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

Plumbing Parts a Plenty

So the stoves in place the solar panels are on the roof the bath taps and shower are all in situation so all one needs to do now is connect all the bits to Richard (the thermal store).
The bits include a large expansion ballon, a 300 liter domestic hot water tank with twin solar coils and an immersion slot, domestic hot water manifold, domestic cold water manifold, underfloor heating manifold and pump, Ladomat valve/pump on back of warmsler range
circulation and control unit for the solar panels, circulation pump and manifolds for other central heating parts such as therma skirt and bathroom radiator.

Here is a small selection of some of the parts before we started

And that lot was only a fraction of it and so I can heartily recommend using a buyer when you have major project. I used TEKNOS ENERGIES SARL who worked with the designer (Rick) and compiled the main list of components required. WE still had to make several trips to the plumbers merchant but that is to be expected in a project like this.
Andrew (from Teknos) is an avid fan of alternative energy and has been on the fringes of our project since day one and it was he who introduced me to Rick who finally pulled all the parts together.
It is pretty apparent that Richard is nearly twice as big as it needs to be for house our size but us purchasing that model was as result of flawed advice at the start. Nothing wrong with having a thermal store as they make perfect sense but the bigger they are the bigger the appliances you need to run them.
What we don’t want is fucking great ugly log burner in the lounge that would have to be run every day as well as the warmsler to really “charge” up the size thermal store we have. We are looking for something a bit more aesthetically pleasing than a huge black high kilowatt (25+) burner in front of our picture window. It doesnt help that I only installed 22mm copper pipe that leads under the floor to the lounge and the warmsler which is one of those easy to make mistakes when you are years ahead of fitting any stoves and are nota professional plumber or builder. It is a minor irritation but one lives and learns.
What we will probably do is drop down a size with the thermal store (to either 1400 liters or 1000 liters) in this house later this year before the autumn and install Richard into the 2nd project with a gasification wood boiler.
Fitting one of those magnificently efficient ways of burning wood (up to 98% efficiency) into here now (which would only have to be loaded and burned once every couple of days to charge Richard) is not really justifiable considering it is only MrsB and I 95% of the time and half of that time I am at sea.
The system we have (albeit with a smaller thermal store) when fully tuned and set up is easy as peasy to run with it basically being “put logs on fire and hot water and heating comes out of the other end”.
During the summer when you have no fires the solar array is more than adequate to provide all hot water needs. Apart from humping the logs the whole thing runs automatically with thermostat controlled pumps and circulation and the reheating and redirection of excess heat into the thermal store to be used later when required.
I guess it is bit pricey to set up with all the equipment to purchase but now is the time to do it while I am still earning as my pension provision is poor I don’t want to be face with huge energy bills once retired and with this the only bill I will have is one for wood.

Some people would prefer to have the money in the bank and pay year in year out for ever increasing energy costs whereas I prefer to have the hardware installed now with the prospect of very small bills by comparison from now on and in the future. I am well chuffed that from now on every time the sun shines we are receiving energy in the form of hot water, and likewise every time we burn a log not only does it warm the room or cook a pie or heat the kettle it also gets stored for later use in the underfloor heating or radiators in the night. I would rather have that than concern myself that some thieving asshole banker might lose all my money or that I will have to be at the mercy of the power companies and profit led pricing policies.

I may have already mentioned it but number two project is being designed and built completely off gird so whoever buys it will never have utility bill

Here is the warmsler with its gubbins all fitted at the back

Here is richard the thermal store getting dressed up, fist with the solar panels and controller connected

And then more and more bits added

Here on the back wall you can see the domestic hot and cold water manifolds so you can isolate any specific hot or cold water supply to change out an item or add new etc

Hee is the two loops of underfloor heating complete with pump and thermostat however I am going to plum in a bypass to thermostat as it doesn’t seem to let the water through hot enough to really give the floor some warmth. It is still early days and there are many tweaks to perform such as fitting a time to the electric immersion element that is in Richard so that if we decide to bugger off for a week or three we can let the electric give the tank a quick squirt of heat in the night and then the UFH in the lounge should be just enough to prevent freezing through the house should cold snap prevail in our absence.

This one shows the domestic hot water manifolds more clearly and on the ceiling you can see the first of the central heating manifolds that operate the therma skirt towel rail and more to be added as we go along.

