The rendering of the archway is now complete. Actually I’ve come to the conclusion that rendering (plastering the surface of a wall or ceiling) is my new least-favourite job in the world. Especially when it comes to applying lime render to a horizontal surface like the underside of the arch.
There’s a special technique for applying render in this way. I just haven’t found it yet. The surface has to be at exactly the right degree of dampness. Too wet – the render falls off. Too dry – the render falls off. It’s not the smoothest surface you’ve ever seen, but it’s done; once it’s painted you won’t notice it. I left the bricks exposed on the barn side of the wall, as I’m rather pleased with their appearance. Now I just need to clean up all the splashes of render on the tiled floor; fortunately lime render washes off quite easily.
The next phase of the project can then get under way; a lime concrete floor in the barn. LSS made a start several months ago, removing the top 30cm or so of the dirt floor in one corner. The rest of this “bathroom area” needs to be excavated. The soil which is removed is being piled up near the pond; next summer when the pond water level is sufficiently low, the soil will be used to repair the remaining side of the pond which has suffered from erosion.
With the soil removed, a sub-base will then be installed using rubble (damaged bricks taken from the archway construction) and gravel. This will be compacted manually using the aged FIL’s tamper (a short section of railway track attached to a long oak handle something like this).
Then the wastewater pipe for the shower will be installed, and the concrete mixer will be switched on to start mixing the concrete for the floor. This will be done in 1m² sections so that I can ensure it’s level. There will be no need to construct expansion joints because I’m using lime instead of cement. Once the floor is complete I can then construct three partition walls and we’ll then have the shell of an indoor bathroom!
The boiler stove was lit once again because it was another cloudy day, with rain in the afternoon. I inadvertently put a few too many pieces of wood in the fire, with the result that the temperature at the top of the thermal store reached 75° C. Fortunately my safety-feature worked! The little LCD display showing the temperature at the top of the thermal store is also a thermostat, and if the temperature hits 75°, the central heating circuit switches on, so heat is dumped through the bedroom radiator. The temperature at the hot water tap was still around 55° C though.
Because of the ecological/economical design, we had to get used to the way the hot water supply works. If you turn the hot tap on fully, the water is not hot at all because it goes through the thermal store serpentine coil too quickly to pick up much heat. But if you open the hot tap only fractionally so that just a trickle emerges, it’s very hot indeed. So you can regulate the temperature by controlling how much water is coming out of the tap.
M&O came past in the evening to drop off a pheasant, a result of last weekend’s hunting. So guess what I’m doing tomorrow!
<Sings>I’m not the pheasant plucker,
I’m the pheasant plucker’s son,
And I’m only plucking pheasants
Till the pheasant plucker’s come.