How to install a wood burner

First of all have an image in your mind where you would like to locate the log burner.
Share that image with your partner and see if you agree.
I had a vision when we were designing the place, of sitting by the fire in front of big picture windows, so that you could be inside all snuggled up and toasty, and you would look past the flames out to the bitterly cold winter landscape and feel even more toasty and content. MrsB agreed that it would be groovy.

Then you need build the room where the burner is to be placed, or prepare the area where it is to be placed and make sure you run a 100mm diameter air-feed to the site the burner will occupy.
The reason for this is that if it has a direct air feed from outside it wont be sucking air through all the cracks and gaps in your doorways and windows etc. That way the whole room will be warmer because you are not dragging cold air in from other parts of the house and past you to the fire, but feeding the air required for good combustion direct to the fire.

Then you have to choose the fire you want both in terms of looks and in heat output.
Those of you who have been following the build from day one will know that I am rather keen on energy conservation in terms of high grade insulation and a multi input thermal store and not wasting a single joule of heat energy if possible, but sadly from an aesthetics point of view the amount of gubbins you have to have behind a fire with back boiler would not be suited to the location of one in front of a window. Plus the vast majority of stoves with enough heat output and back boiler are bloody great big dark horrible gothic looking things that we didn’t want fucking up the view and of course the original vision.
So after much searching (over a year) I conceded on the back boiler option, and we found a lovely big powerful; stove with 12 to 14 KW output that would be enough to heat the 10 x 5 meter room and have some to spare. MrsB chose the colour so that it “worked” with the windows and other colour scheme coming together in that room.
It is by a company called Invicta and is a solid cast iron job which is then enamelled.
It takes logs up to about 475mm long and it has a large window so you can see them burning, and it really does chuck the heat out.

So first up we had to build a bit of a hearth or a plinth so that when we eventually tiles the floor the fire will be sat properly.
We had chosen a sort of brick red paving block as the base for the heart and I made a shuttering template out of 15mm by 8 mm batten to exact spec so the pavers would fit neatly. I then fixed that to the ground onto some silicon to get it nice and level and fill in the gaps underneath where the concrete floor was a bit bumpy.


Then used some self leveling screed to create a level base for the hearth. If you look here you can see the 100mm hole that brings in the air form outside. It runs underground to the left hand wall outside and then into a gooseneck vent with a gauze to stop bugs getting in


Ok so now that was all fine and dandy then just stuck the paver bricks to it (inside the template) to create the hearth.


Once that had gone off we managed to get the fire into the lounge using a sack truck and the timely assistance of Bernard our living village historian neighbor from up the road.
Now being an old sea dog I do happen to have a “rigging locker”, and in among my strops and blocks and ropes is a 3/4 ton chain block which I recommend everyone involved in any sort of renovation project should have, because it has come in handy and made light work of otherwise major headache tasks on many occasions.
Using the chain block we just lifted the stove into position easy peasy.


Then it was a case of lining up where the double skinned insulated stainless flue would go and first drilling central and then taking out the joist where it interfered with the flue location.



Then fit the outer sleeve that adds a thermal protection to the wooden floor.
This has to be done with the help of my glamourous assistant MrsB asking from above if all was well with my flue.


Then it was case of a test run with the flue down to the fire to make sure its all a good fit and central



The have peek down the hole to see if there is anything psychedelic going on whhooooooo


Then put in the floor plate upstairs. I have been informed by the eversohelpful Jack Prosser at that I have done it upside down but we didn’t want the thick bit of metal on the bedroom floor. It is solid anyway


Then it is a case of run it up through the roof and using the wall brackets to stabilise any movement.
We always knew that it was going to go up the middle of the windows upstairs and we like the sort of industrial feel of it, Plus the fact it works as one almighty radiator.



So here it is downstairs in situ


Gosh its feeling a bit cold, best we light it up and see what happens


And the effect is immediate, a large vote of approval from dog and cat


And a large vote of approval from MrsB.


