Slugging it Out at thetrevproject

Firstly living in the country has some advantages, one of which is that you can have a good bonfire without annoying your neighbours too much.

Ok so this has got very little to do with the house but part of our plan to live in Cornwall was to grow our own fruit and veg.

So, I spent hours in the late autumn digging over 3 reasonable sized vegetable beds. The plan was to make raised beds. I soon discovered there wasn’t much top soil in the veg patch. Also it had been fallow for many years resulting in masses of weeds, grass, ivy, nettles etc. So no need to go to the gym I just got stuck into clearing the veg patch.

I duly cleared and double dug 3 raised beds, Well they were ground level with timber borders with the plan being to practice “no dig gardening” for a year or two (basically just top up the bed with 10cm or so of top soil each year).

We trotted off enthusiastically to the garden centre and bought loads of seeds, planted them up on the window sill. Its great having 3 foot thick walls as there are large window sills. Our seeds were slightly mixed in how successful they were. We then bought seed potatoes and planted them in the soil and in potato bags.

After planting out the seedlings we discovered that there was a very significant challenge to gardening in Cornwall – slugs and snails. Being a moist mild climate the little slimy buggars thrive most of the year. So wanting to be “green” and organic I set about using some nematode slug control which was not really successful. Collecting slugs at night and putting them in salt water. Beer traps were deployed (they prefer cheap continental lager to bitter). Both the last two methods have the downside in that you have dead slugs to dispose of which if not done regularly can be very smelly.

These photos don’t do much for scale but these guys are about 12cm long.

So the slugs and snails decimated our crops. We tried again with bought seedlings – again devastation. Some plants are slug resistant, young peas (they do attack mature plants), fennel and maybe more.

Did you know that there are 40 different species of slugs in the UK? Most are vegetarian but some are omnivorous. You can find out more here http://www.slugwatch.co.uk/?page_id=13.

I have been asking around about how to control the slimy creatures. There are many things to try but no one method is 100% successful. I asked the gardeners at the Eden Project, where there are extensive slug free gardens outside the biomes, and the answer was a firm “slug pellets”. I am reluctant to use anything that would harm dogs or wildlife though but I will try them next year along with nematodes and here is the building bit – surround the veg patch by a hard-core path. Luckily enough I have plenty of hard core to get rid of so that is what I have started to do. The fact that I have to dig up some topsoil is serendipity.

 

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early autumn update

Hi, it is officially autumn now and the weather is on the turn. We had 72 mm of rain one day which caused some floods locally but we are on top of the hill so we are ok.

Today just a one minute video to show what progress is going on.  There has been a lot of activity this week, masons, plasterers, carpenters plumbers and electricians. Some painting was done as well but it was done by multi skilled guy ie. one of the other trades. There was also some tiling and grouting.

Any way here is the quick video.

Potentially next week we will have an exciting update with some completed rooms to show.

bank Holiday update no 1

Oh you may have noticed I have been a bit quiet on here recently so here is a little video to show some of the progress. Its basically a whistle stop tour of phase 1 upstairs. We are assured this will be completed by end of September so exciting times ahead.

As you can see from the end of the video its been fantastic weather here in Cornwall this weekend and its due to continue tomorrow. Look at Talland Bay on Friday.

 

 

August at thetrevproject and Marler Cottage

August is summer, supposedly, and we were reminded that we live in a rural location when our neighbour drove past the house.

Here in Cornwall August weather has been a bit dodgy. You might be wondering what  happened to the last few weeks updates on thetrevproject, all about the cottage being finished. Were we too busy going to the beach? Or touring around holiday spots?

Well no – and the finish was delayed and we didn’t get into the cottage at the end of July. There was a touch of the builders living up to the stereo type. They didn’t hit the dead line, but there were mitigating circumstances, because the foreman was off ill for 3 days but they may not have made it any way, but who knows.

