Monday, 22 December 2014

first Christmas at BCB and the start of the basement campaign

So this weekend was our first ever proper family meal at BCB.
My two sisters and husbands came down to stay for a meal Saturady night at the cottage, around our new table. We had our first Christmas tree, and decorations!!...Such are the benefits of a year of major progress.
...oh and we had a wonderful night (we won't mention why my sister stuffed oranges down her jumper at 1am!!)

Sunday (after we had cleared up the mess) ...Lloyd arrived, to help with the start of the battle of the  Basement....

First we pulled up the old floorboards...
Here are the only remaining original lath&plaster in the house, we would love to have saved it, but too difficult (we saved some of the larger pieces for posterity)

Took out all the joists (they'r pretty much all shot), we will have replace them all I think.
A nice shot of the fireplace in mid air !!

We spent the rest of the time clearing out, then digging out the channel to let the water run out freely.
The astute among you will notice the crappy old garden wheelbarrow... within 30mins of starting the job, we got a flat tyre in the big American style (awesome) wheelbarrow we would normally have have no idea  how much harder it made the job.

As the light faded (and it got a lot colder) Lloyd focused on getting the door closed up, and I took the lime render off a few walls....then retired to the inglenook room, and spent the night by the fire, drinking Brain SA, and singing Pulp and Beautiful South songs..:)

Monday morning, we (after recovering from similar hangovers)...took up half of the cobbles, took, out more of the trench, and took off more of the lime render...and tidied up before leaving.

If your interested in such things (as I am)...take a look at the number of layers of lime render/wash that have been applied to the walls of this wonderfull old house...  up close, I counted at least 20

Next week I (no Lloyd dammit)... will lay in the perforated pipe into the trench, cover with gravel. Take out the rest of the cobbles and clean up ready to start re-liming, and replacing the oak.

finally... i took a picture of the cobbles before I complete taking them up next week...a lovely pattern, that I need to replicate when I relay them into NHL5 .

Lower hallway

with the new back door in place, time to work on the lower hallway...
As it was...
The entrance to the cellar is onthe right (cant see it in this picture)

and now...

Jan has decorated the area with her decorations

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Blinkin' cold

Sunny and cold this Saturday, but wet overnight, and poured down on Sunday morning, then the skies cleared and a lovely blue sky for the afternoon...The weather is a wonder here, you really notice the changes in the light, which are sometimes dramatic. When I arrived ( a lovely clear Saturday morning), there was a strange mist just hanging to the Northerly slopes of the valleys. We are used to the morning mist that lays in the Towy river valley below, but this was something I havent seen before...always something new to appreciate.

Never got above 11c in the house...even with the fire going...I need a bigger Fire !!

Did a number of small jobs ...
  • Fitted the weather bar to the base of the new back door
  • Another coat of limewash on the Library chimney wall (another 2 or 3 should do it) photo below.
  • Cleared the area around the outside entrance to the Cellar.. I will need to get a wheelbarrow to this entrance when the major cellar project begins, after Christmas.
  • Jan put the first coat of paint on the new dining table (Paint effects are a mystery to me !)
  • Jan also put the first coat of paint (grey again!!) on the back door.
  • Delivered the new chairs we found in the local second hand junk shop..
Library Chimney wall....2 coats of limewash..still drying.

Photos of the cellar...before I start the major project
The hole in the library floor (this will be a trapdoor when finished).
trenches for the perforated drain the water
The joists are shot in that corner, so an Acro Prop is required for now.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A beautiful Winter weekend...and lots done too !!

Last weekend in November was stunningly sunny, warm(ish), with little wind. Perfect for the job of the weekend...fitting our new backdoor.
Buily by our wonderfull carpenter Neil. The door looks stunning.
We arrived early on Saturday morning, to pull out the old door and frame. Chisel out the old lime around the door opening, and lay in the new door step, made from a rescued piece of slate. (also needed to bury the electric cables or the Shed and the well)


During.... the old cobbles under the cement slab outside the back day we will expose and renovate these !!!
Neil arrived mid-morning and started fitting the new door.....

Meanwhile I finished off a job ive been at for a few weeks. We are having a family Chirstmas dinner this year (the first !!!) I've been making a dining table from the old floorborards that have been employed as my wheelbarrow ramps up&down our outside steps..for the last few years. Suitably worn and aged, they look great when sanded down as a table top (9ft x 3ft). So I finished the top this weekend and (with help) moved it into the house, (weighed a tonne!!). Jan will find a suitable paint/varnish/wax finish for it. For now it is sat on two tresstles, until I can make the base.
I must say that I really like it...going to be a great addition to the house, and a place for entertaining, eating, laughing,  playing games...even dancing if I know my sisters !!!

