Wasn’t too bad

I am the type of person who typically is apprehensive about how things will turn out and that is especially so with any of my projects. Throughout my working life in the electrical business it was never a problem, in fact I could always see the finished work in my mind long before I started it. To a point that has also been true when I approach a project I intend undertaking, I can see it in my mind’s eye already completed. The difference with my electrical work was I had the confidence of my ability. With my projects it should be the same as I have had plenty of experience with building work over the years but I often find myself wondering if what I do will turn out well. Now I have to say at this point I am not a professional builder and my work is almost never perfect, it is just near enough. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself as others tell me my efforts are great. Which ever way I can say this much, at least I try! On Tuesday (20th) it was time for laying the screed in the pit. The screed is made with three parts sharp sand, two parts of granite dust (fine chippings) and one part cement. I have been using this mix in building up the internal sides of the pit to effect a smooth but strong surface. The base concrete uses granite stones in place of the dust. It is more robust. I needed to purchase another bag of cement so soon after breakfast I went to the builder’s yard. On my return I got stuck right in with the work…

I had to fill the mixer three times to finish the work and they had to be mixed in reasonably quick succession to enable me to smooth out the whole area. I was surprised I had managed to do it faster than I had thought I would but it was at times awkward reaching over to do it. It would be Thursday and preferably Friday before it could be walked upon. Once the mixture has begun to turn white/grey as opposed to its wet green colour it will be safe to walk upon. The final stage will be sealing it and then painting where necessary.

Shirley Anne



The concrete had set by Saturday lunchtime and in a way I was grateful it was later rather than earlier in the morning for I had arisen quite late. I had been very tired the evening before after all the work I had done. I didn’t want the day to pass by without doing at least some more work on the project. I needed to erect some shuttering in preparation for pouring a finer concrete mix to form the sloping edge into the pit I was constructing.

A long length of timber was screwed to the pit floor against which I placed a length of plywood strengthened with timber and leaning toward the original floor edge. I fastened some timber to the original floor which acts to prevent the plywood from touching the floor at the top. This left an intended gap so that the concrete can be poured into the space and also to make a solid concrete edge along the complete top edge. It will be easier to understand when you see the completed work. After doing that work I began to tackle the removal of the concrete block at the end of the pit.

The yellow handle of the lump hammer rests upon the block. It was protruding out of the floor and we have no idea at the moment as to why it is there. Near to the end of the hammer shaft is a piece of steel tubing and another one a couple of centimetres further away (higher in the picture, click to magnify). They seem to be electrical conduits that have been set into the concrete block. Again we are not sure why they are there. The concrete block itself stands upon another block of concrete but it is of a different composition. The lower one looks like traditional concrete made using granite stones whereas the upper one, that which I am aiming to reduce in height, has been made using broken pieces of brick instead. It is as hard as nails and extremely difficult to chip away at. As I write this on Saturday evening I am almost there but it will take some time yet to lower it enough to be able to tile over it. Work will be resumed on Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will be resting from work.

Shirley Anne

Feel better about it

During the work of digging out the cellar floor I had been anxious about the stability of the remainder of the floor close-by to the pit I had dug. In yesterday’s post I wrote about filling the bottom of the hole with hardcore and propping up the side walls to prevent the loosened sand from slipping away. I felt a little relieved having done that work but by the afternoon of the next day, Friday 9th, I felt much better about it. I had spent the whole morning mixing concrete and laying it. After breakfast I made the trip to the builders yard to purchase some granite stones and cement. I didn’t need to purchase sand of course for I had bags of it! On my return home I set up the mixer outside in the garden and proceeded mixing the concrete. Rather than pushing the mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow to take it indoors I filled a bucket several times and took that inside instead. There are steps leading down into the cellar room and using the wheelbarrow would be too awkward and probably messy. I found it easier and quicker using a bucket but it took four mixing sessions with the mixer and several journeys with the bucket. I used the wheelbarrow to collect the mixed concrete and then shovelled it into the bucket. When doing this sort of work I get into a routine and it makes the work easy. This is how far I got..

You can see that I have cemented in the tiles which I used to support the opened side to prevent the sand pouring out. Naturally at this stage it is rough but it makes the finishing stage easier to do. The far edge in the top picture and the near edge in the lower picture, both the same edge, have yet to be worked on. That will begin soon I hope.

Shirley Anne

Not very romantic

No walk for me on Wednesday morning, I wanted to get on with some work in the rear garden. For some time I have promised myself I would do something with the remaining long length of natural stone we had discovered buried with all the other stone a few years ago whilst we were digging out the ground behind what is now the Mound.

We had found such a large amount buried we were able to use it in various places around the garden as you might know if you’ve read my posts over the last three years or so. I decided to construct a stone seat in the area we now affectionately call The Secret Garden, once The Plot. There is a space immediately behind the garage which never sees the Sun. It is a great place to sit for a time to cool off when the weather is hot and sunny but the location isn’t exactly what you might call romantic though the view forward is pleasant sitting close to a water-butt and a compost bin which looks like a ‘Dalek‘ I would think isn’t.

A plant or two either of which prefer total shade or a couple of artificial plants might make it more attractive and perhaps that is what I will consider later. The work involved constructing the two small brick pillars and setting the stone slab on top and I had it done in an hour.

My next job will be to lower the drain pipe to below seat level and maybe construct a back rest fitted to the garage wall which shouldn’t take long once I decide to do it. Whilst I had some mortar I cut the stone cap and fixed it to the top of the brick pillar which I had built a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t been able to cut the stone at that time.

Finally I mixed some fine-grained concrete and set the stones around the base of the recently installed washing line post to complete that job too. I took the afternoon off and lounged about on the patio in the warm sunshine with E. Yes, it turned out much warmer than Tuesday had been (see yesterday’s post).

Shirley Anne


Bank holiday?

Monday (28th) here in the UK was one of those days we call a Bank Holiday, traditionally a day when bank employees took a break from, well banking. Banks closed for the day and therefore it limited trading activities. Nowadays banking takes place on-line for the most part but the holiday remains in place for everyone to enjoy or not as they wish. Today the holiday is referred to as the August Bank Holiday, there are others. Anyway it never made much difference to me when I became self-employed back in 1997. I would work if the opportunity presented itself, and it often did. The day still makes little difference to me now that I am retired, well retired from electrical work in a full or part-time capacity. I find work to do at home which pretty much keeps me active. I am not alone in being one that works over the holiday, I know many people do the same and if you go down any high street it is business as usual for many. As I said, banking is carried out over The Internet and much commerce follows suit. The Country can’t close down for the day can it? We were expecting someone to visit the house at my request to assess some work I want carrying out. I have decided to replace the garage doors on the garage I use to park my van. This one…

From the picture it looks fine and indeed the door itself is fine even though it is around twenty-eight years old. That is because it is made of fibreglass and aluminium. However it had always been opened and closed manually until a couple of years ago when I had it converted to electrical operation.Now again, there is nothing wrong with that set-up either but what is a problem are the mechanical components that had to remain after the conversion. They comprise the two side tracks in which the door runs, the wheels which run inside the tracks, the two large heavy-duty springs one each side which assist in the raising of the door, the pulleys and the steel wires either side which form part of the spring mechanism. All of these, especially the steel wires which need replacing regularly, require constant maintenance and of course that involves cost! It was high-time I replaced the door with a roller-shutter variety similar to what we had installed in the other garage though more streamlined.

That roller door is more like an industrial type than a domestic one though it doesn’t appear anything like that to look at it. It is a very efficient door and very robust. So the guy came along to measure the opening and requirements as did E’s nephew, a builder who was at hand to discuss any alterations that might have to be undertaken before the installation takes place. I agreed on a price for the work (£2250) which hopefully will take place in around a month’s time. As it is a bespoke unit it will take time to manufacture. Unfortunately as the opening is non-standard a door from their stock cannot be used. I paid the £600 requested up-front now all I have to do is raise the balance and carry out some electrical alterations for the installation.

