Category Archives: DIY

Just had to

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Wanting to do things yet wanting to rest too wrestled in my thoughts but in the end I gave in to the idea of doing some more work in the garden. It just isn’t me to do nothing. Once again I received a request for my electrical services on Thursday afternoon, which I promptly did. I arose a little later than normal but only a half-hour or so and immediately after breakfast drove off to a centre which sells gardening and building materials such as ornate paving stones and slabs, fencing materials and numerous other things for outdoor projects. I had decided to purchase some lengths of natural stone which is used for capping brick walls in gardens and elsewhere. However, I wasn’t buying it for that application, I was buying it to use as edging stone for the flowerbed that runs in front of the greenhouses as I have decided to spruce it up. We are forever digging out weeds because there is insufficient ground coverage by the existing plants and some of those plants are really too small anyway. The bed really needs populating with more evergreen shrubs, especially flowering types to make it more attractive throughout the year. It gets plenty of sunshine which at the moment I feel is a little wasted on the bed if suitable plants are not there to take advantage. The existing small plants do create a splash of colour but it doesn’t last and as I said they don’t prevent the weeds from taking over. This is what it looked like about five years ago.pics-1109

Since then it has become a little bit of an eyesore. The new stone will run alongside the edge of the paving slabs though not completely to the left where larger stones will be placed to create a bit of a feature. The rear of the bed which is exposed in front of the small greenhouse will also have edging stone fitted then I propose to raise the level of the soil using that soil which is stored at present in the large white bag shown in previous recent posts. Doing that will also enable me to get at the buttress I mentioned the lower half of which I propose to render with concrete. I arrived at the garden centre to see what was available and they had exactly what I needed but only just the right amount! I arranged for them to deliver it on Friday morning as it would be too heavy to carry it in my van especially as the van was full of my own stock. The small electrical job covered half the cost of the stone so I was pleased about that. Maybe I’ll get another to cover the balance!

Shirley Anne

Now what?

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After breakfast on Tuesday I went into the garage and mixed the concrete I would be using to fill in between the newly positioned stone surround in the little plot and then I set about doing it. It took less than an hour….little-plot-5 Compare with yesterday’s picture. I use a smooth concrete mix when I fill in the gaps between natural stone used in these circumstances as it is more solid. I have found that a mortar mix is too soft. I use sand, granite dust and cement to make the ‘smooth’ concrete, the same mixture I use when laying a pathway or filling in larger areas as I had done when doing the work in the Plot a few weeks ago. There was a little of the mix remaining so I used it to reset a brick in the bottom of the buttress which was completely loose. You can see it centre-right in the picture near the wheel on the wheelie bin. The buttress itself needs repairing as I mentioned in yesterday’s post but I had almost no cement left. I intend to render the lower part, which is where the repairs need to be done, using the same concrete mix. I have the sand and the granite dust but I need a bag of cement to do it. In any case I will need to move the large white bag which stands on the path immediately to the right of the buttress so that the right-hand-side of the buttress can be rendered too. That bag has around a ton of soil in it! I may have to resort to moving the soil within the bag a little, just enough to access the wall. I certainly don’t want to move it all in the knowledge that it would have to be returned to the same place later. I would like to fit a stone edging to the long flowerbed which runs in front of the two greenhouses and in which stands the apple trees. At the far end of the bed stands a large holly tree too. The only thing preventing me from doing that job is the lack of stone! Despite the amount of stone we had rescued from burial in The Mound a couple of years ago there isn’t enough of a suitable size left, though much still remains. I will have to see what I can do, if anything, with what is left, maybe adding to it or buying something completely different.

