Well, Carrie’s not feeling too good today, so for the second time in history it’s Mike on the other end of the blog!

Along with the rest of the country we woke up to a glorious sight of a snow covered Welsh countryside.  Friends Julie and Yvonne are staying with us at the moment, so after tucking Carrie up with a fresh hot water bottle we hit the snow and shovelled the hill and drive clear.  Suitably invigorated we then got on with the building work, which today is getting on with the stairwell – first floor.

Back wall for staircase between floors 1 and 2 being plaster boarded

The plan for today is to cover the studwork with ply and fireboard, firstly along the back wall (see above picture) then cut the joists (to the left on the above picture)

A prop for the joist as we cut through it…


Mike cutting a joist


so back wall plaster boarded; side wall being prepared for completion

Then once that’s done, tomorrow the end wall will be covered in ply and then we’ll be thinking about trimmers!

Mike, during path clearing duties

I don’t know how to put this picture at the top!

Yvonne testing out her new screw-driving capabilities


and Julie taking a well earned rest


A quick glimpse at our snow status today

Now I’m hoping Carrie’s feeling better soon, and the blog will be back in safe hands next time!

Big steps in the right direction…

Such a lot can happen in four days!

On Tuesday, Mike finished with the plywood and plaster board around the fire door from the new stairwell into the cafe lobby, but stopped short of skimming as we had a big group using the cafe on Tuesday evening and we didn’t want them to get their clothes dirty.

Doorway, fully plaster boarded, ready for skimming… and someone loitering in front of it

So on Wednesday, Mike skimmed this wall which we then left alone so that it could be dry by Friday.

..now skimmed

On Thursday, Mike and I trimmed some timber to size, and Mike then bolted two pieces together and we put the resulting trimmer into place, ready to be moved to its final position tomorrow.  I, meanwhile, returned to my real task this week, which was squeezing various citrus fruits (including lemons, Seville oranges and pink grapefruits) and then cutting the peel into strips, ready for making marmalade this weekend.

Friday lunch time, after my return from Welsh lessons, Mike and Dick prepared for this momentous day…

Mike and Dick, reporting for duty

We hauled the third section of the stairs up through the gap in the first floor, and slowly lowered the bottom part into position – where a tongue fitted into a groove in a newel post.  We lowered the rest of the stairs roughly into position (see below) to check location, and then had to take the lower tongue out of the grove for minor adjustments.  My apologies for the quality of the photo below, but it was taken as I held a camera phone one-handed, whilst also anchoring the stairs in place by hauling on the rope.

Funny thing – no sooner had we got the stairs roughly in place and vaguely balanced, but the building inspector arrived, unannounced.  There followed a brief pause in proceedings whilst Mike showed him around, and Dick and I whistled and kicked a few tyres…

The third flight of stairs, suspended ready for fitting…

With the stairs now roughly accurately in place, we had to lower the trimmer into place.  This went rather more easily than we had feared but, sadly, we found the newel post shown below exactly lined up with the head on the bolt in the trimmer, which threw everything slightly out of true.  After a short session of head scratching (or, in Dick’s case, chin-rubbing), we used an Acrow to prop up the stairs and then raise the trimmer slightly, so that Mike could trim the trimmer a tad which then allowed us to re-position it with the bolt heads now out of harms way.

…with stairs in place, the trimmer is being moved into position…

Once this has happened, we removed the Acrows, gently released the tension on the rope, and carefully dropped the stairs into position.  There followed a little more head and/or chin rubbing when we found that although the stair treads were level side-to-side and front-to-back, the top part of the stair sides was not square to the trimmer.  Long story short – we eventually thought to measure whether the trimmer was square to the back wall of the old manor (which will form the back wall of the stairwell) and found it was significantly on the wonk (please forgive the technical terminology).  One swift and strategically placed engineer’s tap with Mike’s boot solved that issue…

…trimmers in place, stairs ready to be tweaked into place…

…so we all retired downstairs for some confirmatory measuring and perhaps a little bit of gloating before we had a well deserved cuppa.

Mike just checking the stairs are square in their final location

Tomorrow Mike will do some faffing about such as fitting the missing risers and treads that complete this flight of stairs, and prepare to to fit the landing at the top of the stairs whilst I relax at my Theology for Life seminar in Criccieth before shopping in Porthmadog.  After a weekend in the cafe, we will I am sure both be very much looking forward to returning to building work on Tuesday, when we plan to start working on the flight of stairs between floor 1 and floor 2.

Moving in the right direction…

As you know, we are working to refurbish an old manor, with extensions, in a stunning location within Snowdonia.  Since I last wrote, the refurbishment crew has spent three days cooking in the cafe, including making marmalade when time allowed, and I then spent two days in Cowbridge (near Cardiff) with our eldest daughter on a mission to buy a mother-of-the-bride outfit, so building progress has been modest, to put it mildly!

I can report thought that we have taken delivery of three pallets of baths and bath fitments – courtesy of Mike’s very generous brother – which we had to move one by one under cover, so that accounts for about half a day…

Bathroom fittings have arrived….
… along with two pallets of baths

These baths are all white, which we hope will make a nice change from the current avocado suites.

In addition, Mike has been puzzling away how we need to finesse the wall over the fire door, avoiding the pipes and the trimmer (yet to be fitted) but completing sufficient plywood and plasterboard that Mike can plaster (skim) the wall in order that we can fit the trimmer and then fit the third flight of stairs.  (I hope this is all clear to all.)  Current situation is shown below:

Progress on the wall is steady

We also wanted to share with you our new logo.  We asked for a logo that would reflect the roof line of the manor; hint at the nearness of the river; and be ‘friendly’.  We hope that you will agree that the logo below has achieved all of these aims and more.  We look forward to incorporating it on the web pages, business cards and so forth over the next few months.  Our huge thanks to the person who did this for us – we hope you know just how much we believe this will help us establish this business in future years.

Our new logo

Tomorrow we may have to take a bye on building as we have a lot of people visiting for an evening meeting, so don’t want them to be pushing past wet plaster,  but plan to return to proper building progress as soon as possible.