Monday, 14 December 2015

Esse Ironheart finally installed...

After a few false starts, the Ironheart is finally delivered and fitted.
Looks great, heats and cooks well too. We made a simple casserole this weekend.
It's very controllable, so hopefully we wont be using too much fuel.
We did try to keep it in overnight, but not successful at the first attempt, more experimentation is needed.

Winter can now officially start !!

Apparently they come with a complimentary chocolate Lab :)

Also decided that I need a proper log-store, so have moved a huge rock pile, a remnant of an old extension I took down a while ago. It was right outside the back window, and an eyesore, so that is now moved, and I can build a log store there  (convenient for the back door)

Meanwhile the library has a few new(old/redecorated) pieces of furniture, and is rather cosy now !
The lamp is new...from John Lewis, very pretty with embroidered animals .

A piece that perfectly exemplifies the William Morris adage that you should have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

weekend #3 in the inglenook

a long weekend and thankfully still mild weather!!
I have been trawling reclamation yards picking up original read&black/blue Ruabon tiles.
So this weekend layed them in (not easy!) and then grouted them in.
Then spent a day in the Library, painting and tidying while the tiles dried
So on Sunday acid cleaned the whole room and wax sealed it .

Now just need the Esse to be delivered and installed soon please!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

weekend #2 in the inglenook

Well what an amazing day today, it felt like summer (actually probably nicer than most of the summer days!) was at least 18c, and even warmer in front of the house, which is a real suntrap!.

More progress inside, Jan continued painting and varnishing the floors of the Library and the bedroom above.
Library looks really nice now...we will move in next weekend.
and as it was....(notice the fire surround, resqued, painted and re-fitted)
 that floor was a deathtrap!!

I was working in the Inglenook. I dug out more of the floor on Saturday, then on Sunday took out the fire(stored in the workshop...I will use it one day when I build the orchard house). and dug out the rest of the floor. It is now ready to lay in tiles next weekend.
We have plenty of the red tiles (rescued when I dug up the hallway floor). We need the same amount of black tiles, so will call into Llanelli salvage next weekend.

Monday, 26 October 2015

floorboard sanding, and started work in the Inglenook

This weekend we hired a floor-sander, and I started with the library floor.
The floorboards in the library were delivered pre-planed, so it was pretty easy to sand them back. Once that was done, I started on the first floor bedrooms (both rooms and landing area), which have been waiting to be sanded for a long time.
Meanwhile Jan started painting the library floor. Two coats of a grey wash will give it a dark-ish look, but with the wood still visible through. Then a final coat of matt varnish to protect it (next week).

Sanding back the bedroom&landing floorboards was a much tougher job, but finished it by lunchtime Sunday.
Not the most pleasant of jobs...very noisy, and very very dusty, so ear-defenders, and dust-mask worn all day, and even then every orifice is still full of sawdust.
But a great job to get done, and now the floorboards can be appreciated in all their glory !

Photos to come, when the floors are all finished !!

While Jan continued painting (I think she will be painting some surface or other for many weekends to come!!) ...I started digging up the Inglenook.

We have ordered a new woodburner (the existing one was a stop-gap, and not very effective)
We will be without a stove in the room for a few weeks, but by then the Library will be up and working..... although we wont be able to cook, so will be utilising the local pub :)

In preparation for this, we will be digging up the Inglenook floor, which is a mix of old bits of brick, tiles and cement slab...a real mess.
I will be relaying in with red/blue ruabon tiles to match the rest of the room
At the same time we will tidy up the back wall of the inglenook, which is a mess (but structurally ok), and lime it. Jan had the idea of painting it with a yellow limewash, to hid the inevitable staining from soot etc...which is impossible to get rid of....we will see?!
We will also black lead the old bread oved in the corner, which will look really nice against the new lime.

That should take us a few weeks, and hopefully in time for delivery of the Ironheart..!!!

how it looks now...wait for the transformation......

