Building work over the last four days has been slight. Partly because we still await our plumber, but partly because we had a slightly embarrassing task to undertake.
We had put a couple of doorways in, that were not high enough. Oh yes, we had put them in about 100mm too short. So we had to take out the plasterboard and plywood, and raise the stud work to the correct height. I am guessing that, like most people, this was just the sort of fiddly job that we kept putting off, and off, and off, until there really was nothing more we could do but mend this mistake.
All better now!
Friends Yvonne and Julie arrived on Friday, so we have spent the weekend with Mike and I running the cafe, and Yvonne and Julie playing slash and burn Rhododendron ponticum on the hillside.
Here we can see Julie getting to grips with the trimmings, expertly burning the waste whilst…
…Yvonne gave it some welly with the loppers. It is great that on the top level now we are beginning to reveal the lay of the land – so can start trying to recover pathways and plan the revitalisation of the woodland – but also uncover a wealth of native trees which have just about managed to survive and can now be helped to thrive having lost a dense surrounding of Rhodo leaf.
As you can see here, the worst of the growth has been removed, and it remains only to stem inject the stumps and rake the ground to remove any chippings or traces of Rhodo remaining.
Anyway, here’s hoping for tomorrow…keeping everything crossed.
Mike and I have returned our focus to staircases since last I wrote. We have continued to extend and stiffen the stairwell, as you can see below
Just out of shot to the left of the above photo is the staircase you see in the photo below. On Monday, whilst Mike tendered paninis, I took to the lump hammer to persuade the stairs below that their day has gone.
I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle the task, so started with the wrecking saw and cut through the side rail a few times. In an inspired moment, I gave the side bar a strategic tap with the lump hammer and chunks of it started to fall off in my hands, honest guv. Once the side rail had begun to move, it was a simple matter to encourage the risers and treads, in turn, to give up the ghost.
This continued, basically, as far as I could reach without needing a step stool. I decided against the stool as – and you may have already noticed this – there is quite a gap in the floor, and I didn’t want to risk toppling off anything into the void. Oh, and just in case you think the Michelin Man has joined me in my overalls, you might like to know it is pretty cold in the building area, and it takes many layers of jumpers to make me look this way!
Today, Mike was able to hand the apron to Jane and use his superior height and strength to demolish the quarter landing and short flight of stairs above – and you can still see their shadow on the plasterboard in the shot below.
I include the shot below as a curiosity. Now that the stairs between first and second floor have been removed, we can see right up through the building to the ceiling of floor 2 from the ground floor. You can also see the water pipes which we now need moving, even more desperately than before…
Whilst we were dismantling a bathroom earlier this week, we met what we presume was an (interesting) repair. You may be able to see below that a piece of plywood is in place behind the shower controls, and this had been tiled just slightly proud of the other tiles. Nice! At least the tiles they used matched those already in place – we can assure you that this was not normal in this building. The board behind the tiles was also worryingly black – our guess is that something has been leaking slightly for a few years….
During the last few days Mike and I have taken a half day off, when we visited a series of garden centres to appease my need to get some fresh air occasionally. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mike has worked out how to line up the frame of the fire door below with the structural wall we need to put in at 90 degrees to the back wall of the stairwell (towards the right hand side of the photo).
To recap – the fire door was put in before the architect amended the plans to include a structural wall here. We therefore have had to create a structural wall to the camera side of the fire door as it leads into the long corridor. Below you can see we have now added plasterboard, plywood, and studs to create a strong structure, with a wooden lintel above, ready for us to install the rest of the structural wall above.
Earlier today, Mike and I installed studs above this doorway, followed by plywood stiffening, so that the wall extends through floor 1 and tomorrow we will begin to extend this wall onto floor 2.
Whilst we did this, we had someone working on the wilderness behind the building. The first two photos below give an idea of the cover on the rock behind the premises – generally Rhododendron ponticum along with bramble and the occasional hemlock along with other random plants.
We have employed someone to come along and remove the Rhododendron top growth (ready for us to stem-inject the stump) and any hemlock, and you can see in the two photos below the net result.
In this shot, you can still see the smoke drifting across from the bonfire. You also see part of the wonderfully decorative (!?!) fire escape which we can radically amend once the fire-rated staircase is installed. My apologies that these photos (taken in diminishing light this afternoon) do not really capture the enormity of the task of clearing these rock faces, nor how much progress has been made, but we hope they do convey that we still have much work to do here!
But it does feel really good that we are continuing to slowly inroads on this hillside. Perhaps the photo above shows the most important element of this clearance: before this afternoon, we had no clear idea of the lay of the land, as it was not possible to see through the layer of Rhodo leaves to the land below. Now we can see that the slope is relatively gentle and continuous, so once we have raked the loose debris away, it should be possible to mark a walking path and then plant shrubs into the remaining land/rock, in order that we can – in the medium to long term – create a gently undulating planted space that could be walked through fairly confidently without customers risking life and limb – once we have managed to kill off the persistent weeds.