Restoration Phase 2 2001 - 2005
Whenever we showed anyone the project,
even dedicated vintage homes restorers in an attempt to
encourage some interest, we could see the body language.
It was just too much work to contemplate.
After Alan died, his son Murray and wife Maree and their family were keen to inspect
and, to Jane and Graham's delight, continue Alan's work.
They were quite intrigued to find inscribed in blood the
letters "AH" on the new wall. Alan had cut his had at
some stage and left his mark. With renewed encouragement
the new team started on some more cosmetic work. . More
cob repairs were made around the front door and holes
under windows were repaired, the the front door frame
and door were replaced (there was a heap of rot around
there and an inappropriate door put on at some stage),
and window glass repaired to keep out possums and birds
etc. The inside and out was given a general tidy.
Repairing the surface and holes in a
cob wall was time consuming if one wanted the clay to
stick. It required making sure there wall was indented
to key in the new work. The wall was wet thoroughly with
water and either Feb fix
(a type of PVA glue) or straight cow dung used to seal
the old surface. Next a clay cob mix made fairly dry was
used and forced carefully by finger or
hammer into the cracks and onto the wall. If the mix was
applied too wet then when it dried there was excessive cracking.
Even with a dry mix considerable cracking occurred which
provided a key for the next layer and was filled in later.
It was about this time that a film
crew from Auckland were looking for an old cottage in
original condition to
make the short film "Embers" and they decided on Highfield. The local community bent over backwards to
accommodate their requests. This was to be a big break
through for filming in the Mackenzie. The only problem
was that they wanted to undo our work - paint the cob,
pull down the new spouting and remove the new fence,
shoot the film then leave. We settled for a compromise - they
could put a clay wash over the spouting and remove part
of the fence as long as it was replaced but no paint!
The film making gave the locals some entertainment. Its
premiere was shown in Fairlie with one observer
commenting that "Fairlie was not quite ready for it".
Several years went by when other BPHT
projects needed attention and only the occasional day
was put in on the cob work. Graham mowed the grass on a
reasonably regular basis over summer to keep the place
tidy and on these visits the spouting was kept clear of
leaves - vital maintenance if the cob was to remain dry.