Half done

The scaffolding company arrived at nine-thirty as they had planned. They stayed for two and a half hours and had to leave but they returned two hours later for an hour and a half, four hours in total. However they would have to return on Friday morning they said so that they could erect the scaffolding at the second position on the other side of the house. This is what they have erected so far (Thursday evening)….pics 1162

A little less scaffolding than that which we had there in 2010. That scaffolding continued over the garage in this picture and then along the whole front of the house. It seems a lot of steel work for a leaking roof doesn’t it? Unfortunately it is necessary. What you see here is around 12 metres in height. The second position will be at the opposite side of the house to the left in this picture and should span the whole side of the house to the same height over the other garage. I will attach a picture in another post. I had arisen early and decided to clean out that garage of unwanted items such as the many large plant pots of various sizes. I put those into the small greenhouse with those already in there. We have so many pots we could open a gardening centre! The other items like mowers, wheelbarrows and furniture only needed to be stored properly to be out-of-the-way and of course the floor got swept too. For scaffolding to be erected on the garage roof there has to be a support beneath the roof and that was the main reason for my tidying up the place. As I write this in the evening the house is empty as E has gone to see her mom and I am waiting to take the cake I am baking out of the oven. I had prepared a scone mixture and had baked them an hour ago. The cake is a rich butter cake with desiccated coconut and a drop of vanilla essence in it. E doesn’t like coconut but asked if I would bake some scones for her to eat instead. She didn’t want a cake. How could anyone not want cake?

Shirley Anne


Something is happening at last

Pitcher plant
Pitcher plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 'Dentate' cultivar of the venus fly trap i...
The ‘Dentate’ cultivar of the venus fly trap in cultivation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was kind of feeling sorry for myself on Wednesday morning, nothing to do, well nothing substantial to keep me occupied and I began wondering what the day might bring. Just after lunch I made the decision to do some baking but alas even that idea was thwarted at the starting gate, I was short of some of the ingredients. E would be going shopping the next day so I resigned myself to baking another day. In recent weeks E has obtained two small exotic plants neither of which are native to this country and one is doing fine but the other was suffering somewhat. The first is a pitcher plant which traps insects and digests them as they slip down inside the trumpet-shaped stems with no possibility of escape. The second plant is a Venus fly trap, its function is obvious from its name but alas that one was the one which was struggling. I searched the Internet for information and discovered we hadn’t first of all placed the plant in a favourable position and secondly were watering it with the wrong type of water. The plant needs lime-free water and rain water is ideal. We have two large water butts filled with rain water so that problem was solved. The plant doesn’t mind cool weather and in fact prefers a period of colder temperatures each year. We had the plant indoors where it is warm so we moved it into one of the greenhouses where the temperature at the moment is cooler. The plant also likes its roots in water as it gets its nutrients that way as well as by digesting flies! So we placed it on a flat slab of stone standing in a container filled with rain water which will only require refilling occasionally. All it needs now is for some small flies to find themselves inside the greenhouse. Hopefully the plant will survive and continue to grow. We were about to return indoors and I suggested we begin moving the pile of bricks, stones and rubble that we had stored on the large concrete base which is actually the continuation of the garage floor which projects beyond the rear wall and was never built upon. It is a convenient place to store things, too convenient in fact. We had to move it all so that scaffolding can be erected there. After fifteen minutes or so and only a quarter of the pile moved, the scaffolding company arrived and began to move the scaffolding on-site. They were to return the next day with more scaffolding and erect it all at both ends of the house so that we can arrange for the roof work to be done. The day wasn’t a wasted day after all and it looks as if things are beginning to happen at last.

