Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: welding

TV news for Australian readers

Hello, everyone.

Not a full post, just a quick announcement really. Much to our surprise, it looks like our episode of Our Dream Hotel has turned up on Australian television before it has made it to UK television. I know: very strange, but beyond our control.

So for any Australian friends who are interested: it’s on the Foxtel network, on the “Lifestyle and Documentaries” channel. We are season 1 episode 5 and I hear they’ve changed the title to Alex Polizzi’s Dream Hotel. It should be screening at 9:05am this coming Sunday, 8 October. (Not sure what time zone that is, presumably east coast.) Apologies for the Sunday morning time-slot: I don’t know whether Foxtel do on-demand streaming or anything like that so if anyone knows more about it please feel free to comment.

And for everyone else, a few progress photos.

If you squint you can see the new railings at the back of the pool area.

Railings on the terrace (still unpainted).

Recently Koray has been doing a ton of welding work as we put up a few more iron railings near the pool and on the cafe terrace. We’ve done this partly to help visually define the different areas of the site, but mainly it’s for safety.  Clearly we’d prefer to stop kids or drunk people ever taking a tumble down the steep hill that leads down to the road.

Kitchen looking more like a kitchen now.

Drawers!

The kitchen is looking much more like a place you could actually cook food in. Sirem and Çisem’s tiling work turned out wonderfully. The tiled worktops are very practical, we have a half-door to close off the kitchen from the cafe when we need to, and we also have actual working drawers. (Much better than keeping all the cutlery in a large basket.)

Only a few finishing touches needed now: grabbing the other fridge from the old farmhouse kitchen, installing a ventilator fan for the stove, building a big pantry cupboard, and building some stairs to the loft.

Sirem making planter boxes for the terrace.

As you can see the cafe is currently being used as a woodworking studio, but that’s all going to change soon. Later today we’re cleaning it out so we can set up all the new tables we’ve built. Looks like the remaining picnic tables are going to have to be built outside, but at least the weather is not so hot any more.

Garden still cheerful in October.

Deliveries

Let me warn you up front: this blog post, and probably future posts for a while, are going to be variations on the theme of “look at this thing we made!”

With that said… I am learning, too late in life, that a huge part of construction is just moving stuff around.  Here are three of our most recent deliveries, more or less neatly stacked.

Bricks

Bricks

Steel

Steel

Timber

Timber

That last one is not just a gratuitous night-time shot: the timber really did arrive late in the evening.  In fact it was delayed for a week or so longer than we were expecting.  The 10cm x 10cm pieces on the right are chemically treated to resist moisture, and those took a while to get hold of.

It wasn’t really a problem though.  We have so much to do if we’re going to hit our target of real guests by late summer, so we just worked on some landscaping instead of timber framing.  This next shot is yet another Sketchup model showing our plans for around the pool.  A steel railing to stop people falling off the terrace after one Tuborg too many, and on the other side a little pavilion surrounded by gardens and incorporating two built-in seating areas.  In summer we’ll hang some canvas or cotton at the front of the seating area to keep people in the shade during the hot afternoons.

Some of the planned landscaping around the pool.

Some of the planned landscaping around the pool.  The shadows are as they would be on the summer solstice at around 4pm.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that we haven’t really decided what’s happening at the back of the pool: probably a wooden fence with a lattice to grow climbing plants on.  It would be nice to have a rendered and limewashed brick wall but we’re thinking it’s a bit too close to the edge of the hillside for a heavy wall to be 100% safe.  Anyway, here’s the progress we’ve made in the last week on the seating area.

Poolside seating pavilion, under construction

Poolside seating pavilion, under construction

Koray, the guy you saw welding a door in the previous post, is now working with us full-time.  We really needed some more people power if we’re serious about opening the first two rooms this summer.   One of the first things he did for us was to install that door.

The door Koray was welding in the last post, now safely installed.

The machine room door, now safely installed.  (I did the twirly bits, honest.)

