Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Did you ever hear the one about the barista trainer, the racing driver and the duck farmer?

Well the barista trainer and the racing driver turned out to be the same guy, but the duck farmer was a total legend.

'Why's the duck farmer such a legend?' I hear you cry.

Here's why............

There are a mere two downsides to the house we bought:
  1. The bottle-neck in the drive
As you can see our drive is badly bottle-necked by the corner of our house and the fact that next door's rear access is ramped. It's not a major issue, it's just a major bummer as it means I'll never be able to get my trailer into the back yard, so will have to find somewhere else to keep it.

   2.   We don't own the end of the drive!

That's right, no-one seems to know who owns the end of our drive. Our solicitor discovered this during the buying process. This very nearly was a major issue and we almost didn't buy the house because of it but everything else was just what we were after so we bit the bullet and went for it. Basically you can draw an imaginary rectangle of no-man's-land if you set the sides as next door's wall on the right hand side of the picture over to the that little grey line coming from beneath the middle of the 106, and the top by drawing from the corner of our house (on the left) through the end of the wall that divides the two properties over to next door's side wall, the bottom is the road the Audi is parked on. It's not very big, about the size of two dining tables. One dining table should belong to us the other should belong to next door, but the one thing we now know for certain is it doesn't belong to either of us.

That's our two big issues, both linked to next door and that's where the the duck farmer comes in, he owns next door. Up until Friday last week we had no idea the guys who live there are only tenants.

So, We had applied to the land registry to register our half of the no-man's land as part of our plot, we didn't know but the land registry had sent a letter to next door explaining what we were doing, asking if they had any objection and advising them that any objections must be made by noon on Friday last week. The poor duck farmer, whose name is Rodger, received the letter, got completely the wrong end of the stick and thought we were trying to steal the end of his drive off him! His wife eventually pointed out to his amazement that he didn't own the end of his drive either. He eventually knocked on our door 11:30 last Friday, mobile in hand, wife waiting by phone at home ready to call the land registry and object should we turn out to be total arseholes.

Of course Lou answered the door and charmed the socks off him, needless to say the phone call was never made. Further-more Rodger turned out to be sent down from heaven to provide a solution to every major problem I have concerning the garage build. The three BIG problems are:
  1. The amount of earth that needs removing
  2. Finding something to remove it with
  3. Finding somewhere to remove it to

All potentially very expensive problems. He basically said he was also thinking of building a garage at the back of his plot, much like I am, as he likes the idea of the value some off street parking would add to his house. So not only was he keen to remove the dividing wall and bring both driveways onto the same level as far as possible but he also has:
  1. A mate with a JCB
  2. A 10 Ton tipper trailer
  3. A tractor to pull it with
  4. A farm full of mine shafts that need filling up
It's not every day you get that lucky..............

It would mean sharing the drive to a certain extent and not getting in each others way as far as parking is concerned but it's win-win really, currently my drive is severely restricted and his is little more than a footpath, bringing them onto the same level would mean we have nice, wide, useable gap between the two houses.

And it's all thanks to 'Rodger the duck'.

Sorry, I was dying to get that one in.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Little Pig, Little pig, let me come in............

I can now confirm that just as the nursery rhyme would suggest, structures built from stone are indeed harder to blow/knock down than those built of wood. Maybe it was because it didn't contain any tasty swine but it took a whole afternoon of huffin' and puffin' to bring down less than half the old coal store and the entire next day to clear away all the remains and dig up the foundation stones.

This was the first bit of proper work we have done so far, once again my bro and Naomi showed up to give me a hand knocking it down on Saturday but I was on my own on Sunday, and I can tell you it was tough digging up those rocks on my own, never mind moving all the mortar to the other end of the garden, I went into work on Monday with some achy hamstrings and shoulders but it felt good.

We're starting to see some real progress now, here's a time line of shots from the back corner of the plot. Click to enlarge.

Apart from the obvious pile of rocks in the foreground you can see the ever-growing pile against the fence in the background, that's this weekends mission, to get all the concrete blocks, slabs, mortar, earth, and ash off to the skip. My bro is back down to help out once again as I don't think I'll manage  it by myself, there must be at least a ton or two by now. I have decided to keep all the rocks and use them to put an outer wall around the breeze blocks of the garage to give it a nice stone-built look and help it blend in with the other houses and gardens in the area, the mortar binding them together basically turned to dust as we were knocking them loose so they are perfectly clean and ready to go again. If I had had to spend days and weeks chipping off old cement it wouldn't have been an option  but they are way to good to throw away as they are.
The greenhouse is on ebay so that should be gone by next weekend, we even put the bush on ebay so that should be gone soon too. Once they're out of the picture it's just the remains of the coal store to get down and we can start some proper building work.
Here's a another time line from the bedroom window: