Saturday, 7 January 2012

Chopping Plaster Off

Some pictures from the end of the week and into the weekend. With the bad floor up we'd been thinking we needed to wait for mains power so that we could use Sparks's funky mini-kango to strip plaster but searching the bags of tools which came in the cars rather than being put into storage in Big Green Lorry (BGL) we found the rubber ended mallet, the ten pound lump hammer and the two cold chisels with rubber hand grips. We have also now, two of the big "Curver" flexible buckets. Mum and Dad decided to start stripping the poor plaster off the living room manually.

In places this was dead easy. A smack with the lump hammer in the middle of a bit of innocently loitering plaster and a square yard would descend into the bucket in an avalanche of dust. In other places it needed a bit more persuasion, with the tip of the chisel being hinted in between wall and plaster-sheet. In others it was more like hard work, chipping away with shards flying and pinging off your safety goggles. More of the easy than the hard, we must admit. Especially in the bubbling stained damp areas which we have posted photographs of before.

Here-in lies a tale. Sparks is keen for us to get all this plaster off so that he can, sensibly and professionally. for all the right reasons, insulate the entire surface of exterior wall of the main house in thermal liner before plastering, thus saving us oodles of expensive heating fuel and keeping us warm at night. Dad, however knows that this is a stone built house and has seen some lovely pictures of bare stone work or brick work either left exposed or painted white so you can admire it for its texture and gritty reality. One thing we love about the barge is the fact that structure is exposed in various places, with real baulks of timber and planking visible between the 'manicured' stage-set bits. He is hoping that for the one wall with the real fire, we can chip and brush away plaster to reveal a lovely structure and texture worth keeping and that he and Mum can then persuade Sparks that this is a good thing to do.

There is only one flaw in the ointment. When we first learned that the house was stone built, Dad, in his ignorance, saw visions of lovely dressed stone blocks like in the Great Pyramids, neatly slotted together and with thin smears of mortar between. Stone-built here means nothing of the sort, of course. This is rough old stone jumble-stacked into the form of a wall with plenty of scruffy old mortar between to give the walls a loosely flat inner and outer face. It's more like an Irish dry-stone wall with lots of screed and cement stuffed in to let it go higher than a dry stone wall would. They are thick and solid, sure enough, but the surfaces never look like dressed stone. So it still remains a question whether Dad gets his wall, or whether Mum decides it's not beautiful enough, or the Project Manager vetoes the plan anyway.

On the subject of mains power, anyway, the wonderful Irish Electricity Board (ESB) have told us that their target date for mains power is 12 weeks anyway. To add to that, the Roscommon water authority are saying that as we have been unconnected from their mains for 15 years, they may have to charge us the 1600 Euro 'New Licence' fee as if the road had only just been built and these were new houses being connected up to the mains. Seems a bit mean.

The biking picture is of what's now become a regular weekend entertainment. Dad, riding Mrs Silverwood's "school-run" bike towing toddler-R (4) in the trailer bit, accompanies M (5) on his new bike from Santa exploring some local circular routes of lanes. M is allowed to pedal round the estate without supervision but in the winter, all his mates are cooped up in their houses; No-one wants to come out to play. But with a grown up, he's allowed anywhere and he's very careful and sensible on the roads, looking out for the traffic and staying in close to the kerb, extra care at junctions etc. So Dad takes he and R out for an hour or so round the quiet local lanes, and they all enjoy it.

Look out for us and don't run us over

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