Sad news from Pont y Pant about Jasper

With apologies to anyone logging in for an update on our restoration work, but those who have been here to the cafe or who know us at Plas Penaeldroch may want to know what follows.

We hate to have to say this but our faithful old dog, Jasper, succumbed to old age and liver disease yesterday.

Jasper was always very accommodating if others wanted to sleep in his bed…even if it is the cat…
Look, I’m enjoying the sun, so could you please keep the noise down over these…

 

RIP old friend.

We can see clearly now the floors have gone

We have been working on the stairs this weekend, when not working in the cafe.  As we cleared down the stairs, we used hazard tape on the newel posts to remind us that there are currently no balustrades in place.  Here we are looking at stairs running from floor 2 to 3…

The stairs between floors 2 and 3 with hazard tape accessories

…and here between floors 1 and 2, where we removed the remainder of the floor and then the props which had supported the floors.

The prop supporting stairs between floors 1 and 2

Once the prop had been removed Mike was able to descend the stairs without bowing too deeply to avoid the props.  (Only joking – I think he is sweeping the stairs here).

Mike just checks the stairs one last time…

This shot from floor 3 may give you more of a sense of a complete stairwell now being in place, even though it is hard to see the bottom…

Looking down from floor 3…

…but here we can see floor 0 looking to floor 1, where a large chunk of floor is still blocking access.

Now to tackle the stairs between floors 0 and 1

We removed the old two-level floor (and the vast quantities of builders sand which had been sandwiched between the two levels as a sound proof layer) and then started removing the old joists…

Ready to remove the joists

…until all that remained was the mains electrical cables serving the cafe and all floors above.  Mike has engaged a local electrician to start moving these cables which should be in the next ten days.

…and now with joists removed.

So, as of this afternoon, we can now walk up all 8 flights of stairs from floor 0 to floor 3, providing you don’t mind walking under and then over the mains cables.  Job (nearly) done!

In between jobs, we have made several layers of wedding cake for our daughter and her fiance’s wedding next month.  And today, Carrie took the afternoon off to wander around Bodnant garden with a friend from UEA in glorious sunshine – what a chore!  Whatever will we find to do next…?

 

Finding our way step by step

Sorry for the slight delay in updating this blog – but the cafe was very pleasantly busy last weekend, and we have also been busy on the building side.

You may recall last week that Mike had plastered the ceiling over where the stairs emerge on floor 3.  You can see below that he then plastered one wall adjacent to the stairs…

Left hand wall drying…

and then plastered the wall behind them, whilst I continued to reorganise the tools.  This is not an activity which photographs well, but when the cry goes up for a Mole wrench or a gidjy for plumbing work, we now have a much higher chance of being able to locate it.

…and now it almost looks like a room.

Whilst the walls were drying we moved on to ripping up the floor.  First we removed the temporary platform over the stairs on which we had been working…

Look – no platform…

…and then started taking back the floorboards and removing the old fibreglass insulation which is either (a) hideously dirty or (b) infused with the subtle odour of rodent.

…and now we start removing the floor

We then marked and trimmed back the joists as we must have a minimum 2 metre headroom over the stairs at all points.  We also want to leave a landing on floor 3 so that we can walk to a storage cupboard we will build into the space left when we block off the corridor that currently runs into the old Manor house.

Mike begins to trim back the joists

You cannot see from this shot but, in between the joists farthest from Mike lies a set of 4 water pipes which need to be re-routed (as the stairwell walls must be un-broken).  They had been drained some time ago but I carried a bucket to catch the drips that would obviously come from the last dregs of water lying in the pipes.  Most of the pipes had the decency to dribble obligingly into the bucket when cut, but one spouted really rather energetically so Mike and his hacksaw beat a hasty retreat whilst I gathered most of the effluent.

I’m not sure that this was quite the shower I had in mind…

It didn’t take long to cut and drain the pipes, which Mike then capped on the feed end, and he allowed me (!?!) to cut through the pipes several metres away so that I could remove the section which ran through the line of the new wall.

..but now the pipes have all been cut and removed or capped

Having removed the pipes, we were free to start removing the redundant joists.  We started with the one closest to the camera, and then removed the central one next…

…which means we can start removing the unwanted joists

…which was then carried ceremonially off the property.

The second joist being heroically carried away

Once these had been removed, it becomes easier to see that we have built a new flight of stairs.  we still need to remove most of the remaining joists which Mike is lovingly caressing once we are sure just how large a platform we wish to create.

Oh look, the stairs are emerging from their hiding places

We then turned our attention to floor 2.  Over Mike’s head in the shot below you can see the landing we have left to access the storage cupboard, but this bowed rather alarmingly when I trod on it, after Mike had removed the Acro prop.  We therefore pulled down all of the ceiling plaster and found that the joists were moving rather freely within the joist hangers, which each had only 2 nails securing the joist.  So we unleashed Mike and his trusty drill in power-screwdriver mode and many screws later the landing is rather more rigid.  We still have some work to do in order to be completely satisfied with the landing, but we will probably move on now and return to this later,

The landing on floor 3 just needed a little adjustment…

As evening approached today, we both admitted to being rather weary (probably because Mike had to drive to Leeds yesterday evening to collect Tom who is staying with us for a few days, but they didn’t get here until almost midnight which is way past our usual bedtime) so I left Mike to finish whilst I took over from Jane in the cafe.  Before I left, though, it was my job to cut the uprights that Mike fitted in place whilst I attached the hazard tape so that we can hopefully avoid plummeting down a floor or two.

See the hazard tape…