Hope you like our 1950's kitchen cabinet...another find !!...and sooo practical

More progress, Jan completed the first(rough) course of lime between the oak timbers in the lower hall, which will look great after another (smooth) coat and limewash.

Also took a delivery of fire-wood for the winter, and stacked it in the Inglenoook....ready for Christmas :)
How an Inglenook should look at the beginning of Winter................

Finally, with light fading, and time to head home on a Sunday...I started dubbing in the wall around the new back door....always have to use up that last half bucket of Lime !!!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Closing up the cellar (for now)

The first job to be Workshop-assisted is the start of the lower hallway work, and preparation for the new backdoor, and of course work on the Library.
The lower hallway had the old entrance to the Cellar. In the future the entrance would be via a hatch in the Library floor, and eventually a step down from the planned extension(which would require knocking through the end wall...a huge job)

Anyway the first job was to close up the cellar doorway from the lower hallway. So I took some of the better oak joists i've been saving, trimmed, shaved and cut them into size to make a frame to block up the doorway. Then battoned and bisquit-boarded the spaces between...ready for Jan to lime between the oak.

Also put some temporary flooring across the floor-gap in the first !! (let not mention the time i fell through that hole!!!)

Meanwhile Jan has been preparing the chimney wall in the Library, dubbing in gaps, and preparing for the first few coats of limewash.

A tree down in the storm

A very windy few days in October, managed to blow down a tree in the yard area. So an opportunity to use my chainsaw, and cut up wood for later in the Winter.
First issue...I seem to have a fundamental problem with starting (petrol) Chainsaws.
My old one is so frustrating, especially as it has no access to the air filter and spark plug, so abandoned that (for spares)
Despite Jan's attrmept to push me towards an Electric chainsaw. When I use our electric hedge trimmer, I usually cutting the cord once in every electric Chainsaw would be a nightmare for me.
So I gave up and bought a new Chainsaw, one which had a good review...I quote " starts every time, never morte than 2 pulls".
Guess what !!!!
It started ok first time, got the tree down, then stalled, and I couldnt get it started again...Lots of swearing at this stage!!!!.
At least this model had easy access to the spark plug...took off the HT lead, checked the plug for flooding, all fine...when I tried to put the HT lead back on the metal connection inside had sheared off ...a very flimsy(crappy) design.
So, what do I do...send it back witht the warranty, only to get the same design back (and never remove the HT lead/plug), or fix it with a new HT lead (from the Mini)...VERY Frustrating !!!!

Anyway, I manged to get it working with a temporary fix, took down the tree, and another large branch overhanging the Stream, chopped it all up, and stacked to dry in the Inglenook...

Workshop up and running !

The last few months have been focused on getting the workshop up and running before the winter.
A long job as it required :

  • Level out a sloping area (dig out and build walls) - 2 weekends work!
  • In-fill the base with rubble, an opportunity to break up more of the foundations of the old extension and bury it !, hard labour and three weekends work.
  • Get a mini-mix to lay the concrete slab (I wasnt doing that whole area with a mixer)
  • Get the Workshop built by the supplier Williams Sheds (3 weeks) delivered and installed (a weekend)
  • Then empty the house of all the tools, wood, workbenches, ladders, lime, sawdust !!!!
  • Paint it, Install electrics, lighting, guttering, security etc.
  • Build workbenches on three walls, including a recessed area for the Chopsaw.(picture #3)
  • Finally build Stone steps up to the side door.
I enjoyed tidying up my tools and now we are ready to go !!!!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Davies 1....Brambles 0

Wow, what a fabulous weekend. Warm and sunny, although cool in the evening.

So much so that I decided to spend the time in the orchard, launching my yearly attack on the brambles.
Cleared a huge area that had become badly overgrown, to the point that it was hiding four trees in there somewhere.
My weapons of choice at the moment are Machete ( a lovely Tramontina ) and Scythe which makes it much easier. The armoury is powerful, but those Brambles fight back, so I took many scrapes....but in the end I won, and cleared the whole area...until next year !!

Jan painted in the Inglenook. Two coats of limewash on the face of the inglenook wall, finished the panelled wall (F&B Downpipe gray), and a first coat of limewash on the window wall... makes such a difference, this room is rather homely now (especially with Lloyd's spare sofa)

No photographic proof this will have to take our word for it....or come and visit :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Inaugural Davies family gathering.

A very typical British August Bank holiday, just enough sun forecast to get everyone onto the roads, then torrential rain. Having said that, we all gathered (at different times) on the Saturday, and enjoyed a lovely evening in the orchard.
 Jess knitting for baby...he/she will be with us soon, and will be at our gathering next year !!
 Lloyd making a table from a piece of old panneling, and the old Oak joists.
From the Left..Owen, Lloyd, Tom, Alys, Andy(Alys' boyfriend), Jan and Jess.
Me behind the camera as usual :)
All together in the Orchard...suprisingly chilly for August, but a lovely evening....the rain arrived later the next day.

