Gosh it was cold on Thursday, peculiarly the same as it was the previous Thursday and it was all due to the wind. Storm Caroline was attacking the country this time. We have had several storms come our way this year. The part of the country worse hit was Scotland up in the far north but that didn’t mean the rest of the country escaped from its effects. Here in Southport a couple of hundred miles south of the eye of the storm we were still battered by winds gusting between fifty and seventy miles per hour. Yes, I prefer miles per hour rather than kilometres per hour being as I am of an older generation! I do understand the metric system of course and have been using it for many years but I cling to the old ways when I can. New ways aren’t always the best. Anyway we were expecting the delivery of the elliptical cross trainer on Thursday morning and as is usual these days we are bombarded with text messages and emails informing us of the delivery status. Tracking is what they call it but all they really have to do is say the goods will arrive in the morning or in the afternoon, is there any need to know the exact minute? I think not. I was up early and ready to go for a walk by nine o’clock but E was still in bed so I left a note informing her of the expected arrival of the trainer, between 10.10 and 12.10 according to the latest text message. I went for my walk and instead of steering clear of the sea front I braved it on the return path home. Gosh it was cold! I turned inland for the latter part just to escape the wind. The trainer hadn’t yet arrived and it was eleven o’clock but that was alright if it was to arrive when they said it would. I made myself a coffee and soon afterward it arrived. It was too large a parcel, the size of a free-standing small wardrobe to bring into the house through the front doors. Even so, it was to be located downstairs in the cellar anyway and would have been difficult to take there from the main entrance. It had to go through the garage and into the cellar from the garden entrance. The poor guys delivering it had no trolley which I thought a little stupid so I brought our trolley out to their van so they could use it. Thanking me they moved it down the path into the now opened garage and dropped it where I indicated. As I write this near lunch time it remains standing in the garage. Somehow and some way I have to manoeuvre it through the rear door of the garage and into the cellar through the garden entrance door. We’ll see what happens. Having returned indoors for lunch I decided first to take down the flag knowing full well that it couldn’t withstand the expected high winds to come. It would be raised again probably the next day.
The title doesn’t infer we have two dining rooms I have to say before I go any further, no, it is just the second post about my current (well as I write this on Tuesday 21) project. It follows yesterday’s post. Now on Saturday as I mentioned then I began the work of changing the colour of the ceiling in the dining room. As you saw in the picture I started off painting it white but on Monday when resuming the work I discovered the paint wasn’t covering the existing crimson colour so I changed tack and switched to using a beige colour. Not only did it cover the crimson more effectively (though I had to re-touch here and there) it looked the better option too by matching and bringing out the oak-stained ceiling timbers. Naturally I had to over-paint the white I had used earlier. On Tuesday I managed to complete more than three-quarters of the work. and here are the pictures…
In the top picture you can see the street lamp-post in the garden which switched on at three forty-five as it was getting dark by then and that’s why and when I stopped work for the day. I needed daylight whilst painting the ceiling though I had to use the room’s lighting too at times. The second picture shows what remained to be done on Wednesday, apart from any touching-up that is. Also in the first two pictures I removed the small timbers which are fixed at an angle in order to make painting of the wall easier. You can see them replaced at the other end of the room after the wall there was painted. I had arisen very early on Tuesday morning as I wanted to take a five-mile walk before breakfast. I left the house fifteen minutes before six o’clock. On my return and after breakfast I began painting. Tuesday marked the anniversary of my birth too…..I am now 72!
