Friday, 26 September 2014

Walls within walls and hot summer days!

The Dower House with its sparkling roof!

This blog entry has to be about building walls,
 knocking down walls and rebuilding more walls!

Luckily Gary is an excellent builder of walls
and has a few other building skills as well!

The Dower House has been altered many times over the last 100 years and some of the walls were very unstable, some had moved and some were hollow where they should have been solid.
Look, a beautiful new, straight wall!

The beams supporting the whole top of the house needed rebuilding and now we have some very sturdy support through the whole house. 
The 9" x 3" joists arrived from Keyline in Oban.
4 of these bolted together make 1 beam.

They also make a very big trip hazard in the dark. Nick has sore shins and a cut hand to prove it and we didn't have to do any washing up that night as he broke all the plates and dishes!

All lintels above the windows and doors were rotten.
Gary has replaced them with concrete lintels.

Aided by his labourer, when she's not answering him back.

Cousin Jenny sieves sand for smoother mortar,
I had that job too!

Jenny breaking up concrete 

New and old lintels.

Nick fills in an old chimney as the lime mortar has crumbled over the years, many holes have appeared, which need pointing and filling, sometimes rebuilding.
1 such hole took 3 wheelbarrow loads of mortar.

Nigel and Nick de-nailing the joists ready to put the plasterboard on later, we've all done this and an hour at a time is enough for your neck and back.


The rubbish you see has been cleared away and just in case you are wondering we all do our fair share of labouring,  I seem to end up with the tidying when I'm not in the office (caravan), which is fine.

This is  1 side of a double skinned wall Gary is building and we are filling with sound insulation to separate the house with a fire wall

More rubble!

More Rocks!

Is that a smile?

Typical work person leaning on her shovel while
"The Boss" isn't looking...

Nick drilling another hole through very hard stone, next time we are going to knock the stone out and rebuild the hole, it's quicker and hopefully easier on the wrists and shoulders.

...and after work we have been going for some glorious paddles, in fact Gary has got so good he's thinking of buying his own boat! Adam has kindly loaned him his while he's away at university.

 Andrew joined us in Tom's

This paddle ended with a very strong head wind with the waves
on the beam making it hard to turn until we got to the other side.
 Very committing for a new paddler.

 A visit from friends Heather and Dave Griffiths gave Nick and me an excuse for a day off. We took them on a tour of the island as they only had 1 full day and the weather was fabulous.

Sanaigmore another beautiful beach 

This is the rose that Katie and Dan gave me in the spring,
it is thriving in Topsy's garden, where Pauline planted it in May.
At the Dower House it would be eaten by deer!

Friends and family on the beach.

This baby seal came to have a very close look at us all.

Our main fire place with rendered back and wet concrete
to lay the slate hearth on.

Boys will be boys and the wheelbarrow race went on.

Gary's new concrete breaker 

Sometimes we all look confused!


Moving and lifting is all about technique, particularly if you are looked upon as not quite as big and strong as some others

Mum (Pauline) washing the best cups and saucers from the old hotel to keep for a future tea rooms at The Dower House

                                                 Tom and Nick measuring something!

 Another paddle

A big white jellyfish!

Work goes on in the rain.


Gary's children entered the parade ring at the Islay show

Sophie won a rosette on Clyde
(Katie fell off Clyde at about the same age as Sophie, through no fault of her own I might add!)

...and wonderful days on the beach with cousins

Isla' went for too many swims and got cold.

Hot meals in luxury at Ruth's 

The Featherstone's being eccentric again,
be careful Gary it may be catching!

Levelling floors

Laying the Visquine Plastic damp proof course over the sand and around the drain pipes, before the concrete.

Sandy sealing the floors with PVA
I wish I had done this on our side before furniture went in as plaster dust sticks to the chipboard.

Nick sharpening tools.

Purlins to reinforce the roof at the end of the house.
Gary's hammer.

We made the most of having Sandy and Tom and other friends in August to move rubble and lay the concrete. Gary said he could do if fast and yes he was right again, that concrete went down at an amazing speed and because everyone is so keen to show they are working hard, he gets the best out of us all...
Mmm that needs thinking about!

Gordon Currie has given us advice and help from the beginning and as always sent the concrete when he said he would, so thanks again to Gordon and his men for making our life easier...or should I say less hard?

I think the gentleman who brought the concrete enjoyed the spectacle of us all shovelling and wading around in our wellies.

There is something very satisfying working in a team, when you have a good team leader, I know I'm creeping again, but it has to be said. Oh yes I meant Gary, not me!

 Nick is the one in the bright Tshirt!

                                                        ...and at the end of the day...

Some leisure time and some wildlife.

Peacock butterfly in creeping thistle

The Fairy Hill from the sea

 Fallow deer

Red Admiral butterfly on ragwort

Stormbound these Inverness paddlers camped on the lawn for a night, we didn't have much time to chat as we were in the middle of laying concrete floors. Call in again if you're passing.

