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

The day after…

The Reluctant Dragon (film)
The Reluctant Dragon (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was Tuesday morning and I had just awoken. I felt a little reluctant to go for a walk but thought I would do anyway knowing full well that I would enjoy it. However before I was even dressed I received a call from a lady asking if I could check a power outlet for her. As it was reasonably close by and a simple job I agreed to do it, though after getting dressed and having my breakfast. An hour later I was at the house and soon had the job done. On my return home I left the van on the driveway for I had decided to take a trip to the timber and builder’s merchant to purchase timber for the gate I am constructing. I found that the timber I had at home was unsuitable and of insufficient quantity anyway. Starting from scratch with pre-treated (against the weather) timber was a better option though I intended to purchase some coloured wood preserver to give it an extra coat when the work is finished. First of all though I had to take measurements so went into the house and then into the garden to do so. Off I went to the depot a mile down the road and found a young man in the yard where the timber is stored. Having selected what I needed he cut some of the timber into two pieces so that I could transport it home on the roof rack of the van. The money I had just earned more than covered the cost of the materials and my purse was more or less left intact! I have noticed that happening quite often lately since my ‘official’ retirement. It was approaching lunchtime on my return home. I removed the timber from the van and stored it ready for use on another day. I wasn’t going to make a start so near lunch time and afterward I probably wouldn’t be in the mood anyway. E had been informed that her mom had been discharged from the hospital as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. E was telling me how reluctant she had been to go and how much of a struggle the paramedics had getting her in the ambulance the previous day as she had fought tooth and nail resisting their efforts. Obviously they had persuaded her to go and be checked out. She confesses to not liking hospitals for fear of the possibility of dying there one day. I suppose many old folk think that way because they would prefer to pass away quietly at home. E drove off to see her later in the afternoon but I stayed at home watching the rain pouring down as promised.

Shirley Anne