Shirley Anne

Slow start

You can tell that Autumn is not far off, it is beginning to cool down a tad and there seems to be more rain lately. Mind you I am not sure you could use rain as a measuring stick here in the UK. So it was that Wednesday began wet and it stayed wet all morning which meant there was little I could do toward making anymore progress in the Plot. I knew I needed an extra bag of granite dust or ‘granno’ as they like to describe it in building circles. It is basically the fine dust and chippings which is produced when cutting granite. It is used to make smooth lightweight concrete for paths and places where the traffic is very light, though it can withstand much wear. Trying to get a smooth finish with a normal concrete mix is more difficult because of the stone chippings it contains. Where I need to fill in places between the paving slabs I use  granno in the mix, it is basically how the slabs are made themselves. Incidentally there is a path running the length of the rear of our house which was laid about twenty-six years ago and it is as good as the day it was laid. As well as the extra bag of granno I also needed one bag of small (10 mm) stone chippings for making the sturdier concrete mix I will be using for certain places, especially beneath the proposed new steps where it will be used to hold together the foundation materials. So I drove to the builders merchant and purchased the bags. Bags of materials these days come in 25 Kg quantities and the reason for that is to prevent injury to those who have to man-handle them. Even so that weight is still heavy but most burly men can handle them. I have to resort to dragging them and manoeuvring them on to a trolley or a truck. It was approaching eleven o’clock before I could put on my overalls and do a little work but after three mixer fills of concrete I reached this stagePlot 16

Alright, it doesn’t look much but it hides all the hard-core I had to break up by hand and place beneath it, that was after I had dug out the soil first! That soil I had to put over on the right of the new bed. That concrete base needs to be extended just a few more inches but I didn’t wish to do it all at once. When it was dry, the next day in fact, I could do more. Most of this work will be hidden once the project is complete so it is better that I take pictures at each stage to show how much work was needed to do it all. I cannot put the mixer away just yet, there is much more to do.

Shirley Anne


Waiting for the rain

Up early again on Wednesday to do more work on the Plot. Wednesday was an ideal day for working outdoors being as it was slightly cooler than of late. After an early breakfast I was outside at a little after eight o’clock and was soon working. I didn’t have to set up the mixer so I was pretty much able to get straight to work. My main object for the day was to finish building the walled enclosure, its inner walls. I managed to do that but I may take the structure up one more level of bricks as I have discovered I have sixty-three bricks remaining and to lay another course will take forty-eight bricks. As it stands (Wednesday) there are seven courses of bricks. Of course I will be topping the walls with natural stone in keeping with the patio brickwork. In this picture the work has been temporarily covered because rain was forecast for Thursday and I wanted the walls to remain dry.Plot 12    Now then, I had finished with mixing mortar for the day as it was approaching lunchtime and I wasn’t prepared to carry on working into the afternoon. Rather than do nothing I chose to remove part of the wall alongside the path and dig out the soil behind it as you can see in the bottom right of the picture. I then laid some old bricks and rubble as a base for some concrete upon which I will lay a paving slab later. Eventually there will be three steps to match those I constructed a couple of years ago shown on the left in the picture. The plastic sheet standing there covers what is left of the four hundred bricks I had delivered for the work. There are sixty-three of them as I mentioned. Before I can fill the structure with soil I have to ‘point’ the internal walls, that is fill in all the gaps in the joints. Later I will have to do the same with the outer surfaces of the construction. I had my lunch and then spent a few minutes on the patio but was disturbed by a phone call from the auto-electrician who had been repairing the fault of my van’s lighting switches. I walked to their workshop about a mile away and collected the van. The guy had to replace the whole mechanism which slides over the steering column and to which the control stalks are fitted. The cost for the replacement and fitting it? £246! I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I didn’t expect it to be quite as expensive. I’m going to need a couple more electrical jobs to offset the outlay. Fortunately the work is still coming in.

