Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Stairway to heaven

Well this has been fun, the stairs in the cottage to the mezzanine bedroom are now useable if not totally finished. I had a bit of a fright for a mo thinking they wouldn't fit, as we had to build (I say we, I mean Paul!) a concrete block to set the base of the stairs in, as we couldn't fit this to the eventually finished floor as we have so much insulation under the top floor covering.

But after taking the stairs off and adding some spacers (we did this 4 times!) I was able to complete it and I think it looks fab!

I would love to finish it today, but it's off to the reedbed with me as everything needs to be in place before the first load of aggregates arrive on Friday.


Well it's really taken off now, I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I seem to have around 5 jobs on the go and have to split my time up between the them. I'll have to get used to this and learn to go with the flow, but it does go against my nature which likes to get things done and dusted and crossed off my to-do list.

Another job I've started is some dry-stone walling. I haven't a clue what I'm doing but how hard can it be to chuck a few flat rocks together.

I am intending to make an pergola archway by the side of the cottage so guests can get easy access to their back garden. I am also going to try to errect some narrow trellis work above said wall to act as screening from our house.

It's amazing how many rocks come out of a small hole in a wall! If anyone wants free boulders for a rockery, then come on down and help yourselves :-)

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Big jobs

We started two big projects today. firstly Paul started to excavate the area for the reed bed filtration system. It's going to be about 50 square metres in total and about a metre deep. It's been really handy having the big excavator on site to do these jobs, it would have cost significantly more if Paul hadn't been such a collector of all things mechanical.

The other project was to build the spiral staircase in the cottage. We've purchased a great kit from Italy which whilst looks simple to install, having only 2 pages of instructions, I'm sure it will be a bit more tricky. Luckily there is a "dummies guide" DVD with it which tells you which bolts (B5) go into which holes (C24) though it is not that practical to keep running in and out of the house after every few instructions :-)

The most amusing thing about the DVD is at the start it explains that you get a DVD with the kit and it advises you to watch it before installing........derrrr

Monday, 20 April 2009

Bish, bash, bosh, lovely jubbly

Well I've just finished building the retaining wall at the back of the cottage on a glorious day, and I feel like a real builder!

We had to cover all the pipes up feeding the hot water from our house, and all the waste pipes. But if we had just pushed the earth back over them, the back garden for the cottage would have been at about 30 deg. So by building the wall it allowed us to level the site out a bit, but to keep costs down I said I would do it. To be honest I did get some help in setting up the footings, but the rest I is all me :-) It's a bit Heath robinson, but it's straight and level, and it will have soil pushed up to it so no-one will see it anyway.....but I'll know it's there!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Now luckily I have managed to avoid doing the pointing so far as it was part of the build cost, but there were a few walls that needed seeing to.

First I had to knock out all the old lime mortar from the inside wall in the cottage, along with various iron nails and wedges. There was also a spark plug???? perhaps I should get Tony Robinson and his Time Team in to investigate.

We've decided not to use lime mortar on this renovation, whilst it is intrinsically more environmentally friendly, if we had gone down that route the price of the job would have almost doubled and would have made the whole project a non starter. We decided to make the cottages as green as possible in terms of their energy usage, and where possible use more sympathetic products such as green paint (thats paint with no nasties in it rather than the colour).

Back to the pointing, I made up a batch of mortar (5:1 if your interested), and started slapping it in the gaps. Now pointing is a messy job, and whilst I now it's not a good idea to have prolonged contact on your skin, but after 10 minutes of throwing most of it on the floor, I started shoving it in the gaps with my hands.

Things were going very well and I finally finished by 4.00pm, my hands were feeling a bit sore, but on washing them I was shocked to find that someone had swapped my ones for those of a 94 year old Tibetan goat herders'. They had also cracked open and the cement was eating into them.

Anyway, luckily phil had made me buy some "mans" hand cream which Norwegian fishermen use apparently. I didn't need to rub it in, just put my hands near the open bottle and they just sucked it out!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Sunny Easter

Well we just had a fab easter. The weather was great and Bob and Jess, Andy and Ali came to visit. Whilst most of the time was spent drinking and enjoying the weather, we did get some work done.

The boys helped in spreading the gravel on the paths between the raised beds, and also dug some of the holes for the posts in order to erect a wind break as the veg patch is a little exposed.

I learn't how to drive the tractor and the mini excavator today, which helped speed up the process of erecting the fence, as due to the stones, we have to concrete the posts in as it is impossible to drive them in, and it was great to potter around in the tractor.

Thanks again to the troops for coming to visit, Phil and I appreciate any help we can get :-)

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Builders

Well the builders have seen the blog now and are upset that they haven't featured yet so here is a post introducing the main protagonists!

The first picture is of Paul, he's the main man and the person who we bought Banceithin from last Autumn. Paul has also helped out when any mechanical work has been needed on the property as he owns dozens of machines and tractors, and can't bring himself to get rid of any. We're hopefully going to buy one of his old tractors from him, a 29 year old International, it's a real beauty!.

Next comes Jamie. He along with Jon have done much of the stone work on the properties, apparently from the graffiti he's a bit of a "gayer", which he denies, but the pink lunch box doesn't help his cause. He's also is in a funk band and I've listened to his CD and their stuff is pretty good.

Big Rick has moved on now, but he rebuilt all of the roofs and did the intricate archway's in the main barn.

John is the wildman of the bunch, he also worked on the stonework with Jamie, as well as entertaining the troops. He permanently lives in his double woolly hat and is the hedonist of the group, often looking a bit bleary eyed on a Monday morning. Come to think of it, he looked blurry eyed most mornings:-)