More and More News.

Sigh, so that last post, the next one down the pastwardfacing timeline, that was supposed to go up ages ago. It was missing one picture, so I saved a draft to go take that picture and… well… we’ve all been there.

So here is the actually up to date-ish news/ramblings.

The mosaic:

Took what seemed like centuries. Seriously, I was about ready to just sell the whole house just to avoid having to finish it.

But I finally place the last tile and grouted the lot.

Sadly, I grouted it entirely the wrong colour. Because I’m just so overconfident (still!) that I assume all my blind judgements will be right, or at least fine, and about 90% of the time I’m right.

So it turns out you can dye grout, luckily. Above is the colour it was all supposed to be. Below is the colour it all ended up so that it at least matched. It’s fine. It’s fine.

I actually prefer the darker colour, and the dye worked well, but it is more of a surface treatment than a true dye and it wiped off some of the high points a bit, so I may need to go over it later if it ever pisses me off that much.

Above left is the dyed bit and right is the whole panel I did in charcoal because it turns out mixing charcoal half and half with white equals charcoal.

Anyway, it’s done now and I love it. Mostly I love that I never have to do it again.

In other news, Julian got a bit of a wind up them and scalped a large area of the garden.

And filled it with a couple of inches of gravel.

And laid a bunch of paving slabs ready for the shed that will be the repository of things like horse shit and bark chippings and compost and whatnot. Wheel that wheelbarrow right up to it. How convenient!

And we went on a masked, socially distanced day trip including a walk in the Nidderdale AONB and another walk into York from the nearest free parking. We expected York to be quiet without all those American and Japanese tourists, but actually, it was thronging rather alarmingly. So we stayed in the outer neighbourhoods and visited a quiet cafe.

It was still really, really nice to get out and have something that felt like a holiday. I like being at home, but even I am finding I’ve had enough of it. Look at all the homey stuff we’ve got done, though:

Planted ALL THE BULBS for cheerful joy next spring. If the goddamn badgers don’t strew them across the patio again.

And I made chutney for the first time in my life, with the green tomatoes that were absolutely refusing to ripen no matter how many sustainable living life hacks I threw at them. Well, never mind, they made lovely chutney.

We got so sick of the bluetits stealing the insulation from above the big windows, we finally got around to lining the gable with what used to be Alex-up-the-hill’s kitchen walls.

I’d had this wood stacked in the house for years waiting for this job to make it to the top of the pile. And for Ben to be around and willing. So much easier if he’s willing to be the one up the ladder. I’m such a wus these days regarding heights.

Not that I shirked! I addition to preparing all the pieces, I did my stint up the ladder, albeit the shorter one.

Unfortunately it doesn’t photograph well, what with the light/shadow extremes, but it looks amazing and finished and professional.

And it will keep the birds out.

Lastly, it was Ben’s birthday the other day, and I need no further excuse to spend a whole day baking. I love my life, really.



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Flagstones, etc.

From this delicious pile of stones,

This tempting, desireable heap of extremely heavy slabs…

We are managing to extract, with much huffing and puffing, a paved dooryard.

In other paving news, we will shortly be excavating, filling and paving an area of 8′ x 12′ for this shiny, lovely new greenhouse, which has been donated by the ever-giving Anthony Up-The-Hill.

We had to go take it to pieces small enough to bring in the car or in the case of the wall sections, his van, and it wasn’t a tenth as clean as it looks in the picture, so we did spend two days cleaning all the glass and will spend another two cleaning the metal bits, but it’s a fabulous thing and will make an amazing outdoor shower/winter picnic area when filled with beautiful plants.

Aaaaannnndddd…. I’m still working on the mosaic.

Tom came round and helped with above mentioned stone shifting and then with clearing a load of undergrowth from the woods, a huge and thankless task we’ve been meaning to do for years, since we last saw any sign of the forest floor. There is much more to do, but between that and the rescue plants Alex helped us plant at the foot of the drive, we have some hope of making the approach to the place look less of a tangled wilderness.

Julian found these very promising looking mushrooms while clearing some land today. We thought they must be puffballs, many of which are edible varieties.

