Sunday 18 November 2012

And on it goes.....

Armed with a small glass of ginger wine (note to self - bring some back from UK on next trip) and a few nibbles, and urged on by some forceful voices from across the ether, I am sitting down to report on what has been achieved since my last post just over two weeks ago.

I am delighted to be able to tell you that I had not dreamed that so much could be done before I leave for England this coming Thursday.   I had thought that most of the work such as painting, carpentering (does this word actually exist? If not, it really should) etc., would have to wait until daughter (butterfly of Words and Pictures) and I get back here sometime after Christmas.

Close followers of the blog will remember leaving a room full of assorted furniture made of many different woods and colours.

Whilst the intrepid van drivers, Paul and Simon, were still here we relaxed and did some gentle sight-seeing, but as soon as they had departed on Sunday 4th November a friend came round with her tame carpenter to talk about putting counter tops onto the ex-BBC cupboards you can see on the right of the small picture.   To my amazement he said he could probably do the job (in between others - he's a popular carpenter) before I left for the UK towards the end of the month.   He took all the necessary measurements and went off to prepare the wood at home.

Our tiny town rejoices in the presence of one of the best dedicated paint shops in South Bohemia and so I went there on the Monday to ask about a good (and preferably inexpensive) painter since I had decided that butterfly's talents would be far better occupied in the New Year with working on dolls house renovation rather than painting all the units so that they looked like a coherent whole instead of one big mess.

Cue digression: If you don't know The Spooky Men's Chorale from Australia I strongly recommend them to you.  This song of theirs could rightly be my theme tune.....

By Tuesday morning at 7am I had met the painter (who sports a beard and head of hair rather like John the Baptist must have had when he emerged from the desert), not much later we had chosen the paint and sorted out what he was going to start with, and I left him to it.   I dropped in early on Wednesday to admire what he had done but was somewhat concerned at how pale the light blue paint I had chosen was turning out to be. The photo is actually misleading - it was much paler and bluer than this slightly lilac effect.

I was assured that the second coat would come up darker but I woke at 4am convinced that I had made a horrible mistake and that the white walls, with the massed blue-white units plus the fact that several of the dolls houses are also white, would look horrible.   I was so agitated that I couldn't drop off to sleep again until I could get hold of the painter at the crack of dawn to stop him putting on any second coats.   I got him at 6.45am by which time he had already put a second coat onto three of the drawer units but he seems completely unflappable, said he could use up the first lot as undercoat so it wouldn't be wasted,  and by 7.15am we had emerged from the paint shop complete with the new colour.

I am thrilled with the result - friends who visit me will have no difficulty in recognising it since I have it on all my outside doors here and it is going to offset the houses beautifully. 

(I know that because whilst I was waiting for it to be late enough to phone the painter I ran around the four houses I had here in the ex-barn, putting a piece of wood that had usefully fallen off my front door against each of them...)   

And boy am I glad we didn't attempt the painting ourselves - it's a much bigger job than I had realised and he is stunningly well-organised, and the finish on everything is brilliant.  And he has also done the horrible radiators......  

By Tuesday this week the painter had done all that he could before the carpenter did his stuff, which was going to be at the weekend and so I could turn my attention to getting the blinds up.   
I had not been able to source any within my budget that were big enough for the windows so I ended up with two for each window from one of the big DIY stores in a nearby town.  My original plan had been to ask a friend to put them up but he felt that my drill might not be powerful enough and he did not want to risk making unneccessary holes in the walls and then not managing to get the job done.

One of the things I have been anxiously waiting for, especially since I am having a problem getting any Czech insurance company to cover the museum contents, were the bars on the front windows.   I realised that if men were coming to put these up they would certainly have big enough drills to get the blinds up as well.   So I phoned the Head of Works and was relieved to hear that not only were the bars coming in the next couple of days but that the men could also do the blinds - well that's what he said anyway.
I arrived at the museum at 7am on Thursday to explain how the blinds needed to go up to find the men already busy with the mřiž (excellent pronunciation practice for those amongst you learning Czech!).   I need not have risen so early - it was after 8 before they came in to look at the blinds and then there was much tooth-sucking and "We can't possibly do this, you will need a proper company to do this job".  They also insisted that it would not be possible to put them up above the windows but that they would have to fit into the niches, which didn't suit my plan at all since I want to use the wide windowsills for display purposes.   After some persuasion on my part one of them suddenly acknowledged that yes, I was right, and there were two ways of putting up these particular blinds.  (I knew that all along - that's why I bought them!)

More tooth-sucking and then one of them made a phone call which resulted in the rapid appearance of both the Head of Works and the Mayor.   I must have missed the bit in which agreement was reached that they would have a go since the next thing I knew was that they had to go to deliver some wood (where to I know not) and would be back in half an hour, together with some long, strong screws.

I filled in the time with attempting to make dividers for the storage drawers and established that it takes two large fruit boxes to make a set of dividers rather like these.   Cutting the boxes up is hard work, especially with the wrong equipment - I swear they are better made than some modern furniture - and I can tell you right now that my drawer dividers will not be covered in giftwrap!

 The men reappeared on time and then it was as if they had suffered a sea change.   With the utmost skill and professionalism they measured, drilled, put in screws and up went all four blinds within a very short space of time.   I summoned up my best Czech and told them they were hvezdy (stars).  "Oh" said the big burly one, "no one has ever called me that before". And off they went, refusing any beer money. 

So now all that is left is the transformation of the BBC filing cabinets and the painting thereof.  Since the latter hasn't yet happened I think I will keep both those things for a last blog from the Czech Republic just before I leave on Thursday - this one has gone on quite long enough and I have finished the bottle of ginger wine.....

Thank you for continuing to follow this journey to a museum in the Czech Republic - I am still searching for the right name for it - and I hope to see you here again soon.


  1. What wonderful progress, Gil! You must be thrilled.

  2. Weird seeing all that stuff gone green... I'm sure it will all look fabulous once it's set up! Hope you're not too drunk now with all that ginger wine...
    Alison xx

    1. I found it weird when it was blue, the green is fine.

      I was just thinking that I had no clue how to reassemble the room divider that had been at the foot of my bed when lo!it serendiptiously appeared in the latest Skonto (Ikea-lookalike store) catalogue that came through my letter box. So at least we will have a picture to go by....

  3. It all looks wonderful! I can't wait to see it. And what did you mention Ginger wine for?!!! You have made me want some ginger wine & hot apple juice! xxxxx

  4. Things really are taking shape, aren't they - I'm sure you are really thrilled with how much has been accomplished in two short weeks! Clearly your very versatile and very willing workmen are doing a wonderful job for you. I will raise a toast to your continued progress in a glass of Ginger Wine later this evening!!

  5. A quick update - sad shock this morning when I opened the gate at 6.45am to the painter. He was shorn :-(

  6. Golly, do you think these excellent workers would teach the English how not to waste time? I am gobsmacked at how much they have got done. It all looks pretty amazing, Gil, and can't wait to see the end result. Mary Riches

  7. What a flurry of efficient activity! Very exciting to see splendid progress - and presumably much more was accomplished since your post. Hats off to all.

    1. There will be an update in next couple of days. Slight hitch has occurred....but not overwhelming.