It all probably looks complicated and bit of a mess but when we have finished plumbing in all the bits the tanks will be enclosed in their own room with a couple of big porthole style windows giving it a ships engine room feel.

This has been a far more expensive plumbing heating set up than I first imagined and some would say that it would be easier to just have very basic system without all the whistle and bells, and there maybe some merit to that viewpoint, however I wanted to reduce our dependency on the energy companies and solar water heating does that, likewise so does having a wood fueled heating system, so does having a thermal store to hold onto that energy that otherwise would be wasted and use it later in the night to maintain warmth to the house.
The Warmsler is a mighty beast and we will learn to drive it properly however it isn’t powerful enough to fully charge the thermal store on its own and we dont want a bloody great big ugly wood burner in the backtofront room in front of the big window preferring something more aesthetically pleasing as opposed to huge kilowatt effective. With that in mind we will probably retrofit a wood fueled gasificatiopn boiler in the utility room that would need to be filled with logs (about a wheelborrow full) and lit once every couple of days to make sure that the thermal store is really charged with heat and leaving the Warmsler in the kitchen to be more cooking and ambient heat and top up for the thermal store. The log burner in the backtofront room would be just for when we used that room although it wold have back boiler and send some heat to the thermal store every time it was lit.

I have learned many valuable lessons from this and they will be heeded in project two for instance the entire downstairs will be UFH and there will be heating built into any interior walls I have to construct.
I would go for the same size Thermal store but get a wood fueled gasification boiler big enough to charge it fully from day one and I would site it either outside or near the door to the utility room so wood transport is easy.
That would also enable the stove for the kitchen not to be the sole or main source of heat.
I would purpose build the area for this lot to go in with ease of access in mind and I would make sure I pre-laid and pre-insulated all runs of pipe work for domestic hot water and any upstairs central heating.

OK that’s it for a while until I get home and start in the next round of filling in the gaps.

I welcome any comments or questions on what we have done so far

Love and peace

Kitchen Worktops

We designed the kitchen cooking area to be much like a ships galley, where most things are on hand and easily accessible and the cooking area / sink etc are all just a step or two away from each other. We wanted plenty of available worktop preparation area both around the cooker and also between the cooker and the sink, our other design feature is that we wanted open accessible shelving for foodstuffs, herbs and spices and gadgets/ equipment etc.
The island was designed with the installation of an under the counter commercial style stainless steel fridge that is about twice the size of a normal under the counter domestic fridge. That has been installed and is running well. The only issue with it is that it is deep so we are searching for the right sized plastic type baskets to make access / storage and segregation easier.

We opted for an under-counter electric fan oven/ grill because all the (bottled) gas ovens we have used have been pretty shite and difficult to vary or maintain temperature. I took the advice of some pro chefs/cook we know who said “gas range and electric oven” was the way to go.
Where the oven is to be situated means that when the door was open it would block access in and out of the galley area but then we found a rather natty little number by Neff that the door opens and then slides under the oven. We are well chuffed with it and it is easy to operate. That said there are several functions and as all our ovens before this have been On or Off and temp setting having range of features to play with is great but we will have to learn how to get the best out of each cooking procedure. Luckily it has an extensive and easy to understand instruction booklet.

Door shut

and door open which just slides underneath Tra La

We selected a 5 ring gas (bottled) hob with the one large ring on the side so you can still get pots on all the others. WE chose Neff again as it had excellent reviews and ticked all the right boxes boxes for us in terms of size, appearance and quality.

The work tops themselves took us a couple of years of um-ing and ahh-ing and looking at different types and styles and comparing our own experience with others. Due to its durability and easy to clean functionality (and is regular feature in any seriouis commercial professional kitchen I had always leaned towards stainless steel, although MrsB, quite rightly, was concerned that it may look too industrial and out of place in a country cottage kitchen. As we explored and researched other different ones (granite wood re-constituted stone, melamine, etc etc we slowly but surely eliminated all other contenders and came back to stainless but we wanted bespoke tops with splash backs and over-hangs.
It took some time to find the right fabricator but finally settle on Complete Catering Contracts ( based in Hastings. They were helpful beyond the call of duty and kept in good contact and produced the goods on time (a day ahead of schedule)
The tops themselves were well made and fitted well and we are very happy with the result
What we did was to build the framework for the kitchen tops and then fit 18mm marine ply tops. WE cut out exact;y where the hob hole was to go and used 4 x 2 wood attached to the surface where the splash backs were to bend up against.