But alas, opening them up proved them to be the very inedible earthball variety.

So they are now compost.

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A Front Door And A Cat Door

We’ve finally reached that milestone in house building where you’re no longer using a sheet of plywood on two gate hinges for a front door.

We got given a fairly nice hardwood (faced) door, which I glazed (thanks for the education, Nora!) and Ben built a frame for, while Julian set about making the front door area look less like a shit tip and more like a welcoming home entrance.

The hanging of the door was mostly not fraught with nightmares, ish. And anyway, we got there in the end. About halfway through I noticed that we had not made arrangements for a cat door. So I knocked one through the wall. As you do.

It actually went surprisingly smoothly, and I was able to find enough thick plywood around the place to build a tunnel and a piece of oak for the exterior surface. One of the major plus-points of straw walls is how easy it is to put a big hole in it when you want to.

Jack figured it all out with only one demonstration needed. Clever boy.

Meanwhile, Julian’s office has come on a bit, with a floor now finished and some filling of plasterboard cracks (by Julian).

… and an actual plastered wall (by me) which, yeah, I swore I would never do again after I plastered the bathroom, and in fact, during the plastering of this wall. But you know the story. I am resigned to the fact that yes, I will plaster the rest of the house. Eventually.

And meanwhile, I am slogging on with the mosaic shower. Kind of wanting to die, but kind of being pleased at the same time. I just want it done now please.

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How Are There Still So Many Things To Do?

Seriously, how can I have done SO MANY THINGS and there are still things left to do? How!?

Here is what my floor looked like for a long time:

Yeah, that’s a big hole in the middle. But then I got my shit together, Michelle came round to help, and we got there.

It took some extra signage to remind us not to step on the freshly laid bits til they set.

And by the time I was done I was a) ready to never see tiles again and b) seriously thankful I saw sense for once and didn’t try to do something incredibly intricate over 12 square meters. Learned lesson? Lets hope so… Is the bathroom mosaic done? Nope.

Anyway, I’m particularly happy with the joining up of all the areas.

And in other news, I knitted a thing:

And grew some food:

But seriously, let’s just look at my floor some more.

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Bored? Start Another Floor…

Because I never have enough different projects on the go at once.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with all the areas of walk-through floor, the bits between “rooms” in my entirely open plan ground floor. I had about a million tiles of varying size and colour (though mostly in the monochrome spectrum) and a selection of glass cubes and bars in shiny goldy red colours. I laid out a few variations and couldn’t get happy. Sent the most promising one to all my friends for advice and opinions and got a whole gamut of responses, but the one that tipped it for me was “it looks like the sort of thing you’d see in a wanky, corporate headquarters…” so I canned that design and came up with the one you see here. Which I’m pretty happy with. I think it’s my least favourite mosaic in the house, but that’s still a fair accolade.

I finished the above section and grouted it so we could actually walk around the house at all. And then yesterday and today I had a marathon session to cut (or break) and lay out the section inside the front door so we can get from the kitchen to the fridge.


The cat was most exceedingly helpful during the laying of the tiny cubes and bars. I had to chuck him across the room at one point.

I’m pretty happy with the way it came out. Grouting tomorrow and then moving on to something else, because I can’t help but leave every mosaic half finished for a significant period of time. It’s my thing.


Ben made a pizza shovel out of one of the very thin pieces from that sycamore tree.

It may be the most beautiful object I possess. I love it.

There was a bit of mossy bark still stuck to the handle which we left in hopes it will just survive, which I know is wishful thinking, but it’s charming AF while it lasts.

Ben was really in his element creating it and it was wonderful to see.

Bring on pizza season (which has to wait til we want to be building huge fires in the house, so… probably at least September or October.)

Ben stuck a couple of oak pegs into the kitchen pillar for it to hang in the meantime.

And in other news: another load of firewood. Hopefully that’s the last one we’ll need to get in before winter, but I’m interviewing another local firm for supplying because the ones I’ve been using have been so unreliable in communications. However, this last load was actually quite high quality. How annoying that they are complicating my decision to fire them.

Anyway, Julian looks good with an axe.

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