Friday, 27 November 2009

Blue is the Colour


I’ve just realised that the ‘Greek’  room has actually turned out to be the same colour as the mighty blues home strip, but I’m sure Philippa will not want me to plaster the walls with Chelsea memorabilia, especially if we want to have a  broad appeal to our future guests. Painting this room seems to have been messier than the others. Maybe the paint is thinner than previous colours, but after 10 minutes using the roller, I was pretty much covered, and could have easily auditioned as a member in the Blue Man Group


(From right Phil, me and Paul the builder)

The final bathroom is nearing completion (hurrah I hear you cry). It has seemingly taken forever and Phil is still a little unsure of the colour scheme, but my theory is to plough on now to the finish line so as any desired changes in colour become too much of a hassle to implement.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Wet Wet Wet

The other day Dave remarked on how our forecast watching habits have changed. Pre-Banceithin we’d get up in the morning and accept whatever the weather happened to be that day – checking the forecast religiously was something only Dads did when the family was off on a road trip. Nowadays our daily devotion to the Met Office web site is bordering on obsessive-compulsive. The weather effects our project planning (if it’s raining I’ll be painting indoors, if it’s not raining I’ll be painting outside) and our farm management (if it’s raining I’ll be digging in the polytunnel, if it’s not raining I’ll be digging in the veg plot). Over the last few weeks though, checking the Met Office has been a pointless exercise – every day it’s rainy, windy or cloudy, or more often than not all three. Banceithin is wet and wind battered. The brussel sprouts are growing at a 45 degree angle. Every morning I look out of the bedroom window to see how the distribution of the site debris has changed overnight – the roofing sheets are now by the chicken run, the scraps of insulation foam are randomly scattered across the garden, the cement bucket is  in the middle of the drive. Any day now I’m expecting Kevin Costner to turn up to film Waterworld 2 at the end of our drive. If the new lake by our post box gets any bigger, the Royal Mail will have to issue waders and water wings to our postmen.



The upside of all this wet and stormy weather is that it tests the integrity of our buildings before the builder moves off to another project. The downside is that we now have a leaky chimney, leaky doors and a leaky porch. And a whole lot of mud!


Meanwhile, back in the house, Stevie and Nessa are on, up and in everything. When they’re not tearing around house, they’re having “time out” in the kitchen (also known as the naughty kitten cupboard). Thankfully there’s only 1 week to go until their introduction to the great outdoors. Although I fear that Charlie may have plans for introducing the kittens to some of the deeper puddles without first teaching them how to swim.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Come on Baby light my fire…

I’ve currently got my HETAS approved installer hat on at the moment. We’ve purchased the wood burning stoves for the two cottages and I’m attempting to install them. It all seems pretty straight forward and I’ve researched it thoroughly having spoken to the Building Reg’s department at the local council and an engineer at HETAS (like Corgi is for gas, HETAS is the body for solid fuel installations).


The hardest bit is connecting the flue to the chimney in the roof, and I have to completely mock it up first before dismantling it all and re-assembling it with fire sealant in all the joints. but doing it myself should save us a couple of grand.


The quicker I get it done the quicker we can paint in the warm, as the radiators and boiler connections have yet to be commissioned.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The earth moved

There are big changes taking place down at Banceithin this week with the start of the landscaping. It’s the first step towards transforming the front of the house from building site to beautiful garden and wildlife haven. A teeny tiny first step.

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Before Paul fired up the digger and began spreading out the rubble pile the front of the barn looked more like overflow landfill site for the local neighbourhood than a potential garden. There were unidentifiable rusting objects, months old bottles of milk, crushed paint pots, abandoned tools and a can of Gillete shaving foam (goodness knows which builder was so concerned about his appearance that he felt the need to shave on site!). Naturally I assumed all the debris would be collected up before landscaping began. Silly me. I’m still not thinking like a builder. Just because I always had a tidy desk doesn’t mean I can have a tidy building site. Every time I hoover (yes, you read that right, I hoover on site) or collect up scattered tools, “someone” comes along behind me and messes the place up again. I suspect I’m at risk of becoming obsessive-compulsive when it comes to tidying up. Anyway, if you think like a builder, why waste time collecting debris that you’ll only have to dump somewhere else, just spread out the rubble and hey presto, the debris magically disappears. Job’s a good’un.

