Saturday, 7 May 2016

Throwing good money after bad

The sun is out, the cuckoo is back, our swallows are crapping all over the courtyard again and I thought I'd do a quick update just to show that things are beginning to move again now that spring has sprung.

First of all, following Dawn's brief sojourn on to the roof to check out a duff tile, Terminator Trevor directed us to a couple of chaps who he knew would get up there and get our tiles sorted out without the need for expensive scaffolding, ropes, Health & Safety assessments or any of that trivial fuss. All they needed was a couple of ladders and simian reflexes.

Like rats up drainpipes, they were

The pair in question turned out to be Harry and TIMMY!, an old-fashioned father and son double act with about 180 years between them, most of it spent up on roofs.
They only came over on Tuesday to take a look and give us a quote but within 20 minutes had actually started work and were getting the first tiles off. No messing about. The bad news was that every single ridge tile along both ridges was loose and as a result the tiles immediately below those were starting to crack, so large parts of the roof were gearing-up for relocation.

Basically, sorting it out was a job that the woefully-inept and bone idle Roofer #1 should have done last year when the scaffolding was up for the chimney-rebuild but "no," he told us, "the roof's fine". It clearly wasn't - he was too interested in seeing the inside of the pub and taking our money in return for his name in 10ft letters hanging from the platform on a banner for the passing traffic. Not that I'm bitter.

Harry, who was one of those fragile-but-not old-timers who never leaves the house without a shirt and tie on (even up on the roof) and TIMMY!, who I swear was the double of Benny from Crossroads (I don't mean that insultingly - he actually looked like him), not only re-mortared all of the ridge tiles firmly in place but also sorted out Roofer #1's mastic bodge on the west chimney stack's lower pointing; fixed the ropey lead chimney flashing that Roofer #1 was asked specifically to repair (rain still leaked through to Bedroom 1); removed all of Roofer #1's flash band that was just kind of resting against the bricks rather than stuck to them; cleaned and fixed the gutters that Roofer #1 should have done but didn't and replaced more than a dozen cracked tiles that Roofer #1 was also asked to do but also didn't. I'm really, really not bitter about all that wasted curry money.

And they did that all in a day-and-a-half, working non-stop.
No tea, no butties, no fag breaks, no nothing - just graft. It's a method of getting on with the job that I've really only seen once before at The Lodge, and that's Trevor who is also not quite right in the head, although even he pauses briefly for a cuppa now and then. It must be a generation thing.

Note to self: employ more pensioners.

I forgot to take a 'before' picture so this is the best
I can find from back in November when we had
Mr O in to blast everything
So while they were doing that I set about stripping the Living Room's pine door frame. I've already started scraping out the chimney breast wall lime pointing but it's such a tedious job that I've decided to do it in stages to stop me going bananas and running screaming in to the woods. Probably naked.

We've already tortured the (original) pine door by soaking it in a fizzy warm caustic bath before attacking it with a Stanley knife and giving it a liberal smothering of beeswax, so it was time for the frame to get the same treatment, minus the bubble bath bit because it's nailed to the wall.
I started off with a heatgun and scraper to dig my way through the many layers of yellowing rubbery gloss white paint then, when I'd got as much off as was going to come off without causing damage, I glooped thick splodges of gluey paint stripper all over the surfaces and worked it in to all of the holes and splits with a paintbrush, leaving it for a few minutes to get to work.

It's not easy to photograph, so I didn't, but as you come
in to the room there are scuffs and small marks on
the left of the frame near the bottom, The same goes as
you leave the room - scuffs and marks on the left near
the bottom. My theory is that it's from someone right-
handed carrying buckets or coal scuttles in their left
(opening the door with their right) and banging whatever
they were carrying on the woodwork.
Once that was all washed off with sugar soap and I had repeated that part of the process again, out came the trusty Stanley knife and I tested out my kneepads for many-an-hour as I pick-pick-picked at all of the tiny flecks and recesses of white, getting the wood as clean as possible.
Then it was on with a light hand-sanding with 240-grade paper and another wash-and-dry, and I finished off with two coats of Flag Classic Wax 'Antique Pine' professional wax as recommended by the restorer who dipped the door, buffing thoroughly between the coats and to finish off with a soft brush attachment on my cordless drill. And when I say "thoroughly" I mean 'four full battery charges'.

After that I gave the door another waxing/buffing and temporarily re-hung it, discovering something amazing in the process - nothing creates a room more than filling that gaping hole in the wall with a door with which you can shut off the rest of the house.
We've now got a real Living Room and I can't wait to crack on with the rest of the jobs (apart from the ones I'm scared of).

Finally a couple of random photographs for no reason whatsoever.
Dawn and I went for a walk across the fields and through the woods this evening, setting off just 10 minutes before three opposing thunderstorms rolled through, bringing with them all of the associated rain. Fortunately, being Country, we were armed with foresight and were wearing our walking boots and waterproofs. It's boring being all growed-up.

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