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A Busman's Holiday for Marty

As I mentioned last week, we have had a week of DIY around the house. Making the home presentable to all those friends, neighbours and relatives who descend on you at Christmas is very high on the priority list for my wife. I am a “take us as we are” type of person, but Claire is of the opinion that if you are married to someone who can do these types of jobs then you can't leave them undone. It just wouldn't look right apparently. No matter that I use up my weekends to reach her exacting standards.

First on the list was adding some heat to our conservatory. We originally installed it with underfloor heating, before we realised that heating a fully glazed structure with electricity is expensive....really expensive! So the only option is to add a radiator. So I had skirting boards off in the front room to run pipes from the existing rads, the soldering torch was on the go (much to the kids fascination) and I even insulated the pipes with foam. The last thing we need is another insurance claim due to burst pipes!

The conservatory is now toasty warm and is actually a room we can use for the winter. Why we didn't think of this before I'll never know. Well actually, I probably just didn't want to do the work – knowing me. So after all this, the front room needed a bit of tarting up. Just a lick of paint along the now new skirting boards and some spot cleaning on the carpet where I spilled caulking and got a bit too excited with the foam.

While I was doing this, Claire was busy cleaning the kitchen. The oven was in bits and she was up to her arms in Mr Muscle. But I have to admit it all looks so much better and being ready for Christmas is a weight off our minds.

The next on the list is the kids rooms. At this time of the year we always get rid of loads of old toys to make room for the new ones. That is the ones which have made it through the year. Toys these days are so plasticky and are mostly rubbish, that we are lucky if they last 5 minutes. Whatever happened to the toys which I had as a kid? Solid wooden and metal toys which you would play with for years before finally passing them on to your brother or your cousin. You couldn't do that with a £5.99 Barbie from Tesco with synthetic hair and poorly fitted hipsters.

I now have the rest of December off work. I know lots of people think that this is one of the bonuses of being self employed – but the fact that I don't get holiday pay seems to escape them. I have worked almost non-stop since the Summer in order to have three weeks to myself. Which it won't be, due to the dreaded in-laws. Having one non-paying client hasn't helped matters and has meant that I am going to be dipping into the overdraft again. But I do have a couple of jobs lined up for the New Year, which is a good start to 2010.

Well, as I am a man of leisure I intend on having a some fun over the next couple of weeks before Christmas hits. I doubt I will be allowed, but a couple of pub visits are on the cards and at least two rounds of golf. It might give me a bit of thinking time to try and sort out a suitable present for Claire – I didn't believe her for a second when she said “Don't buy for me this year”. I would be in the bad books if I didn't at least have something to give her on the day. It is just a question of what.
G L Smith and Sons