Tag Archives: rain

Living in the country – needing to react

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There are so many benefits to living in the country, but also potential problems. While we planned to move to Wales, we made sure we took into account the location of any property to a river that might flood. We chose and bought a house on a hill, with a riverbank a long way below it. Last year, at the beginning of October 2018, our river burst its banks and our riverbank was flooded for the first time in over thirty years.

We hoped it was a ‘one off’, but this October it has rained and rained, and every morning on my walks, I’ve watched the river rising and surging. Last week the rain was torrential, with strong winds gusting on our hill. On Friday morning, the river was three feet from flooding, and by four o’clock in the afternoon, just one foot away.

This weekend we were planning a tidy up of the land, a final clear around and clear out of barns, and last bramble and nettle hack back, plus internal lime mortaring. Instead, we found ourselves having to react to another crisis.

The river didn’t burst its banks, and the fields around our neighbour in the mill house didn’t flood, so she was safe in her home from flood water but….we hadn’t realised that the water had gathered behind our house. The back of the house has always been an issue, the kitchen having been added on in inferior slate and the ‘lean to’, has little footings, a broken plastic roof and neither have any guttering. Our builder performed the necessary work to stop the stone built extension moving, and we’ve insulated and whitewashed inside to make it ‘useable’, but we always knew we’d have to put serious work into repairing this part of the house…we didn’t realise it would have to be so soon. But on Saturday, it was all about reacting, saving our possessions and trying to use the minimum effort to work temporary repairs, as the water behind our house seeped beneath it.

We’d already cut part of the carpet away due to the actions of a naughty cat (!), and stacks of towels was our best bet keeping the flood water contained. And then we began to dig. We didn’t want to dig too close to the house, but the drip water was settling close, so I began by cutting a small trench a few feet from the house, and then digging smaller ones from the drip water to help it drain away. These photos do not do justice to the hard work it was! I thought I was going to be peeling off turf, but the ground is stony.

We dug round the front too, pulled out all the grass and leaves from the concrete ditch around the house, and dug across the driveway so the water could drain into our overflow pond. The ditch used to protect some of the house when it only had a tin roof, but the thatch pushes the ‘dripline’ out further, so one job we have to schedule is digging and concreting in a new ditch around the house.

But we stopped the water rising further, and when the rain stopped on Sunday, the trenches began to dry out, as did our lounge.

We’re now behind with our clearing up and indoor lime mortaring, but mattocking and digging for so much of Saturday, I was exhausted on Sunday, and chose to rest up a little. I did make food though, so do pop back for whole food plant based recipes that you will love!

 

 

Welcoming the light

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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.11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_nWhile my partner worked upstairs, boarding and insulating, I worked on the fireplace. DSC_0128First all the old mortar had to be scraped out and the mantel shelf and beam rubbed down. DSC_0129With my first bucket of lime mortar, I repaired the fireplace, rebuilding where necessary. DSC_0130

Part of the left hand wall had been mortared so I finished it DSC_0132

While the mantelpiece dried, I moved into the hall, prepped and repaired a small length of stonework. DSC_0133I limewashed around the lounge window…I had repaired it last year but never got any further. DSC_0135….and used three buckets of mortar to continue repairing up the stairs. DSC_0136 

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.DSC_0138Between adding thin coats of lime wash around the window, I attacked the other wall in the hall. DSC_0140Mike rubbed down the window and glossed it, as well as the kitchen door frame and a second coat on the beams. DSC_0142

More whitewash was applied around the fireplace. DSC_0143By the end of Sunday, the hall was repaired DSC_0145and the window and fireplace repaired and whitened. DSC_0144

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. DSC_0148With 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 DSC_0149DSC_0147

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.

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