At the end of everyday there is a Sunset

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The summer has passed very quickly in our Pile of Rubble. We have had some fantastic summer weather, which has made it easier to store materials outside, and complete our outdoor space.

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The finishing touches in the annexe took us longer than expected, as finishing the garden  in time to enjoy the summer was our focus. We both work better under pressure and gave ourselves a deadline for marketing the annexe, much to our Dream Teams dismay! We researched lots of holiday rental companies and decided to go with Cottages.Com as they had advertised in an Isle of Wight magazine about supporting IOW Pride this year and are LGBT friendly. We knew we would need support and guidance on any requirements needed to make our holiday makers stay with us safe and enjoyable. Rob has been our contact and he has been great at helping us every step of the way. The deadline we set ourselves was the 1st August, we had photos taken of the annexe at the end of July and after approving them, we went live. This was a very daunting but exciting time for us as we had no idea if any one would like what we had created, what if we had no bookings? We need not of worried though as a couple of days later we had our first booking. We welcomed our first family into our annexe, which has now been re-named, Hill House Bakery, at the beginning of August. We were very lucky with the weather that week, and our first guests gave us positive feedback, with only a few minor adjustments needed to ensure the whole family was catered for. Pint glasses are now included in the glass cupboard, as The Tall one drinks Vodka, and The Short One drinks Gin, we had overlooked the need for pint glasses!

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After welcoming our first guests, we started to concentrate on the first floor of our Pile of Rubble. This had been a bit neglected during the renovation of the annexe, and we needed to think about putting in our kitchen and dining room, before turning our attention to the two rooms at the front of our Pile of Rubble.

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We had been granted planning permission to remove the toilet extension at the back of our Pile of Rubble but when we started planning the space at the back of the house, we decided that we were compromising on space elsewhere by removing it.  As we had always intended to demolish it, we hadn’t paid much attention to its construction before deciding to keep it. For a while our Dream Team had used it to store materials before they were taken to the tip, as it was at least dry, or so we thought.

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We always knew there was a leak in the roof of the toilet extension, but never really worried about it. Once we decided to keep the extension, our Dream Team cleared it out, and discovered it had more than a little leak, it also lacked general support.

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After our Dream Team started to remove the toilet, we decided after a bit of discussion to renew the timber door frame, as the leak had caused a fair bit of damage to the wooden frame. Unfortunately the bricks lacked a vital feature, mortar. After a major investigation, we decided that the whole extension needed to be re-pointed and a new wooden frame built, as The Tall One felt that a downstairs toilet really did need a door or it would become a room with a view.

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Our Dream Team worked hard to replace the missing mortar, and within a few days the extension was a bit more stable, we are unsure how many years the bricks had been stacked on top of each other without mortar to hold them together, thankfully it had remained standing long enough to allow us to fix it.

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We also discovered an amazing little window in our now newly renovated toilet extension, which we have decided to keep. All of the windows in our Pile of Rubble have to be replaced with timber framed sash windows, as close to original as possible, and they are all currently being made for us, which unfortunately is a very slow process. However our lovely little quirky window is in perfect working order, and adds a little bit of character to our new Loo with a view.

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Once the mortar had dried and the plumbing was replaced, we set about installing the toilet into the new and improved toilet extension. As the door had been removed at the start of our journey with our Pile of Rubble, we decided to live without one for a while, whilst we decided which one to put back on. This is not a big issue, unless the back door is open, in which case our nice new toilet extension provides a great view of Ventnor High street and Spring Hill Gardens.

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The only issue we now faced was finding the leak. Our Dream Team had replaced the mortar, sealed every hole that could be seen and it seemed watertight. The only thing that our new and improved toilet extension had not faced since its makeover, was rain. Our amazing summer weather continued until August bank holiday weekend. Everyone knows it always rains during a summer bank holiday weekend. This year the rain was particularly torrential and unfortunately our toilet extension sprang a leak.

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Our Dream team decided that the only things that hadn’t been replaced was the tiled roof and a very old door on the side of the extension. We could see daylight through the old door, and if we could see out, then water could get in, the tiles on the roof had all slipped, and most had holes in them. We replaced the door with Marine Ply, and our Dream Team stripped the roof and replaced it with new felt and tiles. The Tall One provided expert assistance.

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Once the room with a view was almost watertight, we moved onto the kitchen and dining room. Both areas have been used for storing tools and materials for the annexe and the top floor of our Pile of Rubble. Most days we play a very large game of tetris with tools and materials in order to get rooms ready for their next fitting.

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We have decided to uncover all the fireplaces on the main floor, unfortunately we have not been lucky enough to find any fireplaces behind any of the false walls.

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In the main room on the first floor, we already have a working fireplace. This has not been tested as yet, and as our Pile of Rubble loves to give us surprises, we are sure when we test it out there will be a few issues to sort out. After removing the rubble and dust from the smaller front room and the dining room, we intend to install a wood burner in the smallest room, and a wine rack in the dining room. In the kitchen we intend to install a fireplace for decoration only as the chimney has been capped. The wood burner had already been sourced, and The Tall One has been on every online selling site trying to find a fireplace for the kitchen.

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We had purchased the kitchen for the main floor at the same time as the annexe kitchen, and once the annexe began hosting guests, we needed to get our kitchen fitted pretty quickly.

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The only issue we faced when having the kitchen fitted, was that it is directly above the annexe. With that in mind, fitting the kitchen became a very slow process, as the noisy parts could only be completed on a change over day, or on the few days when the annexe was not rented out.

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We had a window of opportunity to finish the kitchen, during mid September. with our Dream Team working fast, we finally managed to get the kitchen completed.

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The tall one is a massive David Beckham fan, and unfortunately her David Beckham calendar has not yet found a permanent home within our Pile of Rubble. Our Dream Team have also taken a shine to the Tall Ones Calendar, and a nail was placed in the fireplace out of the Smaller Ones reach.

The dining room, proved a much easier room to finish. This room had to have extensive work completed within it with during the stitching process. The corner of the house forms two sides of our new dining room. Once the stitching was finished,  the walls replaced, flooring, paint and wallpaper put up, the room came together very quickly.

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This became the first room on the main floor to be completed.

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With both the kitchen and dining room almost complete, we were missing only one thing. A fire place for the kitchen. The Tall One spent hours trawling social media selling sites and we roped in all of our friends into out quest. One morning in The Tea House a fireplace was sourced. After a few days going backwards and forwards over social media, we hot footted it over to a barn in Niton where we found just what we had been looking for.

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Somehow we managed to fit the fireplace into the back of the Tall ones car, and took our new purchase home to our Pile of Rubble.

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At first glance it looked like it would be a good fit, however it took a whole day of removing even more rubble from the bricked up fireplace, by our Dream Team and the Smaller Ones step-dad, before the fireplace was finally, happily fitted into its new home.

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With both the kitchen and dining room finished, we could turn our attention to the final two rooms at the front of our Pile of Rubble. However we had a very important deadline looming for our Pile of Rubble, which will result in its fifteen minutes of fame early in the New Year.

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Whilst we can’t yet divulge what exactly our Pile of Rubble will feature in, we can talk about the rest of the exciting summer we have had with our Pile of Rubble in our next blog post. Watch this space…………………

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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

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This area would become a kitchen.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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The kitchen area, which still had the original door.

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And the final room, the main living space.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.