Somewhere in Yunnan, China
Somewhere in Yunnan, China
Since the old pig sheds have been renovated we have a lot of extra space. What we have as well is an enormous heap of firewood so we got a woodstove, constructed a chimney from left over metal from the same building and now we can cook on wood.
As you can see it is now time for warm coats and scarfs and also we are inside the top of the building is completely open. So the inauguration party of the woodstove probably will be the last event for this year.
Autumn is clearly here and it was time to harvest the last items and prepare the garden for the winter. We never intended to grow potatoes but last year we must have left some potatoes in the ground that had grown there from potatoes we had planted in 2021. This is the first year we have a passion fruit and it supplied us with quite some fruits. Last year there were enormous amounts of Chayote / Buddha fists. This year they do very badly, there are few fruits and most of those are crooked. The pumpkins were very disappointing as well.
It took a while but after eight months work the drawer cabinet is finally finished and transported to our house in Kunming.
Finally the wall of the pig shed has been finished. The wall was levelled out and new reinforced concrete lintels cast over the doors. A row of hollow blocks was placed on their sides to top off the wall and make the transition from wall to no wall a bit smoother.
Then more netting was installed so plants can grow up to it. More ivy has been planted to cover the remaining wall.
At the end of the National Day Golden week holiday we held a party for the Xu part of the family.
The whole week it had been perfect weather but at this day we got an enormous downpour. Luckily it started after we had set up things and just after our first guest arrived it stopped. Anyway this was the first time that we hosted our guest inside for some time.
Luckily the rain stopped soon after and we could go outside again as shown in the group picture below.
Slow cooked ribs, with or without duck, is now a fixed Giants Republic tradition.
This time a duck joined the ribs in the drum BBQ.
And also Xu Ying is a vegetarian she liked the sound of the chopping up of the duck by her mother so much that she made a recording of it.
For the National Day party Xu Ying invited her law firm colleagues who came with their dogs, kid and men in black.
As per tradition on National day there is moon cake and Puer tea is a law firm tradition.
As per Chinese tradition a lot of eating and drinking is done.
People brought giant melons and even a complete dried ham.
Quickly becoming a Giants Republic tradition the slow cooked ribs from the drum BBQ.
One of the tasks still to do was finishing the wall of the pig sheds. After levelling the wall and construction of new door lintels the final row of hollow blocks could be places. The whole thing is topped off with netting for the plants to climb on.
Some of the concrete floor had to be removed as well to create flower beds for the climbing plants.
To celebrate the summer and the completion of the renovation (And to show off their painting skills) a party was called for family and friends and friends of friends.
As one can see in these pictures a lot of time was spend one China's number one pass time which is eating. But now we have number two pass time as well which is playing Mahjong.
And some music was made.
Even the three-wheeler which was sitting idle in the back shed was brought out of retirement and given a spin.
Even the three-wheeler was taken out of the shed and taken for a spin. Go here for a video clip of the drive.
As last part of the renovation the "rubbish room" was cleared out and tidied up With the completion of the bathroom and this room the renovation is now officially completed.
Problem is now were to put the rubbish. OK some stuff could be given away and is now filling other people's rubbish room.
Furniture making encountered a setback because I accidently used the wrong nails when building up the side walls and the side panels were damage. This stupid mistake set back work for two weeks while restoring the damage by slowly filling the holes with paint.
Xu Ying and her mother did not only spend a lot of time painting one upstairs room and the stairwell but turned as well the "rubbish room" in to a proper guest room.
And since she is rather obsessed by any insects she decided to outfit every bed with a mosquito net.
The third pig shed had an ugly protruding wall and a rotten door (as can be seen here and here ). Since this door is no longer needed we decided to close the door space and let the ivy cover the concrete blocks.
Removing the blocks was easy because a very poor mortar was used when it was build but cleaning the blocks to be reused and levelling the foundation that is made of very hard flint stone took some time. Working by myself goes slow and the first build didn't get further than two and a half block.
From then on every day one or two rows of blocks were added in the door gap. The last 21 blocks, over the full width of the third shed, went faster with the help of Brian, Cornelia and Mark.
After a hot spring and early summer the time arrived to harvest our grapes and passion fruits.
The grapes were limited to two small bunches and frankly not very tasty. The passiflora produced 14 passion fruits and they were remarkably fragrant.
Xu Ying and her mother and aunt embarked on a painting spree in the Giants Republic painting walls and ceilings which the president of the republic refused to paint.
