Ray arrived in the UK: it is his first visit in the time we have been over here. Today he was introduced to the barn project, to see the size of the challenge ahead. Our main objective during his stay is to get the fence erected, although his main objective is probably to have a holiday and do some site-seeing and visiting... we might let him have some time for that if the fencing goes well. The first step was to lay out the posts we had collected the previous week along a rope guide line, and began thinking about our plan of attack.

First stage of fencing began... Ray and Sarah had enjoyed a touristy day out and about yesterday at Salisbury, Bath and Stonehenge, so today it was time to get stuck into the the serious stuff. We hired a post rammer to put all posts in: the posts are sharpened and the ground is reasonably soft, so this was faster and easier than using a post-hole borer and back filling, but it was still very hard work! The posts start life around 1.8m long and a third of that ends up below ground.

We had a fantastic afternoon at BAR showing Ray around the factory and watching the GP in Bahrain. The race resulted in Jenson scoring his second consecutive podium so the team were delighted and we enjoyed the celebrations, but not for long as there's real work to do at GFB. After the GP Ray, Mark and Graham headed up to the barn and finished putting in the last of the posts then attached the bottom rail. All posts and rails are half round "natural" (ie wobbly) timbers. The rails all had to be trimmed to 3.6m long as the posts are 1.8m apart.

The sheep immediately came over to investigate our work: they enjoyed scratching themselves against the posts, which is a good post-strength test, but they showed complete disregard for the railing as the walked straight over it to get to our luscious fresh grass!

Notification of our planning permission application for the caravan went up on site. The neighbours have been given three weeks to put in any objections to the application.

While Ray was down south with the Beetle catching up with friends and family, Mark patched up some of the holes in the roof of the old barn to start making that part more waterproof for storage. He also spent time clearing out the yard then finally headed up the tree closest to the barns to do some pruning (since the caravan will be sited next to it) and took the opportunity to get a good site photo.

After the big fencing effort last weekend we needed more rails, so Mark and Ray headed to our handy timber merchant. They managed to load 36 rails and one enormous gate post on the trusty trailer and towed them home then into the field using the increasingly tractor-like Focus. With that task done we all headed out for the main challenge of the day - Sarah's Beetle challenge.

After the Beetle tour we returned to the barn to lay out the timber for the next day. Ray and Mark bet that Sarah could not lift the gate post (1 foot square and 8 feet long) and then take it down the full length of the field to rest it at the far end. Well she showed them!

Full day fencing putting in the top two rails. It took all day, so we had a builders' lunch on site. Having the three of us made a huge difference in getting things done, as the rails were too long to hold and nail with just two pairs of hands. Progress was slightly hampered by the continual inspection and adjustment of the guide rope: Mark and Ray earned the nickname of the Fussy Fencers, but it was worth the extra effort because it certainly looks great.

After a fabulous night out in Chester and a quick trip through the Williams home village of Garn Dolbenmaen we went into Aberystwyth to visit the Golden Sands caravan park. We had previously met them at one of the Home and Renovation shows and knew they rented and sold caravans for on-site building projects. As we arrived right on 5pm the guy was just shutting up, but kindly he stayed to show us the various options as well as a couple of different layouts.

Today was the last full day before Ray heads home, so we had a full on day finishing off the fencing project. With a burst of speed we got the last rail installed and prepared the gatepost, although we didn't have time to dig out the huge post hole.

Finally we spent some time tidying up the site including moving our large pile of cleaned bricks from the garage to beside the old barn. We've already got over 800 bricks stacked and plenty more to come, so we can recycle them on the new walls.

We need to do a bit of a tidy up on the boundary wall before it gets built up to its final height (2m). The Ivy was great to pull off, so we soon had a trailer full to take to the Towcester tip. This also led to our first accident on site as Mark fell off the trailer and landed on his head!

After a brief recovery period we got back to work the knocking the bricks off the top of the wall, and loading them up into the neighbour's trailer. Mark had great fun driving the huge Massey Ferguson around the yard.

Great job done in a day.

Today we started our orchard by planting our first tree: we weren't able to find any NZ natives over here, so we went for a symbolic Williams Pear for our first arbourist effort. Eventually we'll have a lot more trees in the field, so this is the first of many.

While Sarah was digging a tree-sized hole Mark had a slightly bigger task, digging down a metre to put the big gate post in at the end of the fence. Thankfully the soil is soft and mostly stone-free, and the new trenching shovel is perfect for the job.

Today Twin Cottage officially went on the market, as the estate agents are very keen to get the details out to their client list. It won't be advertised online or in the newspapers for another week, but the viewings will start next week so we have to get the place perfectly spick and span ready to show.


Green Farm Barn