Off track

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Poptop2, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    The next stage of our lives in the lane.

    The lane wasn’t everyone’s idea of heaven. Some of our social climbing type friends were appalled by the place. They genuinely thought we had lost the plot, we were often fending off severe questioning about our life choice. Did we think we could ever sell it when we came back to civilisation, what about getting to the Doctor in an emergency, what if one was to set alight; wouldn’t they all go up, how did we cope without street lighting and would the police respond to an incident in such a remote place. People were genuinely concerned for our welfare.

    We were only two mile from town for god sake, not the outer Hebrides or Alaska!

    We were actually living in a place that was peaceful secure and beautiful, our lives were far and above better than the life they lead, the lane went nowhere other than to a dead end, we had zero traffic and the pace of life was such that we had time for our friends and neighbours, even if they had all the trappings of modern life! Those friends never really got it!

    What we had done inadvertently was to encourage others to update their properties.

    Being so close to the lane people saw clearly the build and even eavesdropped on our site meetings with the council guys. This in turn prompted them to have a go at sorting things they had been misguidedly advised by other locals could not be done to the cabins. Obviously there was a vested interest from the old owners to keep them as was, but times were moving on people were passing away and the properties sold on by sons and daughters that had no interest in the lane. The new owners like us simply wanted to make them more liveable so that they could maintain them easily and enjoy the surroundings.

    The upshot of this was I got approached by people for advice on dealing with planners and what they could or couldn’t do without consulting the council.

    Oddly back then there was an awful lot they could do without seeking consent. For example, they could renew the footings and base. They could replace all the external walls, they were quite within their rights to renew the roof, the wiring, the plumbing and their gardens. What’s more, they could all have water connected for a very moderate fee. In essence the whole property could be renewed so long as it was treated as restoration work, but any enlargement had to go through planning, and that was an whole different scenario.

    In 1993 Lou and I had our first child on the way. A cause for great celebration. We had thought through tests that we couldn’t have them so had bought our first new car, new three piece suite and booked a month long holiday in Italy. The news was fantastic, I’m not saying we weren’t a little bit wowed by the news and didn’t have moments of thinking ‘ is this really happening and the like, but we were overjoyed.

    However, the reality was, our little bungalow wasn’t really big enough for a growing family, yes it was fine while he waas little, but as he grew he’d need his own space and bedroom. We could divide ours into two, but that would be a bit intimate and not to mention claustrophobic. We had to think this through again!

    We’d got our place just right for us by then. We had finished the interior that seemed to take forever after the initial build. The garden was finished, we had two drives, one in the meadow for summer use and a nice accessible drive with a car port off the lane for winter use, the back of the house had been improved where once we thought the road might collapse into us we now had a fully repaired and tidy retainer wall. The gas tank had been installed and I had a shed. On our days off our main hobby was gardening while drinking wine and looking out over the view ( Also we had taken our first tentative steps into property development, but that’s a different story for another day entirely ) We knew this was to change, but weren’t quite sure how, did we stay there and extend the place somehow or did we listen to our friends and go back to ( civilisation)?

    I had a plan, but it meant dealing with the council again. Urgh!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  2. Malc thanks for writing this I've just read from the start and eagerly await more
    Poptop2 likes this.
  3. I love this, waiting with baited breath
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  4. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Yorkshire Frank.

    For the first couple of months living in the wooden shed was quite an experience. The weather had turned decidedly cold on us, it was if nature was giving us a little test. The standpipe in the field froze solid. When it unfroze at about midday we had to fill all the receptacles we could lay our hands on to hold enough water as we would need. Lugging large containers across the field or up the lane was fun for a day or two, but after a few weeks became a chore to get done and over with.

    The day we finally connected up to our own deeply trenched frost free supply was a day for celebration. Some friends came by and we had a small water connection party. That water supply was sorely needed.

    The outside loo had been an ordeal too. It was in a small tumbledown shed around the corner of the building. At night you needed a torch and a peg on your nose. The Elsan blue stuff we put down is only good for smelling nice for a while. The spiders that lived in there must have been hardy creatures indeed, not only did they survive in there they positively thrived, by heck they were huge things, they did however hasten the act of visiting the loo, along with the pong and the sight of the previous visitors offerings and the absolute dread of someone following you in it was a necessity to be got over quickly.

    That water supply allowed us to connect the inside loo that really flushed. My god it was welcome.

