WE TRAVEL not to escape life, BUT FOR LIFE not to escape us.

From our very first viewing of our Pile of Rubble, we knew we wanted to turn the annexe into a holiday let.


We intended to start on the annexe as soon as planning permission had gone through, and work our way up throughout our Pile of Rubble, however because our beautiful Pile of Rubble needed to be completely stripped in order to be stitched back together, all floors had to be removed at the same time. The fantastic guys who stitched our house back together, needed to start in the annexe and then work their way up. We also had to have the entire building re-wired, and completely remove all of the old lead plumbing system, then replace them with new pipes. We have also for the first time in its history installed central heating into our Pile of Rubble. As the tank and boiler are on the top floor, all pipes have had to go from top to bottom.


We moved into the top floor of our Pile of Rubble just after Easter. By this point we had a bedroom and a bathroom. They were not finished, but for us we had running water and a bed.


A few weeks after we moved into our Pile of Rubble, we attended the wedding of a lovely young couple, Sam and Chris. As they have been together a while, and have a beautiful young son, we thought it would be a good idea to offer them a week together as a family in our soon to be completed annexe as a wedding present. We knew we wanted to be able to have guests during the school summer holidays, so the end of June seemed a good time for them to come over. After working out a plan with Our Dream Team, we had just three weeks to turn the bottom floor of Our Pile of Rubble into the holiday annexe. The Tall one had everything planned in her head, now it was time to make it happen, however at this point it still resembled a building site.


Sam and Chris became known as the honeymooners by our Dream Team and together we set about creating the vision for each room, which was at this point still in the Tall ones head….


The outside space needed to be levelled, decked and some parking space created. This had been delayed due to the scaffolding remaining for a few more weeks after the stitching had finished, so that the corner of our Pile of Rubble could be re-pointed. As soon as this was removed, Charlie became the concreting king.


The Ovens would become a feature in the bathroom, however they needed to be restored  and painted, as well as rendered to make them watertight.


Within three weeks, this area needed to be turned into a bathroom.


This area would become a kitchen.


Second bedroom, which hopefully would have enough space for a double and a single bed, with a pull out guest bed underneath.


The main living area, this is the biggest space but it contained all the materials. These had to be removed before the floor could be levelled.


We also needed a temporary fix for the window in the main living area. All of our windows are being made together, however we couldn’t keep the annexe window boarded up until they are finished. As we are in a grade II listed building we have to have the windows reproduced by hand.  This is a painstaking job and one that will happen when it happens. We can’t wait as we know the house will be transformed once the new windows are fitted. We have temporarily replaced the glass in the original frame, and made it weather tight.


The main bedroom, which also had the temporary power cable coming through the ceiling. This was not an issue until the ceilings needed to go up. Our Dream Team however, are great at solving problems, and a small hole was created to enable the ceiling to be replaced and plastered, whilst keeping power in the annexe, until the electrics had been second fixed.


The Outside space required a few tonnes of ballast, and days of concrete mixing.


Our Dream Team work extreamly hard, and seriously put in a lot of extra hours in an attempt to get the annexe ready for our honeymooners.


Thankfully the weather has been good, and team breakfasts cooked on the BBQ, became a regular addition to our days.


We replaced the annexe windows, with like for like windows. The originals had been replaced many years ago, and as we have no idea what the windows would have been like in 1834, like for like windows seemed the obvious way forward.


We also replaced the rotten stable door, in what would become the second bedroom, as well as the kitchen door, which is the main door for the annexe. This door unfortunately was not ready to be fitted before Sam and Chris arrived, as it is a solid wood door, which has been fitted into the original 1834 door frame. The main door, took over 16 hours to fit into the Oak frame, however it is as close to the original as we could get.


We had promised to take our Dream Team out to lunch during the week Sam and Chris tested out the annexe, as long as the annexe was completed in time for their arrival. To say it was a close call, is a bit of an understatement, but within the three week timescale, all rooms were completed, plastered and re-wired. The only thing we ran out of time for was the decorating.


The bathroom, complete with easy access bath. The ovens have been restored on the exterior, and rendered to match the stone work we have discovered elsewhere in the annexe.


The main bedroom, which turned out to be one of the easiest rooms to complete, as no major building work was needed.


The second bedroom was the last completed room. The Tall one had planned the room in her head and this required a lot of technical revision in order to get the false walls to the correct position, and all the beds in the room.



The kitchen area, which still had the original door.


And the final room, the main living space.


We discovered some flagstones in the annexe, and reused them in the main living room to create a step and to replace the rotten wooden plinths.