Shirley Anne

Two hours

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You can do a lot of things in two hours. You can get in the weekly shopping, see a movie, take a drive somewhere and have a picnic, you can even fly off to another country if it isn’t too far away. Saturday was the day for E to meet up with her group, they meet together as a group on the third Saturday in the month and E sometimes meets with her friend from the group for special trips related to their groups activities. It means I get to stay alone at home unless I’ve anything planned, which is not often the case. In recent days I have been engaged it carrying out many of the little jobs that needed to be done at home now that I am free from doing any major project. I’ve been very busy this year doing major domestic projects and I hadn’t the time for the smaller things. The top room of the house, well one of the three that are up there, had been renovated earlier in the year but I never got around to re-fixing the curtain rail over the window. I decided to do it on Saturday afternoon. The original rail had been fixed to a length of wood which in turn had been screwed to the brick wall above the window but that part of the wall had been weak and the whole assembly had been insecure. Whilst engaged in the refurbishment I carried out repairs to the wall but knew that attempting to re-fix the rail there would still be fraught with difficulties unless I could find a good and solid place to screw it to. That meant finding the brick and not the seam but to do that wasn’t easy especially as the wall is covered with plaster. It’s a common problem with brick walls unless the seams are as hard as the bricks! Fixing the rail should have been straightforward and should have taken me no longer than fifteen minutes or so but it took two hours. wooden-rail-3Having decided to attempt to fix the two supports for the rail to the same brick wall I drilled the single hole for the first one which took a couple of minutes and screwed it in place. Then I began to drill the second hole and hit a seam. With the right sized screw and plug I thought it wouldn’t be a problem but the plug disappeared down the hole. I fetched another and put it in the hole and it stopped as it hit the first one. I attempted to screw the support but the screw kept on turning. I put a larger plug into the hole and using a larger screw made another attempt. Still no success. I was beginning to get very frustrated. I couldn’t simply move the support along and try again because it would have prevented the curtain from drawing closed. My only alternative was to attach that end of the rail to the adjacent wall which is at right angles to the window and fortunately right next to the window frame. The proper fixing support could not be used on the adjacent wall so instead I had to manufacture one which would support the end of the rail end-on. I needed a block of wood with a 25 mm hole drilled out in which the end of the rail could be pushed then that block could be screwed to the adjacent wall with two smaller screws. It all sounds so simple but at every point along the way I was met with one problem or another, screws too long or too short, drill bits blunt, brick wall too hard (yes the bricks are hard in one or two places around the house) and the fact that I had to take a few trips down to the cellar and back which is four floors below. In the end it took me two hours but I did hang the curtain too, after I had located the  plastic curtain hooks and inserted them into the webbing. I also managed to get it all done five minutes before E returned home despite how long it had taken to do.

Shirley Anne

Goal achieved

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I can relax a little now that all the major projects I had set myself to do this year have been accomplished. I will not remain idle though for even now I can think of things I can do to keep me occupied. On Wednesday morning after breakfast I undertook to finish the small project I had started the previous day which involved alterations to floodlights at the rear and one side of the house. Basically all I had left myself to do was to fix a new floodlight and a connection box then terminate the wiring after which I painted the remaining section of the main cable I had been unable to do the day before. rear-floodlights-4-and-5

The light which used to be where the black connection box is just around the corner (top-middle) has now been re-positioned where you see it on the right of the kitchen window. A cable now runs from the connection box to a new position beneath the other kitchen window here in this picture …side-wall-floodlightIt now shines directly upon the Plot when activated and will better illuminate the area and especially the passageway beneath it. The faulty floodlight will be partly dismantled and tested and if it is only the sensor that is faulty and not the LED lamp I will keep hold of it and use it elsewhere. It didn’t take long to dismantle the tower and store it away until it is needed again. It was almost lunchtime but I waited an hour before indulging. After lunch I had set myself a little plumbing job to do. If any of my readers will remember, I drained down the central heating system radiators and pipework a couple of months ago while it was still Summer in order to fit new radiator valves where I could get at them, though not all of them needed replacing. That meant air in the system when I refilled it of course, most of which I vented off manually. However, the bathroom towel rail heater remained air locked even though I had made alterations to the pipes in the airing cupboard to enable me to release any trapped air. I needed to get to grips with the situation but what with all the other work I had been doing I never really had the time. I attached a previously made length of hose pipe with a connecting pipe and fitting to the valve I had installed when the system was empty of water and allowed the water to gush out and into the bathtub. Surprisingly there was no air but just a little sludge, enough to stem the flow of water when in use. Thankfully the towel rail heated up and I was able to pack everything away.

