The people of who pass my door seem to be of three varieties. There’s the visitor that’s read some of my missives here and have come to search me out and take some photos, there are the passers-by who happen upon me and look surprised that the planners should demolish all around me and build a couple of brick boxes with no architectural merit as my bookends and there are the concerned locals who are interested ensuring that whatever is happening it needs to be right. They all have one thing in common, they’re interested in every stage of my renovation.
George encourages them to call in and Lee always makes some time for them unless his work is time-critical. Some of the tasks over the last few weeks have been just that, very time-critical. My floors under the kitchen and to a lesser extent under the stairs had been affected by a collapsed drain. It’s all sorted now of course but the re-laying of the limecrete, once mixed, had to be done fairly rapidly. Lee had sent the lads out to acquire three mixers and they were all running side by side in the yard. They looked like hungry cows chewing the cud and working in parallel to produce the amount of material required to fill the carefully prepared kitchen floor.
I’m pleased to say that we get concerned faces at the window and, when the front is open, a ‘Hello!’ at the door. George or Lee (Waring) invite them in.
Mary and Glen Portier dropped in when Lee was laying the limecrete floor and he showed them around. They’re from Houma, Louisiana although Mary’s maiden name was Dixon and she hails from The Ropery, a street that runs parallel a couple of hundred metres behind me but they’ve been in the States for 50 years and follow the updates – Hi Mary and Glen, I like the colour of your top!
Many others have called in over the summer and they all have a story. I really enjoy listening to them. They seem to have lots of questions especially about when I was built and how I got into the semi-derelict state that was caused when the roof caved in. It wasn’t noticed for several years and the furniture and other soft furnishings absorbed the rain. Sadly, once wet, they retained the moisture and fed it back into my floorboards, joists and walls over many months even when the weather outside was dry or even warm and that’s what caused the rot. That’s in the past though.
A few weeks ago George showed two ladies and their lovely little girl around the ground floor and he was told about granddad who spent some happy childhood years growing up here. They told him about the bakery next door and George showed them a little hatch in my southern wall with a message written in pencil during the 1970s.
I’ve had the first coat of lime plaster on my walls and it feels good. For many years the concrete sucked the life out of my bricks but now they’re breathing again and will continue to do so under this beautiful, lime based, blanket. Steve Parkin, the electrician, has been busy too and George has been investigating electric heaters to keep me warm as winter sets in.
Renovating the Step
They’ve been listing the snagging jobs and I’m looking forward to an outside step at the back so that the rear door can be fitted.
Martyn Cana is doing that and it’s interesting what thoughts contribute to the planning. On the face of it, it’s a simple task. i.e. how many steps, size of step, how big the landing area should be, dealing with rain and snow, leaving a fall for the drainage of water so it doesn’t enter the cottage, there’s lots to take into consideration and they’re doing that in detail.
The plan is to finish the plastering then the final fix electrics then do the painting so there is no necessity to cover the floors, they’ll be fitted after the painting then the skirting boards. There is still lots to do but we’re getting there.
George has been using local labour and suppliers where it’s been possible and I’d say that’s been about 90% of the time. They have pride in their work and are often family members. It’s also handy when one trade needs to call on the services of another at short notice. On the odd occasion one trade or another has been able to come at short notice and alleviate a hiatus that could have caused a complete halt for the initiating trade.
Initially, there was some surprise at being asked to repair stuff rather than replace it but everyone is working on that principal now although a lot of the plumbing and all of the wring were exempt from that clause.
Dipping the Doors
Tim of ‘Barn Antiques’ dipped my doors and did a sterling job on them. He was also professional enough to advise against dipping some of the others as he thought it wouldn’t work and I’m happy with that. He and his lovely wife Elizabeth have a business out on the Scarborough Road which is worth a visit if only for its quirkiness – boy is it quirky. George has included a few photographs of the yard. All towns should have things like this, nothing is wasted and if you need a ‘widget for a whatsit’ there’s every chance you’ll find a second hand one there and if you can’t then Tim or Elizebeth will. He dipped my internal doors and removed seven layers of paint off one of them; if they could talk you’d get a tale, but then, you’re getting that from me anyway!
The following gallery illustrates the quirkiness of Tim’s place on the Scarborough road. The Pig’s called Borris!
Plastering is a Dark Art!
Mark, Luke and Nathan Storr have been busy with the lime plaster. They’re family; Mark is dad and Luke and Nathan, his sons. They work as a close team and seem to know what the others need or are thinking. I listen to their interaction as the first coat is ‘thrown on’ and thrown on it is. The idea is to get the base layer into all of the tiny cracks and porous elements of my 250-year-old bricks to form a key; however, the idea of the lime base is that my walls will still breath. The last 50 years or so have been very difficult when my inner walls were rendered in concrete. My bricks were suffocated and my walls, particularly the ones exposed to the elements were drawing moisture in but not able to release it due to the cladding.
All of that stopped last year when the concrete was removed by Lee and Ash Waring and team. Some planning hold-ups inhibited work for several months and in the case of my brickwork, it worked in my favour and allowed natural drying to take place so my walls are now ready for the luxury of proper lime render and this is where we are.
Mark, Nathan and Luke are now working on the second coat which is much finer and you can see some of the results on the photographs of my top dormer floor. I’m looking and feeling good!
George is in the process of ordering the kitchen which should be here in about a month. My ground floor still has a lot of first fix stuff to take place especially the electrical work prior to plastering. I’m hoping it will take place over the next couple of weeks so that Mark can return and complete the plastering downstairs as he has with the upper two floors.
So, what’s to do? Well, quite a lot really. All of the above plus the fitting of the kitchen, rear door, step, floors and heating and there’s a fair amount of work for Jack Atkinson, my joiner as he works on my stairs and floors. Jack is another local tradesman from Goathland. I think I heard him say he’s sixth generation and married to a lady that’s fifth-generation from Goathland so he really knows the area and understands old buildings. He’s clearly proud of his work and this was underlined when George asked him about a particular panel under the stairs that has some damage on one of the frames. George asked him if we need to replace the frame and his answer was music to my ears, “No”, he said, “I can repair that” and he explained what he could do. I like tradesmen that are craftsmen and I’m delighted with the team that I have.
I’ll tell you a little bit more about all of the people that have worked on me in a few weeks.
More to come.
With love…Little Yellow Cottage..x
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