Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas at Pemberley

The 25th of December, 2017 will stand as a red letter day.  It was the day that Christmas came to PemberleyThe day was spent with trusty watch dog Rolex, 18 month old grandson Callum and significant others, (left to right: me, Georgii, Nette, Simon holding Callum and Sam at front).  It was an absolute blessing to share church, gifts and the day together.

Christmas has also given me a bit of time to rest my broken little finger.  It appears to be healing well, with the last X-ray showing it starting to knit back together.  However, 3 weeks in it still surprises me just how debilitating such a seemingly small injury can be. 

But as I can still use the computer mouse left handed I've started drafting stage two of the croft.  This will be single level and add two bedrooms, a library and a kitchen/living area to the existing, approved building.  It's a bit of a challenge to draw: for two reasons.  Firstly, I'm right handed, so while I can use a mouse in my left hand, my lack of dexterity is frustrating.  Secondly, I'm using SketchUp a free application for drawing 3D models.  It's a great product - but along with the left hand, there's quite a learning curve - though so far, well worth the investment.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It was bound to happen eventually

While building Pemberley I have observed that the probability of incurring an injury increases exponentially as the day progresses. It's that last hour or so around 5:00pm that I seem to push myself to lift just a few more kilos, stretch a extra couple of centimetres or finish those last few rows.

To date I have been fortunate to stave off serious injury - though drilling through my thumb and arguing with the tractor hydraulics were clear near misses. I'd like to be able to say that this great record is due to my wise and considered work practises. But that would be fibbing a little (check out my scaffold). While I try to be mindful of what I'm doing and how I'm tackling it, ultimately I have avoided hospital visits mainly as the result of having a wife who is a nurse (instant, on-site medical attention) and who keeps a wary eye on how tired I'm getting.

But the system let us down yesterday. Around 10:30am I was moving my bandsaw (it wasn't running) in the workshop and it got stuck on the edge of the fatigue mat. So I lifted the castored corner about a centimetre, slid it over the mat and popped it back down. The problem was I dropped it on my finger. Nette's medical advice astounded me – it's the first time that she has said we should go to the hospital.

Seen last night in ED. The sign reads
"Please keep clear! This space is for
the emergency cart only."

We got home around 10:00pm after X-rays, orthopaedics and attempting to realign the bone in my little finger.  (She was right.)

Moral to the story – whilst you can minimise the risk of injury by knocking off before 5:00pm, you can never totally eliminate it.

Some facts
Injuries due to contact with tools and machinery most often result in an open wound (31%) or a fracture (23%)Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Apr 19, 2017.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

We're home

Pemberley has been many different things for us over the years: a paddock, a building site, a weekender, a challenge, a money pit, a joy, and even a holiday home.  But the day we handed the keys to our Canberra house to the new owners, Pemberley became our home.

Loading the phone box

Unloading the phone box
After 33 years with the same employer, 31 years in the same suburb, 25 years in the same house, 22 years worshipping at the same church and 12 years of preparing and building at Pemberley it's going to take some adjusting.
But not just for us.  Pemberley is now also home to our watchdog Rolex, a 330 kilogram pianola, a slightly tired 1991 MX5, 3 cubic meters of Cypress pine milled by my Dad in the 1980s, our red phone box and, most importantly, our adult children and grandson whenever they wish to "come home"

So, what's next?  Well, we have plans for a second phase of house building which will include a larger kitchen, two additional bedrooms and a study.  We also like the idea of a walled garden and planting more trees.  But most of all we pray for many years of sharing our croft and faith with family, friends and the local community.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How do you move a 60 year old, 6 tonne concrete tank?

Recently, Gary and his 14 tonne excavator and bobcat turned up. We decided we'd have a try at moving the 6 tonne, 60 year old concrete tank - and after breaking several chains plus a lot of huffing, puffing and praying we managed to shove it 3 metres to the south by basically lifting one side at a time and walking it along. That means that only a third of it will now sit inside the future walled garden.

When Gary left, the place looked the Somme in WW1. So Nette and spent the next week raking, levelling and landscaping. Lots still to do, but the groundwork (!) is mostly done.

We also waterproofed a second old concrete tank (the twin of the one we moved) ready to be connected to the new shed. Our plumber, Phil, reckons we should stop collecting tanks now as we have enough in his humble opinion. He may be right - we have one 110,000 litre (full), and three 22,000 litre tanks (one is full and 2 have only just been connected).

And what a big difference it made getting the front doors on  the shed! Many thanks to local company John Atterbury Doors.   From the outside the shed almost looks finished now. Just gutters and some odd bits of flashing to go.  Inside is a different story.  The ceiling battens are up - which was a job and a half - ready for the ceiling, but that's about it.  Good thing we're not in a hurry eh?
Almost art - ceiling battens

Sunday, April 30, 2017

You have to love a scaffold

Perhaps I'm exaggerating.  But one of the best things we have purchased is our own scaffold.  I don't have the scientific proof - but I reckon it's 500% safer than a ladder and 900% more fun!

Ours is a budget number from Synergy Scaffolding and it is absolutely brilliant.  Imagine being able to stand on a flat, level, stable surface 3.5 metres up.  Can't picture it?  Buy a scaffold :)

Mind you, sometimes you need to be a bit creative and resourceful when you're setting it up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


I have to say – we do like a white picket fence. Our son-in-law, Simon (yes, that is a familiar name) pitched in and put this together for us. It would look a lot better without the jumble of bricks and building materials around it, but we’re working on that.  

I think one of the “secrets” to a good picket fence is getting the spacing right, which is a real challenge when the width of the (el cheapo) palings varies by up to 12mm. The winning strategy seems to be to mark where the left hand side of each paling should theoretically go on the top rail and then fudging it a bit depending on the individual paling’s width.  

From experience we’ve learnt that you can’t just use a spacer stick between them like BH&G suggest. That would work if the palings were all exactly the same width. Either way, when you get to the last 4 or 5 you need to make some adjustments or the last gap will look totally wrong.