After having been promised the cottage would be finished by the beginning of August we took it over on Wednesday 9th at 3:00pm. It was cleanish but no professional cleaner came it was left to the builders to give a sweep and a mop down. Needless to say we had to do a bit more cleaning. This was highlighted by the twins crawling around and getting black hands and feet on the clean looking floor covered in dust and grime.

Kate and Josh and the girls didn’t actually move into the cottage until the Thursday.  So Thursday was bitter sweet – we got some space back but we lost Dot and Margot (one year old twins) as they moved out. We had kind of got used to having them and their parents around all the time.

Not having access to the cottage on time made life a little difficult as Mary can to stay for a week to celebrate the twins first birthday. She had to sleep on a mattress on the floor in a room with no lights or curtains.  We rigged up a blind and got a long extension to get light into the room where she was staying.

So here are a few pictures inside the cottage – I am putting together a collection of before and after pics for publication soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got our room back for Friday night and Mary moved into the room we had been in as well so we all had a good nights sleep Friday. Mary went back to London Sunday so we have a spare room again. Lucky really as we have guest coming this week and then the wanderer returns on Thursday – Esme is back from a summer in Trumpington, she is currently Leaving Las Vegas (I feel a Sheryl Crow song coming on) heading for Yosemite.

The cottage is great and it has  a few little quirks. The bedroom window opens inwards due to the fact that it is in a boundary wall – Building Regs. None of the walls are vertical or straight – apart from where the walls have been clad to give some straight lines in the kitchen and bath room. It is comfortable and has utilities (water is on a temporary pump pending a new pump going into the main house). We are jealous of Kate and Josh who now have a lovely drench shower whilst we are stuck with an old bath and using a saucepan to wash our hair.

The cottage has a few snags to sort out but we are now concentrating on the kitchen and ensuite in the main house. We don’t have blinds in the windows or bifold doors in the cottage, there are no splash backs in the kitchen or bathroom, but it is usable.

The time is coming for the big reveal of the colour of our cooker as the work top has been templated and is due to be fitted 5th September. The floor is down and the units are in position and the first fit of electrics and plumbing have been completed. The kitchen is going to be fantastic – having lived in flats terraced houses for 27 years having a large kitchen is going to be fabulous, we can hardly wait.

Late July update from thetrevproject

So what has happened recently. Well….

The Lions drew a test series in New Zealand

England won the World Cup (women’s cricket)

Chris Froome won a 4th Tour de France – will he make into Sports Personality of the Year, probably not.

Oh yeah and what has happened to the Trev Project?

We have a load more stuff in the house as Josh and I went up to Widnes, hired a large van and brought all their stuff back to Trev. Most of it went in the garage but we are certainly very short of space now.  We now have 4 adults and 2 eleven month old twins living in half a house with only one temperamental toilet and a single bath. Its fun but I hope we get some more space soon.

Good news is that some stuff has moved out of the garage – the kitchen for Marler Cottage ready for fitting  so it was moved into the cottage and we could shoe horn Church Street Widnes in to the garage. Yes that means we are starting to put things back together again. The kitchen is going in the walls are painted, we have door and we have ordered an oil tank. We won’t make the completion by the end of July but we are hoping that a week into August the cottage will be habitable.

In the main house we have a floor in bedrooms 2 and 3. The floor is nice new pine, we looked at reclaimed floorboards but they were too expensive and we couldn’t find enough any way. The boards were kept in the room for  a week to acclimatise before being used. I did not realise how much work is involved laying a floor. Every board has to be racheted into place to ensure a tight fit and clasp nails hammered in by hand, no nail guns. There was the odd expletive from builders as they hammered fingers.

The walls are plastered  in the ensuite and we have a nice heritage roof lite in there. Tiles have been ordered for the floor and we are getting ready for the walls to be skimmed.

Downstairs the kitchen walls are ready for skimming. The walls are ready for skimming and the first floor tiles have gone in ready for the Heritage Cooker to be installed on Wednesday.

