Loving it

Saturday 15 th December. I had a really good night’s sleep on Friday having gone to bed feeling tired and under the weather. Whilst I was working I didn’t feel bad, I never do, it’s when I stop then it hits me! I was grateful that I had slept through eleven hours though that had been interrupted a couple of times for visits to the you know where! Gosh I don’t usually take more than five hours so I must have needed it. I felt great anyway and was ready to do some more work down in the cellar. Throughout these past twelve months I have spent a lot of time down in the cellar as you may know from my posts. Well the task for Saturday was to box-in (becoming a habit) more wiring, no pipes this time, in fact there will be no more boxing in of pipes down there as all those that needed boxing-in have now been done. Many electric cables were clipped to the surface on walls and timbers over the years and some of those really needed doing something with. Above the bottom step in the cellar hallway are clipped many cables so that was my first port of call….

The light-coloured timber is now what covers those cables. I had to use spacers behind the board and the ones at the top were very difficult to get in but I managed it with perseverance. Another thinner board was fitted to the underside too. In the background you can see the utility room. The architrave at the top of the door was missing. Several cables had been clipped in the place where it should have been. They ran to the right in the picture beneath the ceiling coving which was broken and in a mess. I decided to loosen off some of the cables and fit timber along the wall and then cover the whole area with a thin sheet of board (shown in white in the pictures). I replaced the top architrave over the door and plastered the wall above it which covered some of the exposed cables. The area to the left of the door at ceiling height needs re-plastering to finish that part of the room. 


The space above the doors to the gym and the main store room (to the right but out of sight in these pictures) also requires attention. Plenty of work for me to get stuck into!

Shirley Anne


Two on the go

It was Thursday 13 th and I had been out doing the weekly shopping and as I go there quite early to the supermarket it leaves the rest of the day free to do other things. On my return however I was feeling a little hungry so made a sandwich. I wanted to get on with the work in the cellar but didn’t start until ten o’clock. The small storeroom was on hold because part of the floor was still damp and accordingly couldn’t be painted. I mentioned it might take days for it to dry out and I didn’t mind that as long as it did dry out! So I concentrated on the second project which was the refurbishment of the hallway and specifically the boxing-in of the section of pipework I wanted to get done. I spent a couple of hours doing that and after lunch continued with it. Before that work started however I replaced the light unit with a long LED unit exactly the same type as others I had installed in other rooms in the house.

As you can see it hadn’t been clipped into its fixing brackets because prior to installing it I filled in some holes with plaster. When the plaster was dry I would paint the ceiling where the light would be before clipping it into its brackets. I also fitted the inspection cover over the access hole on the ceiling in the small storeroom beneath the wet room drain. That repair to the leak had been successful. I didn’t finish the boxing in on the day but got much done as you can see in the pictures.

The other work to be done in the hallway would consist of filling in holes in the ceiling and walls before removing the carpet and items stored there. Following that it would be painting the walls, repairing the floor as necessary and then painting that too. That would keep me out of mischief for a while! 

Shirley Anne

Still Monday

After my walk and then breakfast yesterday (I write on 26 th Nov) I began working in the small store in the cellar doing what I have always enjoyed which is working with wood. So alright the work I was doing wasn’t glamorous and quality carpentry but simply constructing the framework in readiness to box some of the pipes in the room. The problem in the room is that the ceiling is part-covered in plasterboard and the framework had to be constructed to allow the new pieces of plasterboard I would be installing to fit evenly with the existing board. I spent a few hours down there that morning and managed to construct almost all of it. 

In the lower picture you can see one of the two gate valves (red handle) which isolate the towel radiator in the wet room above. There are valves in the wet room too. When I come to cover everything with plywood I will make the panels easy to remove should there be the need to close the valves. The sloping piece of wood on the frame above the window in the top picture is only there to strengthen the structure. The plywood panel which will be beneath it and only over the window and to the right will be at the same angle.  Not all of the pipework will be boxed-in, only those parts you see in the pictures. I stopped work for the day just before one o’clock.

