As one newly aligned door opens…

I am writing to you from a slightly gritty keyboard.  Over the past few days, we have moved the front door and dismantled a couple of slate-faced columns and, although we put up plastic sheets to control the dust, we hadn’t quite bargained on the strength of the wind.  This blew, then gusted, through the house whilst the front door was no longer completely secure, and then billowed round our carefully positioned defences…

Monday was slightly stressful as we unscrewed the (as it turns out, very heavy) front door; dismantled and moved the door frame; and rehung the front door.  We only needed a little bit (!) of help from Gary, the boiler man, with this as I fear my musculature wasn’t up to supporting the door in the increasingly accurately defined positions necessary for us to reconnect the hinges to the slots in which they belonged.

Front door in new location - primer anyone?
Front door in new location – primer anyone?

Tuesday saw me priming windows again (only 1 small set now outstanding, plus the door above) whilst Mike completed the necessary works on the front door and then began to dismantle the slate-faced pillars.  All went well until the breaker puttered and fell silent.  I won’t repeat the hour long saga of trying to work out why it had failed; contacting the supplier – who had no further breakers in stock but could collect it for refund; studying the internet to find no others available in local stores, so we had to order a larger version (think, ‘we’ll have to have it, it’s all that is available’, said in a tense voice) for delivery tomorrow….and then, around 6.30 pm as we pack the breaker back into its case ready for collection, noticing the nicked flex where, presumably, a chunk of masonry has ruined the integrity of the electricity supply.  A quick magic repair and all is well and collection for refund cancelled.  Phew!  Of course, we have not cancelled the order for the larger tool since I am assured we will find a need for it over the next couple of days / weeks / years…

Now, what was I supposed to be doing with this?
Now, what was I supposed to be doing with this block?

Wednesday was fun, as Mike and I took it in strict turns to either (a) operate the breaker and dismantle the pillar structures or (b) shovel all the mess into either the slate or the rubble wheelbarrow and then tip into heaps as appropriate.  Yesterday afternoon I made some inlay fans, a throw back to the veneering business we used to run, partly as the customer needs them soon and partly as my body needed a rest from the more testing pursuits of late.  Mike meanwhile finished clearing the new lobby, sorting out the electrical cables that emerged from one of the pillars, and considering how we would hide the soiled water pipe that we also uncovered.

On less strenuous fronts, we have seen a rep from a fire alarm company; have ordered the glazed panels for the front door (to replace plywood infill, and thus permit more light into the lobby); liaised further with Planning about the proposed labyrinth; and have begun revising the schedule to see if we can still hope to open the restaurant mid-August.

Primed and ready to go

Success – the leak is mended!  With a willing helper, Mike managed to re-erect the scaffold tower; tweak the lead flashing; re-gunk with silicone sealer and voila – all is now watertight.  We know this since later on Thursday the heavens obligingly opened, seemingly just to test the systems for us.

Our other entertainment for the day was to clear the attic room of items that needed to go into the skip (number 6) which is now nearly full.  Since these included items such as old metal bedsteads and similar, we lashed them to a long rope and lowered them over the balcony to the front path, which was so much more fun than just walking them down through the house.  We unlocked some of the cupboards in the attic which had been screwed shut to find they were full of old clothing and soiled bedding that could probably have walked to the skip unaided, but we gave them a helping hand.


Front door as at present. New frame being installed about 18" into the space shown
Front door as at present. New frame being installed about 2′ into the space shown, just this side of the beam

We have now primed the exterior of the 20 windows, and scraped clean much of the driveway (since the weedy scrapings needed to be put into the skip).  Mike meanwhile has built a new frame for the front door which will enable us to re-position the door at a sensible angle to the house, opening outwards (so that the prevailing wind isn’t always trying to blow it open), leaving room for a lobby that will lead customers either into the restaurant or towards the accommodation and toilets.  Tomorrow we will measure the top and centre panels and have these re-glazed to let some light into the new lobby.

Yesterday we had our first Saturday off for a while to go to the Dolwyddelan carnival which was really good fun, and to meet Penny at the Pont y Pant railway station.  Penny is visiting to complete one of her ‘7 at 70’ challenges, being to have a go at the zip wire in the slate mines in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Penny, all dressed up and ready to go
Penny, all dressed up and ready to go

Here she is before the ride, but the grin on her face as she returned probably told the important part of the story.

We have been rather weary this weekend, so suspect that the punishing schedule we have set, in order to open on 17th August, is beginning to highlight that we are not as young as we think we are.  However, as we are now committed to employing our cook from 15th August, needs must!  Only a few minor jobs still to go….


The old floor est disparue

I know I should start by blogging about progress on the hotel but… we (being at the forefront of the IT revolution) have finally discovered the pleasure of box-set viewing.  We stumbled across “The Disappearance” (or Disparue to give it its real title, being a very stylish French production with English subtitles) listed in the top 40 on BBC iplayer.  We watched the first couple on Sunday since there was only football otherwise, followed by two on Monday and, yes, tonight we have just finished watching the last episode.  Obviously a murder mystery, but we found it thoroughly diverting and some of the action took place in a cafe-restaurant in Lyon, so we were kind of taking notes at the same time…

Back to business.  We had quite a lot of rain on Sunday, which has proved beyond doubt that the slate roof we installed in early April leaks.  As soon as the schedule allows, we will put the scaffold tower back together and tweak the lead flashing, which we think should solve the problem.  Actually, Mike thinks this, but I thought I would try to make it appear that I am as knowledgeable about these things for a moment.  Otherwise, we enjoyed a very restful Sunday.

On Monday I removed all the remaining wood-chip+ wallpaper from the restaurant whilst Mike pulled down parts of the ceiling, patched the holes, and then tidied up the considerable quantity of loose wires that festooned the walls and ceiling.  We then, after a little judicious nagging on my part, started to lay the concrete floor in the kitchen. We assume, having looked carefully at the old sloping floor that when this part of the house had acted as cellar to the bar, the floor had been installed at several different levels to permit easy rolling of barrels into the cellar, and also to prevent any spillage running into the house.  I now realise Mike had not quite worked out what he needed to do here, but after the little nudge, he settled down to lay the centre of three panels of concrete which meant he could test his theory before fully committing to the methodology.

On Tuesday we had to dance around the not-yet-set- floor so whilst Mike rubbed down the old woodwork supporting our new windows, and insulated part of the restaurant wall, I wrote a couple of emails that needed serious thinking, washed the ceiling in the alcove by the wood burning stove (yuk, and yuk again), primed the exterior of 6 windows and then retired indoors to do the accounts.  Bonus yuk – and still not enough.  It has been quite remarkable to note how very little insulation was included in the original extensions (installed ca. 1979/1980) so we have been trying to make up for this as we work around.

Today, Mike ended up having to complete his floor pretty much single-handedly.  We started off with me loading the cement mixer and wheeling the mix to him as is our normal practice if Adrian is not helping, but the chap from the Welsh tourism funding office arrived for a chat, so sadly I had to leave Mike to it at that point.  We had some horse riding visitors around lunchtime – a couple from Leeds on their honeymoon – who were great fun, and later another couple arrived to check out what was happening to the building.  She had been to several of the parties / raves previously held at Plas Hall and wanted her boyfriend to see the building, but I won’t share the details of her anecdotes here as some of you may be eating as you read this.

So there really can be only one picture tonight, which is of a still wet but nearly completed fabulous new concrete floor!


Here's hoping none of the animals try to walk on this for a day or so
Here’s hoping none of the animals try to walk on this for a day or so