-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Sunday, July 27, 2008

revised electrical plan

In response to Mum's comments, Dave revised the electrical plan slightly, basically just adding a few powerpoints. You can see the revised version here, but we'll probably tweak it again when we get closer to installing and know eg: precisely the kitchen layout:

(Click photo to view bigger):
revised electrical plan

Here's Mum's suggestions in full from her emails on July 22:

I think you could do with a light over kitchen bench underneath the overhead cupboards – light overhead is behind you and will cast shadows otherwise. Or use spotlights to shine in on angle I guess.

Make all powerpoints double and I think you could do with more – kitchen needs more, over bench – blenders, mixers, toaster oven, whatever. You may not use them often as you don’t cook like I do BUT when you need them you will kick yourself if they are not there. Also, I think more are needed almost everywhere – a heater, a fan, whatever might well be needed all over. Allow for computers to plug in, TV in bedroom and so on – and don’t forget TV antenna points and consider smart wiring, radio network the palce – you may as well, it probably won’t cost much extra to do it from scratch but will be a lot more to add it later.

I am not sure about dimmers – they are out of fashion, hard to get, and we are soon to go all energy saver lights which cannot be fitted to dimmers at this stqge. Later this year they get phased out, the conventional sort – and from late next year the normal sort cannot be sold. Already there are more inds and sizes of the energy sver sort on sale – I can put them in most places round my place now and they come in different sizes and bayonet or screw in now too.

Don’t forget where you need the vacuum cleaner to plug in, either. Is one power point outside enough? I’d be thinking at least a double one on each veranda, ie one beside of house if not two per side. Car cleaning with vacuum, maybe a pump, external lights, whatever.

My reply 22nd July:

Hi, thanks a lot for looking at it and for the comments.

Yes, I thought about the kitchen bench lighting but we aren't sure where the cupboards will be. But I should make a note of it for Dad anyway.

Good idea too about the heaters etc, maybe I will just scatter a few more powerpoints around generally. All would be double powerpoints as a matter of course (I didn't realise they came in anything other than double anymore!) But for things like computer area we will have a separate extension board that plugs into a single socket and then has space like for 6 things to plug in. The boards have a circuit breaker to protect in case of power spikes: we use them here and it's just good practice as have heard of people whose equipment has been destroyed by it otherwise.

We'll just be using WiFi to beam things around which is wireless - so shouldn't need anything special done wiring wise: keeping it wireless makes it a lot easier to upgrade.

TV antenna points? I didn't even think of them - I'm so used to just having a satellite dish. But yes will make a note of it in next iteration. The TV location is marked and we can use our Slingbox and the WiFi to beam the signal around the house to any laptop, so as long as it works to the TV in the lounge that's the only point it would need.

Dimmers are a non-negotiable requirement - we've learned from our house here that they make a huge difference to the mood of a room. They are still very fashionable here, even more so nowadays when people want to save energy as when you dim you reduce the power used. Maybe we should buy a bulk load of dimmer switches here to bring back? Starting last year in UK, you can get longlife bulbs that dim. They're not perfect yet (sometimes take a little while to flick on) but they work.

Monday, July 21, 2008

electrical plan for cottage

Dad was adamant that we do a first pass of the Electrical plan for the cottage so that he can start getting quotes from electricians.

Here's my attempts: a plan for location of powerpoints, and a separate one for built-in lighting and switches. (Click to view bigger):

Location of powerpoints

Lighting plan

Dad's email 21 July:

In order to get an idea of cost for the whole project I must get a quote from an electrician for the wiring, a quote from the plumber for the plumbing, etc. I am often not on the premises for any length of time so this seems a natural time to book an appointment for a few tradies to visit ... I need to start gathering some momentum to get done those things which involve persons other than myself... Of course I will do outdoor things first, but I will be hoping to get the wiring done and then I can use it from the generator and work anywhere in the house safely. I want only a basic for this week of where you definitely need things, then I want you and Dave to discuss at leisure these things, and if Dave has the chance to walk about and place texta marks on studs in vital places while here I feel it will be well worthwhile. But having the plans there will give you some idea to put marks on it in pencil, and Dave can make notes while here of anything you need to discuss more later. Of course the kitchen is one such. I only need to know approx how many power points and where so wire, switches, fittings for power, etc can be estimated by an electrician. We can start with batten holder fittings for light, and refine later with other special lights for you. Things done after plaster goes up are possible but not so easy so become more costly.

guide to surrounding forests

I have a Google Alert set up now to make sure I don't miss any more news articles about the Amherst region. But it finds other things too, like just now this detailed tourism brochure about the state forests around Maryborough, which includes the one near us.

