Sunday, 16 May 2010

Inside and out

On Saturday two men arrived and knocked all the plaster off our kitchen walls.  I was going to say knocked hell out of my house actually and that is certainly how it felt.  In a four hundred year old  house you never know what you will find when you start to do any work at all.  We have decided to move our kitchen from the 1980s extension where it languishes now, all stained walls and peeling melamine cupboards, to the larger, older room at the front which used to be the dairy.  The room has been plastered with a mixture of lime plaster and new gypsum based plaster.  The new plaster has been gently falling off ever since we arrived and we have bitten the bullet and decided to have the whole room replastered.
So here we are, bags and bags of rubbish later, with the plaster off and the old stone walls revealed.
The floor is made of huge slabs of slate.
The walls are hugely thick too but here and there taking off the plaster has brought pieces of stone gently crumbling out of the wall.
 In what was the back wall of the house there is a another little blocked up window just the size and shape of the little window in the side wall.
So there we are, first step on the way.  Take it gently.  The house has stood a long time and needs to stand a long time still.

So outside is a good place to be just now.
Everything is fizzing and fountaining green.
The apple blossom is out.
And so are the crab apples.
And further away from home, the woods are full of bluebells.   Everything is coming up green and roses.

30 comments:

  1. What a fascinating process it is taking a place back to its core - and I understand your need to be gentle with your room. In the times we've done it - and never with a property as old as yours - I've always thought of the hands that handled the materials, shifted the stone into place - thought about what they were doing and the world they lived in then.
    It's a link with our past - that trite old saying 'if only walls could talk comes to mind'.

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  2. Oh well. At least there's no point dusting for a while.

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  3. Now you've done it - no turning back from this one!
    I hope you'll post photos as you go along - things like that little window are fascinating to someone who lives where the oldest house is just about 125 years old.

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  4. If those stone walls could talk, imagine the tales they would tell!! I look forward to following your process!!

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  5. Think that outdoors must be the more serene option at the moment :)

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  6. Wow!
    to both house and garden
    cannot wait to come and visit again
    K

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  7. What a great project - if a little daunting! Remember the mantra "It will all be worth it in the end".......

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  8. And it's spring. Even knocking a house to pieces is less traumatic when you can go out and look at the beauties of nature.

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  9. Are you not tempted to leave the Walls as they are? I think they look fantastic!

    Mrs Jones (www.mrsjoneshomethoughts.blogspot.com)

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  10. Mountainear - taking it back to its core is a wonderful phrase for it.
    Fran - have you ever had to dust inside your microwave?
    Pondside - I will do photos if other people's building works are not just too yawn making!
    Kim - it is hard to imagine how much life has been lived here, the mind just quivers at it.
    Anna - you are so right. Took my lunchtime sandwich and teatime cake out there.
    Karen - I do keep wandering around and thinking about when you might come and see anything which would make sense of my love of the place. Come soon.
    Rachel - I think it will be worth it. I don't even mind if it takes a while.
    Friko - you are so right. I might not be able to behave with half so much equanimity if I couldn't go outside into the sunshine.
    Anon - the stone does look quite good but it is phenomenally dusty and not really good enough stone to stand alone. It was always meant to be covered so I suppose we will!

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  11. I think the stone is wonderful, also. But of course, I'm not living with it! My bleeding hearts and apples are blooming, also, I love it!

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  12. All that pink and green in your garden is very luscious.

    It will be fun to watch your new kitchen take shape...assuming you will be sharing it with us. I love the old thick stone walls and the beautiful slate floor. We don't see beautiful old structures like that here in California.

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  13. Oh, how wonderful! I know it's stressful, but keep your hair on and a cup of hot tea in one hand. It will be all right.

    I do hope you're not going to cover up all those beautiful stone walls with more plaster... please say you're leaving the stone! And maybe restoring the wee window?

    Keep the pics coming - excellent stuff!

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  14. For the past 3 weeks we have been camping in what was the study but is now a makeshift kitchen whilst the real kitchen is grougth back to life, plaster dust covers everything and I can not find half my tools for cooking!Saturday we actually managed to find the stoen for teh floor, we ahve a large slate slab wall so although I am envious of yor slate floor we decided against one adn went for a pale cream stone. I remember the fun of renovating our English cottage and finding blocked windows and an amazing cobbled floor laid in a swirling pattern that led to a small blocked archway in the wall where the slurry from the cows ( it too was once a dairy) was washed away into the street. What fun you will have finsihng it all off! Good luck!

