Sunday, 29 July 2018

What a week

Last Saturday seems a month ago, though I suspect the blog will be mercifully short.

Meeting up with Victor and Greg in Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh
We drove to a random bit of waste ground and parked up next to an Austrian we had spotted on our recce. He was just leaving so that was good. A text from Victor soon arrived (we met Victor on our repositioning cruise, he was collected from the airport by our lift and joined us in the back of the car as we all sat in stunned silence listening to the BS being spouted by the driver! We were pleased however to keep bumping into him on the ship as he is such a sweetie).
Next to the Royal Yacht Britannia
He and husband Greg are currently on a cruise that was docking in Edinburgh which is one of the reasons we were there, the other being Simon and Diane who we’d spent the previous day with, I know I mentioned it in the last blog, but that was written in such haste it probably didn’t express how much we enjoyed catching up with them. Anyway, Victor and Greg were on the tender, so they only had to get on the shuttle bus to Ocean Terminal, so we’d better get walking. What a lovely morning, we did nothing other than drink coffee, and chatter, and blink, it’s midday! Victor was hoping we could persuade Greg on the pleasures of housesitting, I’d already talked about it before being given the nudge... will it have worked? We were terribly touched, they’d brought us a bottle of wine, napkins and coasters, all marked from San Francisco/ California we’d brought them no gifts.

That's the cruise ship Victor and Greg were on
So, the Royal yacht Britannia for them and four/five hours on the road for us. Scotland’s bigger than you think! After a fortunately uneventful journey we arrived at the delightful Nicky and Tony’s. They’d thoughtfully protected the gate posts and piles of bricks with pillows..... yes it’s going to be that sort of a week! I could do with direction giving lessons from Tony, as well as reversing ones.

The roof we have to build. First few trusses in position, we work to the right
Helen and Ian arrived not long after, so time for a drink? No, boys were suddenly in work clothes and up scaffolding towers getting on with preparations for our weeks task which is getting the A frames, that will make the roof up and in position. These things are huge, weigh 75kg each and when called upon to support the middle, just to stop it flapping while being moved, over uneven ground I found at times I could barely even reach the middle let alone do anything useful! They were to be in situ, singly, doubly, triply and even four ply, so fortunately the local farmers, a pair of brothers, were coming with a piece of machinery to lift them into place.
The work to be done - that's a long way (100 feet or 32 meters)
We were finally ready for this mid afternoon Sunday and the first five frames were lifted up, four singles and a double. I was up a tower one side, to be joined by Tony, Helen on the other to be joined by Ian and Brian and Nicky up a higher one, in the middle for support and ensuring verticality! They were then to be walked down into position, carefully marked on the boarding by Ian. ‘Sarking’ is then screwed on to the outside just to hold it all in place. Neither B nor I had been able to visualise this process, but actually it went remarkably smoothly. 5 down, 86 to go, dinner cooking 22.25!

Jackie (left), Brian (centre) and Tony (right) guiding a truss into position
The other brother on Monday, who had made time to be with us most of the day, so rather than hoisting a few and going away he would be there to lift as needed. For us, much easier, but obviously more time consuming for him. He came, he went, he went home for his tea, he came back. 44 down, 3 left, second delivery of 46 due tomorrow, dinner cooking 22.46

Tuesday a slightly gentle start, till the delivery arrived, as next up was a quad.

The roof grows - day 3 (possibly)
Lintel for the 5 meter gap arrived, then the rest of the A frames. Wilson went away to do some proper work, returning an hour before his tea time, ok, some up, he’ll go for dinner come back, we’ll get into the real work, starting 19.00, just as well it doesn’t get dark till late. The goose is roasting the frames are going in from the other end, so aiming to get to the new lintel, not yet in position are left. Last one up by the lights of the machine, three lifts away from the gap. Goose well cooked at 23.15.

The big JCB lifting beast with some trusses to lift
Mid way through the afternoon, we’d all breathed a sigh of relief, Wilson/machine not available Wednesday am, till suddenly he could give us a bit of time at 08.30 to do the last three lifts on that side. Ian was up doing sums and measuring at 07.00 in preparation.... Each A frame then has to have a metal bracket to attach it to the base board which was hard work. I started but having had pain in my elbow since painting at Corinne’s it was all too much, so back to cutting sarking for me then with the big circular saw...