In between all this I have been helping to remove the Maiden Bells of St Veep Church for repair. These bells are unique – we believe the only Virgin Peel in the country and possible the World. A Virgin Peel, in case you don’t know and I certainly didn’t, means the bells were cast and never tuned, they just had perfect pitch straight away. So all 6 bells were perfect pitch. There are many other maiden bells but no virgin peels.

Trev Fest Test Event

As a little red herring this post has very little to do with building.

We have always joked with our girls about having a big party and calling it “Trev Fest”. With music and people camping out in the garden etc. So last weekend we had a little test event.

Our friends Ian and Sharon said they were coming to Padstow to camp and could they call in on us. We said yes of course but be aware we have no spare bedrooms and only one temperamental toilet. No Problem said Ian we are  coming in our campervan.

The builders very helpfully pointed out that their portaloo was cleaned every Thursday so it should be in reasonable condition if we wanted to use it.

So Friday night the Randle family arrived and parked their camper on the lawn near our garden door.

We had a great barbecue and fantastic catch up – I have known Ian and Sharon since University days. We tested out the new fire pit and the famous local Penpol cider – made less than half a mile from our house in the same traditional manner it has been for 100’s of years.

So now we are ready for a new sideline – mini festivals 😆😆😆

PUMPING THE POO and an Historic Discovery

PUMPING THE POO and an Historic Discovery

We have kept slow but steady progress this week. We have had few builders on site due to a back injury to our foreman. Shifting all that steel was harder work than we thought.

Monday kicked off with the delivery of the kitchen for the house. Since we are a couple of weeks behind schedule we don’t have anywhere to put it so we have stored it all in the lounge. We weren’t using the lounge really any way. We have freestanding units from Fired Earth, due to Listed Building Consent we had to preserve some panelling so we couldn’t have a fitted kitchen. Delivery had to be now as we bought the kitchen in the Christmas sale and the build was delayed as long as possible (they are built in France). We managed to delay delivery twice but if we delayed it again we would start to incur storage charges.

On Monday the floor joists in bedroom 2 and 3 were completed with a bit of heavy lifting. The weather was fantastic – not quite the heat wave experienced up country but nice and hot. Louise and I sneaked off to  Penzance in the afternoon to experience the  famous Jubilee Pool. I don’t know what happened but Tuesday morning there were no builders present – Adrian the foreman had back problems so the other guys were diverted elsewhere.

 

We had a major job done Tuesday. The septic tank was emptied  for the first time for 15 years plus.  Two old boys and a tanker arrived late morning. They looked down the grassy lane and debated whether or not they could get the tanker down and back up the lane. After much debate and chin rubbing they decided to give it a go. Mike jumped in the cab and drove carefully down the lane to the point opposite the septic tank. Then with a lot of revs and wheel spinning he reversed up the lane almost flattening Stan on the way. Stan survived by clambering on to the bumper of the tanker.

Turned out the guys were much more competent on the emptying of the septic tank. We discovered that our two chamber tank was well built and working well. The sludge was a little thick but in good condition – probably in better condition than many tanks emptied far more regularly.

The thickness of the sludge meant that the sludge had to be removed and pumped back to the tank a couple of times to make it more liquid so it could all be removed. Well actually you don’t take all the sludge out you have to leave a little sludge behind to seed the continued fermentation of the sewage. We have been advised not to leave it quite so long to pump it next – ever 2 – 3 years is the suggestion. You can see the twin black holes of the empty septic tank below.

Back to the house and another unexpected discovery. We removed the boarding behind the boiler and found a Clome oven. Initially I thought it must be very old but I have since discovered they were manufactured until the 1930’s in Truro. It is almost certainly a lot older than that but who knows? You can see a little bit about Clome Oven here, Google isn’t particularly useful in providing a lot of detail about Clomes. The Clome will be concealed and left in place when the new kitchen goes in.