Going up in the world . . . again

We have had such a fun few days – really!

On Tuesday we finished the painting that requires the scaffolding, and then set about a quick (?) repair to the roof.  Storm Doris back in February blew a section of ridge tiles off the top of the roof, which was conveniently close to the top of the scaffolding.  Mike bravely decided to fix this himself, so cue purchase of a length of lead which he moulded around a bit of wood to have the profile shown below.

Our lead, profiled and ready for the top of the roof

This section (cut in two) was then carried to the roof and fixed.  I will leave out the thrilling details of what had to be removed, and what replaced, and who had to pass and carry everything on command, but I will confess I was mightily relieved when this particular job was finished.

And here’s the one we prepared earlier, now in place

On Wednesday we were then able to clean the scaffolding down, ready for it to be taken away.  Mike has replaced the down pipe so the guttering is complete again, on this wall anyway.

So yesterday, and again today, I have been painting the front of the cafe and the area around the front door in our new colour, with the contrast colour to be completed next week.

The cafe frontage, white version…

Also on Wednesday, Bill (lately returned from holidays) very kindly came to give a hand with the landscaping.  I asked him to have a go at removing a series of rhodo stumps close to the old fire escape, and he gamely set to.  He told me afterwards that he set the strap around one stump (for removal) and anchored this to a second stump (to be the immovable object) and then tightened the ratchet, and tightened, … and tightened….., and tightened…. but nothing seemed to be happening.  So he went across to check the strap was properly in place, where he confirmed nothing had moved, and as he walked back to return to his ratchet he found that the ‘immovable’ stump was almost entirely lifted off the rock!

My apologies to Bill, and all of you, that the pictures really don’t do justice to the size of these little devils.

Bill, busy removing the rhodo stump
and here is the one it was anchored to (or was it the other way around?)!

I realised that Mike, meanwhile, had been really scraping the barrel on Wednesday looking for tasks to complete when I found he was cutting the grass.

Fortunately, shortly afterwards, the stairs arrived!  Yes indeedy – Oh joy, oh rapture – we have taken (re)delivery of the new stairs!

As soon as they arrived, and in spite of assurances from the lovely driver, we positioned the first 5 stairs in place and found that they do look like they will do the job nicely.  To make sure we lose no time, I spent yesterday afternoon painting the fire-resistant finish onto the treads and risers of the first two flights, and today painting the third coat on these, and the first two coats on the other four flights.

Stairs, now received, ready for the fireproof finish to be applied

When the weather cheered up a little over lunch, I returned to the external painting.  We are really pleased with the colour we have mixed, as we think it tones well with the slate work but is sufficiently light that it doesn’t make the building look too forbidding, but only time will tell.  On the other hand, unsolicited remarks from customers and visitors over the past 3 days have been very encouraging.

and yes, I do know I have missed a bit…I couldn’t move the long ladders on my own, and Mike was busy elsewhere.

So – who knows – next time we might even be able to show you a fitted set of stairs (but perhaps don’t hold your breath just yet!)


Grey is the new black…

Tonight’s blog will be relatively brief, mostly because I am really rather weary after our travails today.

Mike and I ran the cafe on Friday (which was gratifyingly busy) and Saturday (disappointingly quiet).  My Welsh classes resumed on Friday, and in the evening some friends from UEA arrived to spend the weekend exploring the wonderful countryside around us.  It was lovely to catch up with the gossip, but I noticed that I increasingly find it slightly scary to show people around and be reminded of exactly how much we still have to do!

Yesterday, after visiting Dolgarrog church for the first time, I spent the day priming the sanded-down door frame and the new window on floor 2 whilst Mike finished rendering over the blocked-up window.  We then decided to be really adventurous…

Since we arrived, a local architect has been suggesting a series of decorative tips that would make the newer extension visually be more closely linked to the old Manor.  The first of these suggestions is to over-paint the white render with a grey colour, to tone with the slate colour of the Manor.  To that end, we have carefully mixed the shade you see below from two paints.  To notice the colour, you may need to look carefully at the bottom left of the photo below, where the wall is still the original white.