    Heating (such as it was ) was a simple open fire in the living room. As luck had it we had plenty of wood to fuel it. We’d cleared a small copse to help form a temporary makeshift drive, and taken down a few old sheds and there were a few old bits of furniture left over from the initial clear out that we could burn.

    Of course this all needed chopping and cutting. Each day I would chop and saw as much wood as time allowed given my day’s task ahead and most mornings I’d spend the first hour or two sawing on the log stand by the side of our cabin.

    One day as I was taking a breather I heard a voice from over the hedge on the lane say ‘ th saw needs sharpening lad’ it was Yorkshire Frank making my acquaintance.

    Frank came down and introduced himself as my neighbour from over the lane. He was quite scruffy in a way, he wasn’t long haired and dirty, but his clothes seemed poorly laundered and ill fitting, his shoes were scuffed and the laces undone. He had prescription glasses that sat upon a huge nose, his accent was definitely Yorkshire and he impressed upon me right away that he was not from around here, but Sheffield ( or sheffuld as he pronounced it) and they had a saying “ hail fellow, ill met” a saying that would get on my nerves for the next 12 years or so. He was an odd type of bloke, and I kind of had the feeling I wasn’t going to get along with him, but ‘ hail fellow ill met and all that. He took my saw and axe and sharpened them for me.

    Frank and I became friends, he was a cracking self taught carpenter, his huge shed had the full joinery shop works, band saws, planers, cross cut saws, stand drills, wood turning lathe and the obligatory shelving and drawers full of hardware. He made it clear it was mine to use as and when and he would always be on hand to help and advise. We spent many happy hour making all sorts of stuff up there in that shed next to the railway line, and many an hour drinking his home brew afterwards.

    The first time I tried Frank’s home brew was very soon after we met, I noticed right away it was a bit strong and made sure I went careful on it, two pints were ample thank you Frank, and I stuck to it. Until one night in the winter a few years later.

    He completely caught me off guard. He’d asked me round to see his latest creative hobby, leather work. He had trained as a watch mender back in inter war Sheffield, but had that envious knack of being good at anything he set his mind to, carpentry was one thing, he could make beer, mend clocks and now he was showing me his leatherwork skills. This interested me as one of my great grandfathers was a leather worker in Walsall the capital of the British leather industry apparently, so I sat and watched and listened, all the time he was filling our pint glasses with another home brew. I don’t know how many I had that night, but when I got up to go home I was most definitely sloshed, blimey where’s the door and why is the room swaying?” Gunoit Fank”slur stumble, smile reassuringy,stumble.

    How I got back to our place I have no idea, the world was spinning, I wanted to lie down and go to sleep, but I knew I had to get back home somehow. It was only fifty yards up the lane, but it was a long wobbly unsure journey. The hedge kept me on the right track as I bounced off it back into the lane, and our outside light was my point of focus and destination. I stumbled and fell the whole long fifty yards home and when I finally made our gate, fell down the steps. I then made my way to the front door and tried the handle, bugger, she’d locked me out, oh god I feel sick, I’ll just lie here, and dropped down onto the patio.

    What I had no conception of in my drunken stupor was how cold the night was. Temperatures had dropped considerably and it was well below freezing. The drink had such an affect that I just felt numb rather than cold. I remember being sick and Ratty coming out of the dog flap and licking my face before returning back to the warmth of her basket, but I have no idea of the time and fell back into my drunken stupor.

    The next morning I woke to see Lou looking over at me with a concern on her face. I think she thought I was dead. The exposed side of my black donkey jacket was white with frost and as I raised my head to speak, my hair was frozen to the slabs. It was too late to worry about the pain of having half the hair on side of your head ripped out in one go, as it had just happened. Ouch!

    She helped me up with that look of contempt that only wives, mums and school mistresses have, the one that makes you feel even stupider than you already know you are, and asked me why I didn’t come in. I told her she’d locked the door and I couldn’t believe she could be so callous on a night like that. She looked at me like I was daft and said the door had been unlocked all night. I just couldn’t operate the handle in my drunken state. In fairness to me, you did have to turn it fully to unlock it, but really it wasn’t difficult. D’ohh!

    Over the years Frank and I made cupboards, doors, stairs, windows and all manner of other interesting stuff in his shed. If there was an interesting item to be knocked up or was too expensive to justify buying I’d pop up to frank’s and away we’d go drawing and planning it until we had it right and it would get made up in the shed while I avoided his offer of another home brew.

