We’ve had a busy few weeks. Once the cladding arrived, John pushed on with the tip of the west gable (I couldn’t watch!) and finally got it finished together with all of the other bits and pieces such as the window masticing, the vent axia, (which couldn’t be reached with the scaffolding in place) not to mention the large barge boards.
It then took 3 days to dismantle the scaffolding and set it up again on the other side so that the remaining cladding on the front of the house and the gable can be finished. Although it has been dry, the midges have been particularly active of late so Emily’s Australian presents (hat and mosquito net) have been much appreciated.
There was more finishing off to the cladding on the front of the house than I’d remembered but we plugged away and got it completed. We then had to move more scaffolding to the final gable just in time for a visit from Emily and Richard which resulted in an enormous amount of progress.
We finished the cladding on the last gable in 3 days! It took me 3 weeks to do the other side. Brilliant and much appreciated because it meant that we could push on and get the fascias up, all of the masticing and rendering done and finally, remove the scaffolding. Hurrah!
We’ve also filled in part of the excavations at the front of the house and things are looking so much neater. It will be good to get it all backfilled so that we can use the front door and the other utility room door.
Meanwhile, indoors, we’ve been painting. The disappointment was that the rough texture of the clay didn’t work under paint. It just looked like badly done plastering – not Iain’s fault as we told him not to smooth it too much. But we will know upstairs not to use a steel float. The ‘terra cotta’ accent wall is brilliant and the warm grey elsewhere works well.
The kitchen has been properly put back together (still no worktops) and everything is working well. We also wrestled the stone slab into place as the breakfast bar/servery/dough table. Architect Ali pointed us towards Smile Plastics who make worktops (and other things) from recycled plastic. We have ordered a ‘charcoal’ one made from yoghurt pots. The kitchen floor has been oiled and has darkened considerably.
John has also had to buy a new strimmer because the old one seized. It’s a brush cutter that has a bit more “grunt” for cutting the reeds (note we have reeds, not grass!) He found he was catching the willow maze but stopped just in time to avoid decimating it (and being sent to the naughty corner). I have had to clip the reeds by hand but you can see the shape of the maze again. Some of the shoots haven’t survived (either the winter or John) and I will take some more cuttings from the wilderness at the top of the garden.
We’ve also had pretty amazing, warm and sunny, weather of late. So we finished the drainage and paths in the vegetable garden so that when it rains it won’t be so boggy. Suse has planted beetroot, lettuce, broad beans and dwarf beans and left over potatoes from last year. All seem ok but the rabbits and deer are not Suse’s favourites so we have built a scarecrow called Flapjack.
The next job will be to arrange for the cedar tree trunks (which have been in the garden for a couple of years) to go to a local saw mill to see if they have any potential for use in the staircase. If not, they will be milled into the decking which we need for the outside of the house. On this point, Richard has the garden plans in hand and made some interesting suggestions about layouts including the decking. So we are both looking forward to seeing his next version. I think we will finally commission the septic tank next, which means getting the electricity out to the garage. More about these later.
We have to end this one on a sad note. Jenny, who, with electrician Gordon was helping us get things ready at Christmas, has died. She was a lovely lady and one of our first friends here. We will have to find a beautiful, colourful shrub to plant in her memory as she loved her garden and it is always full of colour. Along with some of her other friends, I shall be having a haircut (shave) on 26th June to raise funds to train more Marie Curie nurses. They made such a difference to Jenny’s last days, enabling her to be at home with people who loved her.