We are such fungi to be around…

The end of last week was quite wet here, so we continued to major on internal jobs – except last Saturday, when a collective brainstorm saw Mike, Tim and I rushing around the building effecting temporary repairs on a number of roof leaks.  Some had been relatively minor and existed for a while whilst others were more recent and caused more concern.  No photos available (as one faulty roof slate tends to look much like another) but I am thrilled to report that the leaks into the the old kitchen, the long corridor, and the cafe bay by the fire are all now no more!

Flushed with this success, Mike decided to complete a piece of floor 2 which has been missing for about the last year.  The picture below shows a step ladder standing on the floor 1 landing, visible from the floor 2 landing where the old stairs used to emerge on floor 2.  It was only a little job: Mike just had to line the wall with plywood and fire-resistant plasterboard; then fit joist hangers; then fit recycled joists to hangers; then add floorboards.

The hole in the floor, about to be dealt with

Meanwhile I have been faffing about outside, primping, trying the make the place look a little more orderly in the area round the chalet.  In an area where firewood had previously been stacked, we found this delightful fruiting body…

Not mush room for plants left here (boom boom)

…which we show again so you can see how this life form looks ready to bid for international domination – and I know collies are smart, but I’m not sure they are that smart.

Now with Lola to provide a sense of scale

Mike has persevered, and we can now safely show people around floor 2.

Floor now in place
Mike, practising his dance moves…

Today, Mike has also started to install the new shower tray into the floor 3 bathroom – now that we have received the one that should actually fit…

The site soon to host a shower tray

…and I have been making hay whilst the sun shone.  Yes, we have had a couple of dry days, and the forecast for this week looks dry, so I am focused on painting the external front wall before the winter is with us.  I spent today putting the first coat of sealer onto the external front wall, using scaffolding towers and ladders as appropriate to reach all parts.  At 3pm I swap for my indoor job, serving in the cafe until 5pm.  As you can see, Mike snuck in at about 4.45pm to find me catching up on the world news, as filtered through the inside of my eye lids.

Can you see the matchsticks propping my eyes open?

Here’s hoping someone will have the camera to hand during the rest of the week to catch just how much better the building should look in a day or so!


The wet and wind hasn’t floored us…

OK – I think it had better be confession time.  We don’t appear to have many photos from the last four days, and I realise this is because I have got a bit side tracked.  Next weekend, we have a party of Dutch friends and some family coming over to stay, and the Dutch friends have yet to see our project in the flesh.  Given that we have lived here for two and a half years now, as I looked around to consider all the places we will be showing them, I thought it was time for something of a tidy up.  It seems we have a house where the waves wash items to the edge of rooms, or desks, or cabinets, where they become seriously becalmed unless I bring the Spring cleaning mode into play.  Here’s hoping they don’t notice and just think we normally live in our newly ordered manner.

As you can guess, this cleaning is not an activity deserving of photographs, so I hope you will take it as read that I have been busy on unmentionable duties.  Meanwhile Mike has continued with the rebuild and below you can see the second bathroom on floor 3 ready for fitting out.

Before we began…

Mike started by finishing the chipboard floor, and then laying the 12mm plywood floor over this.

Putting in the second floor to support the tiles

Once in place, he mixed the cement and began laying the tiles which I was carefully passing to him, just out of shot.

…Mike laying the tiles…

Then whilst I nipped out to a committee meeting of the local tourism association, Mike continued to lay the awkward tiles around the edge.

I really must get this man a new belt…

Once the tiles were all laid, Mike grouted the floor and then couldn’t work on it for hours….

Ready for the porcelain to be fitted…

Yesterday I made my first test batch of teacakes.  I tried two different recipes and invited customers to trial them.  The feedback was very encouraging and helpful, and I will be trying the amended recipes in a day or so.  As it happens, we had additional customers yesterday as the strong winds brought down a tree across the A470 which brought a few people into the cafe whilst they waited for operatives with chainsaws to clear the road.  Today was very windy and also very wet – we had a party of cyclists in for lunch, and you should have seen the colour of the water after we wiped down the chairs!

