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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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……

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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 😉

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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……..

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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…….