Monday, 18 December 2006


This blog is intended as an archive of our 2006 back-story, using selections from our old site.

So far, I haven't found a way of manipulating the order of posts: I'm working forward, piece-meal, and the most recent post is always at the top - which is a bit counter-intuitive for anyone trying to read the story.

If any kind reader has technical suggestions, perhaps they could avail themselves of the comments feature to point out the way to.......

For the moment, I will use a floating 'most recent' post which will always be to top, to suggest to the tidy-minded the best order in which to read the blogs.

Chronologically, the blogs run thus:

Moving On

4 Clees Lane

Spring 2006

Auction Day

Mid-June Update

Roof repair

Roof repair

Most of July was taken up with the repair to the 4th bay (of 5) of the roof. We watched the long-term forecast, made a start in good weather, then spent some days of intermittent rain under a tarp, and finally got a run of hot weather to finish the job.
The carrier arrives with the scaffolding.

Carrying the scaffold-tower in.

The timber arrives (1)
This picture merits blowing up to full screen - you can do that to any of them by double-clicking on the photo.

The timber arrives (2). Brindle keeps a watchful eye.

Tower up

Starting to strip

The reason why.......!

Stripping the back face

The furthest point - all the old gone, new ridge in place

Trial rafter

Almost abstract!
We actually slept a night under the tarp when John and Sheila dropped in.

I love the sight of new bare timbers.

Beginning to re-felt

Doing it bit by bit up the back face

Last tile on the back

On the front, I could work from outside

Lovely view in the summer sun

Curious shadows. The modern breathable 'felt' is very tough, but also fleetingly gives this effect

All the tiles for the front face were passed out through this hopper

The one we were looking for!

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Mid-June update

The pack-and-move was a steady slog. Lost count of the number of vans involved. Almost of the number of types of vans involved! We thought we were discarding loads of stuff, but looking round here now, I think we were wrong about that! (It is, however, an exercise wholly to be recommended at some time in the 6th decade, I think). At any rate, the actual evacuation day was totally under control. My dear grandma Dora, a soul sweetly unfamiliar with irony,
would survey the empty table at the conclusion of a family feast and remark "Well, I think I judged that just right!" There was something of that about it, but we were fit for nothing the first week we were 'really here'.

As I write, we're in the seventh week of residence. The first week was a write-off, and we've had two weeks since then significantly interrupted by other events - Nina's birthday trip to the Lleyn peninsula, and a visit to Harrogate for her nephew Tom's wedding.

'The area' -clearing and first improvisation of water-harvesting

We've also had a monsoon season. Which is all introductory to saying that we're not remotely into the real slog of repair and renovation yet. On the other hand, we certainly have made a definite impact, even if in ways we possibly hadn't prioritised in advance. The wet period made it quite urgent to sort out some of the mysteries/inadequacies of the outside drainage system, which lead quickly and naturally into water conservation. We now have about 1500L storage capacity, a small pump to move it around, and control of where the water from the roof goes. And this very morning we had a water meter installed, so now we have to put our effort where our mouth is.....

Improvised water-butts on parade (they're cheaper per litre stored than the dedicated article!)

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Auction Day, 30th March 2006

The sale day went well, although not without incident.

It felt a 'big' day, rather like a wedding or funeral. There was the same sense, for the first part of the day, of marking time. Fortunately, Nina went out about noon 'just to see the car's all right' - which it turned out not to be. Battery flat, dead. (Mea culpa). We were used to flat batteries at Nash View - ideally placed for them in fact. Ran it off - all the way down into the bottom, without a spark of response. Borrowed a jump box from a friend and got it going, ran round the Johnston loop to recharge a bit.

Lunch, dress (this was Pembrokeshire - people like a bit of respect) and into town. Got to The Mariner's rather early, in fact. Took up position at the back of the room. Began counting in the prospective buyers we recognised.

Nina starts sniffing. "What's that smell? Have you got something on your shoes?" Drove me out to the street to check. Clean as a whistle. She's still sniffing, while the auctioneer goes through the staged build-up. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have two properties on offer today. On my right is Mr..... and next to him Mr.....If you have any queries, please come up and inspect the documents and make your enquiries." This two or three times at intervals, and Nina's still sniffing.

