Author Archives: admin

Blinds for the lounge

Written by admin

We decided that we needed to put some blinds up in the lounge – partly to keep the sun out on really warm days and partly to keep a bit of privacy when it is dark outside and the lights are on inside the house.

We decided to go for vertical blinds – the sort that you regularly see in offices (which was one of our slight reservations).  They were relatively inexpensive (£90 for a very large window) and when open there is no material to get in the way and trip over (unlike curtains).  We also went for a very light colour to avoid any problems with the material fading – this is a real problem in the lounge.  We worked on the basis that if they were a total disaster, it was only £90 at stake!

The blinds are made to order and were ready in less than a week.  They were really easy to install and look great once in place. We have been really impressed with these blinds and I don’t think you can really argue about the price either.  It makes a huge difference to the room – during the day, it softens bright sunlight and during the evening, it makes it feel an awful lot cosier.  Although the photos of the blinds were taken in the last couple of days, they were in fact put up last September.  So you can tell that they are wearing well.

We bought the blinds from here – http://www.vertical-blinds-direct.co.uk/ – another local Yorkshire business!

Blinds in the lounge SAM_1662

Wall in the bottom field

Written by admin

It needs some coping stones, but the wall in the bottom field is done. We have been working on it for the past couple of weeks.  We have been using the opportunity to use up some of the stone left over from the renovation and although we have used 4-5 dumpers worth of stone, there still seems to be a lot of stone still left.

We aren’t sure what we are going to with this area, but now that it has been tidied up, it is a lot more accessible. The loose stones need sorting out, but we can’t make up our minds about whether we should do this by hand or hire a machine.  The ground is still too wet to get a machine in here.

You can see where we have used new stone from our pile, but give it 12-18 months and it will looks as if this wall will have been here for years.  We are constantly amazed as we look back at other bits of wall that we have repaired about how quickly they seem to age (just like me).

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Well, almost done.  Just needed some coping stones along the top.

Well, almost done. Just needed some coping stones along the top.

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

Re-organising the polytunnel

Written by admin

We put up an 8ft x 20ft polytunnel in May 2013.  We put two 8ft x 4ft raised beds down one side and then racking on the other side – it was only 8ft wide so we couldn’t put raised beds on both sides.  While it worked, it was the most efficient use of space and the raised beds were a little too wide to reach the back (while not standing in the raised bed itself).

We decided to make the existing raised beds slightly narrower (by cutting down the existing raised beds) and to put them on both sides of the polytunnel.  While this gives us slightly less growing area, it is a better use of the overall space and it is much easier to reach the back of the beds (particularly if you have short arms!).

We (actually I mean Jo!) also seem to be a bit more organised this year in terms of sorting out what we want to grow and when it needs to be planted.  Rather than deciding on what we want to grow about 2 months after it should have been sown.

This is the original layout for the polytunnel.  Unfortunately, two raised beds side by side wouldn't have left enough space for a walkway.

This is the original layout for the polytunnel. Unfortunately, two raised beds side by side wouldn’t have left enough space for a walkway.

Rather than 4 wide beds, there are now 5 narrower beds.  This leaves room in the middle for a path and means that you can reach the back of the beds without having to stand on them.  The workbench now runs across the polytunnel rather than down all of one side.

And here’s the new layout. Rather than 4 wide beds, there are now 5 narrower beds. This leaves room in the middle for a path and means that you can reach the back of the beds without having to stand on them. The workbench now runs across the polytunnel rather than down all of one side.

It’s been a while….

Written by admin

Well, it has been a while since we have posted on the blog.  It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy, in fact, quite the opposite.  I’ll try and post some more updates this week.

The rain has eased up for the past week or so and the fields have started to dry out a bit.  This has meant that we have been able to restart working in the bottom field repairing the last of the dry stone walls.  We had to clear a reasonable amount of undergrowth before we could get to this area.  When we first bought the property, you couldn’t get in here at all.

We had to take a 3-4 medium sized trees to get access to this area, but it looks a lot better now that the area has been cleared.  It is amazing how many logs that we seem to get from so few trees.  They’ll need to dry out over the summer before we will be able to use them on the log stoves.  The main issue now is where to store them.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood.  According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899.  Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood. According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899. Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800's.  I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here.  A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids.  I believe that it was filled in during the 1960's when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800’s. I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here. A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids. I believe that it was filled in during the 1960’s when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

 

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones.  It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones. It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it's limit (considering that the brakes aren't all that good!).  There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected.  It'll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it’s limit (considering that the brakes aren’t all that good!). There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected. It’ll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

Coping with the paperwork

Written by admin

Even though we have only just started the process we seem to be generating a lot of paperwork.  Plans, photographs, brochures and bills.  We decided to keep a large A4 diary since the start of the project and that has worked quite well until now.  However, we are starting to struggle to keep on top of all the paperwork, particularly since we took ownership (and now have a set of utility bills to pay.  Times two!).