Maybe next trip I can go and see some of the things it mentions, like the Chinese Baths and Brogan's Hut and Paddock.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

progress on the shelter shed

Dad has made more progress on the shelter he's building , that we suspect will one day serve as a barn.

3 more of the trusses are up now - I still can't get over how he's managed to do all this singlehandedly.

work on the shed progresses

Via email 12th July:
I had to abort the plans to work on my shed because of bad weather so hired the dingo to use my time well once there. I had gone up without a trailer, met with snow near Ballarat and lots of rain, so turned around and went back to get the dingo. (nb: this was to dig post holes to enclose the olive grove: a project he will do with Dave in a few weeks)... I made the new track to the hobbit house below the perimeter of the olive grove and will drive there and create a safe road, although it is a little sloped in places. Once there are no longer building projects there it can lapse back to grass and be a walking track.

Via email 20th July:
I am sending some photos of my near completion of the shed frame. I could go no further this trip because of time and because my arms would not permit more lifting of the heavy planks at the end of the day. I have the battens ready for iron on one side, but must remove the two fascia beams for attachment to the ends of the rafters either end. These were needed to walk on while framing. I must lower all the planks again, and install them on the outside for fitting the fascia beams. I have stretched the span to the limit of all members, but it is a very sturdy structure nonetheless. The posts are on stirrups in concrete, bolted to the ribbon plates at top and the end trusses are resting on saddles cut into the top of the corner posts. Two opposing strap braces are fitted as well.

If I have enough old iron I will complete both sides of the roof, but if not only the downhill side so this area can be Dave's lounging area. I will put the small caravan on the downhill side leaving room only for parking a car where you see the Jackaroo, only closer to the posts. I will put a small tank uphill to catch the runoff and provide bath water. We can cart the water from the tanks near the old house for now and transfer to the standing tanks.

This uses 4 of the trusses, and there are 6 remaining. This accommodates 2 vehicles easily, but using 6 trusses will accommodate 4 vehicles. I will discuss with Dave if you and he can decide where you might like such a structure. If built down on the flat near the container it is good for neighbor supervision, but a long way from where you ought to have if for maximum utility. I think probably up where the drive ends in the turnaround, but to the side of the track I drive to go to the hobbit house now. I think it important that track look and feel graceful just as your driveway with trees looks.

visiting Shaws Corner

After collecting our new pet cow, we went exploring. It turned out that Shaw's Corner, the Arts & Crafts style house where George Bernard Shaw lived, was only 15 minutes drive away.

We really liked the house, it was quite modest compared to the usual National Trust mansions. It was the kind of place you could actually imagine living in comfortably.
shaws corner - 24

From a distance it may have looked reasonably straightforward in layout but it had all these little quirks, unusual little porches and windows jutting out. I especially loved the windows joining onto the chimney:

shaws corner - 31

We're beyond the point of being able to incorporate these sorts of details into Amherst now, but I still like looking at them.

There's one exception however: the notion of a rotating summerhouse. This was quite famous as the place where he wrote a lot of his plays at the end of the garden. It was on a kind of track so he could easily rotate it to get the best of the sunshine. Dave was much taken with it, spending a lot of time peering underneath to try and work out the mechanism.

shaws corner - 19

You can see all the photos I took including the lovely garden here. Sadly there are none of the inside as they don't let you take photos there (and there were too many 'guards' around for me to sneak a few!). But there are lots in the BBC article.

Ebay win: introducing our pet cow

Yesterday we collected my new pet cow!

Although sadly it is not a real live cow, rather a cast iron version. Still functional though as a doorstopper and moneybox. She came from Ebay of course - where else would you find such an obscure object! We have decided she is a girl due to having the udders, and ignoring the horns... and she is around 1.5 foot long and a foot tall.

cow moneybox

One day I do hope I get to have a real pet cow but until then this will suffice. :-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Talbot's fire brigade & museum

Two more little gems.

The Talbot museum has a website with some old photos on it.

And I've just discovered that not only does Talbot's Fire Brigade have a website, it has some great stuff on it including a detailed history of the fire brigade from the 1860's on, including photos. How cool is that?!?

On December 5 1862, at about a quarter past ten in the morning, the alarm of fire was raised, for flames had been seen issuing from the premise of Mr Clark, a tobacconist and librarian. Before the brigade could arrive with their engine, the fire had spread into the Theatre Royal, the tent store of Mr Evans, Mr Samuels the gold assayers store. The fire continued to spread, next into The Golden Cross Hotel, in fact no less than 12 large buildings were in flames before the fire brigade were present at this disastrous scene.

