Thursday, 30 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - We've moved in!

We are back at the Barn at last, but as you might have guessed - the works are not yet quite finished. Also, because I am doing all the decorating myself, the place still looks very much like a building site. We are trying to live with minimal furniture and possessions, but it is proving difficult.

I am currently doing battle with the dust and rubble that the works left behind - the fine white powder left from filling the gaps in the plasterboard seems to be the worst.

But we'll get there, and are already hugging ourselves in delight that the changes we have made have achieved pretty much every one of the original objectives.

Here's some photos from today...

It's good weather for completing the rendering.
A ramp to the garage is still to come
and the gutters are still not quite finished.
Our living room is the 'unpacking room' at the moment
Having closed the upstairs flat, we have a bit of a surfeit of saucepans
(and crockery, and kitchenware, and cutlery...)
The window sill is to be done in slate, and might get fitted tomorrow.
I will be doing the spashbacks and floor, which are something of a priority,
then the plinths can be fitted.
We are enjoying our evenings in the upstairs sitting room
This is how it looks when sitting down in the sitting room.
The deeper window makes the best of the view
Our bedroom is fairly tidy - just needs decorating and carpet...!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Jaguar XK8 - I get behind the wheel

I have failed to mention so far, that I have a dream to buy myself a toy - why else would we just have had a large garage added to the Barn...???

My toy will be a Jaguar XK8.

I have already become a member of the XK Enthusiasts Club, and through their forum have had passenger-seat rides in a couple of XKs. Today, a club member who is currently on a 3,000 mile round-Britain holiday in his beautiful 2002 XK8 Convertible has visited Skye, and generously allowed me a drive in his car...

Wow! I've owned and driven some very nice cars over the years, but this Jag was awesome!

Can't wait to have one in the new garage!

The car's owner, John, points to where he is, on a map of Skye.
John's home in Penryn, Cornwall
I get behind the wheel - look at that grin...!!!
The car I eventually buy will be a coupe, not a convertible

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - Tidying Up

There remain a number of little jobs still to be done, but the major work, both inside and out, is now complete.

Unless you have experienced it, you cannot imagine how much mess and dirt and dust can be created by building works. Everything you touch is covered in dust. Dust rises from your feet as you walk across the bare floors. There are still tools and lengths of timber and skirting lying on the floors all over the place. There are little piles of waste bits and pieces in every room. The painter has been busy again today, but as he has to sand-down his plasterwork patches, you can imagine the fine dust that that creates...!!

However, we have visitors staying here at Summer Cottage from the middle of next week, so over this weekend, no matter what state it is in, I have to move back into the Barn. Because of the cottage business, I have to keep a computer running - probably just a laptop at first - but I will be continuing with the Barn Works updates.

The pictures below were taken yesterday...

The shed has moved!
My little brown shed now stands up against the boundary fence
with our neighbours at Roskhill House.
(The Barn is on the left in this picture)
I think we ordered a bit too much of the stone chippings 
The garage door looks good, though was delivered without a handle...!!!
These are the kitchen units from upstairs,
which I relocated to the utility room at the weekend
Yes - I know there is a drawer front missing - I had to re-make the small unit
to fit round the boxed-in pipe behind it. I will fit a dummy drawer-front presently.

Allotment Diary 2015 - Beans

Bought some more bean sticks from Jans, Portree today - really sturdy 6ft bamboo canes at only £2.99 for 10. Sometimes, we can get better value on the island than we can in Inverness!

So, now the runner beans are in the ground, and with a stiff framework for them to grow up, they should be OK (barring a summer storm of course...)

Also today bought some seed compost, and have planted some broccoli seed in pots. Have only had very limited success with broccoli in the past, but we do love eating it, so I thought it was worth another try. The brussels sprouts seeds I planted in pots the other day are already up and flourishing, by the way, and will need thinning down to one plant per pot quite soon.

