ONE fine morning in March I flung – OK, carefully opened – the Portuguese French windows leading on to the lounge balcony and uttered the immortal words, ‘Rustio, Rustio, wherefore art thou, Rustio!’
Shakespeare would have been proud of me.
The rust in question was streaking its way down our casa walls at the front of the house, having originated from both balcony rails where they were embedded into the walls.
Well, they needed sorting. Although there had been numerous previous attempts to seal them with all sorts of treatments from silicone injections to fancy paints, nothing had halted the creeping brown menace.
I called our old mate the builder, Helder and he said he’d be down in the next day or so for a look-see.
Early the morning after, not so early we hadn’t found time to feed and clean out the nags, he turned up in his flatback complete with scaffolding gear, tools and a helper.
By lunchtime both sets of railings had been removed and the holes in the frontage had been filled, ready for me to repaint.
Helder and his mate, Duarte, finished off a few more bits and pieces around the spot for us, then we loaded the railings onto the flatback, strapped them on and off they went.
The weather was decent for a while so daily I applied a coat of paint to the repaired areas over the old holes and soon they looked well blended in. The bottom rail was to have a couple of new fixing lugs at either end – one on top for the railing and one extra on the bottom for the rail, this being bolted through into the masonry.
A couple of days later Helder called to ask if I was at home that evening. I could hardly say no.
So the next day Helder, Duarte and the whole kit and caboodle turned up again.
The modified and repainted railings were off-loaded beneath the balconies, the scaffolding was put up and Helder scrambled up into position Duarte and I grappled one end of the railings up to Helder, then Duarte scrambled up the opposite side and I lifted the other up to him.
Then came the worse part. Muggins here got his instructions from Helder. “You go inside your house and hold these while we mark and drill, yes?’’
From the balcony I took up the classic ‘snatch’ position and gruntingly lifted the railings up tight to the balcony lip while the two builders marked out the holes for drilling.
I got a brief respite while they drilled the new holes and fitted the plugs. Then, once again, the lift was on. Eyes bulging and lumps popping out everywhere I strained, looking around for the chalk with which to dry my sodden palms until eventually I got the green light for a clean lift. The lads had bolted the rail on all the way round and I could let go ... phew!
Anyhow, things look better now and the paintwork is still shining white. A lot of ex-pats out here have trouble getting this sort of ‘snagging’ done after they’ve paid up.
We never have with Helder, which is a blessing. But that doesn’t make my aching back feel any better!
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