Note the grey tone to the paintwork…

We believe this new colour has the warmth we were looking for to ensure the building will look welcoming, and are currently experimenting with it on the back, knowing that the effect will not be obvious until we paint the front of the building.  The second tweak is to paint a grey area to better define the windows, and give them a greater presence.  Again, I suspect this may not make too much sense whilst you are looking at the back of the building, but we hope this will really look good when we have repainted the front, where you will then see the larger windows in the manor next to the ‘enhanced’ windows of the extension.  I hope that the photo below helps you see the surrounds…

In close up to show off the windows

Of course, once I had carefully coloured in the area defined by Mike’s marked lines, he commented on how Austrian the windows now look and asked me to start practising my fine painting, ready for when he draws some grape vines and perhaps some swags of leaves onto the building.

Anywho, today we have worked rather hard on work which was not photogenic.  In Mike’s case, he has repaired the very top of the main building roof by working at the very limits of the scaffolding – and for added safety, wearing a harness.  I had to run up and down supplying the lead, and hammer, and wood and so on – providing whatever was needed – and in the down times, undercoated the window and door, and then swept down the scaffolding.  This may not sound like a big job, but I had to scrape  render off the scaffolding boards where it had fallen, along with dust, sanding waste, and so on.  I suspect that all the climbing up and down, and going up and down from standing onto hands and knees may explain why I now need a few hours sitting quietly…



All this, and chocolate cake too

I cannot now recall what lovely thing I was hoping to show you in this blog.  I suspect it might have been a skirt I have been making in the evenings, but I have hit a slight problem with this so will not be sharing any photos until I can work out how to correct the rookie error of finding that it won’t actually fit around my waist…..

So back to work.  On Monday I removed a window from the turn of the stairs which will become part of the fire-rated stairwell.

This gap looks so much better now that the broken glass has been broken even further (which I will admit was quite satisfying to attack)

We also helped David celebrate his brother Roy’s 60th birthday when they stopped for lunch in the cafe.

The scaffolding is really quite high at the top
and it’s quite high on the other side of the building too!

On Tuesday I primed the barge boards, and put on the first coat of a light grey shade of Sandtex, whilst Mike bricked up the window void and a few other holes.  There is a surprising amount of render to paint, and as a result it was really rather a quiet night with us both sitting and recovering… or was that a gentle rocking motion I saw…

Barge boards have been undercoated

On Wednesday I undercoated the barge boards, and then painted behind the barge boards with black paint whilst Mike put the second and final coat of Sandtex onto the building.  We managed all of this during the morning and then found to our horror (and in contradiction of the weather forecast app that we consult regularly) that it poured with rain all afternoon.  We were just profoundly grateful that some of the painting was hidden from the elements, and the whole of this wall is in the lee of the rest of the house, so we think we got away with it.  Mike also repaired the step by the external door into the floor 2 room and found where the think the little animals had been getting into the house during the previous owners time here.  We have carefully plugged all the holes we have found which rodents may have been using as front doors, and have bought a guaranteed (!) chemical solution to remove their characteristic odour from parts of the building.

Today, I have applied the second coat of black paint behind the barge boards and then applied filler to the barge boards.  After lunch, when this had dried, I put a second coat of undercoat onto the barge boards, as Mike was worried that the surface was not good enough for the paint to stick and he – rightly- does not want to find in a couple of years that the gloss paint is all pealing.  Belt and braces it may be, but we are hoping that our lower garments will not be falling down.

Nearly done….(shame the sunshine is so bright it makes the grey undercoat look white at the top)

After lunch, I weeded the bed we put in earlier this year, and then planted a mini bed where we had cleared rhodo stumps out in June.  Meanwhile, Mike finished the first coat of render over the window-gap repair, plugged more gaps, put the step in the door threshold back together, and then primed the new window and refurbished door on floor 2.  So a quiet day here then.


The newly planted quintet of plants


In the quiet moments, I have been having a little fun.  With wrecking bar in one hand and a hammer in the other, I have been removing the plasterboard wall that covered up the external wall of the Manor when the extension was added.  This will now form part of the stairwell where we plan to make a feature of the slate.

…now just the battoning to remove.


Jane is having her weekend early this week, so Mike and I will be in the cafe tomorrow (except whilst I am in my welsh class, which restarts tomorrow) and Saturday so building works will be taking a back seat for a day or too.  We would reassure you though that Jane has left us plenty of cakes to sell…

This cake will be on sale from tomorrow – and believe me, it will taste at least as good as it looks!