Our Pile of Rubble likes to test us every now and again, and whilst completing the outside space, it gave us a little surprise. Our Dream Team had carefully marked out the positions of the fence posts, around the newly created parking space and the annexe decked area. The first post went in very easily, but the second post hit a snag.


The first thought was that the post spade had gone through a drain pipe, however on closer inspection, it was completely dry. We ran around our Pile of Rubble turning taps on and flushing toilets, and no water came into the pipe. Tom put his arm into the hole at the end of the pipe, and found that it dropped away. At this point we decided to continue digging and work out what was there.


We discovered a Well. It had obviously been filled in at some point in its past, and by the looks of it the contents had dropped over time, to reveal a shallow Well. We asked in the Heritage centre about Wells in and around Spring Hill, and discovered that most houses had them, although no register of Wells seems to exist. Our next-door neighbour used to have access onto our property, but had sold this back to one of the previous owners. The access led directly to the Well, which would suggest that this Well served both properties. We traced the pipe, back to the Ovens, we are still unsure why a clay pipe ran from the ovens to the Well, however one theory is that it was an escape for the steam directly into the Well.


We debated long and hard about the future of our Well, and came across an article written in the 1980’s which required all Wells to be filled in so that no-one could accidentally fall down them. This seemed a sensible option, and as our Well had previously been filled in and covered over, we filled it in again with rubble from our Pile of Rubble and made it a very secure re-enforced cover. If it ever needed to be uncovered again, it can be. It is very clear to see, as it now has a square concrete cover, and we will make sure that any future inhabitants of our Pile of Rubble knows that there is a Well beneath the concrete square.

IMG_1222.jpgWith the annexe almost complete, and the World Cup giving us a small glimmer of hope, we decided to have an afternoon off with our Dream Team, and go out for lunch. Our favourite afternoon spot is The Tea House, and cake is always on the menu. On our way to lunch we decided to take our boys for a pit stop to The Tea House, for a spot of tea tasting. The Tea House have many specialist leaf teas, and the Short one always has Green Tea. We had taken two of our Dream Team in there for breakfast a few days before, and they were intrigued by the tea strainers. Our Dream Team are big Yorkshire Tea drinkers with no need for a tea strainer, so this became known as ‘edgy tea’. We were just winding the Dream Team up though and their special tea was in fact a pint of lager each!

Unfortunately the football match following our tea break and lunch with our Dream Team, did not go as well as our afternoon, however coming second in the group did keep us in for a few more games.IMG_1282.jpg

With the annexe now almost completely finished, apart from a few finishing touches, and our first summer bookings starting to come in, we can now start to think about creating our living space within our Pile of Rubble. Until now the middle floor has been used to store materials and tools. We have started by creating an outside area, which is great for sampling adult slush from Crave some evenings, also known as the ‘G&T’ area.


If you would like to book with us go to cottages.com and search Hill House Bakery Ventnor, Property Reference: UKC3282

Or private message us for further details.

Ground Force, With A Bit of Support…..

Whilst channelling our inner Charlie Dimmock, we decided that as we are now resident in Ventnor that we needed to finish the garden project. We wanted to create a lovable outside space that we could start using straight away, as the inside of the house will take much longer. After some design meetings in the local eateries, we set about tackling the concrete jungle behind our Pile of Rubble.


Our Dream Team had already built the fence around our outside space. We originally had a wooden shed in the garden when we bought our Pile of Rubble but we had already  replaced it with a new shed for storage and a summer house.

IMG_0878.jpgAround this time, our neighbours removed the trees at the end of their garden, which made things a whole lot easier for us. The trees had grown across into our Pile of Rubble, and would need cutting back before we built our gazebo area.


Following the removal of the trees, and clearing the rest of the area, we were left with a concrete open space. We had already raised the noise level in Ventnor enough in recent weeks, when Our Pile of Rubble was being stitched back together, so removing all the concrete and putting turf down, was probably a step too far, especially for our immediate neighbours. With this in mind, we decided to invest in artificial grass to cover the concrete jungle. In order to zone the outdoor space, we started by building a fence, this did mean we needed to break up some of the concrete, but nowhere near as much as turfing the area.


As most of our efforts are going into the inside of our Pile of Rubble, we decided to get the garden a present. This came in the form of a Hot Tub. After extensive research both on the Isle of Wight and on the mainland, we found a fantastic family run Hot Tub company in Sandown, Elite Spas.


