“Lights go out, walls come tumbling down”

Style Council

My wall has been condemned.

In any battle to preserve the old, there will be casualties.

I love this old door frame. I refused to part with it, so Trevor hand built this door to fit the aperture in 2017. It is, at least, fixed to the similarly aged wooden floor in the tulip room. Probably 18th century. We think it was the doorway at the top of the old stairs that we believe were once here to access the loft.

The rogue wall around it is not fixed to anything, not even the ceiling. We know that now.

The guys carefully boarded around and above it on the marathon ceiling panelling project. Then Justin raised concerns regarding the safety of said wall. In the spirit of necessary investigation, he removed the section above the door. It is unstable in the extreme. The rest is coming down in controlled fashion tomorrow before Justin’s prophecy that it will fall on someone actually comes to pass. Always best we find these things out before we go further. If you don’t like shocks, suprises or big curve-balls, do not buy an old house.

Justin says that there are no problems, only solutions. Trev thinks that there are just problems, some without solutions. I have gone from “poor old wall” to “just save my doorway” to “EUREKA!!!!” ; we can now have a framed, glazed panel over doorway instead of (not) solid wall. Look how this formerly dark corner has been lit up by the new gaping hole!




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Ceiling progress

img_20190107_1518361427390450.jpgNot a great photo, sorry, but I thought you might like to see how the tulip room ceiling is going.

Any concerns regarding the guys’ decision to lay the wood lengthwise have evaporated; it looks great.

There has been much discussion regarding the position of the copper fan/light fitting to avoid clashing with either the big beam or the bed drapes.

The revolting little metal roof window will be replaced with a bigger roof window with a sunshade, as this room gets lots and lots of sun.

It feels totally different in character here to the the terrace bedroom. This side of the house does not even feel as if it is in the same time zone as the barn side.

We have to decide how the stone wall above the plastered sections will be finished too.

I had the romantic idea of just cleaning and stabilising the stone work. No, not practical.

Justin has come up with the idea of pointing modestly with a gritty sand mixed in with the lime mortar. This will give a flinty character to the pointing. Authentic rustique chic .

My house does not entertain fuss, frills or twiddly bits. I think it’s probably right. I’m getting a bit that way myself


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Strange days

It’s an odd few days.

I just read somewhere that within the hinterland twixt Boxing Day and December 30th you are not entirely sure who you are, where you are or what you are supposed to be doing.

There is some truth in this.

Of course it depends how you are spending this time. I have children both arriving and departing tomorrow (similar times but different airports …….aargghh!!!) so that is slightly discombobulating also

This space between always makes me look back toward wasted opportunities and I dig into deep analysis of stuff that I might have done better or handled more astutely.

Then I look ahead and search my soul for how best to move forward into this new and challenging year with the tools that I have.

The choices are wider than usual. I have more than one creative project simmering away, but my energy is being sapped by annoying domestic stuff and the uncertainty of Brexit is a constant backstory.

In truth, I feel the same as I did in June 2016. The future is, more than ever, uncertain: what is far worse is that this time there is nothing that I, personally, can do to change this.

If I’m honest, I’m angry.

I am thinking of the lyrics to “Telling stories” by Tracy Chapman. If my unfinished stories are ever siezed upon by a film or tv company I would insist that this be the theme song .

There is fiction in the space between. But there are also many valuable truths.

What are you up to out there?

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Panneaux de plafond-The last ceilings go up

At last, the two unfinished ceilings in the tulip bedroom and the adjoining second floor shower room are being addressed.

Unfinished might be an understatement. Since we took down the weird, tiled, low faux ceiling in 2008, these two rooms have been open to the underside of the roof.

Trev and Justin have developed a pad, plinth, panneau technique here. Basically, they have cut and fixed small pads of wood (9 mm x 28mm wide x 4cm long) at regular intervals along the joists.

To these are nailed (nail gun) across long, slim  pieces of wood (same thickness) that fulfill two purposes (a) to hold up the insulation and (b) act as a frame for the final fix, being sections of 10mm wide, thick  lambris panelling  laid lengthways. bottom photo.

This panelling is unclassified pine board.

We have chosen to use this material before. The “imperfections” merely add character  to our rooms and have a very authentic look and feel. Perfect, machine planed timber, so smooth and neat it looks like laminate flooring is not a look I want here.

I was sceptical about their decision not to lay the panelling across at right angles to the joists, but having seen the section they have done in the shower room, I am happy with this from both visual and practical points of view.

The insulation is the last of the carbon zero stuff we bought in the UK, made from reycled bottles.  (Do a search on “carbon zero” for an earlier post on this material).

It still requires care in use  (masks, goggles etc) but it is effective for sound and heat insulation and is  fireproof; important as will be butted up to stove outlet as it goes up through the roof.

And, what could be more eco- friendly than using what we already have?

No waste, no need to purchase more “stuff” .

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Dog discovers fire

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After ten years of sitting in the salon; unconnected to flue/roof/stove pipes/chimney, we have a functional wood burning stove.img_20181201_1925581938181319.jpg



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Fast Food.img_20181128_0919531384053820.jpg

We are lucky to know a very knowledgeable guy who picks and sells mushrooms locally. Always super fresh, clean and ready to cook.

These were pan fried with butter and black pepper and piled on toast with Grana Padano grated over the top.

Five ingredients. There is a theory that a five ingredient meal offers a simple but perfect balance. Do debate.




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