Here is the carcass

here with the marine ply top cut to size with hob hole and the 4 x 2 inm place for the splash back positions. You can see the island template made as well

Then it just needed some liaising with Complete catering and soem notes written on the templates

Then pack them off with the courier (in Brittany I use the Red Van Man who is superb.

Then off they went across the sea to return three weeks later and with a bit of “you lift and I’ll grunt” No your way” No my way” and a mad dash by MrsB not to be in the photo they were in place.

Get the kettle on

We still have the finishing to do around the edge of the splash-backs and the til;ing to do on the walls of the island and various other bits and pieces but now they are in place we are rather chuffed with how good they look and how the overall dynamic will be when all the finishing touches are put in place.

Love and Peace

The Stairway Window

The plan has always been to have an internal window on the halfway platform of the stairs where they go up in the lounge and past the old doorway into the kitchen, with the idea being to nick light from each room and share it to each room as the day changes.
It is single piece of laminated toughened 8mm glass and works a treat and wqe are well chuffed with the end result

Looking through from the kitchen (being scrutinised by Minnie) you can see the wine rack which is about 30 clay land drain pipes short of completion (Mr Hymas can you source any more?)

Here are couple of detail shots of the lovely old chunky oak that make up the supports.

That’s another long awaited job complete in the touches and features that go to make up Chez Bentley

Love and peace

A Separate Bog Is A Must.

Aye Aye M’hearties,
I cant be doing with a bog in the bathroom, never understood it and never liked it.
Of course when they started cramming more and more houses (or investment opportunities as they became known) into smaller and smaller footprints in the desperate scramble for profit as opposed to building proper, usable, livable, family homes people began to accept the bog crammed in to a corner of the bathroom.
There is nothing worse for anyone when deciding to have luxurious bath or refreshing shower only to walk into the bathroom and be confronted by the hideous odour of someone inconsiderate bastard’s food ghosts lingering in the air.
It is uncivilised, uncouth and uncalled for, especially if you have the space to create a separate small room specifically for the evacuation of bowels and bladders.
I have seen pictures of recent renovations where despite an apparent abundance of space they have still mindlessly shoved the kharzy in with the bath and shower, when for want of bit of forethought and better planning they wouldn’t have to shower or bath engulfed in the stench of someone else’s shite, nor would they have to postpone their eagerly awaited cleansing process whilst the air becomes breathable again.

I just wanted to get that off my chest before I showed you the rather natty old school cistern we have bought for the upstairs bog and the genuine old school (and I mean genuine old “school” as in like they used to be at school) bog.

here is the cistern in polished steel genuine article with new parts to make it work smoothly

Once sited in place we work out the beds and stuff and make template in plastic to required length etc and they also replicate it in the brass or copper gush pipe. It will look marvelous.

Now a good mate of ours on a renovation in the UK found a toilet that wa designed to have no seat but I found it a bit slippery and occasionally cold and I remember thinking that it would be great to find one of those bogs with the wooden half bits like they used to have at school where there is no need for a seat and no cold shock when you sit down.
Well joy of joys because Mongers ( they of the art deco tap fame, also had that style of bog in stock along with the polished steel cisterns.

Happy days I will update when they are fitted in place and give a detailed and graphic description of resting your bum cheeks on a bit of warm teak before discharging ballast.

Arf arf


The Bathroom is functioning

Ahoy! There M’hearties,
The bathroom sprang to life as well this time home.

Here is the shower gubbins in place with just one chrome 90 bend short of perfection

It is a fair torrential downpour of a shower and well worth the wait for it to come on line. Those of you who marveled at and reveled in the experience of the simplicity yet effectiveness of the “shed shower” will be in awe of the new Bentley shower. It is mighty and the attachment part is like setting off a fire hose.
here are some detail shots

Then comes the bath with its refurbished 1930 art-deco hexagonal taps and shower head and a very happy MrsB in the first bath
I found the taps in a brilliant site called Mongers ( absolutel;y lovel;y chap that runs it and they have some amazing stuff for sale.

some detail shots

Then there is the very efficient Oxford radiator and towel rail from Victoria Plumbing, Stands about 1500 high and produces loads of heat.

Then there is the sink unit in place with its more madern tap set up. Will get better pics of that once the plumbing kit has been stashed away ha ha

So there it is so far with just the airing cupboard to build and some tiddyvating to do and we are in business.

