Our block and tackle masterclass

This week we have majored in continuing to run the cafe whilst Jane finishes her summer holiday.

If I say so myself, Mike has become a very talented short order cook who manages to cope regardless of the variation to menu that customers request.  I try to manage the front of house tasks as effectively as Mike manages the kitchen and am not sure how well this is achieved at present, but I think we are both having a ball meeting the fascinating people who rock up here and (when requested) telling them all about the project and/or showing them around the building.  Yesterday we had a new experience for us.  On a very wet morning (and I use the words ‘very’ and ‘wet’ advisedly) a couple arrived in a car with a passenger window that wouldn’t close properly.  On arrival, we were asked for a couple of hot drinks, and whatever we might have to hand to warm someone up.  Mike considered jumpers (of which we have many, given that one of us is a compulsive knitter) but settled on offering the fleecy throws that we bought to cover our shivering limbs as we hunch in front of our winter fires (I can hear your violins playing even from here) and they did the trick.

Given the need to keep pretty clean so that I could rush into the cafe when it got busy, I have spent as much time as possible in the grounds when the rain held off.  As a result, the current project of clearing down a rock we are trying to clean and expose has progress well.  Major progress was made on Tuesday when Carrie and Bill very kindly popped over to give us a hand.  Carrie did sterling work clearing the scrub whilst we had a little light gossip, but Bill’s work was an eye opener for me.  I know the theory about using a block and tackle for some tasks, but have never actually employed one myself.  Having seen how effortlessly Bill was able to pull rhodo stumps off the rock, I am now a total convert.

A miracle in the making…


Adrian very kindly took these snaps, showing Bill with the band (which was anchored around an old oak stump not visible in these pictures) around the stump and then a little magic with the metal chain and hey presto, the stumps popped up off the rocks.

This was followed by quite a few wet days, but earlier today I managed to move the raised stumps and trimmed top growth off the rock, and you can see below that the area is clearing up nicely.


Before Carrie and Bill…


….and after them…

…and now, with most vegetation removed by Adrian and me, and we just need to brush away the soil. Notice the dividing ‘edge’ that I have started on the right, to match the existing grass/bed boundary not quite visible on the far right.

We have written up the circular walk from here to Betws y Coed and back over the old Roman road (Sarn Helen) into a pair of printed leaflets (available in both English and Welsh) which Mike has distributed locally and which we hope will increase the footfall in the cafe in due course.

And I have spent a couple of days up on floor 3 continuing the demolition work.  It now looks a frightful mess as stud walls have been pulled out, plasterboard removed and the original insulation (2 inches of expanded polystyrene, don’t you know) removed ready for us to rebuild as soon as we get the go ahead on the stairwell.  we also made an interesting discovery.  when I removed a plasterboard wall in a corridor on floor 3, we were surprised to find the outside world looking at us:

Plaster board removed, and behind it is a roof detail that is open to the world so we can only imagine how draughty this corridor might have been!

Oh, yes, and I guess we should let you know…  Having waited for the go ahead on the stairs since Christmas, we may have the latest baby step forward.  Earlier this afternoon, we saw an email confirming that the Building Inspector is content with the Architectural Designers revised plans for the stairwell.  All we need know is the Building Engineer’s details for the strength of various fittings, and we may even nearly have the green light to go ahead with the stairs.  Which is good news, as the number of displacement activities we can undertaking whilst waiting for these is getting fewer by the hour!



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