Koray has also done great work on building a stone retaining wall up the left side of the driveway, as well as a dozen other things.

Stone retaining wall on driveway nearly finished

Stone retaining wall on driveway nearly finished

Which reminds me, a big thank-you to my cousin Stephanie and her partner Mick.  They visited a couple of weeks back and helped carry a lot of the stones into position.  (We are officially becoming terrible hosts: “Had enough breakfast?  All done?  OK, great, now carry this 40 kilo rock.”)

At the foot of the stone wall there’s a concrete gutter.  Previously this ran into a large hole that connected to the storm-water drain.  Health and safety concerns suggest we shouldn’t leave a large hole lying around long-term, so I got to improve my bricklaying and rendering skills by building a drain cover.   We tried using powdered dyes to colour the rendering coat: two scoops of red, four scoops of yellow, and one scoop of black.  Not too bad a result if you like the Santa Fe adobe look.

Here's one I made earlier: drain cover

Here’s one I made earlier: drain cover.  Note modernist grille made by welding scrap rebar pieces together.

Here are a couple of photos of things we’re making with all those deliveries.  The bricks are for parts of the guest bathroom walls.  We’re still committed to straw bale, but we lost our nerve at the thought of the waterproofing needed to be sure that a straw bale in the wall behind a shower would never get wet.  So the external walls of the bathroom, and the wall between the two bathrooms, will be brick.  Still, they’re big 30 x 20 cm bricks with some air holes in them, there’ll be a double wall, and the 10cm gap between the inner and outer wall will be filled with polystyrene insulation.  It won’t quite be as good as straw, but should still be reasonably well insulated.

The first two guest bathrooms laid out with bricks

The first two guest bathrooms laid out with bricks.   Each bathroom is about 3 metres by 2 metres: big enough for everyone?

The steel is for pool terrace railings as shown in the Sketchup picture above.  They’re nearly done; they just need some twisty decorative bits (“ferforje” in Turkish) and a coat of black paint and they’re ready to go in.

Pool terrace railings under construction

Pool terrace railings under construction

And all this welding seems to be catching:  Sirem has now joined the party.  It looks like she’s been doing it for years, doesn’t it?

Sirem getting in on the welding action.

Sirem getting in on the welding action.  (Thanks to Stephanie for the photo.)

We’re still some distance away from the straw bale and plastering stage, but we’ve done some more testing recently to decide between clay plaster (which has the benefit of basically being free) and lime plaster, which stands up to moisture a lot better.  I think we’ve decided on the lime plaster solution, but it’s a shame to have to say no to the clay as the texture is really nice.

Plaster testing: three coats of mud plaster

Plaster testing: three coats of clay plaster on a straw bale (second coat still showing at the top there)

Plaster testing: two coats of lime plaster on a straw bale

Plaster testing: two coats of lime plaster on a straw bale

The pool has been properly filled and we are pleased to report that it didn’t fall over or spring a leak.  There was even a warm day in late February when I was stupid enough to try a first swim.  The pool was very nice but the water needs a bit more sun on it, I think.

What the pool looks like now

What the pool looks like now

And finally, a few shots of plants and animals to show that it is not quite all-construction, all-the-time.

Spring returns: almond blossoms in the neighbour's garden

Spring returns: almond blossoms in the neighbour’s garden

Zeliş relaxing

Zeliş relaxing

Zeytin is in a good mood, as usual.

Zeytin is in a good mood, as usual.

Cezmi, Sirem's sister's cat, maybe now our  cat, who believes he is the construction site manager

Cezmi, Sirem’s sister’s cat, maybe now our cat, who believes he is the construction site manager

Thanks for reading!

Cats, dogs, welding, and other delights

Greetings and salutations.

So, construction continues, but slowed down a bit by the winter rains.  And we’ve had some cold, grey days just recently, so here are a couple of photos from late last summer to warm things up.

Dilek national park, just opposite the Greek island of Samos.

