Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hallway Part 18

In the evenings in the last week, and over this weekend, we have been ploughing on with the painting in the hallway. So lots of caulking happened; we have added the second coat of paint on all the walls, and the bulk of the woodwork has been done too. Phew!

Apart from a snagging list of little bits of painting and tidying up (don't buy B&Q's own masking tape - its dreadful, and pulls the paint with it when you take it off!)...

And here, how the hallway is looking (L-R), looking in from the front door; looking down from the stairs; looking up at the upstairs. All tidy and nice!

I also just realised that nowhere in all the hallway updates have I mentioned that we bought ourselves a length of coir matting to put down by the front door to act as a large door mat. So happy that we did - infact wish we'd bought a bigger piece that went all the way to the inner front door. Edging the mat is on our snagging list, but its perfectly functional as is.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Autumn Sunrise

Both Sunshine and I were wide awake at 6:30 this morning (must have been all that chocolate at his parents last night!). As a joke I suggested that maybe we should just get up and go find somewhere to see the sunrise ... and somehow the idea caught on... Looking it up it appears there's not many good views of the sunrise from Bristol (lots to be found of the sunset), so we thought we'd just hedge our bets and head up to the Observatory overlooking Clifton Suspension bridge. All wrapped up and flask of tea at the ready, we drove up to Clifton in the cold but fortunately dry morning ... sooooooooo glad we did! The sunrise was a bit hidden round the corner behind some trees and a crane, but it was lovely to be up that early in the quiet city and watch it wake up.

We then headed into Clifton village for some hot chocolate and toast and then back home to DIY ...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hallway Part 17

Another weekend's push on the hallway... MCP came round again and we masked, sanded and painted. Can't quite see it here (got too dark to take any decent photos by the end), but by the end of Sunday we had most of the hallway, upstairs (done ages ago) and downstairs with their first coat of paint... its coming together now and I need to start thinking about lamshades and picture frames :)

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Hallway Part 16

So, after a few weekends off (term has started and Sunshine has been REALLY busy with lecturing and stuff), we had another go this weekend at tidying up the bits of the hallway that needed doing like sanding and prepping all the skirting boards, including making ready all the little bits of wood that need screwing into the walls for the skirting boards to attach to; fixing the door frames that got damaged when we pulled the old floorboards up (you can just about see the trip-hazard we've put up for ourselves on the inside front door frame - its to hold in place the glued and screwed door frame that had been splaying outwards and making us not be able to close the door properly).

Sunshine's dad came to help again and by the end of the weekend we had the bulk of the stuff down and ready for PAINTING :)

*erm, yes, the front garden path is still not totally filled and covered yet ... seems to have dropped off our priority list at the moment ...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lead Pipes Woes Part 8

Water board contractors came today and dug up the street and took out the bit of lead pipe in the road and replaced with blue plastic. I must say it was fascinating to watch them dig up the concrete on the footpath ... we could have done our own garden path MUCH better ... but, hey ho - you watch and learn. One of the annoying things though was that they dug no-where nearly as deep as we had been told we had to, (neither did they add a trace wire to their pipe as we had been instructed to). They are not following their own advice! You can see our blue pipe being connected to their new blue pipe on the photo at the bottom left. They were also very efficient in filling the whole up again ... I think it will take us a little while yet ...

And here's Sunshine pulling out the left-over lead pipe from under our hallway floor - my was it heavy! And on the other end of the hallway, under the stairs, blue pipe waiting to be connected to a connecter that leads into the kitchen (which Sunshine promtly connected after I took this photo). So apart from what (we believe) is a small amount of lead in the kitchen*, we are now a lead-free household :)

*Kitchen overhaul is planned for next spring/summer so we will deal with all the lead at some point.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Hallway Part 15

The new floor boards are going down today! How exciting! Sunshine is doing the nailing mostly by hand this time - he used an angled nailer the last time - but actually its quite difficult to use an angled nailer in a narrow corridoor. Also, our walls are not the straightest in the world so there was a lot of pre-laying thinking involved in working out what the best "straight line" to align the boards up to would be ... you can just see the bit of brown string to the right of Sunshine's mallet that is being used as a guide - which runs all the way to the front door.

