Despite much slower progress with renovations now we are moved in, we are loving our new home!
Unpacking has taken us a long time as we sorted through boxes and discarded or gave away what we didn't need any more.
We now have a temporary office in the first lounge (Until I finish plastering upstairs & doors are put in!)
We've found a great Steiner kindergarden school for our daughter, not too far from the beautiful beach of Naruto. It's about 20 minute's drive each way so my wife will be doing the trip twice a day in addition to looking after our soon to arrive baby boy, so she'll have her hands full!
We went to an open day on a weekend and enjoyed all sorts of activities from nailing small pieces of wood together, to painting little wooden plaques.
It's a school where parents take part in some of the activities regularly, so for example the mothers take it in turn to cook for the kids. Should be good for meeting more naturally minded people!
As winter quickly arrived my first priority was to finish the wooden doors between the lounges and fit a temporary wall between the children's bedroom and central lounge. I fist sanded them completely to remove cat claw scratches and wear from hundreds of years use, then stained and sellac'd.
It took me a while to chisel holes for wheels in place and use the router to cut channels in the bottoms of the other shoji doors to separate the office / lounge & main bedroom from the walkway so we could use brass rails like the rest of the house. My wife was better than me at fitting shoji paper. With these finished, we were able to use the temporary paraffin heaters at last.
The last batch of Brass wall plates finally arrived from the States, so I was able to fit switches in properly.
Other electrics were completed by Arnie and the kitchen's trim was completed. Upstairs is pretty much finished except for plastering, which I need to get around to soon!
There's still much to do. Arnie got an ear infection in the middle of December and so progress stopped whilst he recuperated.
In between, family life has resumed now we're all together again. Our little one enjoys ballet lessons, the local natural hot spring & we occasionally take her to the zoo and with our dear friends Mark & Faith + family not so far away, we've been seeing a lot more of them too.
We were fortunate when two of our friends in Yokosuka found a nearly new American sized gas stove & tumble dryer! Stuff this size isn't usually available in Japan and I'd been trying to figure out how I was going to buy & import from the States. I'd even gone as far as buying online but my success in getting orders through were short lived. Can't ship stuff this large or heavy to friends in the military.
So I phoned and made an appointment and collected our Hiace. My daughter wanted to come and fell peacefully asleep all the way to Yokosuka. I successfully bought both machines for equivalent of $600 USD and fitted them both in our van. The stove only just cleared the roof!
I needed to go to Kansai on business so I took the opportunity to go to Shodoshima and load the Hiace with used roof tiles from a house my wife's parents recently had demolished. Each tile weighs around 2.5kg and the poor Hiace only managed to take about a quarter of the 6 ton neat pile of tiles!
It looked very over-laiden with sagging tyres when filled, so I pumped them up before driving it very slowly onto the ferry back to the mainland. As I walked away noticed one of the rear tyres was looking even more flat...
Came down to the parking area about an hour before arrival to Kobe and my suspicions were confirmed. A puncture and a heavily over -aiden car. Opps!
I tried to use the scissor jack but it begun to bend as the wheel was almost off the ground, so that wouldn't work. Fortunately a truck driver next door had a bottle jack I could use. Using the two together I managed to change the wheel just before the boat docked - Phew! There's always a solution to these problems if we persevere...
Driving back to Chiba on 23rd December, the Hiace cruised and returned much the same economy as usual from it's workhorse diesel engine, but I'd already decided I wasn't going to subject it to any more trips to carry tiles. I'll rent a large truck next time, I think...
There's another 3 loads this size of around 4 - 4.5 tons to collect from Shodoshima.
Christmas soon arrived and we'd already dug up a tree from the back of the house then potted it. Seems to have worked well, it's still green today despite a few weeks inside the house. I'll dig it back into the ground soon keeping it in it's pot, ready to use again next year. I figure it won't get too tall for our lounge for a long time yet!
There's still much I want to do on the house and the children's room still has unpacked boxes, but until the office upstairs is finished they'll have to wait.
One of our priorities is to fit a good sized quality wood burning stove. We've researched how to do this through a thatched (underside) roof and the safe solution is a double walled flue with a rectangular chimney through the roof. We've decided on a Vermont Castings Defiant Stove. We considered the options of buying in the States and shipping here then doing the installation ourselves, but I really don't fancy being up on the roof. Besides, although it's about double the cost to buy in Japan compared to the US, by the time we consider shipping, duties, lack of warranty, etc. it's only going to save about 20%, so we'll bear the pain to make the gain.
We already have a lot of firewood and the land probably grows more than we can burn every day for a year, so eventually the stove will pay for itself. It will also add value & charm to the house of course. We're looking forward to cooking with a dutch oven (Cast iron pan) & baking pizza over the embers in future.
(Picture saved from a google search)
My wife is about 3 weeks from giving birth to a baby boy - who is to be born at home with the help of a midwife and two friends who will assist with looking after our daughter too.
About a week into the life of our son, or perhaps a bit longer, I'll take my wife & children to her parent's place for a month or so, which will enable us to complete the stove installation and other work, hopefully.
This morning we have an appointment to see a local stove specialist at his home - as recommended by a local friend my wife has recently met.
We're looking forward to meeting him and hopefully finding our man for the job of supplying & fitting our Vermont Defiant stove system... brrrr!