Bedroom 033 Wm


Progress has been made.


Bedroom 026 Wm


On the floor, amongst rotten ceiling laths and general detritus, there is a massive bees’ nest. An old one thankfully. No live bees. How long it had been there is anyone’s guess. It was certainly taking up a huge area on the underside of the thatch.

To fill the gaps between the stones on the chimney stack lime mortar was literally hurled at them by the trowel full. Fun? Possibly. Messy? Oh yes. But effective.


Bedroom 027 Wm


Replacement laths

It felt a good deal better to have the holes in the ceiling closed in. The mice could still peek, but they’d now struggle to get through.. Best to get some render up before they start a-nibbling..


Bedroom 028 Wm


The first application of render is known as the ‘scratch coat’. Where there’s a big hole to fill the builders add a bit of hardcore for stability. The best things to use, apparently, are chunks of terracotta. So we’ve now added our own layer to the history of the house.. a few pieces of the broken flower pots I’d been using for drainage in new containers!


Spider 001


I wonder if the performance of a spider’s web is enhanced or compromised by the addition of builders’ dust? Probably the latter. Only a fly in urgent need of optical correction would miss seeing it now.


Bedroom 029 Wm


The top coat of render


Bedroom 030 Wm


The plasterers are still giving us odd days between other jobs and it’s working well. It makes sense to get the most out of the time they can spend with us and if there are jobs we can do between their visits then so much the better. Any downward impact on the final bill won’t go amiss either. This is turning into a hugely expensive, and unplanned, addition to the project. On the positive side they are doing a truly excellent job. We couldn’t be more pleased.

Thus, at the completion of each phase Mike is given his homework. For most of last week he was channelling the walls for new electrical sockets and switches, paint stripping beams and the doorframes plus a door. A few marks may have been deducted for overfilling one of his channels but hey, an A- for a first attempt can’t be bad..


Bedroom 031 Wm


This week he’s been chipping away loose pointing from the fireplace stonework in readiness for the new. A gold star from teacher without a doubt. And, failing that, we have Liquid Gold. It’s a bonding agent. The unofficial moniker will undoubtedly have come about from the eye watering cost of the stuff as opposed to its chemical composition or physical state. The skim coat, the final application of lime plaster, will adhere to new render easily enough but not so much to the older plaster still on the walls. Mike’s mission, which he has chosen to accept, is to paint all the older surfaces with the Liquid Gold.


Bedroom 032 Wm


Should keep him out of trouble for a while..?


2017-10-26T10:43:47+00:00August 18th, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Christina August 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    You are both amazing! I’m exhausted just reading about what you are doing.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks Christina. It is exhausting. Mostly for Mike at the moment, but my time will come..

  2. Backlane Notebook August 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    We’ve done a lot of patching in our 250 year old house and it looks so much nicer than new if it’s possible to avoid it. Great progress and that’s such a pretty room.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      There is so much character in older properties isn’t there. I hope that what we are doing is bringing some of that character back.

  3. Jo August 18, 2016 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Progress is definitely being made. Mick’s going to decorate the kitchen this weekend, I think I’ll show him your posts, the kitchen will seem like a doddle then (actually it is, it just needs a lick of paint really).

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      Oh, good luck with the kitchen. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most disruptive of places to decorate. But keep thinking.. it will be worth it when it’s done!

  4. Christina August 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, gosh, the renovation of your ancient cottage is truly fascinating! I love that you use all the old building techniques and ‘getting it right’, even though I can imagine that it is quite a pricey undertaking. But so worth it at the end, I am sure!
    Hope you both enjoy the process with all the ups and downs, in a way, I feel it is a privilege that you are able to do it and get to live in such a wonderful house. So much history and, as you said, you leave your own mark now :-). Awesome!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      It’s uncovering the history that I enjoy the most. Taking up carpets and then floorboards and seeing what you can discover underneath. The fireplace is a triumph. It had been boarded up. Then when we knocked through it was black and horrible. But now that the original stonework and beam have been revealed it’s gorgeous!

  5. Jayne Hill August 18, 2016 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    The end result will be utterly gorgeous:). Know exactly what you mean about budgets and plans going out the window . . . Sorry to have been AWOL recently, but love to see your progress.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jayne. Don’t worry about AWOL. I have been struggling to keep up myself. There are just not enough hours in the day.

