Strawbale House

This blog is intended to chart our progress through the self-build process, from half-hearted plot-hunting through to completion of the build. The twist is that we're building the house from timber and straw (hence the blog title).

Click on the image at the end of each post to see that day's photos.

Friday, 31 August 2007


A big day, both in terms of significance and energy expended. I spent the morning clearing the shed of rubbish, the abandoned kitchen (we now brew up and eat in the house), insulation boards, plasterboard ( tricky one-man lift in the breeze) and owl-pellets, then left at lunchtime to guide the straw delivery to the plot from Morebattle. Oh - forgot - had a drop-off from Doves mid-morning of OSB for reveals and under-straw platform, and 4x2s for the remaining internal walls.
I'd reckoned on a good hour and a half to unload the first load of 300 bales. In the event we had them all off and stacked in about 50 minutes, with young Richard clambering to the top of the 8 tiers of bales on the trailer and chucking them down for his dad (Tommy) and me to stack. Bloody hard work - hot, dusty and itchy but very satisfying. They left to load up again, and I spent the next two hours removing all the firewood from the barn, covering the first 300 bales with tarpaulin and doing a bit on the roof - just laying a dozen slates and shifting the platform higher-still. Can almost reach the ridge now, and should be there tomorrow.
The second load of bales arrived just as I was finishing on the roof, and we repeated the unloading process. Anna arrived with the boys half-way through and mucked in while the boys did their best to trip us up. I'd reckoned on getting maybe 400 - 450 bales in our shed, with the overspill in the neighbour's barn, but in the event we squeezed about 580 into our shed. Seemed daft to stack the last 20 elsewhere, so we constructed a little platform immediately in front of the shed with breeze-blocks and sarking and piled them there instead. Paid Tommy £1500, and a crate of beer, which seemed to please him inordinately, then covered everything with a tarpaulin, fixed into the bales with fat 8" screws and weighed down at the bottom with blocks.
Absolutely knackered, but extremely happy to have secured the bales, harvested, cut, baled, transported, unloaded, stacked and covered without seeing a single drop of rain. Couldn't ask for better. All I need now is a few fine days in the next week ot two to get them into the walls.
Almost fell asleep cutting the grass at home, and DID fall asleep reading the boys' story!
Straw delivery 310807

Thursday, 30 August 2007

August 30th - Slating and a run

Work seems to be picking up again, and I had to knock off a couple of orders before I could head to the plot this morning. Neck, back and shoulders giving me terrible gyp, but not too bad once I got into the swing of it.
Retrieved the last of the roof brackets from the back pitch, which was a bit hairy from the ladder at full extension, and deployed it round the front. Moved the whole platform further up the roof and got cracking. Steady progress, although once again I was plagued by breaking slates (one of which took about 20 minutes to remove and replace, as it was several rows down from the top).
Called it a day at 5:30 and went for a run up Hownam Law - the prominent bump visible in lots of blog photos (see below).
Nice to see the house from the top of the hill. It's such a gorgeous view from up there that I'm glad we're not throwing up an ugly pebble-dash monstrosity to blight it.
Quote came in from Howdens for the kitchen, internal and external doors and stair parts. Kitchen, with solid oak doors, solid oak worktops and including hob and double oven was £4700-odd. Seemed quite reasonable, and I'm about to compare it like for like with Ikea.
Tom Wilkinson rang from Hawick in the evening to say the straw is now baled and will be delivered tomorrow, so the roof will have to wait a few days while I concentrate on getting the house ready for the bales, as I want to get them in while the air still has some warmth about it. We've already had a couple of morning mists, and the season is about to change.
Had an exchange of emails with Eco-build guru Nick Grant, the result of which is that I'm not going to render the straw before installing the membrane and cladding. Big relief, as it was going to be massively labour-intensive, time-consuming and pricey.


August 29th - Groundhog Day

Another day slating on my own. After lots more fiddling and umpteen more broken slates I finally got clear of the two big rooflights, and should now make much better speed skyward. farmer Neil was buzzing about with his digger in the morning, levelling our field in readiness for sowing with grass-seed, so I collared him and asked him to shift the mound of earth from the east end of the building to let us make a start on the verandah. Keen to get Mal involved with that before he jumps ship, as I think the Aussie input will make all the difference.
I'm finding that I can carry fewer and fewer slates up the ladder at a time because of the aches and pains in my back, shoulders and right elbow. Not sure I'm cut out for all this manual toil!
Anna and the kids came in the afternoon, and Anna transferred the rockwool insulation from the shed into the snug to make space for the straw, which should arrive very soon. Must find some pallets...

