Every Summer has a story

The second summer in Our Pile of Rubble was full of exciting new adventures. We were lucky enough to have several return visitors staying in ‘The Bakery’ and lots of friends visiting our Pile of Rubble. Summer for us is a time for concentrating on the outside space that The Tall One had created. Summer 2019, saw us redesign the outside area. This came about after a very good friend of ours found it hard to sleep one night, and came up with an interesting design idea…..

Our outside areas had been designed when Our Pile of Rubble had no usable inside space. The summer house, had been sourced and built by our dream team, before we had even thought about turning the Air Raid Shelter into a bar. As a result it faced away from our Air Raid Shelter bar, which has now been named St Boniface.

Named after the Downs our Air Raid Shelter bar faces & The Tall Ones Grandparents house.

The Air Raid Shelter bar had taken a long time to create, we had various ideas for our Air Raid Shelter, when we first found it at the bottom of the garden. However turning it into a bar, seemed the best idea to both The Tall One and The Short One.

The Air Raid Shelter looked pretty lost at the bottom of the garden

We had uncovered the Air Raid Shelter at the bottom of the garden when we decided to clear the area, and fence around our boundary. It had a blast wall in front of the small side opening, which was removed before the main area had been cleared. We had not noticed the Air Raid Shelter when we first viewed Our Pile of Rubble, however once we had found it, we decided that it needed to be kept, and used for something other than storage.

The Air Raid Shelter had been used for storage
The Blast wall was pretty thick

Both The Tall One and The Short One, thought it would be pretty easy to cut through the side of the Air Raid Shelter to create the bar opening. The Tall One measured the opening, and marked out the size of the beam needed to create the bar. We had kept an Oak beam from the inside of Our Pile of Rubble, and then we ensured that the opening would be just the right size to reuse the Oak beam in the new Air Raid Shelter bar.

Charlie our dream team member who had become head of garden design started to cut through the side of the bar.

Day one, and after finding as many tools as possible, The Tall One, The Short One and Charlie a member of our dream team, began the Air Raid Shelter transformation. Unfortunately, what we hadn’t factored into our equation, was the fact that the Air Raid Shelter had been built to withstand heavy bombing during the Second World War. What we thought would be a straight forward job, turned into a month long labour of love.

Everything got covered in brick dust
The tools got bigger

As the days turned into weeks, and the opening began to take shape, it became clear that we would need much bigger tools, and a bit more muscle, to complete the front of our Air Raid Shelter bar. Absolutely everything in the garden and the surrounding area was covered in brick dust, and we discovered that at evenly spaced intervals, the Air Raid Shelter had thick steel rods running through it. Thankfully one of our best (and tallest!) friends came to our rescue. With very large power tools, and brute force, we finally created our bar opening.

Finally we had our opening, big enough for the Short One to see out of.
Bigger tools, and bigger friends

Once we had our opening, the fitting out process could begin. First we had to make a new door. The old one didn’t fit and was held together with a twig. Next The Tall One designed the inside space. Whilst it was small, with a few clever design additions, our bar became fully stocked, and ready to welcome its first guests.

Now this arrangement worked well for a while, we had some awesome evenings centred around St Boniface Bar, and we even had some famous guests and a TV crew arrive to see what was going on.

Until one night, when our very good friend couldn’t sleep and the Great Summer Garden makeover of 2019 began……….

The Tall One, The Short One and our most famous guest.

First we needed to turn around the summer house. This formed the starting point for the Great Garden Makeover. Our good friend had an excellent idea about how this could be achieved, we just needed to execute the manoeuvre and find some willing volunteers.

We needed to pull back the grass, and extend the base in order to turn the summer house around

The Great Summer Garden makeover, involved turning the summer house around, and placing it against the fence. However in order to do this, we had to remove the grass and extend the concrete base. This would free up space between St Boniface bar and the summer house. We originally had the BBQ and Pizza oven against the garden wall. The Tall One had created garden zones, and our outdoor kitchen ran up to the hot tub.

Gabion baskets had been filled with IOW stone to create work tops and hold a very large ice bucket.

Once the new summer house base had been completed and the summer house rotated round, the idea was to remove the Gabions filled with very heavy IOW stone and build a BBQ shack. Turning the old BBQ zone into a new undercover seating area.

The Gabion baskets also held an old BBQ that had become a large ice bucket.