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Progress in the Library

Work has continued in the Library...
  • Floorboards down and nailed
  • Trapdoor to basement below built and installed
  • Grill to basement below for vemtilation installed
  • Fireplace complete
    • Initial (suspended between joists) slab of vermivulite concrete (nice and light)
    • Laid in the old (Ruabon) black/blue tiles resqued from the hallway floor
    • Grouted, cleaned and sealed
    • Log fire fitted back in
    • Old original (?) Fireplace surround painted and re-fitted
  • Panelling on the partition wall fitted, filled and ready for painting
    • A mirror image of the Inglenook room wall
  • Panelling around the sash-window fitted, filled and ready to paint
    • Inluding a window seat
  • Skirting fitted, ready to paint
  • Lime rendering of walls nearly complete

Jobs to do....
  • Finish Lime rendering (one final smooth layer on the back wall)
  • Lime-wash the walls
  • Paint the panelling (wall, window, and skirting)
    • We have chosen F&B Stiffkey Blue
  • Sand and paint the floorboards (haven't decided on a colour yet...but it will be dark)
  • Figure out what to do with the ceiling !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was planing to build a bookcase against the back wall, of my own design, but am considering buying a bespoke piece, as I am not that level of craftsman !!!
We will see if we can afford it

The rug, sofa and chair were used temporarily, as we had a family event there a few weeks ago, they will be removed as we finish off the jobs above.

Nearly there !!!! :)

As it was..... 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Library floor down...(first layer anyway)

Recently, we have been splitting our time between keeping the orchard under control, and continuing work in the Library.

With the basement finished, we have put in the electrics. Basement lighting and power, and power points in the library. We also took this opportunity to put in an outside light over the front door.
A beautiful evening last weekend...

I have finished laying the chipboard floor. Over this will go a layer of foil/bubblewrap insulation, and then the new (12" wide) pine floorboards, which I took delivery of this weekend, so I can start laying them next weekend.
With the cellar trapdoor hole of course

Sunday, 19 July 2015

library floor and basement stairs

This weekend was beautiful, with clear skies, lovely warm weather. Saturday was hot, Jan struggled to cut grass in the orchard, and had to rest reguarly. This time of year the big black fly's (horseflies?) come out and although slow and easy to swat, they are persistent and bite !!...So it was hard work, but essential to keep the orchard under control, and the cleared brambles remain cleared !!

I was lucky enough to continue work in (cool) basement, laying in the remaining joists This included the joint work around the fireplace, into which I will be laying a block of Vermiculite concrete(lightweight and thermo efficient). Onto that I will be laying a slate hearth.
With that finished on Saturday afternoon, I was able to start laying in the first layer of floor-boarding, cutting holes for the trapdoor, and small hole for a floor-vent over the basement window, for CO2 safety (Building Regs requirement).

On Sunday I started building the wooden steps down to the basement through the trapdoor.
It's a steep incline, so had to thought long and hard on the design, then found a Pinterest post that solved the problem...

So here it place...

I am not 100% happy with it.
I had to use what I had lying around the workshop (old floorboards, and bits of battening)
So I will see how it works in action, but may replace the treads with more robust pieces, or at least re-inforce the battens with dowel ( I had to use screws as not enough dowel of the right size).

At least I know the pattern works, and I can replace it more easily...if necessary

The basement looks great and ready to start storing our Autumn harvest...(we are expecting a bumper harvest of apples and damsons this year)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

moving on up

So with the basement marathon coming to an end, its time to start the welcome task of moving up into the library.... the first steps at least.

I finished laying the cobbles last weekend, a thoroughly rewarding exercise, it looks almost original. Walking and working on it (and constant sweeping) is starting to rub back the lime, and polish the cobbles. Not as good as years of livestock walking on it (as it originally would have been used ), but its a good start.

With that and the lime rendering finished, it was time to start laying in the new oak joists.
This is heavy lifting, each one weighing about 40kg(or at least it felt like). Each one needs lifting, measuring, cutting, adjusting ( 2 or 3 times) leveling, then onto the next one...quite a workout!!

