End of rest

It is the Tuesday after the Easter break and the end of my four-day rest from work, not that I had been completely idle of course but it was a break from the project. Much as I like doing the construction part of a project it can be a little tedious sometimes, especially if I am mixing concrete. Fortunately I don’t have to mix it by hand as we have a mixer but it still has to be filled and emptied and then it has to be transported and laid. On most jobs that in itself presents no problems but on this project it has an extra hurdle. The wheelbarrow cannot be pulled into the room so easily unless it is only part-filled which would slow down the process considerably. I have therefore to get it as close as possible and shovel the concrete into the room. Even that is awkward because the wheelbarrow handle is in the way and there is limited space for using the shovel. I manage but it gets tiresome. The plan for today was to begin laying the screed which is simply a finer concrete mix giving a smooth finish. The base concrete had set hard and had four days in which to do so. After two full mixer loads and a lot of manipulation I got this far….

The screed is the darker colour in the pictures. Having decided what depth of screed I would lay over the existing concrete by the doorway (at the bottom in each picture) I had to make sure I lay the screed to that same level. I used a square of plywood laid on the existing concrete and using a level with one of the two long pieces of timber (one is shown in the pictures) laid the first part around the edges and what was left elsewhere. The timber was left as you see it because it wouldn’t fit inside the room lying down. It was used for the longest measurement from the doorway. A slightly smaller in length timber was used inside the room. I had to make sure the mix wasn’t sloppy or too dry so that it could be manipulated using the ‘float’. Subsequent mixes can be a little sloppy to aid quick levelling using the timber as it will be contained inside what I laid today. Then it is a case of getting it smooth using the float. That is the part I like doing more than anything else. I stopped work at twelve-thirty but it took another half-hour to tidy up! Four hours was enough for the day. During the afternoon I watered the garden then walked down the road to a neighbour’s property and sat chatting with her for a while. More about that later……………………………………….Shirley Anne


Just one more……

….please. I was giving myself a good talking to on Sunday (Easter) and telling myself I didn’t really have to resume working on the toilet project on Monday and that I should take another day off, after all it was Easter weekend and a national holiday. So I indulged and gave myself another day of rest. However, I did take my usual morning walk but at four-fifteen! I had retired to bed early the night before because I was feeling tired (can’t think why) so it meant an early rise which I wanted anyway. According to the weather forecast it was supposed to stay quite mild overnight but it wasn’t as warm as I had hoped, in fact is was a little chilly. I didn’t put too many garments on, in fact only my jacket over light clothing but it was just enough to keep me warm. Again, half-way through the walk it began to get warmer but only a little. The sun was just rising as I got home around six-fifteen. Normally I would then have breakfast and an hour later do any work on whatever project I had given myself but I had the day off! That’s four whole days of no work! I’m frightened I might get used to it but there is little danger in that as it isn’t likely. The days up til Monday had all been sunny throughout and Monday started off the same way but around three o’clock thin clouds began to roll in and the rest of the day was still warm but hazy. E went out in the afternoon to visit her mom otherwise she would have been sunbathing as she had been doing over the holiday. Whilst I was on the patio in the morning I decided to take a couple of photographs of the plants nearby…..

It looks similar to the one at the top of my blog and maybe it is the same variety or close relative. I call it the ‘Ice Plant’ though I don’t know its real name but its leaves are thick and filled with water which makes it cool to the touch. Hence ice plant. It is planted on the left of the Mound by the path. The second photo is one taken of the Mound from the Patio. On the left in the same picture is what we call the west border which runs up to the Patio.

In the next picture you can see more of that border which has filled up during the last two years and is a veritable mini-jungle! Just as planned though it does need a manicure. Following that picture is one taken at the end of the border where it meets the Patio wall. The plants there have really sprouted up, again as planned.

Finally in the last picture you can see one of the two Phoenix Canariensis plants that had been damaged by frost a couple of seasons ago but had begun to recuperate last year. Fortunately my efforts to protect them this past Winter have been successful though there is still a way to go to match their former glory. They did look like the one on the extreme left in the previous picture.