Curly kale seeds have been very thinly planted straight into the soil. It's been so warm of late, I think they should germinate OK. Onion sets also in now.

Must take some photos!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

An Awesome Skye Sunset

The weather can throw all manner of challenges at residents of the Isle of Skye.

Rain. Wind. Snow. Hail. More rain. More wind..... and so it goes on....

In compensation, we are occasionally blessed with brilliant blue sky days followed by the sight of a heaven-made sunset.  Such a sunset occurred this evening. These pictures were taken tonight from the croft land above Summer Cottage, Roag -

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - Drains

A couple of pictures just for the records, as what you see here won't be visible when the works are completed - but it's useful to know what lies under the ground, and where it is!

Inside the Barn, Friday's work was mostly fitting architrave, skirting and door handles. It's all looking very neat and finished now.

Today (Saturday) I have done some work in the utility room, installing the kitchen units that I 'saved' from the upstairs kitchen. I'm not quite finished yet, so photo to follow.

This is round the back of the building,
and shows the sewer connections from the new bathroom
This is the front driveway (!!)
The brown pipes take surface water to the roadside ditch
from a land drain behind the retaining wall and from the guttering downpipes 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Barn Works Update - Almost done!

The chaps have made more good progress today. The central heating and all the power points are now working, as are most of the lights. The skirting and architraves are also coming long well, and another mis-placed light switch has been moved to the right location. We are so pleased that we employed a small local contractor to undertake our rebuild - the team of workers are so friendly and cheerful, and barely a frown is raised when I ask for a correction or yet another 'tweak' to the original plan.

I am now calling in to the Barn every morning for a quick chat with whoever is working that day, and then I pop in again in the evening to see what has been done, and make sure all is the way we want it to be. I have to say, I am totally delighted. The Barn is looking so pretty. Sue has not visited the build-site very often, so when she gets back from her trip to Kent, I know she will be blown away!

Here are today's pictures...

This is the glazed door and side-light from the upstairs sitting room to the landing.
The landing is full of interesting slopes and shapes,
and has the wonderful pointy-top window onto the view,
so we wanted to make the feature fully view-able from the sitting room. 
Ceiling and wall lights have now been installed
...memo to self - Buy light bulbs...!!
Outside in evening sunlight.
The garage door is on site, awaiting fitting.
The scaffolding is gone, but guttering and some rendering remain to be completed,
plus the garden needs a serious tidy-up!

Allotment Diary 2015 - getting started

The building works at the Barn have made a bit of mess of the garden, so there's going to be some restoration needed there during the summer. Photos to follow! However, the allotment is a separate piece of land just across our little access road, so the plot has been unaffected. I have spent some time there in the early spring, digging over the beds and getting it tidy. I've dug up the strawberries, as neither Sue nor I are especially fond of eating them, and the crop was barely big enough to be worth making them into jam.

The weather is just about warm and dry enough now to get a few things planted. I am starting the brussels sprouts in pots, and the pots are now in the cold frame. The broad beans and mangetout peas went in the ground last week, and the potatoes and onion sets have gone in today. I'll probably pop back and get some carrots planted later.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - Rapid Progress

Things are happening fast at The Barn now. The place was full of people yesterday - electricians, joiners and a decorator - all busy getting the last bits done. The staircase problem is 'sorted', and it really looks like the interior will be substantially finished by the weekend, as promised. The plumber is due to visit - possibly today -  to make some final connections and get the new central heating commissioned.

Here's yesterday evening's photos -

Most of the doors are fitted. We made a good choice of the style - we really like these
The double doors between the upstairs sitting room and Sue's playroom
will eventually be glazed with stained glass panels,
but we are planning to pay the building bill
before splashing out on 'extras',
as we suspect we have gone over budget a bit!
The staircase looks much better now!
This in the new opening above the stairs - it just squeezes in.
Note how close it is to the ground floor roof joists,
one of which has been notched to give the maximum possible head height
Being able to pop in every day means I can usually spot when something isn't quite right.
Here, one light switch was fitted the wrong side of the door,
and the other one would have been covered by the door when open -
but all easily put right at this stage.
This is the living room... Still a bit of tidying to do!
Note - one new wall light fitted!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - We have stairs!