Love and peace

The Modern Marvel of Therma-Skirt

Aye Aye Landlubbers
“Therma-Skirt!!!” I hear you ask, “what could it possibly be?”
Well it is the same size as, and looks exactly like skirting board, but it is in fact a radiator that works as low as 35 to 45 degrees that goes all round the room at floor level gently delivering its heat to the entire room.
No more fannying about with gert big ugly (or even pretty) radiators clogging up wall and floor space, because this stuff is all round the room and you can have furniture against it without blocking the majority of the heat.
It ain’t cheap but it is very very good at what it does and because it works at a much lower temperature than normal central heating there are energy cost savings to be made.
Fitting is a doddle
First of all apply a line of heat reflective insulation tape.

Then make a level line at the appropriate height and screw in the securing clips

and then clip on the Therma-Skirt making sure to use the push fit corner connectors

You choose where it comes into the room via the piping and it just push fits together. The corner finish is “OK’, perhaps not as nice as mitered skirting but not really noticeable after a while. It comes with a coloured rubber grommet sealing thing for the top to get neat finish with the wall and there is a cable run beneath it so you can retro fit electric or speaker cables should you so wish.

This is a section side on, with the plastic protective coat half peeled off. You can see the two oval tubes (16mm) that the water runs round.

and in this one you can see how it clips on to the clips you put on the wall.

and here is the cable run that clips or slides in and has already proved useful (again you can see the peel off protective coating)

All in all we are well chuffed with it and our only complaint would be that when it first comes on it does “crack” a bit but then again so do some radiators. It is bit pricey but the way it delivers the heat makes it worth while in my opinion and we will be fitting some other bits where some discreet heat may be required but we don’t want the bulk of a radiator. (oh!! and we have a bit of straight level wall to put it on ha ha )

Love and peace

How the back has changed.

Well M’hearties, it all started 8 years ago and round the back looked like this

But we had a vision so at the end of 2008 it looked like this

By the end of 2009 it looked like this and we called this the “slumdog millionaire phase”

And by 2010 it looked like this, whihc we called the “Swiss chalet stage”

Then came the windows upstairs and the downstairs ones as well

and in the eyebrows

That is how it has been for a couple of years now and this is what it looked like when we cleared the space in anticipation of the window/door delivery.

so imagine our excitement as the lorry turned up carrying the new window and door

Then it was case of carrying them round the back

We had already cut in the air feed channel for the fire that will eventually go in the lounge and also laid wood effect tiles as a threshold for the window/door to sit on.
This took a bit of tweaking to get the concrete base level

So then it was case of edging the framework into position however a few days before we had decided to check the measurements against the hole to discover with some horror that we had ordered it 10 cms to wide for the gap. Despite measuring it 10 timers and double checking we had done it correctly during the ordering process a 6 was mistaken for a 5 and there it was.
Luckily we have over 200mm of oak uprights to play with and the multi talented saviour of my leave “Andrew” used a chain saw to cut a channel out of the back of the oak frame so the metal window frame would slot straight in. WE chose powder coated aluminium frame as it is at the back of the house and has a 3.8 meter span under an oak beam which is bound to saga bit. WE are hoping that the metal uprights will help support that beam. WE have decided that as a belt and braces approach we will probably fit a couple of ornate steel upright columns to stand in-front of the made window uprights to act as extra support for the beam above although we are not 100% sure we need it. (watch this space)

Framework in place

There it is with the windows in although this photo doesn’t do it justice as it has a couple of acro-props in place just as a safety measure at this time but it gives you an idea, the key thing is that we are now secure and weather proof for the first time.

More to follow shortly
Love and Peace

What’s in The Box???

Oh I say I wonder what it could be in these two large packages

Well that’s right!!!


It is the Warmsler 1100 in Burnt Sienna ready for fitting into its new pride of place in the kitchen. First we had to make level plinth on the granite fire site. WE did this by knocking up some temporaray shuttering and using a concrete mix then a self leveling screed / tile glue mix as the top level coat.
The plastic pipe you can see sticking out is the direct air feed from outside to keep the draughts down inside. Once it has dried we fitted a piece of zinc over the top to prevent the surface fomr chipping or gouging when we slid the 250 KG + stove into position

There it is in place (with a temp emergency overflow in red)

We have bit of fine tuning to do on the flue thermostat and lot of learning to do on how to drive it properly and how cook on it but it is already a most warmly (geddit??) welcome addition to the Bentley household.