Whilst we were not quite ready for our Hot tub to be installed, we don’t yet have mains electric connected inside our Pile of Rubble, so outside will be a few weeks away yet, we needed to get our Hot tub in situ. Once the fence was up, there would be no way to get it to the end of the garden. This was not going to be a simple task as our Pile of Rubble still has scaffolding surrounding the side and back, and we needed a clear meter of space in order to get the Hot Tub down to the Garden area. Thankfully we had a few willing volunteers on site happy to help with this, not so easy, task.



We also needed a water pipe to be extended down to the end of the garden for the hot tub to be able to work! There was already a water pipe connected and we were able to trace it all the way down to the end of the garden, however over time it had become rusty and broken. We also had a major issue with our main drain. We discovered it was blocked and backing up to the main waste pipe. These two issues combined, resulted in the need to dig a trench across the entire garden, from the main drain down to the end of the garden. We traced the old rusted water pipe along the old trench and removed it. This had to be dug by hand, during one of the hottest weeks so far this Spring. We were very popular with some of our Dream Team……


Once located, removed, and then replaced, the trench needed to be refilled and concreted back over. Then we could focus on the issues with the main drains. Our fantastic plumbers opened up the main drains, rodded them and tried to flush them through. Unfortunately the blockage was very large and our drains remained blocked. We needed to enlist the help of Dyno Rod, to clear the main drains. The blockage turned out to be a very large mop head, which had some how made it into the main drainage system, therefore blocking all waste products that had in time been deposited into the main drains. As we had not used any of the internal plumbing since December, this had dried and created a major blockage. At this point we vacated our Pile of Rubble, and relocated to The Crab and Lobster Tap for some much needed liquid refreshment and some fresh air 😉


With the hot tub in the garden area, and fence up, we could start on the gazebo. This involved building a wooden structure along one length of our garden zone, and paving the hot tub area. Thankfully the weather was kind to us and with Ben and Mike working over three days, the structure was soon in place. We did have to break out some of our concrete to sink the posts in, and a further 10 minutes of concrete bashing, in order to level the surfaces enough to lay the grass, but peace was soon restored to our little corner of Ventnor, and the sun was still shining.


The lovely Charlie, an integral part of our Dream Team has taken on the role of project manager for the garden. After several discussions, it was decided to remove some of the fence panels and tuck the grass underneath the new fence. Charlie had this sorted in record time, and our instant garden quickly took shape.


With the recently filled planters moved from the parking area into the garden zone, our garden area was complete.



Tea and Cake is obviously still one of our favourite past times, its also very handy that The Tea House has a direct view up to our Pile of Rubble, and has internet, an added bonus. We have also discovered a new cake that rivals the Turkish delight cake and carrot cake, mint choc chip cake is rapidly becoming a firm favourite, even better that they are all gluten free.

Now that we have a little oasis of calm in our garden area, we have discovered a new early evening past time. Our Pile of Rubble just happens to have one of the most amazing Ice Cream shops located just across the road, called Crave. With the sun shining and after a long day working in our Pile of Rubble, the adult only alcoholic slush sold in Crave has become a very welcome addition to our days.

For the next few weeks, we intend to camp out in the summer house, eating cake and drinking slush, whilst our Dream Team begin the final push to get our Pile of Rubble ready for its next adventure.


Sun, Sand and a Bit of Light at the End of the Tunnel

IMG_0010.jpgThe three windows in the front of our Pile of Rubble were taken out to be refurbished towards the end of February. All our windows are rotten, however these three can be saved as the original timbers still have some life left in them.


All of our Georgian windows will eventually be replaced with new wooden framed windows, as close to the originals as possible, but conforming to 2018 standards. We had a discussion with the listed planning officer around the type of window that should replace the rotten ones.


Originally when our Pile of Rubble was built in 1834, the Georgians used small panes of glass within large window frames. The Victorians developed new techniques for making glass, and came up with new ways to hold the glass in place. We have the original Georgian windows at the front of our Pile of Rubble and a mixture of different styles at the back of it. As we are refurbishing the original front windows, to us it feels right to put new wooden Georgian windows in the back. That way our Pile of Rubble looks nicer from the back, and matches the front. We had a pre-planning meeting in our Pile of Rubble with a member of the Listed planning team from the council. He encouraged us to replace the Victorian windows with the original Georgian style windows, so our planning application shows all windows being replaced with new wooden Georgian sash windows.


However when we had our visit from the Listed planning officer, 48 hours prior to our planning application expiry date, she was unsure about changing the Victorian windows and replacing with Georgian sash windows. We had a very in depth discussion around windows, and finally our Listed planning officer agreed that going back to the original style wooden sash windows, was acceptable.

