Friday, 31 August 2012

Ecology issued us with a revised offer of loan yippee! So paperwork-wise we're good to go. However, our solicitor has gone on holiday this week, holding up the exchange of contracts. This in turn delays completion, which means that we might not be formally ready to move into the houses by the time the new tenants on the place we currently live in are due to move in. Grr!! So we're looking at mid-end September at best for moving in.

We have hit a steep learning curve with the immediate practical job that needs doing - re-pointing and replastering walls in 25 and 27, as well as Hemcrete-ing the interior of the front walls. We are using lime plaster from a local company, who import it from France - there's none made in UK anymore. We chose it because the walls are solid red brick and need to breathe; 'modern' gypsum plaster suffocates walls. For more info go to:
Hemcrete is essentially lime plaster with hemp stalk fibres mixed in for their insulating properties - neither 25 nor 27 have any wall insulation nor wall cavities, so after extensive research and price comparisons between the Breathe insulation system, wood fibreboard and Hemcrete we settled on the latter. We'll be applying it ourselves by casting and shuttering onto the inside of the walls - some straight onto brickwork, some onto the original plaster once stripped of wallpaper and old adhesives.
Lots of people have offered us the loan of plastering tools & equipment, tutorial DVDs and advice, as well as elbow grease! Thankyou Jnanamitra, Harsharatna, Samira, Dave & Jood, Paul, Noel, Karl, John and Jenny, John Taylor, Das, Margaret, Tom B...anyone ive missed too!
If we'd had a chance to arrange the plastering and this first phase of Hemcreteing as a public workshop we would have, but it took us by surprise somewhat. If you're interest in coming to help within the next two weeks please do contact us, and ill put out days we're at the houses working by text - likely to be Sunday this weekend and most days next week.

 beautiful wallpaper is revealed beneath

 200l hemp shiv bales in our living room

35kg sacks of batichanvre - a lime binder for hemcrete

the front wall of no. 25, all bare n nekkid for the first time in probably 200 years

 mixing one part NHL 2 lime with 3 parts coarse sharp sand and a bit of water to make mortar

 wetting the joints between bricks thoroughly before repointing bricks - lots of the mortar is crumbly

 sporting glamorous dustmask and protective overalls, Frankie strikes a pose
 Das n Hel try all manner of methods to strip wallpaper and associated gunk off walls upstairs

 more mixing

The rewiring is progressing apace, some fittings are now on ceilings, but it cant enter phase two and the leccy cant switch on the new circuits until we've plastered over the channeled in drops and around the fronts of sockets...pressure!

Its all a bit tense in Camel-land...x

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

We've given notice on our current main abode! Which expires 26th August - so we're in the end stages now. Unfortunately, having been so proactive hasnt pleased our solicitor, and the mortgage provider have asked us for lots of updated information since we started this process of purchase with them 2 years ago...
All us Camels are running around preparing the house for imminent works like Timber Treatment and Rewiring, and afterwards replastering and insulating at the same time. These need to be done before we move in. Then we're organising workshops in more hemp/lime solid wall insulation, eco-plumbing (woodburner/immersion heater/solar thermal central heating system), making wooden double glazed windows, making wooden garage doors, over the autumn. As well as having roofing work done. Argh!

The garden is benefitting from brutal pruning - we discovered another rose behind several buddleia trees!

And the accounts and annual return are done. At the 11th hour.

Today me and Helen went to the houses and pulled up carpets, innoculating ourselves with evil black foam underlay dust particles. Puled out tacks. Pulled off gripper rods. Swept up afterwards and ate our new favourite biscuits - tripple chocolate chunk cookies from the Fairtrade shop at the top of the road. Vegan! Fantastic!!
Tomorrow we'll go back with boys and remove every 4th floorboard in the rooms upstairs.

We have guarantors for all of our Radical Routes loan.

Those residing at Burrell Rd are purging and packing up our stuff in a zombie-like fashion. Street stalls are the way to go, no lugging stuff to car boots or charity shops! Its nice looking out the window and seeing people rummaging through your stuff, intent on picking out that shiny pebble they didnt know they wanted.

Being at the Foundation Street houses during this time; being part of the process of making them liveable while theyre empty and partly demolished...its a great aid to personal purging. Of my own material possessions, and emotionally. This is the first time ill have lived in a place i can call my own, that i can make structural decisions in. So i dont need most of what clogs up my bedroom like cholesterol! And im just about to turn 26; into my second quarter of a century. Big change. I want to pare down the impact of my life, go travelling on my bicycle with all that i need in my paniers, roam. Its helping me value space, and minimalism.  Ive held on to a great deal of 'stuff'. My first stereo (that doesnt play copied CDs or have an input for MP3 players) my childhood monster alarm clock (whose hands dont turn naymore) my best friends jumper (which doesnt smell of him anymore) jars of unidentified translucent goo...and PAPER!! that ive never read the contents of and never will. CLOTHES, enough to seed a small boutique...
I will still be myself, Gemma, without all of these things.

Swing by and help yourself to our wealth. Burrell Road, opposite St Mary church.