Mid July @ thetrevproject

Bastille day has passed and the World cup is over and Wimbledon is finished – not a single significant rain delay – but the sun continues to beat down most days and it’s great to be sitting outside in the evening watching the dozen or so swallows swooping round the garden catching insects, or just sitting on the roof. When I take Fred out at night he gets very wound up by the bats flying around the garden (still none in the bat house). So that tells me we have a lot of insects around particularly the flying kind around here.

I have also noticed a lot of butterflies in the farm track behind the house. Mostly they seem to be ringlets and gatekeepers with a few cabbage whites and speckled woods thrown in. Around the buddleia there are also red admirals. What I can’t really see is what the butterflies are feeding on as there are very few flowers around in the hedgerows.

The problem with all those insects is that they like vegetables. We recently picked a cauliflower which had dozens of caterpillars in it. I am sure the caterpillars were also instrumental in my cabbages rotting as they opened up the cabbage to the mould.

The dryness has had a marked effect on the lawn. The main lawn is dry and crispy except for the weeds. The weeds have adapted and are flowering at very low height. The entrance lawn is much more patchy. In fact the lawn on the left is still green whereas the right hand side is partly green and partly parched.

The well is still giving plenty of water. It is a slight worry as we were told it might not cope with a very dry summer and we have had no meaningful rain for three months. Plus we have two households and a polytunnel using water constantly. The school holidays are about to start so I predict rain in a week or so.

We have had a bit of produce from the vegetable patch and polytunnel. Probably about 0.001% of the cost is paid off. It will be a while before we get a return on our investment but I think I have learned a lot so I think it will be more productive as time goes on.

Talking of produce we know the summer is coming to an end because the combines are out.

I have been working a bit in the garden and I have had two little helpers.

House wise there has been a little bit of painting going on in Esme’s room.  I have been painting the inside of the outer wall with special breathable clay paint. Earthborn (gosh it’s a long time since I used a hyperlink in my blog) is the brand and white is the colour but it is not quite the same shade as pure brilliant white that you normally get. The breathability is important in a house like this to allow any damp which gets into the wall to escape. The room is looking a lot better now.

Plus we had a trip to Ikea in Exeter and we got some stuff for her room and a rug for the snug, oh and a coconut palm for our bathroom as you would expect. We actually went to choose wardrobes for the main bedroom, we haven’t actually purchased them yet but we know what we want. I think I have mentioned before that one thing about this house is that there is a lot of space but not that much storage. So we are going for a semi built in wardrobe, two thirds for Louise and one third for me. I always think that Ikea is inexpensive but not cheap, the quality is usually very good for the price. We went into the centre of Exeter as well which was a first for me; I really like the city so far as I have seen it.

When Esme’s friend Jess came to stay we went to the fabulous Jubilee pool in Penzance. Well worth a visit and I believe this winter it will be kept warm with Geothermal Energy.

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the changing face of the entrance to thetrevproject

I thought I would do something a little different for this post. I decided I would look at some before and after photos of the approach to our front door to see how much it has changed. Luckily I have a photo from the 1950’s to start the whole thing off. So there is not a lot of text in this post. I can now also upload videos now that we have usable broad band speeds, so that will be coming soon.

I also noticed that I don’t have any photos of the entrance when it was at its most over grown. When we first arrived in 2015 you could barely see any slate, we had to free it from 5 to 10 cm of dirt before we could reveal it. The 2015 pictures shown were taken after the initial clean up.

As you can see the whole area was dug up to allow cables to be buried and pipes to be run underground. Part of the reason for removal of the vegetation is down to practicalities. The more vegetation you have the more damp will be in the walls and certainly the ensuite bathroom which originally had a massive bay tree outside it was very damp – green algae growing on the inside walls. Another good reason is that the less cover there is the less vermin you get (rats and mice) and this house has had severe rat and mice infestations in the past.

One thing we learned this year thanks to our unusually cold weather is that snow doesn’t sit on slate paths very long. I am not sure whether it is that the slippery surface of the slate allows the wind to clear the paths or the fact that slate absorbs a little bit of heat but even though the pipes froze on one occasion the paths were clear.

