DAY FOUR: 7.30am
A cold, dark, rainy morning. The tower is in place and I have arranged to meet the team from World of Solar on site at 7.30am. But I was ‘home alone’. Still, I made myself useful as I just got a message from the builders telling me that it would be sensible to put at least two coats of primer on the fire exit door as otherwise the heavy rain will warp it!! So, there I am in the pouring rain with a plastic sheet over me and the door, painting and, no, I was not singing “I’m singing in the rain”. It was more a case of “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. But, in between rain spells, I got one layer of paint onto the door and the wood was not too damp so, hopefully, the paint will stay on.
Contractors arrived to install the solar panels in the rain! They really don’t mind getting wet. In fact, one of them told me he runs on Bognor Beach at 5 o’clock every morning. To prove it he showed me his soaking wet trainers. So, after a quick hot drink, they set to work, despite the torrential rain. After two hours the panels are in place and the men unpack their hair dryers – I thought they were going to do some cutting and styling but, instead, they set to work drying out their clothes. Unfortunately one of the panels got broken in transit so, no sooner had the men dried themselves off, than another van arrived with a replacement panel. So, back up on the roof they went. But at least the rain was no longer torrential. They put in the electrics and stacked our four batteries in the store room. These will be useful on days when it is not sunny. We can set the timer to download cheap electricity at night and then use it during the daytime when the electricity rates are higher. I can’t take any credit for this cleverness – I have my husband to thank for working that one out. It is lunchtime. The men eat and then leave. Yes, leave. Apparently they love commercial jobs because there are (usually) no roof tiles to lift off or loft ladders to climb with heavy batteries. They simply drilled through our metal roof and attached the solar panels to the purlins (metal roof rafters … I had to google that one). So, here I am at 2pm. The workmen have gone and the sun has come out, just as I finished washing out my paint brushes. Still, tomorrow is another day – said another (far more famous) Annie.
DAY FIVE (7.30am)
Another early start but, this time, the workmen are waiting for me to arrive. Today the crew from Air Temp will start the installation of our Air Source Heat Pump heating system. But, first of all, the obligatory hot drinks served, yes you’ve guessed it, by yours truly. As a non caffeine drinker I am getting quite good at making builders’ tea and coffee. Strong please. A lorry turns up with a mass of metal poles. Yes, you’ve guessed it, yet another tower to be assembled. Each contractor has ordered their own. To date we have had three delivered, erected, dismantled and removed from site. So, up they go to work high up in the rafters, drilling away. They can only carry out ‘stage one’ as they prepare for the electricians to come in after Christmas to connect up everything. Then they return for ‘stage two’ … a bit like a Christmas Lights ceremony but without any publicity or ooohing crowds. They will be working at the barn for the remainder of the week so they will keep me company as I put on the second coat of primer paint to the fire exit door. That complete I tackle the door and window of the new Wardrobe Room. Using masking tape I carefully protect the glass and door ironmongery … how professional is that? (If you saw the sloppy paintwork I did in the rain you will appreciate that I wished to demonstrate to everyone that I do know how to paint semi-professionally.) So, two coats of primer applied to the outside wall but I can’t paint the inside as it is too dark – we will not have electricity switched back on until early January. So a slight pause in the painting. Just as well as I have a blister forming on my brush stroke hand. Oh how painters must suffer? I think I will wear gloves on my next painting day. So, using my blister as an excuse, I wash out my brushes, stamp on the paint can lid to seal it, and set off home. Six hours of painting, one hour of driving, and a Board meeting to prepare for this evening. Oh the joys and delights of a pro bono charity CEO.
The author: Anni Steere Rhodes is Founder of Head2Head Sensory Theatre. Find out more about Anni and her charity on our About Us page.