So it was time to invest in a filing cabinet.  A simple, cheap two drawer filing cabinet.  Top drawer is for all the material that relates to the design of the renovation.  The bottom drawer is for all the information that relates to the running of the property – utility bills, council tax, etc.

It feels much better to have everything tucked away in the right place.

Northern Homebuilding and Renovating Show, Harrogate

Written by admin

It is the Northern Homebuilding and Renovating show this weekend in Harrogate.  We are intending to go on Saturday.  Never been before.  In fact, I have never been to any sort of home show (ideal or otherwise), so it will be interesting to find out more.

Links to the show are here.

Clearing out the orchard

Written by admin

I have spent the past couple of weekends clearing out much of the undergrowth and old trees from the orchard.  I haven’t cut down any of the fruit trees, but I have taken out the other trees that had grown in between.  It must have been years since any of this land was cared for.  I can’t believe how much I have taken out  of such a small piece of land.  This space looks so mucher bigger now.  I have left all of the sheds in place (for now) – there are two fairly large sheds here.

Stihl 017 Chainsaw – Newly Serviced!


I did get my chainsaw serviced during the week and this has made a tremendous difference.  Rapid Hire Centre in Honley (my local Stihl dealer) serviced it same day as well as fitting a new chain.  I notice that they have also turned the guide bar over so it wears equally on each side (hence the Stihl logo on the guide bar is now upside down). They have done a great job and are local – very local.  Shame their website doesn’t mention that they are a Stihl dealer plus their latest catalogue is 2010.

I am not a great fan of chainsaws. Pretty dangerous and things can go spectacularly (and disastrously) wrong if you aren’t careful.  They need to be treated with care and respect.  I tend to plan the cuts, clear the area, make the cut and then turn the chainsaw off before clearing the area and starting the process all over again.  This means that the work is slow and methodical, but it also means that there is no debris in the area to trip over (I don’t even want to think about falling over carrying a running chainsaw!).

There’s probably another day or so’s work here to tidy things up.  As well as the over grown trees in the orchard, there is a large tree in the one corner with what appears to be storm damage.  This needs tidying up.  I made a start, but the light was fading fast.

The smaller upper branches are now on a rather large bonfire.  The more substantial pieces have been cut up into logs.  It will be a year or so before they are ready to burn, but I am sure that I can find a good home for them!

So where is the well?

Written by admin

Apparently, none of the cottages were on the mains water supply until the 1970’s.  Until that point, water was collected from a spring 200m down the road using a barrel and a well barrow!  Seems a bit difficult to believe in this day and age when we take running drinking water for granted.

But there is something here that doesn’t stack up.  Why would someone in the 1750’s build three cottages where there was no water supply?  It is fairly common for old properties in the area to have their own well.  Often very deep – 40-50ft would not be unusual.  But there is no sign of a well on the property at all today.

So where might it have been?  I can’t imagine that it would have been at the rear of the property since there is no sign of any doors or access on that side.  I can’t imagine that it is going to be directly in front of the cottages as this area forms a sort of farmyard. The access has not changed over the years so it looks like it has always been a farmyard.

So the only other option is that it has to be located some where in the front of the property, beyond the farmyard, and in (what is now) the orchard.  But still no sign.  But it must be there somewhere.  Surely.

Rear of the property: Photosynth

Written by admin

Here’s some more images of the property as it is today.  You will have seen photos of the property elsewhere on the site (see here), as well as the architects drawings of the existing elevations (see here).  However, the below image is a pseudo 3D view produced using Microsoft Photosynth.  The image below will allow you to scroll left-right as well as up-down.

There was taken on an early (and view cold October) morning.  The sun is very strong and you can see my shadow in the foreground of the image. This image was constructed using Photosynth running on an iPod Touch.

You may need to install Microsoft Silverlight to be able to view the image.

Adding keywords to blogspot

Written by admin

One of the things that I wanted to do recently was add keywords to this blog so that it is more easily listed by the search engines.  I had assumed that there was going to be a simple way of adding these in the blogspot control panel.  Unfortunately not.  It needs to be done manually.  Here’s how.

1. First, sign in to blogger; at Dashboard, click “Layout” tab; then click “Edit HTML”.
2. Find this line of code :

You could press Ctrl+F to use “Find” function of your browser.

3. Copy three line below and paste after the line we found at step 2.

DESCRIPTION name=’description’/>
KEYWORDS name=’keywords’/>
AUTHOR name=’author’/>

4. Replace the words in red with your appropriated content.