It was another long, hot day in the garden for me with a very pleasant interlude spent in the park. I managed to weed and clean up the ex-nettle bed and made a big start on the beds outside the office.
Meanwhile, Clive and Robbie (and a young guy who made the cement too wet) started pouring the cement base for the tiles on the terrace. By the end of the day, it looked like this.
Lee the kitchen fitter had most of the kitchen in and the painters had started stripping the walls in the stairwell. It looked pretty dire by the end of the day. I have no idea why the underneath is red – probably the ancient plaster from the bygone age from when the building was originally constructed.
The outside of the house received another coat of paint but the floor guys didn’t turn up. I don’t know why. Hopefully they’ll be back tomorrow to finish off.
The big event today was having a chat with Lee the kitchen fitter. He’s originally from Zimbabwe and was one of the poor farmers who were thrown off their farms by Mugabe’s thugs. He told me a terrible tale of one day running a very successful tobacco farm, employing over 2,000 people and the next barely escaping with his life.
As he said, we have no idea what it’s like here in the ‘civilised’ west. He told me that two people came to his farm one day and told his family to leave with only their personal possessions. They even had to leave their furniture.
He came to Britain with his wife and small children – she is British and he has British grandparents. He only just made it. Shortly before he left Zimbabwe, he was chatting to a couple of guys and, as he walked away from them, they attacked him with an axe. He had something like 40 stitches and only just survived.
The farm had been set up by his father and carried on by Lee. It was to be his father’s retirement but, sadly, they were both left with nothing and had to start life again. His father is working in Brisbane at the moment, finding it difficult.
Other members of Lee’s family also live in Australia and he, naturally, wants to join them but the Australian Government won’t give him a work visa. This is in spite of the fact that he is a stonemason with heaps of work to his name (in London churches and elsewhere) and having a five year contract to start work immediately in Brisbane. Apparently, while he has all the points needed, he doesn’t have a qualification. Unfortunately, there is no trade certificate for stone masonry. Which makes it impossible. And, quite frankly, absolutely ridiculous.
And, it seems, Australia is crying out for experienced stonemasons (they are on the National Skills Needs List) who have experience with the newest machine techniques, something that Lee has in abundance.
I hope he keeps trying because it seems an awful waste for him to be fitting kitchens when he has far greater skills. It’s also a shame he can’t be with his father.
Anyway, that was my day.