...but most of the good news ends there...

The bad news is that the unexpected thickness of the wall beside the front door means the stairs start further into the hall than originally planned, so it has now been noticed that the hole that was made in the wall for the stairs to pass through is not high enough. Surprisingly, no-one spotted this sooner! The problem is not insurmountable, but inevitably involves a further delay. Work has already begun to remove recently fitted plasterboard and studwork, and on Monday the lintels and a bit more wall will be removed, then the lintels replaced about about 350mm higher up, and the whole lot made good again.

There has been good progress elsewhere though. The walls are pretty much all finished round the new windows, and both the decorator and electrician have been back to fill gaps and fit switches. Upstairs is looking almost finished (though my decorating task stretches ahead...)!!!

This is looking into the upstairs sitting room from the dressing area in our bedroom
look - light switches and power points installed!
Sue's playroom and its view - the black bit visible through the lower
part of the window is my shed roof. The shed will be moved soon,
revealing a view of our lawn and flower beds.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - Slight Delay

Does every building job over-run? I am pretty sure the answer to that question is 'almost always'. And of course, on Skye, where clocks run more slowly than anywhere else in Britain, and the words 'efficient', 'speedy' and 'deadline' are not even in the dictionary, there really was never any question at all that the Barn works would be completed even close to the original schedule.

However, at the end of this month, the only place Sue and I will have to live will be the Barn, so we will be moving in, no matter what state the place is in...  I think we might be sharing it with several builders for a while.

The most recent delay has come about because when removing a bit of wall to install the new staircase, some rotted timber was discovered, and this little problem will have to be rectified before the stairs can be installed. I'm pleased really - who wouldn't want rotten timber to be discovered and repaired while building work is ongoing? It is certainly a better time to find it that just after I have completed the decorating and laid all new carpets...!!!

And the good news? Today, we have two more new windows installed, and the painter has arrived and started taping and filling all the plasterboard so it will be ready for decorating when all the workers eventually disappear, so it's one step forwards as well as at least one step back!

The new lounge window - much the same as the old, but with no leaks or drafts!
(and high-tech thermally efficient glass, too...!!!)
This will be the top of the stairs...
The rotted joists point towards the camera

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Barn Works Latest - Getting there!

We should be ready to start moving back into the Barn in a couple of weeks now. It will take several days to sort ourselves out and find places to put things while we decorate and get floor coverings organised. We also have to have Summer Cottage fully ready for the holiday visitors who are arriving at the end of this month. The other cottages are already occupied.

There is still a fair bit to do at Roskhill - but our builder is confident that the place will be fit to live in when Sue gets back from her next Kent trip - she leaves on the 14th and will be home on the 27th. And that really WILL be 'home' - back at Roskhill!

Here's some pictures taken today. The outside is still rather a mess, but tidying all that up will not take very long. The front door for the garage hasn't made it to Skye yet. The side door and window have been recycled from the Barn, which is why they look a little odd - but they are at the end of the building, so will not be seen unless you wander up the garden!
Garage roof and guttering all done, though rendering not yet complete
 - waiting for some better weather!!
Oil tank in place too - nicely hidden away
The ground floor bathroom.
 I will be tiling the floor, so the WC and wash basin
are standing on wooden feet at the moment
The upstairs sitting room
The two doors on the floor will fill the big hole which leads to Sue's 'playroom'.
They will eventually be glazed with stained glass panels
This is the landing - difficult to photograph!
The wood-framed hole nearest the camera
 will be filled with a glazed door and a glazed side panel
so with the big windows and quirky slopes and angles,
the landing will be something of a feature!