So, the cottage is now uninhabitable but warm. Loft debris has been bagged up, insulation board fitted and I have even managed to fill some of the holes in the plaster in the main bedroom.
Downstairs HWIOO has removed the 1970s yellow brick fireplace to reveal – a lot of infill. We are going to confer with someone before doing anything else about that. On a positive note the outside of the chimney breast is lined with real sandstone which looks very impressive- we’re just not sure where the lintel might be hiding having spent a half half hour tapping the plaster as though searching for secret passages to a forgotten kingdom.
While all this was going on a gas engineer was fitting our new boiler – he was slightly flummoxed by our three foot thick walls but a flu arrived by courier this morning to sort that particular difficulty. DHL arrived to take away the old boiler and two carefully labeled plastic bags of rubbish that he’d generated. How I wish now that I’d said to the friendly collection driver that the line of blue bags in the hall were all part of his remit.
This afternoon we thought we would take the results of our handiwork to the tip. Thus far we have found the employees of the local recycling site very helpful. Unfortunately today’s visit was slightly different. We had sorted everything so that we could drop wood, household waste etc into the correct skip. It all started very well but then a personage in a bright orange jacket – and yes he was holding a clip board- stopped HWIOO to enquire what was in the blue rubble sack that he was on the point of dropping over the side of a skip. It contained leaves and moss (the insulation from the roof) – a previous visit had seen it deposited in non-recyclable waste. Sadly it turns out that our elderly leaves were ‘contaminated’ this turned them into hardcore – now I’ve always thought of hardcore as, well, concrete and bricks but clearly I’m an amateur when it comes to these things. He then made an inspection of the fourteen bags that remained in the back of the car.
“You’re not allowed to bring this here. You’re allowed to bring two bags of hardcore each week.”
“Well I can’t put it in the bin.”
“Your builders should have taken this away.”
“We’re doing it ourself.”
Raised eyebrow. “Well then its your responsibility to dispose of your rubbish.”
I looked around the car, and yes, we were in a recycling centre as opposed to say – a garden centre or supermarket. “Yes, that’s what we’re doing.”
“You should have got a skip.”
“I would have done if I hadn’t required a permit to have it on the road in front of the house.” HWIOO walked quietly in the opposite direction leaving me with Orangejacket and his clipboard.
“It’s up to you where you live – you’re only allowed to bring two fifty kilo bags of hardcore to the council each week and you’ve got twelve.”
Actually we had fewer because WHIOO had just removed a further two bags. He’d opened the car door while Orangekjacket was waving his clipboard under my nose. I noticed that HWIOO was depositing the bags where we’d been told to put them last week watched by Orangejacket’s two subordinates – though they may have been Santa’s elves. One of them had just retrieved an elderly Christmas tree and was dangling an assortment of shiny objects from the spindly branches.
“But that’s a bag of leaves.” I peered at the bag that Orangejacket had just inspected.
“And that’s old flooring .” I pulled the next bag open.
“Well you can put that in the wood skip but you’ll have to take the rest away.”
“Let me get this right. We’re allowed to bring two bags a week.”
“But there’s not fifty kilos in any of those bags.” I mean I may be a boilermaker’s great granddaughter, granddaughter and daughter but it doesn’t mean I’m built like a navvie.
“Those bags will take fifty kilos.”
“But I can’t lift fifty kilos.” (I’m not absolutely sure that I can’t but it sounds like rather a lot of bags of sugar.)
“You’ll have to take them away.”
“Do you know,” I am beginning to feel irritated. “I can see how things end up being fly tipped. I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours working extremely hard, have bagged it all up in an effort to keep the place reasonably tidy and then we’ve come to the right venue and now you’ve told me that I can keep coming back each week for the next six weeks with two bags. How is it different if we bring it in one load?”
“I don’t make the rules. What if everyone wanted to bring a carload of rubbish?”
Oddly enough that’s what I thought the council recycling centre was for but I didn’t think it would be helpful to say so. I glanced around looking for some kind of inspiration. “I know you don’t make the rules.” There was one other car in sight. The old chap smiled at me and rolled his eyes. Beyond him Orangejacket’s two colleagues looked sheepish but very festive in their now tinsel decked hats. The tree even had some baubles and a fairy with one wing balanced precariously on top. I took a deep breath. “You really are going to send us away?”
“Don’t you ever wonder why people dump their rubbish?”
“A lot of people threaten to flytip their rubbish when they speak to me. It’s illegal but its up to you.”
“I’m not threatening to do it,” I can hear my voice rising to a squeak. “I’m just saying I can understand why people might be tempted to do so. What do you suggest I do?”
“It’s your responsibility to have your building work waste responsibly disposed of.”
Hang on – we’ve been here before. It’s deja vue all over again. “That,” I say sweetly, “Is what I am trying to do but you won’t let me.”
“I’ll give you the telephone number. The council run a waste collection service.”
“Is it free.”
“No but you can’t expect them to come out and collect stuff like this for nothing.” The clipboard flaps.
“That is why we brought it here ourselves.”
Needless to say we left. Orangejacket waved cheerily with his clipboard as we pulled off and his tinsel clad subordinates suddenly became very busy.
Here are my options – at two bags a weeks it will take me until the end of February to get rid of the rubbish we have collected so far and that’s assuming that we don’t generate any more plaster waste as plaster is also deemed to be hardcore nor tiles from the kitchen or bathroom because they too are hardcore. Alternatively I need to make friends with several of my car driving neighbours who might take pity on me and remove two bags each as a housewarming gift. A third option is to wait for Orangejacket to be elsewhere and then visit the recycling centre as I’m sure the elves won’t mind. Last time they helped us carry the bags and put them in the skips. The only problem with this is that I can remember Orangejacket’s highly visible and probably very rule applicable outerwear and his clipboard but not what the chap actually looked like – though I do recall he was very ernest.