Sunday, 25 April 2010

Three ticks, bamboo and fireplaces

A very productive weekend, on a number of counts.

First, Ady has plastered the dining room and the ceiling of the Blue Room - awesome!

Second, Simon managed, after some effing, blinding, several false starts and hammer-throwing exercises, to block up not one but ALL THREE of the fireplaces with battens and plasterboard.

Outside, Julia planted four clumps of bamboo where the pampas used to be, we cut down a small conifer and two Horse Chestnuts, found several clumps of Cowslips....

....AND scored with no fewer than three garden ticks - Shelduck, Swift and quite a few Common Terns flying around, carrying fish and calling. Summer is a-coming in.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Various jobs completed today, leaving it ready for Adie to start plastering! All the coving in the "old" part of the house has now gone, and all the carpets are up, and all the wallpaper has been stripped. Simon even managed to get the metal fire back out of the wall somehow....

In the garden, the walls are completely free from ivy at last, yet more of the chicken wire fence has gone, and most importantly, Olly Cracknell returned to grub out the pampas grass - yippee! And another garden bird, although heard only - Kingfisher.

Olly gets mean with the pampas grass

The site of destruction

Friday, 16 April 2010

Getting plastered - nearly

We had Adie the Plasterer in today to spec us up for some wall skimming and (better still) Artex covering. He is going to start work on Monday, so we set to and tried to finish stripping all the wallpaper and removing all the coving in the old, front part of the house.

Didn't quite finish, but almost done now!

A (now healthy) Julia admires Simon's targeted destruction skills....

....and her own devastation ability, too.

And yet another tick - Stock Dove - took the garden list to a scarcely believable 75!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Demolition derby

The fun jobs are so often the destructive ones. After hours spent removing the coving in the dining room and the "blue" bedroom yesterday (smash! bang! crowbar!), today it was the turn of the "green" bedroom.

First to go were the rather grotesque fitted wardrobes - kerbam! Huge fun destroying MFI's finest handiwork, with a combination of screwdriver, hammer and judicious use of the foot....

It was amusing to unwire all the complex electricals hidden behind as well, and a bit of insulating tape finished the job and made it safe.

Next, however, was a purely mechanical number - the unwanted fireplace! Here's what it looked like back in October 2009:

But a few minutes with a brick chisel and huge amounts of heroism did THIS to it!

Now we just need to learn how to brick it all up again, and it'll be ready for a coat of fresh plaster!

Monday, 12 April 2010


Another important milestone completed this weekend, with no little help from Dad (thanks Dad!). The bathroom is tiled and grouted! It was a bit epic, but about 12 hours of work finally saw the Herculean labour completed. Really, really satisfying to get it all done - complete with diamond-tipped circular saw fun with tiny marble tiles.....

A proud father brings the tiled marble look into the world

Working hard at the micro-tiles....

Grouted and gorgeous

Not to mention the shower cubicle - note
the very fiddly half tiles in the corner....heroes at work

Also a good stretch of the chicken wire fence along the old boundary removed, and now 74 species on the garden list - recent additions being Feral Pigeon (!), Willow Warbler, Great Black-backed Gull and Sand Martin. On the wet patch two fields west, there has been quite a ot of goose activity - several pairs of Greylags and Canadas, plus two Shelduck and (better still) a Blashford tick in the form of two Egyptian Geese.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A mighty task complete!

Yes! Finally completed all the log splitting, creating something like 13 cubic metres of firewood for winter 2011-12. Well, not quite ALL the logs split - the very big and very awkward ones have been delightfully formed into a landscape "feature" down in the woodland glade to be! Maybe one or two will fall to the axe yet.

Simon asserting his macho credentials - cord-tastic!

Julia being deeply feminine in a glade - despite having a stinking cold

A gorgeous spring day today - lots flying about and buzzing - notably Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies, and a couple of Swallows. Also another new garden bird today - a Lapwing (at last) mobbing one of the local Buzzards over the wet fields to the west of us. And a day or two ago a Noctule bat was a garden tick at dusk as well.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Easter action

Post our return from the Morocco school trip, we had our good friends Chris and Jacky down from Norfolk to visit over the Easter weekend. It was great to catch up, and of course to enjoy a day at our Rupert has been very busy smashing things up, but the corner has now been turned, with the bathroom now recognisable, and tiling imminent.

Despite his bad knee, Chris managed to be very helpful in the destruction of more logs, and added a great bird to the garden list (as he annoyingly did with Lesser Whitethroat back in Winchester 10 years ago!) - RED KITE! A very smart 1st winter wheeling about over the field and driftng north over Snails Lake.

Other new birds this week have been rather more predictable - Swallow, House Martin (but no Sand Martin yet - although they are "in" in numbers at the Lakes), Chiffchaff and (some quality here) a female Goldeneye overhead. Now up to 70 species! There are still a few Bramblings about, looking smarter by the day, as well as plenty of Reed Buntings looking resplendent, and regular visits from Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Even the Rooks tried their hand at feeding from the fat balls yesterday!