After 4 months of hard work it finally feels like it’s starting to come together and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s still a huge amount of work to do, but for the first time it feels manageable. The initial excitement has diminished some what and now everyday has become much the same – get up, eat, work, eat, work, eat, work, sleep. Some days I don’t even leave the courtyard.
We’ve been working on the barn rooms, turning them into double rooms. I partitioned them with two layers of plywood, painted white and with rock wool for a bit of sound insulation. The wooden panelling was cracked and warped, so I took it apart, replaced some of the timber and reassembled it with lots of windows. We also put windows above the doors in the front. For the walls I’m patching up the bigger holes with clay and straw and then lime rendering them.
I’ve been making the beds. The one above is number three (two singles and one double) and I’ve just about got a system. The beds available are either expensive, poorly made, or just look a bit rubbish. Hand making all of the beds is a bit of an undertaking but I’ve made good progress. They’re all made from a seemingly inexhaustible pile of roundwood which came with the house. The first bed I made I left the wood round, but cutting joints into round section timber is a bit of a faff, and it took 3 days in all to cut all the joints, glue it up, make the frame to support the mattress and sand away all the splinters. 3 days is actually not bad going but with so many beds I wanted to reduce that a bit. For the next beds I planed faces at 90 degrees on to all the legs. That bit of extra work made cutting the joints a lot easier, and bed number three was completed in about one and a half days. They’re held together with epoxy glue, have zero creak, weigh an astonishing amount and are extremely strong.
Ling’s been giving the house a fresh coat of paint. We renewed the traditional blood red with gold edges, but changed the window frames to white, and Ling painted some flowers on the hand carved doors. Of all the things we’ve done to the house, it’s the first which has had unanimous approval from the villagers.
The peach tree in front of the toilet has been producing a good number of tasty peaches. I’ve been on a peach heavy diet of about 5 a day, but they’re ripening too fast. I turned what was left into 12 jars of peach jam. It’s the first time I’ve made peach jam, but of all the jams I’ve made, I’d say it’s the best. Jam making isn’t something they do traditionally in China, probably because they don’t have any bread to put it on. The neighbours where quite inquisitive to try it, but then remarked that it’s a bit sweet for their tastes. Chinese, for the most part, don’t do sweet. I’m not a big fan of sweet either, but a spoon of it on my morning porridge goes down well.