Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has had a restful, joyful Christmas break. We have been thrilled that so many people have dropped by for a coffee and cake, perhaps a little soup or other hot food, and we have also had the pleasure of showing several people around our fabulous refurbishment project.

As we have been solidly on cafe duties, not refurbishing, there are no action shots to share, but I thought you might like to see:

Tim’s chocolate box…they were delicious!

My best Christmas present…

..and the other side.

I am known to enjoy a puzzle or two, so our children very kindly created a double sided jigsaw from their own photos, taken this year – which arrived in a plain cardboard box, with no picture. We were all rather surprised to see how much more challenging it is when you have no idea what the picture should look like. Still, this is far preferable from previous years puzzles which have included the baked bean puzzle and, in 2017, the 1000 piece puzzle that faded from blue to green. Happy days! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, pawb.

Oh no – Mr Cock up has been to call

In case you were worried following the last post, I did get my essays in on time, so can now return my focus to the continuing work at Plas, but only for another couple of days before we switch to being in the cafe over the Christmas week. We will take a big jigsaw in with us, to give us all something to do whilst we are chatting and relaxing with our guests.

Below you can see one of the last stages on floor 3 as I install the architrave around one of the doors.

So not some weird exercise programme…

Flushed with the success of installing architrave, I then turned my hand to first ‘knotting’ and then priming all the skirting and architrave on floor 3…

Not a rictus smile – just a photo taking whilst I was chatting with Mike.

So much, so positive. Now I fear I must start our confession. Whilst I was doing all this painting, Mike was working on the electrics. Last week he connected all the wires to their relevant positions in the consumer unit, and today he was focusing on the other ends of the cables. Whilst in the loft, he was trying to connect a light cable, and tugged on it just a tad too hard…

When he got downstairs, he found that the unexpected ease with which he had been able to manoeuvre this wire was possibly – no, definitely – due to the fact that he had pulled the wire clean out of the socket box.

At this point, I imagine anyone familiar with this building lark sucking through their teeth and shaking their heads in sad recognition that we are but amateurs at this game…which is, of course, quite true. To give Mike his credit, he had planned to fit the socket cover earlier, so had straightened out the knot at the wall end…but then got distracted by something and went into the loft to finish whatever magic he was doing first.

There followed a three-way discussion with Tim (who arrived for the Christmas festivities yesterday) about what to do next. Long story short – you can see where we have cut two small holes (!) in the newly painted wall. Because the wall contained insulated matting, we couldn’t just poke the wire unaided back in place, as it kept getting tangled up in the matting. So we cut two holes, each one slightly above the noggins so that we could manhandle (actually woman-handle) a spare piece of earth cable back from the loft through each noggin and back into the socket box. as this earth cable was stiffer than the cable we needed to replace.

Having done this, we taped the ‘real’ wire to the earth wire and, very gingerly, pulled it through into place, and then discarded the earth cable.


So this shot is here as a pathetic attempt to distract you from our tale above. You can see that the architrave has been primed, and the cable dangling in sight is due to be put where it really belongs any minute now.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

Family will be arriving over the next few days so we are unlikely to do much more on the building so, in case I don’t have more news before Tuesday. we hope you have a lovely Christmas.

In the pink – again

This will be a quick blog as I have other things I need to be doing… no surprise there, I suspect!  Now Strictly has finished, I can concentrate…

Sound insulation in place

Mike has finished putting in all but two of the door frames on floor 3, whilst Alex and I have blocked out the tops with studding, insulation…

More door frames in place

…and plasterboard.  Mike busy working away….

Mike in ‘action man’ pose

oh well, I guess someone has to be behind the camera!  Lola has been a fantastic support.  After I had cut the skirting to fit, Mike glued it in place and Lola nudged it into final position.

Lola helps with the skirting…

Mike and Alex fitted the architrave around the door, with Lola getting excited every time the pin hammer was used.

and now Lola helps with fitting the architrave

In the entrance hall, which abuts the fire-rated stairwell, we have used fire-resistant foam – such a lovely shade of pink, which enables building control to confirm we have used the right stuff.  And now that is finished, it only remains for Mike to plaster over the plasterboard which he did earlier today.

Plasterboard in place

I meanwhile still have a couple of essays to finish before I can focus on the building work again.  I hope to manage one more blog before the big day…

J’a door this time of year!

The cafe has had its annual makeover for the festive season, and no doubt the presents will arrive under the tree soon.

And now the first of our three trees is in place.

