Floor Floor Floor Floor Floor

So yeah, Sarah-May came to stay and shit got done.

In fairness, I did an epic quantity of cutting in advance of her visit, days and days of just cutting cutting cutting tiles, knackered multiple diamond blades (not cheap) because I get my tiles out of the skips at very good tile shops.

Once Sarah-May and I started laying, there was no stopping us.

Got to a stopping point where we really need to grout it and leave it so we can move the table over before we do the last bit a little later in the month. GOD I am glad I have a Sarah-May to help me.

Also, LOOK, our tree made a fig! I don’t know if it will end up being edible, but it’s exciting.

And here’s a picture of my beautiful house and my beautiful partner.

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Surprise! Another Mosaic

Because what my life needed just now was another mosaic. Well, what my life really did need was to have less in the way of mountains of reclaimed tiles in every corner. So I’m moving them to storage on the floor, stuck down with tile adhesive. It’s a slow process.

The pointy bits go down like a dream. So fast and easy compared to, like, everything else I’ve done with tiles. Which is my own fault for doing such fiddly, tiny, stupid things with tiles all the time.

The filling in bits are a bit slower, and I made some mistakes in the original batch of cuts (random angles bad, measured angles good) but I got the hang of it and they’re pretty easy to lay now.

Technically the red ones are wall tiles and not that high quality of wall tiles at that, so it remains to be seen whether they’ll hold up to heavy traffic. I may install a doormat nearby. And then forget to use it.

In other news, Ben has started on the spice/condiment shelves.

This half is done, installed and oiled, and the other half is on its way. They’re made from some the rest of that stair banister railing Anthony gave me from a job he did and some matchboard that came out of a basement he converted for someone. Top tip number one, make friends with builders! They give you so much great stuff that other people literally pay them to throw away.

When the oil dries, all the bottles can stop cluttering up a horizontal surface and start cluttering up a vertical one instead.

Meanwhile poor Jack…


A severe round of his traditional overgrooming. Sigh.

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What A Great Summer

Ok, here’s your next progress report already!

I’ve started on the next mosaic, the kitchen wall, which will be epic, because I think it’s important to have more than one epic unfinished mosaic on the go at once.

This one’s going to cover the entire fucking wall. Because I never learn.

Here’s a closeup of some of the detail. Complete with shadows. Punishment glottony.

Still, it’s going to be properly, actually epic.

So yeah, the kitchen has come in in leaps and bounds.

Stove installed, electrics hooked up, gas hooked up. Inaugural pie baked.

Ben built this adorable little shed to house the gas canisters, which apparently can’t live in the house. So I had to knock a hole through my front wall.

We are greatly enjoying the novelty of washing dishes in a sink, with water coming in from a tap and leaving again from a drain. Such innovation!

And of course, it’s started to get cluttered. We are doing our best to make it tidy at least once a week, but it’s a strain.

We walled in the pantry at the foot of the kitchen space (thanks Ben, for stating the obvious, that everyone needs a pantry!) and that is now one of the places we can store the many mountains of crap we can never find places for.

Also I have tiled a bit more floor, as you can see. Cheaty cheaty big tiles for this bit. I am slowly reducing my idea of how much of the floor should be intricately mosaiced. It’s still an outrageously high proportion, don’t worry.

This small area of mosaic was necessary to accommodate some serious undulations in the concrete around the spot where the electric cable enters. It reminded me how much harder crazy-paving style is than coursed mosaic. Live and learn.

I do kind of like how it looks like the electric cable grew up through the floor and shattered it.

So yeah, this is the kitchen end of the house as it is now. Downright useable.

So having moved the kitchen, we have now cleared a space for dusty work to take place at the other end of the house, where my 5 years’ accumulation of ebay and skip-rescued tiles resides. Next task is to grade them for thickness and start YET ANOTHER insanely overambitious mosaic, I reckon.

Also, we moved the living area to the former kitchen area. Julian did most of it and made it very inviting indeed.

