Today it rained – yippee!


For the dog lovers amongst you, we show Lola puzzling with a new toy sent by Charley.  The idea is that the dog has to work out how to access the treats hidden within the toy.  Lola seems to need just a moment or two before launching herself at the goodies.  We did mention to Mike that perhaps he only needs to put one or two treats into the gadget, but I think it might take quite a lot of training before Mike masters that one.

Lola with her new puzzle – and how exactly do I get the treats out of here?

The weather has broken with a vengeance.  Rain today was being delivered horizontally and with generosity, so we decided to set to work indoors.  I drew the straw that had me running the cafe all day, whilst Mike led today’s contingent of workers (being Alex plus a friend from student days, Gill) to work on floor 3.

Bathroom – en suite to bedroom 1 floor 3 – which Mike has now marked up for the fitments

Mike measured up the first en suite to check where he would be putting the bath, the sink, and loo, the heated towel rail and so forth.  Having measured and proposed, only one set of electrics had to be moved when he worked out that the door would not be able to open fully if things went in in a certain position…

The first mist coat has been put onto ceiling and walls of bedroom 1 floor 3

Meanwhile Gill painted the first mist coat (the 40/60 one) on the walls and ceiling of bedroom 1, and will no doubt move on to bedroom two tomorrow…

Bedroom 2 floor 3, up for mist coating tomorrow…

before moving to the third room which is currently housing all the stuff not yet fixed in place elsewhere.

…and the sitting room floor 3 in which the bathroom fittings are resting for a wee while

When the rain stops, we hope to return to the external paintwork, as I don’t think the scaffolding is helping with the summer trade…or is it just the heat that is putting people off walking here?  Answers on a postcard please…


A dog day bathternoon

After another scorching weeks work, I still have relatively few pictures to show for it.  It turns out that removing paint is really not a thrilling visual spectacle.  So instead, how about a couple of shots of our new puppy, now about 9 months old.

Who is this gorgeous animal?

Here we see Lola in uncharacteristic resting pose, because she and Bandit have just finished having a bit of a charge around . . .

That’s right – Lola (in the foreground, Bandit in the background)

… quite a lot of a charge around actually.  Here they are pretending they can’t see each other, so they can have a rest.

So we have taken off as much of the original paint as we dare…

After working at it for a week or so, the paint over the render has been mostly removed.  So today (having left it the best part of a week to dry off) we begin the task of repainting.  Mike was putting on a coat of ‘gravel’ to cover the really deep grey of the render top coat, which we then plan to cover with two coats of our livery colours.

…then started repainting with random colour before the rain which is due tomorrow…

Hopefully you will agree that even this colour (which we happened to find lying around Plas)  is better than the render colour.

With any luck, we can put the first coat of the livery colours on tomorrow morning.

Whilst Mike was doing this, I have been repainting the fence to give it a little lift, whilst Alex has been repainting the planters.  I have also been making preserves – this week, we have made our first blackcurrant jam since leaving Norfolk, along with a new batch of Orange and Ginger marmalade, which is pretty good even if I say so myself.

Our fence at the top of the slope has had a little refresh

And because I know how to enjoy myself, I have spent much of today moving baths around.  When these originally arrived, we put them under cover as quickly as possible, but several months later I have finally snapped and insisted these were moved from the library and the dining room into a large space I had cleared in the damp bit.  Let’s face it, they are baths, so a bit of relatively high humidity shouldn’t be a problem for them.  But as Mike was painting, and then starting to install the new (larger capacity) guttering, obviously it fell to Alex and I to move the baths.  So just in case your day was a bit lacklustre, I share with you the delightful picture of 20 baths in their new resting place – but not for long!

What can I say?

Today we took delivery of two brand new toilets and wash basins, so two baths will shortly be installed alongside these on floor 3.  By such baby steps are great strides taken.

Under pressure…

I start with apologies for this late posting.  Unfortunately, we have had a small personal drama to deal with that has diverted the blog writer’s attention.  Big soz as I believe the idiom was, probably so long ago that our children (all now young adults) will consider this an appallingly cringe-worthy attempt to ape the hip cool dudes, for which my apologies again.

I mean, I’m sure you all know I am not one to complain, but its been a very odd sort of week.  Mike had a day off – I know, a whole day – just who does he think he is? – last week, but when I tried to take half a day this week, Lola kept jumping up and licking my face as I was gently dozing off – not my most successful attempt at napping, I must confess.  And what with my mercy dash to Kent, I missed about 6 hours sleep, so…have you got out your sympathy violins and started playing for me yet?  Mind you, I think our grass needs your sympathy more –

For those of you who didn’t think rain ever stopped in North Wales, I offer our lawn as exhibit A

OK so this is all shameless flannel, as this week has not been the most thrilling.  And I don’t just mean because I had to submit two essays for my theology course last Friday, and I was embarrassingly close to the deadline before I managed to hit that button.

