Our building work pause continues

Even though it is eleven days since I last wrote, we have almost no photos to share with you showing any progress. So I will start with this shot of Siabod under a cloudy sky, just to set the scene.

First snow on Siabod this autumn just about visible.

Mike and I have been very busy with hotelier stuff. We seem to have an bottomless pit of emails to respond to, documentation to create and update, places we need to go to and people to see, as well guests and family to host here. Mike’s brother and partner stayed last weekend which was wonderful company for us, but may have been slightly unusual for them as we also had a hotel full of residents so were busy serving breakfasts and evening meals. You can see below that some of our younger guests are happy to make their own fun…

One of our guests and the A-maze-ing game he created with Duplo…
…whilst his brother made free with other elements.

…whilst the adults have a restful chat.

We have also settled and sieved the honey and now bottled up our 13 jars. This is rather a disappointing yield after last years much larger harvest, but we understand that the damp weather this summer has not helped the bees.

Our second year of honey production.

I am happy to report that my thoughts are beginning to turn to building work. I think Mike is still enjoying our break from the tyranny of continual progress, so it may yet be a week or two before we recommence the building work. In the meantime, I am now producing lists and schedules so that when the energies return, we will be ready to get going again.

We have BEEn busy!

We started working this week on the landscape around the platforms that we have been restoring. The rock slope here is, I guess, running at about 60 degrees so standing here is a real workout for the ankles, and the sense of balance.

Cleaning this rock was harder than it looks…

Meanwhile, back at the workface, Mike was adding the safety rails to the platforms.

How many people can it take to prove Mike can no longer touch his toes?

Here you see Mike and Alex fixing the screws into the supports, with Lola taking her normal supervisory role.

These are the rocks that can be seen from the long corridor

Alex and I then turned our attention to the rest of the rock which runs alongside the long corridor. We needed to pull the weeds off the rock…

..and now the junk has nearly all been removed.

…which necessitated balancing on the long ladders which were secured against the building.

Mike the knife…

Great news: on Wednesday and Thursday, it was warm and dry enough for Mike to collect the honey. We haven’t collected as much this yar as last, but the little bit we have tried tastes (for the Strictly fans) fabulous.

…working to release the honey

We cut away the beeswax and then put the frames into the spinner…

Is this what they mean by spinning classes?

…where they were whizzed around until they released their contents…

At last, the honey flows.

…which has been released into a pot so that it can settle. We then need to skim away any wax and other bits before bottling, of which (possibly) more next week.

On a different front, we have been challenged recently to find enough jobs for Alex when it is wet outside, so we have started him on stripping the dividing doors in the main room.

Cleaning off the modern stain

Some years ago these doors,which we believe are original to the Manor, had been stained with a modern ‘dark mahogany’-type stain which we have both been itching to remove. Turns out it flakes off really easily when a wallpaper stripper is pushed across the flat patches. We will no doubt work out eventually how to remove it from the moulding, which is proving a little more tricky.

That’s it for now – must dash as the rooms are full this weekend, so evening meal to prepare…

The end of platform No. 1

The last major job in the current phase is to finish the external platform for the first floor suite. You can see below that we had started to lift the floor – which, unbelievably for a fire escape, had been built with battening – to find that the joists were so rotten that they just fell away.

Let’s just have a look at what we’ve got…

Looking in the other direction, you can see how the rock gently falls away beneath this platform…

I can’t see the problem – this looks safe enough to me…

…so whilst Mike continued to dismantle the platform, Alex and I scraped away the random weed and thin soil that lay over the rock to reveal its stark beauty.

…and I’m sure we don’t need a handrail

After the platform and handrail were gone, we could remove the joists…

It’s nearly gone.

…and then really gain access to the area below to check and clean. Whilst I continued removing weed growth from the concrete support, Mike plugged gaps around the two metal supports as they linked to the building and prepared to replace the joists.

Mike plans to restart, Carrie shifts the rubbish.

Once the joists were in place and carefully supported on a variety of different depth spacers so the platform will drain properly, we began putting your actual decking onto the joists… with Lola helping, naturally.

And so we start to rebuild

Whilst we did this, Shaun was busy painting some of our more recent work in the suites. So quite how he came to have time to mock up the picture below, I have no idea…

How on earth did the Empire State Building get over there?

…but we love it! I think it was only lack of time that stopped us putting on our hard hats and getting out our sandwich boxes to fully replicate that famous photo.

So plenty of hospitality to undertake this weekend, and back to building work next week we hope – assuming the weather here dries up a bit! Then perhaps Alex can clear away a bit more of the over-growth…

And this is just a fraction of the slope having been cleared!

Some work, and a trip to the seaside too…

Last week, BIlly and his friends came to stay at the weekend.

Mike with Billy and his group

They all went to climb Snowdon which, given the weather, makes them braver than us! After spending the weekend happily chatting with guests and staffing the cafe, on Tuesday our thoughts returned to the renovations.

This is the challenge facing Alex…

Between the level of the buildings and the lower garden, there is a very steep cliff. Unfortunately, where we believe this was once a natural rock feature, it has subsequently been half buried in building rubble and been largely colonised by whatever weed has managed to locate a morsel or two of soil. We cleared it a couple of years ago, but then life intervened and the weeds have all come back, so…

…we have set Alex the challenge of clearing it down again.

On Tuesday, I showed Alex (and yes, he has had his hair cut) what needed clearing, and I think this shot gives a great sense of the scale of the task in front of him – even though there is at least the same again that you can’t see in the above shots. I have been reading Graham Stuart Thomas’s amazing book about ground cover plants, and have some new ideas once we have got rid of the pesky nettles, brambles and rose bay willow herb.

Not that it ever rains in this part of the world…

As you can see above, we have had quite a bit of atmospheric dampness this week…

So one of us was dressed appropriately for a day by the seaside in October…

…but we were very lucky that on our wedding anniversary, the rain gods held off. We went to Tremadog to a garden centre – obviously – to aquire one or two absolutely essential items that I simply couldn’t resist. Mike knows that one way to make his wife very happy is to take her to a garden centre with a good ‘poorly plant’ section so I can buy even more plants from my tiny weeny landscaping budget.

After this, we had a quick drive to Borth y Gest (near Porthmadog) where Mike was checking out the beaches to see if our Grandson will like them when he comes to visit…

…but of course Mike just had to go a step further!

Away from this lovely interlude, it was really super on Friday that the carpet arrived for the lobby entrance to the new staircase…

We had removed the old carpet…
and yesterday, this area was finished.

…. so we look even more like a hotel than we did.

Finally, the handrail has been completed…

Also this week, Mike finished installing the handrail on this platform

…so floor 2 guests can walk safely out onto the rock behind.

.and also obtained costings for decking to repair the first floor platform. I, meanwhile, have been up to my eyeballs in figures as I try to work out exactly how we did financially last year. You know, sometimes, it’s perhaps best not to enquire too hard if you are not confident you will want to know the answer!