I'm so pleased though - it feels like we've turned a corner in the hallway (considering this was the "room" we first started with last summer...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hallway Part 14

Another busy weekend on the hallway front. Over the last week Sunshine has been doing things like levelling out the joists so they all sit flat and don't creak). Then early today, Sunshine and I spent a big chunk of time clearing out under the floors (wish I'd taken a photo of how much "dust-of-ages" was down there in the first place!). The bulk of the houses where we live are Victorian, so under the floorboards is often bare earth. Luckily for us (unlucky for some!), ours was one of a stretch of about 7 houses bombed out in WW2 and then re-bulit in the 50s in the same Victorian style as the rest of the houses in the neigbourhood. Means we have a much better quality of construction, electrics and plumbing; including concrete under the floors ... so we cleaned and insulated the water and central heating pipes in preparation for ...

... laying down more insulation... Our lovely neighbour and friend, David P came round and helped Sunshine staple in netting; lay down insulation and the vapour barrier membrane. Sunshine has had to then put down some boards temporarily so we can walk along the hallway (much easier when you can see the joists...). Current exclamation to all guests walking in the door is "Don't step in the lava!"

Monday, 10 September 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part 7 and Hallway Part 13

Sunshine's dad came round again today to help fill up some of the pathway ditch-making. He even inscribed our names in the concrete! How sweet...

The Water Board man also came to inspect our work and he was very happy (He gave us a 9/10 considering we did it all ourselves) - so we should be getting our supply changed within the next couple of weeks.

In other news we tidied up the hallway a bit and Sunshine managed to give the stairs a bit more support by wedging in a longer piece of floorboard under the stair post and some extra wood underneath.Things are on the move again ...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hallway Part 12

So here we go again with the hallway - finally ready to get all the old floorboards up - only to realise that the staircase main post seems to only be supported by a bit of floorboard ... yikes!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part 6

Ah! Things moving along now ... Big grey pipe and bendy duct installed under the front door...

And new drinking-water blue pipe (and insulation to keep it from freezing if there is any ground frost) slowly but surely installed.

Neither was as easy as it looks on the photos - lots of jigging and poking and shoving ... but its finally done! Can call the Water Board now to come and disconnect the lead pipe and connect the plastic pipe! Whoopee!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part 5

In an attempt to get our lead pipe replacement mission moving along, Sunshine's dad came by today to give us some advice and help dig out the bits that needed digging out around the front step ... Thank you Dave!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Loft Island Part 3

After having built the bulk of the loft island last month, Sunshine decided to extend it round the loft hatch so we had somewhere secure to step onto as we came up the loft ladder. This also means we have the island extend all the way up to a wall which means we can have a shelving unit there. As with last time, here is Sunshine cutting OSBs to build C-beams, and installing and insulating them. For some reason I seem to have forgotten to take any photos of him cutting the large loft sheets to size and screwing them in ... but he did it! I swear! And now we have a loft island that goes round the loft entrance and all the way to the western wall :)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part4

This is SO slow going ... more digging today ... you see that pipe in the middle of the trench? No, that's not the lead water pipe. That's the GAS pipe ... so we can't even stick a big shovel in there - having to manually scoop earth out with a little spade so as to not accidentally damage the gas pipe ...

If we ever need to do this again, SO going to pay professionals to do it!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part 3 and Hallway Part 11

MCP here again today doing more manual labour ...

And sometime during the last couple of weeks (I can't remember when - forgot to take photos), I primer painted up all the skirting boards for the hallway, so today Sunhine went round measuring and cutting them to size.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Lead Pipe Woes Part 2

So, our lead pipe woes continue - this digging up the front path is looking to be harder than expected. Our friend MCP has been round today to help - and this included some rolling round on the kitchen floor with torches and phone cameras under the kitchen units to try and work out what pipes connected to where...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Play Festival 2012

