Nothing was done on the house in December, unlike last December. We enjoyed Karen's 50th birthday party and prepared for our holiday and Christmas including putting up outside lights on the house. Karen's school cut down a lot of old trees which was too good an opportunity to miss so we collected 3 van loads loads of wood tpo be stored ready for next year. Apart form that I had to commit a lot of time helping friends with their company. After a fun Christmas with our grandson we set off for a snowy cold adventure in Finland.
I installed the new electrics, a digital aerial for Karen's radio and broke up the concrete before installing a new floor joist. We then set to getting the room finished as quicly as possible. Karen screwed in the alluminium angle to support the celotex then we had a week of walking across a few old floor boards. In the middle of the month I took some some off and took my bike to display at the NEC classic motor show.
We then spent another weekend completing the insulation and putting down the heat spreader plates. We fed the pipes through from the Study and connected it all up to get it running. I put down most of the new floor while Karen went to the lake to swim. We moved all the furniture back into the dining room and spent any spare time helping friends with their company including moving all their stock into my company warehouse.
I put a new ceiling in the cupboard above heater in the study but apart from that we didn't manage to get a lot done this month as I had a couple of weekend trips planned, firstly the Stafford bike show to display my bike, then the annual surfing trip to Cornwall. We also had to dedicate quite a lot of time helping friends with a full stock take of their company and planning. At the very end of the month we really got to work on the dinging room, determined to get the job finished as quickly as possible. We cleared the contents of the room into the games room and took up the floor where we found another concrete block that once supported a fireplace. This matches the old photos we have of the building which shows that there was a chimney.
I started September still determined to spend time enjoying things rather than working on the house. My new classic bike finally arrived from America but instead of being delivered to our local port it ended up in North Wales, which meant a long trip to collect it.
I did eventually decide to turn my attentions to the house as winter wasn't far away and we needed to get some heating installed downstairs. The plan was to install underfloor heating in the DiningRoom, so while Karen went to Germany on a school trip I started working on the Study. I removed the floor to allow us to feed the heating pipes into dining room but found that there was a concrete block where a fire or stove must have been located in the original building. This had to be broken up and removed. I also built a frame for the cupboard that will eventually house the underfloor heating unit. The electrics in this room were also a real mess like the rest of the house. I had to remove the old electrics and connect to the new downstairs ring main.
Still on a go slow, we didn't do anything on the house. Inspired by Big Ben in the Olympic sailing I went onto eBay and bought us a little sailing dinghy in Birmingham. I fitted a towbar to the van and we went off to collect Numero Uno, the original prototype of the Comet Duo design. We then took a day and went boating up the river with an electric motor. I also took Karen and Luke to the lake and introduced them to the joy of sailing. Another weekend was spent in Cornwall when we went to Pauline and Neil's wedding. I finally booked flights for Karen's 50th birthday present, a holiday inside the acrtic circle searching for the northern lights in Finland.
We made a conscious decision to take time off working on the house and try to enjoy some leisure time for a while. Apart from making some chapters for the clock on the workshop we didn't do anything on the house. Karen of course spent a lot of time working in the garden, something that needs to be done but is also a hobby. After much trying we finally managed to buy some tickets for the London Olympics.
I decided to work on something completely for myself, not for moving the house forward. After years of waiting I finally built my arcade machine from large sheets of MDF.
Emma came over at the beginning of the month and got roped into helping us empty the contents of the hot tub room into workshop. We crammed everything into the workshop so that hopefully we can get the tiling done in the hot tub room. I also cleared the contents of the barn into the workshop so the barn has become a useable space again. I can get to Izzy without having to fall over bits of wood and boxes.
I fitted the new gate to the side of the house and linked up the water butts just in time for a downpour which completely filled them up in just 2 days. This is now connected to a pipe which runs down past the workshop and will eventually lead to the vegetable patch. One weekend we did a lot of driving around as we gave our sofas to Sarah, went to Thurrock to collect our new sofas, and then picked up 16 railway sleepers. Poor Hermann! Karen started tackling all the weeds that have overtaken the dogwood while I fitted the trellis to the pergola. Karen planted 5 wisteria to grow up and over the pergola so we have surrounded then with chicken wire to protect them from the blasted rabbits and give them a chance to grow. They have killed 3 more hazelnut trees! Also, with such a wet and windy spring I descovered that 2 of the trees in birch grove are leaning right over. We have managed to support one of them but the other is too large and is at risk of toppling over.
In the workshop I fitted the worktops and connected up the water supply, the room is slowly coming together. I also however fitted the external clock to the workshop but just need to find some chapters to finish it off.