Dilek national park, just opposite the Greek island of Samos.

Lifeguard's tower at the beach.

Lifeguard’s tower at the beach.

The foundations are done, and the pool is done except for being cleaned out and filled up.  It’s really the final few things now before timber framing starts in earnest (yes, I know I said that last time).  We’re just sorting out some drainage issues (e.g., where should all the rainwater go when there’s a big downpour?) and getting power and phone connections up to the slabs.

Sirem talks to the builder.  That blank wall is the edge of the pool's sun terrace, and the dark doorway on the left is how you get to the filter room.

Sirem talks to the builder. That blank wall supports a big terrace area next to the pool, and the dark doorway on the left is the way into the machine room where the pool filter and pump live.

Pool from above, showing the surrounding terrace.

Pool on a much greyer day, showing the surrounding terrace and the view.  Right now it’s an infinity pool, but we will partly spoil that by putting a building in the way.

The dogs check out the new tiles.

The dogs check out the new tiles.

Pool is done but needs a good clean.

Pool is done but needs a good clean.

Services all going into one big trench.

Services all going into one big trench.

Another in-progress job is sorting out a retaining wall for the bank of earth on the left side of the driveway.

Concrete laid on the side of the driveway, forming fa base for the stone retaining wall and a storm-water drain channel.

Concrete laid on the side of the driveway, forming both a base for a stone retaining wall and a storm-water drain channel.

34 tons of rocks to make a wall.

34 tons of rocks to make a wall.  We have to do it now, too, or we can’t get up the driveway.

What else?  We’ve had a re-think about the order in which to build everything: the new plan is to start at the bottom of the hill and work up.  So the first building will be the biggest one: the cafeteria and kitchen along with rooms one and two.  We figure this will make it possible to open for business before all three buildings are finished.  We can do the landscaping as we work our way up the hill, and use some kind of screen to hide the active construction from our first guests.   With luck, we could have people staying for real by late summer.

With that in mind, this is the view you would get if you walked out onto the verandah of room one.

View looking out over the neighbouring olive groves.

View looking out over the neighbouring olive groves.

Our little menagerie keeps us as busy as ever.

Front to back: Coco, Panini, and Pablo.

Front to back: Coco, Panini, and Pablo.

We had a big scare recently when Pablo, the black-and-white kitten, tried to poison himself by eating an especially dodgy mouse, but thankfully he pulled through.  Lost a bit of weight though.  This is him milking his illness for all it was worth.

Pablo convalescing.

Pablo convalescing.

And in our animals’ defence, they do try to be helpful when we’re working on the site.  Zeliş and Zeytin in particular are very sociable and like to park themselves in a comfortable patch of dirt and watch people work.

Zeliş notices something alarming.

Zeliş notices something alarming.

 

I’ve been pushing my welding skills a bit further.  The power to join two arbitrary bits of steel together has opened up lots of possibilities for future interior and exterior decor.  Here’s a simple little practice project I did last week…

Over-sized coat hook set (welded steel attached to wooden board).

Over-sized coat hook set (welded steel attached to wooden board).

I also started work on a metal security door for the pool’s machine room, but our plumber, Koray, took pity on my amateur skill level and offered to help out.  I say “offered to help out” but really it was more along the lines of “what are you doing?! you’re ruining it!  give me that!”  Great guy though, and helping him build the door has been very educational.

Koray in action.

Koray in action, welding a steel door and frame.

The barn has been cleaned up a bit and features a new home-made workbench.  The size and weight of the thing are probably overkill but I needed something heavy and solid to attach a vice to.

The barn looking as neat as it's ever likely to.

The barn looking as neat as it’s ever likely to.

Seeing as I am about to become a very busy carpenter, I also put together a handy little drill storage board, as suggested by a friend (thanks, John).  Getting a photo of it proved to be a bit trickier than expected though.

Panini, do you mind?  I was trying to take a picture of that thing behind you.