  6. Sue Garrett August 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I’m looking forward to seeing the completion photos but I bet not even half as much as you are looking forward to having it completed.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Oh absolutely Sue. I’m so sick of the dust. Sanding the floor will be the next crisis point. It really is amazing how far dust will travel. The kitchen is the furthest room from the bedroom and I still have to sweep dust off the hob each time I want to use it.

  7. Pauline August 18, 2016 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    What a lot of work, I’m exhausted just reading all about your project! It will look truly wonderful when it is completely finished and you can then have a rest!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Thanks Pauline. It seems never ending, what with the garden as well. But I think a short rest will be in order.

  8. jannaschreier August 18, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    You are definitely getting there!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Oh I do hope so. Each stage completed gets us a bit nearer. At least it looks a bit tidier than when you saw it, the builders have had a bit of a clear up!

  9. Kris P August 18, 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    What a monumental task you’ve taken on! But the progress is evident. Are you chilling the champagne to celebrate completion yet?

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Most definitely. Camping out in the dining room has lost all its appeal. If it ever had any in the first place..

  10. Freda August 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Great work and I ADORE that little window.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      It’s cute isn’t it. It will end up behind the bed so I can look out over the garden when I wake up.

  11. wherefivevalleysmeet August 18, 2016 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    It’s going to be a delightful room – is it a bedroom?

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosemary. Yes, the main bedroom.

  12. Anne Wheaton August 18, 2016 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Wonderful renovation and lovely that you’re adding your own layer. Nice to think that in a couple of hundred years someone might wonder who put those bits of flower pot there.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      That’s what I love so much about older buildings, the quirkiness. When we stripped back our last house we found an old table leg used as a lintel above a window.

  13. sustainablemum August 18, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Wow, a huge job and an ever-increasing one by the sounds of things. I am sure it will be worth it in the end?

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      I’m sure it will be worth it. Already it is a completely different room from when we moved in and the nice thing is it’s going back to how it was originally meant to be.

  14. CJ August 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    It’s coming on beautifully. I’m enjoying learning a little about restoring an old cottage and how the various layers are created. Nice that Mike is getting to have a go at things as well. Nothing for you to do…? CJ xx

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      At the moment I’m retreating to the garden at every available opportunity. The dust and the builders’ radio are driving me nuts. My bit comes later.. only too soon I shall be on my hands and knees liming and waxing the floorboards. I really can’t wait.

  15. bumbleandme August 18, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Jessica and Mike, it looks amazing! Well done. X

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It really is worth all the effort isn’t it? A real sense of achievement.

  16. hoehoegrowHoe hoe grow August 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    What a great room, well worth all your mahoosive efforts ! That little window is just begging to be peeped through !!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      The window looks out over the garden and it’s wonderful, especially at night. I’ve watched owls from there. Before the big tree had to come down they would sit in its branches about six feet from the walls of the house.

  17. annamadeit August 19, 2016 at 5:27 am - Reply

    When you are done, your cottage will be absolutely, storytelling magical!!! Love to see your progress!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anna. It’s a fun project… most of the time!!

  18. germac4 August 19, 2016 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Very interesting watching your progress, and what an effort for both of you…….and keeping up a beautiful garden…gold stars all round I say!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      The garden is my escape. I don’t know what I would do without it.

  19. Denise August 19, 2016 at 9:48 am - Reply

    This is all very informative, and explained in a clear, accessible way. Hope you are planning to publish a ‘Renovate a Cottage’ book at the end?
    (P.S When I was hacking back the undergrowth here, I found a wasp nest in a trug under a rhubarb plant. It was still inhabited…)

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      There could be a whole series. Perhaps ‘How to renovate a cottage and stay sane’ or ‘How to renovate a cottage and stay married’ or ‘Why renovate a cottage at all when you can buy a brand new one and probably cheaper?’.
      A wasp nest in a trug under a rhubarb plant? Someone hid it there? That takes brushing a problem under the carpet to a whole new level.

  20. derrickjknight August 19, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

    We’ve done very little inside while we’ve been refurbishing the garden. You haven’t had that luxury. Great project

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      This explains why you are so much further ahead with the garden than I am.

