It's been a long time coming, and the final push was a heroic effort, but last night, around seven o'clock in the evening, history was made. I had a bath, in my own bathroom. My first bath in months.

Since early February the bath tub has been lying under a pile of detritus in one of the spare bedrooms. It needed to come out because I had to take up the floorboards to run cables. I also needed to be able to put in a decent floor, as the old lino was past it even before I ripped it up. Now we have lovely travertine tiles with underfloor heating so they don't freeze your bare feet on winter mornings. Decadence is an art form, don't you know.

I'm a big fan of old cast iron bath tubs. This one is satisfyingly deep, if a little shorter than I would like. They don't make them like that anymore, sadly, and I suspect that this particular tub was installed when the house was built, around a hundred years ago. Time has not been kind, and the interior is quite badly stained in places - curious blue streaks running down from where the old, hideous, gold taps (faucets, ok?) used to be. You think people might change a washer from time to time, but it's obviously easier to just let the drips drip.

how it was. Aren't those gold taps lovely? Mmmmm....

Worse still was the condition of the outside. This was not a luxurious, expensive bath, even when new. It was enamelled on the inside, but the outside sported nothing more protective than a thin layer of green lead paint. Over the years generations of tastes have changed the colour, usually by the application of thick coats of unpleasantly coloured emulsion. But only on the side facing the room. Having removed the bath entirely, and turned it upside down, I thought I could get away with a light sanding and cleaning of the existing paint before overpainting in simple gloss white. Being a semi-perfectionist, I would, of course, paint the whole tub, not just the bits that could be seen, but I saw no need to strip the thing back to the metal.

Sadly fate thought otherwise. No sooner had I wiped down the old paint with some white spirit than it started to crackle and fizz in reaction. The hammerite paint I was going to use would have done the same, so I had to give in and do the job properly. Stripping back the years revealed pale cream, blue, salmon pink and some oddly mucilaginous yellow as previous colours. Then the final layer of lead green. It took me three days to strip the whole thing back, and it's likely to take another three to clear up all the mess in the spare bedroom. Such is DIY.

the bath stripped bare

Still, it's done now, and looks splendid and shiny. I even took off the cast iron feet and painted them in a contrasting gold, which goes nicely with the stone floor. Getting it all back into the bathroom was a bit of a bind, involving as it did the removal of two doors, but I didn't need to call in a team of strong men, as was the case when we removed the thing. Now it even has a proper mixer tap with shower head.

yes, that is a bottle of beer. I take bathing very seriously you know

But why, I hear you ask, do you need a shower head on the bath? You've got a massive walk-in power shower just opposite. Ah, well. There's a reason for the madness, and it doesn't involve the Horse Doctor's leg hairs. Dog owners will understand, and owners of such short-legged breeds as Dachshunds will understand even more.

The shower head in the bath is not for human use, but for the ritual humiliation bathing of sausage dogs.

why me?


norby said…
Well done James, although the poor dog doesn't look all that impressed. I'm sure he'll have a different opinion of all your hard work!
swallowtail said…
wow. it looks stunning, and was obviously a huge project! no picture of you, Sir!
Ellen said…
Now that you're experienced, when can you come and fix my bath?
JamesO said…
SW - You really don't want a picture of me in the bath. I'm trying to write crime fiction, not horror.

And Ellen, I'd be happy to fix your bath the next time in Ohio. Can't say when that'll be, though.

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