With our permanent moving date fast approaching, and our planning application finally passed by the Council, our first three wooden sash windows were returned to our Pile of Rubble. After a few weeks of darkness, light has returned to the front three rooms.


Our new windows now need painting, but that has to wait as the putty needs a few weeks to dry before the panes can be cleaned and the frames and the putty painted. The first exterior painting will be the back of the house, when the stitching guys have finished pumping resin into the cavities, and before the scaffolding is removed.

First we needed to become permeant Ventnor residents.


We had reached the point where we needed to be in our Pile of Rubble everyday. Our Dream Team are great and get on with everything we ask them to do, but as anyone who has renovated a property before will tell you, it gets to the point where you need to be on hand to make decisions at the drop of a hat. It is not quite ready for permanent occupation as we still have no mains electric in any of the rooms. There is no hot or cold running water and there is still the small issue of no working bathroom, but we moved anyway. We had signed the paperwork for new tenants to rent the flat and they wanted to move in quickly.


We had been living temporarily in our flat in Aldershot after selling our first little Pile of Rubble, and most of our belongings went into storage. We had taken a small selection of winter clothes, our bed, dining room table, a sofa and some kitchen items up to Aldershot. The only small issue we had was that the Taller One had been bargain shopping over the last six months, and managed to fill the flat with a few more items than when we arrived. This culminated in another two wardrobe boxes being needed and twenty large packing boxes as well as our furniture.

The three guys from Page the Packers worked amazingly quickly, and after a steady supply of sugar and cold drinks, on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, we had the contents of our flat packed into the very large van. We then loaded up both cars so they were packed solidly, and headed off to the ferry port. Page the Packers had one more stop to make to a field in the depths of Swanmore, to pick up the five containers which had the rest of our life packed into them, before bringing all of our belongings over to Ventnor. One step closer to our Pile of Rubble.


Suddenly things started to move quickly, in one day the scaffolding went up.


Our Pile of Rubble started to fill with plumbing supplies, and floor levelling materials.


And the stitching guys began to drill the three and five metre rods into the sides of our Pile of Rubble.


As we can’t yet live in our Pile of Rubble we are staying with the Tall Ones very understanding, supportive, relatives in Niton for a few weeks. Hopefully in a few short weeks, we will be able to spend our first night in our Pile of Rubble.


101 Uses For A Classic Car…..

With our planning application expiry date looming and stitching started, we concentrated on getting a few basics back into the house, starting with a bathroom. This may seem like a simple task, we had after all removed five, however we discovered a few plumbing issues that needed to be sorted out before we could start to rebuild any of the new bathrooms.

We decided to start with the family bathroom on the top floor. Our en-suite will be the last bathroom to be fitted, as we have had to redesign the corner of our Pile of Rubble. This room has had the most movement and therefore requires the most stitching. Having removed three back to back shower rooms which had been divided up from the original bathroom, we were left with three waste pipes and three sets of individual hot and cold pipes to decipher, as well as three door openings.


After removing one of the waste pipes we realised there had been a leak under the floorboards for quite some time. All of the pipes were blocked and the floor boards all needed to be replaced. We also needed to investigate the ceiling as it seemed to have a very distinctive wave running across the entire length of it. Once the false dividing walls  had been removed the ceiling looked even worse.

After removing the three extractor fans we quickly realised the ceiling was also false, thankfully this came down very quickly, but revealed an interesting addition to our Pile of Rubble. Before we submitted our planning application we had a historical statement written for our Pile of Rubble, and during this process we discovered that the Georgians used light tunnels to bring in natural light to a room through the roof. We believed this had been removed from our Pile of Rubble long before we bought it, and had decided to look into this further, later into our project. However our Pile of Rubble had other ideas and hidden in the original ceiling we found the frame of a Georgian light tunnel, as well as yet another fan and some old cables. The glass had been replaced with plastic sheets some years before, and the roof has over time been replaced with slates, but we can with some confidence say the original room would have had a light tunnel.


We debated with our Dream Team, the merits of keeping the light tunnel in the middle of the bathroom, but as it no longer gave us any light, it was in the loft, and was directly over the bath, the decision was made to overboard the bathroom ceiling.

