One step forward, several steps back…

To all who have commented on our colour query, I send our deepest thanks.  Pale gravel is definitely the most popular choice at the moment, and I will let you know if this should change.

Tonight, I will start with the non-stairs news:

I have been mostly in the cafe for the last week or so, given that we have been pleasingly busy over the August Bank Holiday period.  In quieter periods, I have been sewing seeds, in preparation for the autumn growing season that I hope will produce many young perennial plants for me to nurture before planting out next spring.  Mike has made four further planters to grace the outside of the building.  After carefully studying the frontage last week whilst discussing colour, we have decided on the appropriate plants to enhance this gorgeous building and so have created further planters into which these can be placed and start to grow into the larger mature plants that we will need.  He has also been stripping paint from barge boards at the rear of the building.  Oh, and he put together two high chairs for use in the cafe.

Tim has been with us and has been hugely helpful as we cleared up the floor 2 rooms today, preparing for the next scheduled works.



…and after our clean up session today.

After we had cleared out the room (and several others on the same floor) Mike was able to put his hands on plywood to protect the newly installed windows from any sparks when the external fire escape and platform are removed, we hope, later this week.  Meanwhile, Bill had arrived to continue his fantastic work on the grounds.

Grounds at the top of the hill, ready for attention
Bill managed to remove several large rhodo stumps today


We have had a bonfire today to get rid of wood removed from inside the house, as well as rhodo waste, and things are looking somewhat tidier tonight as a result.  We look forward to continuing to progress.

Then we come to the stairs news.  Last Saturday I began to put knotting onto the stairs provided for the ground to first floor, in preparation for painting with our highly technical and very expensive fire-resistant paint.  On Sunday morning, Mike finally committed himself to cutting the base of the stairs to size, ready to fit the first flight.

We agonized and measured I don’t know how many times before we could commit to the cutting!

So having trimmed the end, and ensured the newel post fitted and we knew its relative position, we stood the run of stairs up and offered them to the trimmer.

We found that they don’t fit!!

When we stood them up, we noticed that the bottom of the run of stairs stuck significantly out into the corridor.  As we know the plans show the base of the stairs roughly flush with the edge of the slate pillar shown, we checked the stairs against the plan, and found that the ‘treads’ which should have been 250mm deep were over 300mm deep.  Oh joy, oh rapture.  And because we were working during a Bank Holiday weekend, we knew we couldn’t even ask how this could have happened until two days time!

When we did manage to speak to someone yesterday, it looks like we have found out why it has happened and, more importantly, agreed that the stairs will be remade as soon as possible in accordance with the plans (as they should have been in the first place).

Oh well, that’s three disasters (surely tiny hiccups?) now regarding the stairs – here’s hoping fourth time might be lucky!






3 shades of grey

A very quick update on our previous post for those of you struggling to imagine the different colour possibilities.

We have painted three small areas on the back of the white extension, so that we can test a few colours that happen to be available on site without trying to purchase match pots (which I am not aware that they do for masonry paint).

3 colours for checking…


This picture was taken at approx 7.30pm this evening, so the light is beginning to fade, but we hope you can see the important blocks of colour.

We haven’t bothered painting a new square of white as we hope you can imagine this in your mind’s eye.  The large sand coloured block to the left is where Mike has rendered the space that used to be a door, so please ignore this.  Next right is our colour ‘pale gravel’; to the right, at the top, is ‘magnolia’ and below right is full intensity ‘gravel’.  Please evaluate as you wish, noting that the scuzzy boarding on the gable end will be a glorious gloss black in a couple of weeks’ time.  There will be more news in a day or two, but despite it being only 8pm, I’m now off to bed to get over the rigours of the day!

Winnowing the windows…

We have been very busy this past week but, sadly, much of it – being work in the cafe- is not remotely photogenic, so I will gloss over that for tonight!

Last weekend we were visited by a group of car enthusiasts who paused here by for lunch and a drink, and parked their lovely vehicles in front of the building for a moment or two.


Fancy a new old car anyone?


Here we are looking at the Mustang and Holdens from another angle…

The weather has been quite damp this week, so we have largely ignored the grounds in favour of the building, with specific reference to those parts accessible from the new scaffolding.  The eagle eyed among you may notice that on the second floor, a window on the left hand side has been removed and the void bricked up.  This is necessary because the window space will be within the new stairwell which (being fire rated) cannot include ‘normal’ windows.  To give you a flavour of our actual activities, I will let you know that Mike and I have been laboriously removing the glazed panels before removing the frames as our ‘normal’ method of work.  Uncle Tim (who is being wonderfully helpful during his stay this week) decided to help us by reminding us that ‘during the war’ they taped windows so that, should they get shattered through bomb damage, the glass would break but would stay in place courtesy of the tape.  Being generous and obliging souls, obviously we gave him free rein to try this technique but, when a large piece of glass happily leapt to freedom and plummeted two floors down bouncing off occasional bits of scaffolding before shattering on the rock at ground floor, we regretted not reminding him that he was dealing with double glazed panels and thus it was necessary to tape both the outside and inside pieces of glass…

As we have more windows to remove and re-glaze, and as no-one but us can access the affected space, I will leave sweeping up (probably vacuuming up) the fragments for a day or two…


Missing windows… left hand now blocked up, and the centre one without the old frame.

Today we had one or two (!) horses and their riders pay us a visit, and since the sun was shining (which is quite unusual here at the moment) we share this picture of our rural idyll with you.

A lovely day in North Wales

But today’s main work was the window below.  As you can see, Mike has put the new frame in place (in the left hand side of the void, as we look at it) and tied it in.

The old window frame has been taken out, and the new window frame is on its way in and (below) shown from the outside of the building.


He (Mike) then spent much of the afternoon, with Tim, blocking out the right hand side, so that when the new staircase is in place, the walls will not bisect any windows.

Frame now fixed in place, with the ‘surplus’ blocked in

The rest of today was spent discussing colour themes for the exterior of the building.  Currently, we have the grey/green slate of the old manor house, and a white painted render on the newer extension.  Once we have finished faffing with the windows, we will start painting the exterior reached from the scaffolding, so we needed to agree on the colour to use.  My preference, for ease, was to over-paint the white with more white paint, whilst Mike (and others) have argued to paint over the white with a grey/green colour to better tie the two parts of the building together.  To remind you in full of the question:

here is a photo of the building when we moved in 18 months ago.

If you wish to voice an opinion, please drop us a comment to let us know your view: should the extension on the left hand side be overpainted (a) white (b) grey/ green to tie with the ‘manor’ element on the right hand side or (c) some other colour?  Please don’t worry about offending anyone by disagreeing with their pet answer: we promise not to take anything personally.  After all, I only have to over-paint all the white I repainted last year if the decision goes with grey/green, or some other colour,,,, but I don’t mind….

Clearly, we would love to hear from you and will value your opinions, but not necessarily act on them!