The first step, which had to be completed before we could lift and turn the Summer house, was to extend the base. We had a patch of grass that had to be removed, and the base had to be levelled and concreted. We enlisted the help of one of the original members of our dream team, and the mixer also made a guest appearance, back in Our Pile of Rubble, where it had started.

The mixer and Tom, made a guest appearance for one day only.

Now apparently, the first step was supposed to be the easiest…… However we had run electric cable down to our summer house, when it was the only usable space in Our Pile of Rubble, and doubled as a lounge and chill out area for our dream team, during the days before Our Pile of Rubble had running water or power. All of this needed to be disconnected and relocated prior to the big move. Again this would be a swift and easy manoeuvre, according to our friends.

Electrics Relocated.

After the male members of our newly formed garden makeover team had a discussion about the best way to move the summer house. The first job was to screw bits of wood to the sides, and then there seemed to be a lengthy discussion about the best way to lift and move. Whilst this discussion took place, The Short One, and the female members of our garden makeover team, picked it up, and moved it. We decided that it looked fine, so retired to the Air Raid Shelter bar, whilst the bits of wood were removed by the male members of the team.

The Female members of our newly formed Garden Makeover crew managed to lift and turn the Summer House, whilst the Male members of the crew discussed the best way to lift it……..

Team Meeting

Lots of discussions about placement…….

After stage one had been completed, the BBQ shack could be designed and built. This was a very exciting development. Our Friend had built one before, and had tweaked the design to fit The Tall One’s brief of the Garden Makeover vision. Materials had been ordered and once again Our Pile of Rubble had deliveries of wood arriving and the big build could begin.

The BBQ shack began to take place, and The Tall One, rearranged the garden trugs, that had been arranged around the summer house, in it’s original position. This formed a sort of walled garden around our newly created garden area. The Gabions full of IOW stone, had also been taken apart and moved, to form a designated parking space for holiday maker’s staying in ‘The Bakery’ Annexe.

The BBQ shack quickly took shape, and the Great Garden Makeover of 2019, was finished in time for our very good friends wedding reception, which they allowed The Tall One and The Short One to hold in our Pile of Rubble’s newly created garden party space.

The 2019 Garden retreat, had one more event to hold before summer was over. The end of summer 2019 saw The Tall One celebrate a milestone birthday. Now those of you who know The Tall One, will know that birthdays are one of The Tall One’s favourite things to celebrate. The Short One, taking this into account, along with a few of our closest friends, had arranged a five day series of birthday events, that culminated in a party, held at our favourite place to end the celebrations. Now The Tall One is not one to shy away from big numbers, and so a few of our close friends made sure that the morning of the big day, was an understated affair.

Obviously the morning involved a few bottles of fizz being opened in our favourite coffee shop, in a very understated and almost glossed over way. Later in the day our Scottish friends flew down to the Island, and brought with them a few ballon towers, lots of sparkly things, and a very small banner, that managed to follow The Tall One around Ventnor for the next few days.

Just a small banner, that no one would ever notice……..

The 50th celebrations ran over five days, all our friends stayed in Our pile of Rubble, the sun shone, we had a birthday meal on the seafront at The Smoking Lobster, and a few afternoon’s were spent ensuring everyone was kept hydrated. The Air Raid Shelter bar, and the new Garden bar held a few evening celebrations, and as with all good parties, we ended the festivities with a night in The Crab and Lobster. The final day saw hangovers cleared away with an early morning swim, before our friends headed back to the mainland, and we closed up Our Pile of Rubble’s garden area, for the winter.

We had a few jobs planned in our Pile of Rubble over the winter. We needed to finish the small room at the front of Our Pile of Rubble, and The Tall One had plans for the fire place in the main room. Winter always gives us a few month to tackle the inside jobs. This year we had less planned time to play with, as The Tall One and The Short One, had planned to embark on 50 adventures throughout The Tall One’s 50th year. However 2020 had other ideas.

Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.


Winter in our Pile of Rubble quickly turned into Spring. We had spent the winter months concentrating on the last two rooms to be finished in the main part of the house. A few interesting nights have been spent putting together flat pack furniture and The Tall one managed to find a desk to fit into the smallest room from an Island internet selling site for free! Once we had taken it apart to get it into our car, and reassembled it back in our Pile of Rubble, both rooms were complete.