So what was I going to do on Monday? It was only a matter of a few months ago when I would be off somewhere doing an electrical job on a Monday morning. Now I can please myself but I have set myself a routine nevertheless, a routine to keep me in good health through exercising. Although I did exercise beforehand I had to fit that in between my work schedules, now it is the other way round, I exercise first then do whatever needs doing later. After getting dressed in my sport’s clothes I spent thirty minutes on the treadmill which I now do every second day and occasionally on other days. Likewise, if I take a long walk, which I do also every second day, I still take short walks on other days too sometimes. I almost never take a long walk if I have spent time rigorously working out on the treadmill. The plan on Monday was to use the treadmill and perhaps take a short walk in the afternoon but things didn’t quite work out that way. Having changed into normal clothing for the rest of the day I decided to remove a faulty floodlight on the rear wall of the house and replace it with another further along the wall which too often was affected by the operation of the house boiler. Although it was distant from the exhaust of the boiler it would still be triggered to switch on sometimes so I thought it best to remove it altogether. There are still four remaining floodlights on the rear of the house which is adequate. I used an old ladder to do the work of removing the good floodlight but used one section of a much lighter aluminium ladder to do the rest of the work. The first ladder, which is constructed of galvanised steel, was far too heavy a ladder for general use and I wanted to be rid of it. I did that just after lunch. Another section of the same ladder is still hanging in the garage (see picture, it has yellow and white industrial bags stored on it) and I will get rid of that next time I visit the tip. When the electrical work was finished I got the hacksaw and chopped the steel ladder into two pieces so that it would fit on top of the van. I fixed them to the roof rack and then filled the van with other items we were getting rid of, a gents bicycle (in good condition), an exercise bike (faulty), an old computer screen, two printers, an old electric drill and the tray from my neighbour’s faulty dishwasher. I took the gents cycle to The Salvation Army as it deserved a new owner being as it was in good condition. They took it from me.
A dishwasher containing clean dishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was about to go indoors for lunch when my neighbour called and asked if I could disconnect her faulty dishwasher as she was getting a new one later in the week. I was dressed in my overalls so took the opportunity to do the job then. It took me ages to remove the old washer from beneath the worktop as she had an old carpet on the floor which couldn’t be removed. Finally I got it out and removed the cable, the drain hose and the water supply pipe. However the valve controlling the supply water was faulty and I had to replace it temporarily so the water supply to the house could be maintained. She would use a plumber to install the new appliance. I took the faulty machine outside ready for collection but I wanted to see if parts of the tray could be used as spares for our own dishwasher. Unfortunately they couldn’t so that’s how it ended up in the back of my van ready for the tip. By the time I had returned from disposing the items it was approaching four in the afternoon. I’d had enough for one day.
I didn’t feel like doing anything on Friday when I arose from sleep. Oh there were plenty of things to do but I simply felt I hadn’t the energy to do them so they were left. I want to install or rather reinstall the switch together with the photo detector which will allow the garage light to come on automatically when it is dark and the garage door is opened. I had the same arrangement on the old door and now the new door installation is finally complete I am free to do the work. Another small job I want to do is to paint over the underside of the galvanised steel beam which spans the garage opening. I may install an extra light in the garage too.
Graffiti stating “FACE THE WASTE” on a garage door in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the Monday of last week we had our green wheelie bins emptied, that is they were supposed to empty them. However, when I looked inside them neither had been emptied properly, one being half full and the other a third full. E had contacted the local authority to ask why the bins hadn’t been emptied properly and they made a note of it. By Friday nothing had been done so I gave them another call and was basically fobbed-off with excuses. I explained that whilst we were paying for the bins to be emptied (through our rates) we expected them to be emptied. Why pay for a service which is not carried out? I was informed that nothing could be done. That meant we would have to wait until the next visit for the bins to be emptied. I was a little annoyed at their attitude and was tempted to write and complain but I changed my mind. I brought the bins back in from the road and emptied their contents of leaves onto the drive. I left Nature to do the rest! It can get quite windy around here and they may end up back in the road. That will mean the local authority can sweep them up if they’ve a mind to. The problem with the local council employees who empty the waste bins is that they are not very conscientious at times. Despite my feeling listless and not wanting to do much I decided to go for a long walk before lunch and felt much the better for it.
