Saturday 27 November 2010

How To Make Tea House Doors, Part II

Take yourselves away from the snowy winter wonderland outside and just try to imagine for a few minutes that you are Himself, Master of Complexities! How would you build the tea house doors?

Would you:

A) Enthusiastically nail together any old random bits of almost matching sized pieces of wood you happened to have lying around that hadn't rotted yet to make some frames. Grab a few bits of tatty perpsex from an old disused coldframe up the garden, saw them roughly to size whilst making a vague stab at getting 90* angles, panel pin them into the frames hoping for a semblence of rigidity and crossing your fingers that all 8 panels will be more or less the same size and fit together reasonably well, taking, oooh, about half an hour per door? or

B) Write out a meticulous plan of action of how many of each piece of wood I needed, what the measurements were and what extra joints etc each piece needed, before cutting all the wood. Then carefully construct a production line of 8 complete frameworks of pre-planed interlocking pieces all previously cut to the predetermined sizes, with a range of slits, notches and complicated joints already in place. When making the panels, use polycarbonate that was cut to approximate size by the company as requested then trimmed to the exact size using a hand-made jig and taking the excess internal pieces out with a stanley knife, taking several weeks over the whole delicate precision process?

Yeahr, we'd have all gone for option A. Good job it was Himself doing the job then wasn't it?! :D

This is his jig to trim the polycarbonate.

The polycarbonate we (okay - HE) used is really designed for roofs and conservatories. It has two layers - similar to double glazing, for insulation (vital for me!) and is structured to make it strong. We didn't need the strength so, with hindsight, we should have gone for 2 thin sheets instead of 1 thick sheet. The pieces would have been cut accurately to size, Himself wouldn't have had to spend hours trimming off the insides and the entire process would have been a whole heap easier!
However, the co-efficient of thermal expansion of polycarbonate is 6 times that of wood, so you can't mount a big piece in a frame without having huge clearances (6mm per metre), which = lots of movement, which = lots of draughts, which =unhappy Nutty Gnome! (I didn't get the technical bit, but I understood the draughts!)
Here is a finished trimmed piece. The internal measurements had to be smaller to allow the panel to fit in the cross piece of the frame.

This is the Brio train track Himself constructed! Ooops, sorry - wrong again. It's one of the many cross pieces he made to slot the polycarbonate into.

Like so!

Several doors in various stages of assembly.

One door completed and being glued. This took ALL Himself's begged, stolen and borrowed clamp collection and made him very happy. He does love to use all his clamps! :)

You can see in this photo that the opaque polycarbonate has
stripes in it as it's slightly ridged. The stripes echo the paper shoji blinds in a traditional tea house.

The finished door!

Polycarbonate is much lighter than glass and makes handling and using the doors much easier.

Ceefer cat was on Quality Assurance that day!

As Himself got ready to try the first panel in position he realised that he'd not made any edging strip for the floor .......another 'it's all going horribly wrong' moment!

Delving deep into the dusty recesses of the garage, he found some old mahogany shelving from a hideous stone bookcase that I knocked out years ago -'never know when things might come in useful'! He cut nice complicated shapes in them to fit over the floor panels and frame .......

...and because no one piece was long enough, he also cut nice complicated joints to get the pieces to butt up together smoothly. The dark strip along the top is also slightly taller than the paler wood so that the panel can butt up against it.

He then borrowed the wonderful Pete's biscuit jointer (not the edible variety unfortunately) to make the top and bottom fixings for the 4 non-opening panels. That oval thing is the biscuit apparently!
Biscuits in place, joints at the ready.

First door panel finally in place - although only testing at this stage.

The 'ears' on the top and bottom of the door still have to be cut off.

The door is also the wrong way round - for my photo opportunity!

We kept the protective stuff on the panels so that we could easily see which was the outside and also to protect them when I painted the wood with the eco-preservative.

Himself screwing the door hinges in place.
Ooops, dropped a screw!

