Thursday, December 05, 2013


December is upon us. Starting with wonderful weather, right now it is wild and windy. Powercuts, trees down, things that used to be in the house flying all around the garden.

But the roof is in good shape! At the moment only the felt and lath stage, but much dryer and more stable than during the last storms, and this could have been the one to take the roof off, so we are greatly relieved!

Next Tuesday we have a talk from Adam McClure the RSPB Red Kite monitoring officer. As if on cue, we have over the last couple of days been honoured with the almost constant company of at least two, sometimes up to 5 of these magnificent creatures.

sheep are enjoying the rejuvenated fields - welcome back! 

the rooks are still looking for holes in the roof - no chance ha! ha!

Red  Kite in the crystal blue sky

a pair, dancing

such aerobatics!

effortless soaring

and again

we've a smoke on in the workshop - making lots of things for the Craft Fair Season

a kite down by the river
looking forward to this - everyone welcome!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Roof stage one - complete!

Well, the builders signed off with us on Friday - a few post-slating jobs, but the main work is done. 

The walls and chimneys are rebuilt, 
the roof timbers are on, 
waterproof membrane and laths are on

After many many years, the roof is waterproof a last!

all the structure renewed - fantastic

the waterproof membrane goes on

very fine - chimney pots with rain - and crow -proof cowl!

from the back - with three spaces for roof widows, over the stairs

from the front

a fine sight from the 'woods'

so long to our big green machine!

the salvage yard - by Easter next year this will be our new elevated terrace!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

What a Week!

In the two weeks after taking off what passed for a roof,it has rained for 9 days. Not un-typical for this time of year, but rather unhelpful!

But the for the last six days the Weather Gods have smiled on us, allowing our builders to work a miraculous transformation.

What was a battered and denuded shell has been restored to a solid, balanced structure, better than before!

timber bolted on to the steel beams, to hold the rafters

meanwhile, inside!
the gable re-built.You can see the padstone for the steel, and the lead 'tray' which covers the chimney keeping the damp out

red letter day, putting up the first beam!

flues lined and walls rebuilt

where old meets new, the wall plate


a beam in place

now, is that not a handsome sight?

a thing of beauty

and some rafters as well

cold crisp mornings

and quite a frost

Slieve Bernagh

The mighty Willow begins to turn

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Your Place And Mine - On the Radio

What enchants us about this place - this area - is it's character. A sense of place, history, and human endeavour. 

Throughout the millennia people have worked these lands, celebrated life, hoped and strived, developed their livelihoods, in order to better their lives and especially their children's.

The traces of our forebear's journeys are everywhere here, from recent times to the far distant past. 

In this townland was found a Bronze Age golden earring thought to be from the Iberian Peninsula - modern day Spain and Portugal.

The Benraw Gold Ornament now in the National Museum Dublin

That's a legacy of creativity stretching back 4,000 years! 

We feel that that's what we're up to right now, following in that great endeavour, just as our forebears.

We were lucky enough to mull over these thoughts with Anne-Marie McAleese on Your Place And Mine on Radio Ulster, in an interview aired last Saturday.

It was made the day after our Benraw Creative Convivium, and we were exhausted but exhilarated, as you will hear if you take a listen:

Turnip House on Radio Ulster's Your Place And Mine

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Chimneys and Flues

The restoration continues, with the bricklayers completing the tops of the walls ready for the wall plate to hold the roof timbers. They are all now new, good and true - fantastic!

The aim for this Big Work is to complete the roof, ridge, chimneys and wall tops so that the structure is sound from the top.

The inexorable logic of renovation takes you to unplanned(and un-budgeted for!) decisions. It's thanks to the expertise of our builders that stage by stage we are making decisions about the structure, to create both a safe and secure rebuild, and to preserve as much as we can.We want to leave our options as wide as possible as we renovate in future.

Hence, when looking at the chimney flues, full to the top with years of birds nests, rubble etc., realisation dawned that we'd have to take the inside of the chimneys down;  "not more demolition" we cried!

But, now we are really building up again - the demolished gable wall and chimney are back up to the base - including the pad for the steel beams! 

Roller coaster, but amazing.

one way to get the mortar up there!

this morning's picture

more demolition - the chimney's insides lies on the street

rebuild! new door lintol (there wasn't one before!) and the start of a chimney again

window lintol, and wooden wall plate to hold the roof

inside the chimney stack - beautiful hand made bricks 

the anatomy of a building: two flues, one from the ground floor,the other upstairs.  You can see the grate of the upstairs one.

the other upstairs fireplace. We've put a lintol above the beautiful hand cut granite stone that we want to preserve 

to the right you can see the vestige of the flue up from the ground floor - what would have been the pub fireplace. Sadly no more

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Windy Gap in November

Elaine is off up to Portballintrae on the North Coast today for her weekend felting course with Feltmakers North. Charlie and I dropped her off near Moira so she could get a lift.

We'll miss her - hope the Gallery is busy!

On the way back, to cheer ourselves up we stopped off at the Windy Gap Viewpoint.

Only a mile away from us, it feels on top of the world, an exhilarating experience on this spectacular November Day.

the panorama

you can see our house from here - and the mess it's in!

Famine Fields, Slieve Croob - and Marian Shrine

looking North to Belfast and the Antrim Plateau

always a treat for visitors

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Replacing the roof - Day 5

Despite starting the roof renovation over a week ago, we've only had 5 days actual work on the job  mainly due to very wet weather.

We are not crestfallen however, what our superb builders have achieved is amazing:

We now have the roof off, the masonry and chimneys taken down to make ready for the steel and new building, and all the scaffolding up to enable this.

Yesterday an inspection by building control - the authority who determines what we can and can't do in the name of safe building method (and we're all in favour of that) gave us the thumbs up and the OK to proceed. 

Also, all the materials for the roof were delivered, so we are all set, brilliant.

The bricklayer comes tomorrow or the next day - he is busy too, which is a good sign - at the same time the roof timbers will be cut and the steel erected. Exciting prospects ahead!

the view from the deck

what would we do without this jolly green giant?

a new roof - kit!

look at he size of those steel ridge beams

conserved slates

and furniture

view from below

sadly. not everything will be salvageable

a very sad sight

what was once a sideboard

these will make the cut though!

our salvage yard - all tongue and groove wall and ceiling cladding - mostly good, it will be saved for reinstallation somewhere in the house
the guide rafters - new wood - the restoration has begun!

scaffolding all over

the living room settee and curtains

still beautiful

"So, what have you done with it?"

I am not in the slightest bit afraid of heights!!

homework and treasure