A dissapointing Bonfire though, those boys need more practice..although Andy did rock the Lumberjack look !

Workwise, not much was achieved, but this was a family get together more than anything.
Jan cut grass as usual, I started making stone steps up to the workshop (before I know exactly where the door is...risky!!). I also dug up part of the old drains and tidied them up and re buried, so we loose a few exposed drian-tops...been wanting to do that job for ages.

Jan and Jess started painting the panelling in the Inglenook room, which looks available next week, when its finished !

Monday, 18 August 2014

Base for a Workshop, and progress in the Inglenook room

It's been a while since I posted here, but that's not to say that we haven't been hard at work !

I spent a few weeks making a base for a Workshop. I had to build up a wall to make a flat area, then fill in the substantial hole with rubble. This was a perfect opportunity to remove more of the old extension, so I broke up the old concrete floor, and took down the remaining breeze-block walls to the foundations. This will allow the garden to take over that area now. Also removed much of the area that we have used as a rubbish dump. So all-in-all a good piece of work (although not very blog worthy ).
Anyway this Friday the Minimix arrived and hey Workshop base...
Needs a set of steps up on the right there...a job for next week maybe..

The Workshop (20' x 12') will arrive in a few weeks, and then I can empty the house of all tools ("and mess".. shouts Jan). I can then start working on the Library, which is currently acting as my Workshop!.

Meanwhile I made a start on panelling for the Inglenook room. It took a lot of planning and working out (even some Maths !!), but we are pleased with the result.
I countersunk and filled the screw holes, so next weekend it will get sanded down and painted, and I think it will look great.

I also put the second lime render coat on the window wall.. So that can get limewashed next week too..
The window reveals look wonderful.
...apologies for the gloomy picture...iphone camera doesnt do brightness.

So lots to do next week, which is convenient as we are having our inaugural Davies family get together at BCB. The first time we will all be together there (Tom, Owen, Lloyd&Jess, Alys&Andy...and the 2 dogs, Mogs anf Jonah).
Should be fun, and plenty of jobs lined up !!

Oh...and although Alys' room isnt finished...we've set it up for next week.. attempt...

Jan's more practical version...

We are still working on the Chimney wall in Alys' room, which still isnt taking the limewash ! Jan raked out all the sooty brown pointing (just sand and earth really), and re-pointed with lime, so hopefully that will at least remove the brown staining. Then we just keep the dehumidifier going in there until it dries properly, and the limewash does its work.
Its a real labour of love that wall !

Sunday, 8 June 2014

lots done on a short visit

After missing last weekend (work dragged me a way for a week). we were only able to spend this Saturday at BCB.
However in a few hours we managed to...
  • Wire in the ground floor ring-main power points. We now have power in the Inglenook room, hallway and a temporary socket in the library.
  • Limewash all four walls in Alys' bedroom. 5th coat on the chimney breast(it is starting to smooth out and turn whiter with every coat), and the first coat on the other 3 walls.
  • Started to lay out the base for the Workshop. Dug out and built a retaining wall, another wekend, and I will be able to get a Minimix for the base..then order the shed/ in workbenches and then I can empty the house of all the tools !!.......soon!
  • Cut the grass around the house...keeping it under control for another week or so.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

our first piece of custom made furniture

one of the worst aspects of the British Bank Holiday
Traveling down to Wales on a Friday evening is a brave endevour...We were stuck at the (old) Severn Bridge for 30minutes in a queue for the toll, stuck agian at the Brynglas tunnels....not too bad after that.
But Lloyd and Jess were stuck on the new bridge for an hour, so didnt arrive at BCB until midnight !

Saturday I kept working on Alys' bedroom...finishing the bisquit (Celenit) board on the ceiling. Completed the skirting around the new fireplace. Also fitted the battening, ready to complete lining the walk-in-wardroab next time.
Jan limwashed the walls in the hall and landing.

Lloyd (after taking Jess down to Tenby for her girlies night out) took on my challenge of turning a pile of old bits of wood (Tulip wood cut-offs from the doors, a piece of spare floorboard, and pieces of the cladding)...into a bench for the hall.

Here was my inspiration....
Wooden bench  - note to myself notice the lack of mad clutter!!

Here were the raw materials.....

And so Lloyd ....

made this......
So lovely :)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A better weekend than the last one..

What a contrast between two weekends ! A gorgeous sunny and warm couple of days, we went down Friday evening, and stayed until Sunday lunch time...and got loads done.

