Timber!

Colin the tree surgeon (or Celtic Firs, to give him his official business name) came out and did his stuff, and it’s made a big difference to the amount of light in the garden and coming through the windows at the back of the house.

We have a nice load of firewood to take home and season 🙂

The trees at the back also got a trim.  The lower branches from the other big evergreen were extending around 6ft into the garden and once I get all the output from the chipping machine cleared away (could be a while…) it’s going to be a pretty big space.  All the brambles and blackcurrants have been cut back to the boundary as well.

Inside, Pete and Al have been hard at work.  The rest of the wall is down in the kitchen, all bricks and wood have been removed, and it’s swept out and tidy.

Upstairs the little fireplace has been removed.

If the little Victorian-style insert from Ethel’s doesn’t fit into this space, then I’ll get David to take that bit of plasterboard off, re-frame it and cover it over completely.

In the master bedroom, the hot water tank cupboard is gone.  Now there’s space for a 5ft double and two bedside cabinets.

Other news from the last couple of weeks – the boiler at Ethel’s stopped again, the day before the guests were due to arrive.  This time I consulted Google and found that the overheat light was coming on.  After leaving a message for Jeff on every form of contact details I have for him, including Facebook, I went down the road to feed the horses and saw his van parked outside a house further down the road.  He came and had a look and said that there were three usual causes of what was happening – 1) pressure drop (which I’d eliminated by resetting it the other day), 2) the pump had failed, meaning the water the boiler was heating up wasn’t getting moved out of the boiler and around the system (the pump was fine), 3) dodgy thermostat.  He found that the sensor for the thermostat had come slightly out of its insulated pocket, so re-seated it, fired it up and told me to monitor it.  Thankfully it’s been fine ever since, but I think we’re going to have to budget for a replacement boiler in the next 12 months, as even though Jeff said it probably had another two or three years in it before things started going wrong, I’d rather do it a bit early and not have any pissed-off guests.

We had a half-decent amount of snow here last week and sod’s law, one of the days with the heaviest fall overnight was the one where I had to go out to Coldbackie for a site visit with the plumber.  Yes, I finally have a plumber!  He has keys and will get started as soon as he can.  He’s made all sorts of sensible suggestions about bathroom layout and saved me an entire shower cubicle.  We’ve measured out the en-suite width upstairs and I’ve written on the wall to show David where the new stud wall needs to go.  I was going to do all the ordering through his account with the local plumbing merchant in Thurso, but while I was browsing through the Heritage bathroom catalogue, looking for an appropriately-period-style suite for the new bathroom, I found a website with a January sale on the entire range.  Kris told me to order from it, as he wouldn’t be able to price-match, so he’ll get all the en-suite goods and the replacement downstairs loo and shower through his account, and I’ve got £800 off on the upstairs suite, which is 10% of the entire bathrooms budget.  The one I’ve picked is Granley Deco, which is 1930s, same as the extension.

RDI went back out yesterday and got the heating working again.  I need to give them a ring to find out where we are, because they were going to do the radiator move as well and I can see today that they’ve moved the temperature control to the new position and put the two isolation valves on, but there’s a big wet patch on the concrete floor and the radiator is still under the kitchen window, so I’m not sure whether they simply ran out of time, as I know I was down as an afternoon job, or if they hit a problem.  A relief that the house is warm again though, although I’d turned the water off as a precaution while it was off.  It doesn’t half look pretty out there in the snow though, even if driving around snowy unploughed roads is a bit hairy – view from the front bedroom last Tuesday.