Suffice to say that after an hour or so the room is warm and that permeates into the bedroom above and all the way up to the mezzanine deck
It is fair to say the fire is a blazing success

Love and peace Bentley

Digging up the Dunney

The Dunny,

It is a self composting toilet, which is a posh way of saying ” a very deep hole in the ground under a shed with a toilet seat in it” has been in situ for 6 years.
I dug a neat hole just under 2 meters deep with a mini digger and then a trench at about 1 deep 2 meters long running at a T from the back of that.
Then put blocks around three sides of the main hole and built a shed on it with a window and made sure it was tucked away up by the walnut tree for a bit of privacy.
At the back we covered the trench with some tick timbers then some plastic sheeting and some pallets to make a stand for plant pots.

You would do your business and just sprinkle some sawdust down to disguise the shape. If it was bit of a stinker then you also had the option to drop a bit of wood ash on it.
And that was that. Very simply it would just rot down to a dust and once in a while I would lift the moajn panal and fork the dust up the trench at the back.T
he only time it would get stinky was when we had lots of females staying and they were all pissing in it, instead of the field (a bit tricky once the crops had been cut ha ha ) If that happened a small scoop of lime would instantly neutralise the pong.
OK so it could be a bit chilly first thing on a winters morning but apart form that it was magnificent trouble free method of sanitation for No2′s.
However now we have proper toilet and need the space to be reclaimed as garden it had to go and this is it going.

I will post up the shots of the ground as it now is later, and one thing is guaranteed, it will be fertile. ha ha

Whoop Whoop new Doors for the Kitchen

So there we were bimbling along down towards Lorient, to have look in some reclamation yards for some interesting doors for the interior, especially the kitchen.
I had done some searching on the net and identified 5 possible sites along the route.
The first one was closed when we arrived, (despite the info on the website saying it was open) and we were then told it only opens once week, on different days of each week, and at different times of each day. I would be open at some stage but they couldn’t tell us what day it would be, except that today wasn’t it.
Ah well we didn’t give a toss because we were just happy to be in the truck together off on an exploration so decided to leave the other one in Vannes alone and set of towards Lorient.
After about 10 miles I saw a sign of a village name I recognised and mentioned to MrsB that it was where there was some sort of nautical antiques place, which to quote me “Was bound to be expensive full of old crap where they expect you to pay 300 euros for a picture of light house etc etc.”
As we were driving past anyway it seemed churlish not to pop in and have a look, so we found the place and parked round the side of the building.
We had peak in through the windows and I knew I was in trouble.
Big trouble,
Big Big trouble, as in how much have I got stashed and available on plastic trouble!!!

Just looking at tiny segment of stuff through the window was enough for both of us to be completely gobsmacked just feasting our eyes on some of the most amazing nautical items of furniture and curios I have seen outside of a ship.
I mean treasure trove, died and gone to old sea dog heaven gobsmacked!!
It only became worse from then on as leaning up inside the entrance were two mahogany/teak ships doors, one with a round porthole and one with square one, complete with their mahogany/teak frames.
I have walked though our kitchen doors thousands of times, I have sat and looked at then wondering if I should just make doors to fit or would we one day find the doors to fit, so I knew the size we wanted it is almost imprinted on my retina, and these doors were waiting for us right there.
I didn’t really need to use the tape measure, although I did measure them about 20 times just to make sure.
MrsB could sense my excitement and shared my enthusiasm that here were the doors we have been looking for, for over 5 years.

My total attention was drawn to the doors so I really hadn’t noticed we were still in the vestibule and on the threshold of what I will happily describe as the best shop I have ever been in.
Never have I been so completely bowled over by one item after another, be it beautiful old ships chart tables, or a captains bureau, or the big brass side lights, or massive brass working telegraphs, or an officers saloon dining table complete with baffles, or the deck recliners from passenger ships, and portholes, and bridge windows, and more doors, and more items of nautical equipment and fittings all taken from ships built before 1960. Brass and hard wood and exquisite craftsmanship.

We also spotted some wonderful art deco style dining chairs taken from a ships dining room and ,,, well we have been looking for some chairs for the kitchen and so they ended up in the trolley and then we spotted a row of three theatre seats taken again from the events room of an old passenger vessel that had been re covered in white canvas and were coincidently the same length as our kitchen table and would be perfect for us to have against the wall behind the table when it was just us two but when guests come there are three seats ready to go once the table was pulled out.
Kid in a sweet shop would not even come close to describe how I adore this shop.

