It was about time we sorted out the dining area downstairs – we can’t really call the area a dining “room” anymore since the previous house owners knocked down the wall separating the lounge from the dining room. We replastered the lounge area completely when we first moved in in 2003 and now it was the turn of the dining area.
On day 1, a protective plastic sheet was hung up where the old lounge/dining room wall used to be which meant we could keep as much dust and grime away from our living quarters as possible. The ceiling was covered in plasterboard and a thin layer of plaster added (you can just see the new brown plaster ceiling at the top of the photo above).
Day 2 was all about removing the old plaster from the walls. This took quite a while and allowed us to see where the fireplace had been altered into a gas fire in the past (see the red brickwork in the chimney breast above). The final job on day 2 was to embed the electrical sockets (power and lights) into the brickwork – previously the sockets had been fitted on top of the plaster which didn’t look particularly modern. An electrician came around to do this job and also coverted the 1 x double sockets into 2 x double sockets.
Day 3 was laying the cement on top of the brickwork ready for the finishing plaster. Patterns were drawn into the cement to give the final layer of plaster something to stick to.
Finally, on day 4, the finishing plaster was applied. And that was that. It took about 2 weeks to dry – it dried particularly slowly on the outside walls where we’ve previously experienced some damp. On the photo above you can see the different colours from the wet plaster on the walls and the dry plaster on the ceiling.
The next job was to paint the walls. Then add the architrave and then the skirting boards…
I joined the Beijing Hikers walking group for a 20km walk along the Great Wall. There were about 30 of us in the group, meeting at 8am and paying around £40 for the day’s excursions. This covered coach transport from central Beijing to Gubeikou and then return from Simatai. It also covered water, snacks and a good meal with beers at the end.
The Beijing Hikers were a really friendly bunch of people including regulars and many one-off or infrequent visitors. This trip was from Gubeikou to Simatai via Jinshanling and was marked up as a 5+ indicating it was fairly difficult. The path was easy to follow – we just walked along the wall for 80-90% of the day – but the changing gradients were quite a challenge. Some of the sections are incredibly steep which had quite an effect on the legs by the end of the walk. Actually it took 2 days for the full pain to be appreciated by my legs with the muscles feeling as though they had been pummelled multiple times by multiple people.
The wall just seemed to go on and on for as far as we could see.
The countryside was fairly dry and rugged, and most importantly fairly tourist free! For most of the walk we seemed to have the wall all to ourselves, which was in stark contrast to any other trip we made around Beijing.
The Wall was in various states of repair. Some sections were perfect, while others were crumbled down to some degree.
After the trip, it was nice to see a map of where we had walked. As you can see there were basically no roads joining directly to the wall with about 15 min sections to and from the wall at the start and finish.
Duration 5:17 hours
Distance 9.5 miles
Path (Google Earth)