Shirley Anne

Work later

Though I was up at two o’clock and had eaten breakfast by three-fifteen I didn’t wish to begin work and in any case would have given myself an hour before doing so. I sat and watched some catch-up tv and a couple of episodes of a new drama I had previously missed but wanted to see. After the tv I went into the kitchen and prepared a Spaghetti Bolognese for later in the morning. It wasn’t until nine o’clock that I finally put on my overalls to go downstairs. The work I had to do all involved cutting and fitting plywood and by hand as I don’t possess a circular saw except the one I use for making mitred joints. After so long cutting by hand it gets tedious and is tiring work. Needless to say not a huge amount was done, only four pieces but two of them proved a little tricky. Mistakes were made and some work had to be done again. The most awkward part was cutting the eight by four (feet) sheet of plywood on a makeshift deck out in the garage to obtain the sizes I needed to carry on with the work inside. 

There only remained the end triangular piece to cut and fit on that side of the room by the time I had finished for the day at one o’clock. Earlier I had removed the door so that I could work on it later and also to give me space to finish the area above the opening.

I don’t know how it had managed to stay in place for so long as both hinges were damaged and their fixing screws hardly gripped the frame. It will need new hinges and I will be able to trim the top edge which is uneven. E had gone next door to visit our neighbour and to see if she was alright. I followed a little later and we spent some time there. Both her son and her care worker were there. We learned that our neighbour had been smoking again. It was the effects of smoking which almost killed her a few months ago. She has severe emphysema and can hardly breathe. It just shows how addictive smoking can be for some people, especially if they’ve no will power to give it up.

Shirley Anne

Now the other side

A couple of days ago I was writing about boxing in the pipework. I had completed the one side of the room excepting for making a hinged panel for access to a valve and now (Mon. 29 th) I have begun the other side of the room. Although this side is structurally simpler it has been somewhat difficult. This morning I constructed the basic frame to cover most of the ceiling, that is up to the opened door. It will act as a door stop at that point for it has to be raised when it goes over the door.

The wood which is screwed to the wall was by far the easiest part of the work but the wood fixed to the ceiling at the front and top was a bit of a nightmare for a couple of reasons. First of all it is in five pieces due to the (white) plastic trunking, gas and water pipes crossing the ceiling at that point. Trying to get the fives sections aligned was a problem in itself but worse than that was the uneven ceiling!

See in the middle picture how the batten on the right doesn’t even touch the ceiling at one end and in the lower picture the ceiling bulges out near to the centre of the batten there. Fortunately the plywood will cover all of that but it just shows how uneven the ceilings can be down in the cellar rooms. I took a short break from the work to affix some more eye bolts on the patio walls and tied the frame to them (see yesterday’s post) . In the afternoon I cut and fitted some plywood but ran out of stock and will need to purchase some more.

Shirley Anne

Take a break

The above is the name of a weekly magazine E gets each week, though it is I who actually buys it when I get the shopping in. There is another she gets too and that is called ‘That’s life’. Their titles could describe my life as it is now, I am constantly working with all the problems that come with it but that’s life as they say. So this sunny afternoon and tomorrow, which just happens to be a Sunday, in fact the last of the month, I shall be taking a break. My first job of the day began at 5 o’clock. I was in the garage breaking down the last two of the panels we had stored for E’s brother who kindly let us have them as he didn’t want them. I was able to recover six plywood sheets measuring 48 x 45 inches and have used them on the utility room project. Later and after a meal I finished off constructing the boxing-in of the pipework and wiring on one side of the room..

The hole you see on the underside in the lower picture is where I shall be fitting an easy access panel to allow access to a water valve there.  Of course there is some filling to be done here and there before painting begins but before then I have to do the same on the opposite side of the room. Unfortunately I have only one of the plywood panels remaining and will have to purchase some to complete the work. There is still plenty of work to do in the room before it is finished and it will keep me busy for days.

Shirley Anne


Sorry not the spectator sport though that I used to find fascinating. Since those days however my attitude to the sport has changed somewhat. I no longer want to see two individuals beating each other up in the ring. The sport is dangerous and can cause severe injury, especially brain damage. No, I am talking about boxing-in something you don’t wish to be on view for whatever reason. I live in an old Victorian house which was built in 1877 and it has seen many changes both to its exterior and interior over the years. Because it has cellar rooms (which were used by the servants at the time) many of its more recent services, central heating pipes, gas and electricity cabling were run on the surface which down there is bare brick. No consideration was given to repairing holes knocked through from one room to another or through the lath and plaster ceilings. As the years went by more circuits and pipes were added and the result is chaos and a very untidy mess. During this past year I have been working in a few rooms down there doing refurbishment and alterations, the Larder room, the Gym/boiler room and now the Utility room. In each of those rooms I have had to tidy up the services as best as I could but in the current project, the Utility room I had decided to hide away as much of the services as I could. That means boxing them in with timber and plywood. On Thursday (25 th) I had begun that work and I continued with it on Friday for a few hours.