Shirley Anne

Too much

We’ve had some really hot days over the Easter break and sunny most of the time. However it has been dry and very warm with temperatures reaching 22 deg C where I live and even warmer in other places. That is fine if you like the heat but unfortunately I do not, I get weary and tired. Of course it depends on how warm and dry it is. Anywhere between 14 and 19 deg C is fine for me and I like a little moisture in the air! It was unusual weather for April. I write this on Easter Day that is Sunday and even at this moment (six o’clock in the evening) it is still hot and sunny. They say the temperature won’t drop below 11 deg C but more likely it will stay warmer during the night. I am therefore planning my walk for the early hours before the sun rises as I don’t want a repeat experience of my walk on Friday. I have been a good girl and have resisted doing any work on my project since Thursday though I have been watering the gardens. I should hate to lose plants for the sake of a little watering. This kind of weather is great for sitting around doing nothing but that bores me soft. I did however spend a lot of time doing just that but I was restless and up and down a lot. It’s like a catch twenty-two thing, I get restless doing nothing and tired if I do something but I’d rather be doing something! I have spoken of this a few times in my posts. Some might say I am substituting work for a lack of play or other interests and they could be right, I am often not sure myself. I ask myself what would I like to do but come up with nothing.

Yes I do have interests, they are listed on one of my pages, they are varied but they are mostly things I don’t want to be doing for any great amount of time. Travel is fine but a waste of time, people are fine too but not all want to spend time with me nor I with them or some of them if I were being honest. Others are full of empty promises, we all have them in our lives I am sure. My friend told me to have fun but what is fun? Her kind of fun isn’t the same as mine. I am not sure what my kind of fun is anyway. It must be doing those things I like I suppose which brings me back to work! I seem to have answered my own question………………………………………….Shirley Anne

Tell me how

During my life as a Christian, well to be more precise during the thirty years since becoming a Christian I have often been asked how does a person become a Christian. Some ask why can’t I just believe in God? In truth Jesus Christ is God but some have difficulty with that. Then I was often told by people that they didn’t believe in ‘religion’, whatever they meant by that. My reply was that I don’t either! I was playing devil’s advocate for I knew what they really meant, they had no use for a God. Yet having said they were not religious they asked me why I believed. When I told them I didn’t believe in religion I added that I believe in relationship. I believe in having a relationship with God and not in religion per se. Religion could never save me but God could. Why do I need saving and from what? I will let the following lesson explain…. How Do I Have a Relationship with God? (Matthew 18:21–35 …..and do read this passage if you can) The Problem
Satan, the great deceiver, clothed himself as a serpent, one of God’s good creatures, and set out to trick Adam and Eve into disobeying their good and gracious God. After creating Adam and Eve, God had told them not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden of Eden. But Satan suggested that God wasn’t being honest when he warned of the results of eating the forbidden fruit. The great deceiver’s ploy succeeded, and Adam and Eve willfully rejected God and his promise of life together in the garden.
The Solution
Even before Adam and Eve sinned, God had a plan to get people back into a relationship with him. When he replaced their clothes of fig leaves with the skins of animals, he signaled something important—it would take the blood of another to cover the sins of humankind. God’s plan began with the founding of a brand-new nation through which he would reveal himself and his plan to restore humankind. For more than 1,600 years, every Biblical story of the chosen people of Israel would point to the coming of the solution. God’s solution to the problem of sin was made complete through the sacrifice of his Son. Here is the decision a person should make from the heart, placed into a prayer of acceptance to God. Dear God, I can’t, but you can. I believe in Jesus, who is God. I believe he died and rose from the dead. I place my faith in Christ to make me right with you and give me eternal life. I have no other plan but to have faith and to trust you. I am doing a 180 today and pointing my life toward you. I will no longer run away from you, but toward you. Then there comes an outward declaration to the world—a way for us to demonstrate our faith decision: “I profess you with my mouth, out loud for others to know where I stand. And I publicly express my full devotion to you through baptism.”                                                                      KEY VERSE
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)                                                                                                                       KEY IDEA
I believe a person comes into a right relationship with God by Christ’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.                                                                                             KEY APPLICATION:                                                                              What difference does this make in the way I live?
We seek to please God because of what he has done for us, not to earn a relationship with him.
We walk in grace – and offer grace to others. Let us not forget Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant recorded in Matthew 18:21–35. It would be wrong and inconsistent for us to refuse to offer grace and forgiveness to someone else in light of the grace and forgiveness God has shown to us.
Taken from NIV Believe