Next Installment is another significant leap forward in the renovation and that is the fitting of the big back windows and doors.

Love and peace

Fitting the Solar Panels and Why.

Aye Aye land lubbers, I will start off the next round of installments with a simple statement that you are free to argue with if you so wish, “No house with a south facing roof should be without solar panels for heating water” to add to that statement “No new house (south facing roof) should be allowed to be built without solar panels for water”.
OK! so there is the expense (not huge) of fitting them initially but after that approx 75% of your hot water needs for the year are covered. Heating water is the most expensive thing we do so it makes sense to me to have it for free once you have installed the kit.
There are of course the naysayers who whine on about payback periods and other such rubbish and who seem to operate under the short term thinking delusion that it is better to keep the money in the bank and use it to pay for oil or electric or gas to heat the water.
I call it short term delusion because electric oil and gas are only going to ever become more expensive whereas the sun will always shine enough to provide plenty of hot water.
The other argument people use is that if you sell your house other people will get the benefit of the panels, all I can say is that if making a profit on everything you do is how your mind works and what taints your regard to the well being of future generations, then best you keep your precious money in the bank. That said if you think that creating and hoarding wealth is more important than the environment then try holding your breath while you count your money. So speaks someone who works in the industry of exploiting oil and gas so I see how they operate and what damage they do and how they manipulate the market conditions to suit their profit sheet so I also see how something as simple and affordable as solar water chips away at their power.
Ahhhh I’m glad I have unloaded that because I have heard varying degrees of complete bollocks from some quarters justifying their decision not to install solar when the benefits are so obvious, or it could just be me justifying our decision to fit solar as we believe it is worth the effort and cost long term.
So enough of my tree hugging hippy rhetoric lets get cracking with the process of fitting them.
The type we were recommended to choose by our designer were the evacuated tube type. Basically it is a thin sealed copper tube slightly fatter at one end (about as thick as your thumb and about 10cms long) with water in it. Thie tube is inside a black glass tube, which is in side a clear glass tube and between the two is a vacuum. The suns rays (infrared I think) pass through the vacumm and heat up the black glass tube which in turn heats up the copper tube sending all the heat to the fat end which is placed in a heat collector and which takes the heat and transfers it via pipeline to your hot water tank. The vacuum between the black glass and the clear glass prevents any radiant heat form escaping.

They look like this and are 1.85 meters long and about 7 to 8 cms thick. ( I will verify dimensions later)

To give you an idea Andrew from Tecknos (the excellent company who acted as our buying agent and who introduced me to the system designer who put together our heating system) delivered the tubes and collectors to us, and as a demonstration suggested we take one from the box and stand outside with it while we had a coffee. The tube was cold as was the copper end you can see in the photos and yet after 15 minutes standing outside holding the tube by hand in a bit of watery December sunshine the copper end was too hot to touch.

I assumed that large swathes of the roof had to be de-tiled in order to fit the frame but it couldn’t have been easier as the framework that supports the collectors and tubes it is held to the chevrons by 6 stainless steel straps that require two tiles to be lifted for each strap and then re-laid over the strap.

Here you can see a collector with the stainless straps on top of it, each of the collectors holds 30 tubes giving me a nominal kilowattage of 15 to 20 KW I think although I will have to check my figures on that.

With abit of careful lining up the stainless straps are installed and the collector hung from them. Then the rest of the frame is built in place and it is ready to receive the tubes. Here you can see me in my sling almost fizzling on the spot with frustration about not being able to be up the ladder with the guys. Luckily for me two very able, competent and skillful blokes (Micheal and Andrew) were on hand to help and I would suggest that three people does make the fitting of the tubes less risky (in terms of damage to the tubes) and much quicker.

So here we are with both collectors in place

Here is the first tube going in,

It simply slides into a rubber grommet in the collector with the fat copper end sitting snug against the internal heat collector.
It is a bit fiddly slipping the first couple in until you get the feel of it and a rhythm going, but once you get the hang of lubricating properly while getting the position correct, before you know it you are plunging them in to the hilt in a festival of double entendres and schoolboy giggles.

And they they are in place with the copper pipe and sensors all connected and insulated and then covered in protective silver tape.