Shirley Anne

Out came the tower

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I had a mini lie-in on Thursday morning after a quite restless night. I had enough sleep but it was in stages, two hours at a time and in between lying there wondering if I would ever wake up refreshed. I did however but it was a bit later than I had expected. I hadn’t set the alarm because I only do that if I have electrical work to do for others. My main desire for the day was to fit the newly acquired plaque and I had allowed myself all day to concentrate on that. Other work had been rescheduled to other days. Thursday started off fairly cool with a breeze but as the day wore on it got warmer, sunnier and less breezy. My feet touched the floor at nine o’clock and as they did someone called asking me to do an electrical job for them. I agreed with them to do it on Monday morning as I already had a job to do on Friday. I got dressed and ate breakfast and then I set to work.It was just after ten o’clock when I put on my overalls and went into the garage to take out the tower parts and begin to assemble them at the front of the house. I had to erect the full seven metres of it in order to reach the spot on the wall where I wanted to fit the plaque. However, it took me over two hours to get it all set up for I had no-one to help me, no-one to pass each section up to me which meant I had to climb up and down the tower many times as it rose higher. I went indoors for a moment to use the toilet and discovered it was almost twelve-thirty! It wasn’t worth returning outside before lunch so I made a quick snack and ate it. I returned outside before one-thirty and resumed working. My first task was to drill the holes in the brickwork using the template I had made and then I had to haul up the plaque using a large industrial bag and a rope. A far safer way than taking it  up by hand as I could easily have dropped it. Using long brass screws I secured it to the wall.hassle-castle-1877-2

hassle-castle-1877Just as I was about to fix the plaque to the wall my eldest son arrived to help me dismantle the tower as he had promised. He had just finished work and was on his way home. It was a blessing for it took us only about ten minutes to dismantle it. He left soon after and I carried on putting everything away as you can see in the second picture. I finished everything completely by four o’clock and went indoors for a well-earned rest.

Shirley Anne

 

Lamp post

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On Thursday morning I went to do an electrical job for the lady who keeps turtles (see yesterday’s post) but when I got there I saw that the work she had asked me to do wasn’t really necessary if she was to connect her equipment the way I suggested and in the process save herself unnecessary expense. I could see that she had already spent a lot of money for the shed and the furniture in it apart from the electrical installation that had been done by another electrician. For some apparent reason the guy who had done the work simply walked away because he’d had enough working there. He had made an excellent job of what he had done but the lady told me that he had put some of the power outlets in the wrong places. To be fair to him the furniture hadn’t yet been installed as she manufactured and assembled it herself later. She had also made a good job of the work. All she needed was an extra power point strategically positioned to accommodate her needs so that is what I did. She then asked me to look at several other jobs she wanted doing elsewhere but I declined. This is typical of some people who get you to their premises to do a single job and then they begin to move the goal posts. I will only take on extra work if it suits me. Anyway I finished the work and returned home. It was only 10.30 so I decided to do more work on the lamp-post project. The first picture shows the switch isolator box and the black connector box I had fitted the day before. lamp-post-supply-units

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It was a very windy day on Thursday and at times it was a nuisance working outside but I plodded on. The first task was to make the final connection to the equipment I had installed the day before. The power outlet box I was connecting the cable to needed re-securing to the wall as it had become loose so I had to do that before connecting the cable. My next task was to fix the lamp-post’s base unit but that didn’t work out as I had expected. Eventually I had it secured to the concrete before taking a short break for lunch. After lunch I assembled the rest of the lamp-post and its internal wiring and placed it on the base. Once it was secure  I made the connections in the base and that was it, finished, well more or less. There was some cosmetic work to do around the concrete base which I hoped I could do the following day.

Shirley Anne

Go girl go

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Seems to be me at the moment. I did get the rest I needed over the weekend but since then it has been all go.

Wonder Girl

Wonder Girl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My previous posts reveal some of the things I have been up to so far this week. Now as I write this on Wednesday late in the afternoon I have just returned indoors after working in the garden on the lamp-post project. I haven’t uncovered the work I did yesterday, that is Tuesday because rain is forecast overnight and I want the concrete I laid then to remain dry so that it can itself dry out completely. It was 26 hours ago that I laid it. Today I concentrated on fixing both the connector box and the box with the isolating switch to the wall and then connecting the steel-wire-armoured cable and the supply cables to them. The supply cable had to be fed from the other side of the wall to a power box there but I had to remove a small piece of capping stone first. I secured the cable to the wall so that I could replace the capping stone over it. Of course that meant mixing some new mortar too. I didn’t make the final connection to the power box as it was getting late and I’d had enough work for one day and also because the power box  needs some attention as two of its fixing screws had become loose. I might get the time on Thursday afternoon to finish that part of the work. I had been to work doing electrical jobs in the morning so essentially it had been a full day working. By Friday it may be possible to fix the lamp-post’s base to the concrete plinth and if so there would be no reason to prevent the post itself to be fitted. For the moment we will have to use the lamp that was supplied, an energy-saving lamp (miniature fluorescent) which has a built-in light detector. It means though that the lamp will be lit throughout the night. I am still trying to source a part-night sensor which will switch off the lamp for a few hours during the early hours after midnight. If I obtain one it will be fitted next to the connector box I have just installed to control the supply to the lamp-post and then I can replace the lamp with an LED version instead. Tomorrow, Thursday I will be installing equipment and wiring inside someone’s shed! They breed turtles…………..don’t ask.

