Friday, December 16, 2011

The rain in Spain ...

... may fall where it may, for we have a roof over the back quarter of the house! Yay!

It needs gutters still. By the way, the new gutters, alas, will be the wrong colour (upon delivery they turn out to be too light in comparison with the older guttering which is in fact Heritage Red). This is because I chose the incorrect colour. Me. Moi. (I nearly chose Heritage Red. Nearly. But I changed my mind at the last moment. :-X ). So, in time, if you come and visit the house, make sure to point out that the gutter colours don't quite match so I can squirm a bit and shuffle my feet on the ground a little and mutter things about not being that good at colour matching ...

I now know that all Queenslander houses traditionally have Heritage Red guttering. Knowledge is a great thing.

Happy Birthday Briony!

Eighteen summers young :-)
And of course, what Briony really wanted for her birthday was an authentic Indian headdress. Which she received! Here she is larking about with Yarrow, who is resplendent in her white dress (a present from Sinterklaas).

Happy birthday darling Briony!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The rain in Spain ...

... falls mainly on The Grange. The past few days the skies have bucketed rain onto our village, while just on the other side of the valley where my parents live in Eltham, nary a drop fell (!!). This hasn't boded well for The Grange building project because it is now, precisely during this drippy time of course, that the old section of roof has to come off and the new section is in the process of being fitted. The boys (Trevor, Robbie and Slim) have done what they can with tarpaulins these past few days but even so the interior rear section of the house has occasionally looked like the interior of a waterfall. Progress is slow: the boys are doing their best but it is impossible to work on a slippery wet roof in the rain. So once the rain falls, work stops and the boys pack up and go. Here are two photos taken today:

Heavy skies; the boys racing to cover the roof...
They nearly managed, before the rain fell and work had to stop for the day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Building progress

Building has been delayed by heavy rain the past week, alas. And there was a bit of a setback when the key cantilever beam, which is to support the deck roof and hipped roof, was placed incorrectly. Sigh.... Even though I *reminded the boys beforehand*. Mind you, the roofing represents a fairly complex engineering structure, so I guess it's understandable that errors are made ... after all, they're only men ... ;-). So, the beam had to be taken down and re-placed: a hefty job as it weighs more than 100 kg. Unfortunately, once the old skillion roof was removed, the skies opened and we had a torrential downpour ... So I brought out the buckets, mops and towels ...

But today the sun shines and work seems to be progressing steadily. Here's a very recent photo of the current  happy chaos :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A brief intermission on Stradbroke

Claudia (Briony & Bella's mother, Dr C. Catterall, environmental scientist) kindly invited us to her holiday house on Stradbroke Island for the weekend, to catch up with our McAdam girls B & B; Claudia's sister (this being Professor C. Catterall) and Carla's daughters (both also doctors, of the medical type though). John's good friend Geoff Nette (also a Dr, a marine biochemist who runs the research station on North Stradbroke Island) and his lovely wife Jo Kaspari were there too. And a lovely weekend it was too: along with the excellent company and really interesting conversations, there was plenty of good food and drink, and lots of sun, sea, surf and soft squeaky sand beneath the feet.
The headlands are gorgeous!

Lovely walks to be done on Stradbroke.

This is a previous photo of a Straddie wallaby, which I took last year . But we did see plenty this time round too.

Home Beach: a nice easy beach for children who can play safely in this tidal gully. Mind you we did some very good body surfing here too, out where the breakers are.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Building the back deck: project started!

It's taken months of frustrating negotiations with our local Council to finally get building approval for our proposed back deck. The deck is designed to complete the 'wraparound' of the verandahs of this house, and would enable us to enjoy the best views that this property affords. As was common in the early days of house design, the best view from the house was hitherto from the dunny window. (And why not...  ;-) ) .

Complying with Council requests and bureaucracy was a long, torturous and expensive process which I hope never to have to do again. Each step was fraught with costs: they requested not a plumber's report but an "On Site Sewage Management Consultant's Report" (cost: $1400 for the consultant and $900 to put the ensuing development approval through Council). They requested not a Rural Fire report (Neville Battistuzzi who is our local fire chief and who grew up here on the farm could have knocked one together for the price of a beer)... but a  report "By an accredited BPAD engineering consultant (cost: $550 for the consultant to walk onto the property and look and say "Hmm, not much fire danger here")... Anyway....

On the positive side: the deck and roof have been designed in conjunction with my friend and old neighbour Charles Howden-Ferme of Bangalow Heritage Building, using Burra Charter principles for the Queenslander House. The architectural drawings were drawn up by Michael Skinner, local artist and friend. The engineering was done by the excellent Steven Tilley from Greg Alderson and associates. I found these intelligent and flexible people delightful to work with and would highly recommend their services. On the sustainability / ethics front: all the timber comes from locally sourced, sustainable sources, milled locally (much of the timber is spotted gum, a local hardwood).

So now work has begun. It's very exciting.Our good friend Trevor Gale (Kel's Dad) is now our builder and he turns up at 7 am with his two workmen (Rob and Slim) and there is rapid progess: a delight after experiencing the geological pace of Council (Cf: it has taken18 months to get the plans through Council, but only a proposed 6 weeks from start of building till the deck is standing and roofed). Here are some early pics, after only a week of building:

Footings have been poured. Old stairs still there.
The uprights in position, held by braces. Lovely view!

Joists and bearers in place and some of the painting done.