We continued our hedging quest this month, buying a few dozen "whips" or hawthorn saplings to plant in the holes where we hacked out elder previously. We planted them over a few evenings, using stakes and plastic coils to give them support. It will take a couple of years for them to grow to useful sizes, then we'll get the whole hedge laid.

 

 

Shortly after planting the new hedge whips the weather took a swing from the north-east, bringing us a fresh dumping of snow. It gave us a great photo opportunity at first light, then thankfully melted quite quickly before causing any harm to the new plantings.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael, Jody and Dan made a welcome return, to work through more items from our snag list. Jody and Dan dealt with plastering repairs in the dining room ceiling, while Michael was busy on woodwork. The glass doors require the most work, with trim around the frame and rubbers seals between the panels.

 

 

 

 

Michael also brought us a beautiful great slice of oak that will be Mark's desktop in the mezzanine. It's from the local Helmdon sawmill, where the outer cuts from the trees are normally discarded as waste. One man's waste is another's desktop...

 

 

While Michael was woodworking, Jody and Dan started work on the fireplace. Based on our sketches and last month's mock-up, they quickly built the brick pillars, topped by a huge old oak lintel that we recycled from a gatepost formerly alongside the stables. Next they built the stone sides to the fireplace, and also the stone seating "wings" along the wall either side of the fireplace.

 

 

Finally they made a timber frame former atop the fireplace, then laid more stone to create the canopy. It will take a while now for all the lime mortar to dry and blend in with the wall behind it, but already it looks like a farmhouse Ignlenook that's been part of the building for years. Further work is needed to plumb in the small fake gas stove, then the side seats will get topped by flagstones the same as the flooring.

 

 

We've had a couple of visitors this month, and put them to work helping us in the upper bedrooms. James came up from London for a weekend of hard labour, so we started by staining and oiling the truss and purlins of the main bathroom ceiling.

 

 

While the oil was drying, Mark and James clambered up in the ceiling to install framing for plasterboard, and threaded cables through for the extractor fan and lights. We also put framing battens in the truss gaps, then tacked plasterboard panels on each side leaving an inch cavity "sandwich" which we filled with expanding foam to help sound-proof the rooms.

 

 

 

 

After completing the truss in-fill we continued work on the ceiling and walls. Mark installed all the plumbing for the shower, mounted to the wall, then surrounded it with insulation as the entire east wall was insulated then dry-lined. We gave the plumbing a quick leak test and succeeded in getting sprayed by the shower, sans-rose, so we can confirm all systems are go. 

 

 

By the end of the month the bathroom was fully lined, ready for plastering, other than a small access panel that's remaining open until we've finished all the upper bedroom cabling. The bathroom fittings we ordered last month, including the jet bath and shower, have all been delivered. They're stacked in the garage awaiting installation once the walls are plastered and the floor is down.