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

August 28th - Slating & child-minding

On my jack again today. Squeezed in a couple of hours of slating in the morning, then had to down tools and collect the wee men from school and take them home for lunch. Made it back to site around 2pm, by which time it was raining gently. Looked like it would pass over, so I worked inside for half an hour, running TV coax from the loft down to the snug, and telephone cable from the snug to the loft, from where I can distribute it around the first-floor when the pressure to be on the roof has eased. I should probably run networking cable to all rooms, as the house and all its functions will be controlled by robots within a few years, but I have neither the time nor the inclination. Don't tell Mal, but I had to remove one of his sheets of plasterboard from the ceiling to route the wiring, then put it back up with almost as many screws as he'd used originally.
Rain didn't last, and I spent the last few hours of the day slating and flashing to the top of one velux and setting up to crack on with the second one tomorrow. Broke about 3000 slates in the process. Must tell Doves about the bad batch and try to get them to replace them. No pictures again.
Not sure if the straw is going to happen at the weekend, although once Melvin's back on the job things might lurch forward again. Still quite a wee bit of preparation to do before the straw can go in the walls...

Monday, 27 August 2007

August 27th - Slating

All on my tod again today, with Mal away cladding in Foulden and Melvin reacclimatising having arrived back from Kenya yesterday. Borrowed some scaffold planks from Stevie Sudlow (SKS Joinery), which has enabled me to build a platform the full length of the scaffold.
Seemed like slow progress again, with lots of cutting and tinkering around the stepped fascia and then the velux units. Appear to have a bit of a dodgy batch of slates in the latest pallet, after two uniformly excellent pallets. Lots of "fool's gold" in them, and an annoyingly high number of rattly slates with fault-lines that fracture either when I'm cutting them, or, worse still, when they're in place.
Forgot the camera today. Also forgot cutlery, mug and milk, so lunch was a dry roll supplemented with chunks of cheese nibbled straight from the block, lubricated with water from the bottle!
Came over all cold and shivery late in the afternoon, and back was giving me gyp so I decide to knock off early. Hunted down a watch and discovered that it was almost half past six!
Should get past the velux tomorrow, after which things will speed up markedly. In danger of running out of slates if I can't get some delivered on Wednesday.
Need to turn my mind to the design of the verandah, and cadjole someone into shifting the earth so we can get it started. Also need to pull some more wires so Mal can close up the walls, but that can wait for a rainy day. In the meantime, while the sun is shining I'm making hay on the roof.
Talking of hay, dropped in at the Bells (next-door neighbours) and asked if I could store the straw in their barn for a week or so when it's delivered.
As there are no pictures today, I thought I'd let you see the traumatic effect that building a house can have on the hair (I've promised not to have mine cut until it's finished). The first pictures was taken during the foundation walls in June. The seconds was taken tonight...

Sunday, 26 August 2007

August 26th - An appeal

Spent the morning bracing the scaffold, building another tower and lugging the planks up to form a platform. Another lovely day, but not as hot as the last couple. Discovered that slating around the stepped roofline at the front of the house was pretty tricky and time-consuming, with lots of cutting and a bit of lead flashing to work out. Our three boys and Buggy and Boo were on site, but disappeared for three hours up the hill with a picnic, arriving back muddy, bloody and shattered.

Mal spent the day inside, framing up the internal walls on the first floor. He's off the job for a week, fitting a kitchen in Edinburgh and cladding a house near Berwick.

I had a call from Tom Wilkinson in the evening. He's the contractor who'll be baling the straw later this week. Quoted £2 / bale, or £2.50 delivered.

And now the appeal. Building straw walls is traditionally tackled by a group of lusty, energetic volunteers - no honestly, it really is! A bit like an Amish barn-raising, but without the beards. I'm planning to get the straw into the walls during the first week of September starting on Saturday 1st. If anyone out there in blog-land feels like a day or two of wholesome manual toil in a gorgeous part of the country, maybe even learning a new skill or two I'd love to hear from you. Drop me an email at or call me on 01573 440761.