Meanwhile, as it was a crisp sunny autumn morning, I was back on outside painting duty again. My life would be so much simpler if people liked to holiday in door-less window-less boxes. 


At least my trusty decorating pal Charlie is always nearby, ready to rub up against my wet paint work and place a dirty paw on my clean white windowsills.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Neopolitan delight

Philippa seems to be following a theme of her favourite ice cream when it comes to the colour schemes for the cottage, but surprisingly it probably works, hence why I don’t get involved in the colour choices! I was very dubious about her pink, chocolate and cream selection when Phil returned from an eco paint trip recently. We are using clay based paints which have the consistency of thick custard, and I was almost tempted to taste them, especially the chocolate one.


The final bathroom is coming together and the first tiles have gone up, the patterned tiles look great which is a relief since they cost £14 each!


Tuesday, 3 November 2009


No animals were harmed in the making of the chicken run, but a Greek did suffer minor injuries.

Fortunately (for us), the Banceithin work force is not represented by any trade union. If they were, I’m sure the union would be balloting members to strike in protest at the working conditions on Project Chicken Run. Now I’m no fan of health and safety gone mad in the nanny state, but I’m pretty sure there are guidelines that prohibit the use of a sledgehammer by a worker whilst straddling the top of a step ladder.


It could be a “how not to erect a fence” scene from a DEFRA health & safety training video for farmers. With each swing of the sledgehammer, words like “personal injury”, “compensation” and “how will I explain this to his family” whirred around my head. To add insult to injury (literally), Dave wouldn’t let Yiannis wear gloves until his first blister appeared – a test of true manliness, or something along those lines. It’s polite to present your guest with a momento of his visit and I know money is a bit tight these days, but a gift of wounds to the hands is a bit mean.

Thankfully, Dave came to his senses and whizzed off to borrow the appropriate equipment from a man who knows what he’s doing, Idwal (neighbour, sheep dog trainer, slaughterman and real live non-pretend farmer). Dave returned with fencing pearls of wisdom and a fence post banger in-er (I’m sure there’s a proper technical term for it but that pretty much describes what it does). [P.S. A prize of a weekend’s hard labour at Banceithin goes to the winner of the caption competition for the below photo.]



Much banging (and smoking) later, the chicken run was beginning to take shape, albeit a little wonky in places. I stepped in to lend a hand – my task was to unfurl the roll of chicken wire whilst making chicken like clucking noises by way of a musical accompaniment to the hammering in of staples.

Fence up, it was time to bring in the chicken house and nest boxes, painted by me in a fetching shade of glow in the dark orange guaranteed to attract the foxes.


Alas, a sloping field means a sloping house. Freedom from a slopey home may not be one of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food principles, but instinct tells me that it’s unfair to keep a chicken laying by using the force of gravity to prevent her leaving the nest box. Propping your chicken house up on a combination of brieze blocks, broken paving slabs & slate tiles shows a certain innovative flair but aesthetically pleasing it ain’t.


Aside from the minor detail of having constructed the run around an owl box (hungry owls and little chicks do not mix well), Project Chicken Run was successfully completed. In honour of our Greek labourer the run will bear a slate plaque above the door that reads “Kotetsi” (look it up on Babelfish!). Oh, and our first cockerel will be named Yiannis.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Getting there

I’ll leave Philippa to do the quality writing, I just thought I would update the blog with our recent progress.

The Cottage is getting there now, we can see the end in sight! All the flooring is down, and we’ve varnished the mezzanine bedroom floor and completed the balustrade which looks great (in my opinion anyway!)


I’ve completed the downstairs cloakroom and added a nifty box to hide all the pipe work which I made (with Squaddie Dad’s help) from the same material as the floor.


The Barn is also coming together but there is still some major work needed. The solar panels still need to be fitted, but we’ve completed the ensuite bathroom, and are making steady progress on the main bathroom.



The garage has also had a makeover, it’s been split in two with the main area becoming a games room, and the smaller room will have a side door and be used as a boot and store room for the guests.


We’ve also started to buy some furniture for the properties. We’ve found this fabulous little company who refurbish old 1930’s furniture which when all the horrible dark brown varnish is removed, look fantastic. We’ve managed to get an old HMV radiogram from them, which still works, so we are going to put it in the cottage with a load of our old vinyl records as I bet most people over 35 would love to play a few scratchy records like “the old days”.