Steph and Adam came to the UK for a very quick trip, and we were lucky enough to catch up with them during their short stay. JJ was more interested in the chickens than the building project, but Steph and Adam helped us out with a little concrete moving before they headed back down south.




Once the visitors had gone we got stuck into emptying the large chunks of concrete rubble from bedroom 4. We did wheelbarrow load after load and well and truly filled up the large farm trailer - again.

Race weekend in Japan, and Mark was out in Suzuka. Unfortunately today's session got cancelled due to the local typhoon, so the guys were left stranded in a very boring provincial Japanese town.

Meanwhile Sarah entertained a range of passing guests as they came to check out the progress. Jules, Ceri and Christopher visited, once again the kids taking more interest in the neighbour's chickens than the building work itself. 3 year old Ceri was thrilled by the open space of the kitchen.

Cousin Robyn and husband Ken drove up from Kent; they had visited the site on our open day seven months ago, and were impressed by the progress to date.

After a busy day yesterday with visitors it was time to get a bit of work done. Sarah removed the last bricks from bedroom one's floor, which had been buried under dirt. Over 100 moved and cleaned and stacked, which made up for the quieter day yesterday. The trailer is now filled to the brim.



Meanwhile in Japan, the rains subsided and for the first time this year the qualifying happened on the same day as the race. Great result for BAR, with Jenson third and Taku fourth, putting BAR in a solid second in the constructors' championship.

Yesterday we spent the morning shuffling through the Portakabin, getting some of the winter clothes, hunting down vital electrical bits as well as finding a few other bits and bobs to make life in the the caravan a little more luxurious. So today we got rather more physical: we started by stripping wiring from bedrooms 2 & 4.



Once the wires were out of the way we marked out where the walls would be between bedrooms 2 and 4, including marking the hallway in bedroom 4. It gave us a much better idea of where the bedroom 2 ensuite would go and how big the rooms would be. We also attacked more of the concrete from the bedroom 4 floor, filling yet another trailer with great lumps of concrete.

As the nights are drawing in and we are arriving home during the week in the dark we decided we need outside lighting, so Mark wired up a light under the caravan and put it on a timer for the evening. While under there Mark also had a chance to put stabilisers in strategic points under the caravan's chassis to reduce the place shaking. We also put lagging on the exposed pipes coming into the caravan, ready for what has been predicted as the coldest winter on record, to prevent the water freezing over night.


We naively thought that now the bedroom floors have been stripped of bricks and concrete we are ready to prepare foundations for the new floors. However, once we started measuring the roof structure and calculating the final floor height we discovered there was more excavating to do to meet building regs. Ho hum, more lumps of clay and rock to haul...

We started the tedious task of excavating the floor of bedroom 4. Working under floodlights we hacked away with the pickaxe then got on our hands and knees to lift out 12 wheelbarrow loads of rubble.



Working in daylight instead of floodlight, we made fast progress on the bedroom 4 floor, scooping more barrow loads out. All the rubble went out into the big farm trailer, and to speed things up we created a ramp up to the rear of the trailer to avoid double-handling every load. Unfortunately as the trailer got more full and the ramp got more slippery things became more dangerous, leading to an inevitable BFA (big ... accident). Mark was attempting to up-end the barrow at the top of the ramp when his trusty red-band gumboots suffered a grip failure, sending him over backwards, landing flat on his back on the wet concrete. The wheelbarrow then toppled over on top of him, depositing a load of concrete and rocks to add further bruises and grazes. Ouch!

Sarah checked for breakages then grabbed the camera to collect evidence for the Health and Safety report.



Today we finally removed the last stone from bedroom 4's floor. The new floor level isn't quite final, but at least all the big rubble is out so it should just be a matter of levelling off the remaining hard-core before building up the new sub-floor stack.

We celebrated the completion of the rubble removal by playing with a new toy, er tool, we bought earlier in the week: an SDS hammer drill. This great device is like a combination of a normal hammer drill and a Kango breaker, but about half the weight of the Kango we have used previously so much more suitable for walls. In full destruction mode the chuck doesn't rotate, it just hammers with a large chisel blade, which is very effective for stripping plaster from the old stone walls. Great toy.



Finally we mapped out the sewerage run for next weekend, as we are planning to have three days off. We worked out the drop levels for the runs, and determined the quantities of pipe and the angle-joins we need so we can put an order together for our suppliers. 

Then we were off to the BAR factory for the final race of the year. It was a great atmosphere with a full auditorium. Not a brilliant start for Jenson with his engine fire, but Sato hung on throughout the race and ended up in a respectable 6th place. So we finished the season P2 in the teams' championship, with Jenson third in the drivers'. Fantastic result!


BT finally got our phone installed after numerous delays. It was due to be sorted last Wednesday but the BT bloke couldn't get hold of us and didn't know what to put where, so today Mark stayed home all morning until the engineer arrived. In the end it was a simple job, since the BT wire was already in place on-site, and we had run a temporary cable from the kitchen block up to the caravan, so all that was needed was a joining of wires and the phone came to life. Online at last!


We both took the day off work, hired a mini digger and got set for a busy three days. We had many visitors. today: first the Jewson's men came to check how we were getting on, followed by the damp man who came to check out what our needs are and give us a quote for damp proofing the old stone walls and for treating the roofing timbers. Next our Jewson delivery arrived, firstly four tons of pea shingle craned over the wall from next door and another four tons in the main courtyard. Then architect Malcolm came to check on progress and answer some questions we had with floor levels. Our final visitor was our builder finalising our future work plan.



After all these visitors it was time to finally get some hard graft in. We started with the digger trenching in bedroom 2; the digger has retractable tracks so it can squeeze through regular doorways, allowing us to dig right through the house. Once the trench was dug we had to shovel shingle and lay pipes.

Late in the day we were trenching outside the kitchen when we struck an old water pipe crossing the yard. After some further investigation we took a brave pill and hack-sawed through it: water sprayed out for a while but it was just the contents of the pipe since both ends were disconnected long ago.


More JCB action as we created trenches in all directions. The ground height is very different inside the building to outside in the field, so we have a 500mm trench inside bedroom 2 become a 1500mm trench outside the wall, and we had to join the two together under the old stone wall. Thanks to our good surveying skills the holes lined up as Mark lay in the trenches and dug the half metre tunnel by hand.



Trenching through the buildings left us with a lot of clay to get rid of, so we filled our trailer and attempted to haul it into a dumping area in a neighbouring field. As usual we overloaded the trailer with about a tonne of clay, but unfortunately it has been raining a lot recently so the ground is rather wet. We attempted to get into the field via our usual route through our own gate, but the grass incline proved too slippery for the car. We then attempted to drag the trailer up using the digger but it too lacked traction. We then decided to drive along the road to use an alternative entrance into the field, which worked fine, but we soon discovered the field has become a lake so the poor car and trailer got bogged down almost immediately. The rescue operation took quite some time as we had to use the digger, parked some distance away in a dry spot, with a long rope and we used the action of the boom to drag the car a metre at a time until it was free. Needless to say we won't be repeating that in a hurry.


Our clocks went back over night, marking the end of British Summer Time, so now we have even fewer hours of usable daylight. We charged on with the digger trenching as fast as we could, and when it got dark at around 5pm we still had much to do. No problem, we just hooked up some floodlights, including one on the boom of the digger, and carried on in the dark.




By the end of the day we had only completed about half of our target for the long weekend, so we will need to use the digger again next week to finish the job. We do need to get it done in a hurry because the wet weather creates havoc for open trenches, and we cannot back-fill until all the pipes have been laid and inspected.



Green Farm Barn