The Gold Fields of Victoria in 1862 By J. A. Patterson

To make sure I don't miss any more articles, I now have an alert set up whenever a page featuring Talbot or Amherst is added to Google's database. A little gem just turned up: a book from 1863 from Oxford University's library that was recently digitised all about the Goldfields in Victoria.

Here are extracts that mention Amherst and Talbot, click on any of them to be taken to the book. Besides the thrill of just seeing the names in print in such an old tome, I like the occasional glimpses of everyday life the book gives.

The Gold Fields of Victoria in 1862 By J. A. Patterson: "will succeed A new rush of no great dimensions towards Amherst occurred whilst I was in the neighbourhood and lately various nuggets of some size have been found in the vicinity of the town The alluvial indeed is far from exhausted and there is a vast extent of untouched land which offers a certainty of moderate yields with the chances of good prizes at times The splendid reservoir constructed in the neighbourhood of the town and now full of water will assist in making some of the poorer ground payable Maryborough however labours "

"in a district now comparatively deserted More crushing machines are wanted and some little would be done to improve the reputation of Maryborough if the absurd distinction made by the banks between its gold and that of Talbot were done away with a distinction which "
"adds 9d per ounce to the value of Back Creek gold and lessens the escorts from Maryborough by a considerable amount gold being taken from it and sold in Talbot for the higher price while the intrinsic value is the same "

"The second description of mining for gold to which I have alluded is deep sinking It is a form of gold digging which requires co operation on a large scale and is seen in its perfection at Ballarat and at the Eocky Lead of Talbot Its aim is to reach the very rich beds of old rivers overlaid by successive layers of basalt clay and earth and years of labour and the outlay of a large capital are required before mines of this kind can be brought into full operation I have already so fully described the system however as it is seen on Ballarat that I have only now to say that it does not vary from alluvial digging by shafts and drives in the shallow fields beyond the magnitude of the works and the employment of steam power in pumping winding puddling and washing out It brought into existence however a class"

"charged with gold to travel far from their source The deep leads are more difficult to trace What stranger travelling over the bluestone ranges between Ballarat and Amherst or wearily plodding over the long brown table land between Malmsbury and Taradale or emerging suddenly on the basaltic table land around Vaughan accustomed though he might be to gold mining on the shores of the Pacific would imagine that the richest of all our known auriferous leads lie deep down under successive layers of volcanic rocks such as those he ia travelling over t The unaided experiences of the miners led to these discoveries with all their important consequences Even now in the eleventh year after the discovery of gold in Victoria the prospecting miner sets out on his mission of hope much like a seaman who goes down to the deep without c"

"I had originally proposed to return from St Arnaud by way of Stawell better known as Pleasant Creek and from thence to have passed to the Vale of Avoca and onwards through Talbot Clunes and Creswick to Daylesford passing some time in each of those important gold fields on my way I started therefore from Ballarat at the pleasant hour of two o clock in the morning and if any modern Charlie who kept watch and ward through the long dark night on Ballarat had chosen to call the hours as his prototype of old did he might well have added that depreciatory observation as to the character of the weather to which the rain and mist provoked the ancient watchman It was in truth a dreary morning I had laboured under the impression that a macadamized road connected for some distance at least the two important townships "
"if the road to Creswick was bad that to Clunes was almost inconceivably worse Just as we approached its most troublesome part the rain came down more thickly the mist crept closer to the ground and the lamps became useless for any other purpose than to make the fog visible Down came the off wheeler and the near wheels simultaneously in a deep ditch cut by the roadmen to improve the track and oat stepped a fellow passenger and myself into the soft mud to assist the coach to the perpendicular again and restore her Majesty"

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ebay win: another roof finial

Ebay is strange sometimes... you wait ages for something to come along, then suddenly you're swamped.

We've just won another gorgeous terracotta roof finial. It's even bigger than the other.

To give a sense of scale, it's pictured with a tin can. As you can see, it's huge!

another roof finial roof finial

From the description:
A stunning beautiful old antique terracotta large roof finial, circa 1880s. Beautifully made,finely carved with scrolled and leaf designs ,surmounted with a stylised acorn finial. The condition is also very good for age, The finial is of a large and heavy size which stands at 27.5 inches high.

Who knows what it will become: garden ornament, finial on a summerhouse or shed. I know it will be the perfect finishing touch to something we build at Amherst. I love Ebay: there's no way I'd ever have stumbled across something like this before, let alone at a price I can afford.