With the ceiling sorted out we turned our attention to the plumbing. The main issue was with the waste pipe. Having removed the leaky pipe and its contents, we were left with one main pipe. We had designed the bathroom without thinking about the main waste pipe, big mistake. We have now learnt that this is a major factor when designing a bathroom. The main waste pipe is rather large, and cannot go through a ceiling joist, unless of course you are happy for the ceiling below to fall down. The waste pipe has to go between the joists, and another important factor to consider is where it goes out of the house. Now our Pile of Rubble is a listed property, and as such we can’t just knock a hole in the wall and run a waste pipe down the outside of the property. The main drains are all on one side of the property and all the main waste pipes feed into them. The family bathroom waste pipe also has to feed into this system, as well as connecting onto an existing down pipe outside of the house. The problem with this, is that the family bathroom is on the opposite side of the house to the main drains, and the downpipes. In order for the waste to leave the family bathroom, we needed to connect the toilet, bath and shower into the waste pipe running across the house. This required a complete re-design of the family bathroom, allowing for a straight connection from the toilet onto the main waste pipe. Hopefully we now have all the correct pipes, in the correct places with no leaks.


We have learnt very quickly that there is a certain order in which things have to be done when renovating a Grade II listed property. We could go no further with the family bathroom, as we needed to wait for the plumbers to first fix the new internal pipes, and connect the new waste pipe onto the existing exterior waste pipe. So work started on over boarding the new kitchen, hallway and dining room ceilings.

For this we needed a large quantity of batons, plasterboard and two different types of screws. Wood screws and plasterboard screws. As we are now on first name terms with Jewsons in Sandown, orders were placed and deliveries made. However our Pile of Rubble seems to eat materials, and deliveries are very frequent. Over boarding requires batons to be screwed to the original ceiling and plasterboard screwed onto the new batons. This creates a level surface for the new plaster and strengthens the walls and ceilings.


Our Dream team work very fast, and one Friday after completing the hallway, they decided to get the first floor over boarding finished before packing up for the weekend. The Tall One was not at The Pile of Rubble on this particular day, and the Short One was flying solo. This created a very small issue when our dream team ran out of batons and screws. The Short One has a very small classic car, unlike the Tall One, who has a very sensible Renault (which is great for picking up supplies on a Friday afternoon). The dream team and the Short One measured the small classic car, and decided between them that the 12, 6ft batons and two boxes of screws would easily fit in. The road from Ventnor to Sandown is relatively straight, and as it was a nice day, with the roof down the Short One could easily pick up the supplies needed to finish the job.

The lovely man in Jewsons however thought that this was not such a great idea, and after  placing one 6ft baton in the Short ones car, decided that the batons needed to be cut in half. This seemed an easy task, how difficult could it be to get 24, 3ft batons and two boxes of screws into a Porsche……..


In actual fact this proved to be the most successful part of the trip. With the sun shining and the roof down, having safely secured the newly cut batons into the passenger side of the Porsche, the drive along the coast from Sandown to Ventnor was uneventful. Arriving back at our Pile of Rubble, the Dream Team spotted a fatal error in our Friday afternoon plan. The Short One had picked up the wrong screws. In order to secure the batons to the ceiling, the Dream Team needed wood screws. The Short One had picked up plasterboard screws, that is why she needs the Taller One to keep an eye on things ; ) So after unloading the materials, and without the right screws, work stopped for the afternoon in our Pile of Rubble. As the Shorter One was in charge she decided there was only one place to be on a sunny, Friday afternoon and took the Dream Team to the local watering hole for a much needed cold beverage. With Fridays staff meeting well under way, we discussed the order of play for the following week…….




Dream Team, Tea and Cake

While we waited for the planning permission deadline to arrive, we turned our attention to the parts of the house that were exempt from this process. Basically, that meant the garden.

Rob has been with us from the very start, and is great at finding people who can help us put our house back together. One of the biggest things we have learnt since buying our Pile of Rubble is to stay local. Local builders know the area, have accounts with local building merchants, and can sort anything out over a few beers in the local pub.


Our first task was to build a fence at the end of the garden.


Rob had a friend who he thought might be able to help, and asked him round to quote. His friend is the equally lovely Tom, He came to quote for a fence, which took Tom and Rob one week to build in February, and he has stayed with us ever since. Tom has become an integral member of our team, and the fence looks  great.


The next task was to design the garden. We decided not to go for the concrete jungle look,  and set about a very technical garden design plan, armed with a pencil, a tape measure, a scrap of paper, a few beers, Tom and Rob.


We decided to split the concrete jungle in half. In the righthand side we needed a shed, and a summer house, on the left grass and a gazebo.

