Raising the bedroom bar

Well the hole-blocking efforts of last week appear to have worked. This weekend I was not woken at silly o’clock by the frantic antics of a bird in the bedroom.

I was woken instead by glorious sunlight streaming into the house. With the large house party that invaded at Easter, I finally had to bite the bullet and move into the master bedroom suite upstairs, complete with the madly-mosaiced bathroom and 20ft walk-in dressing room. To die for – right? Of course. But….

Well personally I quite like being woken with the natural light, which is just as well because upstairs there’s no shortage of it. There may only be one very small window in the bedroom, but with the very open-plan, mezzanine-style layout, I have the advantage of light from the opening in the stairwell, the glass roof in the snug and the 17ft high window in the music room…

Of course, the minor problem is that in Scotland, by the time we get to the Summer solstice, it doesn’t really get properly dark that far North. And it is fully light again by about 3am. So I may not enjoy being woken with the light then!

But how do you fit curtains to a glass roof? And the music room window is proving equally problematic. Not because of its height, (any idiot can add a couple of extra metres to the bottom of a curtain), but because there is a gallery on one side of the window and a protruding brick plinth the other side – which are getting in the way of putting up a conventional curtain pole. It sort of defeats the object of having great big windows letting in lots of lovely light if you end up blocking most of it because you can’t open the curtains properly…

Well I’m handing that problem over to the resident expert curtain-maker, otherwise know as my Mum – I’m sure she’ll come up with a genius plan soon…

The other minor issue with finally moving my bed upstairs is the balustrade – or rather, the lack of one. I banned all visitors from the upstairs at Easter, as I didn’t really relish the idea of having to scrape anyone off the stone floor of the music room if they fell over the edge.

But I haven’t really given it any thought on my own account.

Admittedly to my knowledge I have never been prone to sleep-walking before. But you never know do you? With all the stress going on in my life right now I could well randomly decide to take a midnight wander without realising it….

So this weekend’s job is a Health & Safety one – get the balustrade put up in the bedroom.

It’s the same concept as the one I put up in the kitchen – pre-grooved oak and glass. Just screw the base rail to the floor, put up a couple of posts either end and attach the top rail. How hard can that be?

Well one or two minor differences to the one in the kitchen. To start with, unlike the kitchen balustrade which is only 1.5 metres, this beauty is over 4 metres wide. And secondly, where the opening in the kitchen is between two nice, normal, straight brick walls, the bedroom walls are stone – lumpy and solid. Not the easiest thing in the world to attach an oak post.

I was also initially concerned about attaching the base rail, since it sits across the top of a steel lintel and I had a few nightmares wondering whether I could get self-tapping screws that would drill through steel. But actually I’ve decided not to bother. The rail actually sits on a solid wood floor that in turn sits on a chipboard floor. 2 inch screws every 10 inches or so for a whole 4 metres – believe me, that rail ain’t going anywhere!

So next job is to fix the posts at either end.

Well here I should thank my architect for his trendy ideas for the vaulted roof, which means there’s a very convenient roof truss right at the point where the balustrade starts.

So on the assumption that the trusses are not going to move – because if they do it pretty much means my whole house is falling down – the top of the posts have been secured to the roof trusses. And the bottom of the posts can be fixed through aforementioned oak flooring and chipboard. And behind the plasterboard on one side of the balustrade is a fortuitously placed timber frame. So that just leaves one hole to be drilled into a granite stone wall then. Which is a bit lumpy, so to get the post to be properly vertical, I had to attack the wall with a hammer and chisel first!

In the end, drilling into the granite was actually the easy bit!

After that it was just a matter of making sure the top rail was level and that the grooves on the top were directly aligned to the grooves in the base rail.

Hmm. Well on that one, to be honest, I won’t know whether I’ve got it right until the glass arrives. But I live in hope. In the meantime, this should be enough to keep me safe should I ever decide to go sleepwalking…



Propping up the bar…

Having taken a couple of days off work to get cracking on my very long list of jobs, I arrived at the barn this week feeling decidedly under the weather and disinclined to do anything. If I’d been a bloke I’d have declared to the world that I had ‘Man flu’ and skulked off to bed for a few days to recover.

