We enjoyed a short but very satisfying night's sleep in our "new" home, followed by a somewhat weary day at work. This evening we continued unpacking and organising ourselves, and Mark ventured onto the roof to install the TV aerial and web camera.

Sarah was home today, completing the temporary kitchen organisation. The caravan man also made an appearance, so Mark popped home late afternoon to disconnect the power and plumbing from under the caravan. We also had to do some animal-chasing, as the chickens, pigs and Lester made efforts to climb in or under the caravan as it was being winched onto the back of the removal truck. We very nearly had a flat pig and a cat visiting Aberystwyth.



After an hour of cranking, wriggling and generally persuading, the caravan was finally safely strapped onto the back of the truck and heading back to Wales. It's been our happy home for a year; we shan't miss it at all!

In the evening we improved our security a bit by installing a temporary door between the upper and lower bedrooms, ie between the completely insecure work/storage area and the slightly less insecure living zone. We still need to block off the doorway to the stables before even considering locking the new courtyard doors.


This morning we started in the short link, preparing the floor with a membrane, insulation, chipboard and carpet. Just as we were finishing trimming the carpet in place Kate and Steve arrived from London. It's been almost a year since their last visit, so we spent quite a while showing them around all the new developments.


After a quick lunch break Kate and Sarah started painting the ceiling of bedroom 2. From our experience in the ensuite we decided we needed one coat of watered down paint to act as a sealant, then a couple of think coats of white emulsion to finish.

We shuffled furniture out of the way, then Mark and Steve built up a scaffolding tower to give the girls access to the apex of the ceiling. They were soon splashing about happily with paint.

Meanwhile Steve and Mark got working in the kitchen, sealing it off from the short link by battening and boarding up the arched doorway. They also built some shelving in the link, making a very homely entrance from the courtyard.


Our final task for the day was to fill the trailer with a load of scrap timber, a mix of recent off cuts and old wood too rotten to recycle. We hauled the wood up to the middle of the field and built ourselves a bonfire pile, surrounded by a ring of cut up telegraph poles for seats. Once we'd prepared the BBQ, food and drinks we settled down with a drum of diesel and a box of matches, which within minutes transformed the large pile of damp wood into a roaring inferno.

After a few hours of eating, drinking and marshmallow toasting we watched the fire die out, then returned to the barn for the night.



This morning Sarah had an early start at work. After a bit of a sleep-in, Mark, Steve and Kate had brunch in the sun then got back to work painting in bedroom 2 and installing the first sections of power and lighting in the upper bedrooms. Kate and Steve wanted to visit B&Q before returning to London, so Mark guided them to the Northampton superstore where we were able to look at paint colours for bedroom 2. Kate and Mark agreed on a couple of colour scheme options that we'll try.



This evening we had a blitz on bathroom accessories: we installed the heated towel rail, mirror, hand-towel rail, gown hooks and toilet paper holder. We also put a final coat of white paint on bedroom 2's ceiling, then finally we put some colour paint samples on the walls. We decided to go with a deep, earthy green for the full-height wall at the back of the room, and a slightly paler shade on the other walls.



Last night we had a quick rush around to tidy the yard up for our barn-warming open day. We swept up the worst of the rubble in the courtyard and dumped half a ton of sand over the rough ground to smooth everything over, then added some makeshift steps into the patio doors and dragged a bunch of pot-plants and shrubs around to create an instant courtyard garden. Very homely.



During the day we entertained a stream of visitors: friends from work and neighbours from Weston and Lois Weedon.


We decided that due to the slight delay getting work started on the old barns, now is a good time to get cracking on the kitchen roof rebuild instead. The builders need about two weeks to build the new roof, and that's about how long it will take to get the final drawings submitted for the lounge and dining rooms, so we are going to go for it. That means it's roof stripping time!



We started by assembling some vestige of scaffolding along the courtyard side of the building, so Sarah could wrench out the lower row of nails while Mark worked along the ridge removing more nails and taking the ridge capping down. The entire roof is clad in concrete-asbestos sheeting, so our top health tip is to avoid breaking the stuff up and inhaling the dust. Once all the nails were out we were able to slide the sheets down without too much effort, scrape the worst of the moss of them and stack them on the trailer. By mid-afternoon we had the south side done, so we took the first trailer full to a nearby recycling centre, where happily they have a special area for asbestos collection.



Next job was the north side of the roof, which came off much quicker than the south due to our well-honed technique. With the roof completely stripped we did some tidying-up work to bundle up all the power cables, since they will stay live throughout the roof rebuild. Finally we dragged the trusty big green tarp out and battened it down over the kitchen, as the weather forecast predicts intermittent rain for the next few days.



Mark and Malcolm met our new building inspector on site today. We went through details of the building work done so far to bring him up to speed, then talked about the phase two proposals for the old barn and its link to the kitchen block.


Today we started clearing out the old barns, preparing the floor of what will become the lounge. Once the top layer of rubble and rubbish was removed we found a bit of a wet spot, so we prepared a little trench to allow it to drain out to the street.

Mid-afternoon we were joined by Phil and Jules with their kids Ceri and Christopher. Mark and Phil headed off with a final trailer load of asbestos to the recycling centre, then returned to build up a bonfire with the help of Ceri and Christopher. The kids also spent time feeding the chickens and pigs, although they quickly decided the pigs were too big and scary so we closed up the fence to keep them at a safe distance.



We spent the evening enjoying another great bonfire and BBQ beneath a clear, cool, star-filled sky.



We made an early start today, continuing excavations in the barn that will become the lounge. Yesterday's water hadn't drained away, so we did some digging to investigate further... The news wasn't good: we discovered an old water-pipe ran under the floor, and it was leaking. As we dug the pipe cracked in a couple of places, so we had to get the neighbours to isolate their water main, since the pipe was coming from their supply. With the flow stemmed we were able to dig up the pipe and cap it, then dig out all the wet clay and replace it with dry hard-core.


Michael and Keith started propping the walls of the old barns today, as their first stage of preparations for the lounge rebuild. We hope the props will ensure that the walls won't fall down when the roof comes off next month.



We had four tons of subbase delivered during the week, so this morning Mark popped out to hire a compactor while Sarah was at work, then we spent the rest of the day shovelling gravel and levelling the floor.




Today's theme was guttering: we started by clearing up the building rubble from the east side of the bedrooms, moving piles of wood, stone and slates. We then started installing the aluminium guttering.



Today we had a bank holiday, giving Mark a bonus day at home. Sarah popped into work in the morning, while Mark continued the great guttering installation game on the east side. Sarah was home early afternoon to help finish off the guttering, although by the end of the day we had to concede the job wasn't quite finished as we'd run out of joining clips.

As the weather was gorgeous we finished the day off with a BBQ in the sun and a few rounds of golf pitching, or hacking in Mark's case, around the field. Sarah won the match play competition with ease, although she did manage to lose a couple of balls into neighbouring hedges in the process.




This morning the scaffolding contractors arrived to erect two tiers of scaffolding inside the lounge.  It's like having a tree-hut erected in the barn, as we're able to climb right up into the apex of the roof amongst the old beams. While there are a few very rotten spots, on the whole the timbers are in pretty good condition.



Michael and Keith finished the month on a high, raising the enormous old timbers into place atop the kitchen roof. They stripped off the last of the old framing, lifted the huge king posts into position in the centre of each truss, then they managed to haul the ridge beams into place and set up the first rafters. With these beautifully chunky old beams in place we can get a real feel for how the kitchen will look: it's a fairly large open space that will be dominated by the fantastic truss timbers. They smell great too!




Green Farm Barn