Let’s get up-to-date!

So my blogging marathon is almost complete!
Then I can get back to cladding in my new bedroom – very exciting stuff!!

So October so far:

 Started out with a lovely two-day break on the Island with family.
A good bit of shock Autumn weather (!) and salty sea breeze soon had us restored and ready for work again…

Max’s new bedroom will soon be ready!

 The Steico boards were all up on the ceilings, not easy work either as the boards are 60mm thick and pretty awkward and heavy to hold up whilst someone screws them into place

But we got there eventually,
and were extremely grateful for the arrival of our latest workawayers from France – Jerry and Capucine, who got stuck into what turned out to be a very long and arduous job of getting thin plywood sheeting treated, and installed on the ceilings throughout… a job we are only just finishing up now as I write…

first off all the wood had to be painted with intumescent paint which
slows down the spread of flames in the event of a fire.
building regs say we have to have it on all the walls except the plastered ones.

 sheets of 5mm ply everywhere… taking 24hrs to dry for the base coat and a further 3 – 4 hours for the top coat. We went for a dark oak stain top coat for the main living area and the boot room and office. And clear stain for the bedrooms and bathrooms. It’s been put up using black drywall screws which reached through the Steico board into the rafters.

At the same time as that, Jerry was busy installing left over Steico board into the dividing stud walls between the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Another work of art!

Jerry and Caps busy with the main ceiling

Looked pretty effective in the end… we were rather unsure to begin with!

of course, Poppy was an invaluable source of help and support for us all!

Max tackles the front porch

and installs the osb sub floor

cutting ply sheets to size

drilling the holes for the lighting

Amber Heating are busy with the plumbing and electrics…
So much to install what with the air source heat pump, MVHR unit, hot water cylinder etc, etc…
The plant room is looking very impressive!

The guys from FBS flues came and installed our hearth and woodstove just last week. A very exciting and satisfying bit of progress! Now at least we can keep warm while working in the house!

started out looking pretty straightforward in the plant room

then it got busy!

it was rather scary when they cut a big hole
in our sealed and airtight house!!

the chimney/flue was installed

and the next day we had heat!

Happy Days!!


Moving onto what happened in September:

the battening all finished then got all covered up again with temporary flooring ready for the plasterers.

A lovely day out at the From show gave welcome break
and a fun day out with family.

best in show sheep!

The natural clay plaster samples arrived and we made decisions about the colours to use.
All the exterior walls (on the inside) get clay plastered to give us more thermal mass and fire retardancy
sheep wool insulation first

then the membrane, 

Membrane in the office, all fully taped and sealed

and every ‘protrusion’ has to be sealed

Now that the whole house was sealed and the plastering was done we could fix all the Steico boards to the ceilings and move onto other things!

David and Martin (from Mexico)
finishing up the main room ceilings
as the new clay plaster slowly drys out

sheep wool, membrane and Steico board –
phew! so much work!!

the extremely heavy Fermacell plasterboard arrives
and David and Martin have to carry it all sheet my sheet into the house!

The interior of the main living space and all the exterior walls in the other rooms are plasterboarded with a special product called Fermacell which is like a cement board (super heavy!) made from waste material.

The boards are such that we won’t need any plugs when screwing up shelving and the like.

the plasterers install the Fermacell – it take three men to lift the boards to the higher rows!

Max applying the sealant ready for the plaster

Finished plaster. It’s very rustic and textural.

as the plaster drys we place a piece of furniture in the room, just to get the feel of it being our home sometime soon!

Rest of August catch up!

It’s been a long while since I got around to updating the blog… We’ve had a lot going on with family and the build and well… the blog kinda got sidelined for a time because everything else was frankly more urgent!

So, end of August saw a lot of insulation work completed and the delivery of our Steico boards (wood fibre insulation boards) ready for phase two of the insulation marathon!

 It has been what seemed like never-ending insulating, then taping membrane throughout the interior of the house to create the air-tight seal which will enable the MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) to work efficiently and give us constant indoor temperatures and fresh air no matter what the weather outside.

our workawayers and David installing membrane

the floor membrane will help deflect the heat upwards

Amber Heating installing the aluminium trays
for the UFH pipework

the underfloor heating pipework 
The MVHR ducting
fresh air in and stale air out

The MVHR will work with the UFH to provide low cost, fuel efficient heating and ventilation for the whole house. On cold days outside the incoming air will be heated by the heat retained from the outgoing air. All clever stuff and actually very simple and logical. Especially when it’s working with a solar array and solar electric storage AKA a Tesla Powerwall (not due for a while now as demand is outstripping demand at a time when Tesla need batteries for the higher demand of electric cars.

Battening arrives and Max and I install it over the trays along the floor joists ready to take our finished flooring –  engineered oak floorboards which will hold their shape over the UFH

End of August we went to Greenbelt Festival and had a good 4 day break from the hard work. 
we made a duck pond for a now grown up ducks!

My beautiful Indian Runners 🙂



tomatoes galore!
and the wedding flower bed is abundant!

first fix complete, sheep wool wall insulation, and a family wedding!

