Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Attic Plans

We have plans for the attic. While our house has an upper story, it's all within the roof - there's only one room up there, and the one window is in the gable wall. The room doesn't occupy all of the attic space, though - it goes from where the height rises to about one metre on one side to where it falls to about 1.5m on the other side. Now, that's uneven - because there's a section of actual "attic" there too, accessed through a door in the back of a built-in wardrobe. It's bare rafters at floor level - you put your foot through onto the plasterboard ceiling of the sitting room - and insulation more-or-less held in place with a sheet of clear plastic tacked to the roof rafters.

The access doorway is very narrow, and it's a pain in the neck (and sides, leg, and some other parts) to get anything large through, because once you're through, you have to twist the thing or hit the roof pretty much immediately. It's also partly full of stuff - spare mattresses, boxes of seasonal decorations, and stuff in storage for a charity bring-and-buy stall we run at conventions.

The plan is, essentially, to take out the dividing wall entirely, or as much as possible, and extend the bedroom floor and ceiling down into that space. We can then put screens or a curtain or something across where the wall was, if need be, but mostly it'll be storage space. A skylight will let in some light, the mattresses can lie flat, and we might even get a small desk or the like in there as well. And it'll be a matter of walking in, crouching a bit at the far side, but no more struggling through the narrow access door - and it'll make the master bedroom about 30% bigger.

The upstairs floor is chipboard under the carpet, and I think we'll replicate that in the soon-t0-be-ex-attic space; we can put down something nicer over it later on. The ceiling will almost certainly be tongue-and-groove panelling, which we both like, and which worked well in the bathroom. I'll need to leave access to the water storage tanks, but that can be behind a door, or maybe even a hinged set of shelves - access there won't be needed often.

A light fitting, or maybe some wall-mounted lamps, a socket or four, and it'll be a very nice extra space.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fruit in the Garden

We're starting to see fruit in the garden. Here, for example, are the gooseberries:

The bush was planted two years ago, but hasn't really fruited properly. It looks like it's changing that this year, and we're planning to let it grow out as much as it likes for next year, so we should have an even better crop then.

The apple trees also have little applets on:

And even the currants are going well. This is one bush of the four in the garden, which are of varying sizes and shapes, and in varying conditions. If they go the way the gooseberry is going, we should have a good-sized crop over the next few years too.

The Fat Cat is not a fruit, but she's very comfortable in this picture, and a comfortable cat is one who is not winding around your ankles to trip you, or digging in the onion bed:

Herb Bed

The herb bed has been doing very well indeed. The glass panel in the foreground below covers the basil and some coriander, and there's another in at the back, between the two parsley plants, which covers more coriander. There's also some rosemary tucked in there, but it's hard to make out - it's just behind the foreground glass panel.

Getting Rid of An Ash Tree Stump

So, we brought that tree down last year. I'm actually having some trouble finding an image of the garden with it in, and considering the number of pictures I've taken, that seems bizarre. However, this entry has an image of the garden under snow, with the tree right in the middle.

Here's the view from earlier this year, with the stump visible in the midst of other work. It's barely visible, really, having been chopped off within about six inches of ground level.

So, after it was chopped down, we excavated around it, looking to unearth it, chop off the roots, and basically dig it up. This proved harder than expected, because there were big stones all around it - it seems it grew on the remnants of a dry-stone wall.

Eventually, we got it to a stage where we'd cleared all around it, leaving a big hole with the stump in the middle.

The trouble was that we weren't able to unearth it. It just kept going down, and down, and down. And my chainsaw was basically bouncing off it. Having tried to get the chain sharpened, and finding that it was too worn to do so, I arranged for someone to come in with a chainsaw and hack the thing out of there.

However, even for a professional with an industrial chainsaw, it wouldn't budge. He got an 8-inch slice off the top, which dropped it to below ground level, but below that, it was considerably harder than was in any way reasonable for an ash. The chainsaw was basically grinding at it, raising a lot of smoke, and getting nowhere.

So we settled for boring a lot of holes in the top, so that it can rot down. We could have put some petrol in, fired it, and repeated over a few months, gradually breaking it down, but frankly, a petrol-fuelled fire in the back yard did not appeal.

So we buried it. I brought out over the frame from an old raised bed from last year, filled in around the stump with the piles of soil we'd dug out - and about three-quarters of the compost-heap under where I'll be planting some squash.

And here's how it looks now, with no tree and no stump. I'm very glad to see the back of it, and while we won't be able to plant root vegetables in that bed for a while yet, it'll do nicely for strawberries or the like.