The Tall One set about checking Gumtree for a shed, a summer house and a solution to our grass issue. Basically we don’t have any, and don’t want to take up the concrete.

Now, how difficult do you think it is to find a shed? A trip to B&Q should be all it takes. We just couldn’t find a shed we liked. The summer house was proving equally as difficult to find. If you want to spend a fortune on a shed and a summer house, its easy. For us this wasn’t an option. So the Tall One set out on a mission to find the best shed and summer house, we could buy on a very small budget. After extensive internet research Argos came to our rescue. They were quick, efficient and delivered exactly when they said they would with no extra delivery charge to us even though we are on an Island! Very impressive.

Tom and Rob took delivery of our new flat pack items, and set about reading the instructions. Around this time it became clear that we needed a few more members of our team if we stood any chance of finishing our Pile of Rubble this year. Tom knew a few local lads who he had worked with before. We still needed walls putting up, walls taking down, ceilings installed, bathrooms tiled, garden shed built, summer house built and then painted, fence built around the whole garden, which would then also need painting, rubbish cleared, parking area levelled and concreted and we STILL had wood chip to remove so Finlay and Cameron joined us. We were now complete. Four lads, Two Women and One pile of Rubble and a puppy called Copper! (not ours, Toms’ new Beagle). All we needed was the rain to stop so we could start to build the shed and summer house.

The Tall One had purchased  a job lot of bathroom tiles on Gumtree, along with some flooring. The Short One convinced her son that he would love to load up his beast of a car and spend a few days on the IOW in order to deliver these items to our Pile of Rubble. A short trip was planned, and The Short One and youngest son went on a mini adventure. This obviously involved putting him to work……..















The Tall One joined us after a few days, and The Short Ones son returned to the mainland.  Part of the garden project involved replacing the steps leading from the garden to the first floor. Tom arranged for Pat to come and give us a quote and a few days later he started work on site. After two days of sunshine the newest part of our Pile of Rubble were complete.


We were very excited by this development, as these provide access to what will eventually become our Gin/Vodka drinking area. We may not have running water, a kitchen or a bathroom, but we do have new steps to our drinking platform.


With Easter fast approaching, we decided to spend the longest time so far in our Pile of Rubble. Well not actually in it, With our relatives in Niton, but for us it was the closest we had Come so far to actually being there everyday. If you have ever spent anytime with us, you will already know how much we like tea and cake. The thought of spending 12 full days in our Pile of Rubble, without tea and cake was almost unbearable. Luckily for us we had managed to buy a Pile of Rubble seconds away from the most amazing Tea House. Not only do they serve tea, they also make the best Gluten Free cakes we have tasted to date, and we have researched a lot of cake!


The Tall One likes the Carrot Cake, and The Short One likes the Turkish Delight Cake. However this cake is very popular. If you find yourself in Ventnor head to The Tea House, and if they have it, buy it, as it sells out very quickly. The next best option is the Bread pudding. We very rarely managed to find anywhere that serves Gluten Free bread, so to get Gluten Free bread pudding is brilliant. It also tastes amazing, which is a bonus. Thankfully they don’t only serve cake. Breakfast is always good, and luckily for us the specials change regularly, we have yet to make it all the way through the lunch menu. Seeing as we don’t yet have a kitchen we intend to give it a good go over the next few months.

The sun decided to make a very rare appearance during the 12 days in our Pile of Rubble, and so work shifted back out to the garden. Tom, Rob, Finlay and Cameron had already built the shed, and so the next task was to build the summer house. At first glance a flat pack summer house looks like an easy task, however we had managed to find one with a curved roof, and angled sides.


Between them, Tom, Rob and Cameron managed to work it out, and within a few days the summer house was completed. Our next task was to paint it. Cameron, Finlay and the Tall One managed to get three coats of wood stain on the summer house before rain stopped play, whilst the Short One finished painting the inside of the front porch. Up until this point it had matched the back of the house, but the battleship grey had to go.


Our main criteria when we first started looking for our Pile of Rubble was to be within walking distance of pub. The Shorter One had spent a large part of her childhood as a publicans daughter, and for both of us having a good local pub within walking distance was essential. After our first viewing, and before we put in the offer for our Pile of Rubble, we had walked to the pub a few hundred yards along the road and over a Lime and Soda, as we had to drive home, we discussed the potential issues we would face if we bought our Pile of Rubble. It is also one of the best places to plan the work schedule with Tom and Rob. During our 12 day stay near our Pile of Rubble we noticed our new local ran a quiz night. Now we are the last people you would want to have on your quiz team, we can sing all the words in the music round, but can’t name the artists, and any useful facts we may one have stored in our brains, have been replaced by our new found love of the Screw Fix catalogue. Somehow we managed to convince a family member and her thankfully knowledable friend to spend a night drinking wine with us and taking part in the quiz. Whilst we may not know all the answers we are very competitive, and armed with the promise of chocolate for the team that wins each round we somehow managed to come 5th out of 15 teams and won some chocolate, for us a good result.