Shirley Anne


I thought with being so tired on Thursday night that sleep would have come easily but it didn’t. Well not exactly. I had taken a shower for doing so always helps me to relax and I usually then find falling asleep no problem. However it took me a while before I nodded off at ten-thirty or thereabouts and then I found myself awake again at two o’clock! From then until about six o’clock I couldn’t get more than a few minutes of continuous sleep. Too much on my mind perhaps? Friday (Good Friday) morning would normally see me taking a walk in the early hours but I hadn’t set the alarm to get me up before five. As it happened that didn’t matter for I was already awake though I hadn’t any intentions of going out at my usual time. I had decided to take my walk in the sunshine for once because the weather forecast indicated a very warm and dry day. Temperatures did rise to around 20 deg C and there was little wind. It remained sunny all day long. I thought I would take my walk around nine o’clock and return before lunch. I ate breakfast at seven and left the house just after nine. I chose to walk south along the main trunk road to Ainsdale, something I very rarely do as I prefer walking along the beach or though the dunes to get to Ainsdale though I often take the coast road too. At first it was very pleasant but by the time I had reached the beach I had walked around three and a half miles and it was getting too warm to walk without cover. A combination of tiredness, a lack of sleep, my age and the warmth of the day took their toll and by the time I had returned home (roughly seven miles round trip) I was feeling rather exhausted. A nice cool drink and my already prepared sandwich which I had made after breakfast and popped into the fridge saw me feeling better. After lunch I spent some time on the patio relaxing and did nothing else until four o’clock when I had to make the effort to water both the front and rear gardens. It is surprising how long that takes for the gardens are not small and the plants need plenty of water when the weather is warm and dry for days on end. It had certainly been warm and dry for many days. I gave the lawn a watering too which I don’t do as often. After lunch I also opened the door to the room I had been working in to give it ventilation and help it to dry quicker. The concrete had set but for a few more days it would be ‘green’ and needed leaving alone before I could lay the screed. That I planned to do on the Monday. Two more days of rest……..Shirley Anne

Busier than ever!

I had promised myself I would take the day off from working at home but it didn’t pan out that way. It was Thursday morning with the promise of a really warm day and I was up early in order to do the weekly shopping. The plan was to follow that with a trip to the builders merchant to purchase more materials knowing that they might be closed on Friday which was Good Friday. Many places remain open on Good Friday and many people just carry on as usual unless they are taking a trip for the Easter weekend. I wouldn’t be working on Friday but I probably would be working on Saturday so I thought I would make sure I had enough materials. I was back home at nine-fifteen having made the two separate trips shopping. E was still in bed! She stays up until it is almost one in the morning and sleeps in on most days. After putting the groceries away then going for the building materials I made myself a coffee and put on my overalls so that I could unload the van. I then ‘opened up shop’ as it were and got ready to do more concrete mixing and laying. I wanted to finish laying the base concrete in case I decided to begin laying the finer top layer on Saturday or Monday depending whether the concrete was dry enough by then. As you can see I managed to complete it.

Remember the area by the doorway was not lifted as that had been concreted many years ago by ‘A N Other’ long before we moved in. That and the rest of the floor would be getting a screed layer. Well that work took me up to eleven-thirty and I cleared up the site and put everything away except the mixer of course which would remain outdoors with a cover on it. The door to the room was left open all day to aid drying but it would take at least another day for it to set. After lunch I got out the leaf blower to tidy up the patio and the pathways. I then brushed around all the pathways and cleared the debris. It was now time to mow the lawn and how glad I was that I had purchased a ride-on model! I was feeling a little tired by then so a nice ride around the garden cutting the grass was by way of a relaxing job. I still hadn’t finished though because whilst I was putting the grass cuttings in the compost bin I realised I hadn’t cleaned the passage at the side of the house so that had to be done too. Once that was done it was time to water the garden which takes some time. Intermingled with all that work I did some clothes washing by hand as E had been using the machine and I needed to get my overalls and working clothes cleaned and hung up to dry. Here’s me thinking I would be taking the day off! I would be taking the next day off though, it was Good Friday. Shirley Anne

