Where there’s muck there’s brass

It’s fun being chair of the management committee for our block.

When we came back to Gib after a weekend in Spain, our neighbour knocked on the door to say he was going on holiday and could we possibly sort out the sewage drain that was overflowing.

Er no. Why should we sort someone else’s shit for free? We promptly shut our window onto that patio.

A couple of years ago our patio was full of shit for three months. That was probably about the time we had a plague of cockroaches.

Yesterday, there was a knock on the door and partner answered. I wasn’t available. I try not to be available. Ever.

It was an extremely pleasant person from Environmental Health. Someone had complained about – the sewage in the patio. It needed to be sorted or he would have to serve a notice. I wish I had known that three years ago. It never occurred to me to complain to Env Health. Or that they would react so promptly. Overflowing sewage is an emergency apparently. Not to our freeholder it wasn’t, back then. (He doesn’t live in the block).

Partner donned boots, gloves, mask and went down to look for the drain rods which had mysteriously disappeared from the store/cleaning cupboard.

I rang up for hire prices for drain rods. Cheap. I rang up for quotes for drain clearance. Expensive. He walked up to collect the rods.

He came back and cleared the two drains, flushed them with running water and disinfected the patio and drains. I sent photos to environmental health and today received a gold star.

Yesterday I also sent an estimate to hang wallpaper (Designers Guild) on a feature wall in an expensive flat. I haven’t heard back. For the cost of two people to hang wallpaper over the best part of a week, one person could clean two drains in half a day.

We are thinking about going into drain/sewage clearance.

I don’t think I need to explain what this is
Both drains – they were equally full
Running clear

And a previous paperhanging job that we did do….

Why do an interesting job hanging wallpaper at nearly £60 a roll when you can get more money for clearing shit?
The completed Manolo Canovas feature wall

Where there’s muck there’s brass

33 comments on “Where there’s muck there’s brass

    • Truth is, money rules all. Sadly.

      Paperhanging is a really satisfying job. I suppose clearing drains could be described as satisfying, it just doesn’t have quite the same artistic final effect. Nor does it command the same money.


    • I’m not really into feature walls. Too retro for me. But this was superb paper. It is one of the better papers we have hung. Sanderson ones used to be pretty good too.

      I just took the photos of the other stuff :( and held my breath.


      • Me neither – i’d rather a painting – but it’s a great pattern, and much nicer to work with than what your poor hubby had to do with the drains!


          • Nice post – I like Turner, too, well, I inherited a liking for Turner, who was a great pin up boy of my mother’s! For my own walls I enjoy things a little more exotic and bold – Rousseau was always a favourite – before I got into contemporary Asian art …


          • Oh, I forgot to add the kitchen post. Stupid me. That’s the second time today I have done that! :(


            I love Rousseau too. I did have Pisarro and Monet prints, but the one had been badly framed (went mouldy) and the Monet was pink and I grew out of pink rapidly.

            I agree it is nice to have local art. Not that I have bought any, but I do visit one of the local galleries from time to time and think about it!


          • I don’t have anything expensive – just wonderful, and original, pieces that give me pleasure not only in themselves, but the memories i have of where i was, and of finding them. Sometimes visiting galleries and artists studios is a great way to explore a new city – an interesting focus.


          • Yes, I think having art for personal reasons, taste, memories, or just enjoying looking at them is more important than buying an investment piece. Looking forward to seeing some of your pix maybe?


  1. LOVE the paper… can’t stand the way things work around here. Any time there’s a problem, before you even begin to speak they say ‘the problem is in the house, it’s not our responsibility’. In all the years I’ve lived here, it turns out the problem was NEVER in the house and was ALWAYS their responsibility.


    • The paper wasn’t my taste but it certainly looked great when we had finished. The flat owner came in at lunchtime and said ‘Wow!’. Even his picky partner was happy with it when he saw it too :D Phew!!

      I did think about you when I posted the paper pic because you have no paper on your walls, and yet, sometimes wallpaper is such a great touch to interior design. Ooops, waxing a bit over the top there.

      As for anyone else’s fault – the best is Sevillana/Endesa ripping off our electric outside box, never replacing it, and recently taping it up. There may, or may not be a post on here about it but I would have to look it up.

      Back to SG. Or Gib. We quoted for a job in Gib at Ocean Village. Boring bling money.

      An alternative quote for hanging some – expensive (and awful) – paper was from a SG based paperhanger. He wasn’t a legit Gib company but his quote was reasonable.

      Being ethical, and not wanting to undercut someone, we priced higher and tbh at a more sensible price. Because, this guy is not paying his dues in Gib, no tax, no social, no business reg, blah blah.

      I got a mail back saying that the papering could be done for three or four hundred quid. Us and the other guy had been quoting £1500/2000.

      There is no way you hang expensive paper for a few hundred quid. Ever. The bottom line is that any job has to at least cover the cost of the paper. And a few hundred quid didn’t do it.

      I can rant for ever and a day about hanging wallpaper. I love doing it. I love laying it out, see the pic in the blog? started from the middle to ensure it was a superb match across the wall. Takes ages though! More time to calculate and cut than to actually apply. A bit like tailoring (I’ve done that too).


  2. My husband loves paper hanging…his uncle taught him when he was a kid…getting him to do iffy bits like under a circular stone staircase and it fired him up!
    It’s the calculation he likes, i think.
    Not so keen on drains…but we had plenty to sort out when letting holiday houses…what people put down loos is astonishing.


    • I love the working out too. If you look at the first piccy, we centred the paper so that the design was perfect on either side and flowed from the middle.

