Long Winter Almost Over

That week of sunshine in February was glorious relief and although I’d planned to get lots done, I was so happy just basking that I did about as much as I would have if it had been raining. But we did finish a bit of wood cladding around one side of the roof, chopped a fair bit of firewood, did some pointing and went to the town hall to ask about getting an improved water supply to the village.

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Hazel catkins dancing in the sun

Then a flurry of snow came and the cloud, drizzle and wind came back. We had a nice day on the Sunday before our second anniversary when we walked along a lovely little river up on the mountain that meanders its way to a dead end and disappears into the ground.

At the house, I set about oiling the pine cladding on the outside of the new roof. I found linseed oil in the DIY shop and set about spraying and scrubbing my way around the house. It smells terrible to work with but once it’s on, the effect is rather lovely, giving the pine a richer, slightly golden look.

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Cladding over a hole in the side of the roof

The neighbours had a date to move into their house in early March so we were helping them with the final essentials then moving their stuff in with them. Tarje had hurt his knee and was hobbling across the field and back on crutches trying to do his fair share of the hauling. We got the stove connected to the chimney and moved the furniture into position and they were ready to go. Their first night in there was the windiest we’ve had up here and even down in the rental house we were kept awake by the howling, so I’m sure they didn’t sleep to the sound of the tarp on their roof flailing in the gale! But they survived that, so they’re off to a good start.

Our wood burning stove arrived and we enlisted the help of a few friends to try and bring it in. It has an integrated back-boiler and oven so it weighs 230kg all in. We took off doors and removed thermal bricks to lighten the load a little, screwed it back onto its pallet and set about inching our way over the field. It actually wasn’t too bad with four of us and we got it into the house in under an hour. Of course we don’t actually want it upstairs yet since we still have to lower the floor, so it’s sat in waiting in the basement.

Since the second week of March we’ve been busy actually. Some friends of friends are looking around the region for their own place and staying in their vans but we’ve been working together or chatting or out walking.

Last week our first workaway volunteers arrived, which I was very excited about. They’re absolutely lovely – a great introduction to hosting. We’ve been outside whilst the weather has been alright. We have fixed fences, moved scaffolding to put linseed oil on the pine, put broken tiles on muddy paths and repaired raised beds. Now it’s snowing again and it’s so cold! We have been doing a bit of pointing but it’s too chilly to spend more than an hour or two working, even inside the house. We’re back to digging out the tent and the greenhouse but have done a bit of sledging too!

Having people here has been great, especially whilst Dave has been working on the computer. They have motivated me to get out and do stuff, and of course more hands on deck is great for progress.

I noticed that after the three days of snow, one single day of sunshine was forecast. We’d been talking about going skiing locally all winter but hadn’t actually made it, so this was the perfect opportunity. Quentin and I headed out to the closest ski station, hired our kit, got a day pass and spent the day zooming around the little resort and sitting in the sun drinking beer and eating chips. Bliss!

At the house we have been pointing and starting to clear one of our overgrown field boundaries. We have now finished pointing one of the inside walls – hurrah! And the back wall isn’t too far off. In the field, we’ve been removing bramble, wild rose and bushy hawthorn to leave a neater hedge interspersed with pollarded ash, which we’re cutting for firewood. It looks a lot more manageable now and we’ve got a nice stash of wood drying for next winter.

We’re nearing the end of March now and it finally feels like spring is making a move. The fields are dotted with purple, yellow and white flowers and a few trees are starting to come out of hibernation. We’re getting a mixture of sun and rain with less and less snow and frost. It’s so nice to be able to sit and eat lunch outside again! The other evening we drove up to a viewpoint on the mountain with some wine and cheese and enjoyed the views at the end of a hard day’s work.

-Anna

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