The internal workings are to follow after the story of the Warmsler 1100 arrival in the Bentley family

Love and Peace

Big Day

Aye Aye Landlubbers MrsBentley had the first shower in the house today.
The shower is mighty, but needs a tweak or two to become awesome.
The thermal store is running, the solar panels are harvesting heat when the sun shines, the underfloor heating in the lounge has been flashed up but it will be 24 hours or more before we know how effective it is, the Warmsler range is afire and the warmth is being spread about the house but we need to spend some time balancing the system and learning how to get the best from it.
That said Chez Bentley is alive!!!!!!

The photos and story will be following soon

Love and peace Bentley


If it was a film script you would laugh it off as being “improbable” however real life does have a way of being improbable.
This is the most important leave since we put the roof on in August 2009, it is the leave where the thermal store, solar panels, Warmsler range, thermaskirt heating, the bath, shower, the kitchen sink plumbing all come together in the realisation of the design put together with Rick Nokes and supplied and admirably supported by Andrew Henderson from Teknos.
I spent 6 weeks organising the logistics of thousands of pounds worth of equipment from various suppliers both in the UK and France and all fell perfectly into place, so what could possibly go wrong as the ship arrived in Singapore with 24 hours to spare before I flew home and began the BIG CONNECTION ???

Well how about me slipping in the shower and dislocating and breaking my shoulder!!!

A bit of a bastard is a mild understatement. however work is continuing and i will report in about 4 weeks as to progress. For those of you who have been following the build I can guarantee the next few posts will be full of the “WOW FACTOR” even if I will be still typing with one hand.
Love and Peace

The window seat and kitchen surface framework

Aye Aye Landlubbers

IN this picture you can see the remains of what once was a window seat, that sadly was lost to the ravages of time.
It was always our intention to replace the seat and after some planning and chin rubbing and some invaluable input from nephew Will we decided to do a box seat that would hold the gas cylinders for the hob as it is easy to vent it outside.

The bits and pieces you can see in thsio picture are as follows from the top down starting on the right

The old bit of wood in the wall that used to be the seat
The covered copper pipe which will take the gas round to the hob
The first (connected) and the second of two x 40mm pipes which take fresh air around behind work area to the wood burning range boiler (to stop it sucking air in through all the cracks elsewhere)
The emergency drain for the wood burning range boiler
The emergency cold water feed (blue) to wood burning range (to prevent overheat in event of prolonged power cut)
The grey one in the middle goes off to the left and is the drain for the sink.

Here it is all tidied up a bit and with the emergency drain and air connected and the water pipe getting in the friggin way.

They all go round the back of this “leveling” wall and here you can see where the electric comes though for the fan oven and the elec for the hob lighter

Here you can see the emergency cold water and drain for the wood burner and the air feed just poking round the back of the up rights for the fireplace

Once the pipes were in place behind the small block wall Will set about getting a level framework onto the island and then onto the other work surfaces.

Some more leveling and choosing of old wood to be the uprights

And there it was done with top of 18mm marine ply. We are sending the tops away as templates to have stainless steel tops with overhang and splash backs made to measure a then bonded to it.

and here with the cut out for the gas Hob. The bits of chevron you can see are where the splash-backs start upwards.

Here are few stages of the window seat under construction which utilised the half section of the original back door of the house that has been serving as the dunny door for the last 5 years. Beautiful old oak with the original patina of paint just rubbed down

So it is coming along and thank-you nephew Will for creating a beautiful feature in the room and for sharing your ideas and expertise with us.

Love and Peace

Progress in the kitchen

So the time has come to up the ante in the kitchen.
We have already fixed in the island and sink placement and so it was time to fit in the framework for the worktops, run the air feed for the range/boiler, get the walls rendered where required, get the floors in for the various appliances that are to be fitted, restore the seat under the window, run the gas line for the hob, run the cold water feed emergency cooler and drain for the range boiler, and generally prep it up for finishing touches.