We really like the clipped grass look as you come in and we plan to plant some lavender beside the path so you will get a waft of scent as you walk down the path. Ideal (Cornish vernacular), especially if we get the hot summer we deserve.

1950’s

2015

2015

2015

2016

May 2017

May 2017

May 2017

June 2017

June 2107

July 2017

July 2017

March 2018

May 2018

End of April at thetrevproject

First of all we have moved into the 21st century. We have FTTP (fibre to the premises) superfast broadband now. We can now experience Netflix, catch-up TV, etc. Our speeds are fantastic, in excess of   100 Mbs  download and 20 Mbs upload but very variable at the moment. Having said that we have had BT to site several times recently to deal with slow broad band. We currently have two lines to the premises, one for the main house and one for the cottage. The second line may be discontinued if we can beam a signal to the cottage or run a cable over. Interestingly every engineer seems to diagnose the problem slightly differently but none comes up with the complete solution. I have to say the UK call centres are sooo much better than the Indian call centres and they actually listen to you and then address the issues.

I was very surprised to get FTTP as there are only 3 houses in our road one of which doesn’t have broad band. I wonder if all the letters to our MP and local councillor worked, or, is Superfast Cornwall using up the European money quickly before it is stopped?

It is just as well we have fast broad band as we have no 4g system at the moment. Some idiot has vandalised to local mast or probably more correctly sabotaged it. It’s not an isolated incident several masts nearby have been done. devon and Cornwall constabulary are investigating.

On to the house project what has happened building wise?

The renderers came and finished off around the windows and put a coat on the porch. So now we only need a top coat on the porch and the rendering is finished. I like the natural lime colour which changes with the weather becoming slightly darker when wet.

Inside we have smartened up the little bedroom and the guest bedroom a bit. Appearances can be deceptive and one mustn’t look too closely at the decorations but Louise is a brilliant home designer. We now have somewhere to keep our old lp records as well. I wonder if any of them are collectors’ items.

  

Mainly I have been working outside and mainly on the polytunnel. Most of the work I do myself although I did have help to fit the polythene sheet which need at least 2 people, I had help from Louise and Josh. You also need a calm day. Sods law says that the wind got up just as we pulled the sheet over the frame which was fun. It was gusting so we cracked on and got the sheet on. It was a bit rushed and so not perfect but certainly quite good. The tunnel is up and running and achieved 20 plus degrees very quickly so ventilation is key. I have a cunning plan about that but more in a later post.

The tunnel build was challenging due to the topography of the site. The tunnel is good and functional but if I were to build a second one it would be very much better.

    

I have also installed guttering on the shed and reused an old water butt to get water for the tunnel #sustainablegardening. That project has a long way to go and the installation is quite rough at the moment.

The picture reminds me – no bats in this bat house yet but the swallows have returned so its summer!!!

The tunnel is already in use with several veges planted in the ground and seeds on my seed table. I also have installed a gutter at chest height filled with compost and planted with salad leaves. The idea is easy picking and slug/snail free fresh salad. The tunnel also has its own fledgling instagram account ollys_poly. I aim to keep a photographic record of my produce there.

We had an incident of fly tipping outside the house at the weekend. I went to check the rubbish and being a rural area you find strange things in the rubbish. In this case there was an old gun in the rubbish. I think it was an old bolt action 4:10 shot gun which was very rusty and clearly hadn’t been used for many, many years. I called the police and they took the gun and disposed of it.

Oh I almost got through a post with no mention of the weather. This puddle in the lane behind the house has dried up. It was there constantly from the end of September to mid-April!

thetrevproject April

Sorry to bang on about weather but what a differnce a couple of weeks makes in the weather. When I last wrote I was talking about snow. Now we are experiencing spring. Daffodils are out, primroses are out, some trees are sprouting green and of course the slugs and snails are out.

Snail on Google Android 8.1Snail on Google Android 8.1

Add to that temperatures in double figures and a couple of days of dry weather – happy days.