Panini, do you mind? I was trying to take a picture of that thing behind you.

Panini, please!

Panini, please!

You guys...

You guys…

Finally: drills.  It's not rocket science, but it's very convenient.

Finally: drill bit storage. It’s not rocket science, but it’s very convenient.

And last but not least, something we don’t do very often: a photo of the two of us.

I should really get a haircut...

I should really get a haircut…

Big day tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big milestone for us.  At 8am the excavator will arrive and ground will finally — finally! — be broken up in the orchard.  The first job is improving the driveway so that future cement trucks can make it up there without getting stuck.  And then it’s on to digging out the slab foundations and the swimming pool.  Exciting times.

So the next few blog posts will undoubtedly be full of construction stuff.  This post is the calm before the storm, if you like.  In the meantime I thought I should fill you in on what we’ve been doing as summer has turned into autumn.

We’re getting used to the seasonal cycle now.  As the hot weather starts to cool down, it’s time to dry and pickle and preserve things for winter.  Here’s a couple of photos showing how that works for tomatoes: boiled up with olive oil and salt and sealed into jars.  Great for making pasta sauce in January when there are no tomatoes in the shops.

Washing tomatoes

Washing and coring tomatoes

Storing tomatoes for the winter

Storing tomatoes for the winter

It also seemed like a good idea to get some last trips to the beach in, before the water gets too cold for swimming.  This shot was taken on the road to the national park, just coming up on Guzelçamlı with Mount Mycale in the background.

The road to the beach

The road to the beach

And this one is a few hours later, on the way home, looking back at the sunset.  Those hills on the right are actually the Greek island of Samos.

Dilek National Park at sunset

Dilek National Park at sunset

We’re still getting warm days with high temperatures between 25 and 30, but the summer drought has broken and the rain is starting to come a few millimetres at a time.  Here’s a sun shower we had one afternoon — the photo is looking out to the west, across our neighbour’s back garden.

Sun shower over next-door's house

Sun shower over next-door’s house

Our friend Carol came to stay for a week at the end of September, and this was of course an excuse to visit our favourite tourist spots again.  Şirince is always good for a lazy lunch and a walk around town.  I feel as though I have photographed the place to death on previous trips, so this time I tried to get a sense of the colours and textures in the souvenir shops and market stalls.

Jewellery and souvenirs

Jewellery and souvenirs

Lamps

Lamps

Olive oil

Olive oil

Silk scarves

Silk scarves

Carol flew out of Bodrum/Milas airport on a late-night flight, so we all drove down to Bodrum in the early evening to look around and have dinner beforehand.  I’m not sure that my pictures do it justice, but Bodrum (Halicarnassus in classical times) is lovely.  Development has been kept reasonable with a no-buildings-over-three-storeys rule.  Fantastic harbour.

Bodrum by night

Bodrum by night

Shop in Bodrum

Shop in Bodrum

Genuine fake watches

Genuine fake watches

Anyone who has been reading the news will not be surprised to hear that we saw quite a few Syrian refugees sleeping rough on the Bodrum waterfront.  Presumably they were looking for a boat to one of the Greek islands.  (No pictures as it seemed like the last thing they needed was a camera in their faces.)  A very sad situation that looks as though it may go on for a long time.

While we’ve been waiting for the work to start up in the orchard, it hasn’t all been swanning around the countryside and taking photos, honest.  We’ve also been doing the last of the jobs down here in the farmhouse.  With the help of our neighbour John, I learned to weld (read: “John decided that I was going to learn to weld whether I liked it or not.”)  Here’s my first welding project: a little stand to stop an old amphora from rolling across the courtyard.

First welding project

First welding project

We built another new door, this time for our bedroom.  (Note the inevitable cat flap.)

Another door

Another door, under construction

And we carried in a pallet and a half of bricks that will be used to build a raised bed and a retaining wall in the garden.

Bricks for raised bed and retaining wall

Bricks for raised bed and retaining wall

Thanks for reading.

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