    He was an odd old bloke was Frank, obviously he loved our dog Ratty, but he had pheasants that he fed when they came into his garden and once remarked that cats stalked them, but he had an air rifle. I thought nothing of it at the time, I chose to think he was a good guy and it was an idle boast.

    Frank was a good help in the next phase of our build, a very good help Indeed!
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  5. This is sooo wonderful. Thank you! But I’ve been reading for ages and have to go and do stuff. I’ll be back later though to catch up with the next instalment in the Life Of Pop!
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  6. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    New roof.

    My plan was to go up a floor. I’d worked on a cabin in the top field some months ago and built them a mezzanine floor. Fortunately they had an high roof building and had room to build it in comfortably, we didn’t.

    When I did the initial rebuild on our bungalow I used to say to people that I should have completely rebuilt the roof then, but didn’t because of the restrictions the council seemed to put on everything we submitted and went for the easiest option just so as we could have a secure home as swiftly as possible.

    Now my idea was to ask permission to build a full single apex pitched roof across the entire building that would enclose the front patio and add a conservatory when funds allowed. I asked the planning officer to come advise me. I wasn’t very hopeful of getting anywhere.

    He did come and visit me and he did advise me. He said I could certainly reroof the place with an apex roof and that I could cover but not enclose the front patio area. He was quite content we’d built the place on a secure foundation as he’d signed them off before. He did some calcs and told me the height I could build the apex to. 7’6” max to the top of the ridge tile, and suggested we submitted a drawing for reference and got on with it.

    It wasn’t enough height really, but as he seemed quite content for us to go ahead and the cost of the main build wasn’t too astronomical I decided to grab what he’d allowed us and get the the thing built ASAP.

    I really didn’t know the ruling on a roof renewal and totally expected more argument from them. I was very happy with the laid back attitude to my idea and I was very keen to order materials and start the job, but as we had just had a massive spend out; money was tight. I had to sort something quickly.

    In the course of a regular week I was building, handy-manning and driving trucks still.

    One of my regular drops while driving was a furniture store in Chandlers ford near Southampton. It was on a industrial estate and opposite was an Hendy Ford dealership. One day on my break I got talking to the car salesman who was having five himself. I explained that I’d just bought a brand new escort and had done no mileage at all in it so far. I told him we could do with swapping it in and getting something cheaper and releasing some cash. He suggested I had a look around and see if I fancied anything they had on a backward deal. Basically I swapped my brand new car for an older model and some cash.

    I saw a year old ford escort eclipse of the previous model shape that was up for a pound under £6k, I’d just paid £7.2k on my vehicle in a mates rate deal, so gathered I’d possibly get a grand and the eclipse from him. I said I liked the eclipse and he said he’d have it prepared for Saturday if I’d like to come down with my car and sort a deal.

    We were a week away from a month break in Italy that Saturday, but seeing as we needed to get this sorted we popped off down to see them. I remember passing the 500 mile mark on the milometer on that trip.

    Lou was impressed with the eclipse when we took it for a test drive, so was I, which was odd because I’d just driven 130 miles in a brand new car and expected to be disappointed in one that was twelve months old and had 10k on the clock, but no, it was spot on, if not feeling a slightly better drive. We asked the guy to do the figures when we pulled up back at Hendy ford.

    Well, you could have blown me over with a whistle when he said he’d give us £4K and the eclipse for ours. I don’t think I’ve ever said yes quicker in my life. Where did we sign?

    The sales guy who’s name was Simon was very laid back about it all and suggested we go to Italy, have our well earned break and come back after to do the deal. He would keep the deal, we’d sign the preliminary papers there and then and he’d have the eclipse ready to roll the day after we got back from our hols. Top man!

    All the way home Lou and I tried to work out the figures and why we’d got such a great deal, 25 years later we still don’t know, but it was a good one, and the eclipse was Lou’s favourite car ever. On with the build.

    To satisfy the council, the roof revamp had to be simply that ‘ a roof revamp’ no windows no roof lights a minimum pitch of thirty two degrees and no mention whatsoever of a loft conversion. We were allowed a single pitched apex roof that would not exceed 7’6” at the highest point from wall plate. Basically we could build a wooden framed triangular box on top of our bungalow and tile it. We could not at that point enclose the patio area with a wall!

