Thursday, 31 October 2013

A find!

In between the paperwork and trying to find furniture for the windows and doors, this week has been a continuation of removing plaster from the walls and digging out the floors. Dave was excited to think he had discovered an antique possibly Roman object only to find on further investigation that it was in fact an old chimney pot broken up and used to make a base for the living room floor along with Staffordshire blue roof tiles. I on the other hand did find something old but sadly also very broken. We wonder which firm it was who won 'The Prize Medal For Marmalade' ... and when.


Our upstairs floors (which look a bit like cracked concrete) are made of lime ash and form one of the key features in our Grade II listing. Lime ash as the name suggests is the residue from lime kilns and the material is then laid on laths supported by joists and beams.

Lime ash floors were an economical form of upper floor construction and had the advantages of being strong, warm underfoot and a good material for insulation against sound. The floors were constructed of the hard composite material (lime ash) laid over a supporting bedding material which was secured to timber joists. Today this type of flooring is no longer used in building construction but was commonly found up until the last century in many counties including Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and some parts of Yorkshire (Bonsers Building Restoration).


It's not just windows that are occupying our minds this week but doors as well. We need a number made and we also have to consider where the door handles need repair. They are a lovely simple design but some of the thumb latches have broken over the years.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


We have been busy trying to select suitable furniture for replacement windows which are being made locally. In the end we have chosen a simple design which isn't that dissimilar from the existing one above. It is to replace badly made windows installed by the previous owners which are incorrect and have bright chrome latches. This downstairs window will be kept.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Storm

We were lucky and the forecast storm passed us without causing any damage. It was wet and windy but nothing out of the ordinary. However the clocks have changed and we really notice the nights drawing in (particularly as our electricity and lighting are limited!)


An enormous amount of time has been taken up over the last week preparing drawings, plans and text so we could submit an application for listed building consent that will allow us to use some insulation on the very wet ground floor walls. This course of action has been recommended by both the damp proofing specialist and our builder. We will have to wait 8 weeks to see if the work will be permitted. We have submitted a huge dossier of photo's which hopefully will help!

Monday, 21 October 2013

A real breakthrough

Today was really exciting as the blocked up door between the kitchen and our living room was knocked through. It has made the rooms feel much more spacious - although I keep forgetting I can now walk from one to the other without going via the hallway!

To prison for lunch

We have been moving barrow loads of concrete into the skip and it has poured with really heavy rain all morning so by lunchtime we are absolutely soaked and decide to go to the prison for lunch. They have a training kitchen and are our nearest place for hot food. After all our hard labour it seems an appropriate choice! We must be the only people heading there for a rest though!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Just look at the size of my muck heap

After a little help from the bobcat the muck is now out of the barns and is sitting in a large heap which will shortly be on the move too.


We walk the farm today thinking about hedgerows. At the auction the largest field has been divided and is now owned by three of us. Our neighbour is responsible for putting up a fence but we plan to plant a hedge on our side. I think we will also continue this by the road - probably around 100 metres in all. We want to get ahead with this task so the plants can settle in over the winter. We have in mind a mixed planting of hawthorn, holly, blackthorn (for sloes), wild cherry and dog rose.

Help arrives

Taking pity on my 'mucking out by hand' efforts a bobcat arrives from Tissington and clears the smelliest barn in just a couple of hours. Now we just have to power wash the floors.

A mushroom ... but which one

Our weather was very autumnal today - full of mists and mellow fruitfulness. I spotted this beautiful delicate mushroom but have struggled to identify it. The picture that came closest in my book was for the fairy ring mushroom but I'm really not sure. Looking down from the top the cap was almost frilled.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Birthday Boy

Dave is the first one of us to celebrate his birthday at (if not yet 'in') Hill Farm. The weather is amazingly sunny so we picnic outside - huge black clouds suddenly came across the sky but we stayed dry.

Our planning application

Today is the deadline for comments relating to our application to install an extra bathroom and en suite. The conservation officer from the planning department comes out to visit us and provides helpful advice over a number of our existing conditions including the paint choices and the fireplace treatments.

In case of rain

I had planned for us to eat indoors as yesterday was horrible - cold and extremely wet. But yet again Dave has glorious weather for his birthday thanks to St Luke's 'little summer' (a period of fine weather around the Saint's feast day).

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Raspberries well travelled

Despite having to travel around three counties the raspberries have still managed to provide a few fruits. This autumn variety has proved to have a very long season.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I know they are invisible in this photo (actually one is the dot centre right) but I could hear the buzzards calling and looking out from the barn there must have been 5 of them circling round on the thermals. It's been a day of showers and sun but quite mild.

Civilisation - of sorts

Downstairs all the floors are in the process of being dug up and so fed up with stumbling amongst the concrete and tiles we brought the table and chairs upstairs to create a more civilised space - which is also much less damp and dark and draughty.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A pretty fireplace

I love this fireplace - it is one of the few features that have remained completely untouched by previous owners.

