A Setback. Nothing Trivial.

It is pouring with rain and therefore there’s no escape.

This June has been a lousy start to summer so far. Today it’s a mere 11C. The sort of day when you’d retreat to the sitting room, if you had a serviceable one, and curl up on the sofa with a good book. Maybe even consider lighting the woodburner. I could perch on one of the kitchen bar stools I suppose, but it’s a bit of a thoroughfare in there. So I have opted for my study, with the door tightly shut and a draught excluder rammed into the gap at the bottom to catch the worst of the dust. Because less than six feet from the other side of the door the builders are taking the corridor ceiling down. Why? Well that’s a very good question.

One recent Friday evening Mike and I were sitting in our respective studies (refer to absence of a sitting room, above) and heard a large CRACKKK which came from the direction of the bathroom. Fearing the worst we both rushed down the corridor to take a look. All appeared as it should be. It wasn’t until later, when Mike was up in the roof space, that he spotted a possible cause. A purlin, one of the roof timbers, has shifted slightly and the cob wall underneath it partially collapsed.



The roofspace is two floors above the sitting room, the current focus of work, so more than likely this was an unrelated event, something just waiting to happen. One of those things. But if it was going to happen at all there is surely no better time than when you have specialists dealing in ancient buildings already set up on site. And we do need to fix it. That’s now THREE separate projects on the go.

The solution is to rebuild the wall underneath the purlin. It could have been worse, much much worse, the purlin itself might have failed. It is, after all, many hundreds of years old. There is usually only one way to replace a purlin. The thatch has to be taken off the roof, the rafters removed, the old beam craned out and a new one lowered in from above. So it seems we got away lightly. But as the builder said in his lovely deep West Country accent: “The biggest problem be to get at ‘er.” And indeed that is a risk. The floor of this section of the roofspace is extremely fragile. What’s underneath? The worst it could be. The new bathroom which cost a small fortune and took the best part of a year to build.

And is that the only obstacle? Of course not.



The roof hatch is a minuscule 10 inches wide. Before they can even think about boarding and strengthening the floor of the roofspace the hatch will need to be enlarged. “Eeeee.. you couldn’t even get a bucket up through there..”

And so it is that once again this afternoon my teeth are pulsating in tune with the multicutter, the tool of choice, as ubiquitous in the trade as builders’ tea and the Makita boombox radio. It’s not so much the decibels, it’s the tormenting whine of it, like the biggest, angriest and most tenacious insect you could ever not wish to meet. Wish me luck.