Isn’t it amazing how time flies? It has been a month since my last post; I hope this is not a trend. But I’ve simply been too busy.
The first problem which had to be resolved was with the new boiler stove. Well, actually, it wasn’t the boiler stove itself. Everything worked fine for a week, but one particularly overcast and rainy afternoon I opened the bedroom door to find that the room was full of smoke. There was no smoke near the stove itself, none in any of the other two rooms, and the stovepipe and chimney seemed to be leak-free as well.
When LSS arrived home after having given an English class (did I mention she teaches English to individuals?) we investigated.
It turns out that some bricks had dropped down inside the chimney at the loft floor level. This exposed the air space between the loft floor (where the thermal store is kept) and the ceiling of the living room. Smoke was entering into this air space, drawn by the VMC vents in the bedroom, and the only way out was through the bedroom ceiling.
I have therefore had to spend time dismantling part of the upstairs chimney in order to create a hole into which I could crawl, in order to access the inside of the chimney to repair the dropped bricks using lime mortar. Then once that was done, I had to replace the bricks which I had removed to create the hole. Not much fun at all really. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic.
Then the local village contractor turned up to repair the road running past our entrance. Of course, this did not go smoothly either. On the first day he spread a layer of building rubble/landfill. That evening we strolled along the road removing bits of plastic bags and other rubbish. The following day a layer of pond mud went down. It must have been pond mud because the smell was unmistakeable. Of course the following day it rained. And the resultant muddy soup had to be seen to be believed. Trucks, tractors, or Land Rovers would have been able to get through, but we couldn’t.
Fortunately we have an escape road via the aged FIL’s farm, so LSS went to see the mayor of the village to complain that the road was now in a worse state than it was before the work started. A few more days went by, and another layer of stuff was added to the mud; some grey clay chippings. With the aid of the increasingly rare sunshine, this dried out the part of the road in front of our driveway; but further away it’s still very soft and squishy. Fortunately the muddy soup had been seen by the councillor in charge of roads (and his son is currently benefitting from English lessons…. small world!) so we have been promised that further material will be added to the remaining squishy bits. We live in hope.
We managed to find some more pallets and I have now started constructing a composting area which will consist of four “compartments” with the walls being made from recycled pallets. This in itself has been an issue; because the rare pallets we are able to find are not exactly perfect. The nicely square solid ones are all “consigned” which means they are destined to be returned to the delivery company. In other words we end up with the odd-sized ones which nobody else wants. Still, at least they’re free, so I shouldn’t complain. It just means I need to add more slats of wood in order to create pallets of uniform size. And the little half- and quarter-pallets will come in handy too; I will cut the slats into uniform lengths and make them into shingles for the future porch over the kitchen door.
More bad news is that it looks like my bonsai trees have died (with the exception of two pines). It was obviously too warm and dry inside the house. But if we’d left them outside they would have frozen solid anyway. Pity.
The kitchen is now starting to take shape; the old kitchen sink was removed, and I used my rotary hammer to take the old tiles off the wall (they were stuck in place with high-powered industrial concrete, not tile adhesive, and I’m not joking). I’ve also built a supporting wall for the worktop. Now I need to fabricate some more copper pipe connections and the waste water connections, and the new kitchen sink can go in. I also need to use the router on one edge/end of the two pieces of worktop so that they form an “L” shape.
At least the gas cooker is now back in the kitchen instead of being in the living room, and I’ve drilled a hole through the external wall for the gas supply pipe. (There won’t be enough room for the gas cylinder, so it will have to go outside). This means I need to build an outside “cupboard” for it. So I may as well divide this cupboard into two sections with the upper section being used to store some firewood. Which means I then need to make a hatchway through the kitchen wall so that the wood can be accessed. Oh there’s no end to the fun! Still, this will free up even more room in the kitchen as we can then get rid of the woodbox (which is a home-made cupboard constructed from what looks like the shell of an old kitchen range).