entry for the "sad bloke of the year" photo competition. While all of the work was going on, I was staying alone at the cottage. My evening`s entertainment was a microwaved ready-meal, a glass (or two) of wine, and the Des O` Connor Show on TV (I believe that`s Kevin Kline on the screen chatting to Des). The thrill of all this was not enhanced by a lounge full of unassembled kitchen units, worktops and dishwashers.

"Just pile it all on the top" - Mike demonstrating how a skip lorry could be persuaded to defy the laws of physics. Thankfully, it all stayed on board and no innocent bystanders were decapitated.

Mike hard at work with his son, Matt - carrying on the family traditions of butties and mugs of tea (and excellent craftmanship).

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