Shirley Anne

Step up to the mark

Another busy time last week. After doing two jobs on Monday and Tuesday I thought that would be the end of my electrical work for the week and indeed I had earned enough to be satisfied by then. However things changed and I found I had two more jobs come my way on Friday which I naturally took on board. I had plenty of time on Wednesday and Thursday as well as Saturday (as I write this) to carry on with work at home. Currently I have been altering the steps in the boiler room by the door which leads out to the garden. I had completed the other step which leads out of the room to the cellar hallway a few days previous. The two steps leading out into the garden are being converted into three steps to make the risers less high and therefore easier to use especially for E who has to use a walking stick most of the time. The first thing I had to do, which I did some days ago, was to construct another step using bricks as a wall and filling the space with rubble and concrete. On Thursday morning I made a wood frame to surround that step and poured or rather trowelled a screed mix (concrete but using granite chippings in place of stones which make the mix smoother) onto and around the step. I removed the wood frame on Friday afternoon to allow the screed to dry out completely so that I could carry out the same procedure on the step above, the original step that was too high, to make it longer and to top it off. This would make the dimensions of both steps the same. The final step is the threshold itself which didn’t need altering.Steps You can see in the picture the now dried out step at the base and the top step levelled out with still wet screed inside the wooden shuttering. I have used bricks and stones to keep the shuttering in place as there isn’t a great deal of pressure on it from the cement screed. For larger works I would have screwed battens to the walls and floor to contain the wooden shuttering and in fact whilst I was constructing the round step across the room I held the screed in place with stiff plastic that had been held in place with battens at each end. This work is very simple to do, the hardest bit is mixing the concrete or screed by hand! When I constructed the round step I had to use a lot of concrete and screed so I employed the use of the mixer but for this smaller set of steps that wasn’t worth doing. You can see the concrete step that forms the threshold under the door. That simply needs facing off in places to fill some holes that are there, especially near the bottom but I can’t do that until the screed is set hard, which will be tomorrow, Sunday afternoon as I write this. E wants to paint the steps when I have finished. I have yet to make up my mind about what I am going to do with some of the drain pipes but I think I will be choosing the easier option! My next major project is to level the floor in the room we hope to convert into a garden toilet but I have to remove half of the existing floor tiles first. They are laid directly onto compressed sand. I have already done some of that work some weeks ago but as you know other things have taken precedence. No rush though.

Shirley Anne

Bit of a mix

I have never used a mixer in the kitchen though we do have one. I have never had a reason to use one, always mixing by hand instead. I have the same attitude when it comes to washing dishes too, I always prefer to wash by hand though E generally sticks everything inside the dishwasher but not all of the time. Perhaps the reason I prefer doing things by hand is that it is only relatively recently in my lifetime that I bought a dishwasher. Probably two-thirds of my life has been spent without one. I also like having my hands in water! In my early years as an adult most all of the mixing I have done has been by hand but certain things done manually can be very exhausting aside from being time-consuming. When E and I talked about laying concrete some time ago when we decided to reconstruct the steps behind the garages and the need for a ramp behind one of them it meant that we would need a lot of concrete to do it all. When I was younger it wasn’t a problem to mix concrete or mortar by hand as I was then much fitter than I am now and could do much more in the time given. Not so these days though I can still do many things by hand. So it was we decided to buy a concrete mixer to mix the concrete to do the steps and the ramp and to mix the mortar for laying the bricks and paving slabs we worked on behind one of the garages last year. Mixer 2Over the last couple of days I have been constructing a large step to lessen the height of the existing step into the boiler room and yesterday, that is Friday, I filled the space within the brick containing wall with hard-core material ready for laying concrete on top. Today, Saturday, E and I dug out the concrete mixer from the garage and set about mixing the concrete. Once everything was set up it didn’t take long to mix the amount we needed, in fact one mixer-full was all it took and soon I had it laid over the hard-core. A few minutes later we were cleaning the mixer and returning it to the garage. The whole job took a mere forty minutes or so but would have taken much longer had I done it by hand and I would have been quite tired for a while after doing it! As I write this on Saturday evening all that needs to be done is to apply a smooth concrete screed to cover the rough layer of concrete we have laid and to cover the bricks containing it too. A bit like icing a cake only bigger! Mixing concrete or mortar is very much like preparing the mix for a cake. It is simply done with different materials that’s all but more of it. Whilst we were outside and clearing everything away I suggested we gather the leaves that had gathered around the back of the large greenhouse and the path we had built earlier in the year and there were plenty of them. We were joined by our friendly little red-breasted Robin who seemingly was waiting for the opportunity to eat whatever we had disturbed when clearing the leaves. Every year is the same, the price we pay for living near so many trees. Ideally we could do with a large vacuum cleaner though E tells me that the leaf ‘blower’ she won a couple of years ago (she’s always winning prizes) can be used to suck as well as blow. I somehow forgot she’d mentioned that.