Shirley Anne

The rest by hand

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I had one small electrical job to do on Monday morning in a local property a mile away but it turned out a little bit more difficult than I or the customer had assumed. I did the work and got back home around eleven-thirty and I really wanted to work in or on the Plot laying the last of the concrete between the newly laid paving slabs on the right of the flowerbed. I wanted to make the most of the fair weather while it lasted. It was a little too early for lunch so I went outside to set everything up and to put in some pieces of wood for shuttering where it would be necessary. It was twelve-thirty when I went indoors for lunch but I was back out again at one ready for work. I mixed a full load and then another half load in the mixer to fill-in the spaces and I had about two spoonfuls of concrete left over. A pretty good guess I thought and better to have that much over rather than being short of the amount. The hardest part for me anyway is the leveling off but that is only because of the grit in the mix. It takes a light handed touch to get it smooth. This is what it looked like on Tuesday..plot-33
plot-34Once I had finished I covered the area in case of overnight rain though the forecast was for dry weather. I started to clean up and pack everything away, including the mixer and stand which had been left outside for a few days. Any more concrete or mortar, and there would be for the work was not quite complete, would be mixed by hand. At last the major part of the work was finished and I could concentrate on other things. I started the project on 9th August but have not spent all day and every day working on it because of the weather and my other commitments. Considering what I have achieved I think I’ve done well. It has been hard work at times but that’s what drives me forward. Apart from the lamp-post project I have no other major projects in mind to do, at the moment that is!

Shirley Anne

Got to clean it yet

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I arose very early on Wednesday morning and after breakfast I was outside just before eight o’clock fully dressed in my overalls and ready to work. There was a bit of a chill in the air and everywhere was damp because of the high humidity. About an hour or two after I began to work I had to return indoors to remove some of the clothing I was wearing beneath the overalls as I became uncomfortable in the high humidity. Late in the afternoon on Tuesday I had decided to dig out the remaining soil behind the small wall where I had earlier begun to fill in behind with concrete. I found some spare wood sheets in the cellar that I could use for shuttering and set them in place ready for filling behind with concrete on Wednesday. I had not been able to do any other work in the Plot on Tuesday as you will have read in yesterday’s post. So the first thing I did on Wednesday morning was to mix some heavy duty concrete. Two mixer loads would just about do it and I had very little left over. Even so, that didn’t go to waste as I used it elsewhere. I poured it in behind the shuttering (see middle right in picture). I switched from mixing the heavy duty concrete to one using granite dust or granno for I was using it to fill in between the paving slabs. Even though I had mixed two full mixer loads there wasn’t enough to do all of the work but by that time I was beginning to get very tired. I would need to clean up the area later when the concrete had hardened. plot-29 I stopped working at just a little after one o’clock but then had to tidy everything away. It was just as well that I couldn’t finish all the work I had intended to do because I needed to plan what I was going to do in the area around the new steps. I made those plans a little later in the afternoon but to do it I would need some more old bricks. Now there are some old bricks in the area behind the other garage but many of them are covered in either concrete or hard mortar. I would have to see if there was enough of them that I could reclaim to do the work, though I could manage with fewer if I had to. At this stage I wasn’t sure what I would concentrate on doing the following day but I wanted to do as much as I could while the weather was good. I have yet to start work on the right-hand-side of the flowerbed but that work is mainly laying paving slabs and filling in with concrete.

