We dig dig dig with a shovel and a pick

At the end of last week we finished digging the pit to extend our concrete stand, and half filled it with building rubble. You can see Mike, below, tiffling with it to get everything ready for the concrete mix.

We have very clear roles when mixing concrete: I get to play with the cement mixer, Mike gets to move the heavy loads around. My system is to lift only half shovel-fuls at a time, so that I can keep going all day. So its water in first, then 6 ballast, 1 cement, 6 ballast, 1 cement, final water to get it ready…

…for Mike to get back with an empty wheelbarrow and take it all away…

…so that it can be deposited in the appropriate place and then tamped down when ready.

It only took us all Friday morning, and it was a tough morning…but on Monday, it looked like this:

We now leave the concrete to harden and get on with other work. For those who like a puzzle though – here’s something to consider. We have ordered the new oil tank, which has a published diameter of 2.120 metres. The minimum gap between the electricity supply pole (below left) and the rather unsightly boundary wall (below right) is 2.100 metres. Hmm. We decided to order the tank with the volume we preferred and hope we can wriggle it through somehow – perhaps we can feed the rim through at a slight angle – but if all else fails, that there wall is going to have to go…

On Monday, shock of shocks, we woke up to find damp stuff falling from the sky. I know this is North Wales, but we have had very little rain since Lock Down started, and there had been no mention of rain on the weather forecast, so it came as quite a surprise. We turned our attention to the interior where the gents’ loos are now ready for the plumbing to be installed…

…and we removed part of the the window board in the ‘cloister’ corridor so we could insulate the wall and install a wider window board….but we stopped this half way through as the weather cleared so we nipped outside again.

Now that the base is prepared ready for the new oil tank, we need to dig out the path behind the house. We are finding bands of soil, slate waste, and general builders rubble in this space between the building and the rock face on the right…

…but sadly the ‘path’ was not wide enough for the digger arm to turn and load the wheelbarrow. We started pulling down the waste sitting on top of the rock on the right hand side, and this widened the path quite significantly. It has also revealed that the rock formation will need to be partly re-covered in order for our eventual path to be of reasonable width, but we will worry about that later. We also have a slight issue with the rock you can see being revealed just above the wheelbarrow below…

…which we now call Rockie. You can see from the digger bucket that this is no little pebble – and it is still partly buried in this shot.

As we finished working today, we have all come away to see if we can work out the best way to move Rockie, because it is stopping us using the digger. All of today’s digging has been by hand with shovel and pick axe, aided by rakes and buckets to loosen and remove the rubble, as our wonderful machines can no longer get close enough to help us. We have some plans to research, but we would be delighted to hear from anyone with brilliant ideas on what we should do next!

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