In the space of the last fortnight my erratic lifestyle has again thrown up the unexpected. Two weeks ago I was tucked away north of Trondheim miles from anywhere and all tooled up to give the van its scheduled oil change in a secluded parking area. Whilst removing the sump plug it became clear that it was merely spinning freely allowing oil to leak out but proving impossible to either remove or re-tighten. PTFE tape reduced the trickle to a slow drip and I made my way carefully to a small garage some 30 miles away where after some effort we managed to apply a two part quick setting liquid metal that stopped the drips but prevented the removal of said plug.
With only a fortnight of my trip left I decided it would make sense to return early and the next three days saw a rapid and trouble free return across Northern Europe. In Bristol PC Motors fitted a new sump complete with gasket and fresh oil putting me back on the road again with a trip to Wales and Shropshire proving that all was well. After catching up with friends and family I was able to tag along for the next chapter in the renovation of a new bothy in the Elan valley in mid Wales.
Nine weeks previously over 20 tonnes of tools, materials and equipment had been lifted across to the ruined farmhouse where Paul, Chris and a small team of craftsmen had started on the ambitious project. Two MBA stalwarts had installed a flue liner once the chimney was secured and reported favourably on the progress to date and I was keen to see the transformation having walked in 20 months ago in mid December when the idea of a renovation first emerged and been at the memorable initial work party to dig out 60 years of accumulated rubble in November of last year.
Rounding the headland gave the first view of a remarkable transformation best described by clicking this link:
PICTURES TO BE FOUND HERE
Paul and his team with the support and back up of Alec, the Elan Valley Trust and the MBA volunteers are to be thoroughly congratulated on an achievement that is a true credit to all involved. The sensitive and sympathetic materials used combined with high quality craftsmanship have produced an outstanding result that sets a benchmark for future projects.
This stage of the renovation work was rounded off by the lifting out of scaffolding, tools, surplus materials and scrap roofing sheets by the skilled team of Chief Pilot Phil and his colleague Dave from Veritair (www.veritair.com) and soon the rejuvenated building was left in its remote surroundings with a kite and some sheep taking no obvious notice of the transformation.
A bonus for four of us was a flight over the bothy and surrounding area - the Elan reservoirs looked superb way below and the dams almost insignificant as all too soon we were dropped off at the water's edge for a final check of the site.
Much internal work including stove installation, repointing and the construction of a sleeping platform remains to be done so an appeal will be made to the many MBA volunteers who have achieved so much in Wales over the last 30 years in the hope that progress will be made in time for a scheduled 'official opening' in mid October.
Back at the drop zone a small team worked hard to return the scaffolding and other equipment to various storage areas before I headed off to Brecon with the prospect of a Bank Holiday weekend at another bothy near Dolgellau.
Thus my unexpectedly early return has had many a silver lining and I anticipate being UK based now until December - updates will follow in due course so as ever watch this