Sunday 29 December 2019

Back to the noggins

Back to work on site today and the weather is being kind. Mild, bright and calm, so a lovely change for us.
We had a big job to do, which was to get all of the floor/roof joists from the ground floor and up to the top.

We rolled them up to the first floor over the scaffolding and then angled some of them up into place. Very pleased with progress and just started hammering the noggins in to place.
We stayed on site to see the sunset and moon rising, and it looked really dramatic over the greenhouse.
I was very pleased that our new solar dandelion, a Christmas present from my sis and brother in law, lit up like a giant flower.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Final push before Christmas

Well, everyone else is stopping work for a while, so we reluctantly have to follow suit.
We got a lot done today, but the weather over the last couple of weeks put us back so we aren't quite as far as we hoped.
If we had got the walls up to the top then we could have spent the Christmas break putting on the joists, but we have that fun to come in 2020.
Instead we are just going to have to do a bit of eating, drinking and socialising, so that's got to be good.

We also have the scaffolding up, so we can literally end the year on a high.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Waterways of Oxford

We found ourselves at a loose end today so I suggested a walk around Oxford. The Internet had a nice looking nine mile hike along the canal, river Thames and the River Cherwell so well thought that we would give it a go.
It has been raining for a very long time, and the water way really high, but it all started very well.

After a couple of miles our chosen path disappeared under a temporary lake, but that just added to the fun, although we did have to turn back.

The river Thames was beautiful and we passed lots of rowing clubs,although not a single person was out on the water.

We reached the centre of Oxford and followed a very complicated route around lots of the amazing colleges, I think that this one is Christchurch.

Finally all that we needed to do was take a little footpath to the station. We padded quite a long way along a very muddy path, but eventually it turned into a stream so yet again we had to turn back.

We then followed the canal towpath and caught the train home. All we need to do now is wash the mud off our shoes.
Lovely day out and we will try it again in the summer.

Friday 20 December 2019

Panic over

It rained all morning, but then suddenly a sunbeam appeared out of nowhere. We phoned Trevor and dashed over to the plot.
He managed to finish the brickwork in a couple of hours, just as the weather window closed and the rain came down again.
So relieved, we are now ready for the scaffold lift to be finished, just waiting for the scaffolder now.

A good end to a stressful week. 😀👍

Thursday 19 December 2019

Disappointing day

The day started well, as the expected torrential rain did not make an appearance, and my flooring delivery arrived nice and early.
Daz and I managed to drag it onto the high scaffolding and batten it down.
Next on the list was to correct a mistake that I made yesterday. We had carried all of the spare white bricks up on to the high scaffolding and then this morning I realised that Trevor now didn't have enough to finish the wall lower down.
Cue my plan of filling a blue IKEA bag with bricks and using the hoist to get it up on to the scaffold. This went better than expected until the handset started smoking, and an investigation revealed that water had got into it.
By the time Trevor arrived very late after his own problems, we had reverted to making a Blue Peter style makeshift rope and dragging the bricks up by hand.
It then got worse as we also had to drag the incredibly heavy mortar buckets up the same way.
I would have taken a photo but I was getting a bit tired and mardy by then.
Also at the back of my mind was the scaffolder issue. However, when I did phone him to say that we wouldn't be ready, he was fine and just said to let him know when we would be ready.  Have I misjudged him?
The rain then started hammering down and we are already paddling around, so it's a worry. Here is the sad state of our kitchen and living room.

Daz has ordered a new hoist that arrives Saturday and we then went shopping to cheer up.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Scaffolding surprise

We had another run in with the scaffolder on Monday, and when I asked if we could pencil in the another scaffold lift he had a tantrum and said that there was no chance until the 6th of January as he was incredibly busy.
It was very annoying, but we had no choice, and since then we have lost a lot of time anyway because of bad weather.
Imagine our surprise when he turns up today and tries to spin it that he is doing us a favour by lifting the scaffolding now.
The only trouble is that we aren't ready, but that didn't put him off, so he has done half of it.

Trevor is sure that he is going to turn up tomorrow to do the other half, but we still won't be ready.
I am sure that he has some major anger management issues, so I am expecting some fireworks.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Santa fun run

Excellent event this morning as we got on our bikes and cycled down to the centre of Bicester for the annual Santa fun run.

Once there we put on our very itchy beard/moustache combos and joined hundreds of other sporty Santas.

Very soon we were off on our loop of the town and were cheered along by lots of Christmas shoppers.

All too soon it was over and we admired our festive medals and tucked into bacon butties.
We also got a photo of the very young looking Mayor of Bicester, Mr Jason Slaymaker. (Great name.)