With our Pile of Rubble slowly taking shape, and chocolate won at the pub quiz, we started to plan the next phase………….

Out with the Old and in with the New

We left our Pile of Rubble alone for a few weeks, whilst we contemplated the amount of work needed to get it back to its former Georgian glory. Our house pre dates Queen Victoria, as it was built in 1834. Unfortunately at this point we thought most of the original features had been discarded by previous owners, leaving us with a Georgian shell held together with oh so beautiful 1970’s wood chip.


Our Pile of Rubble has wood chip everywhere, on the ceiling, all the walls, in fact three floors of glorious wood chip. There was nothing for it we had to hire an industrial wall paper stripper, oh and the lovely Rob 🙂


Our Pile of Rubble has been many things in its 184 year history. We believe it started life as a bakery, and behind a false wall in the basement we discovered the original ovens.


We were so excited to find these, as we had been told by the heritage centre that they thought they didn’t exist. One of our first jobs on day one was the discovery of our ovens. This involved the taller one aimlessly hitting a false wall in the basement with a hammer, hastily purchased from Hursts in Ventnor High Street. Excitement around picking up the keys saw us leave all our tools in Aldershot, handy when you are on The Isle Of Wight. Once the hole had been made, the trusty iPhone camera and torch confirmed our find 🙂


As well as a bakery, we believe it has also been used as a bicycle repair shop and a car showroom. This explains the concrete covering over the entire back garden.


Unfortunately the deeds to our Pile of Rubble have been destroyed, and so we only have a number instead of an amazing historical document, this makes us very sad. If anyone has any idea how we could get hold of them, as I can’t believe they destroyed such a big document, then please let us know.

The remnants of our Pile of Rubbles’ past life are scattered throughout the house, and we have had fun over the last few months finding them. The biggest legacy remaining in the house is its former use as a B&B. With multiple 1970s inspired bathrooms.


Not only have we found the old sign.



We have also had to remove the four en-suite bathrooms, industrial looking kitchen and four false walls, that we can only imagine went up to try and square off the rooms within the B&B.


Behind every false wall we have found bits of our Pile of Rubbles’ history, the most amazing find, was a totally random 1834 fully working sash window. we have no idea why a previous owner would have built a wall around this interesting feature, and we have come up with some very interesting Pinterest ideas regarding its future use.


We intend to keep any original item we find, unless of course we find a mummified cat or a Victorian Childs shoe. Thankfully we have yet to discover any of these, as the Victorians liked to bury them in walls to ward off evil spirits. As our next adventure with our Pile of Rubble, now that we have stripped it of its B&B life, is to prepare it for the stitching to take place, we could uncover many more secrets. However to date our favourite find still has to be the original baking ovens.


#historicalfinds #ventnorheritagecentre #hurstsofventnor #ventnor #jewsons #B&Q #diy #design #creativeart #pintrest #lgbt

Continue reading “Out with the Old and in with the New”

The search for the perfect pile of rubble….

Having completely finished our mini pile of rubble, we set about searching for our perfect pile of rubble on The Isle of Wight. We are very lucky to have family living in Niton, who we have dragged round a few properties during our search.


At first we were unsure exactly what we wanted, we had several different options. We knew we wanted something that we could turn into a holiday let and generate some income, however it also had to be our main home as well. We had our house on the market, and chose to use Purple Bricks, absolutely brilliant for us as we had total control and an online diary, very exciting. We started looking at property in and around Ventnor online and arranging all viewings over a couple of days whilst staying in Niton. We found what we thought was our dream property in the village of Niton. It was at the top end of our budget and had a two bedroom let attached to the front of the property. Unfortunately our offer was not acceptable and we reached our limit. At that point we walked away from what at that time we believed to be our dream property and once again the right move app was over used by us both.

We spent some time walking around Ventnor and realised that we had to find a property there, not on the outskirts, as there was much more going on and we were no where near retirement age just yet!


