Thursday 30 October 2008

Help arrives

Jo and her boyfriend Matt arrived. They gowned up (a nurses occupation!) and set about rubbing down the plaster work and putting the first coat of paint on in our bedroom. They did a brilliant job and it's just so good to have the help.
Jo bashed about in the shower room with the centre punch and hammer, clearing out adhesive that is now rock hard, making way for the grouting.
It's back breaking work and takes chips out of fingers and thumbs along with tiles! It isn't at all selective! I have since grouted the floor and painted over the chips with tile paint. If people don't look down all will seem perfect!
Ollie and his mate Alex arrived. Ollie and Niels studied the heat exchange system, put the instructions away and had another beer!
And now some of the wiring that has been hanging around for weeks is beginning to disappear. Brilliant, thanks Ollie and Alex.
I had thought to have light switches that were more trendy and upmarket, but I'm so relieved to have any thing at all that suggests we may have some light, and besides, I'm working on the premise that we can always change them one day (along with the floor tiles in the shower room!)
At the start one is adamant about doing all the work 100% efficiently and having it just so, after all why compromise on the dream? Now as we move towards the next phase, we've adjusted our thinking. Isn't that why we have plants and pictures and rugs and cupboards to cover up the flaw/mistake/error/wrong measurement/the off day? I've never noticed joints in plaster board, now it's become a fixation. Some of Tesco's loos could have had more attention paid to the plaster board work!
The day after the kids went home, the weather plunged head long into arctic conditions.
On Tuesday I had very important appointment in Inverness, that short of the road being closed I was determined to keep. The hairdressers! Appointments don't get more important than that! I made it!
It was wintry and white
I expect on the road into Inverness it's still snowy but down here nearer to sea level its all together softer. This was this morning from the bedroom window of the house we're staying in.
Just beautiful

Wednesday 22 October 2008

The start of the day

This was the view from the bedroom window this morning. There is a setting on the camera for taking sunrises and sunsets. I used the zoom lens but without using a tripod it looks woolly.
You really needed to be here to see how beautiful it was!

Tuesday 21 October 2008


Woke up this morning to this! Quite a covering of snow on some of the higher peaks. It really is cold. I got dressed in everything. Lots of layers keep you warm, but make walking around a bit cumbersome!
I went to pick up some left over jointing compound from a job Dodo did at a house just outside Ullapool. He is here this morning making good all the jointing tape I plastered, making it neater. (I shall be going over his floor tiling later with much the same purpose in mind!)
The colours were glorious and I could see the weather making its way up the loch
and then over the water to our house! It's just visible through the trees in the middle of the picture. There is a possibility at the weekend that we can get two more trees down thus opening up the view a little more.
If anyone needs to buy a Centre Punch at any time, here's what they look like. I was going to compare it for size with a pound coin, but what with the recession I could only find one penny. Now I must go and do some work and stop playing with this camera!

Monday 20 October 2008

Autumn colours

Autumn here is beautiful. I had to drive to Inverness today to buy more tile adhesive and grouting. Once, I used to go to clothes shops, now I've discovered trade counters, tool shops, and builders merchants. I browsed the aisles at H.I.S (Highland Industrial Supplies) turning over things on shelves, looking at bargains, trying on tool belts (only joking!) and eventually found the very thing I needed - a Centre Punch. I have no idea what its real use is, but I'm going to bash the end of it with a hammer and hopefully make room for the grouting on the shower room floor tiles by hacking out the large amounts of unwanted stuck on tile adhesive!
On the way in I stopped and took these pictures with my new camera! I learned last week that Olympus had made a mistake and couldn't in fact repair my old camera. As a good will gesture and probably because I started sniffling down the phone they said they would send a new one for the same price as the repair of my old one - and throw in batteries and a battery charger. I think I got a bargain, as even at the cheapest price the camera is worth more than the cost of the repair. I'm getting used to it. It does all the things that the other camera did and more, and in many ways is simpler to use. I don't like the 'on' and 'off' switch and the one big disappointment is the fixed monitor, which makes high or low angled shots impossible. I haven't yet managed to focus using the super macro function but over all I'm happy and it's so nice to have a camera again!

Last night there were gales and torrents of rain. This little burn running through the garden has been empty through the summer and is now full again.
I can watch the weather come up the loch, it changes in minutes and with the sun and the rain comes an almost constant rainbow
And the house? Oh that old thing! That's still there. I've grouted the wall tiles in the shower room and Niels is laying the tiles in the kitchen and utility room with regimental, and methodical precision ie. slowly!

Friday 17 October 2008

Tiles 'R' us - almost!