I was feeling tired by ten-thirty after five hours at it so I packed it in for the day. I had been for a four and a half mile walk beforehand though! It appeared that I would have to purchase more plywood despite having  quite a lot in stock. The above pictures show only the one side of the room. There are more pipes and cables on the opposite wall and on the adjacent wall to it. 

Shirley Anne

Got dragged away

The plan for Friday was to get the boiler surround finished off, at least the construction of it. I had arrived downstairs before eight o’clock and soon after breakfast I went into the cellar to begin work. My first task was to take down the large panel I had cut and temporarily fitted the day before and then cut it in half to make the two doors. I fitted the hinges and after some manipulations finally got the two doors in place. For something so simple it turned out not to be so easy as I thought it might have been. It was around that time E came into the room with a very welcome coffee. She asked if I could accompany her as she had to take her computer in for repair. I agreed to go with her and downed tools. To be quite honest I was getting a little annoyed that the fitting of the doors had been a bit frustrating at times so was happy to take a break. She had decided to take her machine to a workshop in the next small township eight miles away. Seemingly she had problems with the one nearest to where we live and wanted to try somewhere else. We took the van and soon we located the shop and left the computer with them. As we needed door furniture for the work I was doing and a few other items we went shopping for them before returning home. It was lunch time by the time we arrived so it was at least another hour before I could do any more work. That work was to cut the two side doors and fit the furniture for the four doors. Finally, again after some difficulty, we (for E had decided to lend a hand) got to this stage..The side doors have been deliberately designed not to reach the floor for ventilation purposes. All that I need to do now is to cut and fit the side panels and that should be the end of that work except for the decoration.

Shirley Anne

More blind men?

The mistakes are there, you just don’t see them. I cannot say with hand on heart that anything I do is perfect, nobody can but hey, I think I get pretty close sometimes. Well I think so. Good intentions are sometimes pushed aside once work progresses and unforeseen problems occur.It is all about just getting on with it and tackling problems as they surface. It is either that or don’t do the work yourself. For me, I am used to it all and half-times expect a rough ride now and then. It is satisfying nevertheless to be able to do things for myself despite the difficulties along the way. On Friday and Saturday last week I constructed the gate for the latest project and fitted it on Saturday morning. Here is the finished article…(click on images to magnify)

The rear view (top picture) shows a diagonal piece of timber at the top which isn’t a match for the rest of the wood. It was simply that I had used all the timber I had bought to construct the gate so had to use something from my stock. The timber is sold in four-metre lengths and I wasn’t about to buy that much just for the short length needed. I had intended to use timber from my stock for the whole project but found I hadn’t enough which is why I purchased new. I don’t know about blind men on galloping horses but it looks alright to me! Now I am planning my next project……

Shirley Anne

Carpentry and stuff

I have always enjoyed working with wood, it is one of those materials which is easy to work with though it is unforgiving, make a mistake and it isn’t easily undone. I have made a few mistakes in the past when working with wood as I am sure many have but it is a rewarding experience making things in wood. My latest little project is manufacturing a wooden gate and installing it at the side of the house. My readers will by now have seen my progress with the brickwork if they’ve followed my recent posts. On Thursday (10 th) I began working with the wood and my first task was to cut and fit the two wooden posts for each side of the gate opening…..

The one on the right has to support the gate itself so I used large ‘Rawlbolts’  to secure it to the brick wall. Here is a picture of a rawlbolt for anyone who doesn’t know what they are,,,

As the bolt is tightened it draws the nut (on the right-hand end) into the body which expands inside the hole in which it is fitted. The bolt obviously passes through the timber first! The post on the left has no weight to carry and therefore I used long screws instead. I must remember to clean off the dried mortar on the wall on the right where I had been filling in some holes after installing the posts.The posts themselves do not stand directly on the ground so that they will resist rotting  when it rains. Wood standing on the ground will soak up water and eventually get wet rot. The timber was purchased pre-treated against the weather but I have given it more coats of weather resisting treatment too. After lunch I began work on constructing the gate itself and got this far with it before stopping for the day at five o’clock….

I have it standing in the garage as I write this. There is more work to do on it yet before I hang it in position though. Hopefully I can finish the work soon, it all depends upon other things, not least of all the weather.

Shirley Anne