19 April 2018

House warmed, feet cooled

I thought I should show off my house to the ThursdayNighters. And it’s hard to rally them around if you don’t dangle and underground carrot in front of their faces! So I suggested the trial levels on the other side of the valley, as they are within walking distance. But then one of the men suggested a rather watery venue even much closer to home. What a good idea! It’s nice to just trundle to your underground space (without having to lug up the hill) and if you’re going to do a cold wet trip, you might as well do it at walking distance from a nice warm house with a kettle in it! So we did that. 

Originally, the men would arrive at 4, on request of David who wanted to take advantage of the good weather to get stuff done. That gave me some time to do work on the house. But while I was putting anti-slip on the steps down into the garden outside he phoned. Was 5.30 good too? Well, I didn’t have much choice I supposed; if that would be when he’d arrive that would be it! But Phil’s plan had been to just have a cup of coffee with us, walk us to the entrance, and then go home as he had to pick up his son. He still came at 4! It was nice. He had only seen the house without stuff in it! It looks better now I’d say. 

Then at 5.30, David arrived. He was impressed with the progress I’d made since he’d seen it! And Ed appeared too. Then, suddenly, Sue (with whom I'd biked back from Welsh class) was at the door, with her two children. That’s nice! But slightly confusing timing. I showed her the house. She was impressed! And we spoke Welsh, helped by her eldest, as she was a native speaker. David and Ed looked after themselves. Then Sue disappeared while Paul turned out to already be there. All had a good look at the idiosyncrasies of the house, but then it was time to put on our boots and go. Jason hadn’t shown up; a pity! But what can one do. 

We walked to the entrance, past the Indian takeway, where we got some menus. We would order from them once out! 

Paul lead us to the entrance. It was a bit wet indeed! Oh well. We walked in; me at the front. That way I saw we were scaring a fish. Cool! Not the scaring, but encountering it, of course. At some point it tried to hide on the side, which allowed us to pass. 

My feet were very cold, in spite of the neoprene socks! And I noticed I had spent too much time standing still (sorting out curtain rods, stripping wallpaper) so they hurt. Oh dear!
When we arrived at the interesting bit (not that the level wasn’t interesting, but it is, well, just a tunnel) I quite hurt. I hadn’t thought this through too much! Maybe I should do shorter wallpaper stints and combine it with paperwork more, to spread the load. My feet are in quite good nick these days, but standing still still gets to me! 

We did admire the stuff that was there to see: shafts, carts, machinery, shoes, etc etc. The usual! But every new venue is special anyway. I also sat down for some oatcakes as I had already been hungry when we went in. Now it was a lot later! 

Cool grafitti

Ed poses with a block

Just after 9PM we started our way out. I went ahead. Some of the bits are slow for the tall people as they have to stoop, where I don’t have to. I decided to just go. In a sloshy tunnel you can’t talk to each other anyway! Too noisy. I legged it out and walked home. I was glad to get out of my wet socks! And I boiled the kettle.

An eternity later the others arrived. Paul was tired, and wanted to go home; he had to work the next day. David, Ed and me chose our curries. And after a cup of beverage-of-choice we went to pick up the food, and ate it in the kitchen. The house is warmed! And I hope the other ThursdayNighters will get to see it soon too.

17 April 2018

The big work commences

It was time to pause the moving stuff around in the house, and start on the actual work! I want to get rid of swathes of wallpaper, and a ceiling, and two fireplaces… and that work doesn’t do itself. So when I was sufficiently settled to be able to perform my daily routines smoothly, the wallpaper stripper and the crowbar and the drill came out. I’m making good progress! I leave the fireplaces to specialists (after having pulled the wooden front of one of them off; that gave me an idea of the scale of the job, and of the necessity to strip the wallpaper off there too) , but I’m doing well on the wallpaper. I borrowed a wallpaper steamer from Phil, and it does a great job! And when I was working in the staircase and realised the ladder I had inherited from Rose was too short I suddenly remembered my neighbour was a retired painter/decorator, and had all the ladders in the world. I borrowed a set! I can keep it as long as I want. And with his ladders I can reach anything! So I’m on a roll! The house now looks like a tip but it can only become beautiful after first becoming ugly. And the top floor (where I type this) is a fine refuge from the mess!

Wallpaper stripper in action

One of the fireplaces in a state of undress

 The pipes in the house have been moved out of sight in strange ways

Thanks to the borrowed ladder, the stripping of the staircase is going well

16 April 2018

The simple pleasures in life (and house)

Some people might have noticed I can be a bit impatient sometimes. I am, for instance, too impatient to just brush my teeth without doing something else at the same time. I like reading the newspaper as an additional activity. In the old house I brushed my teeth in the kitchen, and I could lay the newspaper down on the hob. In the new house it makes more sense to brush my teeth in the bathroom, but where to put the newspaper? Luckily, it's my house, so I don't need to worry about putting a screw into the wall. It's my wall! So I fixed a clip. I can suspend the newspaper from the wall and read it while brushing! I'm quite enjoying this. Sometimes it's the simple things in life!

15 April 2018

Short but productive night in dig

The last time in the dig we had blown up a pesky rock, and had had to go before we could tidy up behind it. This week we were back! It would be a short day as Miles had to be home early, but we could get a lot done. I just brought down everything that was loose at the top, and Miles was two levels lower chucking stuff down in order to make space for all rubble I was creating.

