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.


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 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.


The Trev Project First week in July

This is the beginning of July update. It’s a bit late but here is the first week of July update any way.

After a quiet week last week some visible progress this week despite the rain.

First of all the heritage roof light went in to the cottage on Monday. What you may ask is a heritage roof light – well basically an expensive one that is supposed to look in keeping with the period of construction. It was specified due to the Grade II listing but why we needed a special one who knows. It is incredibly heavy so we do get something for our money  and it does look very good.  It goes in the kitchen which is in the middle of the cottage and gives a nice lot of light in the middle of the building.

Unfortunately on Tuesday the heavens opened and the roofers disappeared. We couldn’t open up the roof while it was pouring with rain.

We installed the 4th window as well and the internal sills were installed on all of them. We were therefore able to finish the internal insulation and plaster board and we are ready for plastering . Then we are able to get on to finishing  – well we still need glass in the windows and the handles etc.

We have ordered the floor tiles as well for install after the plastering is complete.

In the main house we made the decision to go for new floor boards. There were not enough reclaim boards around  and we need to make progress. We have bent over back wards and further to preserve joists and beams despite the fact it would be cheaper and easier to have replaced the lot. There is still a lot of rotten wood worm riven timber in place. It has all been treated but rot is a fungus and spores are notoriously difficult to kill so you can’t be sure it won’t recur at some point. We just have to try and avoid damp conditions (see and earlier post) and hope we are ok. The picture below is the new floorboards acclimatising – they need to be stored for about a week in the place where they are to be installed to prevent shrinkage or expansion etc.

The structure in bedroom 1 & 2 complete we turned our eyes to bedroom 1. Visually much less rotten but a nice surprise awaited. The wooden lintel above the living room was totally rotten – see picture below. We were already going to install a steel to support the window but now we have to install a second concrete lintel to replace the rotten wooden one. You can see below the very rotten one which should have been as big as the slightly rotten one next to it.

The pictures below are a bit dark but you can see the supports and steel work required to keep the living room ceiling together while the steel reinforcement is installed


Another big step forward was the arrival of electricians for the first fix in the main house. This is all the underfloor wiring in phase 1 (the foot of the “L” i.e. bedroom 1,2, & 3 ensuite lounge and new kitchen) off the repair. This is anticipation of new floor boards being laid in the next week.

The collateral from this is that we are very short of space for storing things and our kitchen is taking up a lot of space in the hall way.  This makes it very difficult to check the new kitchen which has arrived but we have identified that a sink is missing so there is a lot of backwards and forwards going on to find out why and where etc.

Another big change is that we have more residents now. Kate and Josh have arrived with the twins so we have even less room for storage. They have only brought one car load of stuff with them and we will collect their belongings in a few weeks.

Also there is a bat house update – the swallows have moved in and the chicks are doing well. I reckon these little beauties are worth about £1000.00 each!!!

TheTrevProject Update May 7th

First Week in May update on the Trev Project

Ok not that much visual stuff going on at the moment.

In Marler Cottage the big change is the delivery of the concrete for the new floor. We had to have a small cement mixer lorry to fit in the gate. Unfortunately the cement mixer was just 3 barrow loads short of the complete floor so the guys had to hand mix 3 barrow loads.


The other big thing, though not very visual, is that we ordered the kitchen for the cottage which will be delivered on 3rd June. We still make a final decision on what shower and toilet we want but that is looking good too.

In the main house we have made limited progress. The joists for the new floor in the ensuite bathroom have been put in. We have to keep the rotten old floor because the boards are lime washed underneath and the heritage people think that is great. It’s a bit of a shame because if we could raise the ceiling in the laundry below that would be very convenient.

We have the beginnings of the new panelling in the new kitchen. We have to keep the original so we are having matching panels made for the wall where the toilet was removed.

The main progress has been in removing the cement render from the front of the house. Rubblestone walls are designed to breath and get rid of moisture. If they are cement rendered that can’t happen because the cement is impervious. This leads to damp walls which can cause timber rot. We do have quite bad rot in at least one main beam at the wall end. The plan is to lime render the wall with a breathable paint on the outside. Originally we were going to remove only one layer of cement but as some of the render came off quite easily we are going for the full strip.

We also exposed some lovely granite lintels above the windows. You can just see a window that was blocked up at some point just to the left of the porch. We have an old photo copy of a drawing done in 1815 which shows the windows in the current position so when the window was changed is still a mystery

You can see that the porch is also partly gone. The timbers were totally rotten but the walls turned out to be very hard.

thetrevproject – History of The House – Trevelyan

thetrevproject – History of The House – Trevelyan

A house has stood on the site since the Doomsday Book. It is thought that the house was possibly grander in the past as a 1907 map we have shows it being on the site of a former Manor House. Parts of the current building date back to the 17th century (probably around 1642) and parts to the 18th but a major re-ordering was done around 1810. There has been very little maintenance done on the building in recent decades.

The name Trevelyan comes from one of two possible sources

Tre plus melin = homestead plus mill

Tre plus Melian = farmstead of Melian

Whatever the origin before 1066 it was held by Alric and he paid tax for 7 ½ acres.

Trevelyans (spelling of the name has several variations) owned the house most of that time but seldom lived there, it was usually let out after the 1480s when the family moved to Nettlecombe Hall due to the marriage of Sir John Trevilian to Lady Whalesborough (a descendent of Sir Walter Raleigh). Nettlecombe remained in the Trevelyan family until the early 20th Century.

In fact for a significant period (1615 – 1735) a family with the surname Bastard rented Trevelyan which would originally have had farm land associated with it. In the 1930s the property was sold for the first time in around 1000 years. The reason for the sale is not known but local folk lore tells of fields being lost to local farmers in card games. In 1951 my Grandfather bought back the house but not any of the farmland.

Just to make things more interesting the house is Grade II Listed. That means you can’t do any work without the approval of the council conservation officer. This involves a formal application and a lot of paperwork, and of course some cost.

The recent history of the house is that after my Grandfather’s death in 1953 the house was rented on long term rents to various people until 2014.  In 2014 we inherited the house and we moved into the house full time in October 2016.

The house was listed on 30th April allegedly when it was nominated by a member of the public.