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  15. I love the photo of the bluebells - the sight of them just makes my heart soar. But, back to the house - I don't envy you the disruption.

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  16. The garden looks wonderful, Elizabeth and good luck with the building work. I'm sure it will be worth the hassle in the end.

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  17. lovely walls - are you going to replaster or leave them exposed. I always wonder whether exposed walls are more dusty!!!! Can't wait to see the next stage

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  18. Sigh.....I used to live in Chester and would spend my weekends walking up into the welsh mountains. I have to say its a magical place and I miss it terribly. I just found your blog and shall be reading it to get my welsh fix! Thank you, M

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  19. sounds like it was well overdue and, once done, all the pain and dust is quickly forgotten. Almost too much going on outside to cope with at the moment - everything growing so fast that it's a shaming reminder, AGAIN, to heed planting distances!
    On a sad note, hope I didn't annoy / disapppoint you at Malvern ... I'm no longer on your blog roll, small sob.

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  20. Dimple - the stone is very rough and would have been roughly plastered over with lime plaster when the house was built so that is what we will do I think.
    Sara - This house is old even for here I suppose!
    Marcheline - the blocked up window now goes nowhere as there is a small extension on what was the back wall of the house. We will have to cover the stone to make the room as it would have been when built but I promise you the plaster won't look anything like a normal new house!
    Hah - glad not to have found a slurry drain mind you! It is exciting though.

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  21. Chris - I love bluebells too. I am having a dither as to what to do about the fact that we have the deep blue native ones here and there in the field and a clump of the paler Spanish ones in the garden. I think the counsel of perfection is to get rid of the Spanish as they hybridise but seems so harsh somehow. Will have to steel myself too it if I want to preserve those deep washes of blue.

    Marianne - I am sure it will be worthwhile too. As I am not the most houseproud of people I am fairly relaxed about the journey to get there. Just pleased to be on it!
    patientgardener - they are seriously dusty and the soft lime mortar between the stone crumbles if you look at it harshly.
    Urban Dirt Girl - it is beautiful isn't it. If you don't know the Clwydians specifically you should come and stay in the holiday cottage and have a look. They are breathtaking.
    Milla - no, no, no about Malvern. It was a total pleasure to meet you. I took you off my blog roll with great sadness a few weeks ago because I reluctantly concluded that you had stopped. Rushes off to reinstate.

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  22. what a daunting project! Quit exciting though, and of course you'll post photos of the kitchen once it's done, won't you?

    I love really old houses - when I was 14 I went to England for the first time and stayed in a 16th C cottage in the Cotswolds. I was enchanted - felt like I'd stepped into a book of the sort I loved to read. Your forest looks magical, and I envy you your bluebells. Next to sweet peas, they are my favourite flower.

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  23. Elizabeth, I love the stone walls and I can't help but smile at the notion that your house is older then my country! The garden looks lovely and a wonderful respite from construction~I hope the weather cooperates. gail ps I am so glad I got to meet you at Malvern.

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  24. What a fabulous floor, and those bluebells....

    Here in France our stone walls are perfect for being exposed, but from my memory of our last home in Wales (which was also ancient) they were never intended to be left as such. I think your plaster decision is correct.

    Greetings, Cro.

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  25. Love your photos
    As for the walls of your house, we have a house like that too. When we did the same thing the mess was terrible - that lime plaster gets everywhere!

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  26. How exciting Elizabeth. Good to be able to retreat outside though isn't it? Hope we can see more soon x

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  27. Oh you'll make it so beautiful! I loathe the dust that comes with builders but I love the excitement of creating something new.

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  28. Beautiful floor and walls! Looking forward to seeing some "after" photos.

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  29. Deborah - oh yes me too about sweet peas and bluebells too. There will be photos but it won't be quick so don't hold your breath.
    Gail - ditto about the meeting. It was a real delight to meet you. I love the idea of my house being older than your country!
    Cro - yes, some stone is clearly meant for display but this stone isn't, despite the flattering photos!
    Lynda - any plaster is interesting when you try to knock it off but lime plaster has a particular ability to get everywhere, for years.
    Pipany - what a lovely phrase, retreating outside! That is just how it is.
    Tattie - it will be lovely and I love the excitement, you just need patience!
    Judith - Both walls and floor are pretty special, as is the dust and the mess!

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