    This we did. We built off the top of the existing walls by removing the outer tiles and rafters from the old roof to expose the wall, left the old roof in for the build and built off the exposed top of the wall. We would remove the old roof internally during the Christmas break as time was short and the council were playing ball at that moment. We had to get a move on and the removal of the old roof would take at least a week, and there was a chance the weather would change. This way we would still have a roof over our heads while we built a roof.

    I’d never taken on a full roof build and tile before, but I had studied building to a degree while I was working as a transport manager in a big window company. I knew I could design the structure, but I would have to recruit Tom’s help in the intricacies of the tiling and lath set up. Tom was always helpful and was more than happy to felt and lath it out for me and advise on slating and the purchase of, so we got a crack on.

    My brother in laws, Pasquale, Steve and Dave came to help. Pas looked at the drawings and declared I was hopelessly wrong with my design and in his less than qualified opinion it needed to change. I asked him why he thought that and what qualified him to question it. Apart from it didn’t seem right and his macho listen to me I’m in charge type attitude he didn’t really know. In respect for his input I double checked my design and calcs with an architect friend from down the lane. It was spot on, but it had set the job back two days and cost me £50. I’ve never listened to Pas’s advise-since!

    The carcassing took a week. The dimensions were, forty foot long by twenty six foot wide and seven foot six inch high. The carcass was made of stress graded tanalised timber and clad with OSB board on the roof and tongue and groove lap at the sides. The side and roof were insulated with Rockwool, but we were allowed no windows in the initial build and as a consequence the first phase went up very quickly

    I have to confess to it being function over form on this build and ignoring the council to enclose the patio area. They ignored it too, thankfully!

    The first stage of the over roofing complete. We used doors and frames that I’d had off other jobs for the front wall, simply because we decided to take a chance on filling it in and had them available. They were painted up to match later on.


    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  7. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    The raft race.

    Every May there is a raft race from Arley to Stourport. It is for charity and has a big prize for the fastest raft that attracts some serious rowing teams with well designed rafts, but the majority of raft teams are in it to raise money and have some fun.

    Kim and Andy, our friends from opposite with a cabin on the river always invited us over for a get together on the day of the raft race. We would invite our extended family and Kim her’s. It was beers and food on the patio that had the best view of the shelf.

    The shelf was the drop by the cattle drink. Put simply it was a part of the river bed that shallowed out for half a mile before a shelf in the bed formed a sort of underwater cliff and dropped suddenly to about ten or fifteen feet. It was a fun place to watch the rafters take an unexpected dip.

    The early crews were the fast ones after the prize money, they knew the river and seldom took the far bank route and had a surprise dip, they usually took the near bank sailing easily through the cattle drink channel, over the barbel hole and on, but the inexperienced charity crews were the ones we waited for.

    The earlier crews were sometimes twenty minutes or so ahead of the charity crews, we’d have time to eat and drink our food, and get our hose pipes and water pistols ready. Yes we liked to attack them with water and add to the carnival atmosphere of the race by playing loud reggae music and drenching them when they passed. It was all taken and done in good heart.

    They’d often stop by the jetty and get us back with their own pumped high pressure hose, or come and have a beer and dance, but a lot of them were too drenched and shocked, not to mention embarrassed to stop as they’d just had a surprise dip.

    These were the inexperienced crews that were doing a one off fundraiser and had usually spent the last week or so hastily completing the rickety oil drum raft that ten of them were now trying to steer and paddle down the mighty Severn with all its quirky navigation issues, and by now were not only paddling but struggling to hold the thing together while trying to choose a path. The shallowing area before the shelf with its smooth flow and unrippled surface always looked the right course. It was just lulling them into the drop, but in the party mood and a belly full of Dutch courage they would go for that easy course every time.

    We sat and waited for the raft to run aground, then the look of surprise as the raft ran aground. The next thing they would do would all get out and push, and just as they felt happy the raft was beginning to float again the shelf . Sploosh, in they’d go one after another, sploosh, sploosh sploosh. The language of surprise was fabulously inventive, some of the expletives were pure Black Country humour ” blimee oi needed a baff, cor, I dae ispect thot, I still got me watch on aye I” the watch one being the favourite, nearly every charity crew went in at the shelf and at least one would say ‘ I’ve still got my watch on’ then as they passed us and waved, we’d drench them again with our pressure hoses and water pistols. They’d fire back if they were armed, some of the crews had their own high pressure hoses and bags of flour that they attacked the other crews with, they’d turn them on us and pelt is with flour bags and we would all be in stitches. It was a fun day. Some of the crew would never complete the race and abandon their rafts and stay for a drink and await a lift home, some would come back after for a drink and we would usually party into the early hours making new friends as the day went on.

