' the Woodlouse: Walls, decisions, volunteers


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Walls, decisions, volunteers

The last 24 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind of discussion, decision making, and activity.  I'm very fuzzy headed.  The thing I keep coming back to as being one of the hardest bits of juggling with this self-build project is the disjointedness of trying to project-manage (make/receive phonecalls, reply to emails, place and chase orders or contractors, make decisions about everything, keep the whole thing vaguely on track - basically general admin) at the same time as trying to actually build the thing.  I do as much as possible in the evenings (like writing this) but a lot has to be done on-site during the day, as that's when people are in their offices and suppliers are open.  Then trying to actually spend time with Anna (she goes to bed early as she gets so tired with the fibromylagia and everything else), keep us both fed and stop the house descending into filth.  The lawns are developing ever stronger meadow-like tendencies.  Anna broke a toe last week.

In short: strewth, I'm knackered!  I don't pretend to be more knackered than anyone else, I'm just expressing my own personal world of tiredness.

It's important to add here that I am still enjoying it too.  Not all of it, not all the time (there's a constant undercurrent of anxiety, and I would love some decent time off) but enough of it to keep going and feel like it is worthwhile, even in the short term.  I'm learning lots of new skills (most recent: bricklaying - the first plinth foundation walls show record my progress from barely-competent at the bottom, to pretty-good at the top), I'm doing lots of practical stuff which is usually when I'm happiest, and I can see the project taking shape bit by bit.  Especially when it's by my own hands, this last point is extremely satisfying.

So, back to the last 24 hours.  Course bookings have not been quite as high as we'd hoped, to use PR speak.  More bluntly: despite lots of enquiries, so far only one person had booked and they hadn't paid yet.  We think the weather has - not surprisingly - put people off.  Participants would have to pay for the course and their accommodation which usually is camping.  I've camped in the frost (on the inside of my tent) a number of times, but somehow that's better than camping in constant rain.  Everything gets wet and can become quite grim.  We're now just asking for volunteers to come and help with the build - they'll be given basic training and we'll feed them good lunches.  If not local they'll still need to camp or stay in B&Bs but maybe that'll be more tempting when not paying a course fee as well.  More information about volunteering here and here.

The main difference to us is that we'll have to pay ourselves for Kuba (designer) to be onsite (this is what the course fees are designed to pay for).  It is our home we're building, so this is fair enough!  A very positive side-effect of the change to volunteers is that now - we hope - more of our friends and family will be able to help with the straw part of the build.  I've been a bit sad that this wouldn't have been so possible with the courses, so in some ways I'm really pleased we've decided now to go with volunteers.

If you'd like to join us, please do!  There are rumours that the jet-stream (weather phenomenon that's apparently responsible for the constant rain that's bugged us throughout this build) is maybe beginning to head north: we may yet get to strawbuild in proper summery weather.

A typical weather forecast accompanies another muddy week

Mud, beginning to dry out beneath the gazebo

Gazebo and a series of small walls - as my sister Caroline pointed out, it's like an archaeological dig.

First nice bricks going on, above the engineering bricks.  My technique much better by the top too...

Wrap plinth next to front door, almost complete.  Just needs damp course and timber  baseplate.

I really like the warm colour variation in the LBC Heathers (the nearest brick-match to the existing walls)

The most blue sky I've seen since April.  Lovely!

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