This weekend here the UK celebrated the Queen’s 60th Queeniversary by having thousands of street parties  an epic grand water parade on the Thames, and a concert with spectacular fireworks.

In my house, we observed this momentous occasion by doing some long-overdue DIY. Thematically, it made sense, as we wanted to do up the house in case Liz ever stops by to use the loo. And practically it made sense, as even though it was a relatively simple task we needed the extra time buffer of a four day weekend to be sure we could finish in time. We did, but barely, so good on us for proper planning. The Job started, as I understand all DIY projects do, with a trip to the hardware store.

The hardware store is a fascinating and confusing place, it is also slightly unnerving – not unlike a trip to a foreign country. A big box hardware store may be a handyman’s paradise, but for the tool-averse it is simultaneously thrilling, as there are so many sizes, makes, colours, names and types of tool, paint, wire and plant pot, and terrifying, as I would be hard-pressed to describe, let alone use, 90% of the contents of one of those shops.

But for the casual tourist like myself, it is fun to just point at the strange objects, take note of the bizarre customs, and in every interaction try to, if not pass for a local, then at least not look like a fish-out-of-water.

I think I almost succeeded. But not quite.

However, after a weekend of some Polyfilla, painting, and bathtub caulking we’re well-positioned for our next adventure to the hardware store. We’ll take some time to digest our last excursion, mull over the photos, share some anecdotes with friends. But I have no doubt that a return visit is in order.

Perhaps this time I will redouble my attempts to blend in: maybe dress more like the inhabitants (think bigger sneakers, pockets full of tools and a cigarette behind the ear) and use some of the local language (‘torque’, ‘grout’ and ‘aluminum siding’ being vocab I’m particularly keen to try out).

But of course this weekends activities weren’t just an academic exercise, there was a real purpose to our bank holiday travails: and now we’ve got a bathroom fit for a queen, should she ever deign to make use of it.