Today is our first anniversary at Green Farm Barn, boy does time fly! Just like last year though Mark is down under, so Sarah celebrated with Lester. The weather joined in the celebrations; after the heavy snowfalls last week it is now warmed up with sun shining and clear blue skies.

Michael and Keith have made the most of the improved weather to finish off the inner layer of the front wall of the bedrooms, so suddenly the barn is looking far more like a house.



While Mark was preparing for the GP in Melbourne, Michael and Keith were cracking on rebuilding the lintel above the doorway in bedroom two. The rotten old timber was stripped out and replaced by concrete lintels internally, faced with a large chunk of reclaimed timber, then topped off with repaired stonework. The bottom half of the doorway was then blocked up in preparation for timber stable-door cladding with a window above.




While Mark was enduring a torrid weekend with BAR in Melbourne, Sarah investigated the rest of the week's building work. Two of the stable doors have been blocked up, ready for windows to be installed at the top.



We had a major tragedy today: Sarah was driving Beetle to work when it caught fire, just half a mile from home. It seems likely that the fuel hose or fuel filter split, causing petrol to leak onto the exhaust and ignite. Sarah noticed a lack of power so she stopped to phone home, then noticed smoke. Sarah grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the dash and attempted to douse the growing flames, but to no avail. By the time Mark arrived with another extinguisher the flames had really taken hold, so all we could do was stand back and wait for the fire brigade. As the flames grew we watched the tyres explode, then the windows blew out and all the interior melted away. By the time the fire engine arrived poor Beetle was thoroughly barbecued, so although they were quick to drown out the flames the car was completely destroyed.

Unfortunately Sarah left her bag in the car; after the firemen finished we attempted to salvage the wreckage, and managed to find the charred remains of her diary and wallet. We also managed to find some of the tool kit, mostly melted but some bits were recoverable. Finally a recovery truck came to scoop up the remains and take them away for disposal. Tragic.





Michael started on our kitchen archway today, atop the doorway from the kitchen to the bedroom link. He started by building and installing a timber former, then laid down the first row of bricks. We are going to render (plaster) the walls and just expose the two rows of brick arch as a feature.

We also extracted a date-stone today: it was installed in the east wall, but we will relocate it somewhere more visible and add a new inscription of the finish date of our building, perhaps 2006. The stone has clearly been recycled from another building, since the barn wall it came from is certainly not 300 years old. It was fairly common practise to reuse stone for farm buildings, so this probably came from a more significant building somewhere nearby.



Today we started sanding down the enormous timber trusses in the open barn. This required building up scaffolding to reach the trusses, and attacking them with a newly acquired belt sander. The trusses had been painted white some time in the distant past, so we had to sand that all off to expose the beautiful timber. In places we couldn't reach with the sander we used a wire brush instead, which proved extremely effective at tearing off the paint and giving the wood a rough freshly cut look.

By the end of the day we had completed just one truss, so it's clear that we've got plenty more work to do before next weekend, when the timber-treatment man is due.




Mark spent each night of the week sanding, so by today we had all the trusses stripped down. The timber treatment man came to spray them all with a very toxic fumigating treatment, to kill all the wood-munching bugs from the timber. We had to stay away from the buildings for the day, so we headed instead to a rubbish dump in Northampton with a trailer load of plasterboard that we had stripped from the ceilings some weeks ago. We got home in time to watch Wales beat Ireland in the Six Nations, in doing so winning the tournament and the Grand Slam. What a fantastic result!



Mark had a very early start today as he was supporting the Sepang GP; after working on night-shirt for several days it was somewhat disappointing to have both Honda engines fail just three laps into the race! Mark came home in disgust, caught up with some sleep then we enjoyed a more relaxed restart to the day with a big builder's brunch.

After eating we headed for the roof, to start stripping off the slates from above bedrooms two and four. It was our first time on the roof, so we took the opportunity to snap some photos overlooking our field.




With a bit of practise the slates came off quite quickly, by hooking a crowbar under the sides of each slate and giving them a quick tweak. Our success rate was quite good, as about 80% of the slates came off without damage. Once the slates were off we stacked them on some scaffolding, then transferred them to a pile on the ground, perhaps to be reused in some future project.

After looking at the weather forecast for the week we decided to leave the battens and felt on the roof, to offer some protection from the expected rain during the week.



It's Good Friday today, so we have a long weekend off work. Despite the holiday Michael called in this morning to continue work on the new truss in bedroom four and to catch up with us to discuss the rest of the roofing work. Mark had been working in Japan this week, so having arrived home last night today was the first opportunity to see what Michael and Keith had been up to for the last few days.



First new feature is this beautiful brick arch between the kitchen and bedroom link. Second feature of the week is the new truss in bedroom four. While it's newly made for the room the timber is all recycled, and after a quick buff with the belt sander it looks as good as new.



Once we'd had a good look at the week's work it was time to crack on with some work of our own. Sarah started with more tanking, applying yet another layer to the inside of all the outside walls. Meanwhile Mark got to work with the grinder, trimming the edges of bricks to form the hallway between bedrooms four and two. We were also able to clear out the garage, thanks to a Jewsons truck moving the remaining pallets of bricks out of the way during the week, so Porky could be parked in the garage for the first time.




After a quiet Saturday we got cracking this morning, albeit an hour later than expected due to the change to British Summer Time. Ironically our first morning of "summer" was grey, misty and cool, but thankfully not actually wet. We need it to stay dry as we're stripping the roof off bedrooms two and four, ready for new felt, battening and slate. We managed to remove all the concrete-asbestos sheeting from the east side of bedrooms two and four, as well as the cross-battens that the roofing sheets were nailed to.




Sarah was working today, so Mark continued stripping the roof of bedrooms two and four. Having dealt with the east side yesterday it was time for the west side today. Mark had removed all the slates last weekend, so today it was just the battens and felt to be stripped off. After a few hours of careful balancing on the rafters the roof was bare. It took some hours of tidying to clear up all the mess, but by the end of the day the site was spotless, ready for more serious building works to continue tomorrow.




Sarah had a day off work today, so she was busy on site with yet more sanding. It rained throughout the day, so Sarah stayed in the covered barn, bedrooms one and three, while Michael continued working on the new stone eave in the kitchen-bedrooms link, preparing for the new link roof. Meanwhile bedrooms two and four filled up with water, so Sarah spent some time with a bucket bailing out the rooms.



Green Farm Barn