First off was to get some render on the walls.
This is first coat lime render and sticks to the recipe we have used throughout for first coat render made of 1 x Lime 3 X sharp sand, 1 x sieved torchis (cob) and a liberal dose of yak hair.
The first coat can afford to be the consistency of double cream (not extra thick) and you apply by first using an air hose (easiest method) to blow out any loose material, and then give the area a good spray of water. Once the wall is nice and wet you sort of chuck the stuff at the wall.
I have the mix in a wheel barrow next to me so I can scoop up what I need then work it up on the hawk. It takes a while to get your wrist action right (I suppose working on ships for years does have some advantages) but once you have your technique sorted you can really get a move on and cover large areas quite quickly.
I use a plasterers trowel (the long oblong one) and get a decent lump on my hawk, work it up a bit (by lifting it and dropping it on the hawk to get rid of any excess air) and then using the end of the trowel flick it at the wall using fist sized lumps. This means you get good penetration of any large holes and all the cracks.
You just choose one area and keep at it until you have done about 5 to 10 minutes worth and have a good area covered (up to 1m2)
Then get a half hawk load, work it up and pushing really firmly smear it on over what you have done.
You have to use quite a bit of force to get it to run smooth but just do one or at most two runs of the trowel with each extra load you put up. If you spend too long fannying about with it you will worry it off the wall and have to start again.
If what you have done comes off when you apply the smoothing coat just bide your time and leave it longer before you apply the smoothing coat.
This is whats known as the scratch coat so don’t much about with it too much at this time as long as it is on the wall and following the contours you want then its fine. After it has been on the wall about an hour or more you can go over it with a wet trowel just to tidy it up and fill in any gaps or missing bits you need.
Here is after the chucking process and the first smearing in one section

and here is some more early work

You can really build it up to cover all sorts of stuff underneath but make sure you take photos so you know where it all is

This lot was tidied up and secured to the wall by using some plastic bash in tabs made for the job. The bit of plastic piping you can see is going to be for the feed and return 16mm copper tube to two lengths of “Thermaskirt” ( that will be along the cold wall on the other side of the kitchen (it backs onto a garage is insulated but could just do witha small heat source there for any really cold snaps) I am miffed that they will be seen, but it was one of those things that we forgot to consider at the time when we laid the floor.

Now here it is all done up with the “scratch” as well,. The scratch coat is what gives a key for the next smoother coat to grip to.
You achieve the effect by either spending money buying a scratching tool OR you get a 20 cm length of 4 x 2 and then make some drill holes to stop it splitting and then hammer half a dozen nails through it. Then you mark up what you have done going in about 3 to 5 mm depending on how deep your first coat is. Bast to do this last thing before you knock off or first thing in the morning as it will still be workable then.
(also not that all the wood beams and uprights etc have all been masked and covered where possible as Lime mortar is a bastard for staining wood black if you let it get on and it penetrates deep as well.

This is the rest of the scratch coat on leaving stone revealed in the places where we want it

and here with daughters dog in the middle of the room wanting me to chuck the ball again

Mrs B has taken ion the task of this rooms render and the results so far are looking good. The areas in the pictures above are now ready (once dried for a few days or better still weeks) for the smoother top coat that is the same mix but doesn’t have the hair in it (opinions vary on this but I prefer the top coat without hair) which Mrs B will be starting in the next week or so.

Here you can see how we are trying to build in a transition between new and old materials in way that enables them to sit comfortably with each other. Once all the wood is oiled up and the render lime washed etc we think it will be a very welcoming warm and comfortable kitchen.

Love and Peace


The Shed Room gets its skin

Theis is the story of the “ShedRoom” as it has always been known because it is mainly wood clad on the inside in homage to the sheds (YeeHaw and Shed One) which have been home for the last 7 years.
It is the dorma room we created when we rebuilt the back of the house which looked originally like this

So knock the back down and put in the bottom of the framework for the Shed Room

Then up goes the internal framework within the roof

Nearly done but you can see the framework

Here with the roof on in winter 2009

then with the cladding on the outside

With some paint on the windows

With the eyebrow windows in.

From the outside – in, it came into being like this I wiont bnoitehr with any chat just show you the development of the room. The frame timbers are 100mm x 100mm the outer cladding is Douglas Fir 22mm as is the interior cladding.

Inside time to get the floor joists in and then the floorboards down

Inside after the floorboards looking through to the front of the house.

The ceiling insulation (150mm Celotex) on and the wall insulation (7omm celotex with a 35 layer foil insulation over that)

Then a leap forward to putting the plaster on

Then get daughter Pearl on the painting job

Waiting for downstairs fire flue to come through

Mega lampshade

Then get the floor sorted

Then get it really sorted

And now apart form some therma skirt for the heating and the corner edges for the timber walls and a couple of small patches (oh and the flue to finish) the jobs a goodd’un.

Love and peace