Sunshine and I (and a lot of our friends) go out to the Welsh contryside every summer to a little festival known as Play Festival, and this year, despite the rain, we went again . Not a lot of photos as we were too busy just hanging out ... but the one sunny and dry day, we and the Domakkes walked up to the top of the hill overlooking the site (the site is the slightly dense and colourful bit at the bottom of the first picture). We're back now after 5 days of camping and hanging out and dancing and signing and shows and enjoying ourselves ... here's to Play 2013!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Loft Island Part 2 and Lead Pipe Woes Part 1

Remember those "C-beams" we made yesterday? Well, if you space them out perpendicularly over the old joists (with the beams being as high as the height of excess insulation you have); then screw them into the joists from either side at an angle; you can make sturdy uprights, good enough to hold your weight.

Then put all the insulation back in , being careful to not step in between the joists and fall through the ceiling!

Lastly place down some large mdf loft sheets; mark them off; and screw them down to the tops of your C-beams; and TA-DA! A loft island to store ALL your household crap useful storage things... (don't you just love those power screwdrivers with their own inbuilt torches?!? Still didn't prevent Sunshine from screwing into his own thumb - ouch! Thats what he's trying to show in the last picture ...)

Again, the day wouldn't be right without some demolition ... as you may (or may not) know, when we were going round the house replacing the radiators, we found in our hallway a lead pipe - our drinking water. After some investigating we found that the water board would replace the bit in the road, but we had to deal with whatever lead we have within our own boundries ... so here is Sunshine beginning to dig up our front path to try and get the lead water pipe out...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Loft Island Part 1 and Understairs Demolition

So, when we insulated our loft when we first bought the house, the insulation ended up much higher than the joists, and as such, we've not really managed to use the loft as storage space (the effectiveness of the insulation is due to its thickness/height - if you squeeze it down, you effectively loose insulation). Sunshine has spent a long time working out a solution for a "floating island" above the insulation, and today we started making the first elements - some "I-beams"... well actually, come "C-beams". Gluing and screwing battons to OSB (oriented strand board) gives us some beams that will help lift our floating platform above the current joists.

And in other news, all that building had to be balanced by some amount of demolition - Sunshine bashed down the wall under the stairs today - wow, does it look spacious now! I've spent most of the last week clearing out everying that used to live under there, and today clearing out the rubble thats been generated. We have a long-term plan to build pull-out cupboards for under the stairs, but for now its nice to just see the space :)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 19

OOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo... White room is WHITE! 

So Sunhine has been painting the skirting boards and picture rails in "antique white" (I've stayed out of there as the gloss paint is pretty fume-y...) and now that everything is dry, we've re-installed all the electrics and we have a had a good cleaning session in there including cleaning out the windows ... Oh my! How art-gallery like does it all look! It is so uplifting in there and the room catches the evening light beautifully. So looking forward to setting up our office/workshop in there ... bring it on I say!

As it happens, apart from a small snagging list, all the four main rooms are DONE! Hallway and the kitchen etc left to do ... but that's quite separate. We can now move on to sourcing furniture, getting shelves made, making curtains and general beautifying... oh so exciting!

Phew, I need a holiday ....

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 18

Man, what an annoying last couple of days ... So all that varnishing Sunshine did on the floor? It pulled out the old dark stain even more... And considering how white the rest of the room is, it looked dreadful! We sat around on the floor dejectedly wondering if we could put up with it and maybe think about re-painting in a few years time ... and I thought, actually, no. It would just annoy us every day. It was better to just bite the bullet and buy white floor paint. The sort that is paint and varnish in one. Ok so we are not going to get the whitewashed look we wanted, but its much better than having a floor that looks mouldy green and yellow ...*

So we took the weekend off DIY (we so needed it) and wondered around the Bristol Harbour Festival instead; and then yesterday went and got ourselves white floor paint - and I am so glad that we did! We sanded the floor lightly first (interesting how much leg hair Sunshine sheds!), vacuumed, and then painted a coat on. You're meant to do two coats but one was enough as we already had several coats of paint and varnish underneath.

Today Sunshine has been fitting skirting boards while I have been filling around plug sockets and bits of wall that we had hoped would be behind the skirting board but were peeking out. So a bit more wall paint touching up to do as well when all the plaster dries.