Well the main news from thetrevproject is the Trevelyan family gathering. We had 21 adults for lunch 2 days in a row. The first day we squeezed 3 tables into the dining room and had a sit down 2 course meal including vege option. Supper was a cheese and biscuit buffet. Day 2 was a barbecue but the weather (there I go again) was not the best so only the barbecuers were outside. At the weekend we had 3 extra house guests and an extra dog. My elderly Mum stayed on a week and then Louise’s Mum came to stay. So the house is starting to fulfil its purpose as a place of hospitality.

So building wise what has happened?

We a major break through in the last couple of days – the missing shutters have arrived and been installed. It would have been great to have them in the cold weather in the 3 windows that they go in to keep in some heat but better late than never. The order for the window maintenance was placed 10 months ago!  Now the most important shutters are the ones in our bedroom. No shutters or curtains was ok in the winter but now the sun rises early so we get woken by the light. (We have no houses or roads visible from our bedroom so no privacy issues but the cows get an eyeful every night.) The bedroom shutters are actually originally from the living room. They could not be reused in the living room as the window profile was changed by the builders. As the shutters were listed we re-used them in the bedroom and put new ones in the living room.

The other development was that my poly tunnel which was delivered in the rain has started to be constructed. Our location is very windy so a standard poly tunnel was not an option so we had to go for a more substantial build. I have loved the construction so far. Of course there were challenges especially with the anchor posts. I think I may have found an old wall under 3 of the posts judging by the way the stones appeared . So digging through 30 cm of stone kept me digging for a while but I got there in the end. Also had to dodge the rain whilst doing the digging and putting in the concrete bases. So far all the construction has been solo but there will be some team work before the end.

thetrevproject at the end of March

We managed a short trip to west Cornwall in March. We visited the Lizard and Lands End Britains’s most southerly and most westerly points, staying in St Keverne overnight. Well at Lands End it was absolutely persisting down and the place was mostly closed and deserted. We went to Sennen Cove and the sun came out and we had a lovely afternoon driving from there to St Ives.

Well we passed the one year anniversary of thetrevproject on the 21st of March, or should I say the anniversary of the builders being on site. All that time ago they started building the bat house. I have to say I am a lot more chilled out about bats now but, I still think they are a pain. I am all for conservation but I am sure we have particularly cussed bats. They always turn up the day you want to do some work and then go away when no work is going on. It was raining quite a lot this time last year a well but the difference was that the rain followed a long dry spell. Also it has been a bit cold this year and it snowed here for the first time in 10 years then snowed again a fortnight later.

Back to thetrevproject. Not much going on in terms of building. We have had our joiner back to look at some leaking windows. The sash windows were thoroughly tested with a spell of torrential rain and easterly gales blowing straight on to them. They didn’t pass with flying colours. We had water coming through the windows in places so we had to call Dave back to seal the windows but I feel we are dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause. I think the windows are a losing cause and I don’t think we will ever be 100% happy with the windows. We will have to be content with keeping most of the wind and rain out for a few years.

We have had another go at treating the roof timbers for wood worm. Guess what, the flipping bat was there. I went up the day before with a spot light and couldn’t find a bat. When Old Tom and Young Tom the wood worm guys arrived the bat was fast asleep on the first A frame that needed treating. We only have about 2 hours work required but we can’t do it because the bat keeps turning up. The bat is a brown Long Eared Bat and you can see the woodworm holes behind him.

So we called the Bat Conservation Trust and they sent round a volunteer called Paul Diamond. He inspected the loft and concluded that there was an occasional visitor. The solution is to try again and if the bat is present call the volunteers if he is present to remove him.

In the house the progress is now very slow. Since the last blog I have scrubbed the walls in bedroom 5 and given them a coat of white paint. I have also removed the sink put down a 6mm ply wood and some floor tiles. Then re installed the sink and even managed to get it almost exactly level in all directions. The sink will have to come out again as the plaster on the outside wall has come away from the wall and needs to be re-applied.

