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The Island – April 2023

The boy and I made it over to the Island for two nights over the Easter holidays. With just the two of us working on the roof wasn’t really an option but there was plenty of other jobs to do.

Probably the main task was to install the flue for the stove in the parlour. I had spent a good bit of time researching how to go about this and sourcing all the items required and so we set off for Clare with the car packed full.

There was a decent northerly breeze blowing as we crossed and we surfed our way into the pier in good time.

On a previous visit I had cleaned the chimney and it immediately become apparent that it took a winding route from bottom to top. The plan was to drop a rope down the chimney and then pull the flue up. After lots of pulling and pushing we realised it wasn’t getting through so with a long piece of 2×1 I jabbed away for a while, dislodging 5 buckets worth of sticks and earth from the chimney. Next go after this we got it through and secured it with a top plate and clamp and added the rain cap.

As luck would have it the stove has a 5 inch opening so I had opted for a 5 inch flue rather than the more standard 6 inch. I don’t think we would have got the larger flue through.


The next job was create a flat base in the fireplace. I dug down to floor level and added some nice flagstones set into cement. It was all a bit rough and ready but it should do the job. Then it was a matter of trimming the flue to the correct length and adding the flue adaptor. That evening the concrete was sufficiently set to put the stove in place and connect the stove pipe. All seemed well, there was a great draw and no smoke leaks. Carbon monoxide alarm installed of course.

Charge controller and switch

The first day was damp so I spent a few hours on some non-urgent indoors jobs.

The house is powered by a single 400w solar panel that currently leans up against the house south wall but ultimately it will be mounted on the roof. It supplies power to a 115AH leisure battery. This is plenty for our needs as all we require is enough power for a few LED lights, to charge our phones and tools and to run the cooler (a cheap Lidl coolbox that works a treat).

The setup is all very DIY and in the past I just removed the positive wire from the charge controller to turn off the fridge. So it was good to finally install a switch for the lights and the fridge. It’s all a bit messy, but it’s only temporary as once the roof is finished the electrics will be set up in the main room.

Many of the interior walls will eventually need to be replastered so I decided to give it a shot in the out of the way in the tool room just to see how I got on. I’d never plastered before but had read up on it and watched a few youtube videos. Turns out it’s much harder than it looks. I had wet the walls before hand and made a 2:1 mix of building sand and NHL3.5 however it didn’t really want to stick and was very coarse. Apart from my lack of skill I think the main issue was the sand, finer sand might should give a nicer texture.

The north side
The south side

The final job on every trip is to place the tarp over the roof. Usually this is done in a mad rush as it always takes longer than expected, it’s a fiddly job. The tarps never last long on the roof, they get frayed from rubbing against the roof’s sharp edges and the eyelets eventually pop. This time I had splashed out on a 4x10m heavy duty tarp in the hope that it would sit neatly over the entire exposed roof and last a little longer. It was – as usual – a struggle to get it in place but, all things considered, we did a decent job and hopefully it will last the summer at least. We also finally found a use for the empty water containers!

Waiting for the tide

Sunday morning dawned very sunny and warm. Mid-tide was around 13.00 and we were tidied up and packed early so got to hang around the beach waiting for the rising tide to reach the boat.

It was nice to relax and soak up the sun for a while as all too often we are rushing off. The slip has a great view north to Coney Island with its distinctive humped ridge.

There is a reasonably substantial stone pier on one side of the inlet beside which sits the decaying bones of an ancient wooden boat and an old rusty lighter that would have been used to bring cattle to and from the islands.

An old wooden boat
An old lighter

While the tidal range wasn’t particularly big that day it always sweeps in very quickly along the very gentle incline of the bay, it probably took an hour to come in about 150m. Once there was a few inches of water under the boat we were able to move it further out, load it up and head on our way.

It was a great trip but next time there will have to be progress on the roof if we are going to get it done this year.

You can read my other blog posts about the island here.