Thursday, September 25, 2014

roundhouse straw bale walling

No, not another holiday trip, though it has been quite a change of scenery.  I have been helping my friend Matty with his roundhouse.  It’s already something rather special and is going to be stunning when finished.  He has built it all by hand, mostly on his own, with the help of a few knowledgeable friends and that is where I come in.  He asked me, a month or so ago, if I’d be available to give him a hand with placing the bale walls.  I jumped at the opportunity to learn more as it will stand me in good stead for my own construction project and it’s always good to give someone a hand when possible.

Hence, for the last ten days we’ve been flat out preparing for and building the walls to his roundhouse, I think the photos explain most of what we’ve been doing, though not life around where we are building.... read the next post
Matty arriving with the first of many bales

foundation wall and baseplate for straw bale walls

spikes to hold bales in position next to doorway

second row of bales in position, window frames installed

hand made window frames

view from outside through one of the windows to the domed rooflight 

straw bale walls from the inside

initial straw bale work completed.  what a team

possibility of electricity

I am still without electricity or phone, so communication with the outside world is by mobile phone or the occasional email flurry when I visit somewhere with internet access or send time at the local cafe, which isn’t often.

A representative from ERDF, the company that deals with the supply of electricity came to measure up for a quote to prepare for connection last week.  He wasn’t that impressed with what his colleagues had done, as their positioning of a new post to carry the cables for next door has not been put in a place that makes it easy for my property to be reconnected even though it was supplied before the work was done.  Unfortunately that means that I now have to go through the whole process of instillation.  ERDF install a supply junction box, I then request an electricity selling company to sell me power, they then decide which connection I need, depending on requirements and install a meter in a box next to the supply junction box.  I then probably have to pay someone else to connect the two together, although I won’t be allowed to do so until all my instillations have been checked and verified correct and to standard.  It may well take some time.  In the mean time I think I may well be investing in a solar panel, battery and inverter so that I can charge my drill and computer without visiting the neighbours for favours constantly.

Insulation of the cabin roof was a fairly simple yet extremely dusty and itchy affair.  Pierre helped me and we got it done in two half days, for the rest of his short visit we cut down trees and started my log pile.  Since then, with my new metal strimmer blade, I have made inroads into several bramble thickets in preparation for autumn fruit tree planting, moved all my affairs into the cabin from the tent and most of the items stored down the road at Sue and Leafs’, taken down the tent, built shelves and gotten myself nicely settled in.  I needed to secure everything a bit more, mainly against bad weather rather than anything else as I have not been on site for the last couple of weeks.

My camera is sulking and refuses to take photos for now, so you’ll have to do with text only posts till I work out what is wrong.......

well, let's have a look

The last task I did with Peter and Dad before dropping them at the airport  was to open the well for the first time, just to see what it was all about.  The top was enormously heavy, I was glad to have waited for help, there was no blast of icy air or calls for help from below, just a dark hole.  As we peered into the darkness a tiny circle of light appeared way down below us. it was the reflection of light on the water, miles away.  I fetched a tin cup and lowered it down on my thirty metre tape, hoping to be able to capture a drop or two of water.  The tape unrolled and unrolled till nearly the end, I checked to see that it was well attached to the reel as I didn’t fancy loosing it, then carried on letting out more.  Eventually it stopped and the sound of mug hitting water echoed up the eery darkness to our expectant ears.  Twenty nine metres and seventy centimetres to the water.  I had no more tape to go deeper so we brought the cup to the surface to see what we had caught.  Just a little water, crystal clear and without odor.  Dad and I tasted it and decided it was fine.  I will, of course, get it tested before I drink any quantity, but it was good to see and know this much.  Time was pressing on, so we closed the top without further investigation and headed off to the airport.
is that a look of surprise or.......

MMmmm, that looks deep

29.7m to the surface of the water.  That's gonna need some pump.

one solid well cover

we holidayed as well

We dined with my new neighbours, spent a morning browsing an antiques and collectibles fair, had a mini trip to Spain through the Pyrenees to stock up on cheap wine and food with a tapas lunch.  A night back at Chalet Lou Rider courtesy of my friend Pierre who is now caretaker for the new owners, with a gentle stroll in the mountains where we picnicked and enjoyed a stupendous view in the sunshine. 

As Peter leaves, the major build is complete, leaving me roof insulation to figure out a few bits of trim and then the instillation of woodburning stove.  All projects that I can attack on my own.  It’s been brilliant to have him here to help, we’ve got on fabulously, as ever and enjoyed getting things done.  Dad too has kept us on the ball, helping as much as he could and adding his suggestions and advice throughout the build.  It’s been great having them here and after the initial shock everything went wonderfully well, Dad taking everything in his stride.  What an excellent ten days.