A lot was loose, but there was one rock that was maybe a bit loose but also too big to chuck down. It would get stuck! And perhaps trap me. So I only manoeuvred it into a position in which I could easily drill it and left it otherwise.

I then suggested Miles had a look. He didd, and as usual he didn't like the look of it! He's being pessimistic. It doesn't look bad at all! Not sure when we'll be back in there but I'm sure we'll make good progress again!

After coming out there was a bit of a screw-up. I sometimes get my car key out of my bag before I leave the mine, so I have it handy and won't have to drag it out from the bottom of the bag in the pooring rain at the car park. And I had done that this time! I had taken it off the key chain as it would be uncomfortable to carry all my keys in my chest pocket. I suppose you see where this is going?

Miles gave me a lift down to the car park in his new car. At the car park I opened the car and got out a gas bottle I had inherited from Rose and which he would have use for. Then we said goodbye and he drove off. I changed, and then thought I'd sort out my bag. My bag? It was nowhere to be seen! I had forgot to get it out of Miles' car! Oh dear. As my car doesn't always lock, and theft from cars is not unheard of in the Blaenau area, I tend to take all my valueables (wallet, keys, phone) with me underground. In my bag... So there I was, not having my house keys, and not having a phone to alert Miles to that situation. And I have a spare key in the office but how to get into that without my access card and office key? (Note to self: put that key somewhere else). There was only one way of sorting that out: following Miles home. Luckily I know where that was, due to David's flawed memory. He'd only just driven off, I might get there while he was still unloading the car!

I sped off (well, within legal limits). I got to where Miles lives and saw his car stand still and dark on the road. I thought I remembered which house it was; when I approached it, I saw 'Go Below' on the mailbox. Bingo! I knocked. Miles opened. He was very apologetic about the situation, although it's my bag and I should hold on to it, but he quickly got his car key to sort me out. Situation saved! I was very glad I knew where he lived. I would have knocked on Jaco and Marjan's door if I would have been separated from my stuff for the rest of the night, but it would have been awkward!

14 April 2018

Boxes gone

When the kitchen table was in its place the place starting looking like an inhiabited house. I also managed to get rid of all the boxes in the master bedroom I had used as a temporary storage. There are still boxes; my book cupboard is not up yet so all books are still in boxes, and the living room cupboard is in the  kitchen and I don't want to put all its stuff in it until it's in its final place. But it is starting to look snug! The rooms in use, that is. That means: upstairs bedroom, upstairs office, bathroom, conservatory, storage space, kitchen. The master bedroom, living room and landing are still largely empty! Awaiting, respectively: a new floor; a new ceiling, new fireplace and redecorated walls; and waxed floor, new fireplace and painted walls. But it's OK!

Kitchen - with table!

 Storage space (difficult to photograph)

Office (has curtains by now)


Corner of living room

Landing (with original Victorian floorboards!) 

Master bedroom; kept empty except for the breakfast bar which is indeed used as such


View from conservatory

13 April 2018

First bike commute

I moved during a weekend. On Monday I went back to work, be it only briefly, as I had to be back for a tradesman; I commuted by car. The working day would have been really really short if I would have biked! And I hoped to pop by the recycling centre but that didn't happen due to circumstances.

On Tuesday I would have a full day. So I biked! It was even an almost dry day. And it was nice! It took me an hour as I stood still to take a picture every 10 meters. I had biked most of it before, as a recce in January, but I hadn't taken any pictures then. On the way back my trip would be split; I have Welsh class after work on Tuesdays, and that's about a third of the way away.

This is no tmy favourite bit; there'as another set a bit further up

View from the bridge of the picture above

The way back went unexpectedly; I rode back with a lady from my Welsh class who lives in Gerlan. The problem was: she does this every day and has done so for the past 18 years; she was on a brand new sophisticated bike; and she wanted to go back via some route I wasn't familiar with. So I couldn't keep up. My decades-old 20kg bike and my untrained body were no match for her! From time to time I caught up, but she was sometimes quite far ahead of me. And she was during a crucial turn. I didn't see her take it! So I went sraight ahead. I was on the A5. One of the big sells of my house is that you can get to work, pretty much entirely avoidign the A5, but here I was, plodding along on it anyway. Sue caught up with me again, having noticed I wasn't behind her anymore, but we were committed to the A5 then. Oh well! She explained where she had gone and it makes sense. It's not a bad route; you only need to do tiny bits of the A5 if you do it well! And as late at night as after Welsh class the road is quite quiet.

At the end I pointed out my house. I had got my exercise and learned a new route! That's worth doing some annoying A5 riding...

First walk from front door

I had suggested a walk to Jeff, our sabbatical American. He was up for it! Circumstances led to me suggesting we do a coffee at my place first, so we did. And then we just walked from there! We pretty much went on where I had stopped when I had done a small walk from one of the first houses Iwent to see. It was beautiful! In no time you’re out of town, and in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It was great! We didn’t go very far but I loved it. This house is amazing! 

Photogenic horse along the way

Relict mining building

View back towards Bethesda

After the walk we ended up eating another Sunday roast, in Bangor this time. If you are hungry on a Sunday that’s what happens! But it was good! And Jeff even knew the answer to my kitchen table problem. So as soon as I was home after our meal I tried his trick and it worked! I have a kitchen table again! A nice bonus to an already very good day!