Mixing it up

At last we are enjoying warm weather! I write on 17 th April. This morning I took my early morning walk and it wasn’t too warm at 7 deg C. The easterly breeze, though not too high was making me feel a little cold but I was dressed for it. About half-way through the walk I could sense it getting warmer. The sun was just rising but it wasn’t the sun making it warmer as it was still too low. It was the wind. Well it couldn’t be anything else could it? By the time I reached home it felt about two or three degrees higher than when I started out two hours earlier. Today I was going to begin mixing concrete so I wanted pleasant weather. I wouldn’t be working in the sunshine because the work was at the rear of the house which points roughly northward. The conditions were perfect for me which made the work more enjoyable. Yes I do enjoy working. Anyway I had first to set up the cement mixer and gather all the materials from the garage and wheel them along the path to the other side of the house. I set up the mixer next to the patio to make use of the power outlet there but it was also the nearest place to the job. Here’s an older picture showing the mixer in the same place.

The patio looks rather empty in this picture but it was taken at the time I was actually constructing the flowerbeds on the patio itself. On the extreme left-hand-side of the picture you can just see the end of the wall on which the stone steps from the upstairs kitchen take you down into the garden. We seldom use those steps these days but underneath the far end of them is the entrance to the room beneath the kitchen, the proposed new toilet where the work is underway. After mixing the concrete it was poured into the barrow but getting the barrow into the room was nigh on impossible. However after a couple of attempts I managed to manipulate it without spilling its contents all over the path. It as then a case of shovelling the concrete where I wanted it to go. I must have mixed six loads before lunch and two after lunch and have almost run out of materials. Before commencing mixing any concrete I took the huge roll of plastic sheeting we have into the garden and opened it out on the lawn in order to cut it to use as a membrane. It almost covered half the lawn when unfolded! You can see it in the pictures below.

The second picture was taken before I stopped for lunch and after lunch I had just about filled all of the right-hand-side of the floor. I had used almost half of the sand I had dug out from the room to make the concrete. I might take tomorrow off from working as I do the shopping in the morning and will need to then visit the builders merchant to collect more materials. According to the forecast tomorrow will be a scorcher of a day and I might just spend it relaxing on the patio. We’ll see………Shirley Anne

Outside toilet

If you remember in my previous post I am now calling the new project the outside toilet. Today, that is Tuesday (April 16) I have put in pretty much a full day’s work. This is me, just don’t know when to stop. After some time in saying I will restrict my working hours each day I put in a full day! Ah but it is infrequent and I don’t work (on projects) every day but once in a while I see the necessity. Currently I have been preparing the floor in the new toilet in readiness for laying concrete and today, apart from laying a membrane I finished that part of the project. The reason I took the whole day, aside from my lunch and coffee break, is that after lunch I had almost completed the task so it was worth the extra time to finish it. Here are a couple more pictures

They don’t look much different from the previous pictures but there is a world of difference between them. I removed more of the sand and rubble and gained an extra three bags of sand. I levelled out the remaining sand and lay a membrane over it a section at a time then covered it with the rubble before putting some of the sand back. On top of that I will lay another membrane, the main one which will lie on the soft sand. I will then begin laying concrete over it a section at a time. 

The sand in these bags will be used to make the concrete. Waste not want not! All the bags of rubble I put at the side of the house have been emptied and used today though I had to break up some more old tiles to make more. Nothing gets wasted. Before starting work this morning I took a trip to the builders merchant to purchase some granite stones and cement but I fear I will need much more. I will see how far I get with what I have. You can see in the top pictures the small area of existing concrete floor which I didn’t dig up. What would be the point in that? The new concrete will be slightly lower than that area so that when I lay a thin screed it will cover that small area too.                                                                                                                                           Shirley Anne 