    It was always a great day and we still pop over to see the race even now.

    A faster crew


    A fun runner just before we hosed him.

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  8. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    The new roof was inspected at a glance by the surprisingly less than enthusiastic planning chap. He simply said “ that looks about right” from the seat of his car and off he went. I heard he retired a week later, so that may have been the reason for his indifference. Who knows. I was content he was content! What we now had to do was discreetly create a upstairs area without being restricted by them.

    What we did was remove the old roof from inside and lay 8 x 2 joists across the inside walls to form a large central upstairs area of roughly 25 ft x 26ft. The whole new ceiling throughout the house was plaster boarded and skimmed and a open tread staircase made to get up to the attic room.

    Frank and I made the staircase in his workshop by the railway line. We made it in our spare time during the summer. His knowledge was a great help, he suggested we made them with the treads sitting on captured wooden strips either side embedded in the wall string rather than cutting the wall string to sit the treads on thus keeping the string stronger, we pulled the strings together using althread across the bottom of three steps, top middle and bottom. It worked a treat.

    Lou was heavily pregnant when we took the old roof out during the Christmas break. She went to stay at her sister Maria’s house and Steve her husband helped me remove the old roof along with my brother in law Dave. It wasn’t a difficult job as I had stripped the tiles lath and felting previously whenever I had five minutes. What was left to do was to move all the furniture into the new area that was the patio and now enclosed, take up the carpeting, sheet everything else up and crack on with pulling down the plasterboard and timber purlins, It took a full 18 hour day that was broken up with dust breaks, whisky breaks and sandwich breaks.

    The weather was bitterly cold so we burned the old timbers on a bonfire in the garden on the same day to save carting it to the skip. At midnight on that Saturday the interior of our once smallish bungalow was like the inside of a cathedral, it really was a huge looking roof space with all the rafters and the purlins and ridge plate all on show. I was tempted to leave it as was for moment and build two mezzanine floors either side, but no I’d got a plan and ordered the timber for that plan. Tomorrow we would have a clean up and slot in the new joists to form the upstairs floor.

    The Thursday was a very straightforward day really, we simply had a big clean up of yesterday’s mess and slotted the joists in through an opening we’d made in the shiplap outside wall covering, positioned them and cut noggins to space them out and form a floor. It really was that easy. By lunchtime it was done and ready for boarding and the staircase on Friday Christmas Eve, Steve and Dave went home to their respective families and I stayed to finish off in readiness for the next bit, I finished when I couldn’t stay awake any longer, there’s always something to do on these projects and I wanted it to go smoothly, so I pushed myself.

    As you can probably gather, this was a serious part of the build and as it was Christmas and the families all wanted us home and settled there was very little time for the usual banter and merriment. We cracked on with it. Dave only had one day left to work on it anyhow and Steve had to visit in laws. Lou wanted to be home for Christmas Day on the Saturday to be ready for our guests that we’d put off until Boxing Day that year and so we started boarding at 5 am on Christmas Eve. I really hoped we didn’t lose the electricity supply again.

    The job was completed by lunchtime, the whole new ceiling was boarded and the staircase was in, held in place by two six inch nails either side at the top into a joist. Perfick, time for a beer to celebrate I had a beer and did a bit more. The lads went home!

    Lou and I spent Christmas Day morning at Maria and Steve's, we had lunch with them and then went home to clean and get the house ready for our guests the next day. Maureen and Bob supplied us with humour and food during the afternoon and evening. It was all very welcome as the past three days had been full on, I could have slept on a clothesline by the time we’d finally got the place shipshape at about 8 o’clock, I’d hammered, banged, pulled, tugged, carried lifted and swept constantly for nearly four 18 hour days, I’d just finished a massive block laying job on the Tuesday and as I sat and looked at the strangely different but tidy new home, I drifted off on the sofa. It was a very satisfied and contented drift off.

    Boxing Day went off without an hitch, we had mum and dad and brother and family over as usual, there was no electric loss that day, Lou and I finally relaxed and fed people like we loved to. It was another good moment, chin chin, chink!