One evening Karen and I cleared the trenches in the back garden and topped up with two tonnes of soil and laid turf. Slowly the back garden is starting to look less like a building site. Luke helped me empty workshop so I could complete the room. The insulation and boarding was completed so the room could be plastered and the electrics connected.
Everything is starting to grow very fast now so Karen has been trying to keep on top of the gardening, a thankless task when an entire day is spent just clearing weeds, with lots more weeds still to be tackled. I set up the scaffold tower to work on the guttering at the side of the house to connect it to the water butts. Unfortunately things are never that simple. When I got up there I found five broken tiles and a gapping hole in the roof which had to be fixed before I could start working in the gutters as planned. I did manage to get the gutting sorted but I still need to link up the water butts and connect them to the pipe I installed to feed the water down the garden to the vegetable patch.
In the hot tub room I started to finish off the end tiles on the glass block wall. I haven't finished this yet as there are other more important jobs to do and the shower is useable. I took one week off work at the end of the month to work with Jason to re-erect the pergola and also construct the the vegetable patch. At the end of each day mixing concrete and putting up posts I then continued working on the workshop, painting and putting in the cupboards ready for the worktop.
Karen did the Great London Swim which she had been training for since last August. She has really caught the open water swimming bug and intends to continue through the winter and enter other events next year.
This month has started with just a few odd jobs being done at the house. It is my company year end so I have a lot of figures to review. We took Karen's car for the first annual service, a whole £109 as there isn't much for them to service. I fitted the outside socket and security light to the workshop and backfilled the trench where the water pipe goes into the house. With a bit of help from Karen I fitted a PodPoint charger at the unit so I can charge the car at work during the day using the electricity generated by the solar panels. Karen moved the Virginia Creeper from the barn as advised by Helen and planted it outside the front wall boundary. It will be interesting to see if it grows and hides the peeling wall.
I did a bit more work preparing the workshop and also did some work upstairs. I made a cupboard door and finished the cupboard in the front bedroom and put in a new hatch on the landing. We paid to have all the connifers trimmed and I got Izzy fixed so when Jason is ready we can begin putting up the pergola and the vege patch. As suspected the solenoid had gone wrong on Izzy but I hadn't managed to locate it under the floor of the cab.
Not a huge amount of progress this month due to work commitments and time spent outside tidying up. We moved the chickens again and tidied up the patio area as best we could to make it safer but there is a lot more still to do. We told Floral and Hardy that we couldn't go ahead with the new patio because we desperately need to continue working on the house and get some heating installed downstairs. I mowed the field for the first time in 2012, a reminder of the amount of time we will be spending outside in the garden just keeping things under control. Time which will be taken away from moving on with the house. Apart from that I managed to use up the rest of the Celotex in the workshop so I now need to order more and get that completed.
Jason came over and struggled to get the water pipe into the house, eventually taking two days. The foundations of the house were rock hard, filled with flint and the meter long drill bit hit a steering rod (or drive shaft) which was deep in the concrete. He got everything installed and connected up so there is now water in the workshop. Karen and I dug some nice soil from the spoil heap down the garden and filled the remaining ditch in the front garden left when the tree was felled a few years ago. As well as a lot of weeding Karen seeded the new soil so hopefully the front garden will begin to look normal again. I got the tractor out and loaded up the pile of rubble into the skip so that can be taken away as well.
We had our first snow and have been burning a lot of our logs to heat the house. We have spent quite some time moving logs into the house and restocking the empty log store to see us through the rest of the winter. I started to prepare the inside of the workshop by installing all the electrics and begin the job of insulating the walls and ceiling with Celotex. Quite a cold job when temperatures are struggling to get above zero degrees during the day. Unfortunately little Ruby, one of our favourite chickens, died this week which was a shame.
A very quiet month for the start of the year when we didn't get a huge amount done. We quickly changed the the seals on the old windows upstairs to stop the draughts. I fitted another light to the front of the games room at the end and Karen started the work on the border in front of it to start the task of recreating the front garden. We bought the glass blocks so Jason could build the shower in the hot tub room and fit the wall tiles. After he installed the shower unit I connected the electrics and we finally had a sauna for the first time in over a year! I had to change to a 50 amp fuse in the house so that it can run the sauna, shower and heater at the same time, although we can't run the sauna and shower together.
With Jason's help I created a base from road stone and put the shed on it. Karen moved the gardening things out of the workshop back in to the shed so we can start to work on that. Jason arranged for a trench to be dug for the water pipe and electric cable to supply the workshop. I also wanted to have a pipe buried to allow water from the water butts beside the house to be fed down into the garden, so I continued the trench another few metres by hand and put in another blue pipe. I then buried the pipes and fed the armoured electric cable into the house ready to be connected to the consumer unit.
Floral and Hardy came back to us with a design for the patio area which looks really good. However, they have yet to let us know how much it would cost.