So. When we left the bedroom last time this is how it looked.
Mike has been laboriously stripping the woodchip paper off the walls. In places it was loose and he was ripping off feet of it at a time. But for the majority it’s been inch by inch. Soul destroying work. But there was one job in particular I was itching to do: that fireplace hidden behind the paper on the left hand wall.
A stout kick from Mike’s boot. Bit tougher than he thought. Enter the high tech cutting tool and the plasterboard came effortlessly away..
Black. Why did it have to be black?
It was paint too, unfortunately. Just like the beams.
It’s a devil of a job finding tradesmen down here. Most of the good ones are booked up for weeks. But just to prove that every cloud really does have a silver lining, last week it was raining. Not an unexpected turn of events in Devon, fortuitous nonetheless. Mike was concerned about some loose mortar underneath the main ceiling beam. We rang the chap who rebuilt the chimney for us last year, a bit of a flyer because his lead time is at least a month. But lo, he was working on an outside job and, given that conditions had just turned inclement, could he come round.. tomorrow? Whilst he was here I sought his opinion on the fireplace. “Aaah. Only one thing that’ll get that lot off. Sandblasting.”
Gulp. I’d been considering something along those lines for the ceiling beams in the downstairs rooms. That had been too far into the future to get the adrenaline flowing just yet and besides, it was somewhere we could most likely contain the mess. But hauling all the sandblasting kit through the house, up the stairs and somehow seal off this room? Nightmare. I peered again into the dark black hole. “Do you know anyone who does sandblasting?”
“Aye.” He gave us a name. “You’ll find his number on the internet.”
Mike gave the man a call. He got straight through. Turned out the sandblaster had been working on an outside job as well. And yes, it was still raining. Maybe he could come round.. tomorrow? Our fate was sealed.
10 o’clock he said.
Dustsheets. Check. Everything in the sitting room below corralled into the centre and very carefully covered up.
Masking tape. Check. Once man and his blaster were safely installed we would seal him in. Oh yes.
And oh, what a performance. The air, under pressure, required for sandblasting is generated by a compressor located in a trailer on the drive. A hose runs from that to a witches cauldron full of sand positioned, as it turned out, far too close to the vertical front face of the Precipitous Bank. A second hose then runs from the ‘cauldron’ along the path, up the side of the house and in through the bedroom window.
But there’s a problem. Of course there is. Was it ever thus. Each time Mr Sandblaster fires up his kit the cauldron blows a safety valve. Compressed air and sand explode in a swathe across the face of the bank. The ferns will never be the same again. A pressure adjustment is called for but as Mr S is by this time imprisoned courtesy of half a roll of masking tape the job falls to Mike, following instructions hollered at him via the open window. It took several attempts, Mike retreating hastily to a safe distance each time my poor ferns suffered another blast.
Optimum pressure eventually attained we stood outside to watch. Oh how I wish I’d taken the camera. Plumes of dust billowed from each of the three bedroom windows. Like a rocket on the launch pad just seconds from blast off. It took less than half an hour. Setting it all up in the first place had taken longer. The masking tape was ripped off the bedroom door and, cautiously, we stepped inside..
Picture taken after the clear up. Obviously. You can see Mike letting me loose with the DSLR with that cloud of dust still hanging in the air. But what a transformation. All it needs now is a nice bit of slate in the hearth and we’ll be in business.
There has been collateral damage. Much of the render on the chimney stack turned out to be weak and fell away. We’ve talked long and hard about removing it all and leaving the whole chimney stack exposed. But the stonework is rough. Compare it to the facing stone inside the fireplace, always intended to be seen. Re-rendering the rough stone is the way to go.
And having gone to all this trouble, what about the black ceiling beams in this room?
So much better
The original character is gradually returning, no?