Shirley Anne

Another brick in the wall

BRICKS (Photo credit: marc falardeau)

Question: Without calculation, how many bricks does it take to fill an average sized doorway in a double-brick thick wall?
Answer: 168

I never dispose of materials I might find a use for in the future. We have had many jobs requiring bricks such as the patio, the newer of the two garages and the walls in the front of the house. Those bricks we found surplus to requirements and others that we have accumulated after doing other jobs around the house have been stored neatly outside awaiting any possible use. The greatest number of things I posses are in fact bricks! I’ll let you think about that one. Well on Wednesday morning I decided to clean them, count them and move them indoors to the room in the cellar, our new toilet project room. There were 110 bricks, not enough to fill a doorway twice but enough for once especially if the other side is filled with breeze blocks. We don’t need bricks to show on both sides but we do need them on the inside which faces into the house as all the rooms down in the cellar have exposed (painted) brickwork. The side facing the room being converted will be plastered over then tiled so it isn’t important to have the bricks showing.  When the new door opening has been created there will be enough resulting bricks with which to fill the other existing doorway to the room and the outside door beneath the stone steps. All we will need to purchase is enough breeze blocks to fill two doorways once only. It pays to keep hold of things sometimes. As the new doorway opening will require a lintel fitting in the wall and the remaining wall above it supporting whilst it is being fitted I intend to use a builder to do that work. There are some things best left to those who specialize in such work. I would be slightly embarrassed if the gable wall fell down after a failed DIY job! I do know what is required to do the job but I won’t tackle it nevertheless. I am keen to get the inner doorway blocked-off for security reasons as I can then take my time with the remainder of the project. One thing I must do is disconnect the electrical wiring in the room before much further work gets done in there.

Shirley Anne

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My involvement has ended

On Saturday afternoon my work on the bathroom project ended and all that remained to be done was filling and painting the box which covers the pipes to the bath tap column and painting the rear of the main door once more with its final coat. E will be doing that or will have done most of that on Monday if she has the time. There is one other job I have to do in the airing cupboard which wasn’t a part of the project per se but needs to be done when I get some spare time and that is to replace the immersion heater in the hot water cylinder which hasn’t worked for many months. During construction of the bathroom I lay in a new cable from the existing switch located downstairs and left it in the cupboard ready to connect to the heater when it is replaced. If you have been reading my bathroom posts you may remember me writing about the heater. When I originally rewired the house 25 years ago I couldn’t gain access to replace a section of existing rubber insulated wiring to the heater but once the bathroom project got underway I seized the opportunity to replace it. I will need to put an isolating switch local to the heater even though it will never be switched off in normal use. The switch downstairs will be used to switch the heater on if required. The cylinder is generally heated by the gas boiler with the electrical heater used as a standby. My electrical work is beginning to build up again after the Easter break but I am sure I’ll have some time to make a start on the next home project, the toilet in the cellar (basement). Preliminary work involves removing the door which leads out into the garden beneath the stone steps which lead up to the kitchen seen in this early photograph before we had the patio built and whilst we had the workmen in to replace the windows almost four years ago.16

The kitchen door is the wooden one at the top of the steps and directly beneath it out of sight is the door leading into the house from the garden. There is also another door before that one is reached but it can only be opened from the inside. The plan is to have that door opened from the garden or even bricked-up and done away with and for the main internal door opening to be bricked up too. There is a new door on the other end of the house which gives access to the garden so the old one can be bricked up without loss. Once that is done we plan to open a new doorway at the side of the house immediately round the corner and located this side of the black soil pipe that can be seen in the photograph above. At the same time as that opening is made we will have to brick up the internal door to the area.023

The internal door hangs in the blue painted frame and the door leading out beneath the stone steps is the one painted white inside. The new opening will be directly facing the door opening around which is the blue frame. It will be the only access to what then will be garden toilet. We may have to relay the floor in the room or replace it. We may employ a builder, perhaps E’s nephew, to create the new opening as a suitable lintel will be required and I would rather get a professional to do that work, I can brick up the other doorways myself, with a little help from E of course! So that’s the plan.