We managed to find an amazing local artist who came round had a look at the colours we had used in the main rooms, and created us three amazing pieces of art. Thank you Ebb and Flow.

Now that the major building work was almost complete, we could turn our attention to the biggest adventure The Tall One and The Short One had ever had.

During the summer, whilst knee deep in plaster and living without running water in our Pile of Rubble, The Tall One and The Short One decided to get married. We decided to wait until the following February. Unfortunately our February date needed to be postponed until April, due to a very close family member suffering a stroke, therefore giving her more time to recover and if possible attend the wedding. This April date gave us slightly more time to complete most of the major works. It also gave us time to complete the outside space ready to hold a pretty big BBQ. IMG_1673.jpegIMG_1984.jpeg

With outstanding vision, The Tall One had managed to transform the concrete jungle which was our Pile of Rubbles outside space, into an amazing party space. Whilst the Tall One and The Short Ones wedding was the first main event held in the new party space, many more have since followed.

From an unusable space, to a zoned garden.

Now our Pile of Rubble was ready to welcome guests, we turned our attention to The Tall One and The Short Ones wedding.

The Tall One is always very organised, The Short One not so much. The Tall One had decided on an outfit for the wedding the previous Autumn The Short One was still undecided in March!!! The Tall One decided to take matters into her own hands, and on a flying visit to the mainland one weekend in March, convinced The Short One to go shopping. The Short One would do anything to avoid clothes shopping. Gadgets and useless items, The Short One is great with, clothes shopping The Short One leaves entirely to The Tall One. So after a very quick visit, to about 4 different shops, The Short One made a decision, and went for an outfit that surprised most people.


After much discussion between The Tall One and The Short One, and a lot of trying on, both The Tall One and The Short One decided to get married in dresses.

Living on an Island means that large gatherings need to be planned. Our biggest adventure had been planned in the school holidays, due to many family and friends having jobs connected to the education sector, with little people being able to attend and not need time away from school. This gave some of our friends, most notably some of our closest friends, from Glasgow, Farnborough and Camberley, the opportunity to spend a whole week on this beautiful Island rather than just the weekend. The Tall One thought it would be a good idea to meet with those friends for a quiet meal a few days before the wedding. Unbeknown to both The Tall One and The Short One, our loving friends had other ideas.


They gathered friends and family who either already lived in Ventnor, or who had arrived early, and taken over a local pizza restaurant with an amazing view, and threw us what can only be described as the funniest Hen party ever.

IMG_4519.jpeg The Tall One and the Short One were ordered to wear black Jeans & T-shirts and given sashes and tutus to wear for the entire evening.

IMG_4507.jpegThe Tall One and The short One are very lucky to have such amazing friends. The highlight of the evening was a game of Mrs & Mrs which included a veil making competition.IMG_4525.jpeg

After an amazing night with close family and friends, ending as always in The Crab and Lobster Tap, we turned our attention to the main event. The legal union of The Tall One and The Short One. Flowers had been provided by The Short Ones Mum, and two of our closest friends and The Short Ones Mum spent the day before the wedding making button holes and simple hand tied arrangements. We enlisted the help of all of our guests under the age of 18, and The Tall One and our younger guests created some amazing table decorations. After a few days of hard work, we were ready to make our union a legal one.


Even though Ventnor is a relatively small town, The Tall One and The Short One decided to drive to the first venue, and the classic car came out to play for a much nicer reason than picking up wood.


The Tall One and The Short One had decided to split the wedding into two distinct parts. Our biggest friend had agreed to act as our celebrant for the first part of the ceremony.The Tall One and The Short One wanted to have a non-legal part of the ceremony, where family and friends could come together and celebrate the joining of  two different, amazing and blended families and friendship groups. Family and friends gathered together and The Tall One and The Short One arrived together and early. this meant that The Tall One and The Short One had to drive around Ventnor a few times, whilst the guests sorted themselves out.


The Tall One and The Short One included everyone in this part of the ceremony. They said their personal vows which were exchanged in front of all the guests. This part of the day included messages written by guests and sealed in a wine box containing Champagne to be opened on their first anniversary, as well as a sand ceremony, where all guests were invited to put sand of different colours into a vase to create a blended piece of art.


