Site meeting with the builder and the architect. There is suspiciously less house than there was. I was reconciled to the loss of the kitchen wall but there are walls missing all over now. It is as if someone is rubbing out bits of my life. The meeting went quite well apart from the fact one of the cottages needs to be entirely replastered because of the state of the existing plaster work. "Is it in the spec?" I asked hopefully. No, it's not in the spec so that is an add-on cost. I spotted some cracks in the plaster work upstairs. It looked as though the wall was thinking about leaning backwards to get a better view of the sea. The builder reassured me that it would not be just gaily replastered. He slapped a hard-skinned, dusty hand against its fragile plaster skin. "We'll get a rubber mallet and we'll make sure it's all quite sound before we do the replastering." He slapped it again - brutish and professional. I did not find that as reassuring as he expected; I could tell the wall felt the same way.
It is the unpredictability of it all that I find mildly disconcerting; as if you had clambered on to a big red bus and said to the conductor: "A single to...well, wherever we end up." The downstairs concrete floor is uneven and I would like it to be warmer. There is a solution; polystyrene, chipboard and oak flooring. "Is it in the spec?" Funny you should ask - No. The last time I was up, I asked about stripping back the peeling painted beams in the living room. Today I was told the decorator had thought about it and said it would be very expensive (I already knew that was not in the spec); the builder suggested we might be better painting them in blackboard paint. Why would I want to paint them in blackboard paint of all things I wondered. Also, we have knocked down so many walls, there is an unsupported staircase which hangs in the middle of the living room. It looked OK on paper but in reality it is reminiscent of being on board a ship. I keep expecting a cabin boy to skip down it with a tankard of ale for the captain. I wondered whether it could be moved. It can't.
We were presented with a bill for the first four weeks of work: £7,500. I am sure it could have been worse. I still like my builder and the envelope could have had my name on it rather than my husband's. Why would they put his name on and not mine I wondered? The architect handed it to me; I looked at it and thought: "What the hell, it's not addressed to me." I smiled cheerfully at my husband and passed it along.