Made good progress this weekend, but didn't quite finish in time, but at least I broke the back of it.
Should finish it next weekend, and can start laying the floorboarding, insulation etc.

We picked up a bench (old church pew) last weekend, so set that up with the long table, fits perfectly, and looks great...just need lots of vistors to fill it up now

Also managed to give the new lawn its first cut...looking pretty lush !!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

cobbles....and more cobbles...

spent a very productive long weekend in Wales..
Took delivery of more course sand on Friday, which allowed me to crack on with laying cobbes in the basement. A labourious job, but once you get into the rhythm,
 - make a mix
 - gather a pile of cobbles
 - get on your knees
 - pick up a stone
 - place a stone (not allowed to put any back)
 - pick up a stone....
 - ......
- make a mix
Almost therapeutic, and a rather pleasant job...particularly the finished effect, which is stunning (in my opinion)

I was accompanied during this work by a very busy Jenny Wren, who was back and forth feeding her chicks in the ceiling above me...she became rather brazen, and was buzzing over my head every couple of minutes...completely oblivious of me !!!

Through Friday and Saturday I managed about 10-12 mixes, and finished about 3 quarters of the floor, until I ran out of cobbles (and only half a bag of NHL5 left)

The old channel that carried the stream out of the  basement ,would have lost its cobbles many years ago, so we knew that we would be short...however underneath the cement slab outside the back door, is also cobbled, so they will have to be sacrificed to finish the basement.

Meanwhile (between mixes), I started digging out a soakaway. The downpipe from the front roof has been channeling rainwater away from the house, using old plastic guttering for ages, and I've been intending to bury it for a while...
So I dug a metre deep, metre wide, hole away about 10 meteres away from the house.
On Sunday I lined it with an old jumbo sand bag, filled it with rubble, and dug the trench to the downpipe. Layed in the pipe, covered the soakaway with old tarp and earth...hey wouldn't know it was there !!

Jan finished her retaining dry-stone wall around the front garden...which looks a proper garden now. Helped by the flush of new lawn which is growing very well.

To finish it off  I moved the cement mixer around the back of the  house, and tidied up the front so it doesnt look like a building site now !!!

Monday, 15 June 2015

slow progress in the basement...

This weekend, I took the Friday off work, and went down to take delivery of more sand to continue with laying the cobbles into the basement floor.
Unfortunately the delivery truck arrived with 3 tonnes of fine sand instead of the course sand that I ordered, so back it went and another weeks delay before I can get on...frustrating !!!

So I finished the new outside door to the cellar, and fitted it on the Saturday.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday morning, I worked on the frame for the trap-door that will provide internal access to the basement from what will be Library...

Jan finished limewashing the attic room, so that we could start moving up temporarily. I am finally going to sand and seal the floorboards on the first floor.
Top floor looks lovely...
Saturday was wet, but Sunday was lovely and warm and sunny, so as soon as the grass had dried enough...we spent the rest of the day cutting grass usual

Did I say frustrating?!?!....still acheived a lot though!!!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Back to the Basement

After finishing the Inglenook rear wall and window (Janice's painting jobs aside), I've spent the last few weekends working in the basement.

The main beam has been repaired with a scarf jointed new end piece, and a new oak post to support it, set on a thick slate plinth, to keep it off the damp floor.

I finished lime rendering the walls last weekend(it took a while, with lots of dubbing in big holes) , so this weekend I started re-laying the cobbled floor.
They are layed into NHL5 to give some waterproofing(but still with breath-ability). It's going to take a while (I think I did about a 6th of the area this weekend), but a rather enjoyable and a (somewhat) theraputic process.
I hope you will agree, a really lovely look.

Jan has been continuing to build her dry stone wall around our first garden border, and the new lawn...plenty of photos when it is completed in a few weeks .

Monday, 11 May 2015

Brambles 0 - Davies 3 - They think its all over !!