Shirley Anne

Well I never

Broom cupboard
Broom cupboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you not too familiar with the English language the above phrase ‘Well I never‘ is often used as an expression of surprise for an unusual situation or occurrence that a person may experience. It is a light-hearted way of showing unbelief in the actions of another person. ‘Did you hear what so-and-so did the other day? Oh, well I never, now there’s a surprise’. It was a famous saying often used by the English comedian Frankie Howard in comedy films in which he appeared. On Tuesday morning I drove across to another town to install a light and its switch in a small broom cupboard space under a stairway for an old lady living there. Fortunately there was a power outlet nearby from which I could wire the circuit, through a fused outlet of course! Anyway that sort of work isn’t unusual in the least, many people want a light installing in such spaces. I hadn’t asked the lady why she wanted a light there because without the light the cupboard would otherwise be dark inside. However she volunteered the information. She told me that sometimes when she was downstairs she felt the need to go urgently to the toilet so she had decided to buy a commode and put it inside the cupboard for such emergencies. The cupboard was too small in which to site a toilet and wash basin and besides which it was remote from a water supply and a drain. A commode seemed the obvious choice but as the room was dark she thought it best to have a light installed. She need not have told me anything of course as it made no difference to what I was doing. I thought to myself ‘Well I never, I’ve never seen a cupboard under a stair being used for a commode but there’s always a first time for everything I suppose.’ As I drove back home at noon I was half-expecting to see E’s nephew or one of his crew working on the front steps he has altered for us at my request. The small retaining wall needs a coat of render and the steps need an acid clean. The weather has prevented anything being done over the last couple of weeks. At the time of writing this on Tuesday it appears we have a whole week of dry and sunny weather ahead so there should be no excuse for not getting the work finished. No-one was there but soon after lunch E received a call from her nephew telling her he would come by and fill in the now obsolete fireplace in the bedroom we are refurbishing with building blocks and mortar. He arrived soon after and did that work and at the same time removed all the building rubbish that had been left after the rear garden wall was partly rebuilt a couple of weeks ago. He also removed the old carpet we had taken out of the bedroom. It was such a lovely day on Tuesday that I actually spent a few minutes sitting out on the patio in the warm sunshine. Everything is springing back to life and the cold weather is slowly leaving us.

Shirley Anne

Little by little

A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s.
A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I dislike advertisements in any shape or form that are pushed under our noses it is almost impossible to avoid them altogether. That does not mean I am persuaded in any way to buy into services or goods that are offered through any of them because I am not. There are one or two advertisements which mention the word ‘little’ and sometimes I am thinking I wish the advertisements themselves would follow suit! UK readers will know the phrase ‘every little helps‘ from a well-know supermarket chain‘s advertisement and by the way I don’t shop there, but the phrase itself and the meaning behind it do make sense. I was in the kitchen making myself a coffee and reflecting on all that I have personally done in the house in the almost twenty-eight years we have lived here. When I recall all the hard work and the various projects I had set myself to do over those years I am frankly amazed. I then think to myself what would the house look like now had I not done all that work? It is the sort of thing we would never think of doing all at once unless we had the money but even then we would most probably have given the work to others to do. Doing small jobs here and there, mini-projects and minor alterations and little by little much gets done. We look back and see that it was all worthwhile. Of course many tasks have been performed by others but usually because I hadn’t the time or maybe the expertise or the work was too much for one person to undertake. However where it has been possible and where I have not felt intimidated by the work I have taken it on board. Again little by little I have learnt to do all sorts of things I haven’t been specifically trained to do but practice makes perfect. It starts with a task or a project, the willingness to have a go, an ability that can be built upon. Every journey begins with the first step as the saying goes. In this house my journey has taken twenty-eight years, a long road with many steps but one that has been achieved little by little and costing much less than if I’d paid someone else to do everything.

Shirley Anne

Silly slang and other things

Butter and a butter knife
Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No work Monday seems to be the norm for me lately but it doesn’t stay that way too long either. I did get a call from a guy who had been struggling to repair a light and I went to his house to fix it for him. I was back home before you could say ‘Jackanory‘. Now there is a strange saying but of course it is only an allegory. E suggested we remove unwanted materials and tools from the bedroom in readiness for the furniture build. Hopefully the materials for building the furniture will arrive here within a few days. Then she suggested we, that is I, should call and arrange for the scaffolding to be erected in order for the problems we have with the roof to be resolved because the guy doing the repairs was taking far too long to get the work underway. He was supposed to be making all the arrangements but we need the work doing sooner rather than later. A little after lunch the owner of the scaffolding company called at the house to assess our requirements. We used this guy’s company when we had major work going on at the house in 2010 because we, that is I, liked him. His rates are very reasonable and this time he offered me a small discount from his estimated price. The scaffolding needs to be erected in two separate places but when he and I were talking I asked if we could have that scaffolding which was to be erected over the garage where I park my van to be extended across the full depth of the house so that we may have the rear chimney stack checked too. That stack isn’t in use and is unlikely to be in the future so we may decide to cap it off if it isn’t already done. So things are moving along as they should be. He stepped into the house whilst he made the calculations and E popped into the room to say hello. He asked how she was and after her reply I jumped in with ‘She’s having problems with rising damp in her wooden leg’ which brought laughter all round but he replied ‘Creosote is great for preventing rising damp’ which brought even more laughter. We like to laugh and joke around here. He told us that he aims to have the scaffolding erected on Wednesday or Thursday which will be yesterday or today as you read this. The price? £1000, and that is before any work starts! Should have bought a Bungalow! Now that isn’t a joke is it but hey, that’s the way it goes. After he left E sat and had her lunch and I sat with her although I had already eaten. I had wanted to be sure that one of us would be available when our caller arrived for I knew he would be calling around lunchtime.