The hinges allow the doors to fold right back.

Then he had to make a piece of quandrant to fill the gap where the two panels meet - and to use his REALLY big clamps whilst the glue dried!

Checking from the inside.....

Looking down the garden towards the house. The stream is just visible to the left of the rocks on the island.
A little bit of precautionary bracing until Himself was convinced that the quadrant wasn't going to ping off! Can't be too careful!

Then the whole lot had to be covered in blue tarp until I'd got time between growing vegetables and digging pond extensions (more of that later!) to paint all the doors and panels with the eco-preservative.

The grand unveiling....TA-DHAH!

It's even got proper lights in there now.

How it looks at the moment!

and Baaaarney in the snow!

I think Himself is making a fantastic job of the tea house. He thinks you should never do a job the first time as it's always better the second time. Does that mean I get another tea house?!!!
1st December. Quick update on Baaaarney!

Monday 15 November 2010

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside......."

After getting through a fairly grotty summer plus a very wet holiday in August I decided that Himself and I deserved a break, so I booked us in at The Marine - a 'Restaurant with Rooms' in Whitby, North Yorkshire, as a 3 day surprise for Himself.

On our way there we drove over the North Yorkshire Moors, which are a similar distance from the coast as Dartmoor - where we were in August, but about 350 miles further north.
Which would you prefer?

The North Yorkshire Moors in November - clear blue skies, endless visibility ?

or Dartmoor in August - grey clag, cold, wet, dank, sod all visibility?

Tough call eh?!

Anyway, the weather was fantastic all weekend and we had a great time. So put your stout boots on and pack your flask because I'm going to take you on a walking tour of Whitby......... a town that is perhaps best known for its role in Bram Stoker's 1897 book 'Dracula' - even though only 3 chapters are set there.
The town is divided between the East and West banks of the River Esk and I think it's fair to say that there's not much flat land on either side of town!

I took photo below on the West bank of the Esk, roughly where the 17th and 18th century shipyards once stood. Captain James Cook was an apprentice in the town and his ship, 'The Endeavour' was later built here. The full size Australian replica of 'The Endeavour' has moored here several times, but her berth is now occupied by 'The Grand Turk' from the TV series 'Hornblower'.

Looking up one of the many steep hills from the river to the ruins of the Abbey.

Whitby was the sixth largest port in Britain in the 18th century and still has lots of impressively large houses lie these which were built for the rich traders, whalers and shipyard owners. The top floors of the houses were the servants quarters, which is why the windows were smaller , crowded together and very close to the roof line - servants didn't need nice large, high ceilinged airy rooms!

The stonebuilt West Pier dates from before 1642 but apparently a wooden pier stood there at least a hundered years earlier. It was widened in 1814 and extended in 1914. The 70 foot high lighthouse was erected in 1831.........

and is still regularly open to the public!

It was a bit nippy up there, but it had great views! This is one of the local prawn boats bringing in their catch.

A seagull on the lookout for a quick snack.
Looking west along the beach to Sandsend village - the white blobs in the distance, about two and a half miles away.


You can still get donkey rides on British beaches - even in winter.
The tide was going out as we walked to Sandsend - but we were a bit impatient, so did a bit of rock hopping to beat the waves. We only got slightly damp!

Unlike these mad surfers! This is the North Sea for heaven's sake!!!

The groynes don't offer any protection from the sea any more as they've been eroded by years of pounding waves.

But they do make beautiful sculptures nowadays.

After a cup of coffee and a scone whilst sat outside the Wit's End cafe (Yep! OUTSIDE! On the East coast! In November!), we stopped to help a family dam a stream , as you do, before heading back along the beach to Whitby under a setting sun

to marvel at a seagull trying to eat the moon!

