4 weeks today…

…is when the stair carpets arrive. I’m not sure we will be fully ready, but here’s what we have been doing in preparation.

Just a few bits to finish before we paint.

Mike has been re-establishing the floor, as we need this in place before we can fit the skirting boards.

We seem to have mislaid our mirrors….

For those old enough to remember, Mike suddenly randomly decided to be Harry Worth today. How we laughed…

Plumbing, anyone?

…but when you can see the spaghetti junction above, and realise Mike has to cut through some pipes and reconnect elsewhere, so that other pipes can be reconnected and…sorry, am I boring you? But I can sympathise with Mike when he needs a bit of distraction every now and then.

More of the floor back in place – which is a great relief to me as I have been wondering how we were going to do this ever since we cut through the floor to locate the pipes about two years ago. Every time we stepped on it, it has flexed and bowed…but now Mike has waved his magic hands over it and all is rigid and reassuringly stable again.

Back to painting…

The latest batch of intumescent paint arrived yesterday, so today I returned to my natural stance with paint brush in hand and spindles before me, starting at the top of the stairs…

…stopping at floor 0

…and ending at the bottom before stopping for cafe duty.

See – no gaps

Meanwhile, Mike continues to fill the gaps in the floor. As you can see, we know how to have fun here!

As we have only 4 weeks to go, we reviewed the schedule earlier this evening – which might have been a mistake as we have slightly more work to do than days available for it, but I’m sure we can work something out between now and then…

Well, it’s the first time that has happened…

For those of you who are counting, it is now 4 weeks and 5 days until the stair carpet, along with carpet for the first floor, arrives. We are still wading through building tasks to try to finish all the walls and so forth, which are kind of necessary before we can complete the finishing touches.

Mike, getting plastered, again…

First, Mike plastered the ceiling (and later the walls) of the last of the bathrooms, whilst I was painting the first colour coat on the stairwell betweens floors 1 and 2.

After I had painted that, I was invited to clean out the room (shown below) so that Mike could start plastering the ceiling and walls. Well, that was fun – not least because we are running out of ‘spare’ space to put things…

Just a bit of tidying up to do

…whilst Mike continued plastering, just in a different location.

…still plastering…

I took the opportunity to continue painting, this time in the main bathroom…

More painting for me.

… so that Mike can fit the sink and loo, and towel rail, in place when he has a spare moment.

Kilroy says “wot, no cakes?”

The weirdest experience this week, though, has to be the selling out of cakes. We have been selling Jane’s delicious cakes for about 30 months now, and have never run out before. Yesterday, I was manning the cafe at the end of the day, and still had 3 cakes represented on the counter, and a total of 5 slices of cake to offer. Normally, this would have been sufficient. At about 4.30pm a couple arrived, closely followed by their two friends, and a few moments later another couple walked in. I took the order from the first couple, which included 2 slices of cakes. The second couple ordered the last remaining slice of one of the cakes. Before I had time to do anything, the third couple ordered two slices of cake. Imagine my momentary panic – how can I tell them the previous people had ordered that cake… but miraculously, the two slices they had ordered happened to be the last two remaining un-ordered slices. So I was able to provide what everyone needed… and then we had three empty domes. It’s the first time this has happened since we opened.

Anyway, back to the building. MIke still plastering, me still painting…

Poor Mike is still plastering
…whilst I am still painting…

…and Jane, bless her cotton socks, has been baking. All cakes had been sold by 5.10pm yesterday: all three domes back in action by 1pm today. In fact, the third cake hadn’t even hit the counter before we had sold two portions. The chocolate and mint cake is, after all, a very tasty proposition!

Once again, we have cake!

We still have plenty to do, but are hoping – if the weather continues fair tomorrow – that I might get some respite from the painting tomorrow whilst I help in our busy cafe. Well, I can dream, can’t I…?

Five weeks, 2 days and counting…

…until the carpets arrive. The culmination of two and a half years of work is now almost in sight…

Walls around bath now part tiled

This week, we tiled behind the bath when, to our astonishment, we found we had run out of tiles! A quick break in proceedings to order more tiles – which, of course, are not available locally so we have to wait for delivery later this week – and then we turned our attention to the floor tiles…

The last of the floors (for now) being tiled

In between cutting the fiddly bits for the edges, I found myself looking around to try to assess how much more work we have to do. Carpets arrive on 24th July, and yet we have walls that still look like this.

Still a few bits and bobs to do…

Even worse, we have floors as above – you can just see the ‘double’ floor which we have had to cut through. In places, we still need to refinish the ‘lower’ floor which is then covered in builders sand (preserved in the bin liners you can see lying around) before the ‘real’ floor is finished on top, since the sand is a very good baffle against sound transmission.

The hallway-in-waiting#

In the hall, you can see walls and floors that still need a little attention.

Laid, and ready for grouting

On a brighter note, the floor is now tiled and, whilst the glue dried, we worked on the ceiling in the adjacent room.

We are still working on the ceiling of bedroom 1

We put more insulation in place and plaster boarded after Mike had fitted the wiring for the fire alarm system.

Finishing touch for the stairs

This last is my personal favourite from this week. I spent much of this week painting the stairwell and spindles between floors 1 and 2, so things are gently coming to completion. We have put fireboard under the stairs, but this left us with a rough plaster board ‘edge’ to disguise. Here you can see how we have finished over the joint with a piece of beading which I think has done the job nicely. Only a few coats of intumescent paint and then all will be ready for Building Control to consider and, hopefully, sign off!

Is this love?

