Under the Floorboards

Sometimes I climb the walls and lie on the ceiling… and sometimes I slip through the cracks in the floor and crawl around under the floorboards.




A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do both.

That opportunity didn’t knock on my door so much as drip, drip, drip its way down through the ye olde style plaster on the kitchen ceiling, forming an ochre stain on the newly painted in Summer stark white.

“Are you sure it wasn’t there before?” my partner asked after I had pointed the stain out to him as ‘proof’ that there must be a leak somewhere (there, above us).

I paused, because I always do when anyone asks me something. Questions need to be chewed before swallowing or spitting out. If that question is questioning my certainty, a statement I’ve made… I am aware that my certainty has a tendency to be wrong, while my doubts have a tendency to be right.

“No, yes, that wasn’t there before… like that one over there or there, this one is new, freshly created, you can tell by the hue and the texture (time to climb the walls to get to the ceiling as this is one of the few high ones that can’t be reached while standing on the floor)…”

One of the things I discovered about this house while painting it white was that there are some areas which refuse to stay that way and so the walls and ceilings have character in the form of strangely appealing patterns of mysterious staining. Most of the stains are old ones seeping through – this is an old house, a hundred years or two have passed since it was born out of the hard blood sweat tears work of a builder of houses, many people have lived here, died here, maybe killed here, given birth here to other people and ideas of how this house should be (without always asking the house if it wanted to be that way – an error for which this house will make the most recent owner pay).




Since moving in here just over a year ago… thankfully the previous owner, just before he moved out passing the key to all loveliness and leakiness onto to us, introduced us to a rather good plumber, who came quickly and fixed a leaking joint between radiators pipes.

To get to that joint a floorboard had to be lifted.

And while it was up… the part of me which loves to know what is behind that wall which when you knock it it sounds hollow got to explore what lay beneath that floorboard which creaks when you step on it.

I couldn’t quite crawl under the floorboards but my camera could and what it snapped revealed some treasures posted through a hole by a lego and pen hiding enthusiast – maybe they were offering them to the Borrowers or fishing for something which crept beneath them at night when they tried to sleep… scratch scratch.

This find opened up a doorway, window, a crack through which the light gets in… or the dark gets out… into the past distant yet not as far away as it sometimes seems.

Once upon a time someone like me or not like me at all was in this room, called this place home, and the essence of who they were leaked out of them into the walls, floors, ceilings and being of this house.

When we move on… we always leave something of ours, of us, behind.





  1. I love this piece – becoming a part of something that is part of many others, finding the evidence of them under the floor boards, how wonderful, even if there are drippings and leakings. šŸ™‚


  2. I really liked this post for lots of reasons-like you I love to mutch about under floorboards, lofts, behind walls my place was only built in the 30,s so not much treasure was found loads of old coins , pens pencils and even a stash of 50,s porn and so much building rubble. I can now boast to have the cleanest wall cavities flooring voids and loft in the whole of this street —- a tip (not my place) try stain blocker on the patches of staining if your place is that old undoubtedly lime was used in the plaster and that stuff reacts and changes colour with the weather!!!


    • Thank you very much šŸ™‚

      Yes, some of the plastering is lime, in fact most of the walls of this house should have lime plaster as it allows the walls to breathe, the real problems come from where the lime plaster has been replaced with cement plastering which keeps moisture trapped and causes structural damage over time – but you can’t see the damage because the cement keeps it from showing until it all falls down. It’s a funny old house, perfect for a funny old person like me šŸ˜‰

      I once found some old porn magazines in a rental place, people always hide those and forget them when they move out.

      Did you read that recent news item about that man who inherited a house in France, and the person he had hired to catalogue and sell its contents found gold bars hidden everywhere. The previous owner had converted all their savings into gold bars. I guess they thought that hiding money in a mattress was foolish in case of fire, but gold bars would last no matter what. Apparently though they didn’t pay taxes so the gold mine isn’t such a gold mine. Still a cool find!


      • Thanks for that nugget of gold info oh how lucky to have discovered that though just last week up in here in Staffordshire another gold hoard was found in some field by some metal detectors and they honestly notified the authorities immediately. Hey I,m quite impressed by your knowledge of lime usage and incompatibility with cement. Now here,s a question for you, if you had a chance to find something what would it be? that includes something within yourself or some object of sorts.


        • I have a big tub of lime plaster in my shed, it’s an incredibly sexy substance to manipulate, silky smooth, but also rather difficult to use. I prefer gypsum (excellent for holes in ceilings) when I can get away with using it, although I did freak out at how quickly it dries when I first started working with it. There’s a wall in my sitting room from which all the cement plaster fell off and now it needs repairing, not just with plaster… so if I had the chance to find something, right now, it would be a very practical and not bank-breaking kind of thing in the form of a person with certain skills that are real and not just advertised šŸ˜‰

          I love your question… there’s much to think about, perhaps too much…

          What about you, what would you want to find if you had the chance to do so?


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