Friday 13 December 2019

Latest front and back shots

Right at the beginning of the build I started off by showing front and back photos of the plot.
We are now eight weeks into the build and this is how far we have got. We have slowed down because we lost a few days to the weather, but still moving on.

We have also solved our ongoing problem with the extra steel beam. I managed to get it designed by the structural engineer, then got it made by the fabrication company in Nottingham, but I was completely stumped as to how to get it to our site.
The trouble was that it is 4.5 metres long and the longest van that it is possible to hire is only 4.2 metres.
We tried courier companies but they also only used 4.2 metre vans so couldn't bring it.
Removal companies had big enough vans but they came with a huge price tag.
In the end I found a company that hired flat bed vans with idea that we could rest it up against the back of the cab, sowe hhired it and drove up to fetch it. In the end it actually easily fitted across the base of the van so was much easier than we expected.

It's probably the smallest load ever moved, but at least it's done.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Progress on the balcony

Until now the future balcony has just been a gaping hole in the ceiling. However, yesterday and today Darren started to fix that.

There isn't anything to walk on yet, but there are joists and noggins, and I will be making a few phone calls tomorrow so soon there should be a floor.
Darren has set up a great little workshop in the future kitchen and has even copied Trevor and got himself a heavy duty builders radio.

He's very pleased because now he doesn't have to listen to radio two all day.

Monday 9 December 2019

My birthday and surprise delivery

We took a long weekend off because it was my birthday. I did absolutely nothing all day and it was glorious. Had some lovely presents and cards, and enjoyed a chocolate pizza from Darren's mum.

Back to work today and I can't remember if I have mentioned it before, but I have spent many, many hours trying to finalise the joist plans for the second and top floors. After probably at least 100 emails and phone calls it was at last sorted out and I paid them.
Towards the end of last week I found out that they hadn't started making the joists after all due to another misunderstanding. So I had missed my delivery date and they wouldn't give me a new one.
Disappointed, I sat back to wait, so I was really caught out unprepared when the whole lot arrived at 9.30 this morning.
Our lovely neighbour Robert came round to the help unload and it looked quite small on the huge lorry.
It rapidly expanded as we unloaded and by the time we got it inside the house it was enormous.

Just got to get it all up to the next floor and then on to the top of the blocks.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Christmas wreath and prosecco party

Last night I went out with Susan to one of her neighbours houses for a Christmas wreath making and prosecco party.
I have never heard of such a thing before but I had a lovely time and met a lot of future neighbours.
Here is my effort, and in the absence of a front door, I have hung it on our electric box by the front fence.

A quick tip in case you are ever invited to a similar event - don't make the wreath out of real holly because it is really spikey and makes the whole thing quite painful.
I also had a look on the Graven Hill website and there are a few new aerial photos.
This one shows our road at the top left hand side and lots of spaces still to be filled.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

More deliveries

I was just about to have my breakfast when I realised that I had missed a call from the builders merchants.
In a scene that has been repeated too many times in this build, I grabbed my hat and coat, pulled on my boots and set off at a run to the site.
The lorry was outside and the lovely driver was waiting patiently for me. It was time to test the loading bay on the scaffolding.

It just reached although it was a stretch, and two pallets of blocks successfully went up. 
Trevor arrived at this point and in the time it took me to go home and eat my breakfast, he had unloaded all of them on to the scaffolding. 
I then rang and arranged for a fork lift to bring more bricks. This was a real stretch and they were left overhanging a little bit, but we unloaded them and then I rang for some more. 

The whole thing was exhausting, but the loading bay works and all of this stuff should keep Trevor busy, and quiet for a few days. 

For any scaffolding officianados

I didn't write a blog yesterday as for some reason I fell asleep at 8pm and didn't wake up until this morning.
So, possibly better late than never, here are the photos of the scaffolding second lift.

At first, second and even third glance it looks just the same as the day before yesterday, but if you look closely then you can see that the walkway on the scaffolding is higher.
This took the scaffolders all day to do, and I was very pleased that their boss only turned up for about ten minutes. He was also in a much better mood than the last time that I saw him.
I am writing this blog at the site this morning and there was a heavy frost overnight. The sun is just coming up through the woods behind us and is looking glorious.

Also, a nice view of the old water towers above the mist.

Monday 2 December 2019

On the up

Today is the last day that we have our scaffolding at this level.

Trevor has built all of the brickwork up above his head, so the time has come to raise it.

The scaffolder and his team arrive first thing tomorrow, and I am hoping that he is in a good mood. Last time he was a real moaner and the only good thing I can say is that this time he won't be here as long.

Even Trevor is staying away until they have gone, and he usually chats to everyone.