Traditional Easter

Easter weekend and DIY – as British a tradition as toast and Marmite 🙂  We have been no exception, although I had to bow out gracefully today because I’ve pulled a muscle in my back.  We’ve made progress though.

Mick has plasterboarded one of the dormers upstairs.  Originally this was just a flat ceiling, but I wanted it opened up and I’m glad we have, though it’s going to be a git to plaster.

Talking of which, I’ve nearly finished plastering the kitchen – just the sides of the chimney breast and the window to go.  Mick started to sand down the dried stuff, but his lovely new random orbital sander worked for about 15 minutes and then the motor burned out, so that’s going to be a phone call to the place he bought it tomorrow!

While I’ve been plastering, Mick has been plumbing and the shower mixer is now plumbed in and plasterboarded over.  We thought we could hear a drip, but when Mick took the right-hand sheet of plasterboard off, everything was bone dry and we couldn’t hear it any more, which is a bit strange.  We’ve left the plasterboard off for now and will investigate properly next weekend.

Spoils of my last shopping trip – black slate to tile the shower with, a mosaic tile for a border, teal paint for the double bedroom, grey for the living room, platinum for the bathroom (which will have one dark grey feature wall opposite the shower) and sage green for the single bedroom.

Pete’s done an amazing job with the fireplace.  The mortar has faded as it’s dried (the close-up was taken on Friday, the wider angle today) and all he has left to do is clean the stone up and then he can fit the stove.  I’ll be asking David to finish it off by doing a return back to the stone and then a simple wood frame around it, painted white.

I heard back from my friendly mortgage broker on Thursday.  He wants to approach two different lenders and asked me to fill out a chunky form with all our financial information and send it to him, together with Mick’s payslips, my tax returns and copies of our credit reports.  I’ve pulled it all together over the weekend and emailed it over today, so all I can do now is cross my fingers.

Treading water

Last weekend Mick levelled the bathroom floor:

So we’re ready for Derek and his team to come back and put the rest of the heating in, but they’re tied up on a job up the road in Bettyhill at the moment – however, they’re hoping to finish it on Thursday and then will be back 🙂

We’re expecting a bit of a breeze on Wednesday (this is Highland for up to 70mph), so Mick has come up with a clever way to keep the remaining part of the corrugated iron roof in place until Pete has time to replace it.  (Plus this picture is proof for my accountant that the two haynets I bought yesterday are a legitimate property expense – the other one is on the other side!)

For now, though, it’s sunny and mild, so what better day to get the tractor out of the shed after its winter lay-up?  It started first time and Mick has had a happy morning raising the clutch a bit and chugging around with a big grin on his face.

So fingers crossed Derek and team can make it to us next week and then we can start the final push.  I was on a smallholding forum this morning and found a post from someone wanting a croft to do some filming on at the beginning of May, so I’ve replied to see if Ethel’s would be suitable – with a warning that it might not be finished by then if they want to shoot interiors!

A very big delivery

We’ve made some pretty good progress this week.  Dougie has now got about as far as he can with the electrics until the studwall goes in, but we now have all the cables coming down the walls to where the sockets and switches will be, and they’re all neatly bundled up where the fusebox will be moved to on the landing.

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As we had a bit of bad weather earlier in the week, I asked Pete and the guys to take the kitchen and bathroom ceilings down – Mick strained his back over the weekend so we weren’t able to do it ourselves and I didn’t want it to hold Dougie up.  They found the kitchen ceiling was painted, so at some point it must have just been open to the floorboards above.  I’m very wary about going upstairs now though, as I don’t want to fall through Dougie’s cable runs!

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We did have our first on-site accident though – a dropped crowbar whilst taking down the bathroom ceiling unfortunately bounced the wrong way off the stepladder and took out the sink.

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Never mind, it wasn’t a particularly pretty basin, I’m almost pleased to have a good excuse for replacing it!  The bathroom ceiling is nothing to write home about and will be covered up with plasterboard once Dougie has done his stuff.

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Today is Mick’s birthday and fittingly we had a very, very large delivery – all the Quinn Therm insulation and my flooring 🙂  It took up most of the Rembrand lorry on its weekly trip west!

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Amazingly we just about managed to squeeze it all into the living room.  In theory, once David and Dougie have gone through upstairs, we can fit the 100mm stuff into the rafters, which will free up enough space for them to work in the living room.  In theory…!

We’ve had a pretty good day for weather today, which means the roof has made great progress.

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Fingers crossed we can get hold of David for next week, otherwise we’re going to grind to a halt again, but for now we’re moving forwards at pace.

Mick’s big week off

So my lovely husband decided that he needed a week off work, since he hadn’t had any time off yet this year, and last week he put in a massive effort to get the house more or less ready for the trades to start.

He got a little over-enthusiastic in the bathroom – we’ll have to rig up a sheet for some privacy!  Pete, Dougie and David all know each other well, but possibly not THAT well!!