Just as he picks up his gavel, and announces he's ready to take bids, she notices the mocha-coloured glob on her own shoe. Too late to do anything now. Ah well, it proved 'lucky for some', and fortunately the 'some' was us.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Moving On

As of about the end of February, 2006:
We moved to Hook in September 1986, just in time for Jenny and Emily to start the new school year - Jenny in Form IV, Emily in Form I, (if anyone still remembers those terms!).
On Nov. 1st 2005, we made a successful offer for a property in Pant-teg, Ystalyfera, and on February 8th 2006, the board went up for the sale of Nash View.
We have OPP for demolition of the cottage and erection of 3 new dwellings on 'the estate', and hope to go to auction on March 31st.
Ian has now worked out his trade diary and is taking no new work for the moment, and we are both 'full-time' on de-coking nearly 20 years' eventful occupation of Nash View, and beginning to move stuff over to Pant-teg.
We have already 'over-nighted' there twice and sampled the local chippy and curry house. The temptation is to spend too much time there, but we know we will not regret making sure our exit from Nash View is a controlled process. (We both have memories of emptying drawers in no. 8 Canon Frome into black bags as our buyer's pantechnicon was coming up the drive!)

Spring 2006

Just a few pictures to give something of a taste of the early days.

The first is of the cottage looking uphill and about SW from the lane. The garden was entirely overgrown with bramble, with many ash saplings beginning to show through. (There is an ash at the bottom of no. 5's garden which is one of the most profilic 'key-ers' we have ever seen - we were briefly deceived in the spring that it was a chestnut about to burst into flower). The groundfloor of the house is pretty well invisible - in fact, getting to the front door was a bit hazardous for the first visit or two.

Next, there is a sight of how the right-of-way along the terrace was blocked outside our furthest window;

and a view along the terrace, with Ian outside No. 6, which we have since bought:

followed by a photo of the Heroine of the Hour after she had cleared the blockage:

The staircase in the house is quite steep; it was also built with a very short well, which didn't start (i.e. open up overhead) until the third riser (compare your own!), so that we were at first unable to get even a four foot bed up. So I had to make up a bed in situ.

We hacked away at the garden over a number of visits. This shot shows partial progress and the 'garage' in its glorious neglect.

As we acquired the house, the front door opened into a small hall/passage beside the stairs. The partition forming this, probably forty or fifty years old, was decidedly informal. We decided very quickly 'it had to go' - the first work we did on the house. The resulting large open space will be our living-kitchen, and the Broseley wood-burning cooker/boiler now sits in a simnai fawr in place of the brown fireplace.

So to two shots of (final) moving day: the first looking along the right-of-way from the road to the (porch) front door, with Brindle caught on camera, as she so often is.

The second was taken from just in front of the garage, looking up the lane, and catching the last of the many hire-vans parked by the Volvo, now arrived at its new home.

4 Clees Lane

Introducing our new home, March 2006

Clees Lane was formerly nos. 3 and 4 Clees Lane (even earlier it was, we think, nos. 1 and 2, but we won't go into that for the moment. ) It is made up of the first two cottages in a field terrace - i.e. the terrace runs at right angles to the Lane, more or less on a contour line, looking E / SE across the Tawe valley. It is not the usual urban terrace, in that the houses are all at least slightly different - e.g. no. 3 was originally double-fronted, no. 4 single-fronted - and it seems very likely that the terrace as we see it was not built as a unit. 3, 4 and 5 are certainly a single construction, although no. 5 is deeper than 3 and 4. No 6 is separate from no 5, though you could get no more than a knife between them, and so on down the line. There are now 5 cottages beyond ours, but see below......
The family from whom we purchased had certainly occupied no. 4 since before WWII. They bought no. 3 in 1973, and got an improvement grant to combine the two, but most of the work done seems to have been on 3, which contains a working kitchen and bathroom, and is generally in better order than the original no. 4 . Accommodation comprises: (ground floor ) two receptions and good-sized kitchen plus a single storey outshoot which was an earlier kitchen and bathroom but will now have to be demolished/replaced; (upstairs) one big bedroom and two others which could both be 'doubles' at a pinch, plus large bathroom (I have thoughts of developing this as a bathroom plus a shower-room in due course.)

Now for the interesting bit......

The area is post-industrial. In the C19th, Ystalyfera was the tin-plate capital of the world, and there was a coal mine just across the Lane. (After we had bought Clees Lane, we realised that all the conventional homes we have owned have been in mining/post-mining villages - Beighton, Killamarsh, Hook and now Pant-teg. If you have a certificate and white coat, please feel free to comment.....)

The area suffered from incidents of subsidence and movement in the 1960s and 1980s, and the terrace from 5 onwards has been unoccupied since about 1980.
Our estimate is that no. 5 may be rescuable, no. 6 might just be a 'restore from shell' job, but beyond that it is almost certainly demolition city.
Our house has certainly suffered in the past, but seems not to lie on the main fault-line, and although it needs work, we have every confidence in it as a prospective home. Successive local authorities have done a lot of work on drainage and run-off, and the area now seems stable and relatively well-heeled.