Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Friday, 17 July 2015

'Es una chapuza' or The Psychology of Disappointment

I had been planning a very different post. This time last week, we were watching the workmen in our garden, laying metres and metres of concrete in searing heat and feeling very sorry for them and grateful to them. But since then, I have felt differently.  I have felt disappointed.


My text won't go any bigger. 
As you may guess, there has been a bit of a cock up with our garden path. There is a wonderful word for it in Spanish....una chapuza. I will share a few photos of veritable 'chapuzas' that I have found on the internet. You'll get the idea immediately!

OK, these are chapuzas that lead to inconvenience and disbelief. But it sort of sums up the sense that a chapuza, at best, is a botched job; careless work, a 'made-do' thing. 
Or maybe something done without sufficient prior thought or knowledge. You get the idea.

The expectation of seeing the final work came to a height on Saturday morning. We heard Miguel arrive at around 7am and knew that he had to powerwash all the residual powder off the concrete and then seal it with resin, so we stayed in bed a little longer than usual so that we could emerge to see the finished result. I admit, I was very excited. And took a peek from the bathroom window to the area outside the door. 

And squealed with pleasure - it looked fantastic!

Just the lovely, soft neutral, natural colours that I had wanted. 

The rest, which was a slightly more sandy-colour with darker tints on top, could only be more impressive as there was so much more of it!

NO, NO, NO. Disaster. Terrible. Awful. Unimaginable. Horrible....I won't continue but I really couldn't believe my eyes. Instead of a gently weathered brick effect, my garden looked like a garage forecourt or a place where oily motorbikes had been whizzing around. Blotchy, obvious patches where the tint had been spread and hadn't gently dissolved into the concrete. Some of the patches were so dark and round that it really looked as though we'd be walking oil into house if we inadvertently stepped in them. Awful......and the disappointment that hit both FR and I was palpable. We could hardly speak.

Miguel, if he could, would have run away without speaking to us that morning, but we dragged him back. I just kept saying to him that surely there was something wrong; that this wasn't the effect he had expected to leave us with; that he must acknowledge there was a problem. He said very little but did that unique Mediterranean high-shouldered shrug, elbows bent and palms held upwards..and turned his mouth downwards almost further than a mouth can go. And then he left, muttering something about leaving it to dry a bit longer and that he'd return on Monday.

I have since been pondering on the psychology of disappointment. 
The strength of the disappointment is, not surprisingly, directly related to the expectation of outcome beforehand.  If the outcome exceeds expectation, then the reaction is very often elation or excitement. I had truly expected to be elated! There is a further stage too. Initially, I was left thinking that there would be a solution. That we could right this wrong and all would be well. The intervening time has proved otherwise. 

Miguel returned, not on Monday, but on Tuesday. FR had been doing his research and discovered that problems with this type of concrete and the colouring process can occur when the weather is too cold, too wet OR TOO BLOODY HOT! I guess the latter would apply to us. 

But how come the door section is so lovely?

Well, it was the first part that he did - earliest and coolest part of the day. Explains a lot. But Miguel, man of few words, either didn't think about it, didn't know about it, or didn't really care about it. Whichever, he's left us with a grubby and ugly expanse of concrete in our garden.

When he returned, he offered to put another layer of concrete over the top and recolour it, but FR was ahead of him - this is apparently the solution that is often offered but the result is usually worse than the original, so we declined. He then suggested digging it all up and relaying it - but finished off by say 'that would cost you a lot of money'. I didn't actually see FR's blood boil, but I think I heard it bubbling....

So, the psychology of disappointment. It comes with the final realisation that you don't have or can't get the thing you really wanted. And this in turn leads to facing reality. And we can do this in a variety of ways: anger, sadness or depression being three common options or routes. 

We did a bit of all three between us, me and FR. I even felt ashamed - I have been thinking of putting up a sign...'Please forgive our awful driveway, it isn't our fault.'

We've done lots of other things as well. I've been out and scrubbed some of the patches with a bit of wire wool. The patch came out - hurray! - but so did the top layer of concrete and the resin finish....
FR set upon a slightly hidden patch with an electric sander and had pretty much the same result, only with more concrete removed....we've spoken to a solicitor and the insurance company and sent photos to the product company. 

There isn't really much we can do....

SO - do you want to see it??? This is the hardest part for me. But this is where the psychology of disappointment and one's own personal psychological type comes into play. I have today been into work and for the first time, opened up about what happened. I told two different people about it - and showed them some photos. And it helped me SO, SO much. 

How can that be? Well, possibly because I am an extrovert and an optimist and hate 'bottling up' my feelings. I feel better for letting out my frustration and disappointment. I'm not really angry. I have felt sad. But as I drove home, I realised that I felt better. 

OK. Here are some of the worst bits!!

FR is not an extrovert and often gets very angry over what I consider to be unimportant things but on this great big thing, he's been so cool and rational and positive that I am assessing him all over again....again. And when I got home, feeling better and more optimistic that between us, we could find a way to put this right...he had come to exactly the same conclusion. I don't want to put any details here - too public. But watch this space...

And taking the long view. Well, the overall effect is that things look and feel much better than they did - if you don't look too closely, of course.

The 'gap' in the middle is to be filled with white stones and provides a
drainage section - assuming that one day, it will rain, of course!

View from the gate - which needs to be rehung.
The steps down need finishing too.
And in the distance on the right, you can see we've now got the little old pool up - an absolute necessity in this weather - and at least it's a pleasure to walk out to it now.

And now, I don't actually feel disappointed as such. I feel rather proud of how we've managed our disappointment. Hey, aren't we lucky - another learning opportunity!!

