“Best Let The Dust Settle A Bit..”


 

It seems that I’ve spent the best part of a year apologising for my intermittent absence from the blogging scene. And blow me, here we are again. It’s been another three weeks on the merry-go-round and for some reason the ‘stop’ button refuses to work no matter how many times you try to push it. But is there light at the end of the tunnel? Perhaps. Maybe. If we squint a bit, and if we whisper it very very quietly, could be there is.

 
 

 

Please excuse the poor quality of the photo. The light was very bad. But I had just one shot at it and couldn’t let the moment pass without recording for posterity these gorgeous slices of ash tree trunk before they disappeared off the premises again for their final transformation into window sills and seats.

 
 

 

The sitting room window seat.

No sooner had the wood been properly secured into place it was enveloped in plastic and frog tape, protected in readiness for the final stage of plastering.

 
 
 

 

‘Top coat’.. which, contrary to what you might be thinking, isn’t the end of the process at all..

 
 

 

.. because this is, the ‘Skim Coat’. Smooth enough to paint.

 
 

 

Skim Coat on the ceiling. As yet just the Top Coat on the walls.

 

But of course it wouldn’t be chez duck without a little bit of drama now would it.

It started with the re-pointing of the dining room fireplace. A fairly harmless, if not to say boring, task you might possibly surmise. Well, no. Because the methodical chipping out of old mortar eventually led, in a progressively upward direction, to the register plate. This is the sheet of metal which separates the fireplace and hearth from the open chimney stack. Apparently a few small pieces of mortar fell down from around the rim. Followed by some worryingly large chunks. Then the holler down the garden that I always dread. If the builders require an unscheduled audience it is almost always bad news. With some trepidation I presented myself in the dining room, wellies on, bulb planting fork in hand. The register plate is seemingly held up by nothing more than a few long nails and the entire assembly has now started to come loose.

A call out to the builders’ Top Man to make a technical judgement and, while we wait for his arrival, gardening activity resumes. Deep within the flower borders it’s easy to get absorbed by the stillness of the countryside, broken only by the gentle gurgling of the river in the distance and the buzzing of bees industriously collecting pollen from the last of the season’s blooms. Until… CRAAAASH! Oh, not AGAIN. Do you remember that scene at the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where they all leg it out of the Treasury at Petra followed by an enormous cloud of dust? Maybe the cast list here would present something of a let down against a vision of Harrison Ford and Sean Connery emerging at pace from our sitting room door. Notwithstanding, the general effect was the same.

As they rushed out, we made to rush in. The Boss, now speckled with as many shades of grey as a Farrow and Ball colour chart, held up a cautionary hand. “I’d leave ‘er a while. Best let the dust settle a bit.” It turned out they’d decided to pull the register plate clean out of the chimney. The debris of goodness knows how many years fell swiftly down behind it.

 
 

 

And yet, as is so often the way, the cloud delivered its silver lining. In exposing the inside of the chimney the builders discovered that part of the stonework had started to bulge inwards. The following day they were back, with a newly purchased lintel and an assortment of bricks. It’s safe now. Which possibly it might not have been before.

“Hellooooooo, anyone up there?” The spider didn’t answer back.

 
 

 

Register plate securely replaced and repainted. That stove paint is mighty powerful stuff. It filled the house with fumes for hours.

 
 

 

And the re-pointing complete. So much better than the solid black of the fireplace before it was sand blasted.

 
 

 

Our task now is to source York stone or similar with which to build a hearth. It’s proving easier said than done, but the search continues.

 
 

 

In the sitting room the original cobbled hearth has been repaired and restored. The builders carefully raised the front few stones to bring up the level to that of the main brick floor.

 
 

 

Might be needing this soon..

 

And finally.

A refuge from the dust if ever one was needed..

 
 

 

The greenhouse is up!

 A couple of bits of snagging to do. And note the careful use of foliage to screen out the building site in which it still sits.

 
 

 

The way things are going with the weather it may even get a moat.