by Robert Cooper

Chapter 4

We had a footman get the printer taken up to my office and the clothing to our rooms. We adjourned to my little private office and set up the printer to work with my laptop. It was so easy, we just plugged it into mains and the USB port and away it went. It had 2 fairly large paper drawers and a slot at the bottom for spare paper. I cautioned Edward to only use manor headed paper for 'official' correspondence.

George had already typed the letters I needed so he printed them off and showed me how to print letters on headed paper with a copy on plain.

I had already decided that the old master bedroom will be my new Estate office suite, there was nothing suitable on the ground floor. Geoff, Edward and I went there next to decide what to do there It was quite a large room, plenty of space for what I had in mind. Partners desk for Geoff and I with a smaller desk for Edward. Comfortable office chairs of course. Flat screen monitors, wi-fi keyboards and hamsters on all three desks. One docking station for our new lap tops. Edwards desk would have a printer and drawers under for the supplies. Computers and printer would be networked into the main server, all of which would come later. More electric power sockets. A large conference table with ten chairs. Four comfortable easy chairs arranged near the fireplace. By agreement with all, the room was to be completely stripped out and cleaned to get rid of the cigar smell. Then walls to be lined with a textured wallpaper and painted light maroon below the dado rail and pale cream above, dado rail, base boards and door frame to be dark maroon to match carpet.. Ceiling to be matt off-white. All other woodwork to be matt off-white. On the floor a new fitted carpet in deep maroon with a lush pile. The fireplace was original to the Manor and would be cleaned and the chimney lined for safety, with a period wood burner insert. The existing iron radiator replaced with a less obvious, more efficient unit sized for the room. Lighting to be replaced with period looking chandelier, desk lamps and wall lamps all with economy bulbs. Velvet look full length curtains to match carpets.

I wanted the whole office to be suitable for a Peer of the Realm and intended to impress.

I also wanted the main staircase area refreshed. The Main Staircase leading up to my soon to be "posh" office looked a bit careworn and dated. The tread carpet was worn and the stair rods, (good solid brass), were in need of a good polish then coated to keep them bright and avoid the need for constant polishing. The handrail needed refinishing and the ballusters and newel posts needed repainting except for the bottom one to be cleaned and revarnished. In fact the whole entrance hall needs freshening up a bit. Perhaps a pale grey on the walls? There was a beautiful chandelier in the main Foyer, this needed to come down, properly cleaned and rewired. Fit low energy bulbs and dimmer switch.

I asked Edward to make a note to get a survey of the plumbing and electrical system. I suspected that they were both old but I hoped no lead pipes.

The next room was a toilet and wash basin room for the office. This room to be stripped out, cleaned and painted in same scheme as office and new white china installed with new plumbing fittings. Colour co-ordinated bathroom use carpet installed.

The next three rooms were guest bedrooms. They had beds, wardrobes and dressers etc. All rooms to be cleaned and painted. Below dado rails, 1, pale maroon, 2,daffodil yellow, 3, lilac. Above rails and ceilings matt off-white. Woodwork matt off-white. Re-carpet with colour co-ordinated floor coverings. All three rooms had small bathrooms attached, these were to be stripped out, repainted matt off-white. Two to have shower cabinets installed, the third (the daffodil room) to have a modern corner bath. All plumbing fittings and china to be renewed. Carpets to match rooms. New mattresses, duvets, towels and bed linens all colour co-ordinated

Geoff and I decided to wait and see. For our rooms though I did order new mattresses to be delivered and king sized duvets plus linens for our bedrooms as they had old fashioned blankets.

I then asked Edward to type up our requirements using my laptop and the new printer when he had time on Monday and obtain three estimates for me. Preferably from companies that had combined decorating and plumbing services. If there were any plumbers or decorators on the manor he might sound them out first, perhaps they might work together. He should be able to find some headed paper in Seymore's old office. He should also check stock in case more needed to be ordered. See Watson about ordering new stationery.

Went in the Range Rover to the church beside Thatchers. Not a bad congregation and we were already recognised and acknowledge d by quite a few people. The sermon was mercifully brief.

The R ector had a few words of welcome and outside, the landlord of the pub chid ed us for stealing his short order cook and thanking us for the business supplying the meals while our kitchen was out of order. All very good humoured.

Drove round a bit, saw that some of the estate roads were not good. Winter had thrown up many defects. I shall have a word with Sheldon to see if he would cast an eye and make some suggestions.

I was particularly concerned that one of the culverts had broken through and the road had washed away. If left unrepaired it could make for an expensive repair. It started to rain heavily so we went back to the Manor.

Geoff and I spent some time chatting in the sitting room on the ground floor. I wanted him here as my assistant.

He wanted to be here.

All we needed to do was sell the idea to his parents.

We discussed tutors to bring us up to 'A' level standards by next year. Possible on-line University courses in estate management and finance. Might be worth chatting to Sheldon about the estate management courses.

All in all we had a good discussion and agreed on a lot of common ground between us. His visit this weekend was a good insight as to the scale of things here. Bed early as he had to leave in time to be at school for registration at 9.00

Ordered the car for 7.00 for him.

Geoff away at just before 7.00 I saw him off and then after a quick breakfast, started on Seymore's office. By chance it was right beside the rooms that Mr Watson had chosen so it was no great decision to knock a doorway through and give this to Mr. Watson as his office. Edward appeared at 8.45 and I was still gathering piles of paper together. The office was an absolute mess with no obvious organisation. I needed a BIG table to even try to sort things out. Edward suggested the big dining room table. Excellent idea so between us we carried all the paper in there. Mr Watson appeared at 9.00 and looked askance at the chaos. I mentioned the other office to him with door between and he looked pleased. I also asked if he had enough staff as I suspected he might be overloaded with both Manor and Estate accounts to manage. He said he would think about the staffing and consider it in view of being computerised soon but he suspected that he might need one more.

So the three of us attacked the heap of paper and within an hour or so we had some semblance of order.

Mr Watson took all the invoices and accounts stuff away to his office to sort through. I gave him both cheque books and as they looked a bit thin I told him to phone the bank and get follow on books. I did however want to get into 'On Line Banking' as soon as we had computers working. Edward and I then sorted out the remaining piles, most of which were old catalogues and advertising. We filled four yellow recycling bags The stuff I wanted to keep I put back in the office. The two filing cabinets I would ask Mr Watson to have one of his staff to go through. I asked Edward if he knew of a small builder on the Manor who would undertake the accounts office? He said he knew of a guy who lived near the Wheatsheaf (The other pub on the Manor). He went off to phone him to come and estimate. By now is was past noon so Edward went to get on with his typing and telephone calls.

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