The roof growing more - day 4
An early finish as we had guests coming for BBQ, not before I’d been helping Tony prepare the wall to receive the lintel, one side had gone fine, the other had caused some stress and head scratching, a large block of granite went most of the way through the wall, it had to be removed at the back to get the lintels in, but remain at the front to hold the wall up! Tony popped out to buy another bottle jack and some diamond blades for the large and small angle grinders and the nerve wracking job was approached. It did work, it was fine, a huge sigh of relief was breathed and in rotation Brian Tony and I finally joined the party. BBQ lit 18.00, eating by 20.00, hurrah!

Some cat relief. Gummy and Ghengis cats in bed with us one morning
A break from building, watering in the polytunnel
One last work day before H&I have to go, and again Wilson says it’s a no go. However the following morning Frank turned up to lift the 5 metre concrete lintels into place, cement, blocks, random bit of stone and all steady. Just to build a support for the wall head boards and wait, fingers crossed to get the last 6 into place.

Here's the house from an evening country walk. All that is Tony and Nicky's. First huge garage on the left, our motorhome next to it, the completed building is the fabulously finished first house, the slightly higher further building is the one we're putting the roof on and the garden, the next huge garage and polytunnel are on the right 
A great sunset on a country walk 2 minutes walk from their house
All the rest had gone in with the vehicle driving into the building and presenting the frames supported on two forks straight ahead, the last six, he could no longer get into the building so the frames would have to come in on one fork and be lifted over the whole height of the wall. Again we couldn’t visualise it, but were very pleased we only had five singles and a double, so fingers crossed, away we go. Amazingly it all went absolutely perfectly. Corinne had arrived just as this was starting, she’d heard so much about T&N she was keen to meet them. She’d brought cake, good for a celebration! It was probably only about 18.30 but by the time we’d tidied up, showered, moved our overnight stuff to the van (Corinne was to be in ‘our’ bed) walked the dog, looked at the new roof from a distance, it was still 22.00 before dinner. There is a strange time vortex here!

Back to work and here's Jackie throwing a rope over the new lintel
We waved H&I off at 11.30 (10.00 had been their aim - see what I mean?) and back into the scruffy clothes, for fruit picking. Bizarre, I know, but there are strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red, black and white currants, and a storm was forecast, not good for the very ripe fruit... we finally waved goodbye to Corinne at 17.00, had a mad hour and a half, filling 15 trays before going out for fish and chips on a bench watching the seals, a visit to an art exhibition and sunset at Spey Bay, beautiful sunset, but too much cloud, and then rain to see the blood moon. Drink and ice cream, 22.30. Cookie and Dougal cats released from their cat pen now the big black dog has gone, hurrah.

The Team (minus Brian) Nicky up the ladder on the left, Frank, Tony, Ian, Jackie and Helen
Helen screwing on sarking to make a truss safe 
I started writing this yesterday morning, nearly finished, till I had to get the charger so thought I’d sit in the kitchen, having let out, fed, watered and egg collected from the chickens, ducks and guineafowl. But try as I might, conversation kept happening! The fruit had to be prepped for the freezer, I made some fruit compote for our breakfasts and stewed some gooseberries for crumbles, while B and Tony pottered in the van. Stopped raining, dried up, B back up the tower to put in a last few bits of sarking with Nicky. These were his specialty, ad they involved climbing around within the A frames, making sure they are solid, well no one else wanted to do it! T and I back down the bank with the fruit bushes.... lamb roasted with potatoes, onions, runner and broad beans and cabbage all from the garden and on the table 21.00

Brian high up in the rafters
We’ve had a fantastic time, worked, drunk, chatted, eaten and repeat. Have we ached? Are we covered in bruises? Will we sleep for a week? Yes, yes and yes, but it’s really windy, the roof is still up, and we head off towards Stirling today.

A short video showing one of the final trussess being fitted

Yeah! It's finished, time for a beer and cake!
Bye Tony and Nicky, it's been fabulous as usual, see you next year. We'll drag our tired, aching bodies away!

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous! We loved it too. H, I and M-D xxxx