This is brilliant! The rain shower. I'll show you the rest of the room - when it's finished!
but in the meantime here is the hand shower that goes together with the rain shower. I chose Grohe because they look so good and are such excellent quality. Both bathrooms went over budget which means we probably won't have floors, curtains, food or other non essentials, but we'll be able to have lovely hot showers providing we can pay water and electricity bills!
I'm grouting the tiles in the shower room. The plumber tiled the walls and I'm really happy with them. I was worried it would all look too dark but it doesn't - it looks contemporary, or so I like to think!

Niels is tiling the kitchen and utility room floors. We don't think Dodo likes tiling as he seems to have disappeared. By trade he's a joiner so we're hoping he'll reappear to help fit doors and frames!

Sunday 12 October 2008

Sinks and things

The utility room sink!
Another view of the kitchen sink!
I have spent the last week painting. Applying the first coat of emulsion that goes on over the plaster board and joint taping. It shows up all the areas that haven't been sanded down sufficiently and any cracks, holes and other 'misdemeanours' as Dodo calls them, become immediately apparent - I've a lot of touching up to do is all I can say!

Dodo's corners are very neat. I think he has the edge when it comes to corner taping!

Yesterday afternoon our neighbour's daughter knocked on the door with chocolates and a bottle of wine! It was a wonderful surprise and very welcome. I opened the box in order to compose a picture, and said to Niels maybe we should just have one before putting them away. The trouble with Niels is that he has no self control! Our neighbour, Annie has been unwell and in hospital. We have tried unsuccessfully to fence the sheep out of her garden. They have eaten her flowers and trampled her shrubs underfoot. These sheep don't need crossing with Kangaroos to make them extreme woolly jumpers. The chocolates and wine were a 'thank you' although we weren't able to do much to save her garden.
This is my department
Sanding, painting, rubbing down, wiping up and looking for the masking tape - are there other ways to spend the day then?
Now, tomorrow (and I have written nice things about him) the plumber is going to arrive and tile the shower room!
These are the kitchen and utility room tiles, and I can't help but notice that there is very little difference between the tile and the concrete and scree floor, other than the concrete is cheaper
Concrete and scree
Expensive floor tile

Helen and me did the guttering when she was staying recently. Niels did the 'down' pipes, the scandinavian way obviously. He does say it's only a temporary solution.....mmmm!

Tuesday 7 October 2008

The Plumber and the potatoes

The plumber when he came today gave me some potatoes from his garden. The red ones are 'Roosters' which seem to be popular here, and taste delicious.
He also lent me his camera! Which is wonderful as it means I can post a couple of pictures showing that things have been moving along, even if a little slowly! The extractor hood which I'm learning to love, providing it doesn't knock me out first
The kitchen sink!

My vacuum cleaner. The plumber said he's been reading my blog! So at this point I should like to show you his pipes
It's a shame they have to be shut in the cupboard. They're shiny and have taps, and actually look brilliant and we'd just like to say we think he's probably the best plumber/potato grower in the country and we do so hope he'll come back on Monday when he's going to tile the shower room! And probably pick up his camera. Dodo came round today and thinks he can begin working again on Friday Meanwhile I shall take some more photos and update the blog.

Sunday 5 October 2008

One year on

Why is it so difficult to update this blog without a camera?! Exactly one year ago today, we bought our shed! Seen here being loaded onto the trailer. It took two journeys. I was so worried, as we'd only just got the trailer, that we'd lose the shed on the homeward journey. We didn't.
And when Trelleborg were here, our shed was so organised! This afternoon I went to the shed to find something - maybe it's a good thing I don't have a camera to show how chaotic the shed's contents have become since their departure!
A friend living along the lane in a Norwegian (finished!) timber framed house sent this link It's good for the soul (my soul at least), as this account of building a timber framed house in the highlands of Scotland, does in many ways reflect our own experiences and frustrations.
I have learnt a sense of humour is perhaps the most important thing. That you will overspend on time, money, materials, and labour. That you will really need to want this house above all else and keep battling on to achieve it.
Our plumber showed up last week but Dodo our chief tiler pulled a ligament in his tiling arm rendering him useless for tiling! This in turn effected the plumber's ability to complete his bit!
A friend from Pirbright in Surrey arrived unexpectedly on Wednesday evening. It was lovely to see her, made more lovely by her willingness to corner tape, insulate the loft, and have a 'bash' at the guttering. Between us we 'installed' the guttering on the front side of the house. It needs a bit of attention, but it was difficult in the pouring rain, standing in a puddle, to be completely accurate!
Our car broke down last weekend on the homeward journey from Ikea in Edinburgh (in protest I think.) One week on we have the car back again, plus four sinks, five taps , two loos, two showers and a bath. Oh come on something has to happen soon!
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