It is thanks to our daughter, Charley, that the decorations are more extensive this year, as she has a lovely eye for design.  She also has a Sprocker spaniel puppy, Morgan, who visited with her and, as you can see below, trod in the paint tray whilst Charley and I were distracted.

Can you guess who was helping with the painting?

We cleaned the floor, and his paws, and carried on painting the mist coats in floor 3 and left Morgan to get over the excitement…

I think we have worn Morgan out…

…because, of course, two puppies in the same house do find ways to wear themselves out.   During her days here, we had several boats of lovely play between the two puppies, followed by periods of recovery…

..perhaps both of them.

On Thursday, we took delivery of several new doors and fire doors so that we can begin to finish the last of the building works in some rooms.  Below you can see the first new door fitted onto one of the en suite bathrooms

The first of the new doors has been fitted

which has now had its first two mist coats and sits ready for proper painting, when the building works are finished.  And no, the cling film on the toilet is not to embarrass people, but to keep the paint off the new fittings!

Second mist coat has been nearly completed

We also took delivery of our 2 metre extension handle for the painting and I had a go at mist coating over my head.  This worked pretty well, but my glasses did get very spotty.

The ceiling above the stairwell really is a long way up…

Unfortunately, the glazed fire doors that will sit between the suites of rooms and the fire-rated stairway will not be ready until mid January, but at least that gives us plenty of time to fit the fire doors to the rooms and the ‘normal’ doors to the bathrooms.

Still painting

I have agreed with Mike that I won’t start the final painting until all the doors are in place, since these doors will enable us to contain any dust that may be raised elsewhere in the building, given that we will end up with each floor at a different building stage, we think.

The second door is now in place

Below we see Hercules about to perform one of his labours…

Mike is measuring for the third doorway

but it does feel like progress is still being made.  Next week will be a bit of the same, but with new architraves and skirting boards thrown in for good measure.  All this and Christmas shopping too – what more could a woman dream of?!?

Time to ketch up…

We have had a busy few days but, as can be the case some times, we have relatively little to show for it.  This is partly our fault as our social life has suddenly become rather busy.  In the last few days we have been to a dance, an evening of song and poetry relating that last 1,000 years of Welsh history, a quiz night, an exercise class and a dinner out.  Apologies, but I am exhausted!  So I thought I would take advantage of the relative lack of photos to recap the situation…

Nearly three years ago we bought Plas Hall, a hotel seriously on its uppers, and immediately closed it for refurbishment.  The purchase was made as our ‘retirement’ project in which we plan to do the overwhelming majority of the work ourselves, partly because funds do not permit otherwise, and partly because Mike loves to play around with old buildings.  During Year 1 we dealt with a few major structural issues and then ripped out a 1970’s wooden bar and put in a 21st Century cafe.

For Years 2 and 3, we have completely gutted three floors which originally offered 10 bedrooms, and will soon be offering accommodation on these three floors having in total 6 double/twin bedrooms with 3 sitting rooms, all served by a brand spanking new 3 storey staircase.

We think we are now entering the final phase, and hope to have rooms available in time for the National Eisteddfod which will be in Llanrwst next summer.  However, as we enter the last leg of this race, we are just beginning to realise that perhaps we need to take a break soon as our 7-days-a-week work schedule (five days a week on refurbishment and two days a week in the cafe) is proving to be rather challenging.

But before then we need to finish fitting the new electrical circuit on floors 1 and 2…

Electrics being prepared…

…and get the building ready for Christmas.

Lights are in, tree to follow soon

Also this week, I have been mist coating the remainder of floor 3 and Alex has been working at clearing rubbish off the landscape – neither of which translate well into photographs, so we will leave you to imagine those bits.

The best thing this week, though, was the discovery that sometimes we do not need to drag our reluctant dog to a bath, providing we have some tomato ketchup to hand.  Our new puppy, Lola, is rather fond of rolling in things which she really shouldn’t when out for her morning constitutional.  The fox poo, in particular, is really rather fragrant.  This morning, Mike only noticed this moments before we were due to start work, and Lola looked most aggrieved when Mike tried to lead her towards the bathroom in which she is normally bathed.  Then he remembered a comment he had heard in the cafe, passed on by someone who received it from their vet, that one way of dealing with the smell was to rub tomato ketchup into the site.  We are here to tell you that it does work – and no, we have no idea why.  Its something of a win win – no smell and no sulking dog either.

Lola with her new bestie, Morgan

Result – one happy dog, one less wet owner.  Until next time…