Adieu to the builders

‘The mighty work is finished.’ Those are Wotan’s first conscious words at the beginning of Das Rheingold as he contemplates Valhalla. I could say the same thing.

This is the very last day that we’ll have builders in the house. Ours don’t take the form of legendary giants, but a Welshman supported by Poles. Instead of a castle of the gods, we possess a remodeled basement and a new bathroom. But unlike Wotan, we’ve not been asleep for the duration. Working from home, I’ve been on hand for instant consultations and, of course, the writing of cheques. Strangely, we’ll miss them. If money were infinite, I’m not sure we wouldn’t employ them fulltime.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save; Get the Ipad edition

The Poles are superb craftsmen. Their boss brings a Jack Russell, whom the children take on walks. As a householder, I’m usually in thrall to the built environment, not being able to mend broken door handles or bath overflows without expert help. Gradually, detached light fittings and damp patches accumulate, until one finds oneself living a Miss Havisham existence, surrounded by signs of ruin that one ceases to notice. Since January, there have always been people on hand to put things right. Without them, another descent into the twilight can only be a matter of time.

* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter