Monday, 23 February 2009

The Cottage

I thought I would post an update on how the barn conversions were getting on, seeing as this will be are main source of income in the future!

The Cottage was in fact the original farmhouse, but the owners built the new one next door and left the old one derelict. Paul had made a start on this building before we arrived and it has come on leaps and bounds. It is going to be a single bedroom cottage with large downstairs and a balconied mezzanine bedroom with spiral stairs and ensuite. I have taken it on to build the staircase once the final floor height is laid.

There is a large separate kitchen on the back looking out onto the garden and a wood burning stove in the lounge. The plasterers should be coming this week then it's over to us to install the bathrooms and kitchen, lay the flooring, do the decorating, install the light fittings, and landscape outside....piece of cake!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Operation "Poly" - The end game!

All I can say is that I'm knackered. We got up early to try and get the hard two man stuff done on the tunnel before I had to take Phil to the station.

We got the polythene on, but in our haste to fill in the trench, we weren't keeping an eye on the plastic and found it wasn't the right tension, so we had to dig out the trench again by hand. We finally got it in place by lunch time so we whisked off to Aberystwyth via our favourite chippie in Aberaeron. On returning I had the daunting task of filling in the trenches. And after 3 hours of heavy digging, having to contend with huge rocks every spade full, it was more or less complete. The sun was out again and with Chelsea beating Villa on the radio it was a satisfying day - apart from the wife having to go back :-(

All that's left to do is re hang the doors, and backfill around the support posts on the inside. Then it's full steam ahead to growing our first salad crops.

Yum scrum bum

Friday, 20 February 2009

Operatoin "Poly" - Part Deux

Well, before you say anything, it took us all day today to make the doors. The instructions say that if you are good with flat pack furniture, than you should be able to erect the polytunnel in two days. I would say that I am now fully proficient in the world of flat pack furniture, but there's no way you can do this in two days!!

Phil is heading back tomorrow lunch time, so we have a morning to see if we can get the cover on.

Luckily the weather has been brilliant, the Buzzards and Red Kite were soaring above us on the thermals today, and tomorrow should be just as good. Hopefully I will have a completed picture to post.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Operation "Poly"

The first full day to try and erect the poly tunnel before Saturday as Phil is returning to civilization. As you can see, Paul dug the trench around the marked out area in his "older" digger. It was a little bit aggressive and actually dug out a lot of the land that the support posts were supposed to be. Undeterred we carried on wedging bits of stone and earth around the posts to try and keep them upright.

Once the hoops were up we got onto a bit of a roll, but we needed to get the suports in place sharpish as the hoops would not stand up long on their own.

Tomorrow we shall build the wooden door frames and attempt to cover the tunnel, so we are praying for calm weather tonight and tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The arrival of the Daleks!

Well we had a glorious day here, I almost wished I didn't have my trusty thermals on...almost.
Unfortunately the digger snapped one of it's tracks, so the trench around the polytunnel couldn't be dug so we had to divert our attention to something else. We decided to set up our compost bins for household rubbish from the kitchen. We brought the two Daleks with us from Berkshire, as the local council were selling them for £5 each. We weighted them down with rocks and ended up making a lovely Dalek rockery. By having two it should mean when one is full, we can move onto the next one, and by the time that is full, we should have some lovely compost in the first one. Hopefully Paul can fix the digger tomorrow so we can crack on with the polytunnel.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Good earth

Well we finally started some work on the land today. Paul has got a fabulous old tractor and he rotivated a section of our top field that Phil had marked out to be our vegetable plot. It was quite an exciting time, as with all the work going on with the cottages, we had lost sight of one of the main reasons for undertaking this adventure. I was itching to have a go in the tractor, put Paul being an ex-farmer was having too much fun himself. I'm thinking of buying the tractor off him......maybe.

We have had the soil tested and it isn't as poor as we expected, but we will have to add a bit of lime as it is a touch acidic.

Philippa is up all this week which is great, and she's been busying herself with designing the set up for the garden, along with creating "mood boards" for the interior design of the holiday lets. I'm keeping well away from all that, most of my suggestions just get a derisory glance.