Cleaning the barn

My main task this week is to continue shovelling muck and hay out from the barn. Whilst I am working I can hear the birds singing gloriously outside - it sounds more like spring than autumn.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thinking of Christmas

Whilst I work away cleaning out this old farm building I can't help thinking how amazing it would look at Christmas - it's the ideal nativity setting and I can imagine a tree and fairy lights - the ideal setting for a party provided everyone wrapped up well, as most of the glass is missing from the windows and there are holes in the roof! Dave is still painting and it was so dark this morning we delayed our arrival until the afternoon - he is working inside the house using a portable light and is now having to put black on black.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

View from the barn

Taking a break from my shed cleaning I look out at the landscape that makes it all worthwhile. Outside there are long tailed tits swooping across the land - they have replaced our swallows and are feasting in the hedgerows but are too quick for me to photograph. I think we also have dunnocks feeding quietly amongst the hawthorn. Where the ivy is flowering at the top of the hedge we can see a huge number of bees and butterflies feeding before winter comes.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

For the less skilled

My painting skills are not up to the required standard so I find something else to occupy my time and start to clean out the yard. It is surprisingly hard to get the mud out of the ridged concrete but will be worth doing. The weather is mainly very fine rain which is ideal as it keeps the dust down. Dave is still busy painting ..

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Now the task is to paint all the cast iron. It starts with a very thick primer in a lovely shade of yellow! Dave has researched the process on the internet and we have been to the trade supplier to buy the correct paint system.

How posh

We were amazed to find our cast iron work monogrammed HF for Hill Farm. How many people have personalised guttering? (OK the fact that they were made by Hargreaves Foundry may also have something to do with it!)

Gutters from Halifax

To our delight our cast iron gutters have arrived. Fortunately there aren't too many pieces to unload and we have the manpower between us to make up for the lack of fork lift.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A very BIG key

Our living room door has an unusual early Victorian wooden lock sadly though it no longer had a key. Fortunately we managed to find a local locksmith willing to make one - it's just a little larger than we expected! Probably best not to keep it in your pocket.

An autumn day

Despite the rain the light has been catching the fields. The trees are just starting to turn and in the strong winds the leaves are starting to fall. Our long summer is finally drawing to its close.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Spraying docks

Down near the cart shed we have a large patch of docks. Although rather late in the year we decide that because it has been so mild and everything is still growing well we probably just have time to try spraying them. We managed to find our old sprayer in the basement which is good as what's available to buy was either poor quality or expensive.

A fierce pheasant

I glimpsed the young tabby cat stalking this pheasant - as soon as she got close though the pheasant turned on her and she fled. The pheasant arrived with us a week or so ago looking very tatty and minus his tail. Now however he is strutting around happily ... we often hear the sound of shooting in the neighbouring fields so I guess he's worked out that he is safe with us.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

I can see you!

I came across this little vole while walking round the large field - he tried to hide by burying his face in the grass and stayed like that while I took his photo! I gently tucked some of the hay back over him until he felt ready to move on.  I could hear the buzzard so he was lucky it was only me who spotted him.


There are still butterflies on the farm even though we've reached October. Like us they are enjoying the good weather. I had to look this one up in my reference book to check that it was a small tortoiseshell.


The planners approved our sample of pointing and so despite it being a Sunday the re-pointing is now well under way. It has to be done with lime mortar and must be finished before we have frosts.

Going, going .. almost gone

Our shed support posts head off on the back of a trailer. Fortunately they don't have to travel too far.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Paint colours

We try out paint colours on the front door.This blue 'Dulux Heritage Blue Verditer' is currently my favourite although the planning department would prefer a darker shade. Our rose has survived the scaffolding and is still managing to bloom.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Water we can turn off

I would never have thought one could get so excited by a stop tap.  Now we can turn our water supply off without having to trek up the road or across the fields. Unfortunately after so much dry weather the afternoon had torrential rain and Jamie and John got soaked. The ground at the front of the house is also now very muddy but we can't complain as we've been so lucky up until now. Inside the house today it's felt cold and dark. The poor conservation officer from the planning department turned up in the midst of all this chaos!


There is no proper drainage at the farm so today this is being rectified. Drainage channels are dug at the front to match up with the new downpipes (plus one extra - but we won't go into that!) We had planned on going to the ploughing competition but so much is happening at the farm we decided we should stay.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Checking that the trench lines up with where it was supposed to be on the plan. With three people working on the task today progress has been amazing - if a little scary - it's all happening much faster than I anticipated and it can be hard for Dave and I to catch up and check everything is as we want it. We feel very lucky though with how quickly things are being done.

Skips needed

We are busy filling skips with barrow after barrow load of mainly hardcore - it is incredible how much waste has come out from the fireplaces alone. Once we start digging out the floors more skips are needed. I gradually learn how to tip the wheelbarrow over the edge of the skip.

Waiting for the cows!

It is a pretty good way to be delayed in the morning.  The cows were amazing and took themselves up the lane after milking! They belong to the other Hill Farm about a mile from us.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


After a day at Peel Mill sorting out Hill Farm admin we arrived to find total devastation.  Work had begun to break out the concrete floors and these were piled up ready for us to remove by hand via the wheel barrow to the waiting skip. I think concrete hurling should definitely become an Olympic sport and when it does I'm ready!!