Today I nipped to the wholesalers and then returned to fit insulation whilst Mike fitted the loo and sink into the bathroom.  Tomorrow Mike will be having a well deserved day off, whilst I return to Welsh classes.  I know I want to go; I know I enjoy learning the language; but there is something about the summer break and the rustiness this brings on which makes it particularly difficult to return to classes in September without feeling that your brain has atrophied over the summer…


Let’s hear it for the Mountember eventers

In our exhausting world, both Mike and I need to learn to take more down time.  The main problem is, every time we agree to do so, we still find something irresistibly interesting about doing the next task, whatever it might be.  I am delighted to report that Lola obviously doesn’t share our problem…

Someone seems to have made themselves at home

Last Thursday and Friday, I have spent a little more time in the garden, weeding beds I laid out last year.  I have been sort of avoiding them, as we planted lots out in April, at a distance from the building that made it impractical to try to water them during the 6 very hot, dry weeks we had in June and July.  It is great to find that far more of these plants have survived than I had hoped, but I’m not going to share any photos with you at this stage – I still need to do a lot more weeding before I am ready to be that rash!

One of the unexpected pleasures of our current lifestyle is that we get to meet some really interesting people in the cafe.  Today, we cooked breakfast for 10 wonderful people, all of whom are ‘walking for stroke survivors’.

Mike in his knitting-pattern-modelling stance (circa 1974)

As you can see below, they have a pressing /punishing schedule.  We hope that the Penaeldroch breakfast fuelled them all the way up Snowdon (assuming the weather permitted this, as it has been a bit wet here today).  We packed them off with a selection of Jane’s yummy flapjacks as our contribution to their selfless endeavour, and hope that they filled a gap after all that walking.

Even the dog is walking off in disgust due to this stance…

On the refurbishment front, the second bathroom is coming on apace.  Whilst I spent yesterday gardening and then off to a meeting followed by shopping in Porthmadoc, Mike made a start on plastering the bathroom. Tomorrow he hopes to continue with the plastering whilst I find something else to occupy me.  I say this as, although I would love to continue with the gardening, the weather forecast makes it look like I would be blown into the river if I tried, so perhaps I will look for an indoor job.

The ceiling, one wall, and the window reveals have been plastered

We have also had a couple of visits from friends of long standing this week (noting most are younger than we are).  Firstly Jeanine and Lucy from Newmarket popped by during their stay in Ruthin, and yesterday Sally and Trevor who we know via UEA dropped by as they returned from Ireland.  It was such a shame that I had to dash off, but it is really good to be able to keep in touch in this way, and we look forward to anyone else who fancies dropping by to visit.

The other thing I need to move on is the front facade.  We finished pressure-washing the old, flaky paint off on Friday, but now need to wait for the render to dry out.  Unfortunately, it is not ready yet, and as it is likely to get very rained on on Tuesday, it may be another week before we can finish this off.

The front face…

Fortunately, I usually find there are one or two things to keep me busy, whatever weather conditions we are enjoying.  Here’s hoping some of them are worthy of photographs.

Water, water everywhere… but the drip is cured.

Bathrooms continue to be our main concern this week.  In addition to what follows, we (or, more accurately, Mike) have/has been pressure washing the old paint off the front of the building.  We need to leave it to dry now, and we are keeping everything crossed that we have a dry spell next week during which we can stabilise and re-paint.  Here’s hoping for something of an Indian summer.

Below you see the ‘other’ bathroom on floor 3.  We hadn’t finished installing the insulation as we had a rogue set of wiring in the way – but we have now worked out how to work around this.  So whilst I was cutting and fitting foam insulation…

Bathroom 2 floor 3

…Mike was busy trying to resolve a leak in the new sink.  It took me a while to get my head around it, but apparently the plug fitting and the sink trap did not fit together sufficiently well, such that some water was running through the plughole but not into the sink trap.  Hope you all have a clear mental picture of this now, as a quiz will follow.  Anyhow, today, on only the fourth attempt, Mike reinstalled the old sink trap (because this is amenable to a lot of torque when tightening – as opposed to the newer, plastic-er fitting that came with the sink, which couldn’t be tightened up as far) and all is now watertight.  Phew!

