After eight weeks of rain in Wales and the end of term approaching, I set myself a challenge….to brighten up our fireplace for the winter solstice and welcome in the light.
Work on our house this year has focussed on practical rather than cosmetic. With the thatch on, work turned to mending the chimneys and building up the clom to try to make our home weatherproof. We had almost repointed the end wall of the house before the rain started.While my partner worked upstairs, boarding and insulating, I worked on the fireplace. First all the old mortar had to be scraped out and the mantel shelf and beam rubbed down. With my first bucket of lime mortar, I repaired the fireplace, rebuilding where necessary.
While the mantelpiece dried, I moved into the hall, prepped and repaired a small length of stonework. I limewashed around the lounge window…I had repaired it last year but never got any further. ….and used three buckets of mortar to continue repairing up the stairs.
Lime mortar in quantity is best made in an adapted cement mixer but for small amounts we make by hand and it’s hard work imitating a mixer! In two days, the fireplace was transforming and the lounge and hallway too but on Saturday morning, my partner added his expertise to the project, filling in the holes in the wood and glossing.Between adding thin coats of lime wash around the window, I attacked the other wall in the hall. Mike rubbed down the window and glossed it, as well as the kitchen door frame and a second coat on the beams.
It isn’t easy living in a house while working on it. For five days, washing hung cold and damp in the bathroom and fitting in meals required planning. My hands are bruised and sore and each night my shoulders and back ached from the physical effort but if you want something done, challenge yourself.
On the morning of the 21st December, we cleared the mess from the lounge and began to transform the space. My broomstick finally has a home. With the greenery we cut from the riverbank and white fairy lights, we watched the room change as the light faded. Jibby loved the new look fireplace and the window looked stunning
We lit lanterns and placed one in each window, calling into the darkness and welcoming in the light. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you bright winter solstice blessings and may you be warm, loved and peaceful in the coming months to spring.