Tuesday, 24 June 2014

"Sleeping with a rat?"

As Jenny left Islay for Dorset and a well earned holiday 
in Scotland with her friend Katie and family
 we waved her off from the OA

Back at the Dower House all was beautifully quiet.

I mowed the lawn...having worked out how to make it move, at least I didn't have the same problem as Jenny, she couldn't stop it!

Lunchtime was peaceful and so quiet a roe deer walked across the beach in front of us without Cassie noticing.

The foxgloves are prolific this year.

No rain to speak of for 5 or 6 weeks... 

                                        sailing ships pass...

Washing dries in the hot sun

In the garden a few butterflies are caught on camera...
Ok so I did chase them a bit!

Small copper

Marsh Fritilary

Cinnabar moth, caterpillar feeds on ragwort

Orchid at the bottom of the Fairy hill...more orchids later!

More foxgloves

Sun shine on the Fairy Hill on Mid summers day.

Evening falls...

and a full moon rises
(the full moon was a few days earlier, just in case you were about to correct me!)

Meanwhile, inside the Dower House Nick has been working 
on the hearths and has concreted 2 of them.
I have used the Titan to dig out the old mortar ready for pointing...if I'm allowed to keep the stone exposed.

This was all last week and over the weekend we had some time off!
On Friday night we had Fish and chips and our usual bath at Topsy's, then went to Yvonne's leaving party. Yvonne is one of Rodericks wonderful carers and my first Reiki client. She's leaving to take over the running of the "Ardview" in Port Ellen with her family.  We had a brilliant night with lots of new friends.

Saturday we joined about 60 - 70 people for the star light walk from Claggain to Port Ellen (10 miles), raising money for cancer, but we stopped at the Dower House, half way as we were shattered from working until 6pm. Cassie loved the walk and pulled us all the way home. Islay is staying with Topsy for a while.

"Would you sleep with a rat?"

Back to the rat and yes it was definitely a rat in the house. I had 2 sleepless nights as it clambered up the wall next to my bed and ran around like an elephant above, between the floorboards and ceiling. Nick only woke when I screamed when it came in the bedroom and then told me to stop making a fuss it was only a mouse. It could be that he has slight hearing loss!
It had peanuts in the kitchen, crisps in the bedroom and in the end we had to poison it, as we had tried everything else. We found the poison when Nick put another sink in the kitchen, but they had taken a lot, so he blocked all holes up. That's when it came back to the bedroom...so we moved to the caravan, which was a bit too cosy and the midges got in, but preferable to a rat!
The poison was not touched for 3 days in the bedroom, after the first night, so we assumed the rat was dead and gone, so we moved back in, all was quiet and as it should be. 

As the moon rose over the sea we slept...

4am, I woke with a start and screamed again, part of the ceiling fell down behind our heads, all over the clean sofa and my clean clothes and stereo. We woke up coughing plaster and lime dust and just burst out laughing. Since then I seem to burst into fits of giggles at the slightest provocation.

There is more, but you'll have to wait a day or two, while I finish painting our second room, the first is a very pale yellow to reflect the sun and this one, well I haven't decided yet, it's white at the moment...


A Friend from Dorset nearly made it to see us last week, sorry you didn't Chris and Jo, but just in case any of you are close to Islay at any time and don't want to bring the car over on the ferry, give us a ring, we'll pick you up!

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Sky is the limit!

Continuation from "The things we do for a few pennies"!

Does this give you an idea of how high we were working?

...and when at the very end someone started to play a tune up the chimney those struggling on top were not amused!
Quote "That is not funny"!

Fire place before plaster board...

Fire place after plaster board...

Jenny and Adam bring down the ceiling!

Personally I don't like the wrecking, everyone else seems to love it.

Jenny was told to get steel toe capped boots...so she did, 
she must be listening to someone!

There is still time for the odd walk...

You'll have to wait for the best we're just off to Topsy's it's Friday night, but here's a clue...


Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Things You Do For A Few Pennies!

Mike Campbell (Arduaine) arrived with Jim to install our new water filtration unit on the 12th May. Long awaited as we have been getting our drinking water from Topsy in Port Ellen since the arsenic was discovered in the water. This and a few other things have put a lot of pressure on my project managing skills as other people seemed to be worrying about it so much as well. 
Anyway Mike worked out what we needed, gave us a quote, a date and arrived with Jim, the rest is history...We have clean water and one day proper plumbing!
Funny how quickly you move on to the next thing...

Mike and Jim installing the unit. 

As you can see Nick was still in the process of
 building the water shed

...and explaining something to Islay and Gary..

