I got a Christmas present for myself:
As you can see, I was having my very first go at it, and I’ve yet to achieve what we might call competency.
It’s so tiny that Antony up the hill suggested that he could pick it up and use it like a hand shovel, but I reckon it’s about the right size for my needs. I might borrow his to get the topsoil off the area in question, but for digging the trenches for the light foundations I’ll need, it’s just the ticket to stop us having to go all victorian and have work crews of people with spades working for days and days.
Speaking of foundations, I have had very good luck in finding (through entreaty to various sustainable building organisations to recommend someone) a very good engineer, who lives locally and has experience with non-traditional building. He has looked over my foundation designs and says they’re sound, and is now working with the frame designer and engineer to tell me the dimensions I need, whether I need to line the trench and pits with geotextile (probably) and everything else I need to give to the building inspectors to persuade them that I’m not going to build a pile of splinters, mud and rubble. I feel really confident in the educated professionals I’ve found for the team. All of them are articulate, helpful, encouraging and willing to entertain the idea that an intelligent person who’ll spend a lot of time doing research and ask for advice when she needs it can indeed build a house.
It’s something I tell myself all the time, but it’s nice to have it reinforced. You need a lot of willingness to learn and adapt and listen in this role, and it’s just so nice to find people who are encouraging.
Also, I had a particularly timely experience today that reminded me of how lovely it is to have good neighbours. I was chatting with Antony when an older gentleman passed the end of his drive and asked where the footpath went, and whether it would lead him back round to Stansfield Hall. I said as I was going that way, I’d be delighted to show him the way, being out for a stroll myself to enjoy the sunshine. We walked quite a way, through more mud and over more distance than I think he had intended, being arthritic of knees, but we had the most engaging and friendly of conversations as we walked. He had known Harry Gordon quite well and wished to have his old house pointed out, which I obliged. I really was quite charmed by him. I walked him to the gate of Stansfield Hall and he generously invited me to have a look at his home (which was gorgeous), as we’d talked a lot about how beautiful a building the Hall is. I left him with my number in case he is ever out walking again and would like company, and I really hope he will take me up on it. He said perhaps not such a long walk as that, but next time he would put the kettle on. What a charmer.
It’s been a slightly difficult time for me lately, and it’s really nice to have had a good walk in the sunshine in good company to cheer me up.