Our next door neighbour is a bath mogul. I was surprised. Bath showrooms are such sterile places, it's a leap for me to imagine actual breathing, moving, feeling people designing and manufacturing baths. If I really challenge myself to summon up a bathing magnate to my mind's eye, he - Maurice, that is, though a smartly turned out man, doesn't fit my super-shiny, botoxed and pommaded stereotype. What's more, I naturally assume that manufactured glossy stuff comes from the Far East, not Yorkshire....home of earthy worsted textiles and steel.
Over 9 months here and the absence of a bathroom has been concentrating our minds. The 'temporary' shower cubicle in the old sluice room does a fine job of keeping us clean, and we've adapted out of necessity to embrace the functional, yet wonky 'no frills' spaces in the house just as much as the grander ones. But after a long day of digging or lugging I miss not having a bath to soak in. A bath is my chicken soup.
Most of our renovation efforts so far have been dedicated to stripping back the top floor with the hope of creating a self-contained annexe where family, friends and perhaps the odd Air BnB guest can spend a few days. We've had a free-standing kitchen still box fresh and waiting in the wings for a good 6 months, but its a no brainer that our next step has to be conjuring up a bathroom from the disabled toilet.
The room isn't huge and space is eaten up by a wide doorway, a sloping ceiling, and old boxed-in pipework. In fact, there's debate about whether having both a bath and shower unit is sensible, but with the help of cardboard templates, a workable footprint for the bathroom emerges. It's clear though, that sourcing the right- sized components will be key.
Our first visit to a bath shop doesn't go well. In fairness it's a reconnaissance trip rather than a buying mission, so my tolerance for overbearing sales staff is very very low. 'Lee', I'm sure is a lovely man but isn't good at reading non-verbal communication. He pops up like Zebedee around every corner trying achingly hard to be helpful. Even after we've left the shop, it takes a while to shake the habit of glancing over my shoulder to make sure he's not tailing us. We turn to the anonymity of the internet for more ideas.
Dunc, with his spatial brain, is all over the dimensions (and loves a good old internet search). Me? I'm there purely for aesthetics sign-off. Already set on space-saving curves, the cyber bloodhound sniffs out a promising lead...an oval bath specifically designed for sites like ours, where space is tight. The contemporary vs traditional styling dilemma is always live for us, but in this instance, we like the idea of butting up sharp, modern elements with the old mullioned windows and excavated wallpaper. A bit more digging reveals that the bath hails from a factory only 15 miles from us, and before we know it, we're standing in the workshop at British Baths watching 'Mark' hand-finishing the latest order.
Like any good restaurant, the menu of products British Baths offers is select, and energies have been channeled into getting the design, finish, and customer service details right - a free lifetime warranty sounds good to us. Delighted to be supporting a local business, the order is placed and a few weeks later, Steve, the Managing Director, arrives with the bath in the back of his car.
So, one decision down, a few more to go, and who knows......a bathroom by Christmas?