It all seemed to happen at once on Thursday morning. I had retired to bed early on Wednesday night and was fast asleep by ten o’clock. Aside from being a little tired anyway I wanted to arise early in the morning so I could go into the cellar and exercise before breakfast. My new bike stand had arrived the previous afternoon and I wanted to see if it had been worth purchasing so it was the first piece of equipment I used. I didn’t spend too long peddling away and getting nowhere as the equipment intended and the main reason for that was I got a sore bottom after ten minutes. The problem lies with the seat. It is too hard on my nether regions so I either need to purchase something softer or modify it for comfort’s sake. Next I moved to the treadmill and spent thirty minutes working out on it. By the time I had finished my exercise routine E had come down for breakfast and she wanted to see the bike stand as she hadn’t taken a look the previous day. I ate breakfast and we both went downstairs to discuss things regarding the equipment we now have down there. E never used the treadmill until recently after years of my attempting to persuade her but now she has taken tentative steps to change that. It is her condition, spina-bifida, which has made it difficult for her to exercise but she is beginning to see the effort makes it worthwhile. She now spends a little time walking on the treadmill when she has the time. As for the bicycle, I doubt she will find that easy for at the moment she wouldn’t be able to get on it, even I find it difficult! We may have to manufacture or purchase a set of steps to make it easier to get on the bike. I went upstairs for a shower and to get dressed for the day. It was time to cast my vote in the local elections so I put on my walking boots and coat. After voting I decided I would go for a walk. While out on the walk I received a call from a guy who had asked me to do a small electrical job for him. He had called a few days earlier but had to cancel at that time. I arranged to go to his house as soon as my walk was over. I drove there at noon and was back home within the hour a little better off financially. When I arrived home the guy we were waiting for to complete the garage door installation was there and had begun work. The work was superficial, fitting the free alarm we had been promised after we had purchased an extra nine years of guarantee cover and to fill in some gaps with silicone rubber. He was finished by one-thirty. After lunch E went shopping and I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.
On Friday morning I had a chance to sleep in until ten o’clock but was awakened by a phone call asking me to do a small electrical job. It was from an elderly couple for whom I had worked before and they insisted they would call me in preference before anyone else. He is a little senile and set in his ways whilst she had a stroke a few years ago which left her in difficulties with her speech. She couldn’t phone because of that and he seemed not to notice that I was trying to tell him I had retired as he kept on talking about the electrical problem. They live around three miles from me so how could I refuse to help? I dressed and went there immediately. As is sometimes the case with older folk they worry about potential electrical faults. As it happened there wasn’t a fault at all. What had happened was he had placed a piece of half-toasted bread into the toaster but somehow had wedged it in between the metal guide and the elements consequently short-circuiting the toaster.
Two slices of electrically toasted white bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That had caused the RCD to trip which cut the supply to other circuits too. He had already corrected the fault himself but it appeared he wanted to be sure. As E and I wanted to go shopping in the afternoon I missed the opportunity to go for a walk. I didn’t wish the same thing to happen on Saturday. I arose early on Saturday for two reasons, first of all I had to go and collect my medications and secondly, I hardly slept at all during the night so was awake anyway. It was a dull morning and threatening to rain, in fact that had been the forecast as we were expecting the tail-end of yet another storm to head our way. Again, although we were at the fringes where I live it got very wet and windy throughout the afternoon and evening. I wanted to go for a walk and fortunately was able to in the morning before the rain fell in earnest though it did rain for about twenty minutes while I was out. After lunch E went to her monthly meeting and I was left at home to hang out the washing, indoors of course for the rain was belting down!
I had managed to do a spot of clearing up of moss on the ‘secret garden’ flagstones and pathway as it was getting out of hand (compare to photo in yesterday’s post). Soon after the rain began to fall. With nothing better to do I spent a half-hour on the treadmill working out.
