Saturday, 28 July 2012

It smells like a dead horse

It was a horrible job - almost like an autopsy of a very large creature that had become a close companion. Foolishly dressed in sandals and shorts, the first job for Fiona, Tim, Sophie and myself was to make war with the dense thicket of nettles surrounding our twenty-one foot mongolian gur. After we had taken a coal shovel to them, with a vengeance that could only come from numerous painful stings, we started the dissection.
First the canvas came off - quite a neat and tidy job. Then the innards. Too gross to give a blow-by-blow account, I shall just copy the report of the autopsy finding that I emailed to the colleagues involved...

Hello all

As you probably see from my other emails, I am very worried about the state of the yurt and how much of our energy it is taking up. We need it to be a fully-functional therapy room by the end of August if we are going to meet our targets for starting up the groups we have said we would for the EcoMinds project.

I am so worried that this just won’t be possible that I have written to Jamie asking if there would be space to use some of the classrooms at Iver, instead.
The felt layer - with mouse and other damage, and a very nasty smell

The cotton lining - once as white as snow...

Here’s what we found when we took it apart yesterday, and various thoughts about it:
  • The canvas layer (three sections plus cap) are dirty but structurally OK - now folded up and covered with cap at the site.
  • The five sections of felt are mostly dry now - but some are ex-mouse-infested, and all are mouldy, decayed and rotten in places. Also they are holed where the mice were, heavily stained and full of spores in some spots, and altogether extremely smelly. All five pieces are currently in the conservatory at TDU in Wexham Park Hospital - but Niddy has said it cannot stay there if the smell penetrates into other parts of the unit.
  • The cotton liner is unevenly brown-stained all over from the felt beneath and green-stained in steaks with the mould from the wooden ribs. It also has extensive areas of pin-pricks of black mould/mildew. It is also in the hospital conservatory.
  • The wooden frame is still standing and seems structurally sound - though several of the ribs in the area opposite the door are disfigured and sagging, presumably from the continual weight of wet felt above them.
  • Both the trellis walls and the ribs are covered in different colours of mildew and mould, with many spores visible on the ‘furry’ surface.
  • The wooden crown appears to be clean and in excellent condition!
  • The door has lost its varnish in several pateches, and the metal door furniture is rusty. It does not fit in its frame, so cannot be fully shut (though this is a longstanding problem).
  • The wood-burning stove is currently in pieces and very rusty. The backplate needs moving from the top to the back to accommodate the flue, but the bolts holding it are seized up with rust which has not been released with WD-40, oil, grease, brute force etc.
  • The new flue is dented and slightly squashed from transit, but we know this is not remediable, and should be fittable.
  • Our other equipment (like fire extinguisher, first aid kit, toolbox etc) are all OK.

Questions to decide
·         Do we want the wooden floor that we agreed? Whatever floor we have, it will need a damp-proof membrane installing under it - which will almost certainly require the wooden structure to be fully dismantled.
  • ·         Things we could do ourselves are:

o   install damp-proof membrane under the floor;
o   disinfect/peroxide bleach the woodwork and maybe paint with fungicial sealant;
o   scrub the outer canvas;
o   purchase new lining
o   purchase new felt layer
o   paint and restore the fire to good order
o   clean up the door
o   buy the furniture we need and decorate it to make it a good therapy space
o   Take the whole thing down as necessary and re-erect it (but this needs at least 4 people for 1-2 whole days)
  • ·         Things we probably need help with are:

o   install the fire and connect the flue;
o   clean/bleach/disinfect the cotton lining;
o   get the door working properly so it shuts properly and is lockable
  • ·         Things we definitely cannot do ourselves are:

o   mend the felt (although there is a possibility that it will be OK when fully dried out - though I would not be confident it doesn’t contain some infestation or other that will recur or cause future problems)
o   find the time and manpower to do all these things!
  • ·         At the moment, my favoured solution would be to get somebody to do it all for us - perhaps an English yurt-maker - and pay them whatever it costs - and include renovating and installing the fire and flue. This should all be possible to do before this coming winter.
  • ·         Another option would be to buy new felt and lining from the original manufacturers in Spain, and restore and rebuild the whole thing ourselves. If this is what we decide - I think it will probably not be possible to get it up before the winter, so we will have to be without it until Spring 2013.
  • ·         The minimal but fastest option is to make do with what we have got - damp-proof the floor, scrub the woodwork, put the felt back on when it’s fully dried, either clean or replace the cotton liner, and put it all back up ASAP. However, this does mean that we need to find a lot of people and time to do it all - and I doubt that we could get a new cotton liner at all quickly (which needs to go on the wooden frame first, in good weather)

  • Can we discuss and decide how to proceed before the end of this week please, folks?

David, Susan, Peter and I will have to approve any spending - but I think the stress it is putting on us all, and the whole project at the moment, is currently so much that we might need to just agree to pay for it all to be done for us.


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