Well, you never know what a day is going to bring and so it proved today. The day started off whilst Meg and I were in our dressing gowns as the patio cleaning firm which we thought would turn up yesterday actually turned up today. After an estimation and a price had been agreed, the trio of men started work. The first stage was evidently to clear everything off the patio and it was piled, somewhat higgledy-piggledy upon our back lawn. Then a special solution was applied the function of which was to attack both the black mould and the white spots of algae that had eaten their way into the stonework. The crew departed for an hour or so and then came back and started work in earnest. I have to say that the end result was that the stonework came up in a series of muted colours that we had not realised actually existed. Evidently, when the patio had been laid down some 17 or so years ago, a selection of stone had been carefully chosen and the colours came up to give a very pleasing effect. The patter from the head of the crew was that if you were to lift these stones (which we would not) and sell them they would go for at least a couple of thousand. Whether this is true or patter who is to say. but it was certainly streets ahead of the buff coloured concrete that passes for patio paving these days. Now this is when the fun started. The act of hosing/cleansing had loosened if not dislodged vast chucks of the original grouting. If the truth be told, it was never in the first place a professional grade grout but rather a simple sand-and-cement mixture and over time this had cracked and loosened. Meg and I knew in our heart of hearts that the existing ‘grouting’ was not really fit for purpose and it was pointed out to us, quite forcibly, that if we mixed ‘old’ and new grouting the overall effect would like a bit bodged up. So we did agree to a much more extensive job in which all of the old grouting was removed. I would estimate that we had 250 yds of grouting to be replaced and I knew from previous researchs on the internet that the specialist grout compound on its own could cost us a pretty penny. Anyway, after some negotiation we agreed a price which was a considerable increase on the initial quote. However, we have been saying for years that our patio needed a makeover so we reluctantly agreed. At the same time, the firm cleaned a small area of roof for us (the difference being dramatic) and was then touting for the whole roof to be cleaned with their specialist steam cleaning equipment. At this stage, we telephoned our son and daughter-in-law to have a family conference on whether we should go head. or not and the consensus view was ‘enough was enough’ and we should assess whether the patio cleaning job turned out to be as good as claimed and we could then make a decision as to whether to proceed with the roof or not. We all agreed upon this and although the firm kep on discounting the price to us we felt we had probably agreed a price that somewhat on the high aide to start off with so we should stay our hand and be content with the patio alone.
As our son and daughter-in-law had come over to help us assess what had been done and how we progress from here, they stayed on throughout the rest of the afternoon. My daughter-in-law helped Meg to sort out some of her clothing so that she can find quickly ‘what goes with what’ and then Meg and went to church at our normal time. When we returned home, I looked at the ‘mess’ of things on our lawn which were now all covered in a sort of sandy grime. The firm had initially indicated that they would put everything back the way they found it but then at the end of the day informed us that we had best keep off the patio for a week to allow the grout to settle. So during the week, I will have quite a job to clean up some of the things we stored outside such as our rubbish bins, some gardening things, table and chairs and what-have-you. Having quickly made some order out of the chaos, I knew that the car needed a quick flash of a wash before we made our journey up the motorway to see Meg’s relatives in Bolton tomorrow. Now we are settling down to ‘watch’ the Eurovision song context except that Meg and I will go to bed about 10.00 or before and listen to the rest of it in bed anyway. Ukraine are bound to win – but can the UK come second this year? At the last moment, though, we decided that Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd‘ was a better watch for us.