26/07/2015

The latest batch of beer has now been bottled. Now unfortunately I need to wait at least two weeks before I know if it’s any good or not!

LSS and I took advantage of the low water level in the pond to reinforce one of the eroded banks. We used old tyres which we filled with bricks and rubble left over from the creation of the doorways into the barn. Any bricks which were undamaged were put in a separate pile; these will be re-used for constructing an external cupboard next to the kitchen. This will contain the gas cylinder used for the cooker, and the upper part will hold ready-use firewood which will be accessed through a hatchway in the kitchen wall. Once this is in place we will be able to get rid of the current wood cupboard in the kitchen, which will free up quite a bit of floor space!

Once the first level of tyres were in place, we backfilled the gaps using the soil/clay which we had dug out of the barn when laying the new limecrete floor. Then the next layer of tyres/rubble/soil went in. All in all we installed four layers of tyres, and the bank of the pond is already looking better. There is one final section still to do, but the pond is deeper there so we’ll need to wait for the water level to drop a bit more. One thing we’re pleased about is that the greywater reedbed empties its cleaned, filtered water into the pond; if we had not installed it this way the pond would probably have dried up completely by now.

I have also poured the reinforced concrete lintels for three of the four windows in the barn. I’m keeping the concrete damp for a week by spraying it with water daily. This helps to ensure that the concrete sets more slowly, and is therefore stronger. Next week I’ll remove the concrete from the wooden boxes and we’ll see whether the casting was any good. When pouring concrete, it’s important that it’s vibrated in order to get rid of any air bubbles and to ensure it’s properly compacted. I used my reciprocating saw (without a blade, obviously!) to give the concrete those good vibrations. I simply ran the foot of the saw along all sides of the wooden box until air bubbles stopped appearing at the top of the concrete.

A while ago I had seen that the aged FIL’s neighbour had an old refrigerator in one of his sheds. On the way to check the contents of the aged FIL’s postbox we stopped there for a brief chat, and asked him about it. He replied that it was no longer working, and was waiting until such time as he could take it to the dump. I asked if we could have it, and he was quite happy to say we could. So I now have an old refrigerator which I’m going to convert into a cold smoker; both to smoke some rabbit pelts (as an experiment; apparently wood-smoked skins are more waterproof) and possibly some cuts of meat. I already have lots of oak woodchips, courtesy of the chainsaw!

We also recovered an old bathroom sink and pedestal from the aged FIL’s shed. LSS cleaned it up, and it looks quite presentable; we’ll be able to use it in our own bathroom. It just needs a new tap and drain. And once it’s installed I’ll be able to stop using a rechargeable shaver!

We haven’t yet had a chance to look for the travertine floor tiles; but we’re going on Tuesday next week. As the place is near Tours we’ll stop there and have lunch with a friend of ours.

And finally, our next-door neighbours are on holiday next week, and kindly offered us the use of their swimming pool whilst they were away. Of course no sooner was this offer made, than the weather turned grey and overcast. Typical.

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