Happy Christmas,one and all!

Last week was our last week working on the building this decade. The cafe will be open every day except Christmas day, so we hope to be busy – so we won’t be able to do any building work because we always try to do that work in pairs.

The dividing doors are being stripped of the moden (badly applied) stain

We might be able to carry on cleaning the stain off the dividing doors in the main room, but as Jodie is already doing a great job of cleaning this, maybe not.

A different roof, and a different operator.

Having stripped spare tiles from one roof last week, this week we stripped tiles off the roof we are trying to reslate, above. Just out of shot is the scaffolding tower from which we are working, and this roof is wonderfully out of the wind which makes for relatively comfortable working. We stripped the tiles off on a day with good weather…

Mike and Alex in the crawl space…

…and when the following day was wet and windy, we insulated inside instead. The crawl space under the roof is a bit limited, but we need to increase the insulation significantly. The pipes run just above the ceiling, so we are insulating under the roof rather than over the ceiling, to be sure the pipes (which are already lagged) can’t freeze. As it happens, we were both amazed that having insulated half the roof, the water temperature in the house is already noticably higher!

…and here is the new insulation, in place.

The next day, we returned outside and stripped a few more slates, before battening down the tarpaulin as solidly as we could to withstand the mild Welsh weather (?) until the New Year.

The second roof now stripped even further.

Philly is here with us at the moment, home from her studies in Cambridge. I strongly suspect the thrill of New Testament Greek paled when Mike suggested they both tried teaching Lola how to balance a festive pringle on her nose…

Lola is being taught the meaning of ‘wait’…

…which Mike then decided was not a sufficiently testing option, so proceeded to dress Lola in a Christmas jumper. I’m not sure she was terribly impressed – what do you think?

…but I’m not sure she enjoyed the dressing up challenge!

As this will be my last blog in 2019, I must finish with a hearty ‘Happy Christmas everyone’, and I look forward to sharing our exploits with you new year!

Prepping the roof- for Santa…

Last Sunday, Mike drove to Cambridge to collect Phil away from her studies and back for Christmas. On Monday, it was back to the building work – which obviously needs to start with some casual destruction. We are preparing to re-lay the roof over the long corridor, but we know lots of slates within it are broken. The roof you see below is scheduled for destruction next year (and leaks in any case), so we are pinching some slates from here to patch the corridor roof.

So…one more time…how are we going to do this?

But how, precisely, will we do it? It was surprisingly difficult to agree the approach but…

Yes, we really are going to do it this way!

…we got there in the end. We lifted the ridge tiles and then started recovering slates. The special gadget we bought to do this just kept breaking the slates, so we moved to Mike’s first instinct which was removing nails with pincers and then lifting the slates. Mike’s job was the nails (since my wrists aren’t up to the job) and I was passed the slates to store safely and take the photographs.

It’s ok – you can’t see the safety rope from here.

We lifted most of the tiles on Wednesday which was a bright, only slightly showery day, but we needed to get a sound cover over the roof since much windier weather is forecast soon. That meant we needed to work today, in an outside temperature including wind chill of -1 degrees, in showers of rain and hail…(have you got your violins out for us yet, to play that little sad song?)… but we managed to lift the final 40 slates and then baton down the butyl rubber cover which we hope will hold.

and yes, it really was that wet.

We have also been preparing the corridor space, ready to start work on Monday. I should let you know Mike is sitting very carefully tonight, with a hot water bottle easing a stiff muscle in his back. We think this arose because he was doing a twisting job in freezing conditions – but he is already much better than he was a couple of hours ago, so please don’t worry about him…yet. Tomorrow we are hosting an event, of which more next time…

Christmas is on it’s way…

…so we needed to get on with our annual cull of Rhododendron ponticum. Over the last couple of years, we have cleared much of this nuisance plant from the top level and are now having to work on the downhill slopes. Here you see Mike about 5 foot downhill, trying to suss out the lie of the land…

There must be ground here somewhere…

…and within an hour of so, both he and I were about 10 foot downhill and still descending.

…if I just keep stamping on this, perhaps we’ll see land?

Hopefully this shot gives a better idea of the steepness here… and also that, one false move, and only trees stand between you and the river thundering past.

If it looks a bit steep… that’s because it is

After a long morning of lopping and sawing, and with help to move cut elements away, we had cleared about 100 square metres of ponticum and could now see the river from this part of the top path. In the afternoon Mike returned to inject weedkiller into the cut stems in the hope that they will give up the ghost over the winter.

…but we can see the river from here now!

Whilst doing this, we kept an eye out for this year’s Christmas trees. We found one suitable specimen behind the wall running towards Lledr Hall,

We have cleared trees in the wrong place on the grounds…

and the second one behind the same wall, in a spot which will be our building site next year, so it had to go!

…this one cleared a space for next year’s building work.

If this all gives the impression we didn’t do any much building work this week, that is partly true. We had a full house in the suites last weekend and then an Environmental Health visit this week in the cafe, which took several hours out of the schedule. We also both had lot of paperwork to complete this week . Here’s hoping we can make more progress next week!