A long weekend (I took Friday and Monday off), so that I could acheive a few objectives:
  1. Finish panelling the rear window
  2. Add another coat of rough lime render to the rear window wall
  3. Take delivery of all the Oak for the Cellar, from Meriron(Coed Cadog)
  4. Depending on weather finish the new lawn area, seeding etc
  5. Clear some Brambles :)
Friday afternoon...#1 is complete
The Jali board hides an external air vent pipe exiting under the sill.

When Jan arrived on saturday she filled and prepped ready for sanding and painting next weekend.

#2  completed Saturday morning,...on last coat of fine lime render next week and its done,  (or ready for limewashing)

#3 - Meirion delivered the Oak, which they will start work on next week :)
  • A 9inch x 9 inch piece to repair the end of the main beam, and the requisite post underneath it
  • A 4inch x48inch x 12inch deep lintel to repair the rotten one over the basement window
  • 28 4inch x 4inch - 8ft joists. to lay the new floor , once the beam is reaired
#4 - Jan and I spent most of Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning preparing the lawn area, layed in the seed, and put in some protection from the birds
(I reckon its the biggest bird feeder around!!!!)
At some point, Jan will put her dry-stone-walling skills to work, and put in a small retaining wall to replace the breeze blocks ....theres plenty of stone !!!!!!!

#5 - Jan left Sunday afternoon, and as the weather was nice...I took on the Brambles !!!!
The top of the orchard has almost completely disappeared under them I took a start at that.
Too much for one weekend, but I made a good start !!

Wanting to do a job that I could actually finish, I then took on the brambles that have infested a large banking area.. ..cleared one half, and half the other side the rest of Sunday ...collapsed completely knackered at 6...was in bed by 9:30 !!!
Then cleared the rest of it Monday morning....did a little more minor clearing elsewhere...then headed home.
Please note the size of the bramble pile !!!!!!!

Meanwhile here a few shots of the new pathway we made across the new lawn out into the Orchard, very pleased with this.


Called into a new(newly discovered) cafe/deli/shop in Llanarne, that was declared one the top 40 places to eat in the UK, in the Guardian recently.
Wrights Food Emporium is a fabuloius place...even though I turned up in my work clothes, smelling rather rank, they were really friendly. I ordered a beef and horseradish sandwhich and coffee...both were fabulous (ate in the car..didnt want to scare the othercustomers)

We will definately call in again !!!

Monday, 20 April 2015

sunny spring weekend - busy in the orchard

The last few weekends have been glorious. We had clear blue skies all day this Saturday, although it still gets very chilly in the evenings. The orchard is starting to come alive, with the first flowers on the pear trees, and some of the apple blossom  just coming out.
We've been working on the front garden of the house, flattening out a shrub/weed filled area ,and then this weekend we moved the huge sandstane slabs that have previously formed a small patio. They are now a path straight out from the house through the gap in the hedge into the orchard. The slabs are extremely heavy (too heavy to lift), so we employed the ancient egyptian method of rolling them along over old bits of drainage pipes. They are layed flush into the newly flattened ground, so that they can be mowed over, when the grass grows......hard work, but looks great.

Sorry...forgot to take photos, so will take some next time.

Roy came down with us for his first visit for a few years, so lovely to see him wandering around the orchard...couldnt stop him!! He also took out a few of the early sprouting Raspberry he can bring them on.

Meanwhile, I have been continuing to work on the new rear window.. with the frame in place, i've started adding the panelling (in the same style as panelled wall in the same room).

Also started putting the first coat of (rough) lime on the wall...lots of dubbing in around the window...should be finished in another week or 2. When its whitewashed it will make the room much lighter.

It will be nice when its finished !!!

The first cut in the orchard this weekend... Utilising two lawm-mowers, and clearing some early bramble as we went...Jan and I managed to cut about 2thirds of the orchard...basically all of the lower area..
The upper part of the orchard has been taken over by bramble, so that will be a major project some point !!! .
We were exhasted afterwards...but worth it...its a lovely time of year.