My apologies for putting our laundry arrangements on display, but one of the real delights of this week has been watching Lola (on the right) begin to come to terms with Boyd (on the table) having the upper hand. Lola is incredibly insistent that she would really like Boyd to play with her. Boyd, on the other hand, is unbelievably restrained when he bats Lola away. Claws are rarely seen, so we suspect both parties are having a good time. Given how Boyd used to pester Jasper, our previous dog, to play, we can’t help feeling there is some karmic rebalancing underway in Plas at the moment.

Six weeks till remaining carpet arrives…

…so no pressure, then. As you can see below, we still have one bathroom to create, a room with little ceiling and missing floor, a hallway and lobby to make, a staircase to finish… but let’s not worry about all that right now.

Instead, let’s admire Mike, using the wrecking saw to cut through the remaining stub of the ‘old’ structural wall so that we can progress this room. We have all been walking around this stub for the last year or so, as the trimming seemed to move into the ‘too difficult’ box.

Mike, enjoying a good trim

But its all done now, which is brilliant. Mike and Alex then worked their fingers to the bone to strip out the one remaining avocado bathroom…

Bath and loo have gone; only the sink to go

..leaving the evidence on the balcony. Well, its so much easier to walk them down the external stairs and wheel them to their final resting place in a wheelbarrow than to try to person-handle them through the building.

See, I told you they had gone…

Once the room had been completely stripped out…

Bathroom has been fully emptied…
…now we start the refit.

…Mike fitted the bath. Today we lined the walls around the bath with plywood (ready for tiling) or plasterboard.

Carrie cutting and fitting the plasterboard

Oh look, someone has captured me at work! I cut the plaster board to size and then packed around the waste pipe with insulation, to mask the sound of water gurgling through the pipes, before screwing the plaster board in place.

The plaster-boarding is almost finished.

We stopped at this point, to enable Mike to fit the last bit of electrical cabling for the bathroom, whilst I put the second coat of paint on some of the fire escape spindles and banisters. We need to prioritize the painting as we need to order more of the eye-wateringly expensive intumescent paint, so we need to be very sure exactly how much needs to be ordered. Along with the handrail. And the electrical bits and bobs. Oh, and the beds, and bed linen… We have taken delivery of one television, so that we can check it for size in one of the rooms, but it still sits in its box, waiting for one of us to make the first move. Perhaps we will have our answer for next time…

Normal service resumes…

I start with a huge mea culpa / mae’n ddrwg gen i. My sincere apologies that I haven’t updated the blog for about two weeks. For those who want to know how the gods have conspired to add to our normally minimal workload, please just keep reading…

Not avocado, I hope you noticed

Mike has now installed the china in the en suite on floor 1, leaving us only one more bathroom to refit for this phase! Oh joy, oh rapture…

Skirting, any one?

Meanwhile, Carrie and Alex have been fitting skirting board and architrave in two rooms on floor 1 and in the stairwell, which we have then started to prime and undercoat.

Mind the gap!

We have also started working seriously on ‘finishing’ the stairwell, which requires us to close the gap between some flights of stairs and walls. The gap is particularly noticeable where the slate walls run behind the stairs, since these slates sit proud of the surrounding wall, creating a considerable void in our otherwise lovely handiwork. I finally got around to insisting that we addressed this issue and (after I had purchased a variety of edge mouldings from the local builder’s merchants) we have found a way to achieve closure, of which more later.

Last of these avocado bathrooms ready for removal

Mike then turned his attention to stripping out the last of the bathrooms needing our attention in this phase…

Preparing to throw the switch

…whilst I stripped and twisted the twin and earth cables, ready for the sockets to be fitted…

Plaster boarding the stud walls

…before turning my attention to the stud walling. After Mike ran the cables through the walls, I was permitted to insulate the voids and fit the plasterboard. So far, so normal, but then…

Just what we all want to see when we turn our computer on…

… last weekend, we found our computer said ‘no’. In fairness, we had experienced some unusual activity for a day or so before hand, so fortunately had an up-to-date back up ready to be reinstalled. So on Monday night we travelled to the wilds of Llandudno to acquire a new computer, only to discover that our emails wouldn’t reboot properly. Without the emails, I cannot email photos from the phone to the PC, ready to use them in the blog. Such fun! We are still waiting for a friend to come and help get the emails properly sorted, and hope normal service will be fully returned by early next week.

Trying to make the balcony look more cared for.

In the interim, we are very grateful to a cafe customer from Liechtenstein who visited last week. Over the past couple of years, a number of customers have peered around the cafe door to ask, very tentatively, whether we are open. We have tried to work out what – of, let’s face it, many possibilities – makes them feel we might not be open, without managing to narrow this down. Our Liechtenstein visitors think it is the balcony that is the problem – that it gives the impression that no-one is looking after the building. They suggested we take a leaf out of Bavaria’s book and trail our clean linen over the railings, but in the high winds often here thought this an unnecessarily high risk strategy. Instead, we hope you can see the pelargoniums now in place, ready to trail artfully through the railings to let people know that someone is still working on the place.

Finishing the stairs

Mike has put a fillet between the stairs and the wall, and we are ready to continue to finish further flights…

Intumescent painting begins…

…whilst I have started to paint the banisters and spindles with the intumescent paint that will enable this to be a fire exit as well as a stairwell.

So I hope this brief scamper through recent activity has you feeling that you have been brought bang up to date with our activities. I look forward to reporting more progress next week, as I hope that the magnificent technology at our disposal will actually play ball again!