In the absence of any vegetable growing, a bit of an update on progress here in Fron Dirion.
Val’s been busy decorating now that the kitchen is finished. I once did some decorating when she was in hospital and as soon as she was out and nearly fit she re-did it. A man’s got to know his limits!
Still, there’s plenty of little jobs for me to do not least of which is being the builder’s teaboy. When there’s five of them (2 with 2 sugars, 3 with none), well it all takes time.
Welsh Roofing Slates
We headed off to the reclamation yard in Groeslon the other day for slates. This part of the cowshed had been covered with various sizes but my builders aren’t into higgledy-piggledy. I was a bit taken aback by the price – 140 slates at £1.40 each! Still we took him 83 slates that were bigger and he gave me about £70 trade in.
I think the price varies according to the size, what’s in stock and your command of Welsh. Since my Welsh comprises about 6 words at the moment and one of them is apparently a south Walian word so doesn’t count, I left the discussions to the builders.
So the half of the roof facing the lane was finished in a day. They’ve made a fabulous job of it, it’s as good as the house roof if not better.
Apparently you can buy Chinese slate cheap but the builders mutter about it not lasting, although I find it hard to believe they have inferior rocks in China. However, I do think it would be criminal to roof anything in Snowdonia surrounded by slate quarries with anything but local slate.
For the other side of the shed we needed yet more slates but it turned out he’d sold all the size we wanted. So they added extra battens and off we went to buy a different size, the same width but shorter. Anyway, when we went down the reclamation chap said they’ve another load coming in over the weekend and so we may well get the right size. If so we’ve added extra battens for nothing but at least the roof is now bomb proof!
Concrete Replacement Lintel
Back inside they were replacing the lintel over one of the doors. Originally it had been wood but that had long rotted away leaving just a few bits of fibre and sawdust. The reinforced concrete replacement should last a bit longer.
I was working in my office, which is on the other side of the house when it shook to a loud crash. Yep, a bunch of stone had come down. Luckily the builder was OK, I guess they know when to jump, if a little pale around the gills. What’s scary is that it could have gone anytime, like when we were under it. Still, it’s in now and safe.
Pointing Stone Walls
They’ve pointed up two of the walls now and they’re looking fabulous. It’s not just a decorative thing, though. The idea of re-pointing is to protect against the weather. Water getting in and freezing expands with tremendous force and can literally shatter concrete. So the pointing is being done with waterproof concrete and soon we’ll be weather tight and dry.
Still to Do
They’ve got a land drain to dig behind the sheds to stop the water from the hill side pushing through and tanking the back walls. Tanking is where they make the wall impervious to water penetration, usually done in cellars. Since the hill side slopes onto the back wall, ground level is about five feet above the internal floor.
The final task is to restore what was a hayloft into a mezzanine floor in one of the sheds and to install some plumbing so the washing machine can live out there.
As my neighbour said the other day “It costs a small fortune being self sufficient. Once you’ve got the infrastructure sorted you’ll be fine!”
i am a builder from crewe and can verify that every roofer i ever met loves welsh slate and htes chinese slate in equal measure, so there must be some thing in it!
hi just thought I would give you all a bit of a laugh as you said gardening is a bit slow at the moment I have a weed problem all my lovely husbands fault. I work six days a week so I don’t have a lot of time to give the garden, after not using our veggie patch for a couple of years as my husband had been using it to cut our supply of logs for the wood burner. As a vegaterian I got fed up with buying overpriced inferior veg from the supermarket I suggested to my husband that we should clear the veggie patch and start using it again it took us a few weeks clearing the logs pulling the stinging nettles and dock leaves and many miles of white roots from the bind weed I was getting a little dispondant and ready to give up because I just could’nt find enough time to clear it for the planting season, time was running out. My husband thought he would surprise me when I got home he called me down the garden looking as pleased as punch I got the garden done for you it looked great only one problem he used a rotervator chopped all the weeds into thousands of little piece and as most people know my hubby an exception every little bit of root grows so you guessed it I’v been in me wellies ever spear minute digging up weeds before my veggie patch disapears under a sea of weeds I banned my husband from the veggie patch this year he gets the greenhouse he can’t make a mess there can he?
Hi Im a Manager of a roofing Merchants in Llandudno Junction in North Wales, and we sell various Slates, Welsh Spanish English and Chinese, and we strongly Believe that the Quality of Chinese slate is as high a quality as all Spanish slates.Wales only has 3 Quarries producing Roofing Slate Now, Llechwedd/Maenofferen Cwt y Bugail and Penrhyn.These slates are the best on the market but very expansive and less availability,Spain are having problems with supply,less quarries each year,And slates not complying with the new standards.The Chinese Slates, there are some excellent products available which preform better than the Spanish slates, last longer and are far cheaper with various sizes available.If you ever need to see any roofs with chinese slates check us out. Thanks for reading Richie
Richie – sure you are right about Chinese slates but I feel strongly that I should keep the house as true to its origin as practical. Of course I’m not made of money so if I was building a new house maybe I’d compromise but we’re restoring and matching to the existing slates, many of which were re-usable – hence the reclamation yard.
The only thing is that the quality of my builder’s work is probably better than the original with it’s mixture of sizes and so on.
Great article very interesting to read.