Monday, 14 October 2019

It's getting boring now

Still more rain, still no bricklayer.
Apart from that, it was a dramatic delivery afternoon.
I had three deliveries due, ten tons of sand, 400 blue bricks and lots of miscellaneous - cement, lime, wood, concrete bricks, paving slabs, etc.
We had it all planned out and the sand was due to go one side and everything else the other. It couldn't be swapped because of manhole covers that would be in the way.
Darren went off to pick up some essentials from town and I arrived at the site to find that the bricks had already arrived and the delivery driver had craned them over the fence and dropped them exactly in the sand pit.
Action stations. I raced around carrying five at a time and moving them out of the way. I had no idea how long it would take to move 400 quite heavy bricks, but it turns out that in an emergency it is just over half an hour.


Unfortunately I got soaked in the pouring rain, as I spread out the tarpaulin ready for the sand.


I then found out that the greenhouse was completely flooded again, so stomped around putting back the little stream to divert some of the water.



A few minutes later Daz arrived and then the sand truck.
It only took a couple of minutes and, hey presto, ten tons of sand exactly filled the space.


Just time for a quick sandwich and then all of the rest arrived. We covered it in another tarpaulin and then left as the rain really set in for the day.


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Still too much water

The heavy rain is back and so is the water in the greenhouse. I was expecting it this time and we have made a plan to reduce the problem, but we have to wait for a few dry days to put the plan into action.


My mini stream is working well though and is quite attractive as it skirts the greenhouse and heads towards the edge of the garden.
There is also another little flow that appears from under the pergola and follows the line of the future wildflower meadow.


I really like it and once the house is built I am going to try to recreate it with a channel and a pump.
I also got the chance to see where all of the water came from, and there are some quite dramatic puddles behind the plot.


Eventually there will be houses on this mud and then the flooding issues will disappear. I certainly hope so.
Fortunately there are no problems at all with the house foundations and the bricklayer says that it will only be another couple of weeks before he is ready to start.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Train trip to Birmingham

Today we had a day off and cycled to Bicester North train station for an outing to Birmingham.
The journey took just over an hour and we arrived at the quaint Victorian station called Moor Street.



Everything looked at least 100 years old and Daz took a photo of the notice in the men's toilets.


The view of the Bull Ring shopping centre next door was totally amazing.


We walked through it to our destination of the Birmingham Hippodrome where we watched the matinée performance of Gisele, the ballet.


Beautiful dancing, but with a very sad ending.
Then it was just a case of reversing our journey to get home.

Pergola, step by step

At last the pergola is nearly finished. I say nearly because it keeps raining so I can't finish the painting, and also because I am going to run out of paint which I can only get another pot from B and Q and there isn't one nearby.





Very pleased with it, looking forward to sitting up there with a nice glass of wine.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Mini stream and flood

A bit of a worrying day today. The rain poured down for hours and then we put on our waterproofs to go over and have a look at the plot.
Water was streaming off the clay sloping fields and a mini stream was pouring straight into the back of my greenhouse.  My boots sank nearly up to my ankles as I dug a new route for the stream and almost managed to get it to flow away through the flower bed.
Once inside the whole floor was flooded and I think that it had mainly come up from below.
I spent quite a while bailing out with a pot but eventually had to concede that as fast as I bailed, the water was still coming in.
I also had to rescue my new flowering plum tree that was totally waterlogged and falling over.
I did what I could and then went back to get a coffee and wait for the streams to subside.
A couple of hours later we returned and Daz had found his water pump attachment for his power drill.
After a few false starts it was pumping the water speedily out and things got back to normal, if quite soggy.



It would be nice if its dry tomorrow.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Bird's eye view

We are still waiting to find out when Trevor the bricklayer can start, so there isn't loads to see on site.
However, I have just found some really good drone photos on the Graven Hill website. They must have been taken in the last few days.


This is our street and we are the concrete slab second from the right. The four houses to our left are coming on well, and none of the houses to the back of us are anywhere near starting yet.



Contrast this with the another similar sized crescent on the estate that is well on the way to being finished. I think that they started about a year or more before our street, so it will be interesting to see if we look like this towards the end of 2020.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Good mornings work

Quite a few things happened this morning. Firstly Darren got the right connection for the tap, so now we have water next to the greenhouse.
Secondly the electrician turned up and connected up a double socket inside the greenhouse.
Daz got on with the decking on the pergola and I went to the Garden Centre. I found a beautiful ornamental plum tree with dark purple leaves and apparently pink blossom in the springtime.
It was as tall as the car, but fortunately it was a bit bendy and I managed to get the pot in the foot well and the leaves across the back seat and into the boot.
Once back on site it looked quite small but it looks very happy in its new home to the left of the greenhouse.


I have also made up a very uneven brick and mortar sample to see if the colours match. We should know in a few days when we get back on the site.


Sunday, 15 September 2019

Insulation and a pergola

In the last few days we have had a lovely time showing Tina and Matt, and then Darren's family around the plot. It doesn't take long, but then we can show them the whole site, the Grand Design houses and of course, Bicester Village.
Good effort by T and M on the shopping front.
We have collected some free stuff on the site from other builders who advertised their surpluses on Facebook.
We picked up a huge pile of insulation that should go in the cavity walls and is now under a blue tarpaulin until needed.