  21. Chloris August 19, 2016 at 11:03 am - Reply

    My goodness, the jobs you tackle and what perfectionists you are. You seem to have endless energy. Surely you will run out of jobs soon and will be able to sit back and admire your handiwork? But then of course your slope is an on- going project.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      This is only the third room so much left to do. They are all such big projects that’s the trouble. Our running rate of one per 18 months is about as much as we can handle!

  22. biggardenblog August 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    [J] Regarding bonding to old plaster, the problem is two fold: dusty, powdery surface, or extremely porous and dry (or more likely both those things). The dusty powdery surface can be improved with a brush or with a stabilizing solution (cheap), preferably both. However the dryness is much easier to treat: spray with water using a garden sprayer. The problem is that the dryness sucks the moisture out of the new plaster, making it unable to set properly and unable to bond. This is true of any kind of plaster – or even filler. I’m surprised you’re having to use a very expensive product. Treating the old plaster with a limewash can deal with both problems in one very very cheap solution.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      I think the problem here is that there are so many different surfaces.. lime plaster old and new, gypsum plaster (an unfortunate legacy), and even some paint. We’ve sanded a lot of it but impossible to get it all off.

  23. frayedattheedge August 19, 2016 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    It is all looking good – but I am disappointed that you didn’t wait for me to arrive with my trusty trowel and float!!

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      Well you did say you were rusty.. and besides, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the sconnage.

  24. Torrington Tina August 19, 2016 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    It’s coming along beautifully and looking forward to seeing the next stage. The sight of a bare cob wall and pile of rubble and laths in the corner brought back some memories of our ‘little project’.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      Hi TT and welcome!
      Isn’t it funny how quickly you become accustomed to such things. I used to look at holes in walls with such horror. Then last week Himself removed a floorboard, another bit of wall fell out and you’re thinking “Oh, not again..”

  25. pollymacleod August 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Looking good. I like the spider’s web, and spiders.

    • Jessica August 19, 2016 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      The web is absolutely caked with dust. I’m amazed the spider isn’t sneezing. Thanks Polly.

  26. Steve August 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Keep taking the photos. when you are finished you can remind yourself of the hell you went through to achieve your paradise.

    • Jessica August 20, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      No pain, no gain. So they say. It’s good to see it coming together, slowly. The most frustrating bit is waiting for all the various layers to fully dry out before the next one can be applied. And even when it’s all done there has to be at least another month before we can paint it.

  27. snowbird August 20, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Goodness me, that bedroom is looking fantastic! Good to see you are keeping the original character, it’s lovely.xxx

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Not just keeping, a lot of it had previously been covered up. It’s a completely different room from where we started. I wish we could do more but it’s prohibitively expensive.

  28. smallsunnygarden August 21, 2016 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Sneezing spiders and plastering with broken flower pots… 😀 But it’s looking grand! That’s one cottage that got lucky, I think!

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      I hope we’re extending its life as well as adding back the old character. And at least features like the fireplace were hidden in a way that made it reversible.

  29. Linda P. August 21, 2016 at 9:50 am - Reply

    What can I say? Catching up with your news I’m amazed at how much you’ve done in the garden and on the bedroom renovation project in the last month or two. As usual I’ve enjoyed seeing the photos of so many lovely plants and the different stages of the renovation is also very interesting. Once again it must be good to have professional help, but I know that you and Mike are also working hard with patience needed at each stage as the plaster dries out. I also enjoyed your visits to different gardens. I hope you get more time to relax, be inspired in that way before the season to visit such places ends and the weather is kind so that you can enjoy time gardening.

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      I know we don’t get the balance right between working and relaxing and I wish we could. There is just so much to do and when you’re working with others it has to be done to their schedule. But after a lousy weekend the weather is supposed to be picking up now so hopefully more gardening can get done.

  30. stephanie August 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    what an adventure…..and how much you (and I vicariously!!!) are learning. Hopefully, all this knowledge won’t have to be put to the test after the project is ‘done’!!! It’s going to be amazing when finished!!!!!!

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      The learning is important because it means we can do so much more ourselves when the next room gets done. The trouble is, the experts make it all look too easy!

  31. bittster August 21, 2016 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Amazing. You are really setting the place up for the next hundred years!

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I hope so. I want to rest easy in the knowledge that each room is properly done when its done. Maybe a lick of paint in our lifetime, but structurally it should be secure.