WE LOVE BEN for making this all possible, in case we haven’t mentioned that today, so…

We love him so much that when he wistfully said how much he missed banoffee pie, having given up dairy products, I decided to scour the internet for a dairy free recipe. There were some absolutely dire sounding abominations that seemed to think a lack of dairy ought to be extended to a lack of sugar or anything that presented a danger of tasting nice, but after some research I found this recipe from Biona which I can heartily recommend, though I would urge you to use their coconut sweetened condensed milk instead ordinary coconut milk for the caramel layer, as it’s a lot quicker. They said 25 minutes boiling. I say more like an hour to thicken properly. Anyway, the results were divine, if different all three times we’ve made it so far.

I’ve also been making gin, as the elderflowers are out.

And we laid a couple of actual patio paving stones. For real. And then we stopped and moved on to something else, as is our habit. That’s the news. As you were.

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Tree Slabbed!

I got to ride in the giant beast of a 1971 horse box that Ben is going to convert into a tiny home. It was amazing. And very, very loud.

We used it to transport that tree to a guy (Peter Coates, horse logger, in case you ever need any tree work done in an awkard spot) up near Bingley for slabbing.

He’d got a cool chainsaw mill that basically held his giant chainsaw very steady as it moved along a track and cut lovely 2 inch slices off the tree.

It was the work of a few hours to cut the whole thing up into bits that were manageable to lift and will dry out, hopefully, in a few weeks in the solar kiln.

We cut up all the parts we had, just to maximise beautiful bits of waney edge. Anything that doesn’t make it into the worktop will be a shelf somewhere.

And our luck at finding bargain plants at Morrissons just gets better and better. Mature, healthy orange azaleas for a tenner. The slope garden is complete.

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Productive! And Also Fun!

The thing about being more productive but not used to blogging frequently is that I am going to have to cram a lot into each entry…

Get a cup of tea…

May day happened. We went up to Great Rock, which turned out to be a really nice place to watch the sun not rise, as happens most may day mornings. I mean, presumably it rose, we just couldn’t actually see it at the time for all the clouds. Thanks, England. Still, it was a nice experience.

I spent another few sessions working on the mosaic. By gawd this shit takes a long time.

But it’s no all that miserable a job to be doing, and it does get marginally easier as I get better at the planning and not backing myself into awkward corners as I work.

I finally reached the milestone of ONE panel done. Well, not grouted, but complete.

I’m very pleased with it. Hopefully I will not die before I complete another panel.

Meanwhile, Ben is absolutely cracking on with the kitchen, which is *very* exciting.

The carcasses are being built out of some stuff we had lying around and then faced with the interior wall cladding I rescued from the sauna/site office/bunk house before I burned it.

Ben is an absolute master of taking whatever we’ve got lying around and making it look amazing.

Julian has been on a bit of a fitness kick and has taken to climbing the rope swing.

The garden slope is mostly being extremely successful. It’s a pain we have to wait years for it to fill out properly, but then, it is giving us the very best display it can at its current size.

I’m hoping these Azalea/Rhododendrons are going to get big and impressive. To be honest, their huge, showy blossoms look a bit ridiculous on a plant less than a foot across.

Tomorrow we are going up to Bingley to a guy who is going to help us mill this baby into planks which we will then put in the solar kiln for a couple of weeks to dry out and then it will become a fabulously beautiful worktop!

The rest of this post is about our walk up to Stoodley Pike. It’s kind of embarrassing that we haven’t ever done it before. I mean, we’ve done it by driving over to the pub across the valley and walking from there, but never from our house.

You can see the pike in the distance in the above photo, just a tiny point on the horizon, which is kind of my phone’s camera being a drama queen. It’s not as far as it looks.

We chose to go along the valley floor for the first bit, following the canal.

And then cutting up through a bluebell-strewn valley with a little stream running down it.

There really is some beauty in these parts. I’m pleased to be finally taking the time to explore it more fully.

Emerging from the shady valley we climbed the last bit of road, our goal very much in sight.

The last little bit is a challenge for the likes of me, very steep and unrelenting.

But we made it, and really, it wasn’t that bad in the end.

The view is certainly a prize worth the trouble.

And so was the picnic we brought, including a G&T each. We know how to do this rambling thing.

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