“Do-it-yourself”, the motto of first world western society, and of course here it is no different. Growing up in South Africa, we become so accustomed to having people help us with every day chores as well as with the ‘bigger issues’. Here, you’re on your own.

We are lucky, we have a chap that comes in for 5 hours a week to help us do the main clean and with some ironing, but the majority of people aren’t that lucky. This is, of course, a great help to us, but it doesn’t make a dent in the number of things we need to do ourselves – especially now that we are renovating.

Today’s schedule is as follows:

  • Finish painting shelves/cupboard in the study. (It has taken me 8 hours so far!!)
  • Paint shelves and walls in store room
  • Disassemble and move all (very heavy) furniture from master bedroom to elsewhere in the house.
  • When the paint has dried, move everything from cupboards in 2nd bedroom to study, and from master bedroom to 2nd bedroom.
  • Paint coffee table and set of shelves
  • Do the washing and hang out clothes
  • Pack and unpack the dishwasher
  • Move our new freezer to the garage, but only after the garage has been re-arranged.
  • Wash the floor in the entrance (had workmen in on Friday and have been sick last 2 days)
  • Catch up on tidying up the house (been sick for 2 days and things have fallen behind)
  • Cook Sunday lunch (we might give that one a skip as I am still not feeling very well)

The builders arrive on Monday morning, so we really have to have most of this in order before then. The only problems we have are:

  • Tim has hurt his back and is going to find it difficult to move things. We might have to ask the neighbours if we can ‘borrow’ their son to help. (Dave, our neighbour, has a bad back too!) Otherwise, I am just going to have to see what I can do on my own.
  • I am still feeling sick and my strength and energy levels are way below what it ought to be.

But unfortunately things can’t just wait, they have to be done today.

In South Africa, I was used to someone being able to help you: the maid, the gardener, perhaps one of your friends’ workers …. But here you are certainly on your own. And it is on a ‘needs must’ basis. Very often our house looks like a pigsty (well, to me anyhow), but I just don’t have the energy to do anything about it. You get so tired of repeating the same chores over and over and over again. And nothing stands still – there is always a new bundle of washing, a dishwasher that needs packing, a floor needs cleaning, a room needs tidying ….

Yesterday was a bit easier: I got up and made Tim breakfast in bed (our weekend treat), got ready to pick Lisa up at 10.00am to drive to Chapel-en-le-Frith (beautiful place in the Peak District where I work) to drop off our wrought iron fireplace with Patricia, a South African lady I am training at work. Her husband, Derrick, who is a welder, is going to weld a little broken bit for us. He is kindly doing it as a favour. Otherwise, I would have had to try and source a welder, which is easier said than done. Chapel is a good hour away (only 27 miles though), but it didn’t help that I started driving on ‘auto-pilot’ towards Glossop, and missed the turn-off!! So it took a bit longer. We stayed for a cup of tea, but had to get back as I had a number of things to do, as did Lisa (cleaning, ironing, studying).

On the way back we stopped off at a tile shop to pick up some samples, stopped off at a paint shop for (cheap) white paint, stopped off at a plumbing shop, only to find they were already closed. Not good! By the time we got back to Altrincham, it was almost 2.00pm. We popped into Sweethearts for a bite to eat (sandwich for me, egg on toast for Lisa) before I dropped Lisa off and I raced to Homebase (D-I-Y store) for some more paint (they didn’t have this one at the factory shop). I use the term ‘race’ very lightly. I was hoping to ‘race’, but due to a bizarre, no-logical-reason-for-it traffic jam, it took me ages to get there and back.

Once home, I quickly changed into my painting gear and got going. Tim and I had planned to see ‘Notes on a Scandal’ at the cinema at 5.30pm, meaning we ought to leave home by 5.20pm as we would be walking into town and we could afford to be a little late without missing any of the movie. I frantically painted for about 2 hours, getting paint in my hair in the process, before having to get ready to go out.

I cut it too finely, so there was no time for a bath or time to wash my hair or time to do some proper make-up, but just enough time for Tim to get the worst paint out of my hair, “stand still so I can get this paint out of your hair, will you?”, run a brush through my hair, change and apply lipstick.

The film (which Tim enjoyed and I didn’t) was followed by dinner at Dilli, our most favourite restaurant of all in Altrincham (or perhaps in the UK!). But Dilli’s deserve a post of her own, I shan’t go into anything more here …

But all in all, it was quite a busy and rushed day …