I'd heard the weather report. Storms. Rain sweeping up from the south-west. The North-West was going to be wet all day. I prayed that it would be dry for my move: I didn't want mud inside my beautiful new house.
It was the standard morning routine: husband left for work at the crack of dawn; I battled to get the children up and dressed, fed and out of the house before 8.15. My friend (very tolerant of an early start) had offered to take them to school, so I could meet with the architect at the house at 8.30. In the melee of getting the kids ready I missed a call from my site manager on my mobile. I listened to it as we walked down the road.
He said that the floor was still wet: the varnish was tacky. We couldn't move in.
My home is in boxes. My children are sorted. My removal men are due. My friends are organised into helping. But my house - hallway, living room, landing and spare bedroom - are all inaccessible.
The rooms aren't the problem. The problem is the hallway and landing. Getting to site the architect and I make an assessment. Upstairs was done first, so is drier. Putting down some rolls of cardboard there it is okay. However, the plank of wood from porch to first stair, set at a jaunty angle, is no comfortable route for removal men to carry heavy beds, boxes and furniture.
The architect and I have a quiet word. If we put all the downstairs furniture into the family room (it has a French window we can bring everything through) first, perhaps the varnish will have dried. If I can delay the removal men by a couple of hours, better still. The kitchen is filthy. In a typical male fashion, the site manager has arranged for a top-to-toe clean on the Wednesday - the following day! There are piles of dust covering the kitchen. "It's clean underneath," says the site manager, helpfully whipping off some of the card that covers my precious kitchen surfaces.
The kitchen, shortly before we moved in.
Finally I glimpse what it should look like. (But he was wrong about the cleanliness.)
The site manager is deputed to find a cleaner to come and clean the kitchen, whilst I go home to finish packing. I have two friends there already, so we grab brush, mop and cleaning materials and head back to tackle the kitchen. Who needs to pack when there is little to move in to?
Cutting a long day short, I have wonderful friends and rubbish builders. The removal men finally finished putting up our bed about 8pm, as the light faded completely. The builders hadn't put light-bulbs in the sockets, so it was getting most gloomy. The only lights that worked were the ceiling spots (well, most were in the ceiling: a few hung down from wires and many were at odd angles).
As I went to get the children I delighted that we were actually in ... but knew that this was just the beginning of a long haul to get the house finished. Everywhere I looked there were errors or tweaks or simple disasters to be resolved. The electrician had left us with a few circuits working. We had no door handles and, in many cases, no locks on the doors. We were tiptoeing over cardboard runways, hoping not to damage the floor underneath. Half the house still needed to be painted and glossed. And I haven't even started on the chaos that is outside: mounds of earth and rubble, no portaloo for the workers, mud squelching a path around the building.
Still, we're in. And that's good. Right?
Yes. But discovering before we went to bed that we had no water was not so good.