Tuesday 11 April 2017

A Long Lost Twin Brother?

Blackthorn blossom.
We are at peak blackthorn blossom time here in Roscommon. The hedges are white with the froth on the still-leafless branches. We are amazed every year by how few actual sloes can be had from these bushes always loaded with flowers. Some of that is down to the 'haircut' given by the contractor hedge trimmers as soon as they are allowed (September) but the local bushes do not seem to produce many fruit even on the field sides of the hedge.

Meanwhile, by happy coincidence, I have found a friend who was born on exactly the same day as me, almost 60 years ago. Friends of the blog will recall that a couple of our archers have produced a lovely baby girl, now 8 months old, for whom Liz once knitted a hat in the colours of an archery target. Well, a group of us were chatting at one of the shoot coffee-breaks a couple of weeks back and one friend started quizzing me about a significant birthday which I had let slip might be fast approaching. Eventually I admitted that it MIGHT be this Friday, April 14th, where-upon the baby girl's Mother (Yulia) pricked up her ears and looked at me in amazement. She asked how old would I be at this birthday and it turns out that baby (Feliz)'s Dad (name Colly) is also born that day and will be the same age. We are therefore some flavour of 'twins', all be it him born in Dublin and me in Hastings. Small world. Happy Birthday for Friday, Col' !

The ceiling goes up first holding up the insulating wadding
Huge progress in the Kitchen project. K-Dub contacted me last Friday asking if we could have a crack at it on Saturday and get all the "slabbing" done. Slab is the word used to describe the modern 'dry lining' plasterboard which is bonded to a sheet of dense (and fire-proof) insulating foam of various thicknesses. We use 30 mm on the ceilings and 70 mm thick on the walls. We also used a bit of foam-less old style 'plasterboard' where we needed to marry in to the existing 'old kitchen' ceiling.

Slabbing in progress
Our ceiling also had armfuls of fluffy wadding wedged up between the rafters just because K-Dub had a load left over from his own house. We can all remember handling this material when doing the parent's loft in Hastings, when the wadding was itchy fibre-glass and you had to work with sleeves rolled down and without wiping your hands anywhere sensitive (eyes, neck etc) or you would suffer terrible itching for days. The 2017 version of this stuff is much more forgiving - soft and barely itchy at all.

View from 'old' to new through the new arch. 
The task also involved framing up the arch through from new to old kitchen so that we could slab round all these corners but this was money for old rope for K-Dub, a Master Carpenter. It took him about half an hour while I pretty much followed him round picking up discarded off cuts of slab and sweeping up shavings and debris.

...and we're done. Slabbed out and awaiting
the plasterer(s)
I was also chief gloop-mixer. The wall slabs are glued to the uneven wall by mixing a bonding agent to what you chefs will know as the "soft peak" stage. This thick gloop is trowelled onto the wall every couple of feet (horizontally and vertically) in big dollops which stick out from the wall a good 3 inches. That way the slab is sure to touch the 'peaks' before it hits a sticking-out chunk of the stone work.

A slab profiled to butt up to the exposed-stone
Another interesting feature of this task which may be worth sharing is the way K-Dub copes with a flat-sided slab butting up against a very uneven, stone and cement wall. It was fascinating to watch - you butt the slab up against the wall and then wiggle a pencil down the wall to create a template line parallel to the bumps and dips in the stone. The bumps and dips in your line are always just enough to cope with the 'deepest' bump/dip. The spare outside the line is then nibbled out with an ordinary wood-saw and Bingo! When you offer up the wobbly edged slab it should now touch the wall most of the way down. The plasterer does the rest, neatly filling in the small gap without messily splashing plaster on your nice clean stone-work.

Probably best not to ask.
That's the theory anyway. The "plasterer" here, though, looked like being K-Dub and I for a while, neither of whom can plaster, at least not in any free-flowing way that a pro would recognise. K-Dub has, in fact, done it on his own house, with plenty of this fancy edge-against-stone but he will freely admit that it was more of a 'tape and joint' style job (The American Way) using pre-mixed formula and around 6 cycles of slap it on, let it dry, sand-paper off the excess and repeat. We could do it but neither of us was looking forward to all that sanding and the Lady of the House would definitely not have wanted all that plaster dust drifting through her kitchen for however many weeks it would have taken.

Had to smile at this after our dog-prints in the new concrete
picture. This is a discarded Roman tile unearthed in Leicester.
2000 years on and dogs are still messing with we builder's heads!
By (another) happy coincidence I still have on my phone the number of one of the Mayo brothers who did our whole house back in 2011 and who subsequently became a great friend, sheep-mentor, breeder and supplier of store lambs for several seasons. A quick text to him confirmed that he was still in the plastering game, had lost my number but often thought of us and would be more than happy to come round in the week to look at the job and give us a price. More on this soon. If it works, it will save us lots of time and dusty mess.

Finally, every time I come into this blog-site to write a post one screen shows me how many views my most recent epics have had... how many people have clicked in to read them. Now, I gave up any dreams to have as many readers as JK Rowling ten years ago and have been happy to chug along with my 30-40 readers whom I know are mainly family and friends. My recent post about Senator Frank Feighan and the artist fella, Brian John Spencer amazed and delighted me by breaking this mould with a score of 210+ views - a record, I think, for the blog. I put this down to FF and BJS 'tweeting' links to it and my mention of it in the interview he had me do with him on 'Audio-boom'. Looking around I have had a couple more with good scores ("Stirring it" on 13th Jan had over the hundred and "Legal Beagles" had 136), but my norm is still between 28 and 80 so you won't find me on the Booker shortlists any time soon. Thank you for reading these who ever you are.

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