Shirley Anne

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Taken by surprise

A plasterer covering a wall, using a hawk (in ...
A plasterer covering a wall, using a hawk (in his left hand) and finishing trowel (in his right hand) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what did happen on Monday evening, did I get to sleep? As I wrote in my previous post I hadn’t slept through Sunday to Monday morning. I had to take the day off from work of any kind because I was so tired but I finally did get a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed on Tuesday. I had arranged for the delivery of building materials to arrive during the morning but expected they would arrive late. Fortunately I had set the alarm to wake me in case I overslept but in fact arose before it went off. I went downstairs just before nine o’clock and saw the delivery wagon pulling up outside. I went out and opened the garage door for the guy to drop it off inside. Ten minutes later I went back indoors for my breakfast. To my surprise E was sitting at the table having just finished her breakfast. I hadn’t noticed she was there. She wasn’t dressed as she never gets dressed before breakfast at home and I wondered how she might have coped with the delivery had I not been there. She was wearing a dressing gown however and knowing E I couldn’t see her going outside wearing only that! So I was taken by surprise by the early delivery but thankful that it came sooner rather than later as it meant I could concentrate on doing some work after breakfast which is what I did. I applied a thin layer of plaster over that which I had applied to the small area of ceiling in the bathroom a couple of days previously. I am not a plasterer of course but I will attempt small areas. A professional plasterer would have done the job in one short visit but it took me somewhat longer. I am pleased with the result even though there will be a little patching up here and there! At least most of the plaster actually stuck to the ceiling rather than ending up on the floor or me! I have done plastering jobs in the past and if I say so myself my techniques have improved vastly since the first attempt but like anything else – practice makes perfect. Being as it was a Tuesday I wanted to take E out for lunch but I first had to go and do a small electrical job some three miles away. I was back home 45 minutes later and changed my clothes before driving to our chosen venue.

Shirley Anne

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He relented and then we worked

English: A house built using Industrial Grade ...
English: A house built using Industrial Grade Brettstapel in the process of being covered with plasterboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday we were awaiting the delivery of the timber and plasterboard that we had purchased on Saturday. We had asked for a morning delivery so that we could continue the job but as it happened we didn’t need any of the new materials to do what we were able to do. We needed them for Tuesday. The delivery man arrived around eleven and either we were the only delivery or we were the last one, for the morning at least, as the vehicle was empty except for our order. It was raining and I asked the man if he would put everything in the garage and he told me he was only allowed to drop materials on the driveway. I asked him how I was going to move it all by myself and at that point E came outside. Although the plasterboard was covered with plastic wrapping that needed to be removed to enable one or two boards to be moved at a time and of course taking off the wrapping meant it was going to get wet. Once plasterboard gets wet it is useless. The man relented and said he would move it all to the garage, which he did in a couple of minutes. Once upon a time the delivery man would even take things indoors for you but times have changed and they are reluctant to do anything more than they have to and blame it on the insurance liability cover. The timber was wet of course. Once he had departed I moved the sheets of plasterboard and the timber one by one into the cellar rooms where it is warm and dry. Our youngest son has been staying over for the past week or so and he had just returned from the gym. I asked if he could help me get the plasterboard up the two flights of stairs to the  spare bedroom on the first floor. We took one board up together and he told me to let him take the others as he could manage them easily. He had them upstairs in no time at all. The timber isn’t a problem as it can be moved one length at a time. As I write this on Monday evening the timber is drying off in the cellar but tomorrow, Tuesday, I plan to start constructing the new ceiling so it won’t be there long. As we are not lifting the entire ceiling to the same height we needed to build a small frame at the point where it will be raised and that is what I did on Monday afternoon. The small area above the entrance cannot be raised as the cold water storage tank is seated above it and it would take too much time and effort to move it. Our son left for home shortly after lunch to spend the next few days at his apartment with his girlfriend who had also been staying in town visiting her mum. Later in the afternoon just as we had finished working for the day we got a visit from our eldest son whom I’d not seen during the Christmas break but it was only a flying visit. He and his wife seldom visit and when they do it isn’t for long. Children eh?

