Building in the past – October 2017

Laurel Farm, Great Gidding - Folium Architects

I am losing the weekly pattern. On Sunday 1st I got up early and drove to Peterborough to buy parts for the temporary hot water system to discover that it was Sunday and the shops opened in a few hours. Mad at myself and frustrated at everything I drove home for breakfast. Rather than surrender the day I chose to fit the electric shower but ended up in a stalemate trying to get a 10mm cable connected into the main cut-off switch. The trouble with thick cables is that they are multi stranded and the grub screw, when tightened, tends to spiral the cable out of its location. It all seems a bit like 1950’s technology.

Plumbing is another bug bear. I have done a lot of amateur plumbing and electrics in my many years but, and perhaps it is age, it seems as though all of our fittings design need a complete redesign. In North America, everything is standardised dimensionally. In England we have 5 different 32mm drainage pipes depending on whether they are solvent weld or push fit. Even the colour seems to matter with black pipe being slightly different than white pipe.
Astonishingly, I have even noticed that 110mm waste pipe fittings vary between suppliers – Wickes pipes and, say, anything from Screwfix don’t get on!

In the evening I soothed my scratched fingers (those 10mm cables) with wine and chicken legs. I’m mystified how Margaret was able, after a day of brick cleaning, to come up with cooked chicken legs.

The demolition of the office barn continued with breaking up what turned out to be 3 layers of concrete slabs. The village rumour was that all this concrete had been placed by wartime POW’s (Italian or German…?) and my suspicion is that it was cheaper to pour a new slab than wash the one below.

Margaret continues cleaning bricks but now with a pressure washer…which helps a bit.
On the 7th I finished the temporary hot water system. A few leaks at the last stretch but with much tightening of joints and leak sealer I got it under control. I do love those push fit connectors because they never leak.

On Sunday the 8th we had our first showers at Great Gidding! Celebrated with wine and a bonfire on a still lovely autumn evening.

Having excavated the concrete out from under the office barn on the 10th we discovered an entire layer of bricks that must have been the original Victorian floor. Lovely bricks all laid in a herringbone pattern. This is good news as we are short of bricks for the build and this find means we will not need to buy so many.

Margaret continues her titanic struggle with brick cleaning. The barn walls are being rebuilt using the cleaned bricks off the same foundations. It is looking good. We have a great bricklayer called Martin who is only a few years older than me but the butt of much site humour on exaggerated assumptions as to his antiquity. I did point out to him as he rebuilt a particular corner that, in 1863, a Victorian bricklayer stood in the same place, building the same corner with the same bricks.

With the office barn being rebuilt and Margaret now immersed in brick harvesting I turned my attentions to insulating our wooden sleeping hut. The lovely weather continues (20c on the 24th) but it can’t last forever! I am praying for a mild winter but Monday the 30th brought the first night frost. It was beautiful in the watery sunshine with white fields beyond the barns.