Sunday 15 January 2012

Original Features

This being an old stone-built house, Mum and Dad have been keen to preserve any original features they could get away with, sneaking them past the Project Manager while he was not looking. I may have mentioned before the Dad campaign to preserve a stone wall as bare, painted, and not covered in modern insulation sheets and new plaster. There is also the dining room ceiling which started the week as a black stained or painted tongue and groove boarding over which had been nailed the pathetic three-ply sheeting which we took down last week, being badly riddled with wood worm. Mum is wondering whether something can be done with it but Sparks declares it too damaged by nail holes and thicker splodges of the stain (or possibly the tar from the range chimney). It has to go. It proves to be one of the easier things to pull down being in whole lengths of 16 feet or so of the board nailed, apparently, only at ends and centre, so a crow bar hooked over each 'plank' and pulled downwards, pings it away from the joists where it can be pulled off the remaining end and slung on the salvaged wood pile.

The stone wall, by contrast, spends the week condemned to be buried under insulation and plaster but then gets an end-of week reprieve. We have chipped all the old loose plaster off it and turn our attention to the other end of the house where the range appears to be hiding an inglenook fireplace with a possible nice lintel. The range has to go, but is known to weigh about 16 ton (rough, possibly exaggerated, estimate). The boys remove all the easy bits, lift-off doors, oven shelves, the top plate and so on, and then attack the screw-on bits with WD40 and the rubber hammer (and screw drivers, obviously). The chimney is disconnected and the carcase can then be pulled out from the wall. Aerial Keith has his eyes on the range for use as part of a kitchen BBQ, but Mum thinks it will look nice in the out-building which may be the original cottage. Measurements suggest it will slot neatly into the fireplace recess. However, as it comes free from the wall the back pretty much falls off with rust, the insulation wadding tumbling out. Mum is called to look, just to make sure she still doesn't want it anyway but, no, it is not a thing of beauty. It is slid out over planks across the threshold to the front of the house to await collection by Aerial Keith for what ever purpose he likes, scrap or BBQ.

With the range gone, a proper exploration of the supposed 'inglenook' can take place, chopping away the remaining plaster. This unfortunately proves to be a real hotch-potch of repairs and changes, infill with small stone, holes blocked off with modern breeze-blocks. Some courses of block or stone are canted over so that the thing looks like it is tumbling down in sections even though (we trust) it isn't. It is nothing we'd want to see bare and painted, preserved as an original feature, although there is some interesting criss-cross-scratched textured plaster high up on one joist. It seems we are not to get Dad's "wall" but then Sparks reconsiders the western wall. "I don't know", he says, "We could get away with this one.... it wouldn't lose THAT much heat... the walls are lovely and thick (2 foot or so)... as long as we scrape all the moss and vegetation off the outside...". Peace is restored. Dad is happy again.


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