I sometimes feel I am not getting enough of the things I want to get done actually done. It’s like I don’t think there is enough time in the day for me to possibly do everything that is on my mind to do. When working as an electrician I sometimes thought to myself how I could get around a problem I was faced with yet I always did somehow. For a few days I resisted the urge to investigate an extremely small leak on the bathroom towel rail. It was one of those things which niggle at you until you finally give in and do it. On Wednesday morning after breakfast I told E that I was going to check out the towel rail and collected the few things I needed to fix it, a small ladder (it is the tall rail shown in the picture), a spanner (wrench). a screwdriver, a bleed key, a rag and some PTFE tape. It took a mere five minutes to valve the rail off, bleed off any air and what little water there was at the bleed-off valve (in picture above), remove the valve and the old PTFE tape, clean around the thread, apply new PTFE tape, put the valve back in the rail and turn on the water. It sounds a lot to do for such a simple job and that is the point, if we analyze too deeply even the smallest thing that wants doing it can put us off doing it. It probably took me longer the collect the tools and materials than actually do the job. E went to her workshop whilst I was doing that and I took the opportunity to get on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Yes, I still use the treadmill occasionally, most days if I can. Soon afterward E mentioned that she needed to post a parcel at the village post office so I offered to drive her there. I told her that we could kill two birds with the one stone by collecting some of the rubbish we had acquired over the years and take it to the tip after she had posted the parcel. Now that the van is empty I was able to dispose of an old metal waste bin we’d had in the garden for years, three large car batteries, containers filled with used vegetable oil, broken lengths of timber, an old radio, an old faulty electric drill, numerous hard plastic items, two rubber bin lids and other bits and bobs. When we arrived at the tip there were many other people disposing of their waste and unwanted items too. I require a permit to use the van to dispose of waste and I applied for one days earlier as the previous one had expired years ago. In fact I was given two permits, one allowing unlimited visits for the disposal of domestic waste and one allowing twelve visits only for disposing of large items such as furniture and washing machines for instance. Both permits run for twelve months then require renewal. It was time for a belated lunch when we returned home and I managed to go for a walk later in the afternoon. The in-between portions of the day were filled with many small domestic chores and some gardening too and here was I thinking at the start of the day if I could get anything done! It is all about motivation, if you’ve a mind to do something…..just do it!
We had been informed that warmer and drier weather was coming our way for a couple of days, an ideal time to be doing any outdoor work that was necessary. It was Saturday (14) and I had plans to do some patching up of the garage floor, completing the ramp I had put there many years ago and filling in a couple of holes with concrete after the recent work we had done. First though I wanted to go for a longish walk as I hadn’t been able to do any walking other than the two miles I had walked a couple of days earlier. I hadn’t been too well and had remained more or less indoors for a few days. I arose early and went out as soon as I was downstairs. I walked south along the coastal road to Ainsdale and onto the beach there turning northward to walk back home. I was surprised how many folk were out and on the beach so early on a Saturday morning. It was about eight forty-five when I arrived there. The round trip from home on that route is just over seven miles. I have to admit to feeling a little tired but that was probably due to my not eating breakfast and not having been out for a while. I did take a banana along with my bottle of water. Anyhow I ate breakfast on my return home and after a short time donned my overalls and got on with the concrete mixing. For this work I used 6 mm granite chippings in the mix rather than using grit which would result in a finer concrete as it would have to withstand a vehicle passing over it. These are the holes which required filling after the old wood frame was removed and the existing floor ramp which was never finished years ago…
The ramp exists because the garage floor is almost level with the concrete drive leading to it. When we had heavy downpours of rain it sometimes ended up inside the garage so I constructed a ramp to prevent that happening. It does the job but it needed the back edge finishing. Here are pictures of the finished work.
The van wasn’t going anywhere for a couple of days! Rain water flows into the grid shown which is lower than the surrounding concrete drive. The drain pipe actually runs beneath the garage floor to connect with the main drains at the rear of the house. That work had been done when we built the garage back in 1988/9. Much has changed since then. After lunch I added an extra fixing to secure the new bird box I had fitted a week earlier then carried on with some gardening work. Who said retirement would be boring with nothing to do?
Having gone to bed rather late on Wednesday (27) evening meant I didn’t arise too early on Thursday. I had remained up until E returned from her visit to the hospital to see her mom who had been taken ill late in the afternoon. It turned out that her mom had to stay in hospital overnight for further tests and according to E was feeling a little better before E left for home. It was approaching midnight by the time she returned. She too slept in late and didn’t come down for breakfast until after ten-thirty, I had finished mine an hour earlier. I wanted to go for a walk but waited until she was up and about before doing so. The weather forecast was good, dry, warm and sunny for the whole day. That is how it turned out, in fact I was feeling a little too warm in my coat and thought I might have been better not wearing it until I got to the sea front where it felt a bit cooler. Had I gone out earlier it would have been much cooler. Once the sun was up it was just like another Summer’s day even though it was now Autumn and almost October. By the time I had returned home two hours later I really needed to remove my coat I was so hot! The gates on the drive to the garage in which E parks her car were open. She had gone out, in fact I learned she had gone to the hospital as I had expected and would follow on and do the weekly shopping later if all went to plan. I ate lunch then spent a couple of hours on the patio in the heat of the Autumn sun. Tomorrow’s forecast was for plenty of rain. The lawn was getting covered with fallen leaves again after we had swept it the afternoon before………now I knew it was Autumn.
