Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015; A Year in Review

Sometimes it is easy to forget how much you have achieved. Renovating a house is no different - things get crossed off lists, new lists get written and you can feel like no progress is being made.

To counter this - and give a good morale boost - here is a picture diary of the highlights of 2015.

My little sister got engaged to a wonderful chap from Suffolk (her boyfriend, before you ask. Not just any chap from Suffolk)

We had the main delivery of Oak for building our barn;

I bought a tractor - the culmination of years of dreaming of such a machine. The inaugural job - moving a load of logs down to the house;

I spend a good deal of time machining oak beams - this is the chain mortiser in action;

It wasn't long before the structure of the Barn started taking shape;

Kristy and I announced our Wedding - the publication of the date gave me a very firm deadline for finishing the Barn, as we planned to hold the reception in it.

I hired a forklift to help lift the beams for the barn - progress was very swift during this stage!

I roped all comers into helping - here, my sister Hannah (whose hand you saw earlier) drives a peg into the sole plate;

I sold my old tractor - the John Deere was a faithful servant, but struggled with the long grass in the Paddock and wasn't nearly as versatile as the newer Kubota;

Work on the Barn continued - my Father was a huge help screwing the battens in place;

Our neighbours adopted three orphaned lambs - they were sweet little creatures, despite all catching bloat;

Lots of pizzas were consumed, cooked in the new wood fired pizza oven;

Work on the Barn continued - the cedar shingles were the worst bit of the build, owing the inclement weather and the significant discomfort of spending a week kneeling on a sloped surface;

I bought a sports car! Quite an impulse purchase, but we had a few outings in mind for it (my stag party, our honeymoon, numerous day trips, a backup wedding car etc) and it was an itch I wanted to scratch. Here is the Two Litre Two Seater!

We laid a terrace - again, a lot of hard graft in the summer heat, but it saved about £4,000 in labour and the results are fabulous.

I raced through the cladding on the Barn - the wedding was looming and the temptation was to get it done as quickly as possible, but my OCD kicked in and all the holes were measured, pre-drilled, countersunk and screwed - unlike the professional job in progress up the road where they used a nail gun...

The weekend before the Wedding we had the builders in! Just a small wall around the perimeter of the oak Orangery extension - we were worried about wedding guests falling into the cavity around the foundation - but the lads did a great job.

I shot down to Devon for my Stag Party - five chaps, three sports cars, a lovely overnight pub, an hour exploring a ruined gunpowder factory, tea and ice creams. Perfect!

The Barn was finished at the eleventh hour - it was a great feeling!

The wedding was a wonderful success - we have thousands of pictures but this is one of my favourites, taken as we arrived home for the reception;

We had three mini-moons (a short honeymoon, I'm told); number one was a stay in a shepherd's hut in the South Downs.

I cut my finger pretty seriously on my table saw, which prompted 1) a visit to hospital 2) the sale of said table saw and 3) the start of a love affair with Festool products. Every cloud!

We visited my Sister and future Brother-in-Law at their recently renovated house in Woodbridge, Suffolk. It is a wonderful wooded acre, and I got to play in a telehandler...

The insulation was delivered for the Barn - I couldn't wait to get the place habitable, and another job for the Kubota;

In readiness for a visit from close family friends, I knocked up a swing from an offset of oak - I've since replaced the ropes with something more fitting. Space for two little bottoms, or one larger one.

The second of our mini-moons was in a gorgeous cottage just outside Hay-on-Wye.

One of the highlights of the trip was a morning paddling down the Wye in a Canadian Canoe - one of the most peaceful mornings I can remember.

Back home and back to the Barn - this was an 'in progress' pic of scoring the barn doors to give the impression of a panelled door, without the disadvantages of swelling and poor fitting of a 'real' door exposed to the elements.

The painted doors in place look great, and means I can leave tools in the Barn overnight.

When the weather finally turned, attention shifted to replacing our kitchen - this job is still ongoing...

We saw some extraordinary sunrises from our bedroom window;

Wonderfully exciting news - the Acre in Hampshire clan is growing! This will be our first little nipper, which makes it all the more tremendous...

In late December, it was time for my Father and I (and everyone else, of course...!) to get tarted up for Hannah and James' wedding;

Despite the rain, bride and groom (and Pilot the cocker) were marvellous and we all had a splendid day. Not as much fun as our wedding though...!

Christmas was a quiet affair, with the newlyweds in Argentina on honeymoon and Mrs White under the weather and off her food thanks to the Bump. I still got some building in, having a crack at my first set of stairs;

So there we are; 2015 consisted of building a Barn and two weddings - 2016 will consist of finishing the house renovations, the arrival of the Bump, and building of the Orangery. 2016 will be great!