Sunday saw us wandering the streets of East Whitby. It has a typical mediaeval village layout of narrow cobbled streets, but the steepness of the town means it also has narrow yards leading up the cliff face on one side and narrow 'ghauts' (pronounced 'goats') leading down to the river on the other side. I don't know why they call them 'ghauts' - should've just called them jennels like we do!
Here Himself is taking care not to bash his head on the 1870's 'jettied' (overhanging) market hall known as the Shambles - old English for 'slaughter-house', which is what the site was previously used for.

In Georgian times many of the yards behind the buildings were infilled with cottages.This is the yard of the White Horse and Griffin Inn. The first stage coach ran from here to York in 1788 and Charles Dickens stayed here. It's still a flourishing pub.

Most of the yards are private but some are through yards. This is Blackburns Yard and leads eventually (via VERY steep steps) to the cliff top. This cottage owner had made very good use of extremely limited garden space. I think they must cut the lawn with nail scissors though!

This is Burgess Pier, brought to fame in Dracula when the Russian schooner 'Demeter' crashes into the pier and an immense dog leaps off and bounds away into the darkness.
The beach is Collier Hope, named from the practice of coal ships beaching there either to unload cargo or for safety after being driven into harbour by rough weather.

A huge anchor on the pier.

A few of the 199 steps of Church Stair (yes, I did count them - again. It has to be done!) leading up to the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin. These were re-renovated in 2005/6, but were originally made of wood with the first known reference to the steps being in 1270!

There are broad landings and seats as you go up - useful for us now, but originally for 'the easement of bearers of coffins where they rested their burden on the long climb to the cliff top grave yard'. I wouldn't have liked to try and lug a coffin up these steps I can tell you!

Himself going up the steps but overlooking Donkey Road -or Church Lane as it's properly known. Walking up there is even harder than walking up the steps!

Legend has it that Lord Mulgrave supposedly drove a coach and four up and down the lane in the 1870's to prove his love for a lady!


It's worth the slog for the view at the top.

Across the river on the grassed area at the top of that cliff lies the bench where, in Dracula, Mina pauses one night whilst looking for Lucy. According to the book, 'she gazed across to the the churchyard on East Cliff (here) and, in a shaft of moonlight she glimpses a familiar white figure with what looked like something dark bending over it'. All I can say is she must have had flipping good eyesight - I looked in the reverse direction in broad daylight and could only JUST make out a few figures in bright clothing!
Not only that but she then legged it down the zigzag path and along the riverside road up to the bridge, then ran across the bridge, along the full length of Church Street and up the 199 steps to the churchyard - all without having to stop to get her breath back she was an olympic athlete too!

The harbour walls with the elbowed extensions.

The Norman church was founded between 1098 and 1129, but stands on the site of an earlier Saxon church.

It's also famous for the three pirate gravestones in the graveyard - marked with carved skull and crossbones. I used to know where they were but, sadly, despite looking for ages until Himself was bored and starting to get mildly irritated with me, I couldn't find them this time :(

Many years ago when we were in our early 20's, Himself and I used to come and rough camp in the Abbey grounds. This time we couldn't work out how to get in! The Abbey is now in the care of English Heritage and they've build a wacking great wall round it! We had to walk right round to the back and through the world's ugliest ticket office/toilet block to access the grounds!
The Abbey stands on the site of an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The original Abbey housed both men and women and in 644 held the Synod of Whitby, which set the date for Easter - so the moveability of that feast is all their fault then!
The first Abbey was destroyed in the 9th century but was re-established in the 11th century and became one of the richest monastries in Yorkshire. These 12th and 13th century buildings fell into ruin after the dissolution of the monastries in 1539, but at its peak it was a lavishly decorated vision of immense wealth and power.

The Abbey ruins can be seen from over 5 miles away inland and strike an amazing view on the headland. Just imagine how much more impressive such a huge stone edifice would have seemed to peasants living nearby in mud and thatch huts!

After wandering slowly back down to the harbour for a last look at the fishing boats and a last sniff of sea air, we headed to Fortunes to buy the world's best smoked kippers before homeward - relaxed and at peace with the world!

I hope you enjoyed your time in Whitby as much as we did?!