  32. CherryPie August 22, 2016 at 12:13 am - Reply

    The progress looks amazing. This scale of project would be daunting for me…

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Sometimes it’s better not to know how bad it’s going to get, otherwise you’d never start!

  33. Wendy August 22, 2016 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I’m glad it’s all coming along so well – it’s certainly looking great. What a lovely room – and I love the little window! That is interesting about your (former) bees. Friends of mine have had honeybees in their roof for years and this summer for the first time the bees have started to come into one of the rooms, so I’m helping to organise their removal. I don’t suppose it will be an easy job!

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Eeek, no. I hope you can find them a more suitable home.

  34. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener August 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Serious progress, but I am exhausted just reading about it.

    • Jessica August 22, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Each room has turned into such a monumental project and we’re only on the third! It’s starting to feel like a lifetime’s work.

  35. hb August 23, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Nice work on the plaster. Your efforts are truly heroic.

    • Jessica August 23, 2016 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks Hoov. I know when it’s all over I’ll believe it was worth it. Till next time anyway.

  36. Island Threads August 23, 2016 at 8:20 am - Reply

    hard work indeed Jessica, however it is looking good you must feel pleased with the results of your hard work, reading this post it has just dawned on me why they probably don’t lath and plaster up here but dry line, no trees for the laths and no lime for plaster, it is only recently that plasterboard has been used, I also found myself wondering if the dry lining with modern insulation behind is warmer than plastered walls, my husband and I originally wanted to live in the south west, we didn’t due to high unemployment and no work in the 60s, one old cottage we viewed had a lath and plaster ceiling the hung down in the middle you could push it up with your hand as if it were a blanket pinned to the ceiling, Jessica, you are bring up deep memories with these posts 😉 Frances

    • Jessica August 23, 2016 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      It’s very true Frances. Regional variations come about because builders of the past used whatever was available locally. We had to replace a stone in the fireplace and just picked one up from the garden.. perfect match. How funny that you looked at the SW and we looked in Scotland. That cottage sounds as though it would have needed a lot of work. Perhaps best avoided!

  37. dunelight August 23, 2016 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Wow..that’s a lot of work. I took a class on using period correct lime plaster on heritage buildings…and thats a lot of work. It’s looking great though.

    So..I looked at your gravatar and could not figure out what the heck kinda duck that was. Now that I see your banner I get it. I have cat and faerie cutouts hidden amongst various plants. I like the look of the rust against the green.

    • Jessica August 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Hi and welcome!
      They are Indian runner ducks. If we weren’t surrounded by foxes I’d have real ones but as the rusty ones aren’t going to get eaten I’ll have to make do with those. Lime plastering is a lot of work but if a building has survived hundreds of years it deserves to be treated correctly. We’re learning. We’ve (well, Mike) have done some of it ourselves but the work required in this room was a step too far!

  38. ginaferrari August 24, 2016 at 10:14 am - Reply

    It’s looking good. Hard work but very satisfying I should imagine.

    • Jessica August 24, 2016 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      It will be satisfying when it’s done for sure. The trouble with lime plaster is the time it takes to dry between each coat. The plasterers only work on lime in summer for just that reason. But even so we spend weeks where nothing happens! Thanks Gina.

  39. Charles Bale August 24, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I love following your progress, the photo series is so exceptional.

    • Jessica August 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Charlie! Great to hear from you and I hope you’re well. I’ve been missing your posts.

  40. Basia Prym August 25, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Great work! Greetings!:))


    • Jessica August 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Thank you Basia and welcome!

  41. pbmgarden August 26, 2016 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Jessica, it is so amazing to see what you’ve undertaken. Love that idea that you’ve added your own layer to the history of the house.

    • Jessica August 26, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Susie. At least they left me some terracotta pieces so I still have drainage for my containers!

  42. Sol August 27, 2016 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Wow so much work. It looks good already. Wait to the paint, it is going to be amazing. Water paint going on here. its never ending. but if it is all done well then it will last for years, just like your place. Good luck. 😉

    • Jessica August 28, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      Oh, I can’t wait to get to the paint stage! The lime plaster has to completely dry out between coats and it’s taking its time. We could do with some warmer weather down here. Thanks Sol.

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