Beautiful boulder clay

This unprepossessing grey mess I collected in a bucket is boulder clay. If you’ve got a house with clay walls, it’s like finding a seam of valuable minerals. There’s no clay to beat it.

Our part of Suffolk mostly sits on thick layers of the pale grey, white-flecked natural building material, laid down by glaciers grinding their way over chalk. But it’s usually deep down and hard to find.

It comes near the surface here, because that’s why our pond exists, sitting on an impermeable bed of clay. But it’s not so easy to dig out without draining the pond, which we think was once a clay pit.

Digging a trench to plant a hedge yesterday I kept finding lumps of it, deposited there after earlier work on the pond. It has got muddy, but that doesn’t matter – a bit of earth won’t spoil its performance.

Not only does it make a good, plastic clay for wall repairs when mixed with straw, it is also less prone to shrinkage cracks than ordinary yellow clay, and dries as hard as a lump of chalk.

If you have clay daub walls and come across any, store it till you need it. Wonderful stuff.

A new roof over our heads

Tim and Andrew laying the Glendyne slates
Tim and Andrew laying the Glendyne slates

After the frame was finished and most of the insulation installed, there was a delay getting our Canadian slates on site, because the UK supplier had run out of stock. (For an explanation of why they had to come so far, see Continental Drift and the Art of Choosing Slates). Once the slates arrived, the shell of the building was quickly made weathertight, which included fitting the conservation rooflights from The Rooflight Company. These are solidly built, nearly flush and much favoured by conservation officers. Continue reading “A new roof over our heads”