Plenty of on-site camping space and a few local B&Bs if you want to make a holiday of it. Food, drink, banter and guaranteed fine weather will be provided.

Go on - bring a pal - it'll be a blast. No previous experience or building knowledge needed (although if you've ever used Lego, you'll be laughing!)



Friday, 24 August 2007

August 24th - slating

Nicked into Border Slate for 4 more roof-brackets first thing, and then for what was supposed to be a brief visit to Magnet in Galashiels to look at kitchens. Managed to escape an hour and a half later, bamboozled by a Rhodesian saleswoman. A little the wiser, and at least they now have my stair spec to quote against.
Another scorching day on the roof. Kept my shirt on after yesterday's roasting, but I think my neck copped it a bit. Made much better progress with the additional platforms on the roof, and towards the end of the afternoon I finally made it to the ridge-line. Felt like I'd conquered an Alp!
Anna brought the kids, who played reasonably happily for most of the afternoon, chipping away at a large boulder with seams of amethyst running through it.
Mal back tomorrow for one day only...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Slating & scaffold

Another warm sunny day, and I was anxious to get as much done as possible. I had an order and some work calls to see to first thing, and didn't get to the plot until after 10. Carried on with the slating until I reached as far as I could without either a roof-ladder or more roof-irons. Since I have neither (roof-ladder on order), I set about dismantling the scaffold and moving it. Couldn't reassemble it further along the same pitch because there's a large hole there carrying the service pipes, so instead I lugged it all round to the front of the house and built it up to eaves level there, with a bit of help from Anna, who turned up after school-time with the kids.
I briefly wondered if the scaffold towers might have been a false economy, bearing in mind the time spent moving them from place to place. I then remembered martin Warrall, who's approaching the end of a timber-clad SIPs self-build telling me that he ended up forking out SIX GRAND on scaffold hire. That's ten times what I paid to buy my kit, and at least I'll own it at the end of the job. Should come in handy for maintenance, painting fascias, replacing broken slates etc.
Strange being on site with no Mals or Melvins making a racket. Knocked off about 5:30 with the scaffold built but not yet braced to the building. Thinking of asking Davy Beveridge or his sidekick Mark to give me a hand slating at the weekend if they're not busy.
Jim Jordan from Rembrand Timber rang to say that the flashing for the waterfall window had turned up, without his even ordering it. Wonder if I did? Anyway, it's a bonus as they quoted a 4-week lead-time about 10 days ago.
Put together drawings and spec for the stairs in the evening for a couple of local suppliers to quote against.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

August 22nd - slating and internals

It's hard to believe that we were on the same continent as yesterday. A beautiful warm sunny day, with slates warm to the touch and a very bronzed face by the end of the afternoon, the sun having found a way through the slatey smudges. Now that I've cleared the top of the roof-lights, progress is a lot faster, with no cutting or flashings to contend with. I thought I might reach the ridge-line at one end, but didn't quite make it. Access is now proving tricky. I've ordered a roof-ladder, which will help. Hope it comes quickly.
Mal forged ahead downstairs, and by knock-off had finished all the stud walls for the snug, WC and lobby. The WC is pretty tight for space, and we've decided to opt for a very small basin, and have moved the radiator position to try to conform to the disabled access requirement in the building regs.
My phone was red-hot today with work-calls coming in at a rate of several an hour. No idea why, but the upturn is very welcome. Really need to earn some cash. Might have to take a couple of short days at the plot and get some orders out.
Spoke to Patrick Fraser, who's currently growing my straw. He reckons it will be cut next week. Need to work out how to move it and where to store it, as I don't think the house will be ready for it.
Mal has left the project for a week to honour a long-standing commitment to install douglas fir cladding to a house near Berwick, so I'll be self-motivated for the next few days. Not sure when Melvin's back.

August 21st - Slating and internals

Today was one of the foulest days we've had throughout the entire project, and that's saying something. Unrelentingly nasty with constant drizzle and a chilly wind from the north - and it's supposed to be bloody summer! The day's only saving grace was that it was a short one. The boys started school in the morning, a big day for Toby and Oscar, and we knocked off early in the afternoon so Anna and I could visit B&Q in Edinburgh to look at kitchens and bathrooms. Came away with a couple of toilets and basins, but the kitchens were of the most derisable quality imaginable. Most were disintegrating on display, as were several of the horrid plastic shower enclosures.
Mal pressed ahead with the flooring and walls downstairs, working in the dry, the lucky sod!