Shirley Anne

A change of mind.

The Plumber
The Plumber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had invited a local plumber round on Monday morning to look at the possibility of fitting a larger drain-off pipe to make draining down the central heating pipes faster. I need to drain it down to enable me to disconnect old pipes that fed a radiator and connect the two new ones I have already installed for a new radiator in a different position. He arrived not longer after I had returned from doing a small job for someone and we discussed my requirements. He made a suggestion, actually the very idea I had in mind already and he went to the local plumbers merchant to buy what was needed. On his return fifteen minutes later we discovered that the parts he was going to use would not fit. The problem is that the old pipework is an Imperial size (that is measurements in inches) but all new pipework and fittings are Metric sizes. There are special reducers for connecting the different sizes together and I already knew this having changed our hot water cylinder about fifteen years ago when the other one sprang a leak. It is possible to break into the pipes I wanted to connect the drain to but the system would need draining to do even that! After some debate we both decided not to bother with that at this stage but perhaps leave any alterations until the summer when the heating is not in use. In the meantime I am resigned to using the existing 15mm drain connection situated on the boiler itself to partially drain the system down to the point where I will be connecting the new pipes. That means draining down two whole floors of radiators and pipes which might take some time. At least I know now where I stand. As the guy hadn’t done any work except removing the blank end from the existing tee piece where I had hoped to fit the larger drain-off pipe (and may do at a later time) to check the size, he only charged me £25 for his time. I gave him £30 for his time and advice, it was worth it. I think he was rather surprised though to be confronted by a female electrician who knows quite a bit about plumbing. So it was lunch time and I was about to prepare something when I got a call for a job. It more than paid for the money I gave to the plumber and soon I was back home. After lunch E went out shopping with her mum again, this time for Christmas presents and while she was out I sorted out some 10mm plywood from the various sheets we have stored in one of the garages and cut it to size for fitting on one side of the new studding I constructed in the bathroom a couple of days ago. I took it upstairs and fitted it. I wanted to use plywood on the shower side of the wall to make fitting the shower itself easier. I won’t have to worry about getting a good fixing to the wall as it will be entirely made of wood! I don’t need to fit plywood on the other side but may do so anyway as it will make the wall sturdier than it would be if I used plaster board. I have plenty of plywood in storage. I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the project as I love working with wood and constructing things with it.

Shirley Anne

Another rest day

After my Monday escapades my mind and my body wanted a rest so on Tuesday neither E nor I did any work in the morning and we dined out in the afternoon. We intended to continue with our work on Wednesday however and this we did but Wednesday was a rather warm and humid day. The air felt ‘heavy’ due to the moisture content and any activity caused tiredness. My sweat glands work overtime at the best of times but when the air is already full of moisture there is nowhere for the sweat to evaporate so it stayed on my skin and I stayed hot! Well of course working in the heat is difficult at any time but especially if there is high humidity. Nevertheless we plodded on with the work in hand and the first task was to lay the final concrete paving slabs in the vegetable patch…….


I was certainly tired after manipulating those top three slabs though I wouldn’t normally be but it wasn’t just the slabs it was the shifting of the soil too apart from the setting up of the mixer and other things. My arms were aching and I felt somewhat weaker than normal and I put it down to the humid weather as much as a general tiredness considering how much work we’ve done over the last few weeks.


I did some other work too like relaying some bricks that a bricklayer had laid two years ago which had become loosened from the wall. Who called the bricklayer a bricklayer? LOL. After those jobs it was time to do some gardening which E had been doing for most of the day after she had initially been helping me. I had to more or less drag her indoors at 6 o’clock because she doesn’t know when to stop!

There is still plenty to do though but it would be better if the weather were a little cooler. I don’t like sunbathing but I am still a bit sunburned on exposed skin. In fact I have a heat rash on my forearms even though I’ve been using factor 25 sun blocker! Sitting in the patio is fine as long as I can sit under the canopy but I’ve not had too much time to do that, at least during the day.

Shirley Anne

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