Saturday 18 December 2010

Window of opportunity

Between last weeks bitterly cold and icy weather and todays fresh fall of snow we had a small window of opportunity  in which to move the building work forward.
I became, rather belatedly, concerned that the tiled roof would be too dark for my plants so we went on a search for some double Roman reclaimed glass tiles. What a palaver - they are as rare as hens' teeth! We contacted any number of reclamation yards, they had twelve here, three there, and the price varied as much as the quantity available. Eventually we found two suppliers with a good supply and went to look at their stock. I should have taken my camera because there are always curious things to be found in these yards, along with a whole load of junk. But I was in serious bargaining mode,  cash in pocket,  stout gloves and boots on ready to pick out what we needed, so my camera was forgotten.  We selected forty tiles, filthy from years of use.

The tiles must be at least one hundred and fifty years or so old. They are filthy with the soot of industrial England, the dirt is almost etched into the glass and it is proving extremely hard work to get them clean. They are being placed in two panels to throw some extra light onto the back wall of the greenhouse section.

We bought our tiles from Frome Reclamation where we had an interesting chat with the owner. It was fascinating to hear where his supplies had come from, and to learn how far they will travel onwards from his yard. We looked at his stock of flagstones, with thoughts on what we might do once the garage block is finished. He had beautiful, and very expensive, Yorkshire stone slabs, some from the small town of Holmfirth, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, (where they filmed "Last of the Summer Wine") which were due to be shipped out to Versace in America.

Several years ago Himself layed a wooden floor in our dining room and hallway, reclaimed oak strips, two and a half inches wide. They were originally from the USA, the Harris Company, from Roanoke, Johnson City, Tenn.  It looked no better than a bundle of firewood when we bought it, but once layed, sanded and polished we were delighted with the result. Himself was rather excited that the wood might formerly have been used in some exotic bordello and went back to the reclamation firm to ask the provenance. The wood is marked with signs of its former life, cigarette burns and stains. He was told that the flooring had come from a working mans' club in the north of England. Fantasy shattered! How we laughed! 

But the snow has put a halt to building work once more; it's too cold to mix mortar for the ridge tiles. How frustrating!


  1. I might be able to get a few of those glass tiles for you, Cher - but maybe you've got enough now?

  2. I love the last image framed by the tree limbs...
    how amazing that junk yards still have things from that long ago...
    your greenhouse is shaping up nicely.

  3. Hi Rosemary,
    Fascinating to see how things are progressing. Sorry for you that the weather is delaying things, but all is looking really good so far. My hat doffs to you for taking the trouble to find roman glass tiles, totally spot on in my book and worth every penny and bit of work cleaning them up, no substitute. So many would just go for thermal plastic sheeting nowadays...Yeuch!

  4. Dear Tom, many thanks for the offer, but we were able to buy as many as we wanted from Frome.
    Dear Hostess, the reclamation yards do such a good service. I'll take my camera the next time I'm scouting about.
    Dear Gary, I hope you are now quite well, with the all clear from your doctor. We want the building to look as though it has been there for ages so didn't want to choose a velux window or plastic. Just were not too wise to start this project in October, although it was supposed to take only three weeks!

  5. I have to admit that I've never heard the word "palaver" nor the expression "rare as hen's teeth" but I've also never seen such glass tiles! I must live under a rock.

    Love seeing the progress. The garage is looking wonderful. And it's also wonderful to see a pretty blanket of snow. We've not had a single flake in Boston.

    Happy Christmas, R&P!


  6. Dear Steve, just looked up 'palaver' on line and Longman's English Dictionary describes it as, 'unnecessary trouble and anxiety that makes something seem more important than it really is. Example, what a palaver over nothing!'
    The glass tiles were used in terraced houses, just a few in each house to provide light in the roof space. They are proving a nightmare to clean!