We started the month battling the hedge, hacking out elder trees that aren't suitable for hedge-laying. There turned out to be quite a number of them hiding in the foliage, closely surrounded by brambles and stinging nettles for protection. Ouch! 

 

 

 

 

It's also been a good social month, as we had Otago Uni friends Ivan, Linda and family to stay for a few days. They were nearing the end of a European tour, so we sent them sightseeing to Warwick Castle while we were working, then enjoyed a great night in the dining room catching up with their travel stories over dinner.

 

 

The next day we took them all for a tour of the Honda factory to watch qualifying from Budapest, then arranged a bonfire and barbecue party to celebrate Ivan's birthday. Fellow Otago alumni Graham and Jason also joined us, so we had a great night reminiscing around the bonfire. It was pretty scary to find it's been 18 years since we first met at Otago!

 

The story telling went long into the night, and with a warm fire, clear skies and great star views we decided to sleep out, a decision which was perhaps influenced by our inability to stand up and walk to the house by that stage! Next morning we were awoken by warm sunshine melting the light frost. After a few gallons of tea and a huge greasy fry-up we watched the GP then managed to head out for a mountain-bike ride around local tracks to blow the cobwebs out.

 

 

 

 

 

We continued working on the patio this month,  levelling and compacting the fill ready for flagstones, then we made a start on the wall's stone facing. After a fairly wet summer we had a spell of warm sunshine, so took the opportunity to open up the set of bifold doors onto the patio, which gave us a timely reminder of why we're working on this area: it's a cracking sun trap.

 

 

 

Once we finished preparing the patio in-fill and mortared up the edges of the grape vine's porthole, we tied the vine back up to the corner of the stable and picked our first crop of tiny grapes. We've had a couple of dozen bunches of very tasty morsels, not bad for its first season.

 

 

In order to accommodate the kiwi tourists earlier in the month, we cleared and organised our collection of tools and building materials into the master bedroom and ensuite, leaving bedroom three and the main bathroom vacant for guests. With winter now approaching we decided it was time to sort out underfloor heating in the lower bedrooms, so we moved ourselves into the upper rooms temporarily.

 

 

Next step was to pull up the temporary carpet and chipboard floor from bedroom two. When we checked under the insulation we found it was wet, which isn't supposed to happen, so all the insulation had to be stripped out and scrubbed and dried.

 

 

Further investigation revealed the source of the water was our temporary shower, which has been in the ensuite for two years, slowly leaking around its trap onto the chipboard then under all of the bedroom two floor.

 

 

Once all the flooring was stripped out for drying we started the rebuilding job: the shower was tiled and grouted, then we refitted insulation in the ensuite floor. After insulation came steel mesh, then a concrete slap to mount the shower tray on, with Sarah once again on mixer duty. When the slab was dry we fitted the tray followed by more tiles and grout. 

 

 

Once the tray was fixed in place we stripped the shower screen down to its component parts and gave it a thorough scrub. When that was spic and span we reassembled it and fitted it back into the shower, along with all the mixer fittings and trim.

 

 

Finally we moved on to underfloor heating, clipping pipework onto the steel mesh before screeding. We decided to make the screed on-site ourselves rather than getting it trucked in, so Sarah mixed while Mark barrowed and levelled. The ensuite floor took about half a tonne and half a day to complete, so we look forward to quite a few long days doing the bedroom floors in coming weeks...