But I’m just a girl. It can’t be anything worse than just a bit of a cold, so I’m sure I’ll survive. In any case, with just 5 weeks until the Great Invasion from the South, I don’t really have time to be ill.

I’d had two goals for my long weekend:

  1. I’d ordered all the stove and flue and it was all due to be delivered while I was there, so I wanted to  get as much of the preparation for fitting the fire done as possible.
  2. Last week I’d made a start on the balustrade in the kitchen, so I wanted to get that finished so I could make a start on the ones upstairs.

But with as much energy as a anaesthetised slug, I wasn’t really in the mood for any of the bigger jobs on my list. So I probably wasn’t at my most welcoming when Laurel & Hardy showed up to drop off a woodburning stove.

To be fair to them, they were making a special effort; they’d phoned a couple of hours earlier to say they wouldn’t be able to deliver as planned because the tail-lift on their van was broken and they were having to head back to the depot.

I’d made it clear I wasn’t best impressed. I’d taken the day off specifically to take delivery, and if it didn’t turn up that day, would they be working the weekend to deliver because I wouldn’t be around the following week to sign for it, and could they make sure somebody phoned me when they got back to the depot to keep me informed…..blah blah blah.

Which was a bit mean really; it’s hardly their fault that the tail-lift was broken, and I’d completely forgotten that my parents were due to arrive later that day so in fact there would have been someone around the following week to take the delivery…. well like I said at the beginning, I’m not feeling at my brightest and best at the moment.

Anyway, my ‘obviously-not-impressed’ voice clearly got through. I got a phone call about an hour later. “Er, we think we’re outside your gate.” And sure enough there was a great big delivery van reversed up to the gate. Laurel & Hardy had decided they would make the delivery anyway, even without a functioning tail-lift on the truck. Which meant they would have to manhandle the stove off the back of the lorry without the use of the pallet truck.

At this point I started to feel slightly guilty. I’m fairly sure they wouldn’t be covered by any insurance if they put their backs out in this scenario….

They started bickering like an old married couple about the best way to lift 150kg pallet.

I offered to help, but got the distinct impression that they didn’t think girls were any good at heavy lifting. So I offered to go and knock on my neighbour’s door to see if he would help. They agreed to that happily enough. Long live sexism….

But as I was walking back down my neighbour’s drive they suddenly yelled out that it was OK, they’d managed by themselves. Hmmm. Maybe they sent me off so I didn’t actually get to see how they got it down.

150kg of stove was now sitting on the concrete slab outside my garage in the pouring rain, as Laurel & Hardy drove away, still bickering. I decided to leave it there for the night; it felt like far too much effort to attempt to move it just then.

But the next day, the task could be postponed no longer. Aided and abetted by my honorary builder parents, I went outside to discover exactly how heavy my stove was. The three of us could barely lift it. (Though it did become slightly easier when I realised I hadn’t actually cut all of the straps that were holding it on to the pallet…..Duh!)

I have an old but serviceable sack barrow, which in my head I was convinced could take a load of up to 200kg. We managed to lift the stove off the pallet. And just about managed to get it tilted on to the sack barrow. (I’ve changed my mind about the load capacity of my barrow – I don’t think the base is flat any more….!)

So we stood it back upright, left it where it was, and went indoors for a long confab on the best way to get a stove-on-a-sack-barrow over a step into the house. I found a couple of lengths of decking the could act as a ramp up into the house. But we would still have to get over the doorframe. The merits of using long bits of wood were considered, so they could act as a seesaw into the house. There was probably a cup of tea consumed. (We’re very good at procrastination…)

Eventually we could put it off no longer. Having decided that the short ramp would be sufficient, we went back out to the abandoned stove, got it tilted back on to the sack a barrow and wheeled it in. Just like that – dead easy really!

Lifting it over a foot off the ground to get it up on the hearth might prove a bit more problematic, but I think I’ll save that for another day!

As to the second job I’d hoped to get completed. Well there wasn’t that much left to do for the kitchen balustrade. A spirit level and a few hefty screws had got a couple of half newel posts fixed to the side walls. The ‘pre-grooved’ base rail screwed pretty easily into the brickwork floor. And a nifty little ziplock bolts means the grooved hand rail can be taken off again when I get round to ordering the glass.

But I really didn’t have the oomph to start upstairs. So I think I’ll just stay here, propping up the bar….