Rubble, rubble, hardcore trouble…

Since I last wrote, we have had two cafe days (Monday and today), and three refurbishment days.  Some tasks were not remotely photogenic.  For instance, I was pretty confident you would not wish to see shots of me clearing out the lean-to previously used to store fire wood as we tried to clear an access path for the electricians coming to install a smart meter.  Or one of more wallpaper being stripped.  Or one of me putting the fireproofing paint onto the treads and risers of the 7th and 8th flights of stairs.

Instead I will share with you the shot below where I am still working on one of the steep beds which form part of the view from one particular table in the cafe.  Really this shot is here as a reference shot, so that you can be impressed when the wooden slope has been removed, after the new staircase is fully installed, and I get to fully landscape this area.

The view from the cafe, still being improved…

In the meantime, Mike had blocked off an access hatch into part of the roof space, before skimming the wall onto which the next flight of stairs will be attached.

Watching plaster dry…
… is such a thrilling pastime

The stairs should come about half way up this plastered wall, after which we need to make some careful measurements before pulling up part of the floor 3 floor boards whilst we work out exactly where we need to install the final trimmer against which the eighth and final flight of stairs will rest.

Thus we occupied ourselves on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday, we resolved to have a day in the garden as the weather forecast was so good.  You may recall that when we arrived, the brick weave path ran right up to the walls of the house, breaching the damp course, so had to be pulled away from the building.  As we did this, we discovered the path had been laid over a considerable depth of hardcore and assorted slate waste.  On the plus side, along the ‘long’ aspect of the building, we found a concrete edging which showed where a flowerbed used to be sited, so we cleared this and planted it up.

However, we have noticed that in a little under 2 years, the plants made surprisingly little growth, and a worrying number of plants have turned up their toes.  We decided to explore the situation, as one does, with a pick axe and mattock to hand.  After gardening in at least 2 feet of sanding soil in Norfolk for twenty years, I am still adjusting to the need for such tools when gardening.   I removed the small plants from the bed, then Mike used the mattock to locate (as we had suspected) the hard core still in some places in the bed, and flip them out.  At the point you can see in the photo, Mike has cleared from the right right hand edge of the photo to where he is standing and has pulled out the rubble at his feet and in the wheelbarrow.  We think that might explain the lack of growth!

Mike, managing the mattock

We are working along the bed, clearing plants, pulling out rubble, top up with the soil before adding some compost (as shot below) and then putting back all the removed plants, plus a few bonus specimens.

One empty bed – always a good subject for a photograph, I think

By Thursday evening, we had dug and cleared from the right up to the centre pillar of the double window, but as we will be in the cafe today and all weekend, I have a sinking feeling it may be weeks before we manage to get back to this task.

Accidentally, a before (left) and after (right) photo

On the other hand, and being essentially a reasonable woman, I recognise that after single handedly skimming two walls on Wednesday and digging out the pile of blocks (below) yesterday, Mike probably needs a bit of a rest day or two.  If it helps, the black water butt to the right of the picture is about 4 foot tall, so you can see how hard Mike is working at the moment.

If anyone needs any hardcore…

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