Meanwhile the president applied his painting skills elsewhere in exchange of real coffee.
After two years we finally have our own bathroom at the Giants Republic
When we arrived the outside squatting toilet was shared with the neighbours and we had a simple tap stand outside with no drain. Now we have a real bathroom with toilet and shower (OK limited hot water) and a kitchen sink in the actual kitchen in addition to the kitchen sink outside.
The dirty wall, which you can see reflected in the mirror above the washbasin, has since been painted by Xu Ying and her mother.
After the new roof the metamorphoses of the old pig sheds continued and now the back wall is heightened and one of the separation walls removed.
But in the end neither us nor them know what to do with this space so we decided to do nothing more. Short time plan is to clear up the front and put up netting for ivy to grow up on.
Assembling the parts that make up the frame of my new drawer cabinet on a stable, flat and level surface, makes life much easier than working on a small folding table on ones balcony like I used to.
But as one can see it takes still enormous amounts of clamps to keep everything in the right place.
After finishing the new floor and roof on the main house there was so much scrap metal left over, the whole construction is made out of metal, that finally it was decided that it was time to call the scrap metal dealer because one of the pig sheds was already full of scrap metal.
Work on another hobby project, a set of drawers for my clothing, progressed to the state of making a metal frame.
Compared to doing this before, which was at the balcony, it is now much easier on the concrete work bench.
Apart from placing a complete extra floor on their own house the landlady and landlord got a new roof placed over the bathroom and the pig sheds of the Giants Republic.
But since nobody has any good plan for the old pig sheds we decided to do not that much more until there is a good plan.
Meanwhile finally the new floor for the bathroom was made. This required mixing half a cubic metre of concrete. The easy part of this was that we could do the mixing on the floor of the bathroom itself so no transport of the concrete was needed and no floor to clean afterwards.
As one can see in the picture X'mas puzzle two is finished now as well. However not as bunk bed because the bottom bed was missing.
The drawers that were part of the staircase to the top bed are now placed under the bed.
Now we have to find a mattress for it.
In the picture as well two cabinets that were given to us by Xu Ying's niece when one of the teashops she was responsible for closed.
This furniture was custom build from ply wood and sheet metal and weighted quite a bit but thanks to the landlord and a strong friend the two cabinets made it upstairs.
The grape that rose from the dead last year decided this year to even produce some fruit. OK the two bunches of grapes are still very small but it is a start.
Unlikely that we will produce any "appalation contrôlée TGR" this year.
Any way since this is the Giants Republic we only produce "Magnums" and two bunches will not be enough for this.
Fittingly at Easter our Passiflora plants both at home and the Giants Republic started to bloom and produce Passion fruits.
The garden as well benefitted from the closure of the teashop. A standing LED light is now illuminating the garden on the left side of the pizza hut and a long strip of LED lights is fitted to the wall on the right side of the pizza hut. Both can be spotted in the background of the pictures.
At the end of March, Wang Shuo Yun held her mass meeting at The Giants Republic. At peak time there were more than 30 visitors.
Earlier attempts by her had failed due to Covid and bad weather. But Covid seems to be something from the past now and the weather is fine.
The whole events was one continuous eating from eleven in the morning till six in the afternoon bookended by an hour before for preparation and an hour after for cleaning up.
It started with noodles for lunch followed by dumplings and finished with duck, ribs and bacon cooked in the drum BBQ. This all interlaced with cakes, sushi, fruit and more barbequed food.
The idea was that the participants would be self-catering and some camping stoves showed up
But for this crowd small camping stoves are not enough so soon the kitchen was taken over as well
Go here for a video clip of the ribs.
While we were stuffing ourselves a construction crew was placing a new top floor on the house of the landlady.
After this weekend they would replace the roof of our bathroom and the roof of the pig sheds as well.
With the concrete workbench finally ready metal work was resumed.
The workbench and the space at the back are an enormous improvement compared to working on flimsy folding tables on a balcony.
However I have to share the back workshop with a couple of squirrels that live on the roof rafters. They make quite a mess by dropping half eaten persimmon fruits on the floor.
Things like painting I cannot do in the back workshop because of all the dust created by cutting and grinding but as well because of all the dust coming of the road above it.
To continue this year where we left last year with the puzzles.
The toilet reservoir cover has been fixed. Also not perfect it will do the job.
The bed puzzle is still as it was. No time to solve it and to cold. Looks like the bottom bed parts of this bunk bed are missing.
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