PS. To E’s relief her mom was back home by evening after being discharged from the hospital.
I had thought Sunday was going to be dull and windy with a little rain but I was far off the mark: it turned out warm, sunny and dry with just a slight breeze. I had mowed the lawn the day before and I was glad I did for during the early hours of the morning rain did fall and the grass remained wet for a time. What I wanted to do was a little bit of garden maintenance before lunch time such as cutting the flower stems from the Agapanthus plants and saving the seed pods for E. That I did before pruning back the overgrown Lavender shrub which I think has been attempting a take-over of the adjacent plot, the Mound. It has to span the footpath between and had made some progress toward that end. Nice as Lavender is it does like to spread itself about! I read somewhere that very few plants want to grow beneath or too close to Lavender, especially weeds which can’t be a bad thing. I have noticed that to be the case in our garden, at least as far as the weeds are concerned. Other plants don’t seem to mind but I suppose it depends upon the plants. Anyway having done that I went into the front garden to help E with the pruning of plants and shrubs. It would be green bin day on Monday, that is the collection of green waste. This time we had only the one bin full and ready for emptying; next time it would probably be two because of the Autumn leaves. It was around lunch time that we finished. After lunch I decided to move the plant I had been waiting to die-back for the Winter so that I could put another plant in its place. If you remember it is the one against the wall to the right of the new fan palm in the centre of the picture.
I moved this plant much further along in the same border. It will not sprout new leaves until the Spring followed by bright yellow flowers a few weeks later. I planted the Olearia in its place.
The Olearia is an evergreen shrub producing daisy-like flowers in Spring to Summer giving it the nickname of ‘daisy tree’. Hopefully it will grow to a height of two metres and have a spread of about a metre and a half to brighten up the wall. Later we sat out on the patio in the warmth of the sun for an hour or so.
It is still mid-September as I write this and I can say with much confidence that Summer is just about over. Over the last few days the temperature has dropped, the rain has fallen – is falling and the wind is high, more like Autumn. I could moan about Autumn’s approach but in fact the season is my favourite. All the outdoor work that still needs doing is best done without the hot sun bearing down on me but unfortunately most of the time the wind and rain bring everything to a halt. I had been working inside the garage yesterday (I write this on Tuesday 12) fixing the two brackets on which to store a couple of ladders and noticed the rain had been seeping in near the entrance, in the corner in fact. The problem was due to the joint between the garden wall and the garage wall having a crack in it because the mortar had shrunk. It would be a simple thing to rectify but the weather forecast predicted persistent rain for several days. There was just the possibility of a dry spell first thing on Tuesday morning and I took the opportunity to do the work then. I had it done in thirty minutes. It was ten o’clock with patchy cloud and a little sunshine. It improved until by one o’clock it was almost all sunshine. It didn’t last though as predicted and by later afternoon it became overcast. Rain soon followed and it was noticeably cooler. By that time the new mortar had dried enough to stand a little rain. It looked as though there would be little chance of doing anything more outdoors for a few days. When operating the garage door to access tools and such the door jammed a couple of times and it needed releasing. It is just as well that a new door system is to be installed shortly as the old one is getting worse for wear. At eleven o’clock I went for a walk, this time along the beach a couple of miles and returning the same way. I had to call into the pub on my way back to use the toilet! I was told by the manager that I looked a little windswept. When I looked in the mirror I could see why. Although my hair looked a little messy my cheeks were nice and rosy….a picture of health.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned in passing that I would be doing some work on Monday, today, well one week ago really as I am at this point eight posts ahead. The thing is I didn’t do any of the suggested work but something else instead and that later in the day. I had gone to bed very early on Sunday evening, that is early for me and after a quick shower I was in bed at nine-twenty. I fell asleep almost immediately so I suppose I had been very tired though I don’t know why, I had been relaxing throughout the day. I did awaken a couple of times but only for a toilet visit and the second of those times I didn’t return to sleep. It was five o’clock. That gave me a golden opportunity to go for an early walk. The morning was balmy, warm, high humidity and almost no wind. I guess the temperature was about 14 or 15 deg C. At six o’clock as I left the house it was approaching twilight time, my favourite times of the day when it is betwixt night and day and can only be experienced fully in the temperate regions of the planet. In tropical regions there is hardly any time between night and day or darkness and light. Anyway I walked about five miles before returning home for breakfast. E was still in bed. After breakfast I had it in mind to start the work I had mentioned but simply couldn’t be bothered so I rested a while. Having eaten breakfast early I was beginning to feel a little hungry earlier than usual but delayed eating until after one o’clock. I suddenly thought of something I wanted to do in the garden but I needed to purchase a plant. There was a space I had pencilled-in for planting another fan palm.