    The next day however I was in the mire with Lou...
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  9. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    So by now we had gone from this

    To this


    To this


    And in the next year we added this

    Some build pictures for now

    D028678C-FB64-4328-A41A-A5D89865B582.jpeg 1AFEBB67-F8D5-46F5-A500-AF9EF4A3CFB8.jpeg

    And the back was being prepared for a new block built entrance and wrap around rear porch.

  10. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    The day after Boxing Day when everyone was gone and Lou and I were rested I decided to tackle an issue that arose in the planning.

    When we built the new roof over the existing roof we could support the long span of the main ridge plate at intervals on the existing roof, we simply used 4x2 offcuts seated on the existing roof and nailed them to the ridge plate. It wasn’t rocket science and it worked well. However, when we removed the old roof they had to come out and the main ridge plate sagged. Today I was going to insert two 6 x 6 timbers between the new floor and the ridge plate at seven foot intervals. They would straighten the ridge and form a nice feature.

    To do this I cut slots in the joists immediately below the place I wanted the new upright to seat and nailed a 8 x 2 down at the joist height to sit it on. I then used a car jack and a slightly shorter 4 x 2 sat on it to jack the ridge plate to the correct position and slot home the new 6 x 6 upright, then lower the jack trapping the new timber in position. Easy!

    It was far from easy. I was working with no floorboards fitted, I was precariously balanced on two joists jacking up a heavily straining wall plate on a bottle jack with a now bending very taught piece of 4 x 2. Just at the last inch as the roof strained the timber to it’s upmost it sprung out, bang, it hit me full in the face with the force of a train. I was knocked cleaned off my feet; passed out and fell straight between the joist through the ceiling and onto the sofa below. Good god that hurt. Lou came from the kitchen to see dust plasterboard, a jack a piece of 4 x 2 and me spark out on her brand new sofa in her brand new clean living room, I don’t know what she was concerned about most.

    I came around in a daze with Lou asking me what happened, I felt the massive bruise on my face and wondered the same thing myself, blimey that was painful.

    After sorting myself out with tablets and a check over I cleared the mess away and sat under firm orders from Lou to rest. But I was okay I thought, I’d give it an hour and have another go. Lou didn’t think it was a good idea so I repaired the ceiling with fresh plasterboard instead.

    When I did that and had another rest and the living room was cleaned I traipsed back up the stairs to get that ruddy timber in. My face hurt, my head was muzzy and I was not in Lou’s good books, but I had to do it.

    This time I made double sure my set up was perfectly vertical, I nailed the upright to the ridge plate and positioned the jack perfectly vertical beneath it and began the whole process all over again. I got the height I needed and cautiously pushed the new 6 x 6 into position and lowered the jack. BANG, the ruddy new piece sprung out and hit me with full force straight into my blooming face again, jeez, I lost balance and fell off the joist with both legs dangling through the ceiling holding my now exploding face in my hands, god this was ridiculously painful and idiotic, I heard Lou scream, I thought it was in surprise and concern, but no, she’d lost the plot, broom in hand she began bashing my dangling legs with the head and shouting at me for ruining her living room again, her cheese had finally slipped off her cracker and with every syllable she screamed at me I got a full on smack across my legs and ankles. I tried pleading and moving my legs out of the way, but I was stuck, the blows kept raining down on my legs and the angry words louder “ Look, smack, at, smack, the, smack, mess, smack... “ Ouch, ouch, ouch!, OWWH!

    FFS STOP YOU EFFING MANIAC!” I shouted “OR I WILL LOSE MY EFFING RAG!” This seemed to stop her in her tracks as I seldom shout or get annoyed with her, but I had no choice at that moment.

    I extricated myself from the ridiculous situation and limped down the stairs not knowing what to hold or what to expect when I got there. Lou was in tears on the chair, she was shocked and upset not only about the damage to me and the room, but her reaction, she thought I was really angry with her, but I wasn’t. I hurt and I had no idea what damage she’d done to my legs, but I understood her frustration. I had the same frustrations myself and I wasn’t 6 months pregnant. We had a big hug, let her tears flow and the frustration come out, then had a look at my injuries. My head was battered and my ankles bruised, I needed a few more pain killers that was for sure.

    After a rest and a good old laugh, Lou and I repaired the ceiling again, cleaned the living room again and left the job for another day. When I finally did it the following weekend with the help of my brother in law Steve, it took an hour!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  11. More . . .
    Kkkaty and Poptop2 like this.
  12. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Maybe tomorrow John. I am renovating a van atm :thumbsup:
  13. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    The skip.

