Sunday, 31 August 2014


With the completion of the patio area and paths around the newly extended Pennine View, the last few weeks has been occupied with landscaping work. A particularly dry June/July meant that the soil was too dry and hard to be easily worked but early August brought quite heavy rain and with it the ability to rotavate and grade the soil.

There was just enough top soil to grade the lawn from field level up to the new pathway level, some 2ft higher, in the SE corner of the property. The whole area has now been seeded with a rye-based grass which should establish itself during the autumn and over winter.

Whilst I was at it, I also reseeded two areas behind the garage that were used as a storage area and for mixing cement, etc. I've also rotavated and graded the area by the septic tank, which is where we stored the top soil during construction work.

Unfortunately, the local mole population seems to have discovered all this good work and sees it as an excellent opportunity for easy tunnelling and, presumably, a plentiful supply of worms. Not much that I can do about this without doing further damage until the ground firms up. The indigenous rabbits have also been having fun digging holes in my nicely graded top soil. The vicissitudes of living in the country!

Nearly two years after the first thoughts about building an extension emerged, I'm finally getting to the end of this odyssey. There remain a couple of small work items that will be done as and when materials and builders' time are available. Much as I would like to get the outside painted, I now suspect that will be a job for 2015.

Friday, 13 June 2014

High speed broadband @ PV

Not really related to the extension project but going on alongside and improving the property, I now have high speed broadband at Pennine View!

For the last ten years or so, the best broadband speed I could get was around 2.5Mbit/s. Ten years ago that wasn't too bad but the rest of the world has moved on and rural Cumbria has not. Well that has all changed with the installation of a Lonsdale Network Services wireless node here at PV.

I am now getting broadband speeds in excess of 60Mbit/s - far faster than most town dwellers get on their telephone line-based service. The intention is for PV to become a relay node, beaming high speed broadband down into Sleagill village, so they too can benefit from this excellent service.

Patio nears completion

It's taken a while but the new - and very large - patio is more or less finished in time for summer. Including the paths, some 80 square metres of terracotta stone has now been laid. Big job!

The pathway to the back door is also finished and graded into the driveway area with stone chippings  - a great improvement. Steps down to the garden from the southern edge of the patio is the next job, some time next week. After that I'll be able to get on with grading the lawns up to the patio using all the soil that was displaced by the extension work.

In other news, the last of the old-style windows around the north side of the cottage have been replaced with four new hardwood frames and modern double glazed units.Should be a bit warmer in the kitchen during the winter months!

Friday, 23 May 2014

The patio takes shape

Another week of stop/start progress, hindered yet again by the weather. After the retaining wall was built the builder was able to fill the void with hardcore and flatten it with a "wacker" to provide a solid base for the flagstones. The past few days have seen most of the very large patio area finished with red sandstone flagstones.

In addition, the builder has been laying stones from the back door around the side of the house. This required some careful work with levels to ensure that there was a suitable slope for rainwater run-off. The old path around the west side of the cottage was very good at collecting pools of water but hopefully we've fixed that now.

The patio area is starting to look rather good!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Starting on the patio

It's been a while coming, what with the dreadful weather and tradesman availability but at last we got started on the patio today. First we needed to level the area down to hard sub soil. This produced a considerable amount of top soil which we will use to build up and grade the low lying land notably in the south east corner It's certainly a large area!

We had about seven tons of hardcore delivered by tractor and for now this has been barrowed through and heaped up in the patio area, awaiting completion of drainage and a small retaining wall, both of which we hope to finish this week.

Whilst we had the digger, we took the opportunity to move all the top soil that was saved from digging out the extension area. This soil will also help to bank up the low land which will be an interesting landscaping challenge for my gardener!

Finally we dug out the discharge pipe from the septic tank. This has been working poorly for some time and today we discovered the reason! Over the 80+ years since the house was built tree roots have cracked the old fashioned porcelain pipes, allowing mud and debris to enter. We're planning to leave it overnight to dry out with a view to finding a solution tomorrow.

All in all we made a lot of mess (and a lot of progress) today!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Laying the path

With the improved weather the builder has made a start on the path around the cottage. The old paths were very tatty and, of course, the new extension had to have its own paths laid, so the only proper answer was to replace the whole lot. I selected a rough terracotta stone, which will offset the white rendering nicely.

The picture from the north east corner of the cottage shows progress to date on the new path. It's a little wider than the old path, which has allowed us to fix a couple of issues with inspection manholes.

Over the next week or two we are hoping that the land will become dry enough to deliver a load of hardcore up the field by tractor. We can then make a start on the large patio area on the south side.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Guest bedroom finished

At last the back bedroom, aka the guest bedroom, is finished. The painter was busy on Friday and Saturday and then yesterday the carpet was fitted.

I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning moving stuff back in and the result is pleasing. I still have a mirror and, perhaps, some pictures to hang but that can be done in due course, as I have visitors coming tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the builders have made a start on the path around the north and east side of the cottage. Hopefully, by the time they get to the front, the ground will be dry enough to lay the patio. At last we are getting some drier and warmer weather so here's hoping!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Ready for painting

The back bedroom is ready for painting. Last week the plastering was completed and skirting boards, coving and architraves fitted. Because of the earlier damp problem and the need to "tank" the wall, the area around the window has taken a long time to dry but it's pretty well there now.

The window surrounds have been finished inside and out. Glass and window furniture are all fitted.Tomorrow the plumber comes to fit the new radiator and on Friday the decorator starts.

It should only take a couple of days to finish the painting, so I'm hopeful of getting the carpets fitted in the middle of next week. Just in time - I have a visitor staying in the back bedroom next Friday night!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Getting started again - the back bedroom

Three months later and after one of the wettest and windiest winters I've ever known, work is under way again at Pennine View. There are two main projects remaining - the back bedroom and external works including the patio. The latter is still waiting for the ground to dry out but we are under way with the back bedroom.

The back bedroom has always been damp and various superficial attempts to fix the problem in the past all failed. I was keen to fix this once and for all. At the same time I decided to replace the window and skim the walls and ceiling to make this room like the rest of the house.

Work started last week. Very quickly the reason for the damp became apparent - the old window was rotting around the cill and, being west-facing, the rain was driving in and running down the inside wall. This was something of a relief, as I had been concerned that there was a rising damp problem.

The new window has now been fitted and that should make the room a lot warmer and, of course, watertight. The wall beneath the window has been "tanked" to prevent any residual damp from getting through. Next, the walls and ceiling were skimmed with plaster a couple of days ago.

We are just waiting now for it to dry out before fitting skirting, coving, door architraves and the new radiator early next week. Hopefully we should be able to start painting and decorating before the end of the month.