One more day, and the builders will be gone. I can’t remember when the house and byre were last scaffold free. In two years, the byre has changed from this…To this… And the house from this… to this…
Having been nursed and tended by the professionals, with a bit of help from us, we finally take charge of our baby. We began making lists…and added them to the fire! Lists longer than your arm are far too daunting so we’ve allocated four priorities we want to achieve by the end of the summer and we’ll see how we go from there…the truth is, our funds are depleted and as we approach three years in Wales, tent, caravan and house, we need to start living here.
So the outdoor stage stays…and we’re going to construct one under cover in the byre. Soffit painting, lime mortar ‘dobbing out’ on the walls needs to be finished on the byre and the gable end of the house also needs finishing. My partner is going to build a straw bale building inside his workshop…a soundproof, watertight room, ideal for planing wood and recording music and we’re going to dance and sing our way through the spring and summer.
We love living in Wales and we plan to enjoy it.
I’m a simple soul. With a roof over my head, hot water to wash with and basic veggie food, I’m a happy bunny but so far, in our little Welsh farmhouse, we’ve not had much luck with roofs. How excited I was last year when the thatch went on but since then, it has continued to leak and our upstairs is still unliveable.
It’s been much the same with the byre…waiting for responses from CADW, work had to stop and then the letter came, intimating they may consider granting us a pittance but requiring an excessive amount of hoop jumping and no guarantees of help. So we’ve carried on ourselves, the last of my inheritance going into the byre but always knowing we didn’t have the money to finish it.
This was how the byre looked in July 2015. The weather at the end of last year held up work as the clom wasn’t drying and wouldn’t support the roof. The builders tried and did a good job covering what they had done but hours of work were washed away while we waited for CADW. Architects, structural engineers and building inspectors were brought on board to finalise the roofing plans and in February 2016, work began again. Swathed in scaffolding, the little building felt happier inside, as if it knew it was being loved again.
With the roof trusses in at the end of February, our hard working builders worked through hail and snow to get the insulation on Finally, the byre is looking like part of the house After much deliberation, we decided where the skylights should go…it’s very hard to decide how a room is going to be used when it looks like a cow shed! Now the scaffolding is down, the inside feels amazing. The building inspector came this morning and he was pleased with the work. Sympathetic to this Grade II listed building, we won’t need to insulate the walls but we will the floor…not a worry for us as once the roof is finished and, hopefully, doors and windows in, we will have run out of money.
So the byre, one day to be our kitchen and social hub of the house, almost has a roof and the building has been saved for future generations to enjoy.
It’s raining outside…I’m sitting in my little Welsh farmhouse and I can hear the drips in the room above my head…
We’ve called a halt to work upstairs under the new thatch as the sun is shining and outdoor jobs take preference.
The river bank has been tidied. We’ve fished a wheel and debris from the river and had a good burn up so now Mike, my partner, can get the ride on mower from one end to the other. I’ve been busy with my trusty secateurs in Bramble Avenue and on the path down to our little ‘beach. The bluebells were far more abundant this year after we removed a few very low branches, allowing the sunlight in to more of the land.
We’ve paid for a man and his digger to aid with the next part of the byre reconstruction so this week, we are making clom..clay, sand, straw and cow poo. We’re desperate to make a liveable home here in mid Wales but the realities of living on a building site make life difficult, especially in this warm weather with a pile of steaming clom by the front door! (It is now double covered in thick plastic and old tyres so the smell is less noticeable!)
Unfortunately, the digger has broken so work is on hold but we hope to have enough clom for the byre and to finish the sides of the house by the weekend. Sadly, the pathway to the river is only just started but, hopefully, we will soon have a track we can walk or drive down on which we will line with our tree saplings and begin working back down the slope as coppice.
I missed the local farmers baling the hay in our field this year as I was working but the intricate ballet they perform with their machines is worth a watch, if you get a chance.
Thanks for following our adventure in Wales…do look back at other posts to see how far we have come.