News from behind the whitewashed windows

Posted by: on May 20, 2013 | No Comments

Anthony doing a lovely job of painting window framesAh, grand plans. Once upon a time we said we’d post regular updates here during the fit-out. Thus far there have been precisely zero. Sorry about that. But to quote Alex Ferguson (jeez, we’re even behind with our attempts at topical references) it’s “squeaky bum time” at RftS.

The routine is more or less: get up, coffee and toast, on site by 8.00 am, paint/clean/smash/build/shunt until 6.00 pm (pausing only to make calls and chase people about quotes/utilities/licensing/procurement/banking/insurance/etc), home, shower, eat, computer (generally to chase people about quotes/utilities/licensing/procurement/banking/insurance/etc), sleep.

OK, we could maybe post the odd update during the computer part, but there always seems to be something else to deal with. Somehow this has ended up being a much bigger project than it seemed last summer, when we imagined a couple of us in a cupboard somewhere with a workstand and a kettle. Frankly, we blame you for all your support and encouragement.

Anyway, here’s some belated news of the action on Quay St. We’re about half way through getting the place ready, so it’s a good point at which to take stock.

We say half way, but that’s only time-wise. It’s actually pretty hard to know how we’re doing in terms of volume of work. Loads of stuff happens every day and we seem to be getting though it at a good rate, but there’s so much to do that whether we’re on track is anyone’s guess. But there are three very good reasons why we’ll be open as planned in good time for Bristol Cycle Festival.

Reason 1) A bunch of incredible volunteers. In the five weeks we’ve been on site properly, we’ve had around 200 hours of voluntary help. That’s roughly equivalent to an extra full-time worker every day. We were bowled over by the response to our crowdfunding campaign last year, but this is even more humbling. It neatly encapsulates everything that’s great about Bristol and its bike riders. There’s a complete lack of sitting on bums waiting for things to happen. People get stuck in. Absolute legends. You know who you are. And the same applies to those few who’ve offered to help but who we haven’t been able to accommodate yet.

Reason 2) Our builders, Will and James. They’re on site the whole time, and are an endless source of good humour, problem solving, great ideas and motivation. And they listen to 6 Music. And they’re really patient when showing us how to do stuff. And they let us use their tools. And borrow their van to collect things that are too big for a bike trailer. It is 100% certain that because of them RftS will be nothing like the half-arsed shack it would be if we’d been left to our own devices. Props also to Dan the plumber: a man whose reluctance to accept payment is very much appreciated, but does cause concern over the long-term viability of his business.

Reason 3) We have a massive fear of: a) failure; b) looking like idiots. Both of which will occur if we cock it up at this stage. So we’d best get it done and make it good!

Hmm. Sorry, we were supposed to tell you what’s being happening behind the whitewash. OK, well, we’ve taken out or put in all the stud walls that needed changing, created a wheelchair accessible toilet, renovated two other loos that were less than inviting, fireproofed all the bits that needed fireproofing, made a nice new double doorway to the stairs, re-wired the whole place, painted probably half of what needs painting, fixed the leaky roof, built a load of box seating upstairs, ripped out the old service counter, done some much-harder-than-expected wallpapering with old OS maps and Cycle Fest posters, and 1,000 other bits and pieces.

The list of what’s still to be done is a bit frightening, but includes finishing all the unfinished bits of the above, plus getting all the security shutters and grilles fitted, fire and intruder alarms, IT setup, sorting out all the kitchen/café/workshop equipment we need, buying stock, recruiting and training staff, armfuls of admin, maybe having a little cry.

But we will get there. Oh yes we will. As Starship intoned in their motivational soft-rock classic, nothing’s gonna stop us now. (Which is exactly the sort of thing we get on the electricians’ stereo, tuned to Heart rather than 6. Like we said, bless our builders!)