We also changed our search criteria. We decided to start looking in a much lower price bracket. Our original reason for this was to buy two properties. one as a holiday let and one as our permanent home. Our main problem in this beautiful part of The Isle of Wight was parking so that was top of our criteria. We found a few holiday lets and a couple of cottages to look at but none really ticked all the boxes for us. We were not prepared to compromise and were always left feeling that something was missing.

We were in constant communication with all of the estate agents in Ventnor, Pittis took pity on us and pulled out all of the stops. Chris the manager left Sean in charge of finding us our dream property. Sean is fab, it took him a while to get our sense of humour and understand our requirements, but after a few weeks of careful training on all parts, we got there!


We then spent a few weeks in France visiting family and deliberating over what makes a good forever home and holiday let. Then it happened. The taller one found us our ‘dream’ property………….a run down, grade II listed house in need of complete renovation that had been on the market for over two years. The reasoning behind it was that it had been put on the market on shorter ones birthday, so it must be fate. This property was not on our list to see but got squeezed in on our one week return from France.


We went, we came, we saw and we fell in love. We both had that warm, squishy feeling you get when you just know. We ignored the 1980’s borders and wood chip on EVERY wall and ceiling, yes, ceiling. We glossed over the lack of kitchen on the ground floor and we barely noticed the crack in the back outside wall that you could actually see glimpses of the sea through. As for the plumbing and electrics, no central heating and an original crapper left a lot to be desired.


The windows were rotten, the garden a concrete jungle and the back was painted battleship grey, but we fell in love with it…………

Around this time, we had an offer on our 1980’s 4 bed property which we had just finished decorating throughout. It had all the mod cons, central heating, two bathrooms, an amazing brand new kitchen, and no major structural work. Of course we accepted the asking price offer and set about securing the pile of rubble we had fallen for.


The only issue we faced was being temporarily homeless, however the taller one had a flat in Aldershot which also needed a bit of work. We looked at it, decided we could live in it, and then yes you guessed it, started taking it apart.


The taller one is a Gumtree wizard, as you can imagine saving money was our driving factor, we had at this point paid for three structural surveys on our pile of rubble, and had yet to secure the deal. The taller one learnt very quickly how to barter on this brilliant little app, and before we knew it we had secured a kitchen, shower, tiles, flooring, day bed, bathroom cabinet and TV unit for our new little pile of rubble.


Our only major problem which you are often faced with when purchasing from Gumtree, was how to fit it all in a Renualt Captur. We became very good at loading the car to the max. this often resulted in the taller one squeezed into the tiny back seat of the car, whilst the shorter one drove our purchases to Aldershot. The kitchen however proved a bit trickier. Between us we have four off spring. We employed the two owned by the shorter one with their cars to meet us at the home of the kitchen, we then filled three cars with kitchen units, a cooker, a dishwasher, cooker hood and very heavy units, then drove in convoy to Aldershot. This part was easy, what we hadn’t thought of was that our little pile of rubble is on the third floor, and no there is no lift!! Finally after the promise of food and drink, we managed to get the kitchen parts we had up the stairs and into the flat. IMG_9290.jpg

The Gumtree kitchen was a little bigger than we actually needed, and we could only get the biggest bits into the three cars. After careful consideration, we decided to hire a van, for a limited time we became, Two Women and a Van. We had great fun, and managed to pick up many more Gumtree purchases, including the rest of the kitchen, shower base and various other very important items.


Unfortunately it wasn’t a split screen, that still remains a dream for the shorter one.

One thing about selling a property online is that it goes very quickly, we managed to get the flat to a lovable state within six weeks, and with our Gumtree purchases, came in under budget. A very good outcome as our Pile of rubble has the potential to run way over budget, if taller one takes her eye off the ball.


So on the 1st November we moved out of our house, put most of our belongings into storage and moved to Aldershot. We also spent some time in Glasgow with friends as soon as we moved out, and got some design inspiration from the amazing buildings in the city.IMG_9724.JPG

We also took a trip over to France to help out with a Christmas fair, and get a little bit of winter sun. We found ourselves visiting the wine region on the very day that the Beaujolais Nouveau was released, great planning 😉


After our visit to France we finally managed to secure our Pile of Rubble, we hot footed it back over to Ventnor and signed the final documents. Even in November Ventnor is a beautiful place.IMG_9787.JPG

On the 19th December 2017 we completed the sale and picked up our keys. We are now the owners of a falling down house in Ventnor, lovingly known as our pile of rubble. Accompanied by Eric and Evan, if you have seen any of our Instagram and Facebook posts during December, you will know that these naughty Elves have played a big part in our last two Christmas countdowns, we stepped into our next adventure.