      Oddly when we rented properties we didn’t have problems with drains. Usually with boilers. (More expensive :( )


  3. Hanging paper looks too tedious for me…I’m sure if I tried it would be like an “I Love Lucy” comedy show.
    Drains. Ugh. Used to have to work on my parents once in a while – we dreaded when they had lots of friends visit – finally got on of those little cameras on a wire to go through and see why there was a problem: it was a odd bit of concrete blocking passage in the city’s pipes – so complained and THEY had to fix that. YEA! All better. Just an example of badly done work by public contractor.
    You probably struggle with old systems…may not handle all the people and stuff thoughtless people do?
    Have a nice weekend!


    • Love hanging paper. But love long tedious painstaking jobs. Just like blogging?

      Only ever worked on drains since we had our own houses, although my father did unblock our drain when I was a kid AND always blamed it on me. :(

      snoses to you and Molly !!


  4. I haven’t hung wallpaper for years – I prefer plaster walls. In the 1980s I went berserk with woodchip but I don’t think I’d ever do that again! I’ve never shovelled shit either and hope I never have to.


    • Waaahhhh!! Woodchip was going out of fashion in the 80s (although people were still asking for it to be hung, just as they asked for walls to be artexed). Woodchip is hardly wallpaper though at around a quid a roll – then.

      I thought you were into getting rid of rubbish. Just a different type of rubbish. And lucrative!!


  5. My father was a painter and decorator and an expert wallpaper hanger, but sadly I inherited neither his skill nor his love of wallpaper. I much prefer plain painted walls, I’m afraid.

    As for drains, since we’re on a septic tank both in Wales and in France, we have our own drain rods and are experienced in using them. Having to clear drains because someone else has complained is another matter entirely and I reckon you may need to think about shedding the job of chair before long.


    • We did hang paper at one point in our first houses – it seemed a waste to be married to a decorator and not have wallpaper! Later I went for coloured paint walls. Now everything we have is matt white. Partly due to the climate, partly because the rooms are smaller than our UK ones were, and ultimately down to my middle-aged taste :D

      We had some drain rods but they seem to have disappeared in our move abroad. Hmmm. I’ve only been chair since July! I reckon I can stick it a it longer and as we are going through a transition period, I’d expected a few hiccups en route. We’ll see. IF people who owed their dues paid up, I could have afforded to get a firm in. But paying a couple of hundred quid would virtually decimate the current balance for the management of the block :(


  6. Where I grew up we all had septic tanks and soakaways. My dad dug out the soakaway- deep pit in the clay soil, fill with large rocks so that the effluent digested by the septic tank fills the gaps round the rocks so it does not leak to the surface before it has time to drain away. It was not nice when any part of it blocked. Dawson, down the road, all the time he lived there his house had a pervasive smell of poo, not alleviated by the constant Argyllshire “smirl”.


    • I’ve never had a septic tank although we nearly bought a spanish place without mains drainage. My dad was forever fiddling with our sewage drain.

      I guess your Argylllshire smirl is a bit like a Yorkshire sea fret. And whatever they call it in the northeast – I think it’s a haar.


  7. Yukk! Twice, I’ve lived in houses with septic tanks … only trouble!
    When I saw the wall paper hanging, it got me thinking … of all the homes I’ve visited since I came here, I haven’t seen one with wall paper. Here, now, we live in an apartment building … no wall paper. I haven’t thought about it before, but maybe it’s a ‘cultural difference’ between North America and Europe?!


    • I don’t think it matters with it is septic or mains drainage. Most drains/sewage systems seem to block up at some point just because they are all interconnected and people pour rubbish into them :(

      I always think of Northern Europe as being more wallpaper oriented. I’ve not seen any in southern Spain, and I’m guessing the feature walls we’ve papered here for customers comes from the Brit influence in Gibraltar. I can think of two reasons for not papering here, 1) a hot humid climate and 2) small flats where it would just be totally over the top (probably why people have feature walls done – and the cost of course too).

      Although we papered some walls in our own first three houses, the last three have all been painted.

      But there is some paperhanging goes on in America, we’ve read about it on professional decorating forums, and the level of skill seems very good. No idea about Canada though.


  8. I’m at a loss here, I couldn’t handle shovelling the sh!t… weak stomach would just add to the disaster but I am completely unco so wallpapering would be a disaster, and the best way for me to get the G.O. to paint something is to start doing it myself – I admire that you are both so hands on. Luckily for me the G.O. is, and I make a good cup of tea :)


    • What a star my partner was. And he really did a good job as you can see from the pix. When he first started poking around, I thought it was never going to unblock! Surprisingly when I was leaning out of the window it didn’t smell as bad as I expected. Just that slightly sweetly sickly odour floating around :D

      Yes, starting to do something yourself when someone can do it better is often a neat ploy.

      He is more hands on than me for heavier work. My better manual skills tend to be in sewing. When I do pix of my Gibflat I’ll include my curtains which came with us from the UK, and are extremely beautifully made :) (she says, modestly, but it’s true).

      I only started drinking tea when I went to India – there was nothing else on the trains. So by the time I got to Sydney I was quite into it. Our fave was China Black which I never found again after I left Sydney. Strange that considering it was Twinings. I’m cheap on the tea stakes, no milk, no sugar and so weak that you can get three cups out of one bag :)


      • The last sentence made me laugh… the M.I.L. thinks we are odd, and cheap because we share a teabag, and my pot tea… currently in favour is a Daintree Tea which has a gentle but robust flavour and pale colour and for those with different tastes looks on the cheap side, but isn’t :)


        • Sounds extremely nice. I’ll look it up, not I have seen it here. My tea of choice at the moment is Assam (supermarket own brand), and I bought a breakfast tea by a company called Ahmad which I’d never heard of but it is good. The others in the cupboard are loose breakfast tea, and sometimes I have Darjeeling kicking around too.


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