Pool Prep part 3

When we first pulled off the cover, it was very green…. but a week and some helpful chemicals later, it is deep inviting blue.   The clarity is not quite there, particularly at the deep end, but it was good enough for us to swim, both days, at the weekend.

The water remains cold, but we moved it up from 16C to 20C on Sunday and as of this evening it is 22C.

Here’s hoping the warm weather lasts until next weekend.   Four perfect weekends in a row would be fabulous.

Pool prep part 2

Progress.   Deep Blue pools arrived early on Saturday morning and worked their chemical magic on the pool.    The pH was spot on, chlorine high and algae quite bad.   Treatment was ‘shocking, floccing and vaccing’.

First, a heavy dose of hydrochloric acid (no kidding) to kill the bugs followed by floccing with Aluminium sulphate which combines with the dead algae and drags them to the bottom where they can, after settling out, be vaccuumed away to waste.

The results were pretty dramatic as by Sunday eve I could vac the pool and remove all the dead leaves from the bottom of the deep end as well as most of the sediment.

By now it should have improved further and be ready for the weekend…. here’s hoping for more of that glorious weather.

Finally, we’ve ordered a new solar cover – the old one was completely stuffed – which should be delivered in a couple of weeks.   Can’t wait for the first dip.

Pool Prep part 1

Summer is almost upon us and with the stunning weather last weekend it was time to open up the pool.   Over the winter it has been ‘winterised’ with a cover and some chemicals but, as you can see from the pic, it has gone rather green.   I had the pumps working on Saturday, but will leave it for the pro’s this weekend to restore it to it’s former blue glory.  Hopefully I’ll have a better picture by next week….

In the meantime I’ve pressure washed the patio with help from Ash and Bennet has reset a few tiles that were loose.   All we need now is for global warming to keep bringing us the hot weather.

Halfway Progress

As we continue to tackle the myriad of tasks to repair, reclaim, renovate our house, it is sometimes beneficial to reflect on a little success.

One of the urgent tasks we faced was to construct a new chicken run.   Ideally we wanted it down at the bottom of one of the fields away from the house.   But we are a long way from creating a decent access to that field and I felt we needed it nearer.   Shivs wanted a vegetable garden and an overgrown area behind the workshops needed sorting.

A mound of nettles had at one time probably been a compost heap, but it was mixed with old builders sacks and general rubbish.   The ground was a bit soft, but we set to and cleared it.   An incoming power line runs to the pole on the left and then down to the workshop and the area in the foreground was lawned to the left and grassed over gravel path on the right.   The gravel courtyard had originally lead round the back of the garden to the menage, but years of neglect had seen it grow over… clearing it was not easy.

We needed to create a raised vegetable garden and, after a false start of making it too big, we formed a U shape.   All the old grass and weeds were removed, soil dug over and broken up.   Compost was mixed in and we were ready for planting.

Deal Done

After much time, stress, worry, angst, panic and all the other emotions that are part and parcel of buying a house we have finally succeeded.

Up to now I’ve resisted tempting fate by posting anything on the blog, but yestoday we exchanged contracts to buy a home in the country.

All we have to do now is pay for it.


Grand Designs: The Water Tower

In last nights Grand Designs (Channel 4 9.00pm) the excellent Kevin McLoud presented the unusual story of a project to refurbish and use a turn of the century Lutyens designed concrete water tower into a home.

The original building, on land owned by the occupiers of an rural cottage, was not attractive.   The thought of turning into a home seemed fanciful.   The owners felt very protective towards it and having sold their house decided to try and find a way to live in this huge, concrete monster. They moved into two caravans on site, one for them and one for their four dogs, until the water tower was converted.

Original water tower

The planners were open to persuasion so they approached an architect who came up with a bold, uncompromising extension in metal, glass and concrete.  The owners were keen to keep the original structure visible so the new house is threaded between the legs of the water tower.   This particular aspect of the design works very well.   The additions are obvious, but allow the orginal structure to be clearly visible in concrete as a contrast to the steel and zinc finished addtions.

The main living area rises out of the ground on steel stilts, matching the tower’s skinny concrete posts. The walls are built out of insulated steel panels, clad in either weathered zinc or patinated copper and there’s a glass bubble in the roof to let in extra light. Full height windows can be opened like doors to create the feeling of standing on a balcony.

A new staircase runs through a glass stairwell up the outside of the tower leading to the bedrooms. New windows have been cut into the concrete tower to give fantastic view over the surrounding countryside. The crowning glory is the master bedroom suite at the top of the water tower which will have stunning views in all directions.


The final result is stunning as they have created an incredible home and saved what is probably one of the earliest concrete structures in England from a less happy fate..  Full details and images are here.


Moving into our new home

Things are finally coming together and yesterday we moved into our new home. It does look a little spartan with only the furniture from Willow House, but it’s a start.

I drove down from London and surprised the girls and we had an exhausting day unpacking and exploring, but by evening we were mostly sorted sitting in the lounge with a glass of Pinot and some nibblies watching Bill Oddies birdwatching show on the telly. How english! And I don’t even like birdwatching.

After dinner Ash and I had an explore and met our new neighbours – see pic. Rather different from swatting mossies in Hong Kong or looking for wild boar on Ma On Shan, but a new experience all the same – and best of all both kids are very excited about the farmhouse.

Much to do this weekend when I head back… but looking forward to it now.