To-do lists keep growing when you have an older house, says Jill Thorp

As the summer shows are now coming to an end, we have more time to focus our efforts on the ever growing job list. I’m a great lover of lists, mainly because I have such a poor memory!

Jill Thorp

Paul doesn’t fare much better with his memory either, perhaps we just have too much going on. We’re both guilty of walking into a shop and staring blankly around, trying to recall what was on the shopping list that we’ve forgotten to bring with us.

Luckily John-William doesn’t have a giant black hole in his head that everything disappears into, so we rely on him to remind us daily of what needs doing.

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Our house is full of lists. They’re on the kitchen table, stuck under a magnet on the fridge door, on top of the microwave, any available surface really. But things never seem to get ticked off.

As the weather starts to turn, I’m reminded every time I step out of the house, it still needs painting. The white facade is not so white, especially on the back side of the house that gets largely ignored. It’s a mammoth task, one that gets ignored all summer when the weather is good.

The window frames are on their last legs, the paint is peeling and the wood is decidedly soft in places. The workshop window which had a huge crack across it, is now in pieces thanks to a little person and his football and yet again the garden has beaten me. It resembles a small impenetrable jungle of climbing roses, ivy and nettles.

I sigh as I pull into the yard every evening, the unloved look about the place leaving me even more drained after a day’s work. The trees and hedgerow we planted now tower above us, conveniently blocking out the wall of wagons thundering past, but now robbing us of light.

I’m sure anyone who lives in an old house will know the feeling, the constant work and upkeep, followed by the “now what’s broken” sigh.

Jobs are never small. What can start out as a simple bit of “touch-up” decorating usually leads to half the horse hair plaster dropping off the wall, the entire room needing re-boarding and plastering and then decorating.

And of course those three innocent little letters “DIY” usually send Paul fleeing into the distance, returning only when hunger pangs have got the better of him.

Both of us work best when forced into a corner, for example when our families descend on us for Christmas.

Our latest “unwanted” visitors forced our hand last week when we arrived back from our holiday. Ants. Ants in their thousands. Thankfully contained between the 12in gap between the two sets of windows in the house.

The outer window in John-William’s play room was black with them, the cavity space crawling. I stood next to the little guy, almost mesmerised by the sea of bodies crawling up and down the glass. It made my skin tingle just watching them.

Paul’s voice broke me from my glum thoughts of “whatever next”. “Better add that to one of your lists” he muttered.

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James Mitchinson