Stuff, Including Gravel, Ballast, Render, Clay and Other Forms Of Mud

The driveway is a big pile of mud because they came to dig this ditch and put in a drain and then they went away to do other jobs and it rained and rained and rained…


But hopefully they’re coming back tomorrow to finish the job.

Meanwhile, I render.


Alec mixes the render for me.


And I spread it like icing onto the house. Making progress.


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One Bit Looks Awful And The Other Looks Great

Well, let’s start with a cheerful picture from Alec’s birthday dinner of steak and kidney pie and scalloped potatoes.


And then we can follow that up with some destruction and chaos.


Yes, it was finally time for the demise of the bunkhouse. It had been a sauna, a site office, a four-bunk sleeping hut for volunteers and finally a leaky shed for stuff we hadn’t yet sorted. It was time for it to go. I rescued all the interior cladding because it can be used again, but the rest was firewood. And well-rotted glass fibre insulation.


At the same time that I was dealing with this, Steven and Pierce came to dig mains drainage for me. So it was utter carnage.


At the weekend, Anna helped me take down the last of the walls and burn them. Alec took the many bags of glass fibre insulation to the tip.


And Steven continued to make my drive look like a canyon.


I got two tons of pea gravel delivered because that’s what you put round drains when they’re more than 900mm below the surface. The rest will need concreting, but hopefully that’s not much.


And here’s the beautiful bit. Yesterday I did my first window sides with the long straw and lime muck and some hessian and a final skin of render. I’m really pleased with it.


But now it’s raining cats and dogs and I’m sitting inside wondering whether I can just have the day off.

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Toilet, Part 2


Ok, so I finished the box, oiled all the parts, like, a hundred times with danish oil to get a wipeable surface, and assembled it all. You can just see the plumbing attachment in the picture above, which is cable-tied to a bit of wood the right thickness and then screwed to the front of the inside of the box. All the placement of bits was quite faffy, but obviously it’s important that the wee funnel empties into the plumbing and not the box.

I went against all straw bale advice and stuck a pipe directly through the wall (by pushing a hazel post through and shoving the pipe through after it) because there won’t be liquid sitting in the pipe (one would hope) making it a condensation risk. For the sink waste, I will do the proper double-thickness insulated pipe thing.


It came through perfectly, and in fact, I could have used the same technique to get a fatter pipe through. Note to self. Anyway, sawn off so that it empties into the land drain behind the house (or will do when the land drain is dug in a few days) I consider it a finished work of toilethood.


I even built a wall for it to sit against.


A quick “test wee” proved the system didn’t leak.


And some charming curtains make it a bit more private, though I really need to enclose it as soon as I can move all the stuff out of the way of the wall I need to build.


Lid propped open, and you can see the inner workings. Thanks once again to for the seat, the hot composting bin and the excellent advice and instructions.

The large size of the box is partly to hold the spare bucket, but also to allow the lid to be lifted without tipping the seat so far that the sink trap falls out every time. Plus it allows room for the crossword puzzle that traditionally sits by the loo in our house.


So there you have it. We were all very pleased to have a new toilet.

And then we made jam.



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New Toilet, Part 1

An indoor composting toilet is finally on its way. We bought a fancy new separating seat, as well as a “Hot Bin” insulated compost bin, which will hopefully speed up the composting process significantly. With some helpful instructions, hints and tips from the excellent folks at, I have got about halfway to finishing the lovely indoor toilet.

First step was to take the bits off the nice pine toilet seat I found on ebay for cheap, so that it could be converted to a tight-fitting lid to reduce draft.


I carefully measured and cut for the lovely new british-made separating bowl to fit in the pine shelf donated by Rob and Nicola.


I built a box out of 1×2…


bowl fits…


Lid covers bowl…


It will be very fine indeed. Still need to cover the two sides with matchboard and finish oiling the whole thing. And to poke a hole in my straw wall for the wee to make its way out to a ditch behind the house, of course.


In other news, Alec and I are constructing a scale model of the roof area inside the big front window, to assist us in designing the ceiling painting, which is going to be spectacular.



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What A Lovely Day

Well, I had a most charming and delightful day, hosting the ladies from the Royal Exchange Theatre Costume Hire department (where I volunteer on Tuesdays) for lunch at my house, because I’ve been talking about it for years to them and they all wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So we closed the place and they all came up for a look.


Luda, the manager, and Joan


Jane (whose garden I visited while dropping her off, and it was amazing, I should have taken pictures) and Norma


Dave and Gill (and Joan again)


They were all perfectly delightful and said very nice things about my house. What a lovely bunch of people. I hope they can all come back. Maybe we can make it an annual thing.

Anyway, here’s a picture of me doing something inadvisable in the name of getting an accurate (ish) measurement. Hi, ma! I’m still alive!


And it was flying ant day the other day. Always a little creepy.


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