Monday, 17 October 2016

Inglenook room - ceiling solution

The ceilings at BCB have been a challenge for me.
In the (finished) attic room, I bisquit boarded, limed and lime-washed the angled roof. It was very hard work, frustrating (when the lime would fall off in swathes), but the finish was ok.
In our bedroom I limed between the joists, which was really hard work, and the finish was ok, not great.
On the main landing, and in the hallway, I completely limed the small areas (8'x8'), horrible job, and not really a great finish.
So when it comes to the remaining rooms (second attic room, second bedroom, Inglenook and library), I have been contemplating other options.
I have started work inthe second attic room and decided to board the roof with ply and 4" to cover the joins, and although still hard work, the finish is good.

So when it comes to the Inglenook (which is finished except fo the ceiling), I thought I would do the same. Except for 5" joints, to line up with the panelling on the wall.
The finish is good so far, when Jan has painted it (white). If it is still as good, I may consider this for the second bedroom above, which similary doesn't have exposed joists

That leaves the ceiling in the library. It has exposed joists, but I dont fancy limeing between. Boarding with ply will probably not give as good a finish as elsewhere as the gaps are variable and it will be tricky to get a good may have to think of another strategy...maybe just paint the exposed under floorboard boarding, and see how that looks.

I am at least making progress on ceilings at last

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The perfect Autumnal weekend for a family cider day

As we pass from one season into another, the transition can be dramatic, subtle or even imperceptible. Saying farewell to Summer, can seem hard, but not when Autumn delights surround you. A few weekends ago we picked plump blackberries and drooping elderberries, and made a few jars of unctuous jam. This year Summer seems to have drifted in to Autumn on a still warm evening. Late September and early October has been one of the best I can remember....that is apart from a few very windy days when we feared for our very full apple trees.

We have been planning a cider weekend for a while, but family commitments delayed the day until this last weekend (8th October)...we really should have harvested last weekend or even the weekend before. Thankfully the lovely warm and dry October days have really benefited the apples, but we watched the windy storm blow through from the East with trepidation.
We feared not...Saturday came with family descending to help along (cider making is labour intensive)

The workforce was divided into teams (mostly migrant and of course all on zero hours)
  • pickers&washers ...happy amongst the branches, laying out blankets, shaking trees, gathering windfall. First wash in dilute Milton, then rinse in fresh water
  • choppers....somehow all the women seemed to congregate to this chore, and spent most of the time chatting and laughing together (see pics below!!)
  • mincing and pressing...the chopped apples were pushed through a (cheap) garden shredder, into muslin bags, and into the press.
The first flow apple juice is a magical moment and it is traditional to share amongst the team....a very precious liquid, and ensures that no-one will every buy shop bought apple juice again .....DELICIOUS...doesn't do it justice
But.enough of wasting juice....start filling the buckets with juice for CIDER !!!!!

and so the production line sings along.....literally when the music starts..Otis Redding, Gladys Knight and the ......

Pick, barrow, wash , rinse, chop, pulp, press, store...over and over again

A moment to discuss year I mashed whole apples...the first tasting was distinctly almondy.....a little research alerted me to the content of apple pips.......Cyanide.
Probably not enough to poison you, but enough to taste the from now on we chop and de-pip.

Five hours work - 8 people on hand... and 60 litres of juice produced.

We have about 6 different apple varieties, which I know the names of none, but I know the taste , productivity and texture of all.
My favourite 3...on the left a big juicy and sweet apple...produces lots of juice
in the middle, the purple, crispy, dry apple, with the fur of wild yeast
On the right, my favourite, a wonderful russet with a crisp, juicy, slightly sweet taste

When we press, we mix all together, but this year I decided to experiment with using the purple apple and its wild yeast to make a single tree brew, without adding yeast, hoping that the wild yeast will do its job. It's a gamble.
Our son Thomas, is doing a degree in Bio-Chemistry, and is studying yeast DNA. According to Thom commercial/industrial yeasts are grown to produce one thing....alchohol, but wild yeasts may produce other CO2...oops !!!    we will see.....its an experiment.
5 litres of the single apple..55 litres of mixed apples with added , cider specific yeast.

This sounds like an industrial enterprise, but it is nothing of the sort....The cider is just the end product. This is primarily a family/friends/community event.
Acknowlegding and using the fruits of these wonderful trees.
Working and laughing together
Tasting the produce of your efforts
Storing.processing, brewing and storing the cider
And finally months and years to come enjoying thefruits of this labour, with friends family and neighbours.