This is to be the disabled wet room

Our first kitchen cupboard, Nick is going to paint the doors at a later date, but for now any cupboard is a bonus.

I painted the edges of the window frames to stop any damp when they are installed

Martin joins Gary and the rest us for a paddle as
we knock off early on a fine day.

When Jenny has a rare day off, we go to Bowmore, get a Chinese take away and go and eat it on the beach, this was one of those days. Cassie enjoys it too.

The Old Stables at Tigh Cargaman

We laboured for Gary at Topsy's to seal the end of the Old Stables, one of her little cottages, as the damp was getting in.
It is now right and tight for winter.

I do believe he's smiling again, it might become a habit!
It's working with mad people that does it.

Gary replaces slates on Topsy's very high roof.

Nick starts digging drains.

It would be lovely to think we could hire a mini digger and dig all these drains and there are a lot of them, but it's not possible as there are good pipes underneath and you would not believe how much drain pipes and connectors cost!
At the Dower House we have always tried to recycle where possible and since having to buy all the materials for the renovation we are very pleased we had those ethics in mind. We have saved many thousands of pounds by recycling wood, plastics, and metals from the house and there are some regrets that we were not more organised in the beginning when some things went to the dump, that in retrospect we could have used and have now had to buy...
The Dower House renovation is one long lesson for us all and so far, so good.

Andrew came back for another dose of hard work, you just can't escape if you're at the Dower House. We have Andrew to thank for sorting our computer out as always and I forgive you Andrew for giving us Windows 8!

                            A use for Nicks Canoe hand pump!

Now Gary has gone away as there are other people needing his expertise and he's taken Jenny with him to run up and down the ladders all day with slates. His van has been in for repairs so I volunteered to ferry his workers to Kintra , Jenny and Islay.

Such a boring ride compared with the old school run in Dorset.
Here are a few photos of what I have to force myself to look at in the mornings.

Start with a September sunrise at the Dower House (7.10am)

Fallow deer at Laphroiag (Jenny has an action photo of this)

Port Ellen, the view from the Co-op, no parking problems here.

View from Kilnaughton Bay,
Highland cow and calf with ...

"Leader" the Brixham trawler in the background.

An otter brings a flatfish onto the rocks to eat.

Kintra Farmhouse, Gary and Jenny on the roof making the dormers watertight. It's very exposed,  there is a lovely campsite in between the dunes. Not in a Westerly gale though!

Cassie runs along one of our favourite beaches at
Kintra (The Cowrie beach)

A Sparrow Hawk

A raven in sunlight.

Moon rise over the White Hart Port Ellen

We have been so lucky, as I have said many times before in finding the perfect people to work on the house.  Gary has worked with us, sometimes 7 days a week, this summer and we have made amazing progress . He left to do Kintra knowing that everything in our half of the house was ready for Martin to come and finish the first fix electrics and Lee to do the plumbing.

Lee Cruickshank, a plumber on Islay has been advising us for a few months now and we finally got to the stage where Lee can give us hot water...
Can you imagine hot running water coming out of taps?

Unfortunately the hot water cylinder we took so long to decide upon was badly damaged when Lee opened it last week, so we now have to wait for another to arrive and on an island things always take that bit longer. However as we had the copper pipe ready and waiting, Lee spent 3 days this week putting in these amazing shiny pipes, with neat joins, that he informs me will soon be covered up and hopefully never seen again. So I am taking lots of photos and next week you can see what the house looks like behind the plasterboard that in a few weeks Gary will have organised us to cover up. All Martin and Lees work will just disappear, but we will have light, heat and water. I can cope with that!

Jenny spent many days filling in notches to reinforce the beams, where plumbing and electrics have been before. The copper pipes need to be laid flat and protected, so Lee made new notches to lay them under the floorboards.
Don't tell Gary about the flip flops (slapped wrist for me)!

The last paddle before the rain was out to the lighthouse  on "Churn island",  where we saw a family of otters squeaking and playing, just in front of our boats.  Gary said they looked like overgrown rats!

Seals were everywhere, inquisitive as ever.

 The sun set

...and the moon rose over the bay.

If there are mistakes, I apologise, it has taken me a week to do this blog, learning how to use windows 8 and having the computer in the caravan, every time the signal is interrupted the pictures disappear and I may have even got cross once or twice, I expect you get the picture!
On the next blog there will no doubt be more walls to build, Martin may have done more to the electrics and Lee has been and proved that all that glitters is not's copper!


Thanks go to all those who kept the project moving this month;
Gary, Topsy, Martin, Lee, Keyline, Jewson and Buildbase, Logfirestoves, Royal mail, Duffies,
Tom and Sandy and of course  the labourers...that's us!

1 comment:

  1. What can I say! I get a lump in my throat the more I read....must be the dust. Love to u all. M x x