Monday, 20 August 2007

August 20th - Slating & flooring

A dry day, thank goodness. I spent the day on the roof slating while Mal beavered away downstairs installing the sub-floor, insulation and flooring and, finally, the partition walls for the entrance lobby.
Slating around the rooflights was a bit slower than I'd expected, but by the end of the day I'd knocked off the first of the big ones and almost finished the two small ensuite windows. Ran out of time and quickly stuck a couple of strips of membrane across the unfinished windows. Not much of a bond between gaffer tape and slate, so here's hoping for a calm and dry night...

Slating & flooring 200807

Sunday, 19 August 2007

August 19th - Not a slate laid

An unremittingly foul day, with incessant rain and wind. Slating was out of the question, on safety grounds as much as anything else, and Mal and I spent the day inside. I installed the wiring for the ground-floor ring-main and cooker the finished off the first-floor central-heating plumbing - all except one bedroom. Meanwhile Mal had been putting the drainage for the downstairs WC and basin together, then installing a section of sub-floor, insulation and chipboard flooring to enable him to build the downstairs partitions. I diverted from the first-floor central-heating to run the pipes in for the radiators in the part of the house where he was working.
In the process of my toils I managed to snap two big drill-bits, and resolved to spend a bit more on quality tools in future.
The roof is leaking like a sieve, and the velux I was working on yesterday, which is now partially flashed, was literally pouring water onto the bedroom floor. I rigged up a bit of membrane and some waste-pipe to divert the flow into a bucket, which was full to within an inch of the top by tea-time!
As I write it has stopped raining. Let's hope it stays that way! No pictures because I forgot my the camera.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

August 18th - Slating

Spent the day on the roof, slating all on my lonesome. Slow progress, frustrating at times when a slate that has taken several minutes to measure, cut and nail decides to break at the last hammer-stroke, but ultimately rewarding. I was working around one of the big rooflights, reminding myself how the recessed flashings work. Almost got it finished. Should speed up from now on, although I'll need to work out a much more efficient way of getting the slates to roof-level than carrying them up the ladder in batches of a dozen or so on my shoulder!
I blithely estimated a week on each pitch of the roof, but at this rate it will be easily double that, meaning that I'll not be finished by the time the straw is being cut.

Friday, 17 August 2007

August 17th - Back in business!

I've not blogged for a few days, because after the letter from Building Control we were supposed to have shut up shop until the warrant is granted. This could take weeks or even months. Over the last few days I've tried to get the lads to concentrate on getting the place weatherproof and in a fit state to be mothballed for the rest of the summer. Mal has completely ignored all my entreaties to leave things as they are until we get the nod, and has battled on with the sheeting and internal walls.
Yesterday was high-noon, when the local building control officer came to inspect what we've done so far. I was quite prepared for him to go over the place with a fine-tooth comb and a determination to find some major problem to punish us for building a house without his permission. In the event he was with us for about five minutes, during which he stood just inside the front door and chatted about the strawbale aspect of the build and told us about his holiday in Turkey. No inspection, no castigation, and just a cheery "carry on, everything looks fine". He even seemed slightly apologetic that they haven't got around to issuing a warrant yet. I couldn't believe it. We can now bash ahead without any nagging concerns about having to keep walls open for inspection or the possibility of having to undo anything we've built. Imagine if we'd built the foundations (for which we do have a warrant), then waited for the next one before starting the timber frame.
Today Melvin left for a week in Kenya. I'm hoping to spend the next couple of weeks on the roof, slating as much as the weather will permit. Really need someone to give Mal a hand inside with the plumbing and sheeting.
It really feels like we're motoring again...