Dealing with the drip…

After installing the bath, Mike has built an end wall (to enclose the foul waste plumbing) and plastered it, so that bathroom 1 is nearly in its final shape.

The end wall has been installed

Meanwhile bathroom 2 has now been insulated, and the insulated plasterboard fitted over that, so woe betide any draughts thinking of trying to get in here.

Fitting the insulation

Today we decided to split roles.  Mike continued working in bathroom 2 where the access door had to be moved.  Earlier today, the stud work you can see on the right was installed, and stud work that used to exist on the right of the shot was removed.  (This will ensure, on completion, that the various room doors do not crash into each other when people are using the apartment.

The doorway has been moved…

I, on the other hand, declared it a gardening day as it was vaguely dry and almost sunny.  Obviously the photo doesn’t do it credit, but I have weeded out vast quantities of couch grass and assorted other weedery, ready for a mulch to be put in place next week, I hope.

My gardening day is nearly over

It was lovely to be outside working on the garden though – roll on the day when this can be my major preoccupation, rather than an occasional recreation!

That sinking feeling…

Oh my goodness – it’s not often that I am this excited about posting a blog!

Charley and Boyd testing out the staircase

Charley (our eldest offspring) popped by for a visit today, partly because we are lovely parents and she couldn’t wait to see us any longer (?) and partly because she needed to return stuff we had leant to her for her wedding which we presume was taking up too much room. She had a quality moment with Boyd, who has spent the last 24 hours trying to avoid 2 Border Collies, not just one!
Charley and Cassie getting to grips with each other, through the medium of a shared (?) toy

Cassie (who normally lives in South Wales) came too, and she and Lola tried hard to be friends. Lola is usually very keen to play with any other dog, but we suspect Cassie regarded herself the senior professional and definitely took control of the proceedings. The net result:
I think Lola might be a bit weary now

one worn out collie. Lola has clearly had more of a workout than normal today. We have a few local dog owners who are happy to time their dog walk to coincide with Lola’s, resulting in two well walked dogs, but today’s experience suggests to me we might need to expand our network of dog loaners.
One mist coat down…

Anyway, we put Charley to work today on putting the base coat onto the newly plastered room 3 on floor 3… and she seems to have done a very good job. We also had Alex drop by. Alex has returned to college (totally with our approval) so could only manage today this week. But we struggled with his workload as the last of tasks was pretty much all outside work and it was a little damp…
Today has been very wet – can you tell??

…no, really, it has been hosing it down most of today (still stair-rods at 6.30pm) so we thought we would show you the river as at about 5.30pm, noting the river appeared to be all but empty when I got up at 7.30am today.
Yeah! Mike is a complete building wizard!

Anyway, all of the above has been padding so that this photo could be left until last. Mike investigated the slight leak on the sink plughole this morning, and all is now fine. We have a bath, a loo and a hand basin, all plumbed in and raring to go. Charley has approved the sample wall tile so we can get these ordered and start installing soon.
Oh joy, oh rapture – things seem to be moving in the right direction!

Mike has been laying down the (f)law here

We really know how to entertain ourselves here, don’t you know… since I last wrote, both Mike and I have spent longer picking flaking paint off a wall than either of us would freely elect to do. It does mean we should soon be able to repaint the front wall, but there really is something so dull about levering off the old paint in the hope that the new stuff will remain stuck in place.
This activity does not pretty pictures make, though, so instead I will show you the other thing Mike has done this week.

On Monday we travelled to Bangor to source some floor tiles for the bathrooms, among other things. You may recall that one of the floor 3 bathrooms had looked like this:

…and installing plaster board.

…but after Mike’s ministrations, it now looks like this:

Bathroom floor tiles, laid and grouted

and this:

Ditto, just in case this photo is clearer

We also bought a sample wall tile (as one has to order direct from the supplier) so in daylight tomorrow we will check how it looks and perhaps next time there might be more to show you.