Sunday, 29 April 2012
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Saturday, 21 April 2012
Sunday, 15 April 2012
3 pictures of the new vegetable ground Dad is creating in the 'secret garden' at Roscommon. The three rhubarb plants were bought at Castlerea garden centre. The tub between them contains 3 cuttings of the locally frequent species fuchsia which grows around the 'Wesht' in great profusion as roadside hedges. It's one of those 'nearly native' plants which are so well established now, like sycamore in the UK. Mum knew of a place where it grew close to Steak Lady's place so we nabbed a few bits last weekend. We are hoping to establish it as the front hedge of the garden, along the lane, in place of the definitely not native privet hedge which is there at the moment. The new shoots are of lovage, a division from a very vigorous clump in Steak Lady's garden and the general shot is looking north across the ground Dad has managed to dig so far in what will be one of the veg patches. This digging has been snatched in between bursts of building so has not got very far but we do have the onion sets in (nearest to camera) and a few spuds to show willing. Also some asparagus crowns.
Saturday was Dad's 55th birthday so, amusingly, 10 months after he lost his job and 'retired' he is now allowed officially to give up work and retire. The pension rules say that you can start drawing pension from 55, but most policies deduct 5% per annum for each year you start drawing earlier than age 65 (i.e. a 50% deduction if you started at 55) so we're going to hold off that fateful day for as long as possible.
We're down in Silverwoods as usual for the weekend, so it's here that they are laying on the Birthday treats, presents, a lunchtime pint of Guinness or two and a special Indian meal with wine in the evening. Mum has bought him some very appropriate, if not 100% romantic presents of a pair of chainsaw gloves and a 'forest helmet' (chainsaw style hard-hat with ear defenders, mesh visor and flap to protect back of neck from bits of tree going down the back of your shirt) by top brand in these things, Husqvarna. Dad is delighted and will now get brave enough to assemble and try out the chainsaw (when he gets leave from the building project of course!).
The lunchtime drink is taken in the Druid Inn in the Silverwood's local village and is three very nice pints of Guinness while Mum enjoys a glass or two of Merlot. It's all very quiet. Just what the doctor ordered. The evening meal is a work of genius and a labour of love by Mrs Silverwood and Mr S. Three different styles of curry - a Tandoori chicken, a chicken Biryiani and a creamy beef madras. There are two types of rice, white coconut rice and bright yellow turmeric rice. There are home made chippatis and a special thin type of Naan bread called 'Pooris'. There was mango chutney and lime and chilli pickle. None of us are expert in Indian food so if these spellings are wrong or we have mis-named anything then we apologise to the chefs. It all tasted lovely even if it was spelt differently. It looked beautiful too, spread out on the table before we demolished it.
Very nice, too, was all the good stuff on the social networking site, Facebook. A year ago we'd had nothing to do with this but Dad got involved when he left work as a way of staying in touch with ex colleagues and it is now a big part of our 'social' life with friends and relatives on it from Ireland and UK, Faversham folk, barge contacts. We've been using it ever since as a way of telling everybody about progress on the house renovation. If you're on Facebook and you want to get in touch then just go in on Dad's real name. Dad was delighted to be blizzarded all day with greetings and good wishes from all around the place, certainly way more than he would normally get in birthday cards. Made him feel all humble and popular at the same time.
Happy Birthday to Dad.
A couple more pictures of the 'getting there' stages described in the last post, most of which are self explanatory. The inspection cover is open because having created the soil stack and toilet waste we were able finally to throw some buckets of water down the toilet and flush away all the 15 year old poo upstream from the inspection cover. This we are referring to a "TK Min's last movement". I assume you didn't actually want to see a picture of that floating happily by, so you've got the clear flowing stream that came afterwards as Dad chased 4 more buckets of clean water down the soil pipe.
There's no arguing now that we are approaching the final run in to completion of this renovation project. With the plaster drying fast we have started painting and with painting done and also tiling nearing completion we can start to move onto the final visible bits - radiators hung on walls and connected up, the electrical "second fix" stuff like switches and sockets, carpentry like door frames, architrave, skirting board and so on; all the "finished house" stuff. The plaster that is a bit slower to dry gets 'encouraged' with an oil filled radiator left in the room overnight. It's the one from the caravan, so dogs and mere humans are back to the caravan's gas heater for their home comforts.
Dad's role is mainly to do painting and there's a lot of it. We've managed to buy lots of brilliant white matt finish from B+Q who are doing a 3 for the price of 2 deal on the big ten litre tubs. This is new raw plaster and very absorbent of water, so the paint is watered down for the first coast as a primer. First coat gets 2 litres of water mixed into 10 litres paint, and 2nd coat gets 1 litre water to 10 of paint. As usual, Mum and Dad can do their teamwork bit. Dad loves doing edges and 'cutting in', Mum does rollering on the 'acre-age'. Some of the ceilings are very high, so the roller gets stuck on the end of telescopic pole, or Dad's up the extending ladder with his brush. Most places are getting three coats, but some get 4 if the finish is still not 100%. The kitchen gets completed first as Mum is keen to start assembling the kitchen units we bought from IKEA last weekend. By the end of the week we have used up most of the 30 litres of paint (35 if you include watering down water) and today we need to head back to Roscommon via the B+Q in Athlone for some more.
Mum gets stuck into assembling the IKEA units armed with screw drivers and trusty allen key. These are unusual style ones which stand alone, rather than the standard look of rows of cupboards at ground level with a common work top, or wall units. The cooker unit will have an electric oven and a gas hob, the sink one a double sink. Separate shelf units will have hooks for hanging pans etc. Mum is so happy she confessed to shedding a tear when she saw what she had built. There was a mini hiatus when they discovered they had not bought a vital bit of work top for the cooker unit and Dad had to do a mercy dash back to IKEA in Dublin (6 hour round trip!) for this bit so that the unit could be completed.
Sparks, meanwhile does his normal blizzard of multi tasking. He finishes the tiling and grouting in the bathroom so that Mum can start the deep-clean and polishing the tiles, and he can start installing the toilet, sink, shower (glass) doors and heated towel rail. The toilet and sink obviously involve making holes through walls for the waste and the 'soil', plus connecting them up outside and making a 'soil stack'. He also starts the carpentry/joinery of the stairs bannister and hand rail. This is a lovely job of mitre joints and slotting pre-cut bits into place with a load of cutting thrown in. The spindles sit in a rebate groove top and bottom but are spaced apart with thin infill bits which just fit the rebate bringing the whole back to flat as if the spindles were in individual holes. This is in lovely 'red deal' wood and will not be painted but sanding sealed and clear varnished to bring out the grain. The colour scheme overall is going to be white walls and varnished wood, which Dad hopes will give the place a bit of a 'yacht-y' (or even 'barge-y') look like SB Cambria.
It's all going very well and we are all delighted with it.