The big news is that my Polytunnel has arrived. It is a lot more work to erect it than I thought. One of the issues is that it needs to be level from side to side. Living where we live the site of the Polytunnel is not remotely level in any direction. So there is a lot of fiddling about to get the anchor posts in. So far I have installed 6 of the 12 anchors in between the rain and snow.


The tunnel came from First Tunnels. We had a minor hitch in that it was delivered when we were out and when I counted only 21 of the 22 packages were present. I rang First Tunnels and they already knew and were chasing the courier for a delivery date. It duly turned up the next day. More about the tunnel another time.

I have also covered two thirds of my hard-core path (approximately 25 metres) around the veg patch with 20mm granite chips. It reminded me of doing fatigues at school – basically when you were naughty you had to spend Saturday morning pushing barrow loads of soil around at speed. It is very difficult to walk on the hard core path. The granite is a lot easier to walk on. The hard-core path is supposed to inhibit slugs from coming into the garden to eat our veg and the granite will hopefully do the same as they don’t like the roughness allegedly.

Any way happy Easter we are having a family gathering at the weekend – 21 adults and 2 toddlers to a sit down meal on Saturday. It will be a squash but that is what a lovely house like this enables.

Beginning of March at thetrevproject

This post was written on the 2nd of March so it is slightly out of date as I am posting it on 12th – nearly time for the next update already! I will however start with a before and after photo of the entrance to our house. This is the first of the promised before and after shots. The trouble is that we have a myriad of photos and the right one often cannot be located, or, we didn’t take the photo we thought we had taken.

Ha – just wanted to get Fred into a post May 2015 to July 2017 saw a bit of a change.

This the change in our entrance, before (May 2015);

Although technically that is not before because we had already done quite a lot of work clearing up. This is what it looks like now February 2017

Not a lot to report on the building side at the moment. The One great thing that did happen ws that we had some dry weather so the mud dried up (mind you the “Beast from the East” may have reversed that now). Anecdotal evidence suggests this is one of the wettest winters on record in Cornwall. I just hope that means a drier summer this year, but not too dry. Some pictures below of the track by our back gate shows how the weather has dried up.

Whilst on the weather we did get about 10cm of snow but it was dry and powdery so it blew around a lot. We have an old wooden sledge which we couldn’t really use as the runners just cut through the snow to the ground and didn’t slide well. We did get the twins on it for a ride round the garden being towed by Daddy. The biting wind meant that we didn’t stay out long. As it was Louise’s birthday we went back inside for birthday cake quite quickly. Later we walked down the hill to the river for a cup of tea with a neighbour. The walk down was easy but the walk up was harder than usual because of the snow.

The biting cold highlighted an issue with our house. The heating struggles in cold weather so we have had to use fires all day and I haven’t sawed enough logs so we are going to run out unless I brave the cold and sharpen the chainsaw and cut some more. Part of the reason the heating struggles is a total lack of loft insulation in much of the house. We are also still without 3 sets of shutters which would have helped keep the heat in.

Another issue is the lack of loft insulation in much of the house. This is partly down to bats. We were having the loft sprayed for woodworm when the contractor spotted a bat. Well bats are like asbestos – as soon as you see a bat you have to down tools and contact the specialist. Our bat consultant said we could continue to spray with bat friendly spray but only on very cold days when the bat would be hibernating and therefore not present in our roof. We have had cold weather recently but our contractor can only fit us in when he hasn’t got other jobs planned.

Work wise I have almost finished the painting in the bathroom and toilet. I still need to do some grouting and I have give half the walls in bedroom 5 a wash and a coat of white emulsion. Technically this is not quite right as emulsion has very low breathability and the walls are lime/mud but, the walls outside are bare, it is upstairs and the walls already had emulsion on them. This room needs to be made liveable by the end of the month for our “Trevster” event.

I purchased a chain saw saw horse for cutting logs into decent sizes. I have a lot of logs in the shed but they are all about 40 – 50 cm long so not suitable for a woodburner.  I now regret having gone for 12 inch blade rather than a 14 inch blade as the 12 inch blade is only just long enough to fit in the clamp and cut through the logs. The other thing with a 12 inch blade is the teeth on the chain are very small and difficult to sharpen well. They need sharpening every hour or so of cutting.