Here is the door though to the backtofront room and it slotted straight into place with just a tiny shave of wood having to come out of the gap
As you can see we haven’t finished the fitting, with some profiling to do along the edges and a triangular fan light above still to go but it gives you an idea of the door (better photos to follow)

This photo makes it look wonky because of all the stuffing around the edge waiting for me to do the profiling properly but it gives you an idea of how good it will look

But this one fitted on the frame inside the scullery and,,,,, well just look at it yourself, it was made to go there./

Here are the chairs

and here are the theatre seats

So happy Bentleys and with some tidying up round the edges of the doors etc they will look even more awesome.

Love and Peace

Mrs B has a new studio.

The old sheds, which had been our home for 7 years were dismantled and we recycled 90% of the wood into creating a studio space for MrsB as well as a garden shed.
If you go back several posts you will see how we did the initial part of creating the bare bones of the new studio, but we had visions of a veranda and a clean lined interior to create really special space that retained some of the magic of Yee Haw and Shed 1.

So we started with the studio up right and clad.

So then we set about super insulating it and also paneling the inside, fitting the electrics and sink etc

This is it with some of Mrsbs equipment in place

There is one fluorescent strips and the rest is all LED. it has plenty of power points and running cold water that has yet to be connected

Then start on the garden shed bit

Then put on the veranda roof and some of the handrails etc but it gives you a good idea

Finish the garden shed bit and clean it all up

Here it is from the front so those of you in the “shed golden light appreciation club” will see straight away that the whole place is just bathed in it at that special time. Fellow shed lovers will be pleased to know that there will be a comfy double futon bed in there as well for those who need their dose of shed now and again. (yes Pearl and Dan)

I would not be exaggerating when I say that MrsB is rather chuffed with her new studio space.

The New Old School Bog and Cistern

The subject of toilet seat up or down has never been an issue between MrsB and myself and we both consider the conventional bog lid to be a rather pointless exercise. It is almost a denial of the fact that you have a toilet, or loo, or bog, yet alone have to see the bowl, which will briefly contain your bodily waste before it makes its journey to your favourite beach or river.
Most people just want to flush it away and have someone else deal with it, a sort of “dump and forget” policy.
This is all fine and dandy if you live in some swanky modern metropolis that has a mains sewer system, however once you live in a house that has its own septic tank and the performance of that tank, along with its associated pipework, is determined by what gets flushed into it, one tends to take more of an interest in the whole system and what happens to ones poo and pee once flushed down the pan of a septic tank connected toilet.

It is a fascinating process however I wont go into detail now, in fact I am unsure how I sidetracked myself into talking about the destination as opposed to the drop off point, which is the main purpose of this post.

I have never liked a bathroom where there is a bog in it, it shows a remarkable lack of forethought for the convenience of all concerned, however since profit became many peoples fundamental motive in housing, instead of a decent “home” and “space” to live in, the rooms became smaller and the space became squeezed until, in some houses, the person taking a leisurely bath is rudely interrupted by someone needing to have a dump, or the person who has “Tommy Turtle Head nearly touching cloth” is forced into the half crouched, clenched buttock dance outside the bathroom door accompanied by the ever increasing plaintive pleas of “I really have to go, let me in” so familiar to all who have ever been in urgent requirement of emptying their bowels.
The solution is obvious, have the bog in a separate room. A room of its own.
You can call it whatever rolls off your tongue the easiest, the toilet, loo, little boys room, powder room, washroom, shitter, bog, kharzy, it matters not, as long as if you are designing a bathroom in a house you endeavour to have it separate from the main washing area. If you have the space for upstairs and downstairs bogs then perhaps one of them (the downstairs) could be doubled up with shower for convenience sake (scuse the second use of the same pun)

We designed, into the space available, a separate bog for upstairs and were looking for a suitable pan.
We visited a friend’s barn conversion in Wales and they have this delightful old pan (self cleaning due to the turbo flush motion) that required no seat, but we found that it could be a bit chilly on frosty morning. However the seed was planted and a few months later we had a “eurika moment” when we remembered the school bogs from the days gone by, that had two semi circles of wood as a seat so you never had that cold arse feeling on a winter’s day.