Jan spent most of the time cutting grass in the orchard, 4 weeks since it was last cut and this time of year if you miss many more weeks than that and the grass gets away, so a great job to keep it down and looking great.
The lanes are full of wild flowers at the moment, and the garden is looking lovely too.. Jan picked some for the hall...(thanks Southmead Hospital for the Jug)

I started by spending Friday evening finishing the walk-in larder, hung the door, added the cladding, and fitted the door furniture from very pleased with the result...

just need to add the skirting, (when the adjacent wall has had its first coat of lime)

PS...also tried to make an oak wedge for an axe handle, but incurred a hand injury (more later)

Saturday was spent liming. I managed to complete the two remaining walls in Alys' bedroom, hard work , but it looks great. Needs a few layers of limewash to finish it off.

I've found that while waiting for the cement mixer to make a good lime mix (it takes 10x longer than a simple cement mix), I like to find other jobs to do. So managed to get the ladders out and clear/fix the guttering on the back of the longer will we need to leave the back door in fear of the inevitable drip down the back of the neck !. Also managed to give the chimney wall in Alys' bedroom another coat of limewash...I think this is going to be a challenge as it still doesn't seem to want to dry white..mmmm will persevere.

Before and After (this is me taking the cement of the walls when we first bought it), and this weekend adding the last layer of Lime  !!

Managed to wear away the skin on my right hand rubbing out the trowel marks on the final wall...lime hurts !!!..and now there is my blood embedded in these walls !!!

We were both absolutely exhausted Saturday evening, so a quick BBQ in the orchard, and an early night.

Sunday, I fitted the door furniture to Alys' bedroom door. Also lime-filled the sides of the finished pantry.
Then started fitting Alys' newly purchased fireplace. I cut a slate hearth (and recessed the associated floorboards), bedded it in with Lime. Had to add some wood at the back of the fireplace to fill the gap (remember me saying that it was inches too small for the gap). When in place, I limed to the sides and hey presto......

All in all a beautiful and very productive weekend.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Wet 'n Wild

This weekend was a typical Welsh spring day.......wet, very wet, it rained pretty much all day, windy too, so we were glad to be working indoors...although I had to be outside for mixing the lime render :(

Made progress in Alys' bedroom, adding the top coat of lime-render to the window wall, it took all day because of the window reveal, but it looks lovely...cant wait to lime wash it.
Also finished dubbing in the chimney wall, which looks really nice now...again ready for several layers of limewash.

Not such good news, I measured the fireplace hole, for the newly purchased surround...and guess what ...its too small. A 26inch hole, with a 24inch fireplace....oops.
I will have to fashion a wooden backplate to fit to the wall, and attach the firelpace to it. Not a problem !

We arranged for the carpenter who made our front door, to come along and measure up for a new back door. Neil from Ystrad Carpentry, near Llandovery. He made such a brilliant job of the front door, so we asked him to make a replacement for the old, rotten and very draughty old back door, and also a new sash window for the rear window in the Inglenook room ( I will post pictures of these at a later date).
Very excited about these 2 additions, as they will make a huge difference.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Alys' fireplace...

We didn't get down the house this weekend, but managed to source a new fireplace for Alys' bedroom....

I wanted something softer and more feminine for her bedroom, and loved this white fireplace. Plain and simple as is the Georgian style, very authentic ! 
I should be able to fit it next weekend, so long as it gets delivered this week.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Hall and Landing finished ! (apart from decorating)

A very wet (and rather chilly) Saturday, but a lovely Sunday.

I spent Saturday fitting architrave and skirting in Alys' bedroom, looks great but also allows the next step of finishing the liming in that room. Also I de-nailed the ceiling joists of the old plasterboard nails, getting it ready to start fitting the ceiling bisquit board next time...That took all Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile Jan painted the hall cladding....looks great, really lightens the hallway.
A chilly evening, but the house looked wet, but lovely...
Sunday, I limed the landing ceiling, hard work, but not as difficult as liming in between the joists( in Owens bedroom and the hallway). The finish is "rough and ready", but i like it. I feel encouraged that I can do this in Alys' bedroom ceiling and in the Inglenook room(sometime soon). Jan continued to paint the skirting and architraves...looks amazing.. looks.finished !! Also limewashed the hall walls (first coat), softer and lighter already.

Lastly, I had a go at the end-wall in Alys' bedroom. We are not going to Lime render this, but Limewash it (as in Owen's room, and Tom's attic room). Its going to be more of a challenge as it looks as though smoke from the fireplace has stained the wall. So I scrubbed the stonework and raked out the pointing. then used the remaing lime from the Landing ceiling to dub-in what i could (did about half of the wall).

Hopefully this will look a little different in the future :)