December 15, 2014

A BONFIRE AND A NEW LEVEL

bonfire

With the help of Alex and Nicole we have cleared a lot of trees and bushes from the boundary of the property. 

When I say “we” I really mean Alex and Nicole, with Nick acting as labourer and taking advantage of their expertise and advice.  My gardening activities involved staying out the way and providing tea and cake!

Too many trees had been planted too close together which meant that many of them were not growing properly as they had no room to breathe and develop as they should.  We also like the idea of a more open appearance – we can see more of the view, and passers by can see more of us – the property no longer looks unloved but looks very much loved and lived in.

The result of all this garden work produced several large piles of twigs and branches – too many to either pile up on the compost heap or to take to the tip.  The perfect opportunity for a bonfire.

bonfire2 bonfire3

Nick piled the wood on top of an old, worm eaten sideboard that had been left behind in the barn.  Neither of us have had a bonfire for decades.  We both had fond memories of family bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night as children, but lately any bonfires we encountered were at large, organised events.  We waited for the right kind of weather – no wind, no rain – and hoped we could get it right.

It’s funny how something so simple can conjure up unexpected memories from the depths of our experience and as I looked at our bonfire I was reminded of a picture in one of my childhood story books.  I remembered very clearly the scene of a bonfire in the garden of a large house.  One of those very solid middle class houses with bay windows, stone paths and pretty gates.  Two adults and three children of various sizes were wrapped up against the autumn chill and were helping the gardener to collect leaves and wood for the bonfire, which was large and burning strongly.  You could tell he was the gardener by the way he was dressed in cloth cap, boots and trousers held up with braces, hurling branches into the fire  – in contrast to the figure who was obviously the father of the family, dressed smartly in overcoat and scarf, casually leaning on a wall with a pipe in his hand.  I can remember feeling envious of the family in the story, having such a lovely big house and garden, compared to the small semi detached council house that we lived in ourselves.

bonfire4 bonfire5

Our bonfire was soon fully alight and burned steadily while we fed it with cuttings for the next hour or so.  I was amazed that we managed to burn so much damp wood.  It all disappeared and the next morning there was just a small pile of ash, still smouldering gently in the frosty air.

levels

Another job we tackled this weekend was to empty the middle room upstairs in preparation for the creation of a new floor.  We haven’t yet come up with a name for this room.  In many longères it would be a bedroom, even though you have to walk through it to the next room which really is a bedroom. 

It was the upstairs space in the house that helped to sell it to us.  At one end of the house is a huge master bedroom.  At the other end is a bathroom, this room and a decent sized bedroom.  The previous owners called this end the “guest suite” and this middle room was furnished with a sofa, bookcases and a large dresser – which we bought from them.  We intend to use it as a study/workroom/craft room and we use a variety of terms for it.  Sometimes we call it the study, other times the middle room or library.  Some would think of it as a dressing room, being joined on to the small bedroom by just an opening without a door.

levels2

In any case, whatever you might call it, the floor has a ridiculous slope.  There is a height difference of about 10cm over the length of the room and it also slopes about half as much front to back.

At first we thought it was just one of the quirky features of an old house and that we could live with it, but when we got fed up with trying to level bookcases and found it difficult to sit up straight on a chair, we decided to do something about it.  We are going to have a new floor built on top of the old one.  It will sit on top of the existing floor at one end and on batons at the other end to get the level right.  We will end up with a step down in the doorway onto the landing but this will match the step at the other end of the landing into the big bedroom, so that’s fine.

levels3

Ever helpful and incredibly nosey, Daisy was on hand to help with the clearing of the room at every stage!

11 comments:

  1. Nick's got his thinking face on.

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    1. Susan, I think he was thinking "what on earth am I going to do with this stupid floor?"!

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  2. It's so nice to get the stuff burned and gone. And it's fun, too!

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  3. Daisy's face is filling out. Isn't she pretty?

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  4. Did you remember to wrap a couple of spuds in foil and tuck them in the embers....
    all good bonfires should finish with a hot baked spud!!

    As the floor is coming up...
    -ward....
    the door will be coming off...
    so will it fit the guest bedroom doorway?
    You could then put a "privacy curtain" across the doorway with a step.
    That would allow guests to use it as a suite still...
    and save buying/throwing away a door.
    After all, you are unlikely to be using the library when you've got guests.

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  5. What fun! Too bad about the old floor. It looks like beautiful (other than the fact that it's its own hillside).

    "Opening Without A Door" is a very catchy name for that room. We once had a house with two many rooms to name. One of the rooms had a rocking chair, a side table, and a telephone. For lack of anything else, we ended up calling it the "Phone Room."

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  6. Happy belated birthday to you, Jean! Many many returns of the day ...

    Looks like you are keeping busy. And Daisy is just adorable. How she has grown since the first photo I saw of her !!!

    Thank you for you email. I'll pencil the info down in my little black book. Actually, it's blue :).

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  7. Bonfires are fun. :-)

    I sympathise about the wonky floor, having spent 40 years in a house with uneven upstairs floors, one of the reasons we went for a modern house this time.

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  8. Daisy is a fetching little creature. You mentioned once that you'd post about
    how you introduced Lulu and her to one another. I for one would be very
    interested to hear the story. Our dog becomes apoplectic at the mere sight
    of a cat a great distance away.

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    1. Sheila, a "how Lulu met Daisy" post is in the pipeline!

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