Our search eventually ended up with an on line reclamation place called “mongers” ( absolutely superb and an extremely useful website and helpful crew. There in the gallery was exactly what we wanted but with the added bonus that they also had sand blasted and polished, cast iron, chain pull, cisterns. Whoop whoop!!

So this is how it panned out

First of all had to finish the plaster-boarding of the side wall and ceiling, fit the insulation on the front wall and affix the wooden plates for the main brackets.

Then get on the scratch coat and followed by the top coat of lime and mud render.

Now we had to turn the corner with the 3D tiles and head up the alleyway that leads to the bog

at which point MrsB took over the tiling

and completed through to the end

After the wall was painted and the bracket wood glossed black it was case of fitting the brackets and the cistern (not yet plumbed in and the down pipe will be brass when finished) to get the largest “drop” possible for the water.

And here is the run up to the bog (door yet to be fitted and plumbing connected but it is all there)

and a bit more detail shot of the pan and cistern with heavy duty chain attached.

So apart form a bit of fancy cutting work for the wobbly wall side tiles, the door to be fitted and bit of plumbing for the bog, we are nearly there on the upstairs bathing and ablution front.

I will post up the finished article with door etc later in the year

Love and peace


The Landing Walls and the 3D effect Tiles

So there were some gaps left on the upper landing wall that needed to be completed. First job was to fit framework which was completed by my mate Andy from down the road because I had a broken and dislocated shoulder at the time which made ladder work and carpentry a tad tricky.

Here is the framework in place

The idea was to cement board it then link it in to the completed walls with the lime and mud render we use. Nephew Will had already shown me how you cant use lime render direct onto cement board so with a couple coats of cement and lime water I fitted the boards and then attached chicken wire for extra adhesion for the render

Then it was case of masking off all the wood work and the other complete walls and floor and knocking on the scratch coat

After giving that a few days to dry pop on the finish coat and try to sponge and float it up to the best finish for a day or two.
Then it is on with the 4 coats of lime wash over 4 days. The colour we have used is Burnt Sienna which is a slightly lighter shade of the finished render work. It gives a lovely warm and light glow to the landing.

Once the lime wash was complete and dry we could then start the tiling.

Now many moons ago (approx 7 years) we spent a lovely weekend “daaahhn saaaarrrf” near Montpelier in a beautiful old Chateaux Hotel for a friends wedding and on collecting the keys and going upstairs to our room we had a collective “WOW” at reaching the top of the stairs and finding this 3D effect floor.

Now as you can imagine we were rather taken with this design however the tile in the pic were hexaganol and hand painted in the three shades of colour required to produce the 3D effect, and search as hard as we did there were none available.
We found the same pattern copied onto square tiles but that completely bolloxed the 3D effect by having square grout lines all over the place and was not the quality of finish we wanted.
I popped into to see Brian at New Image Tiles (opposite Jewsons in Bridport) and he suggested making the pattern manually using the three shades of a diamond shaped tile that would give the same effect.
It turned out to be “1500″ tiles to do the 12 meters of landing space we wanted however always willing to accept a challenge in the pursuit of the quality level of finish we want we ordered them and now the walls were dry we set about laying them down.

Here is the landing painted and ready for the tiles, with the balcony at the end removed

Here is the decidedly gorgeous MrsB dressed up in her boiler suit to woo!! me and it worked…… ahem!! I mean checking on progress

And here we go!!!

Once you get the hang of the pattern they go down fairly quickly.

Here is where the landing heads of down to the bathroom, study and bog but if we left the pattern unchanged we would end up with long lines of the darker tile and lose some of the 3D effect so we made the decision to “turn” the pattern by usinag dividing line of one couler of the tiles we wee using. here are the first dry attempts to get the turn angles right so it then followed the straight wall again in the other landing. You van see the medium grey colour being used as the break point. Not being relatives of Escher we couldn’t work out better way to do it.

and here is the final few cuts going in so we can re-install the balcony

Oh and here is the balcony receiving its last lick of paint before being put in place at the end of the first landing. It looks down onto the “back2front room” that some would describe as lounge.

and here it is back in place

This will give you an idea of how some of the specialist artisans (like the blacksmith) we asked to make the balconies seem to want to help in “upping the game” when it comes to the fine detail of the place and he made us these knotted bolts to complement the twisted rope effect at the top of the balcony.

