To remind you: when I last wrote, we had a huge heap of soil which we had dug out from around the old gas tank, which we now need to move.
We have to move it to make room for the oil tank, which needs to be moved as it is currently propped on an old wooden pallet, on top of a path that is about 4 feet higher than it should be (thus utterly compromising the damp course), leaning against the building, in the path of the fire escape. So, no problem really.
After considerable thought, we elected to spread the soil over the lower garden, to finish our attempt to disguise the old asphalt. We wouldn’t have minded if it had been a proper driveway, but it appeared to be the site of multiple dumpings of asphalt left over from other jobs, so it had to go!
You can see where the last of the soil was left 18 months ago when we ran out of soil. A month ago it was covered in weeds which I brutally sprayed with weedkiller so they appear yellowish above. This area was previously an utter junk yard, on which we spread soil and grass seed about 18 months ago, and there is still a roughly asphalted area to ‘improve’.
Last time, we also showed you a roughly grassed area that needed strimming, which has now been done, and which also reminded us os something just hidden by the apple blossom…
…of this stump. For those who remember storm Doris (2017 for those who don’t remember) we had a row of four trees which knocked each other down during the storm. What you see here is the underside of the root plate of the largest tree, which sadly includes many bits of slate, builders rubble and other items which means we daren’t use the chainsaw to try to cut it about. We have been trying to work out what to do with it for a little while. Now we have strimmed up to it, it really must go. We have found websites that show how to burn a tree stump still in situ, so some day soon we will try the technique on this stump – but as we hadn’t had any rain here for over a month, we thought it wise to wait for the weather to break before setting fire to it.
Back to the soil. We prepped the digger, and our motorized wheelbarrow, and took one barrowful of soil to the lower garden. It was then my turn to use the digger to fill up the wheelbarrow…whereupon the chain drive on the digger broke. We were reduced to digging by hand to fill the barrow, and then taking this to the lower level, which took all of Monday. So much for mechanization.
The rain arrived overnight Monday into Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, I finished undercoating the windows above, during which we found that our large bucket collecting rain from a leak in the ceiling of the old building needed emptying – twice! We decided we needed to improve our rain capture device. For a couple of years, a bit of guttering above the ceiling had routed rainwater into a large bucket, which occasionally overflowed. So now, we have put a rainwater butt under the guttering, and then put old guttering underneath the butt’s tap, through a step ladder, into the bath. Now we leave the waterbutt tap open and the rain is gently dripped onto the guttering and disposed of, without risk of overflowing. We can’t believe it took us two years to come up with this obvious refinement of the design!
Back to the real work. Today, Wednesday, we had heavy showers this morning, after which Mike drove to Porthmadog. We have been focusing on external work recently as we had run out of consumables with which to complete the internal works. Once again, fortune has been with us, as the local builders merchants seem to be reopening. Mike placed an order yesterday which we had to collect at a precise time today. He also managed to order some electrical bits from a nearby wholesaler, so if things can fit in the car, it seems we may be able to get hold of them. We are holding out hopes that the local builders merchants will open soon – the rumour is this will happen next week – because we need to order plasterboard and other bulky items that simply won’t fit in the car, however hard we try.
After Mike returned, the weather was lovely, so we visited our 14-plus piles of earth and slowly raked the earth smooth including, as you can see, Mike breaking up the ‘old’ pile with a pickaxe (as it had crusted over).
Sadly we ran out of whizz at about 4pm today and the remaining approx. one hour’s work will just have to be done next time the sun shines.
Once again, we have work to do whether or not it rains, which does feel a little better. It’s hard to believe we are nearly at the end of April, as time seems to have no meaning at the moment. I can’t believe that next time I write, it will already be May…