    There was no waste collection service on the lane. A small pick up truck was sent out from the council and collected bagged rubbish from the odd farm cottage or posh house, but other than that nothing for the cabins, it was as if they ignored us and treated us like we didn’t exist for fear of acknowledgement meaning they would have to provide more services which in turn might encourage others to move down the lane. I am pretty certain this was the case as I spoke to quite a few councillors about it in the course of finding out what we could and couldn’t do to our properties. It was handy having Bob on the council.

    Even though they charged full rates for the properties, they wouldn’t supply any service that was dedicated to our residencies. On their maps it was called Kidderminster foreign, and that’s what we felt we were treated as, a foreign land. Never mind eh, it kept them at a distance and had its benefits too.

    The waste disposal was an issue though. The farmer had suggested he hired a large industrialised size skip on a permanent contract that we could pay collectively for at about £100 a year for everyone and site it in the lane just past the phone box in a clearing in the wood. This worked well and became a recycling centre.

    David cleared an area in the wood just big enough for the skip lorry to get into and load or unload and parking for a couple of cars with a clear area of about ten foot all round. Everyday bagged waste went into the skip. Building materials and the like was stood up around the back area for others to have if they needed it, if it was there a week or so and no one had taken it someone would then skip it as it was obviously no use.

    Tom and I would take things off buildings like doors or windows or tiles and always put them by the skip for others to use, they seldom stayed around long, everyone had a project of some sort that they might come in handy for. Even a few of the town builders would bring stuff up that they thought might be repurposed by someone on the lane. There was always a log burner or chimney system, radiators, doors, bikes, mopeds, all sorts of useful stuff was recycled there, It was a cracking system.

    We used to tell people if we knew they were after a certain item and we had seen it there or were going to skip something off a job that we knew they’d need. It would be left in a certain place and the message passed on that it was hidden by such and such, if they never took it it would moved into the open by the skip area.

    My own personal find in the skip was a full sized jacuzzi corner bath that was brand new and still in the protective film. I was putting some building materials by the skip for recycling one morning and a builder mate from town ‘ Doug’ and his son pulled up with it on their pick up. Doug asked if I could use it before anyone else had it. I had a decko and asked what was wrong with it, he said it had a slight chip in the seating area where he had dropped something on it some years ago and the person who he was working for had asked him to replace it. He’d had it long enough now and decided it might do someone some good and decided to recycle it here. I looked again and decided I could hide the chip by drilling it and putting in a couple of equally spaced chrome tank blankers. So I had it. I had to go to Brum to buy a £90 pump for it, but it was our own huge jacuzzi bath when we revamped our bathroom a week or so later. Result, Lou and I had talked about having a jacuzzi bath when we redid the bathroom, but at over a grand a go back then had decided against it. Happy days.

    The skip was often filled by fly tippers and it was a constant battle to stop them. The village spirit of the lane was best at times like that and as soon as the fly tippers mess was discovered people would all muck in to clear it up and keep the area tidy. People you wouldn’t normally speak to would stop by as soon as they saw someone clearing up a mess and in turn they’d become friendly and speak from then on whenever they passed each other. The skip was probably one of the more communal places in the lane as we never had a pub or central meeting point, it was possibly the only place people could stop and make new acquaintances. I know of at least one couple that met at the skip too. I am sure there were more over the years.

    Bob the chap who worked for Tom met a lady at the skip. Whenever they met they chatted until one had the courage to ask the other out. Bob said he would go out of his way to take rubbish down every day, and after they’d been going out a while she admitted she did too. The unfortunate thing about that was they got together and moved out of the lane into a town house. I liked Bob and missed his humour. Cest la vie!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  14. Fascinating thread - a modern day pioneer story.
    Razzyh and Poptop2 like this.
  15. I'm hooked too, but I missed some of the stories last week bring off grid,so I need to go back and read them

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  16. This is so good. I can’t believe you did all this.
    Poptop2 likes this.
  17. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Thank you. It was a great adventure, but just a part of our life story if I’m honest.
    Kkkaty likes this.
  18. I love this thread, it’s way better than politics. I wish I hadn’t started the boring brexit thread now.
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  19. That made me laugh :thumbsup:
    Poptop2 likes this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2019

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