Back to work, at last!

My apologies for the gap in correspondence. The last of our summer guests left on Monday last week, and we decided to have a couple of days off to recover from the excitement. On Wednesday, we heard that Conwy would lock down again last Thursday, so decided we would have the rest of the week off in between cancelling our ‘lost’ bookings. We really had a great time whilst we were open, and thank our many wonderful guests for making the summer so much fun, but we are both keen to get back to returning this building to its former glory.

Before I describe our work, I should show you what Niall has been doing with the garden stairs. Having put the stairs roughly in place, he fitted a couple of reinforcing rods (just about visible below between the top of the stairs and the slate blocks)…

…to ensure the stairs don’t move. You may get a better sense of what we are doing below…

..or even further down…

.

…where you can see the stairs now rest on two concrete blocks, arranged to ensure that the stair treads are now horizontal. All that remains to do (!?) is for the bottom step and the handrails to be fitted.

The metal for the rails and uprights was delivered last week, but may be moving on soon.

To return to our work, I will just remind you where we were before lockdown was eased.

The corridor to the ground floor facilities was full of building materials, the gents loos had been almost finished, and the ladies and accessible toilets were little more than a shell…

The site above is destined to become the accessible loo, and that below the ladies.

The gents were more or less ‘built’, and the cubicle side was installed, but not the door.

It took a surprisingly long time to fit the various elements in place to enable us to install the door, but – here it is!

The other thing we had realised though, when September left us and October brought much cooler weather, was just how much heat is lost through the (unheated) old kitchen, into the lean-to scullery which is very nearly the outdoors. So we…

removed the shelf which sat in the old window surround/opening, measured up, and then cut and fit some excess roofing insulation we happened to have lying around…

…and we then used some squirty adhesive around the edges to complete this temporary draft-proofing.

We are now having to adjust, because we must decide in advance whether we need to get into the kitchen – now an equipment store – or the laundry in the scullery, but comedically keep trying to walk from kitchen to scullery or vice versa and then realise we no longer can. It shouldn’t take too many more false starts to learn the new way around the building – I hope!

Next we plan to tackle the accessible toilet…

Still being hospitable

We are delighted to still be fully occupied with looking after our guests and so have not yet returned to our upgrading-the-building regime. We have ordered materials to fix the stairs to the lower garden firmly in place, but otherwise the building remains unchanged.

I think our energies are beginning to flag, though. Today, unusually, we had no room changes to service, and we had glorious weather, so after breakfast we declared a half-day off and went to read in the sunshine. Pips very kindly took a snap whilst Mike was temporarily resting his eyes, and I believe I might have been resting mine too…

… but we thought it was important to glory in the hot weather whilst we still had some to enjoy. The bookings start to thin out later this month, so I hope to be able to write about our return to construction work in a couple of weeks time.

Still busy not building…

We are really grateful to our wonderful guests for choosing to stay with us, which keeps us on our toes and is also replenishing the coffers ready for the autumn building programme. It also means we haven’t done a stroke of building work for nearly two months now, which is a very strange state of affairs for us. In addition to our guests, family visited over the Bank Holiday and went walking…

…in the wonderful landscape in which we are privileged to live…

…so Pip decided to join them. Whilst I admired their energy, I elected instead to study the garden. It has turned decidedly autumnal here with dewy mornings and cool evenings, and I realise I really must work up the plans for the landscape soon. You can see below that the slope that falls away from the car park down to the lower garden is very steep and mostly clothed with bramble, nettles, and random weed. Once the stairs have been fixed firmly in place, I plan to start working outwards from the stairs to clear the junk and replace it with cleared rock or pockets of planting.

Some of the land to clear is pretty inaccessible so it will take a while. I am hoping that working out from a defined start point will enable me to gently clear and replant over the next 5 years resulting in a more groomed look.

But this may require an awful lot of plants, and we have just dismantled the polytunnel! Mike and I chose to visit a local plant nursery during the week – we realised when we got into the car that it was the first car journey we had taken together since Lockdown began – to look at the available plants and obviously there were a few I couldn’t resist purchasing…

…but the scale of the challenge is just really hitting home. I have started checking out plant wholesalers on the web, so that once I have drawn up some plans I can be ready to order. I just need to work out how to move some soil into place first…