*In hindsight, we should have used some kind of latex paint initially rather than emulsion paint - it would have probably stopped the stain coming through ... but hey ho, its a learning process I guess ...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 17

Much has happened in the last few days. We whitewashed the floor - 50/50 emulsion and water, which I applied with a roller and then Sunshine wiped into the boards and wiped the excess off. It was looking fine till we let it dry and looked at it in the daylight the next day and saw that a lot of the dark stain from how the boards had been before had started too come up (I guess the water in the dilute emulsion mix did it? I don't know ...). We had done a test board first but that board didn't have a lot of stains left ... so anyways, the stain was coming through as a greeny yellow and looked like mould so we put a bit more of this dilute paint down on bits that were looking a bit rubbish. The floor was no longer as whitewashed as we wanted, but we could live with it. Sunshine then went and got some polyurethane floor varnish to seal it all off.

We also in the meantime (while waiting for the varnish to dry) managed to fill and sand wherever the skirting boards needed and give them a couple of coats of base coat. Fortunately the weather had also got better so we are now able to do some stuff out in the back garden.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 16

Mmmmm... all major wall and ceiling painting done ....

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 15

Today we had a little visitor come and help us with the DIY ;)

More coats of paint went on and Sunshine started cutting and planing some of the skirting boards to size. The plane makes a LOT of really high pitched noise (I have my own ear-defenders too) and so I stayed out of the room while Sunshine was busy at it ...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 14

Yesterday we tidied up  as much as we could as all the sanding had made quite a bit off dust. This included finishing off all the wall filling and sanding, vacuuming the walls and washing down the ceiling (and filling and sanding it too). First coat of white paint went on the walls today - including the ceiling which was just not very absorbant so was really hard to do.

Its nice to work in the summer as the days are so long and it isn't freezing cold without a radiator. Slowly but surely we are making progress.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 13

Since the last update, we have cleared everything out and Sunshine has been on a sanding mission. He planed any boards that were not lying level; then sanded the edges with a belt sander; and then yesterday we hired a proper floor sander and he did the rest of the floor. I have been going in periodically tidying up or filling around plug sockets ...

The floor looks pretty good - we've tried to get as much of the really dark previous stain off but a lot of it is pretty ingrained. But we're happy with how its come out.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 12

A bunch of things have progressed in the last few days... I've gotten on with sanding and filling the walls where they needed to. Fortunately there was no textured wallpaper in here, but the wallpapering that had been done was done fairly shoddily so I had to go round tidying bits up.

Sunshine got on with finishing off the floorboards - including filling knots and nail holes with wood filler. We also had some more wall-socket recessing to do as we decided we wanted internet cables coming out of the walls too.

And Sunshine's dad came round and helped him with cutting and positioning the little wooden wallplates needed to affix the skirting boards to the walls. After, Sunshine drilled holes in the walls for them and I went round screwing them to the walls. Electric screwdrivers are the best!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 11

In the last couple of days we've been fitting in floorboards where we'd lost some - mainly in the alcoves, in front of the "fireplace", and around the new radiator plumbing. Sunshine spent quite a lot of time trying to squeeze all the tongues and grooves together - as it turns out the floor boards from next door that we salvaged are a slightly different width to the ones in this room ... so we had to work around that ... and the fact that they had got damp and slightly warped didn't help either ... but we're getting there.

In the meantime, clearing this room out has meant that our beautifully finished back lounge is full of boxes again ... I so can't wait for us to have all our things in the rooms they need to be in!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

London with Allen

We've been in London this week as Sunshine had his students exhibiting at New Designers. I like to tag along as it gives me an excuse to see the show and also catch up with London friends.
This time we stayed with our friend Allen who has been  stationed in London the last month working on his dissertation on the ethnomusicography of tabla makers ... and yes, he plays too. 