One of the main jobs this week is to build the polytunnel, we measured it out today, and tomorrow one of the guys will dig a trench round it, which would have taken days to do by hand as it is pretty stony.

It's great to be outside though and getting our hands dirty at last!

(p.s. Big thanks to Katie, Chris and Ali who visited this weekend, it was good to see you all and we'll have some jobs for you to do next time you visit!)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

It's the pits (part 2)!

Got up. Went to office. Earned more money for Dave to spend. Went home. Went to bed.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

It's the pits!

So as the ground has defrosted a bit, Paul (The main builder) decided to get on with the messy work of digging all the trenches for the drains and also the pit to hold the septic tank. As you can see the hole was massive and goes several feet further through the water table, and I was surprised the garage didn't topple in.

There will be three chambers installed, the first one will collect the "solids", the second will accumulate the "liquor", and the third will be a small one which will act like an automatic cistern and flush out a set amount when it's full into the reed bed treatment plant (yet to be started), and finally into the water course. We had to spend a load of Phil's money on getting a specialist company to design the system, and these plans were sent to the Environment Agency to get our Consent to Discharge approval (which we got last week, hurrah). Apparently the water coming out the reed bed should be drinkable......baggsie me last!

I would like to take some credit for the septic tank work, but it's been 'orrible here today, so I put the heating on and started planning the new kitchens for the cottages:-)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Clean at last

So this morning I did the final push to the summit of "Fitting a New bathroom" in the main house. We had this great idea to remove the bath and install a wet room. Little did I realise the effort in retro-fitting a wet room in an old house. Also little did I realise that the giant 600*300 tiles we had chosen were the hardest substance known to man, and this meant I had to invest in solid lumps of diamond just to cut it.

None of the walls were straight or flat as they were all made of this lathe and plaster (not sure about spelling there), which is where thin wooden slats are nailed to the uprights and then covered in a thick layer of lime plaster mixed with horse hair.

I have spent 3 weeks on this project, which entailed me using local sports facilities for showers, but now my work here is done. I will be handing the baton over to Phil for the painting as she doesn't trust me with the edging, quite right too.

Well off for a shower, shave and **** as they say in the army,

lovely jubbly!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Dave 1:1 Mother Nature

Well I shouldn't have spoken to soon, I was unaware that Mrs Nature was following this blog and she swept back into the game with a thunderous equaliser.

This morning the toilet was still leaking, so having consulted with the Boss in Berkshire, we decided to replace the loo. I popped into Lampeter, and whilst the roads were still covered in snow there were no problems. On the way back I was descending the hill just before our house (in first gear!), and when I tried the brakes the wheels just slipped. I kept tapping them but my momentum was too great and I went across the T junction into the bank....DOH!

I opened the door and a car behind me did exactly the same thing but luckily missed me by a foot. The crunch had pushed the bumper supports into the tyre so I couldn't move. Having tried my neighbours, I did find a metal bar in the back and could lever the metal back.

Luckily, as the truck is so high, no body panels were damaged, just the plastic front bumper, so I might be able to fix it myself! But I do feel a total fool.

One bit of good news today, I installed the new toilet, a bargain at £65, and it works a treat :-)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

God's snowy latrine

Well don't expect the fluent comedic writing from me, but as I'm hold up here in Wales on these cold evenings, I thought I would give this blogging malarchy a go. Phil will probably be doing larger posts, less frequently, when we achieve some significant milestone. I have decided to do small snippets more regularly.

Well today the snow finally reached the West coast of Wales, and it was fab for a while.

The main problem was that last night I discovered the soil pipe from the toilet was leaking all over my nice tiled floor. I decided to remove it and use some of the builders spares. Unfortunately none of them fitted so I was left without a "closet" yet again. This morning after coffee I was forced to find a natural alternative out in the snowy wastes!

The snow got heavier by lunchtime so I took the truck up to the shops to grab some supplies, mainly an excuse so I could engage 4-wheel drive in the and machine against mother nature......... 1:0 to Dave.

I installed a new flexible soil pipe on my return and am now fully functional (as in the toilet..)

I'm not sure whether I should sign off of just stop....