I have cut down some trees for burning in 2 years time. They are basically a hedge that has been neglected and turned into quite mature trees. They are shading an area of the veg patch which could have a poly tunnel installed on it. The wood is for 2 years time as I am allowing it to dry out naturally. Dry wood burns easier and has a much higher calorific value as you are not using part of your heat to evaporate the water in the wood.

 

Mid February at thetrevproject

Well we are mid February and the broad band hasn’t improved,in fact it has got worse. Plain white BT vans have been seen in the vicinity and the occupants claimed to be surveying for new fibre lines. This is not on our branch of the line but the surveyor thought we might be included in the upgrade, since we are literally the end of the line it will be a significant achievement for BT/Openreach to get to us.  You have to laugh though as this is all EU funded and Cornwall voted overwhelmingly leave.

Rant over what has been going on at thetrevproject. I continue as a multiskilled technician, or should that be Jack of all trades, we all know how that rhyme goes. Just in the last 2 days I have been painter, turfer and chain saw operator.

We have finally had a couple of dry days and a full day of sun.

Today for the first time this year I was looking for ward to going rowing in the sun, guess what, cancelled due to sea conditions . What we have had weather wise is a sprinkle of snow and a hell of a lot of hail – up to 6 hail showers a day. The photo is below is hail not snow.

One of the good things about rain though is occasionally you get fantastic rainbows.

We have had a couple of small updates in the cottage. Fitting a weather strip in the window in the bedroom. Its weird but we had to fit an inward opening window as the wall is our boundary (Building Regs). The trouble is that when the rain blew directly on it the water came in, hopefully now it won’t. We also fitted a fan heater in the shower room as it is freezing in the early morning in there and there is no room for a radiator or heated towel rail #compactliving.

The really big thing from a builder perspective was the removal of the rubble. This took a couple of days and was achieved with a digger and a tractor and trailer, cheaper I believe.

The rubble was taken somewhere an hour and a quarter away. We can now park beside the road on some hardcore and NOT on the mud. It is across the road from the house but we only have about six cars and a tractor a day past here. Its not actually clear who owns the land we are parking on but I think it probably is part of the high way, but then who owns the highway?

I had to call the builders back to replace three more rotten lintels. Two of which had been painted over by the joiner doing the windows. He says its not part of his job but I still think he should have flagged the issues.  The third one was down to the builders they changed a door upstairs in the garage and failed to spot a lintel which was as hard as a sponge. It was a freezing day when they did it but still they should have spotted it.

We had a force 8 easterly gale this week which blew the rain directly on to the sash windows which weren’t brilliant at keeping the rain out. So our joiner had to make a visit to do some modifications.He claims that part of the problem is the lack of render in some areas of the window reveal (see previous posts for explanation of why the render has not been completed).  We still only have 1 set of the 4 sets of shutters required but there is a dispute going on about payment for these. I wont pay until I get the shutters and he wont deliver the shutters without payment.

I have  decorated the bathroom and toilet with the exception of the woodwork. It was tricky painting round pipes etc but I love a challenge. I started in the 2 smallest rooms because I want to be able to say I have achieved something.  The rooms are a bit of a contrast – walls in cheap Wilko paint and woodwork in Dulux Eggshell Timeless which is not only not cheap but is very difficult to get hold of. Most places only sell Pure Brilliant White Eggshell and if they do sell Timeless it is only in 750ml tins.

I have also turfed the other half of the entrance way. It was fun, the turf arrived on Wednesday and it rained ALL day and was windy and cold. As and aside the turf man cannot find any young people who are prepared to work as turfers because it is too hard. The latest young recruit started Monday but called in sick Wednesday – the weather maybe. I laid the turf Friday but couldn’t lay it all first thing as some rolls were frozen solid. I had to wait until midday to be able to roll it out – but Fred loves it and supervised the laying.

I will just finish off with a picture of a fire burning up all the rotten lintels. You can’t beat a good fire to cheer you up.