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Tuesday, August 2

Sadly, my girlfriend had to leave the city in order to go home to get ready for her holiday. However, we did meet up for lunch, which was a nice way to break up my day and she had been staying longer than planned (or indeed expected) which was a bonus in itself.

As I sat in the office, with nobody to go home to, I conceived a plan for the night. This was going to be agility and dynamism personified. I had already been pondering the imminent arrival of a friend's boxes of stuff, which I was going to be storing in my loft while she went away for a year. How could I store the stuff? Surely it would be tricky to get it all into the loft? I had no ladder, and I'd never really seen much of my own loft, except vaguely and by torchlight. I wanted it boarded and I wanted some light up there. So, how could I do it?

I decided that I would board my loft in one evening. I needed loft-boarding skills in order to be able to please my sister at some future point when she might ask me to make good on my promise to board hers. So, could I do it in one evening? Well, not exactly. Boarding a full loft is a massive operation and the edge-cutting alone could take an evening. However, making a loft "boarded enough" for my purposes could probably be done in one go. I had 5 and a half hours from leaving work to get it done within the same day as I decided to do it.

I had a shopping list. I needed:
  1. Floorboards for a loft
  2. Some means of getting up to the loft
  3. Some sort of light
  4. Screws
  5. Some means of putting the screws in
That's not too big a list. I contemplated buying a loft ladder, but realised that I didn't need a loft-specific ladder. I'd have to buy a regular straight-ladder to be able to get up there in the first place, so why go to the bother of installing a loft-ladder too? I don't plan to visit the upper floors very often.

As for a light, I reckoned I'd need an inspection light - a wee bulb in a cage - especially as I would have to turn off the upstairs lighting circuit to work in the loft - handling the lighting cables - and would want a light I could run from a power socket. However, I also bought a pull cord and a bulb holder, so I could install a proper light in there when the time came. I bought some wire too (and some other bits and bobs, just in case).

I couldn't buy enough floor boards to cover the entire loft, but I could buy 8 packs - at £4 each, that wasn't much cash, but it was enough wood to do the business. Bear in mind that I was working alone and so would have to find some way of getting all this wood into the loft. Getting it to the first floor of the house was bothersome enough.

Finally, I bought what I thought was a corded power screwdriver. Frustratingly this turned out to be a lack-lustre cordless driver, which was of little use to me. I ended up using my regular cordless drill. Never mind.

So, could I board my loft in 4 hours?

Well, actually, yes. It took a while to get going. The first couple of boards went down easily, but then I had to reroute some cabling. This gave me an opportunity to wire in my permanent light and also to knock out the mains circuit for the entire house. I was working with the lighting circuit disconnected, but accidentally touching earth and neutral wires together seemed to disappoint my fuse box. Nothing was damaged and it's nice to know that the fuse-box protection stuff actually works!

With the light installed and a few more boards down, I hit a critical mass where getting further boards down was pretty easy. My drill's power went after a while and so I took to laying the boards down without screwing them in. They still work when not screwed down, and enough were screwed down to give me a firm base to work from. I can screw in the boards later on.

Despite wearing a face mask for much of the operation, I had a nose full of dust and a headache when I came down the ladder, put everything away (or at least in a pile) and completed my vacuuming up of the detritus that had fallen from the loft. I hadn't done a bad job. I'd rerouted some cables, removed the ancient wiring that was still up there from when the house was first wired up for electricity, put down 24 floorboards and made a habitat for the boxes soon to arrive.

I'd tackled my fear of something "coming to get me" while up there - somehow the unexplored territory of my loft seemed a bit foreboding, and I'd also removed the corpse of a small bird that had died up there sometime. Not bad for an evening's work.

I slept well!

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