All of this took place before the legal ceremony and ended with the cutting of the cake and a glass of champagne. Now as many followers of Two Women and a Pile of Rubble will know The Tall One is a Spurs fan, The Short One is learning to love this particular team, however The Short One had no idea that The Tall One was planning a cake surprise. Our amazing friends at The Tea House, Ventnor had made our first wedding cake, and The Short one wanted a beach theme, The Tea House ladies had added some Mice from No 26 Ventnor, and it looked amazing.IMG_0499.jpg

However The Tall One had added a little twist to the cake, and when it was time to cut the cake, The Tall One insisted The Short One scrape the top off of the cake before cutting it…….IMG_4596.jpeg

This revealed a strategically placed Tottenham Hotspurs team emblem. Thankfully The Short One saw the funny side of this and the cake tasted amazing, and had a rainbow theme inside.IMG_0535.jpg

The Tall One and The Short One did not have time to stay and taste the cake as the legal paperwork needed to be completed before the legal ceremony could take place.


During the legal part of the ceremony, rings were exchanged, and as the legal part is relatively short, the party could begin very quickly afterwards.IMG_0502.jpg

We are lucky enough to live in an amazing little town, and a friend of ours offered to drive guests between venues as Ventnor has a few hills. Due to legal reasons, The Tall one and The Short One had started the day at The Royal Hotel, as this was the only place in Ventnor at the time that had a licence to legally get married. After the legal ceremony The Tall One and The Short One and all guests moved down to the sea front for a cocktail and canapé party with friends who ran Hello Sailor, they even created a cocktail just for The Tall One and The short One.


It was at this point that the Tall One and The Short One had cake number two. Crave Ventnor delivered The Tall One and The Short One an amazing dairy free Ice Cream cake to round off the afternoon.


Once all of the cocktails had been drunk and the canapés eaten, The Tall One and The Short One and all their guests, made it back up the hill to the Crab and Lobster Tap to finish off the celebrations, sticking with the seaside theme, this included a magic mirror, popcorn machine, candy floss, sweets and a disco. Magic Mirror, candy floss and popcorn machine provided by a little Island company called Candy Creations. IMG_4579.jpeg

The Tall One and The Short One, made some amazing memories, on one of their biggest adventures so far, all of which were lovingly captured by Orion Heart Photography.IMG_0569.jpg

As the sun set on an amazing day, and this particular adventure moved onto the next phase, Our Pile of Rubble continued to evolve and many more adventures and memories have been made over the last year. In these uncertain times, and enforced self-isolation with any luck The Tall One and The Short One may be able to update this blog a bit more regularly. Only time will tell. For now Keep safe, Stay healthy and Stay at Home.






Winter is not a Season, it’s a Celebration


The first winter in a new house is always a great time to celebrate the achievements of the last year, and an opportunity to look back at how much our Pile of Rubble has changed from December 2017 to December 2018.


December 2017


December 2018

As winter set in, we still had the final two rooms on our floor to plaster. These rooms had been used to store tools and furniture for most of the year. As we had almost completed the major internal work by the end of October, we decided to hold our first Halloween/house warming party. Up until this point our Pile of Rubble did not have a finished kitchen or small front room. Our Dream Team knew that Halloween was our deadline for the completion of the major works, whilst this was a bitter sweet moment for us as our Pile of Rubble would be 95% complete, it also signalled the end of our working relationship with our Dream Team.


But first we needed to finish the final two rooms, which until now had been used for storage.


The smallest room at the front of the house had been used for all the tools throughout  the entire renovation, and had been lovingly referred to as “The room of Doom” since January. Our Dream Team had begun removing tools no longer needed at the end of September, however we still needed a large selection to finish the two rooms, so we had to find alternative storage places with our Pile of Rubble to house the tool collection.



And so yet another game of tool Tetris began, we had to come up with a solution to the tool storage situation. In the end we decided to leave the main room at the front of the house until after Halloween, and so that became our new “Room of Doom”.


With the tools safely stored in their new home, operation small front room became our new focus.IMG_0843.jpg

This room had been used for storage as it is easily accessed from the front of our Pile of Rubble, and was not being changed in anyway. The plaster needed to be stripped from the walls, in preparation for stitching, and the wooden lintel under the window needed to be replaced, as over time water had got in around the front window, and the wood was wet and rotten. We also removed all the paster from the fire place, in order to expose the original brickwork.