...Oh No! That bad huh?...

This is where it grew and taking pity on a very wet Nick 
and a very wet week, Gary brought a tent! I now know that this green plastic is the vapour barrier you put between the insulation and the plaster board, visc...something!

Then when the roof was on and the filters in, Jenny joined Nick and they made a stone cladding wall from Dower House stone. They have had a few favourable comments and both found they could do it very well.

Sometimes it was hot!

The Bluebells or hyacinths were just amazing this year and lasted 5 weeks, so when Mum came up she had enjoyed 2 weeks of spring in Dorset and had it all over again on Islay.

This was the view from Topsy's window at Tigh Cargaman
where we watched the sun go down on a beautiful day.
Feiss Isla (Whisky week) on Islay was very busy and you could hear music all over the island, not to mention drink whisky.
 We didn't make any of the events, because by then...

 ...Quick run Nick...

Gary's back!

with Islay...it must be a big job!

As you will know The Dower House is just fine the way it was designed and all we are doing is replacing all the bits that 
need replacing to make it safe, dry and rot free, 
which some may say is most of it! 

The wall down the middle of the house had always caused us concern as the ground floor had been modified in the past to make 2 rooms into a larger dining room for the hotel (we think). As we are dividing the house we have to have a wall that is sound proof and a fire break, so Gary and Islay knocked the wall down and also the one above, which moved when you leaned on it!

View of the upstairs with wobbly wall gone...
and below, the new, safe block wall, which will have another wall to make it double skinned when Gary has a moment.

...and the ground floor, also now safe.

Next on the list for Gary and his team...us!
The porch roof needs slating...

A platform made...

Coping stones reset...

..and when Buildbase couldn't deliver the wood we needed 
that day, I got to drive Gary's van...twice!
Michael and Ben have to have a mention here as they are always ready to help and Ben can tie knots that even Nick approves of.

Back to insulation. I have always been the insulator with someone else, Dan did loads when he was here and this time it was Adam who got really stuck in and got very good at cutting the right size. It is a horrible job due to the glue dust...not a health hazard so they state, but all the same it sticks to your eyes, nose and mouth and makes you cough. I hasten to add we do wear masks and sometimes goggles, but they seem more dangerous as half the time you can't see through them!

For the inside walls we are using Earth wool, which is made from recycled materials and is no where near as horrible as rock wool. In fact I could almost imaging I was carrying a sheep!

In the middle of all this Martin came back to do some more to the electrics and you can see the wires waiting for boxes...which arrived today Martin!

The Earth wool is for sound insulation between the rooms, which I feel is so important and we are putting as much insulation in as possible for the future.

I stayed out of the way while they all started laying floors under Gary's supervision 

We are now looking at setting up Nick's wood burner, 
with back boiler and getting the right tank etc
Lee the plumber is on the case.

Jenny and Adam start the clearing up of Sandy and Tom's
 end of the house, we are saving those bags of insulation
 off-cuts to put in the loft later.

I think Jenny has had enough!

Our friends Melinda and Nigel arrived to camp for the week and although Mel has an umbrella here, there was only one wet day, it was a beautiful week for their first time on Islay.

This is Sam, Gary's dog and he's just wondering what on earth is going on on the Dower House roof.

11 metres long, that means 11 metres up!

 This is where we put those chimney liners down 6 of the chimneys. You will have seen them earlier coiled up in their boxes. When they are let out and cut free they have a life of their own and it took 3 of us to control each 1!

Oh no! Builders hands!

View from the top.

When you are that high up it takes a lot to feel safe and
 I can honestly say that Gary platforms are very solid and I felt completely safe.

This is where the title came in 
"The things you do for a few pennies"
and yes sometimes there is just a little bit of a risk! 

and these are for Chris at Logfire, who went out of his way to get 2 chimney cowls of the right size to us last week.

Gary is unleashing the monster!

Jenny has some photos from the ground and possibly of Nick covered from head to foot in soot after pulling the liners down, but for now she is now filling the holes in the walls, where the bends were and we couldn't get the liner through, oh and mixing plaster for Gary. Lee arrived just in time to give Nick a hand with the final pull of the 6th and last liner.
It took a whole day to do our 4 and another whole day to do 
Sandy and Tom's, we missed Adam's help too on the 2nd day.

A last evening with Adam for a while, we drove to Ardtalla to
 look at the sea from another wonderful aspect.

Finally since then we have started the stud walling in Sandy and Tom's side upstairs and Gary has done the most amazing plastering in our 2 end rooms.
 It's great to watch a real craftsman at work. 
Thanks Gary keep coming for the odd day wont you?