Forgotten room

As you know if you’ve read my latest posts I have begun to start work on a new project, ‘The forgotten room’. It is actually the room in the cellar which is beneath the kitchen. As I know what I intend to do with the room I am now calling it the ‘outside toilet project’. I had made a start on it a couple of years ago and on Saturday last returned to start the work in earnest. It is Monday 15 th April as I write and early this morning I went for my walk. It was quite cold and the easterly wind was relentless making it feel even colder. I was glad to be back home. An hour after breakfast I put on my overalls and boots and set about the task for the day which was to remove some of the sand from the floor of the outside toilet. Unfortunately it wasn’t all sand, there was rubble mixed-in with it. The idea was to lower the floor so that it could receive a thick layer of concrete and a screed later on. I was on my knees most of the time shovelling the sand mixture into a large bucket through a garden soil filter. This removed most of the brick rubble but not the smallest pieces. There were lots of large broken pieces of brick in there too. It was as though the builder had used the area for dumping all the building waste before covering it with sand. If I were to dig out the whole cellar flooring I am sure it would all be the same. When digging out the pit in the gym I came across rubble too so I know it is down there. I’ve worked on too many building sites not to know how they do things! Here is what the floor looked like after I had finished for the day.

The dark band around the bottom of the wall is the exposed brick after the sand level was dropped. I may have to remove a little more before I am satisfied it is deep enough. Once it is I plan to cover it with a plastic sheet to form a waterproof membrane before covering it with the concrete. The sand is actually very dry except near to the outside walls (right-hand-side and in the right corner at the bottom in the picture) where it is slightly damp. This is because there isn’t a damp-proof course on any of the walls. It was the way they built them in Victorian times when the houses were built on sand. The membrane will cover the base and will rise to the finished floor level along the outer edges. That will prevent any water rising from beneath or through the walls to the floor. Anything above ground level stays dry anyway. I removed enough sand to fill two large bags….

…..and a number of bags of rubble which I had to store down the side of the house out-of-the-way for the time being until I need them. They will probably go back on the floor to form a hard ‘crush and run’ base for the concrete. The membrane will be laid on to the hard base before the concrete is poured.

In the last picture you can see the soil pipe top centre to bottom right. This will be the pipe the toilet waste connects to. It rises to collect the toilet waste from the main bathroom above the kitchen. In the picture you can see the long horizontal pipe I installed and connected to it when refurbishing the bathroom a few years ago.

During the day the temperature rose quite a lot and the sun came out. I was able to sit out on the patio for a while to relax later in the afternoon. I was rather tired at the end of the day I can tell you!

Shirley Anne

My day

Actually every day is my day, it just depends how I look at it but what I mean by my day is that I take a break from everything involving my normal routine during the week. So my day is Sunday, my day of rest. This particular Sunday isn’t that warm, it is dull and overcast but the sun shines through the clouds every now and then. The whole week ahead doesn’t look as if it will be any different though by Thursday onward things are about to change. I will be too busy to notice except if I want to sit out on the patio. I hope to be carrying on with sorting out the floor in the ‘forgotten room’ I am refurbishing. You could say with this room that I am starting from scratch from the floor upward. At this moment the floor no longer exists for yesterday I dug it up! Apart from a small area by the threshold the floor is just sand with rubble beneath the surface. What I need to do is sift out the rubble so that only sand remains. After that I will need to drop the level to allow a concrete base to be laid and will bad the sand for re-use. The sand I removed from the pit in the gym came in very useful for making concrete because it was clean and dry. I can do the same with any sand I remove from this floor. All that is for the days ahead though. It is Sunday and I will just be pottering about in the garden and relaxing in the sunshine or even if it isn’t sunny, just as long as it isn’t cold and wet! Speaking of wet, I don’t think it will rain for a few days yet but maybe sooner.

Well it is late in the afternoon now and I’ve been rather lazy. It hasn’t been warm enough to sit outside and that is mainly due to the easterly wind. Tomorrow we shall finally see it veering more from a southerly direction so it should be a tad warmer. We’ve had the easterly wind with us for quite some time so it will only get better from now on. I spent a lot of time playing guitar today, more so than usual. It was around this time of year 29 years ago when I decided to learn how to play it. Shirley Anne