This is one of the smallest rooms in our Pile of Rubble, but eventually it would become the hub for the electrics, stop cock and the entire Internet network that we had installed throughout the house. As we had to remove the plaster from all walls, we ran cables throughout the house before replacing the plaster. As a result all rooms have a network point, and we have been able to put a fast and secure network into the annexe, linked to our main hub, which is located in the small from room. The only issue during the build, was the huge amount a cabling which all ended up on the floor of the “Room of Doom”IMG_1669.jpg


Once we got started on our little Room of Doom, things came together very quickly. The plaster dried in two days, and the Short One managed to paint the room over a 24hr period to enable the carpet to be fitted, whilst the paint was still wet! A quick second fix for electrics, some  strategically placed pieces of furniture, and within a week, we had a new small front room. Its specific use has yet to be agreed, it may become an office, or it may become a technology free, chill out room. Only time will tell.


The Tall One had been scouring internet selling sites, and online auction sites, to try and find a very old wood burner to fit into the fireplace in our new little room. The Small One would like all fireplaces to have wood burners, but the Tall One is a little worried about the amount of fire one house can take! After speaking to our Dream Team, it came to light that a family member was selling a particularly beautiful wood burner, which now has a new home in our Pile of Rubble.Once our new addition has been cleaned up, and the fireplace unblocked in the roof, we are sure this new addition will be a great attraction next Christmas.


With our Halloween, come Housewarming party over, and the promise of the first phase of new windows being fitted in November, we set about finishing the final large room at the front of the house. this room had been used to store all of our furniture and around 50 boxes throughout our little journey with our Pile of Rubble. All our bathroom furniture had been stored in there, at one time there were three baths, three showers and  two sofas, as well as all of our worldly belongings. Now after almost a year, it was time to turn it into a usable space, the only problem we faced, was where to start……….IMG_0198.jpg

We had sort of forgotten this room room in the big wood chip removal project, and had disposed of the industrial wall paper stripper around six months ago, so we needed to purchase a standard steamer. As it was only one room, and a whole wall is taken up with a window, we believed that a standard wall paper stripper would do. After a quick trip to Hursts, the Short One retuned with a shiny new steamer. Whilst we were not working full time with our Dream Team, they were returning to us for a few days to get the bigger jobs completed. The wall paper stripping fell to the Short One and Morgan. Between them, they managed to break three wall paper strippers, culminating in the Short One attempting to remove the last of the wood chip, with a metal wall paper tool. This did not go exactly as planned.


The Short One learnt that, Lathe and Plaster, crumbles very quickly, when a little bit wet and held together with wood chip. Whilst taking chunks out of the walls was a bit drastic, it did make removing the wood chip a whole lot easier. Well thats what the Short One told the Tall One, and thankfully it was easily fixed.


After a quick repair of the main wall, and plastering the ceiling and the new wall which we needed to build, between the kitchen and the main room, it was onward with the painting. Our Pile of Rubble has been a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. Every room, walls and ceiling, had to have the wood chip removed and most rooms also needed re plastering, due to the stitching guys needing to remove everything taking it back to the original stone. As a result, every wall and ceiling has been stripped and repainted. And so the final room started to come to life.IMG_1003.jpg

Our sofa had spent almost a year on its side, either in the Room of Doom, or in storage in two different storage facilities. The Tall One spent at least 48hrs laying on the sofa when it finally made it into the almost finished room, and its final resting place in our Pile of Rubble. After two weeks of painting, laying carpet and cleaning, our final room was finished enough to add candles a few personal items and a Christmas tree.


The only other thing that happened in our Pile of Rubble in late November was the removal of our old windows, these had been in situ since 1834, and replaced with bespoke wooden sash windows, lovingly made by a local craftsman. Each window is a different size, each box which the sash window fits in is a different size and all the old wood needs to be removed from the house piece by piece.


Once removed, our Pile of Rubble spent a few days without windows…………..IMG_2799.jpg

The view from our Pile of Rubble without windows is amazing, especially in late November.


With all but the front windows replaced. The Tall One and The Short One are still waiting for the front window to be completed. We were finally ready to celebrate our first Christmas in our Pile of Rubble.


Winter in our Pile of Rubble has been fun, however we then began to look forward to the spring, and our next big adventure, when the Tall One and the Short One legally become one. Look out for our next blog which will be all about our newest adventure.



At the end of everyday there is a Sunset


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.



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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.

IMG_1016 2.jpg

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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







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…….