Sunday dawned bright and chilly and with a 15cm covering of snow making everything look lovely and clean, but did make driving to church something of a challenge. The A470 had been gritted, but the 100 metres between our car park, down the steep winding path to the bridge was a rather hairier matter but nonetheless managed safely.
Sunday was a relatively quiet day in the cafe with only brave walkers from Dolwyddelan or Betws y Coed keeping us busy. Monday, during which the thaw began, was really quite busy but better even than that, we received the go ahead from Building Control for our plan for installing the next floors-worth of stairs which meant Mike nipped off during a quieter period to purchase necessary bits from the Builders Merchants.
This morning, therefore, we were ready for a swift start. We began by moving two flights of stairs up to floor 1, so that we could check, double check and triple check the various dimensions.
We then made any number of calculations and measurements in an attempt to ensure we get these in right, first time. I am not sure if you will be able to see it but, on the wall, we pencilled in the height and extent of the platform landings; the position for each run of stairs; the 2 metre headroom necessary above the flight of stairs below the floor; and the thickness of the floor boards. We worked out which elements must be exactly in certain positions, and those bits for which there is some flexibility on final positions, and ensured these showed in the plans.
Then Mike just decided to go for it. You see him below fitting the first of the trimmers to the wall using joist hangers – of which there will be many in the final construction.
He then fitted a second trimmer to the wall; then completed the box structure (cunningly supported on a prop at this stage) with stiffeners and screwed flat-plates and metal angle brackets and, if I know Mike, there is sure to be some skew-screwing to follow before this beast is finished. In case it is not obvious to the casual observer, the idea is that the first 5 stairs will be propped against the trimmer just in front of Mike. A platform landing will be laid over the top of this support structure. The second set of stairs will be supported by the left hand of the support structure, so next time you see a picture of this support you should only be able to see the merest traces of it, as most of it will be hidden by the stairs.
As the construction required lots of measuring and check measuring, sucking through teeth and cautious progress, I rapidly got fed up with standing around waiting. After a brief consultation we decided I would strip wallpaper from the walls just out of sight in the photo of Mike’s back, so that when he is ready to do the next run of plastering, we can skim the bricked-up window recess amongst other things to make this stairwell the beautiful thing it is destined to be.
It does feel great to be back on track with the stairs again. You know, one of these days, we may even be in danger of progressing to the second floor and even (whisper it quietly) finishing the stairwell?!? That will be some red letter day, I can tell you. So, until then, onward and – yes – upwards.