Internals & slating 170807

Monday, 13 August 2007

August 13th - Battening down the hatches

A letter from Building Control arrived, a copy of which is reproduced below. It looks as though building work may be suspended for a while, pending the issuing of a building warrant for the superstructure. I visited the site yesterday after a night of wind and rain, and found the first floor awash and some of the plasterboard a bit wet. Today Mal and Melvin spent the day framing up the window appertures to allow us to weatherproof the building and prevent degradation while the formalities are sorted out.
The hiatus will give us an chance to make a start on the landscaping and possibly the repairs to the roof of the stone barn and the moving of the office/shed from Whitton, where it has sat unused since the end of January.
I emailed Doug Crew at Building Control explaining my misunderstanding of the workings of a phased warrant and inviting him to inspect what we have done so far.
I discovered to my considerable dismay that the flashings I've been sent for the waterfall window are the wrong ones, and that the correct setup is going to set me back something like £900, which, added to the £1700-odd cost of the velux units themselves make for an extremely pricey feature! I hope it's worth it in the end.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

August 11th - framing & sheeting

Just Mal and me again, and I was only there till lunchtime. Mal's decided to work weekends, but how long Michele will cope with that is open to question!
I had a good clear out upstairs and bagged up several sacks of firewood and a couple of rubbish. Mal was busy framing up the bathroom walls, and once he'd reached a point where I could, I pulled cables through from the ground-floor for the upstairs ring-main and lighting circuits.
The were some dwangs (yet more bloddy dwangs!) to measure and cut. These will be installed below the bathroom walls, between the first-floor joists, but I couldn't fit them today because we had only one nail-gun between us.

August 10th - more sheeting and scaffold

No Melvin today, so there was a lot less swearing and no music on site. Mal carried on framing and sheeting the internl walls upstairs, and I dotted about helping him when he needed it, flashing some of the velux to enable him to fit plasterboard below ceiling-level and bracing the scaffold. We now have the bedrooms and bathrooms along the north side of the house defined. Looking pretty good. The bigger bathroom (actually a shower-room) has doors to the landing and bedroom 2, while the smaller one, which has a bath, is accessible only from the landing.

I had to nick off to Selkirk to a job in the afternoon, and dropped in at Border Slate en route to pick up some of the gear I'll need to start slating next week. Priced up the lead flashing we'll need, and ended up ordering it online. Horribly expensive, but I'm reliably informed that there's no satisfactory alternative.

Sheeting & scaffold 100807

Thursday, 9 August 2007

August 9th - sheeting and scaffold

Another left-handed nephew joined us today in the shape of Ryan, who spent a couple of hours keeping the kids out of danger and another couple helping me build a new scaffold at the back of the building in preparation for slating. The ground has quite a slope, and getting it all level was a pig of a job, with the frames at one end blocked up to about two feet above ground level.
Mal and Melvin carried on with the sheeting and framing upstairs, and it's really starting to look like a house inside.
They'd fitted the last of the barge-boards at the east end to free up the scaffold, which I dismantled once I'd painted and mounted the finnial.
The garden looks like something from World War I, with trenches everywhere. They shifted a most enormous amount of earth, and I'm bloody glad I'm not footing the bill for it!

Sheeting & scaffold 090807

August 8th - An alarming visit

Mal and Melvin spent the day sheeting and framing, including the moving of a wall to accommodate a built-in cupboard in bedroom 2. I had to shuttle back and forth between house and plot a couple of times to look after the kids while Anna went to perform a funeral.
The big event of the day was a visit to site by Chris Weir from Building Control, who came to inspect and test the drains before the trenches are backfilled. The drains passed without a hitch, but he came into the house, after I'd left the site, and informed Mal and Melvin that the warrant for the construction of the timber frame hasn't been issued. I'd assumed that the initial warrant and my submission of notice of commencement would suffice, but it transpires that the warrant issued was purely for the foundations. The man from the council who deals with warrants for this area is on hioliday, so we'll need to sort it all out when he's back.
Davy the slater popped over in the evening to give me some advice, and promised to return and get me started once the scaffold is in position and I've bought the tools I'll need. The warrant problem left me feeling gloomy and a bit stressed.

sheeting 080807

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

August 7th - OSB & wiring

My tactic, perfected over the last two months, of ignoring my business and hope that it looks after itself is starting to catch up with me, and I have a horrible backlog of niggly repairs to sort out. To try to keep the hounds at bay I've taken to working a bit early in the mornings when I'm still fuzzy-headed and sometimes late at night when I'm knackered. This morning I was up at 06:30 and knocked off a couple of orders by about 8:15. I was on my way to the plot with a box laden with fresh goodies from the bakers when a text message came through saying my nephew Ryan was on a flight to Newcastle and would be landing in 50 minutes. The drive to Newcastle takes 90. Somewhere someone had screwed up and neglected to tell me he was coming. I tore home, picked up the twins and hared down to Newcastle to collect him.
Made it over to the plot at lunchtime and spent the afternoon installing the wiring for the upstairs ring-main while Mal and Melvin worked on the OSB sheeting on the west gable.
A delivery arrived from Doves, with moisture-resistant gyproc for the bathrooms, 25kg of clouts for the slates and 42 lengths of the wrong timber, which we sent back.
Davey the slater failed to show up last night, and when I woke him this morning he promised to get me started tomorrow night.