This one doesn’t show the tiles off to their best effect but it gives you a better idea of the landing in full.

and here is looking the other way back to the stairs

in more detail

I will stop here because now comes the story of the other landing and the installation of the “old school” new bog or perhaps more accurately the new old school style bog and cistern. and that needs a chapter on its own

Love and peace

More elaboration of the Kitchen Space

Well the kitchen is coming along nicely.
Spending several months designing the kitchen layout, building mock ups, pretending to cook and prepare / serve food in there etc is proving to be time well spent indeed. I cannot recommend this process highly enough and regardless if you like colours, material or equipment we have chosen, one thing guaranteed is that if you are a person who likes to cook, the galley part layout is awesome to cook in. We have a few minor tweaks to make with storage but we are very nearly there.

The most important part of the whole process was the building of dummy surfaces/units and pretending to cook, playing at washing up and getting stuff off shelves and putting away crockery after washing up etc etc. I could not imagine building akitchen without that process taking part.

Once we decided what we wanted We ended up building an island and the framework for where the surfaces and sink etc were to go.

The sink was fitted but not fixed into position and then wooden template tops were built for the work tops.

Then with various instructions/measurements written on these were then sent to UK for fitting stainless steel with splash backs or edgings

Here are the tops in place

then the sink being lowered in

The hob and oven fitted in situ and working

The shelves up around cooking area

Then the granite for the sink surround and drainer

So then we set about tiling the island (haven’t finished the trims or the shelf under the drainer yet)

And this is a look around today, as it is so far.
Still plenty to do but you should get the gist of it now.

In through the door from the back2front room (lounge)

Looking from the back2front wall to the front of the house

Checking out the business end of the galley

Looking across to “Helga” the Warmsler1100 wood burning range and boiler and mainstay of the house during the winter months.

Looking from the galley towards the back2front room

That should give you a better idea of where it’s heading.

I am sure anyone who looks at this will have an opinion about it, (like marmite I guess) but for the record “we” are absolutely delighted to see the closing stages of the rooms nearest completion that we have designed every detail of, created and built every square inch of, the materials we have chosen to use, the equipment we have uitilised, the way it is lit, the way that it feels to move around in, and more importantly the process of doing it. There has been lots of laughter, some tears, drops of blood, (mainly mine) plenty of sweat, but most importantly a large portion of love.

The hallways upstairs with their 3D tiling and the old school bog and cistern next up

Love and peace

Then we fi

Old kitchen door becomes new kitchen draws

So we had some work to do in the kitchen, not least of which was creating some usable draw space next to the oven.

Here is the gap that I reckoned would take three deep draws next to the oven

Now I have acquired many new skills in this renovation, however I have never made a draw or set of draws. By that I dont mean I haven’t bought a flat-pack of draws and put them together, which is a fairly simple task, but making custom ones is new to me. My method was as follows I bought 6 of those slidey bracket things that you see on filing cabinets, I then bought some timber and appropriately sized screws and then set about knocking them up, bespoke size, in situation.

Here is the first of them fitted in place

They are about 30cms deep (near enough a foot in old money) and have also been fitted with sliding tray tops about 10cms down to allow for two tier storage to make it easy to locate items required.

So the top when in first and then I found a way of fitting the next two sets of brackets that required a bit of “getting into small places” as shown here. Quite comfy and MrsB even bought me a cup of coffee as I squirmed about in there grazing my fingers and getting stuck.

Thats the brackets in

Then it was simple case of fitting the other draws making any alterations required, then cutting to size and aligning the fronts.
The draw fronts are cut from the original kitchen door that we first ever saw and MrsB fell in love with on our first sighting of the house. We had a replica one made (without the rot and leaks) in oak by Micheal who did our staircase and saved the bits of the old one to use at some stage in the future for cupboard doors or, as has now happened, draw fronts.

Here is the door on the day we bought the place

And here it is (well two thirds of it) recycled into the house like so many other things that we found in the original and have all found their way back into it somewhere.
The handles are the originals off the door and just re-aligned (with one inverted) to suit our quirky style. The bottom handle was found on an old piece of wood in the house.

