Mud, sweat and no tears (yet)

As you may know, we are usually focusing our energies on the building, so that we can open the accommodation as soon as possible.  Having said that, someone had capacity with some heavy digging equipment close by, so how could we refuse the offer of several tons of topsoil to start us off developing our lower garden?!?  Regular readers will know that we cleared this area of rubbish a month or so ago – now it has been levelled and topsoil thinly spread, ready for us to seed it for grass next spring.


Newly delivered topsoil, which is not that easy to find in North Wales

Whilst I was taking photos of that, I turned around and took a quick snap of the planting we have finished top dressing behind the cafe…

The top ‘garden’ now fully mulched

…and also of the planters around the front of the cafe which, now that the frosted pelargoniums have been removed, look a little less unhappy.

Planters have been refreshed

The shot below shows that the work on the lower garden is almost finished.  Just beyond the digger’s grab you can see some herbaceous plants that have been lifted and need to be re-positioned, but the weather here at the moment is not conducive to such work…

The topsoil has been spread

…because storm Diana has come over.  Last night, one of our neighbours had a near miss when a tree came down just after she had driven through here and parked her car.

What a mess a tree can make

Mike took over his chainsaw this morning and he and Alex joined a gang of many to help clear the road access.

It was a bit damp…

…and this afternoon, he returned to his first love (?) of plastering.  You will no doubt be happy to know that floor 2 is now almost all plastered, so just floor 1 to go now…

Mike has been plastering again


Meanwhile I have been working hard, tucked up in front of a lovely fire trying to finalise the company accounts for the year that ended in September, as well as one or two other desk-based tasks.  Such a shame to be so comfy as the wind howls around us…

We just need to get plastered now…

We took further deliveries of insulated plasterboard on Wednesday, and Yvonne and Julie have now helped us insulate all external walls on floors 1 and 2 – except for the en suite bathrooms, which we still need to do once we have removed the baths.

The electrics are nearly all in…

Mike just managed to keep ahead of us with the wiring… and whilst I did whatever was necessary, Julie and Yvonne cut and then glued the insulation in place using the ‘dob and dab’ method.  This involved making a stiff paste with specialist adhesive and, as you can see below, the water used in this technique obviously has a superior taste.  Boyd managed to brave the floors on which two dogs were pacing to have a quick swig…

Anyone would think our cat had a water bowl…

—but she doesn’t look too bad on it, we think.

…Boyd caught after the act

Now that all this insulation is in place, prepare yourself for lots of plastering photos.  Mike will need to get started, as he can only manage 3 days in a row plastering before his arm muscles begin to give in.

Jane meanwhile has been experimenting in the kitchen and created what turned out to be a very popular chocolate and mint checker cake.

Jane’s checker board cake

We will be losing our house guests tomorrow which will be a blow personally (as they are great fun) but also because the work rate will visibly reduce, I think.  Not shown in the pictures is the day we spent yesterday on the hillside behind the house stem injecting the rhodo stumps that survived last year’s cull, and then moving on to hack back some of this year’s portion.

We think Lola might be glad, though.  Although she does enjoy having a friend in the house, I am not sure she is old enough yet to be fair when it comes to sharing toys….

Foss and Lola trying to share a toy

According to the Countryfile weather forecast tonight, it will be wet and windy next week, so I am glad we have had a few days outside recently.  I look forward to a lot of indoor work next week, hoping it might be a little warmer than the last few days.

Anything two can do, four can do better

Our refurbishment is progressing well at the moment, as I am now greatly energised from my day off on Saturday.  Earlier this week, I cleared this substantial pile of fire wood, cut from old skirting boards and aged furniture, to make room for our current project.  Alex and I moved it into buckets which we then let down over the balcony to a waiting wheelbarrow, and it is now sitting in dry store ready to warm us in our winter fires.

Firewood production line

Now that the electric cable has been moved from the stairwell, Julie was able to block up the access gaps (with the cement blobs showing below) which has helped cut out the howling gale in our stairwell.  Meanwhile Yvonne finished the other side with plywood and plasterboard, but that didn’t photograph quite as well.

We need to decide how to finish the wall shown below.  The stairwell becomes wider between the ground and first floors, so what you are looking at is the part where it becomes wider, just below the fourth flight of stairs.  Current preference is to install a shelf and then work out afterwards what to put on it!

We need to work out what to do here…

Back to the first room, but with the wood pile moved on (in case you didn’t believe me)…

Firewood all removed

…and back to the insulation work.  This is quite an exacting exercise, so works persons occasionally need to divert to other tasks – especially if the lorry delivering the insulated plasterboard doesn’t arrive when expected…

The insulation being fitted to the floor 1 lounge

…so we moved on to stripping out the floor 1 bathroom which I had reserved as a treat for Julie and Yvonne.

The last of the bathrooms being reduced to rubble…

The tiles are all being levered off, complete with the plasterboard, ready for refitting.

…by two skilled artisans

Oh goody, the plasterboard arrived, so we returned to the main task in hand…

They returned to insulating duties

Now Mike just needs to install the new electric cables fast enough to keep ahead of the insulation crew.

Mike has installed the electrical cables

He is doing a great job to date.  FYI, the window boards all have to be removed, because the insulation is 55mm thick and would swallow up the existing window sills.  Mike strips them all out and you can see on the left hand side below the new window board waiting to go in, in due course.

…in both the lounge and bedroom two, floor 1

Today the weather was wet in parts, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is dry so we hope to be outside stem-injecting the rhodos again.  I hope you are looking forward to lots of photos of the great outdoors in the next blog!