Injecting some fun into our project

This will be a quiet build week for us as Jane is on holiday, so we will be in the cafe.  In the meantime, just a few pictures I wanted to share with you:

This one is of Mike’s careful bracing of the ceiling in floor 2, necessitated because the joists on the floor above are being cut and re-attached to the new stairwell rising through the building.  Of course, we weren’t planning on walking on the floor whilst the joists were un-attached, but there is no harm in the belt and braces approach.

High tech bracing…

How you might have laughed, though, if you had seen us with the plywood.  We recently took delivery of plywood sheets 8 foot by 4 foot, which we needed to get onto the third floor.  The new stairs do not yet exist; the old stairs only travel to floors 1 and 2, with the third floor accessed via a very steep and narrow set of stairs.  We therefore had to bring the boards up to floor 1 balcony and in through the door; post the boards up through a gap in the ceiling on floor 1 (to the right of the area you see above); then turned through a right angle and manoeuvred up through the gap at head height (visible in the photo) and then we ran up to floor 3 and pulled the boards through.

Last Thursday we declared a different day (as it was not raining) and decided to spend a day weed-killing the rhododendron ponticum.  As you can see, we were armed for the task with a power drill and a small syringe

Tools of my trade

which we filled with magic gloop and injected into the rhodo stems, after removing the top growth (so that we could see what we were doing).

Approx 15 minutes in, and the waste heap is looking like this

The timing is important.  We have been advised to stem inject in October, perhaps November, as at this time of year the sap would be ‘retreating’ to the roots and so the weed killer is drawn back to the roots which we hope will prove very effective in weakening the plant.  During the day, we managed to clear one bank of approx 12 large plants which we trust will die off over the winter.

Me? Tired? Surely not – this is such fun!


We have one further stand of perhaps 20 plants that I want to treat this winter as it will clear the top path on the river side, leaving the top path on the road side to next year at which point (I hope) we will have cleared the higher ground and be ready to start the slow descent to the lower garden.  Or perhaps we will have another dry day soon and I will find my syringe finger twitching!

A couple of old lags tell their story…

You know what they say about a change being as good as a rest?  Sometimes I think they fibbed.  We keep changing jobs – partly to keep things fresh, and mostly because we keep finding we need to complete job ii before we can continue with job i and so on….

Anyhow, two sets of stairs went in a couple of weeks ago, noting that the third set cannot go in until we have installed the trimmer against which they will rest.  The trimmer needs to go where there are currently 4 or 5 large pipes feeding hot and cold water supplies to the bathrooms – and the cafe – so the pipes need moving.  We therefore needed to pull down the ceiling (completed about a week ago) in order that we can see what we are doing.  In the shot below you may be able to make out the pipes on the right hand side of the light fitting, due for movement.

Entrance hall minus ceiling


We have decided, given that swift movement will be crucial to minimising any disruption in the cafe, to employ a plumber to move these and he has asked us to remove various items which had been stored in the loft through which he will gain access to the pipes.

Mike and I popped up into the loft space and were rather surprised to see considerable quantities of old Christmas decorations here, which had been left behind by the last owner – so far, so normal.  What really surprised us was the volume of decorations underneath the glass fibre lagging which had been used to lag the pipes!

One loft space (above the long corridor)

The eagle eyed among you may notice the bricked up window (we think) near the front on the left hand side.  We are hoping that this will line up with a new doorway we will need to create when we update the toilets next year…

So we cleared this all out, and vacuumed through, and then started lagging the pipes (modesty requires we whisper it) properly.  First we had to get some light up here.  After the flood light failed, and then the torch, we made do with a table lamp….

Mike practising his scary routine for the end of the month…

and then we played the ‘to me, to you, to me’ game a bit, with me passing Mike the pipe lagging, and then pieces of duck tape, as the crawl space is really quite narrow and we were, obviously, looking for optimum efficiency of operation whilst we made it up as we went along.

Loft space with pipes now mostly lagged…

Other than this, we have spent our regular two days in the cafe.  I have also spent a couple of hours trying to gloss paint one set of external doors before the winter arrives.  We carefully checked the weather forecast to find the only dry day forecast this week,… and it still managed to rain before I finished painting.  Oh, the wonders of moving from the driest part of Norfolk to North Wales!

Let’s hope we can find something more exciting to write about next time….

Another break through…or is that two?

This week we have been having a slightly bitty week,trying to move things forward as fast as the weather and time available outside the cafe allowed.

I spent a day putting the insulation onto the inside of the stairwell on floor 1:

Back wall, stairwell, floor 1..
…now insulated and chicken-wire holding it in place.

The scaffolders arrived during the week to remove their handiwork so that, at last, we can see ours:

Now you can see it…

We had a delightful interval on Wednesday when ex-neighbours Terry and Karen from Norfolk popped over for the day, so we redoubled our efforts on Thursday and began to extend the stairwell into floor 3:

Mike had a breakthrough moment and removed ceiling on floor 2…
and floorboards on floor 3.  One false step, anyone…

As we began to install the stud work today, we did have a fun moment.  Mike was trying to screw the top and bottom of the uprights in place and, all of a sudden, he decided the best way to do this would be to let himself down between floor boards onto the stud wall below.  Oh, if only he had mentioned what he planned to do before trying to execute it – I would have warned him of the dangers of descending with one foot either side of a somewhat unsteady stud wall.  It loses much in translation, but let me mention that Mike faced quite a challenge trying to extricate himself from his very undignified position in which he had very little traction, especially as we were both helpless with laughter at the time.

I’m sure I was trying to do something down here…

Once restored to the third floor, Mike and I continued to install the wall – but you might notice only one of use seems to be able to use the camera today… this upright now?
Back wall of stairwell, floor 3, stud work now complete

Oh, and we still have some minor leaks in the house.  This velux window is leaking somewhere but today was not the day to find out where, especially as the wind and rain were so strong, I wimped out of going shopping this afternoon.

Surely everyone has a spare bath to act as drip catcher, don’t they?!

My treat today (during spells when I had to find something to do as Mike was concentrating) was to demolish another en suite.

One bathroom, floor 2

Above you can see that I had already partly demolished the bathroom you can see, but we needed to break through into the neighbouring bathroom (i.e. behind the radiator ), because as we install the stairwell, we would otherwise lose access to an exterior door in the room we are partitioning off in order to get rid of the many bags of rubbish we are generating.

One less (or is it fewer?) bathroom, floor 2

Now we can just step into the bath and out again, and walk right to the door that you can’t see.

I hope this has all been crystal clear, and that you can see we will be ready for guests any day now – oh, I don’t know when, but soon, surely?  Perhaps better to ask if you can guess what we will be doing next week!?!