If you remember I had recently split two that had been growing in the same pot and had put them in the garden, one in the front garden and one in the rear garden. At that time I had wished I had purchased another so after lunch I drove to Dobbies and purchased one for £17.99. That was after my member discount of £2. I placed it in the rear garden as planned. It is just above and to the right in the top picture and centre in the second picture. I knew I would have to do the electrical work on Tuesday instead.
Sunday let us know that summer was on the wane, on its last legs, struggling to stay warm and dry but nothing could be done about that. The day was damp and rain fell frequently, it was a day to stay indoors though had I wanted to go for a walk I would have. By coincidence I actually wanted to stay indoors to relax and this I did. Monday would soon be upon me and there was work to be done. Lately I have been involved in keeping active by undertaking various little projects at home, mostly in the garden. Monday however I had set aside for preparing for the new garage door installation which means installing a power outlet, a board on which the control unit will sit, re-positioning existing wiring and switches and to remove other items which I will reinstall sometime after the door is installed. To install a power point will require that I alter the existing circuit and supply it from the main distribution panel in order to isolate it from house circuits. It is at times like this I appreciate my electrical experience for it makes the work simple, straightforward and not least of all free. Well free from labour charges! I could say the same for all the other work I do around the house. There is a lot to say in favour of DIY. As the year gets colder I find that working outside is much more pleasant than it is during the warmer months. I suppose the cold encourages me to keep active anyway. Is it possible that I to do too much work? I can only say that if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it! Could I move to an apartment where there would be almost nothing to do? I doubt it but not because I would have more time to indulge in personal pleasures, I would be bored stiff! My motto is more work and less play though not all work and no play! It works for me anyway.
What a cool Sunday morning I woke up to! There was a definite chill in the air perhaps just letting us know that September was only five days away. Autumn would soon be upon us. The day was overcast to begin with but as the morning wore on it became bright, warm and very sunny. It was nine o’clock and I had eaten breakfast an half-hour earlier but now I wanted a coffee and to sit outside on the patio with it. It must have only been thirteen degrees Celsius but as there was hardly any air movement it felt nice sitting there. Not long afterward the sun broke through and it became much warmer. I sat for a time watching the robin flitting around the garden which appears to be his home. We are pretty sure he lives in the bush with the bright green foliage standing left of the new washing line post because we see him entering and leaving it frequently.
I don’t know if you are aware but robins are territorial and will ward-off any other robins who infringe on their territory. That is probably why we don’t see other robins in the garden. I had enough of sitting down and decided to go behind the large holly tree which is on the left in the above picture, and remove the washing line from the old pole standing there. I returned to the patio and removed the line temporarily from the post there in order to use the extra length of line wrapped around it. See in this picture below taken last year.
Now I could attach the line to the new pole and re-attach it to the other. Having done that I hung out the clothing that E had washed in the machine late the previous evening but hadn’t time to hang it. She joined me later and we sat for an hour or so just chatting. It would be after lunch we returned outdoors when we did a little tidying up around the garden paths when E fetched a hoe and we spent some time weeding out this small plot.
We did however manage to spend more time on the patio later in the afternoon relaxing in the warm sunshine. So I nearly had a completely relaxing day, something I never seem to fully achieve most of the time. Monday morning would probably see me working in the garden at least for a few hours.