However, I absolutely BEG of you not to sympathise with me over this. By all means, leave me a comment as to how you think we could disguise the mess, add features that distract the eye, etc. The way I can get over it is to move on. It's not the end of the world and my sense of humour is still intact. And we have found great comfort in the fact that we didn't pay for ALL of it upfront.....

(Of course, if all else fails, I will simply Zentangle over the whole lot of it!!)


  1. sympathy ( well lots really ). The overview you show at the end shows how beautiful it can be/will be....and Annie, remember that I saw it before hand...this is good ....very very good !
    OK, the obvious, pots with plants, but that just adds to watering duties if you are not very careful...and water costs. Dare I suggest a couple of mosiac/zentangled pieces of art/ sculpture, garden furniture........
    If its any consolation I'm trying to organise appropriate ground cover for a playground area in our garden......artificial grass has been turned down as an option ( looks naff, good stuff is very expensive, needs a flat base...and we haven't got one ) proper rubberised playground surface would cost nearly as much as the house did !, so at the moment it might end up being bark chippings, held in place by building some sort of barrier to hold them in place in the rain, deep enough to be a cushion for falling children, and added to each year as everyone knows that bark chippings vanish into the ether at a moment's notice.
    Your attitude to your feelings is to be are strong....this will not be the end of it !
    Lots of love, and gird your loins for further "discussions" with Miguel.Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Just current solution to anything that doesn't look quite right....Annie Sloan it ! Can some sort of paint salvage things ?

    1. Lol! I will definitely be adding colour in the form of pots and the mosaiced (I like the word) tree stumps are a great idea. In a silly way, it's opened up so many options for the creative juices to flow....As you say, in many ways, it's a great improvement and for living space, it's already beginning to be worthwhile. We will get used to it, live with it and over time, 'adapt' it / hide it / disguise it and probably end up being quite fond of it.
      I agree that my attitude is to be admired - even if my garden can't be!! Thank you for your lovely words. (And the unspoken sympathy that goes with them.)

  3. I think I'd be looking for a garrote for Miguel.....damned incompetent workmen who want you to pay for their mistakes.
    Mark you, if this is how he works then you may find several more local properties with strangely marked hard surfaces...
    We had it with French so called artisans before we found our super Turkish building firm so I have some inkling of how you felt and feel.

    1. SO difficult to find people who really know how to do a good you know. I have started looking to see if anyone else has the same problem, but so far, nothing. Our poor neighbour is absolutely distraught as it was he who suggested Miguel. This neighbour is also perfectionist, building his own house - which looks incredible - and just cannot believe his luck....he was about to contract Miguel himself! So maybe some good has come out of it - just not for us.
      It looks a little bit better with lots of children in the pool....(brave smile.) Axxx

  4. I'm with you 100% on this. In 1991 we put some expensive Italian floor tiles in our kitchen. Since that day, our kitchen looks as if I never wash the floor. It still annoys me on a daily basis and other half won't dig them up because they cost so much. My theory - I'm annoyed, I hate them but if this is the only thing I have to worry about, life must be pretty good.

    1. Ah... the very same thing happened to my sister and her kitchen floor. I agree absolutely - it's as infuriating as hell...but what the hell. Without my contact lenses, it looks great!

  5. Oh, gosh . . . the expansive shot really doesn't look bad at all, so, that's a plus. I'd be tempted to use lots of pots, planted or no it will take the eye away from the ground and something high. I doubt that helps, but, worth a try.

    1. Well, Penny - you are right. From a distance, or without contact lenses, it actually looks pretty good! And the plants are next on the list, although right now, it is SO hot that it seems unfair on the plants. We will wait til the temperature drops just a little to avoid frying tender young plants. Ax

  6. On wards and upwards in the knowledge that you have been able to manage this disappointment. I'm not so certain that in the short term I could. Be relieved that you haven't fully paid.
    I think we all have our building disappointment to bring to the table so maybe we could play top trumps...or maybe not!!
    Lots of good ideas above on how to disguise the effects or live with them.
    The overall effect shot looks good, but as always the devil is in the detail!! Stay positive that there will be a solution xx

    1. Right now, Gaynor, I have five children playing out and around the pool and two babies parked up in their buggy and a houseful of people, so I'm glad that we don't have the dustbowl, stoney, uncomfortable exterior that we had a couple of weeks ago. We will have to find a solution longer term - work for us, not for anyone else, be sure - but right now, it's bliss walking barefoot outside.

  7. Same solution as everyone else lots and lots of terracotta pots filled with wonderful all year round greenery - a very large garden table and chairs, and I am pretty sure that in time it will all weather and tone down.

    1. I agree, Rosemary - thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. In time, I may even like it.....a very long time, that is!

  8. I too have faced these kinds of disappointments and then had to move on, as you have. You are the kind of person who is much more concerned with more important things in life. You are usually positive. You are always thankful for what you have...your lovely home and your family. These are the important things.

    Maybe the marks will fade in time. Doing zentangles over such a large area would be time consuming but would look good and you would enjoy doing them.

    Enjoy that pool. I really want one like that for next year...smaller than yours, so I'm going to start saving. Enjoy your summer with your lovely family xxx

    1. It's just cursed luck, Ayak. I'm sure Mr A would understand how FR feels - having done absolutely everything beforehand by himself, only letting the 'experts' in when he felt the job was bigger than he could do alone - and to see how they've left it. Fortunately, we've only paid out for materials and a bit on top....
      The pool is an absolutely godsend and even though it's leaking all over the new floor - I don't care! Can't do any real harm. If all had been pristine and beautiful, I might have felt differently.
      Thank you for you kind comments. Axxx

  9. That last view looks not bad at all, thank goodness, and it will be fun collecting pots and plants...

    1. Do you know, Nilly - a week or so on and I am not even looking at the bits I don't like. I've bought some pretty solar lights and in the evening, it looks stunning...Axxx


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