Sunshine didn't have to spend all his time with the students so when he had a bit of time off we walked round London visiting an art exhibition in the Barbican Centre, strolled round the Southbank and ending up with a lovely pub dinner  near where I used to live 8 years ago. All the bits of London that I love ...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Front Lounge Part 10

Before we started again on the front room, Sunshine decided it would be a good idea to install the new radiators (one for this room and one for the hall) that had been sitting in their packaging in our hallway for the last few months. Fortunately it being summer we could drain them all and get on with changing the plumbing (the new radiators were both slightly different dimensions to the old ones); working out how and where to place them on the wall (the hallway one had to clear the pedals on our tandem!) and at the same time not spring a leak.

My darling husband is handyman extraodinaire! He got on with it all weekend while I kept clearing things out of the room ... my, have we got a lot of "stuff"! I also had to get on with choosing and repairing some old floorboards. We broke some when we re-did the floor in here last year and we salvaged some from next door. But the next door ones have been in the horrendous rain (albeit under tarp cover) that has been the UK the last couple of months. So we had to pick the least mouldy and warped boards, clean them up, dry them out, and glue and tidy bits that needed repairing.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sofa so good!

Woo! New sofa! With free man and cup of tea included ;)  First proper big furniture purchase for the house... feel like we've turned a corner from all the DIY ...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Front Lounge - the sequel

So, the last time we had a look at the front lounge was back in September last year. Well its time to revisit and finish off what we started. First though, we needed to clear it out ... and sometimes that means being slightly ingenious about how you move heavy things about ...

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Peregrine Watch

Today we went up to the Downs to catch the Bristol Ornithological Society doing a Peregrine watch. You can read more about it here

We got to see two parents and three fledgelings flying around. We even caught a glimpse of the fledgelings being chased by a couple of kestrels! We don't quite have a birding zoom lens so this is the best picture we got - of one of the adults (I think) flying overhead. I love Bristol and its wildlife!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Tip Trip

We've been doing some major clearing out this last week. Lots of Ebay-ing and Freecycle-ing. And then today we borrowed Sunshine's dad's Volvo and did a massive trip to the tip ... got to the point that we weren't sure the back axle was going to hold up! 

So cathartic though ...

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Went out to teach a dance workshop today, only to come back to this ... Sunshine had decided to have a go at the staircase ... no more side panels! Its really nice and really opens up the hallway and allows so much more light to bounce around. Now just to work out what actually we want to do to for bannisters ...

Monday, 4 June 2012

Kew with Americans ...

We hadn't really planned on going anywhere over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend but then we had a message from our friend Mark saying that he had a half day layover in Heathrow on his way from the States to East Asia. He was thinking of coming and visiting us but it just didn't make sense with the timings... so instead Sunshine and I drove across to Heathrow; picked him up; and then drove over to Kew Gardens for they day - finishing with dinner and dropping him back at Heathrow (and us driving back to Bristol). Our other American friend Allen who is also in London this month came out to meet us too... 

I love Kew; I could spend DAYS there just sitting and drawing plants. We all got really excited by this Australian plant called the Wollemi Pine which looked like a Christmas tree with its own baubles! We also spotted a beautiful green woodpecker and Sunshine managed to get a few decent shots of it pecking at a tree. Even the slight drizzle didn't put a damper on things (we'd just run into a green house every time it rained!).... mmmm must go again ...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Loft Hatch

After we got back from kestrel watching yesterday, Sunshine got on with getting our loft hatch in place. We had one there previously but it didn't have an attached ladder and was so narrow that it wasn't really very useful for getting things up there. Anyways, I couldn't really get involved apart from passing tools up and down. Sunshine wired a new light up there, cut a bigger hole and installed a loft hatch with a ladder. It still needs wooden batting round the edges to tidy it up - but at least its in place. We bought the hatch ages ago so its nice to finally tick "install loft hatch" off the to do list :)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Kestrel Watch

Sunshine and I were up pretty early this morning so we went out for a walk to go kestrel hunting. There are a couple of old warehouses along the riverside where we live and you can see a pair of kestrels nesting there almost every year. Their nest is pretty easy to spot in amongst the pigeon and crows nests ... they leave a very white deposit on the wall! They were definitely there this morning - we even got a "bumshot". Unfortunately couldn't tell if they had young ones. Here's a close up of one of them...