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Bedroom one – wall ready for raking out and repointing.  You know that the hot water cylinder was there a long time when there’s a perfectly circular dent in the floorboards.

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Studwork removed between the rooms upstairs – that’s standing in bedroom one, looking through bedroom three/the landing to bedroom two.

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Lime plaster coming off downstairs.  Still waiting for the final verdict on supporting that lintel, which means it’s not a ‘No’ yet!

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Living room lime plaster coming off.  I’m sure there are probably better, safer and faster ways to do it than knocking it off by whacking it with a hammer, but I did that wall in the second and third pictures (and about a wall’s-worth in the kitchen) and it’s bloody good fun!  On a more practical note, I am a lot happier with my balance on a stepladder than I was before I started.

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He really did pick the right week to take off – we’ve enjoyed some stunning weather here over the past 10 days.

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So we are more or less there on the stripping out part of the job.  Upstairs has now been swept up and is ready to go.  Downstairs we still need to bag up and remove the lime plaster on the floor, but decided that a better breathing mask were required first – the filters for it arrived today, so we should be able to get tidied up downstairs by the end of the weekend, particularly since the Rayburn was rehomed today to someone who’s prepared to give it some TLC and restore it (and he very kindly brought us a bottle of whisky to say thank you!).

Inside Ethel’s House

No, I haven’t completed and got the keys already, but I have finally made time to get some pics I took when we viewed it off the memory card and onto my PC.

The kitchen – needs some work and sadly I don’t think that range will make it.  However, the washing machine’s new and there’s another range wrapped in bubble wrap in one of the outbuildings – I’m waiting to find out if it’s included in the sale or not.

 

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Kitchen ceiling – we were slightly alarmed by this until we went upstairs and found a nearly new immersion heater above it!

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Bathroom – also very new, much of this can be kept.

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…though I might want to fiddle with the layout a little.

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Wiring – newer than I was expecting, but still going to be redone.

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Love this little cupboard in the panelling in the second bedroom.

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Standing in the second bedroom looking across the landing to the first.  The third is a tiny single off to the right.

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Original fireplace in the first bedroom.  The whole of the upstairs is panelled like this and much as I would love to keep it, it’s going to have to come off because the house isn’t insulated at all.  I’d hoped we’d be able to save it and put it back on, but a friend who’s renovated more than one of these says it’s impossible – if it doesn’t split when it comes off, it’ll split when you nail it back on.  May see if I can save enough to do the lower half of one room and glue it back on…

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New skirting board needed for the landing!  The home report did note woodworm, so one of the first jobs will be to seal up all the windows and doors and pump in some bug-killing chemicals.

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Holiday let – half home, half hotel

I’m writing this lying on the sofa in a hotel suite in Vienna (my husband’s been working out here, so we were able to access a corporate rate that made it less expensive than a tiny hotel room in London) which is my home from home for a few days and it’s got me thinking about what I can learn in terms of furnishing my holiday let from how this four-star hotel has decked out one of its best rooms.

Firstly, the shower.  I LOVE it.  It’s a combination shower with a fixed waterfall head and a separate hosed shower, a bit like this:

shower riser

(that one’s on sale at Victoria Plum at the moment).  Since I don’t have much space to play with in the bathroom and I’m not a fan of over-bath showers, I think this is a fab idea – we only have a rainfall head in our shower at home and it makes it a pain in the behind to (a) clean and (b) wash the dog!

In fact, the bathroom in general has been done beautifully – not quite enough space for his & hers sinks, sadly, but they’ve provided top-of-the-range toiletries and flannels for us, enormous white fluffy towels, enormous white fluffy bathrobes and there’s a separate loo.

They also score points for having HD Samsung TVs in both the living room and the bedroom and the pod-system coffee machine is a nice touch too (not that I drink it, but my husband is enjoying a morning caffeine jolt each day!).  The sofas are comfortable, there’s air conditioning and there’s a small balcony with a table and two chairs on it with stunning views over Vienna.  All things I can take and use (well, I can’t magic up views of Vienna, but I can manage stunning sea views instead).

What don’t I like?  Some of the furniture positioning is a little strange.  For example, there’s an enormous desk in the bedroom, but the wardrobe is in the living room – I’d have swapped those around.  Also, no mirror in the bedroom, the bed is two singles pushed together rather than a double/king (with two single duvets on it) and I’d have liked a sound bar/music system I could dock my MP3 player into.

Talking of beds, I stayed in a Travelodge in London on my way out here and got one of the new beds – they’re not kidding, they really are incredibly comfortable, though the edges of the mattress are quite hard and I caught my leg on it more than once walking past the bed to the bathroom!  I’m prepared to overlook that, given that I didn’t wake up with my normal stiff back (I tend to fall asleep on my side and over-curve my lower back – or, in less posh terms, I sleep with my bottom sticking out!).  Apparently you can buy them – I’ve just had a look and mattress-only is £399 for a standard double, so they’re definitely going on my list.