We also picked up some wood offcuts for future use.
We actually spent some money on materials for a pergola which is taking shape in the top left corner of the garden.


We still don't know when the brick layer can start so are going home for a few days tomorrow. It's frustrating because the weather is so fabulous, but we just have to have a bit of patience, which is one of my strong points. Or is it?



Wednesday, 11 September 2019

More gardening

We are starting to run out of things to do on site, and yesterday we spent a good day helping Susan with her garden.
Today I sowed the seed for our lawn and Darren fixed the fancy tap next to the greenhouse.


We were expecting the electrician tomorrow to fix up the wiring but he texted today to say that he may not be able to make it until Monday. Call me a cynic, but I think that means that he knows there is no chance of him getting here tomorrow and is just letting us down gently.
Seeing as how we have the time, then we might as well build the pergola.  I have started to flatten the land and Daz is trying to make sense of my drawing, so we should be putting an order in for the wood tomorrow.


It's not looking at its best yet, and eventually Robert from next door will use all of the huge polystyrene blocks to for the first floor of his house.

Monday, 9 September 2019

15 minutes of fame

Yesterday we went to the Graven Hill Community barbecue and had a lovely time. There was a good turnout and surprisingly we were told that we were the talk of the estate!
Apparently everyone is intrigued as to why we are doing the garden and not building a house. Unfortunately, our bricklayer is delayed on his current job and it might be another month before he can start.
So we are keeping busy at ground level, and today I sowed the seeds for a mini wildlife meadow,


and we both dug out the clay for what will eventually be the site of our pond.


We also need some extra space to move our steel beans to the back of the house, so they will  rest on the base of the pond until the house is up to first floor level.



Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Digging trenches

Every day we are on site we take a little step forward. Today we are digging a tench to the greenhouse for electricity and a water tap.



Not very exciting sounding, but all of these things count and it will be lovely in the greenhouse when it is finished.
It rained heavily last night and there is a little leak in the middle high bit of the greenhouse. Very annoying and not sure yet how to fix it.

Update - our bricklayer contacted us a few days ago to say that he is going to be delayed and we are waiting for him to get back in touch before we can actually genuinely start building.
We are off on a training day to learn about metal cladding and how to fit it yourselves. Hopefully it will be useful and we will be away from the plot for the next few days.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Greenhouse open for business

Another exciting day today. We spent a slightly stressful morning fitting the glass onto the greenhouse. Some of the pieces didn't really want to go in their alloted places, so there was quite a lot of pushing and shoving which is not always a good idea with glass, but it came good in the end.


Also, I don't think that I have mentioned it yet, but I have demolished the soil mountain and now we have a potential meadow.


Not only that but Daz has finished plumbing the bathroom so now we have luxury facilities.
We bought a mini fridge from Gumtree, will be getting a kettle and both will be in the greenhouse very soon.
Now we will be able to host guests so please come and visit!!


Monday, 2 September 2019

Brick delivery

We were on edge all morning because we were expecting a delivery of 13,200 at any moment. In the end, he turned up in the early afternoon and it was even more stressful than expected.


The huge lorry filled the road, and the driver then uncoupled the fork lift from the back of the artic. It had three wheels and was amazingly manoeuvrable, and he was extremely confident and quick when using it.



The trouble was that although he avoided all of the manhole covers, he drove extremely close to the foundations and even over the edge of our biggest steel.
It all seemed good in the end though, and we have ten pallets scattered across the plot, and 14 in a spare parking space just around the corner.
The bricks are a bit of a different colour to our sample and look more grey than expected, but we like them.



It's starting to look more like a building site now, all we need is a builder. Unfortunately, it seems that he is going to be a while because his current job is running late.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Greenhouse

Today we concentrated on building the greenhouse. It used to reside in our previous garden, but has been in storage for a few years.
I remember the nightmare that we had building it then so was expecting problems, and it didn't disappoint.


It fought against us quite strongly, but in the end we won and now it is almost finished. We couldn't put the glass in because not only did we run out of time, but it was blowing a gale so too dangerous.


I also spent a lot of the day reducing the size of our soil hill, and now it is just a mound.
Lots of progress this week and now we have a couple of days off to regather our strength before starting again on Monday.


Thursday, 29 August 2019

Steels delivery

Up early and on site today to await the delivery of our steels. This has been the most worrying thing to date and we were both quite nervous.


It was a foggy and cool morning and it slowed the delivery driver down, but then he rolled into view in his massive van.


First off was our staircase and it looked huge. I was so sure that it was too big that before he started to unload that I insisted on measuring it because I thought that it would have to be go back.
I shouldn't have doubted our fantastic steel guy, Phil, and it actually fitted perfectly.
It got very scary as it floated over the house next door, before carefully landing in exactly the right spot.



It took ages to get it level and for Darren to then drill holes into the padstones below and then glue and screw them into place.
After that the other 20+ steels were easily unloaded and placed on the ground while we had time for a little sit down.



It's a big tick off our to do list, so we had the night off with pizza, wine and ice cream.