We are happy with them because it is more of the original history back into the regenerated house, this is also true of the wood that is around them, with the red upright being part of an old internal door-frame (the only one in the place) and the two dark uprights being from the original roof.

More kitchen upgrades to follow in day or two

Love and peace

The Sheds have Gone Long Live and Long Love the Sheds

Aye Aye landlubbers, Well it has finally happened. It was always on the cards but the planned demolition was often considered almost a sacrilege by ourselves and those who have visited and been “shedded right up” but the day has come and Shed One and YeeHaw are no more.
I forgot to do a complete pictorial history of the de-construction however this was the foundation blocks of Shed One after it was down.

And here is a partially deconstructed Yee Haw doors and windows removed

Here the sun sets for one last time on YeeHaw throwing the golden light on the carcass

And the paper rose that had survived for 7 years under the eaves

And there it was gone

Sad in many ways as a lot of laughter love and joy was embedded in those sheds over the 7 years thye have effectively been our home but as was mentioned earlier they were always destined for removal.

But don’t despair fellow shed lovers because out of the ashes of despair and rising from the sawdust and timbers of the carnage a new and magnificent, and yet to be named (suggestions welcome) shed arises being a combination of the other and a purpose built studio space for MrsB.
It has some of both sheds in it as well as some new materials where required and measures 6 by 3 meters.
WE have the roof on and sealed and the windows and doors in and the waterproof breather membrane around the sides on. Now it uis up to MrsB to clad it as I ran out of time and had to return to sea as many people have often surmised I left a few planks short of a shed.

Part of the floor and two sides

the space where the cherry tree was soon to be filled by more shed

MrsB loading up the cherry tree for sawing and seasoning to be burned in couple of years

First part of roof and the full size of the sides up

Door and couple of windows in

All the membrane and windows and doors in just awaiting cladding and internals

Not very pretty at the moment but from that ugly duckling a beautiful duck is going to emerge

So the sheds have gone but long live the sheds.

Next update on the leaves work to be posted shortly

Love and peace

The Bathroom

Aye Aye landlubbers, I have to say we are fairly chuffed with how the bathroom has turned out in terms of being close to our combined vision.
Our requirements were firstly from MrsB
Luxurious bath
Beautiful fittings
Warm opulent feel to the space
Not cramped
Plenty of natural light and targeted other light
The slight zany edge with a bit of “wow” factor
A room to enjoy being in not just functional

and then from me

A shower big enough for two
That two of us could fit in the shower
That MrsB could luxuriate in the bath with a massive supply of hot water
That the shower was powerful and controllable and could easily fit two people in
That the fittings were top quality and that the light was good be it natural or artificial
That is warm and the towels would be warm when you both exited the shower. (ha ha )

So if you go back in time on the this blog you wil see the photos of when we first laid out the bathroom floor and then put the walls in and then worked on the layout.
Here is a pictoral story of start to finish of the bathroom.

Early days with my son Zak and I putting in the joists and floor. The bathroom is to the left of where he is sat and the final measurements are 3.5 meters by 3.5 meters.

Up goes the first bit of 18mm marine ply which we ended up doubling up so we have 36mm of marine ply on the floor cross laid to prevent any movement

Here it is before the stud walls went up

It is mad to look at that and know it is 3.5 x 3.5

So then the Velux was in studwork was in the insulation was in and the plasterboard up

If you notice in this one I had to cut out some of the plasterboard already fitted so that the shower pipes and controls were not in a place where you would get wet turning them on.

Then in goes the shower tray

Of course not forgetting to get yourself trapped

Drain and water feed for the sink and electrics for the sink mirror lights

more plasterboarding and insulation

Floor tiles down and now comes the shower glass block wall

You can see the “in shower” ceiling LED lights

on with the block wall

then on with the shower wall tiles

Then get some plaster on

Then get some wall tiles on

Then get daughter Pearl in for some painting

get the big wonky shelf in place

Then fit in the shower gubbins and the bath stuff and the sink bits

And finally after years of waiting let MrsB loose with the finishing touches.

And that my hearties is the bathroom as good as finished. There is probably just one question poised on your lips “How well do two people fit in that shower?”, well let me tell you that a gentleman never tells.

It is fair to say that MrsB and I am well chuffed with the end result and it is the first room we have completely completed.

Love and Peace