English: Hot cross buns are a quintessentially...
Hot cross buns are a quintessentially British tradition at Easter.They can be eaten warm or split, toasted with butter for breakfast, tea or a snack. No one knows for certain when the tradition began, but in 16th century England, bakers were limited by law to occasions when these special doughs could be made. Good Friday was one; ‘cross buns’ marked this holy day towards the end of the Lenten fast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we were talking she asked why I had no butter on my hot-cross bun but she had said ‘You’ve put no butter on your bun’. I immediately thought how strange our use of language is and especially slang. The thing is, how could I have put ‘no’ butter on anything? Perhaps if worded this way you will see my point, ‘You’ve not put butter on your bun’. We use slang every day and we all know what is meant by what is spoken, that is as long as we are familiar with local colloquialisms. Anyway I enjoyed the dry, that is un-buttered bun I’d eaten supplementary to my lunch.

Shirley Anne

Really trying

Bless the Weather
Bless the Weather (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this on Sunday the sun is trying to break through the overcast sky. It is somewhat windy just now and there is the prospect of more rain to fall, however, it is the 21st as I write and we are now two-thirds of the way through winter. It can only get better but where I live that cannot be guaranteed. It has been some weeks since E’s nephew and his crew were here working on the front steps but the work isn’t yet finished. That is due to a couple of reasons but I suspect primarily the weather. It is the same for the roof repairs though I fancy that if I don’t keep pestering the guy who does the roof repairs it won’t get done. I am hoping at this moment that it is simply the weather which is holding things back though we have had enough dry days whereby it could have been done. The problem is that scaffolding has to be erected and even that hasn’t yet been done. I am trying my best to be patient though when I think about the damage water can do I get frustrated that things are not moving along. To be fair, like I wish the weather was right now, the ingress of water is not large, it is more like a slow build-up of a minor leak which looks worse than it is. The sun is shining and the sky is turning blue and that in itself puts me in a cheerful mood. I am hoping that in a couple of week’s time work will have started in building the bedroom furniture and then E and I will be able to choose the colour of the paint we want for the walls or what will remain of them on view. Those parts of the wall which will be hidden inside the wardrobes have already been painted. I have also to cut and fit a picture rail once the furniture has been built. E is arranging for the curtains (drapes) to be lined and we also have to fit a curtain rail and a ceiling light once we have selected those things. Finally we will have a new carpet laid but we won’t need to buy a new underlay as the one we took up is as good as new. In the meantime I have been quite busy working at my electrical business to help pay for all of this.

Shirley Anne

A loose screw

Chopped 'n' Skrewed
Chopped ‘n’ Skrewed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am getting used to having a little extra lie in bed now and then when once I didn’t even get the opportunity but I suppose it is all due to the fact that I am not doing as much lately. I often just lie there letting thoughts drift through my head until I finally snap out of it and get up. So it was on Saturday morning. It is the routine of taking a shower,  getting dressed and brushing my teeth which I find a chore though strangely not applying my make-up. I wonder why that is. I didn’t arrive downstairs until after ten o’clock and kept my late breakfast to a minimum, just enough to satisfy and no more. As it was so late I decided I would prepare something for lunch and I wanted to make some sort of vegetable broth or soup. I chopped up a bell pepper and an onion and lightly fried them in a sauce pan whilst I had a kettle of water heating up. I poured in the hot water and added lentils, the kind that didn’t need an overnight soak in water, and a handful of barley. Once that was simmering I added vegetable stock, a dash of black pepper and some garlic salt.

Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico
Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Later I added some pre-cooked carrots finely chopped and some frozen garden peas which too are already cooked before being frozen. Finally I added some mixed herbs. Once it had all cooked through I left it standing until I was ready to eat it later. I could only make things like this for myself because E doesn’t like most of the ingredients I put into it, onions, peppers, barley and lentils. Sometimes I will put in a little chopped bacon too but that wouldn’t persuade her to eat it even though she loves bacon. I think she is very fussy about her food but that is who she is. She was about to go off to her group’s monthly meeting when my youngest son surprised us with a visit. He and his girlfriend had split up last year and it was decided that she would move from their house. It appears that my son’s friend is in a position to cover her share of the mortgage payments by way of renting  as a tenant for he has landed a good job in the area and needs accommodation.  E went to her meeting and soon afterward he left to meet with friends. I had nothing to do that I could do so was at a bit of a loose end. I was upstairs and I went into the bedroom we are refurbishing and as I looked out of the window and the miserable wet weather we were having I noticed that the flag had come away from the pole at the bottom. Union FlagWe have had a little trouble with the flag in regard to the way it is attached to the pole and only a week or so back I thought I had finally cured the problem by using a nylon cable tie instead of relying on the rope eyelet provided which kept on wearing away. So I went outside to see what the problem was and on lowering the flag I saw that there wasn’t a thing wrong with the flag itself but the chain link it was fixed to. The flag uses a plastic-covered chain wrapped about the flag pole to act as a fixing and weight at the bottom of the flag. The top of the flag is of course attached to the rope which runs up inside of the hollow flag pole and which exits at the top of the pole. The chain has one link which is fitted with a ‘running screw’ nut. This means that as the nut is turned it exposes a gap in the link to allow a ring or hoop to attach and can then be screwed back to close the gap. All I had to do was re-attach the flag and close the screw. Why it had opened by itself I am not sure but obviously the screw had been loose.

Shirley Anne

Just an hour or so

Thank God For Nurses and self-timers.
Thank God For Nurses and self-timers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hanging baskets in Thornbury, South Gloucester...
Hanging baskets in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a bit of a wasted journey on Friday morning. I had been asked to call at the home of an elderly man by an elderly woman known to him who was calling on behalf of his daughter. The man has nurses visiting him because of issues concerning his health and I was asked to visit at ten-thirty when the nurse would be present as evidently he would not be able to answer the door. The problem as I had been told was that the power outlets in the utility room were faulty. When I arrived the nurse was a little surprised at my being there but when I explained she told me that whenever she or the daily help tried to use the washing machine it caused the power to switch off. I checked the outlets but found they were working normally. Obviously the machine was at fault and not the outlets. My involvement was at an end and I left: in any case I would not have been able to stay as the nurse told me that paramedics were about to call to take the man to hospital and the house would be locked. I returned home and a little while later the man’s daughter phoned and I explained the situation to her. I told her that I do not repair washing machines but that the outlets were seemingly in order. It was still only eleven thirty so E and I went into the garden to do some work for an hour or so. She planted some bulbs and flowers in part of the flower bed I had cleared when I removed the gooseberry bushes the day before. Meanwhile I re-potted the grape-vine which is in the greenhouse and cleared away all dead growth. I removed a few old dead plants from their pots and planted a few pot-bound clusters of growing bulbs into the flower beds. Once I start work in the garden it invariably leads me to do other things I hadn’t intended to do. I ended up clearing the remains of the overgrown strawberry plants on the raised bed between the greenhouses and the areas surrounding it. I suggested to E that we might remove the strawberry plants altogether as they tend to grow everywhere. We might grow them in hanging baskets instead which will be easier and might keep them free from garden pests like woodlice which find the fruit delicious. I proceeded to clean out the small room inside the garage where E keeps her car which had become filled with builders waste when we had the rear wall rebuilt a few weeks ago. The builders had used the room in which to store their cement mixer and materials overnight. It was time for lunch once I had done all the work and I went indoors but E stayed out a little while longer as she wanted to plant some bulbs elsewhere. It would be a few more days before we could work in the garden again if we were to believe the weather forecast, rain, rain and more rain until Monday.