The first half of August has seen a flurry of activity:

Amber Heating finished up the first fix electrics and plumbing.
so that’s all the socket and light switch boxes, and the cables for pendant and wall and ceiling lighting, and cables for thermostats and fire alarms, all in place now!
and the very many metres of pipework for our hot and cold water supplies, the mains, and the feed for the underfloor heating pipework, all installed.  That is a lot going on under the floorboards!


first-fix electrics and plumbing all done in the en-suite! together with the cellulose insulation

We have also been putting down the floor membrane over the floor insulation ready for the underfloor heating. This will form part of the airtight seal that we need to have to make the MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) system work effectively.

Max’s room 

Then our amazing workawayer Fiona has been very busy fitting the sheep wool wall insulation in the exterior walls.

First off, we had to go pick it all up from the where the very large lorry had dropped it off at the nearby farm yard… The lorry was too big to get under the bridge near our road!

Luckily we only did two trips before a farm worker turned up with a tractor and scooped all the rest of it up for and delivered it home for me. Lovely Derek 🙂

my amazing little car and trailer have been an absolute Godsend!

Last week saw me picking buckets of flowers ready for my son’s wedding – on the Saturday.

Luckily with all the sunshine and intense watering pretty much everything bloomed in time and my neighbours let me forage in their garden too so we had heaps of gorgeous flowers and greenery..

The wedding was a very special day for us all, full of gratitude and happiness and lots of tears! How our family has grown this year! We are truly blessed 🙂

The happy couple
our awesome son Jack and our much-loved daughter-in-law Hannah
Max, Anna, David, Jack, Shara, grandson Arlo, Toby, Hollie and son-in-law Tom
all our immediate family except Lizzie, and grandson Barnaby who was asleep – bless him!

End of July and on to Phase two of the build!

Our beautiful full grown Indian Runner ducks – chilling in the garden

So, in quick succession, here is another short update to bring you all to where we actually are now – end July/beg Aug… ! Thanks for following the progress! Do comment!

We have been hard at it… and after a much needed break –

a super weekend in Hastings mid-July to celebrate an uncles birthday –
we got stuck into phase two of the build – the inside!

Our electricals and plumbing team set to work

The cellulose (paper) insulation for the floors
Max using a paint/plaster stirrer to loosen up the fibres
the first room has it’s floor insulation in!

The floor insulation is going in really quick, and we have some wonderful help these past few weeks from Workawayers. These lovely keen workers have come to spend time with us, to improve their English and learn more about sustainable building practices and permaculture approaches to gardening etc…
It’s been a mutually gratifying experience to have them around enriching our lives and at the same time gaining skills for themselves…

Over the past month we have had folks from Spain, South Korea, and France as well as a local couple who spent a year in NZ and are now getting prepared to start up their own project either in the UK or in France.

July brings more very hot weather!

this is a belated post which never got uploaded!:

The month began in a blur of hot temperatures around 30`C – and it was too hot for me and the workawayers to work in the garden during the day and so we resorted to working early til 10am then breaking til 5 or 6pm before doing more.
Which suited our Spanish workawayers just fine! We even started eating late in the evening!

No such flexibility for the workmen though!
The roofers were up there in blistering heat finishing off the roof,
the scaffolders came and took away scaffolding
and the builders built the front porch and finished cladding the whole building.

Its been a few weeks now since I last posted anything and I blame the weather and a ton of stuff to do!

Perfect weather for drying onions!

Now, as I write, the windows are being installed!

Beautifully hand-crafted oiled oak windows finished off with black traditional looking furniture, we are thrilled to have them going in. Suddenly our new house looks so much more like a real house!
And this week the second stage of the build starts – the first fix!!


Snapshot update! June – new baby, chicks and first harvests!

SO, time is really short at the moment (!) so here’s a bullet list to bring us up to the beginning of July:

Firstly, here’s a picture of the lino print my son-in-law did of our old beach hut. Can you see the inspiration for our house?

On with the bullet list:!

  • No goats yet! Decided that goats (as much as I want them) would be one thing too many right now. 

  • The ducks are all grown up and adorable, now living in with the hens until they get their ‘own place’ in the vege garden 🙂 

  • We also had some chicks hatched out by Princess – our prize broody hen 🙂

  • We’ve been harvesting: peas, strawberries, raspberries, cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, broccoli, kale, salad leaves, beetroot and our first batch of onions – now drying out in all this hot sun.



  • Lots of help was given by our constant stream of wonderful Workawayers – the only way I’ve been able to keep on top of things!

  • Our beautiful house had its front porch built, the roofs and the cladding finished up, and phase one of the fabulous galvanised steel guttering installed!

Our 3-year-old grandson working hard on his own renovation/self build project 🙂

  • Our second grandson was born at the end of June! 

