Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa can't visit the Valley House 'cause there aren't any chimneys anymore!

Former fireplace location in long bedroom (about 5 feet wide)
This photo shows where the large chimney used to run from the kitchen/living room where it opened into two angled fireplaces.  It used to jut out into the room, so it's absence will give us a lot more space.  The wide boards show how large the trees were, they would be the originals from 1760.

You can see the 1970's wallpaper that Mum put up, and the now saggy ceiling tiles Dad installed.  All will be removed.

The photo below shows the narrower chimney that ran through the downstairs long room (that easily held 24 family members during our Thanksgiving feasts) and the upstairs bedroom with the dressing room.  The photo shows where the chimney used to be in that bedroom.  I like this pheasant/fruit wallpaper, but I will have to use it as collage material, as it's too far gone to keep on the walls.
Location of narrow chimney through bedroom

So, the chimney's are gone now.  The photos we saw of the roofline without the chimney's looked quite bald, but we will adjust!  They were hazardous and had to come down.  We hope to put in a wood burner in the living room, put more windows in the south-facing kitchen to use the passive solar energy and remove the wood stove from the kitchen.

 Brian and I wish you all a happy holiday season!  We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of my eldest Emily and her boyfriend Maher.  It will be his first time in England, so we will be sure to take him to London, tour around the lovely East Anglian landscape, have fish and chips and attend the pantomime here in Colchester.  They are off to Paris for a romantic New Year's. 

Well, that's all for now.  I need to go pick up some groceries before the snow gets too heavy (this is so unusual for England!). 

Monday, December 06, 2010

December 2010 - The builder's have finished!

Well, here is the house with new foundations and fantastic new basement, rotted shingles replaced, and land pushed flat (to be proper lawns again someday)!  You can see that we lost the window in the process of lifting and the house straightening, but that is the only one damaged. 

The basement is now dry and sadly for the fox that wintered there, closed up tightly.

When you compare this to the boulder-filled, open to the elements, dank hole where you had to walk crouched over to avoid cracking your head, it is quite a wonderful transformation!  

We have just experienced a few days of snow here in England.  It caused chaos.  Without snow tires, plows or salt, it is very dangerous.  I didn't need to go out for the two worst days, but Brian did.  He had his first ever crunch, thankfully he is fine, but the railway van isn't.  

We are appreciating Advent in church and are anticipating the arrival of Emily (eldest daughter) and Maher (her beau) on Christmas Eve.  Emily has a blog you might be interested in if you like fashion:

Brian and I hope you enjoy your holiday preparations in whatever form they take, and if you are Canadian, remember to be thankful for snowplows and salt!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Foundations of a house are important...and now the house has them!

The slide show was sadly edited out of existence by Brian, and then I have been lax in replacing it...but finally, TA-DAAAA...the story of the foundation work on the house so far.  Our brilliant contractor is Paul Uhlman, and he has done a stellar job in co-ordinating all the different aspects of this job.  From the  removal of the chimneys, the lifting of the house, the digging out of the cellar, to the concrete form creation and pouring, it has been a job of interest to family and neighbours alike. 

The house was a place of great fun over the years since Dad bought it in 1965.  I adored visiting the country, and remember snuggling up in my sleeping bag beside the crackling fire in the living room one cold Easter holiday night.  Another well remembered episode was when Mum was nursing an ill brother Stewart in the city, and Dad and I were in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey.  I remember Gramp peering into the oven, where the huge bird resided and after puffing thoughfully on his pipe, declared that we'd "trussed it all wrong, but she smelt ok".  Since it fed 24 or more people, it had to be a big fowl.  Fantastic pies, rolls, and veg. were all brought by other family members, it was a real team effort and resulted in a wonderful meal. 

Friday, October 08, 2010

the Valley House BEFORE the start of building work....

Built in 1760, the House needs complete foundation renewal.

October 2009 - The Valley House fronting the North Mountain

Here are two shots of the house taken last Fall (or Autumn, for British friends and relatives) 2009.  You can see the North Mountain and the lovely autumnal leaf colours.  In the top photo, a sliver of the Annapolis River is visible.

In July 2010, we were advised that the rock-walled cellar would need to be expanded to the perimeters of the house, and six foot frost walls put in place to prevent the house from falling apart! 

Although many assume Nova Scotia is way up north, it  actually shares the same latitude of southern France. 

Unfortunately, the early French explorers based their travel supplies and settlement plans on the assumption that Nova Scotia would share the weather of southern France.  The Labrador Current off the east coast (as opposed to the Gulf Stream that controls western Europe's weather) gives N.S. (Nova Scotia) a spring bursting with life, lovely summer of heat and sun, crisp fall and cold, snowy winter.  The cold, snowy winter resulted in a lot of deaths by scurvy. 

Well, I'll end my first post on that cheery note!  I will be thinking wistfully of family and friends enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner on October 11 (Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, Americans celebrate in November).