We started off just scraping loose paint off…

we have started removing the paint.  We started by using a scraper and similar devices, but soon found this would have been a very long job.  So we have started to use a pressure washer to wash loose paint of the walls, but this did bring some additional issues.  When washing one wall, we managed to ‘created’ a couple of leaks into a ground floor room, so had to change our technique for paint removal on that part of the wall which faces the road.  I haven’t taken too many photos as they all tend to look the same… but the one below shows how painstaking this task can be.

…but rapidly moved to using the pressure washer

Meanwhile Mike has been working on the floor 3 rooms.  Specifically, he is now preparing to fit out the two bathrooms.  Earlier today, I’m sure you can imagine our excitement as we inspected a range of porcelain fitments, and have now selected the loos and hand basins which should be delivered next week.

So you can see how much paint has been removed

Out of the headlines, Alex and I have been tidying up various areas in readiness for Mike to move down a layer in the next week or so.  We now have plenty of kindling (and fewer pieces of old furniture) ready for when the temperature dips a tad, and I have opened up a space sufficiently large to house the many baths we are still storing, ready for when they are needed.


It’s a dog’s life

Mike has been plastering away recently but, honestly, I feel you have seen enough shots of drying walls for a while so let’s have a look at something else instead.   Alex (seen below) is our new young assistant and we set about creating proper paths around the raised beds.  This was done partly to create a barrier to prevent weed infestation of the beds, and partly because we had about 5 tonnes of slate chippings surplus to our previous requirements which needed to be disguised somehow.

Alex starts working on the raised beds

Whilst we were having a coffee break one morning, I could hear some wonderful bird song.  On careful looking, we found the culprit singing through the piercing on the decorative facings on the gable ends. (You might just be able to see the beak peaking through the lower ‘leaf’.)  It is a delight to us both that the roof and eaves houses large numbers of birds at this time of year.

Watch the birdie!

Since Jane worked a long weekend last week whilst we were at the wedding (did I mention that we had a great time?), she took a long weekend to re-balance, which means we spent three happy days working in the cafe.

Then on Monday the scaffolding arrived,  It has the unfortunate effect of making Plas look even more shambolic than usual, but it should enable us to improve the paint job.  Last year, we stabilized some of the white paint and over-coated it with our choice of grey paints.  Unfortunately, already some of this is peeling so we have reluctantly concluded that we need to remove all the old paint, stabilize the render, and then recoat from scratch.  Sadly, we need to remove the paint by hand since mechanical removal is likely to damage the surface of the render, so I think you can guess what I will be doing for the next 6 weeks or so!

The scaffolders got started on Monday
…continued on Tuesday…
…and finished earlier today

…but at least I have Alex to give me a hand with the painting now!

The raised beds are looking a little better now

Above you can see that we finished installing the paths around the raised beds this morning.  Here’s hoping that the rain, when it comes, doesn’t wash everything away.  As you can see, a lot of our grass is all but dead having now had no rain for weeks and weeks – not something I thought I would be saying in North Wales!

Lola is settling in

For Lola’s fan base, I include a shot of the little treasure.  Seriously, she has all the makings of a lovely dog, but Mike and I are both very sleep deprived.  It is over 30 years since we have had a puppy, having previously had rescue dogs from about 3 years upwards.  Lola at 8 months, and a border collie to boot, is a total bundle of energy and seems to have no concept of sleeping beyond about 4.30 in the morning.  But how can you stay cross with such an adorable soul?

A weekend, and a wedding, to remember

We have not been terribly productive since I last wrote.

Yesterday, Mike created a new loft access hatch in bedroom 1 on floor 3, as the old one was located just above the new wall.  This should enable us to resolve insulation issues above floor 3, and also finish the ceiling in this bedroom.  He has plastered the reveals (that’s the edges to the uninitiated, like me) on a further Velux window, and arranged for scaffolding to be delivered next week to enable us to begin painting the outside of the building.

A new loft hatch being created

Yesterday I was in the cafe whilst Mike worked on this hatch, and Alex (our new employee helping Mike so I can have a bit of a break from the heavier work) was helping with garden-related activity.

Today, Mike continued to tweak floor 3 rooms whilst Alex and I worked on the landscaping in between my running the cafe.

The reason for this slightly modest progress on the building work is that it was our eldest daughter’s wedding last weekend.  We took a few days off to travel down to Cowbridge (slightly to the left of Cardiff) for the celebrations and Jane (with helpers) did a sterling job keeping the cafe working in our absence – for which, many thanks!  We had a fantastic time with family who had travelled many miles (and in some cases several continents) to be with the happy couple.  Below are a couple of informal shots taken on the day by our elder son, Tom.

The beautiful cake as created by the parents of the bride here at Penaeldroch, and a couple of people cutting it


The happy couple

For those interested int eh building rather than the other flummery, we hope normal service will be resumed soon!