OSB & wiring 070807

Monday, 6 August 2007

August 6th - Drainage and internals

Mal and I worked on Saturday, starting on the upstairs lighting wiring and framing up the ceilings in preparation for the plasterboard. We collared the digger driver and persuaded him to lift the gyproc to first-floor level so we could unload it through the big south-east window. This was a huge saving in time and effort, and I was very relieved to have it all under cover after the wind and rain of friday night, which had thankfully left it undamaged.
We were a full team of three again today, with Melvin back on site. I spent all day on the roof (after a delayed start due to work), battening down the membrane. The wind had driven rain up under the sheets and in through the roof, and the whole upstairs floor was pretty wet, along with one of the the two piles of plasterboard. It dried out quickly and seems to be unscathed. It was blustery, and not a lot of fun being up there, with the membrane flapping and the ladder blowing down several times, stranding me on the roof!
Mal and Melvin worked inside on the ceilings, Melvin installing dwangs and Mal fitting the first couple of sheets of plasterboard.
Outside the lads from Walker Groundworks carried on with the drainage trenches, and we worked out where to bring the mains power and water into the building (under the back-door steps), and had them lay the necessary pipe and ducting.
Roger Lynn paid a visit in the evening with his plan for the landscaping. Looks lovely on paper. Also looks pretty expensive!

Drainage & internals

Friday, 3 August 2007

August 3rd - Septic tank and sundries

The lads from Walker Groundworks were back on site today to connect us to the big tank they installed yesterday. I'm not sure if we're being billed for it. I thought our connection was our responsibility, but we haven't mentioned it and they did it without any consultation. They even pressure-tested the soil-pipe assembly we put together under the house before pouring the solum. I was quite nervous, as I thought there was a chance we could have damaged the pipe while back-filling around the pipe. I was careful to avoid the line of the pipe with the whacker-plate, but when the pressure held and the assembly was deemed hunky-dory I was more relieved than I led them to believe!
While they were doing all that, Mal and Melvin carried on framing around the bay windows upstairs and I did bits and bobs: finishing the membrane on the front pitch, cutting and installing studs in the perimeter walls, painting a length of barge-board and fitting some of the many joist-hangers still required at first-floor level. This last job is pretty tough on the knees, and best done in small doses.
144 sheets of plasterboard arrived in the morning from Doves (along with a note saying that it was not to be off-loaded until the driver had a cheque for £4800 from me in his hand!) and I called Mick Gamble to ask him to lift it up into the first-floor for us. I left a message with his wife, and he never showed up. I hope he just forgot, and that I haven't offended him or pissed him off by asking so many favours. In the end we had to cover it with a tarpaulin and hope for the best.
Michele viusited briefly, but it was cold and windy, and she soon left for the comfort of my house and the promise of tea and cakes.
Melvin left at lunchtime to get jags for his forthcoming African trip. It seemed like a very quiet and a very long afternoon in his absence!

Septic tank 030807

Thursday, 2 August 2007

2nd August - Septic tank

I had a job in Carlisle to attend to, and didn't arrive at the build until 4:30pm, by which time Mal and Melvin had been joined by Anna and more kids than you could shake a stick at. The site was a hive of activity, with earth-movers and sundry other machines littered around the place. Neil must have got wind of my reservations concerning the drainage (maybe he reads the blog!) because he was overseeing the digging of a humungous hole at the southern edge of the plot for the sewage treatment plant. I left them to it, and spent the remainder of the afternoon finishing the velux modifications, which seem to have occupied me for an eternity.
Mal had spent the day framing up under and around the windows, and Melvin had been dwanging like a man possessed.
Arranged for the release of another £15,000 of the mortgage, which will clear the outstanding bills and hopefully leave me with a couple of shillings for the next week or three. I'd dropped in at Doves in Hawick on the way back from Carlisle and paid just under five grand for June's invoices.

Septic tank