What can I say? All else pales beside that special little bundle of joy. What a blessing little Arlo is for us all …


  • Couple of weeks later we had my son’s birthday followed by my husbands birthday! And the following day a lovely family get together including our grandchildren, at Marwell Zoo ♡
    Happy Birthday Daddy
    Happy Birthday Max
    Giraffes feeding at Marwell Zoo

    The family feeding at Marwell Zoo

Hoping to post again before very long, as there will be lots 
going on this week 
‘Tune in’ next week for the windows (now going in), the first fix electrics(!), and the front door!! And lots more besides 🙂
Please leave a comment too! I don’t seem to have received any yet and I think it was my settings, but it should work now 😉

June update! ducks, slates and strawberries…

Where is the time going?
So much is going on and I’ve fallen a little behind on blogging.
So here are a few photos and words to get us all updated.

a view of the site from the lane

So in these past two weeks or so we have had site visits and estimates from a plasterer, a guttering installer, the lighting and heating engineer/installer and the MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) supplier.

So there’s been lots of decision making – enough to make your head swim!  switch plates, flooring, plaster colour, ridge tile colour!

But the weather has been glorious, the garden is abundant and the ducklings grow more gorgeous by the day!


They have enjoyed some excursions into the garden. And are beginning to feather up now at 3 weeks old! They are grown out of their dog crate and are living in the stable with a mesh window to look out of. Soon they’ll have their very own place next to the chicken house and then they can get to work in my garden eating all the slugs!

The green roof now has it’s sealed rubber liner in place and can stay that way til we have time next year to add soil and drainage and lots of shade tolerant grasses 🙂

We will also add a couple of bat roosting places to the roof just above so this area will hopefully become the perfect bat bed and breakfast 🙂

This is the porch construction.
Sweet simple lean-to porch with space for coats and shoes and bags. This is where our lovely reclaimed doors will go!

See how the comfrey and potatoes are growing crazy after that period of heavy rain?!

                                                                                          David pulled out our old dining table from the store and plonked some osb on top to simulate our ordered snooker/dining table. Just checking it fits okay!

   That’s the centre of the living space, the kitchen will be in 
the background and the bigger third of the room (the foreground) will be the lounge area, where the french
doors to the deck are… 
It’s all starting to shape up in my mind 🙂
    And this is where I’m looking forward to sitting 
after a hard days work 🙂

In this last week Max and I have put in a new willow hedge (remember all the willow cuttings we picked up on Freecycle? they all sprouted roots!) …


 and we have been busy rescuing the potatoes and strawberries from a bindweed invasion! Just gonna keep pulling it out and mulching. We will get on top of it eventually!!


do you wanna know a not very well kept secret?? …

We are getting GOATS!!

So they’ll be living in here…
It’ll be their summer quarters – half of the livestock enclosure complete with hedgerow to forage from.

Just got to install more secure fencing (electric as well as regular stock fencing) and fix up the field shelter (which is just out of shot front right),
 ready for them in a couple of weeks!!

More about the new additions next time!
Enjoy the sun everyone 🙂

Week Seven: ducky birds! and cedar cladding looks like an art installation!

It was a week of weather, beautiful sunshine followed by grey cloudy days, heavy rainfall after increasing humidity, then a thunderstorm to bring us back to Sunday! A week that began with the ducklings hatching out! 


The week has raced by with lots going on with life in general and I’m finding that any spare minute I get I’m needing to be researching light switch plates, natural plaster, green roofs, door furniture, or flooring!

Beginning of the week we were down in the New Forest picking out a front door from a vast collection of front doors owned by a delightfully characterful Irish chap who was absolutely ‘fricking’ passionate about his doors!
This is the lovely old oak door we picked: 

 It needs a bit of oil but is beautifully weathered from having belonged to a sea-front house for many years.
I love that it has a history and a story of folks coming and going…

With the sunshine came a mass flowering from my many comfrey plants and lots of happy busy bees!
And Tommy found a comfy bed of straw mulch amongst the vegetables 🙂

 Work in the garden this week included sowing more flower seeds for the wedding, making a flower bed for bought plants, harvesting (!) cabbage, kale, salad leaves and beetroot, and gathering up all the offcuts of wood from the build so far.

 We now have a huge amount of firewood ready for the winter, and lots of ‘good wood’ ready for projects in the house and garden.
Max helped make a table to help store some of the more helpful bits.

And, whilst he was feeling creative, he took some of the cedar cladding offcuts and made me a set of chopping boards for the new house!
I love them!!

the cedar cladding is going on beautifully…
the builders are working like real artisans making every cut and nailing the best it can be.
it smells so good too!
this is the verandah (yep, it’s my favourite space) and through the opening for the french doors, you get an idea of the main living space with the clerestory windows on the northern elevation.
it feels lovely in there. the swallows think so too! we have a nesting pair in the rafters – our first visitors 🙂

 This is the first kohlrabi I’ve ever grown!

David tying in the climbing peas..

and the brassica patch is breaking out from under its butterfly protection!! We have to eat more cabbages!
Highlights of the week?
Has to be the hatching of our beautiful Indian Runner ducklings, picking my first posy of roses and a visit from my daughter and family 💕

And actually I should include church today which was a welcome rest for my mind after way too much thinking this week!!! Reminded me how important if was to remember what was real, and why I need to stop, look and listen to the good news all around me…