Shirley Anne

Wore him out

English: "The Dedusting Pump", later...
“The Dedusting Pump”, later known as vacuum cleaner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I forgive you for perhaps thinking that I was referring to a romp under the bed sheets but no, those sorts of things have long since been a part of my life. Sex holds no interest for me now so I suppose you could say that I am asexual. I had an amazingly good night’s sleep on Wednesday through to Thursday and although I woke at around seven I nodded off again, waking up at twenty minutes past ten! Obviously I had no work scheduled so I was in no hurry to get out of bed but nevertheless I did of course. E had been up and about for a couple of hours and greeted me with a sarcastic ‘good afternoon’ though it was only eleven-thirty. Although she was up she hadn’t dressed or even had her shower. When I came downstairs I was wearing a pair of overalls  because I wanted to dig out the seven gooseberry bushes I have kept promising myself to do for several weeks. They are the ones I had planted in front of the large greenhouse in this picture below taken a few years ago.38 I put on my boots and went into the garden whilst E returned upstairs to shower and dress. There was no point in having breakfast so I just got on with the work. I placed the bushes into individual plastic bags which was a little difficult to do because of their size. Even though I as wearing protective clothing and gloves the plants still managed to prick me with those sharp thorns. I had them all bagged and stored in the front driveway hopefully to be collected by E’s nephew to take to his mom who had asked for them. We still have seven bushes planted in the area between the patio and the second garage: I have no plans to remove them. So I returned indoors and decided I would take ‘Robbie’ upstairs to give him a workout! I had prepared the bedroom for his arrival and set him in motion. Robbie is of course our robot vacuum cleaner! Shame on you for thinking otherwise. I closed the door and let him get on with it. In the meantime I had taken an ordinary cleaner upstairs at E’s request and did a spot of manual cleaning before going downstairs for lunch. Just as I had finished I received a call asking if I would help with an electrical job. I left Robbie running and went to do the work. E was going out too in order to do the weekly shopping. I finished the work but before driving home I drove to the service station where I’d had my van serviced recently because I wanted them to check for a suspected oil leak. I had seen oil on the board I park it over at home, a board I placed there for that reason. I was told that there wasn’t a problem but I suspect they wouldn’t have told me that they had not tightened up the oil filter properly. So I drove away with peace of mind. When I got home I went to my bedroom and saw poor Robbie standing there exhausted with his batteries fully drained. I replaced all the furniture I had moved to allow the whole area to be accessible for Robbie. I took him downstairs and gave him a thorough clean-up before returning him to his docking station to recharge his batteries.

Shirley Anne

Left with the cats

English: A motion detector attached to a garag...
A motion detector attached to a garage.

I went to a job on Wednesday morning that had been rescheduled from the previous Wednesday because the people were at work that day. I arrived on time and was shown all the little jobs that needed attention, a few more than I had been told about over the phone. The husband drove off to work and had left his wife to show me around. Once she had done that she too drove off to work and left me to do the work with only the two cats for company. It seems neither the husband or wife could get time off this week either but it didn’t matter though I did have to get in touch with the lady a couple of times to report my findings and for her to tell me how I should proceed. This is why I prefer somebody to be in attendance whenever I am working for them. As it happened I was able to do everything asked of me but I needed a tiny amount of plaster to fill in the holes where I had removed a couple of wall lights but found I hadn’t any with me. On a recent trip to the retail store to buy some paint for our bedroom project I had purchased some plaster but had forgotten to put it in the van! I keep it inside the hidden compartment beneath the passenger seat for it remains cool there even during the summer. I asked E if she would bring it to me as the house was only three miles from home. I filled in the holes and then we drove home for lunch. Soon after lunch E went to her mom’s house and then together to visit her sister whose birthday it was that day. Meanwhile I sat down with a coffee to relax but an elderly lady called to ask if I could find out why an outside light was permanently lit. Her house is only a mile and a half away so it was no problem to pop round. I poured my coffee down the sink and drove off. I found the light switched on as she had told me but for it to be lit there had to be a switch controlling it of course. It wasn’t the type which was controlled by a motion detector, it was simply a lamp inside its container. Even so the light still needed a manually operated switch for isolation purposes. Try as I might I could not locate a switch anywhere and the lady was of no help as she was so elderly she kept forgetting what I was asking her. I must have spent at least a half-hour trying to locate the switch but to no avail. I ended up just removing the lamp until the switch could be located. I had proposed installing an extra switch in the circuit, not the ideal solution but it would give a means to be able to switch the light off. The existing switch ought to be located. Whilst I was looking at the wiring to the light on the wall outside I noticed another cable nearby which seemed to be supplying a power outlet in a small extension to the kitchen. That cable was damaged and looked as though it was severely burned and ready to short-circuit. I suggested it be repaired as soon as possible or it might result in a loss of power to other outlets on the same circuit, probably those in the kitchen. I was trying to explain all of this to the lady and offered to return the next day to sort things out when her daughter arrived. Her daughter I have to say had an attitude problem and seemed a little annoyed that I was even there! Sometimes you just can’t win. I explained the reason for my being there and what action should be taken. I had spent an hour there but didn’t levy a charge. I doubt I will return considering the daughters attitude.

Shirley Anne