Shirley Anne

Apathy

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Apathy. The day started well enough considering it was Monday, back to work day and the fact that I’d a restless night’s sleep. I had one electrical job to do at nine o’clock but I left the house much earlier in order to pay a visit to the builder’s merchant. I needed more materials. In my last post I mentioned I might have most of it delivered whilst carrying some of it home in the van but as I was going to work the van was full of my electrical gear so I arranged for all of it to be delivered the next morning, Tuesday. I did have some materials left over at home. When I arrived at the house where I was to work and assessed the customers requirements I decided against doing it explaining to them that it was too much work for me to do because of my age. I had gotten the impression over the phone that the work was much simpler but like so often people get you to their homes and then begin to expand and add work to the original request. Much of the work involved lifting floorboards and chiselling out walls and the house was carpeted and furnished. I knew I wouldn’t get much help from the customer in moving stuff around which made the prospect even more daunting. I seldom carry out installation work these days unless I know it will be easy. I was feeling a little tired too and weary of it all. Apathy had set in. I needed a break or at least a good night’s sleep but the day was young and I couldn’t simply sit around doing nothing. I telephoned a younger female electrician friend and offered her the work and she arranged a visit that morning. I drove home and put the van away. I wanted to strengthen the small wall of the Plot at the pathway as part of the general work I have been doing there so I decided that was to be my work for the morning.plot-27

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However, I couldn’t complete it as I didn’t have enough materials. Nevertheless I made a start by digging out the rear of the wall and putting some shuttering in before mixing the concrete and pouring it in the space. I used some scrap plasterboard as a sacrificial shutter for I wouldn’t be removing it later, it would be pointless. Had it been timber then I would have removed it once the concrete had set. I started at the point nearest the patio where the last Laurel bush stands for I knew there would be roots to contend with and sure enough there were. Part of the wall nearest the new steps has already been partially concreted , done when I was working around the steps earlier. Had this wall been left as a single brick structure it may have been subject to being slowly pushed down because of the Laurel. I will take the concrete to the height of the existing bricks and top the wall with natural stone later. At the time of writing there remains more concrete work to do behind this wall but it will be easier to do away from the main roots of the Laurel. After lunch I was beginning to feel better so I got my drill and screwdriver out and installed the steel-wire-armoured cable for the lamp post, when it arrives! I called the supplier regarding the delivery date but they were unable to tell me at that time. Anyway here are two pictures of the cable which runs from the patio to the corner of the garden where the lamp post will stand.lamp-post-cabling-1

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The cable runs down the wall behind the washing line pole to a spot on the other side of the patio wall in the foreground. The electrical connection box and sensor will be fitted there as it is the north (almost) side of the wall. The cable is hardly noticeable even close-up as you can see because it is under the lip of the capping stones.

Shirley Anne

Nothing is straight

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Nothing is straight but it really doesn’t matter. Nothing is altogether parallel either but again it doesn’t matter. Working on the project I have called the Plot it has become apparent that alignment with other structures is a little way off perfect. It is due to a couple of things, the rear wall of the garage is not perfectly built at right-angles to the perimeter wall and the small walls at the path alongside the house are not built parallel to the perimeter wall. I ‘discovered’ the discrepancy whist constructing the new steps. I was actually aware of the problem, if indeed I could say it was a problem, when construction began. On Saturday morning my work was to level the ground to the left of the new raised flowerbed and lay six paving slabs. plot-26That in itself proved a little awkward because I had to lay them so that a gradual slope was formed as I reached the pathway wall. Existing slabs to their left do not form a slope so I couldn’t simply follow their line. Now because I wanted the front edge of the last paving slab to sit upon the small pathway wall it meant that by the time I reached the perimeter wall the slabs were not parallel with the flowerbed. The alternative would be to have them parallel to the flowerbed but not parallel to the existing slabs next to the rear wall of the garage. In the end it won’t matter as I will be filling the spaces with a fine concrete mix which will disguise the errors. If you study the picture you will see what I mean. Had everything else been built squarely none of these problems would have presented themselves. It only takes one or two minor errors from previous building projects to cause problems with new construction projects. The only thing that has been built truly square with the perimeter wall and which also is parallel with the patio wall to the right is the new raised flowerbed! It should all look well when it is finished though despite the problems. I have yet to lay some paving slabs on the right-hand-side of the flowerbed too when I get around to it. There will be little left of what was once open ground in the Plot when the work is completed but that was the whole idea.

Shirley Anne

Problems

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Again on Wednesday I was busy during the morning and up until one-thirty working on the Plot taking advantage of the warm, even hot weather. The only drawback was the humidity which was rather high and it made working in overalls pretty uncomfortable. Now and then a breeze would blow but it made little difference. The plan for the day was to lay the top of the three steps having laid the hard-core and concrete on Tuesday and also to decide what I would be doing about the surrounding walls. Before I did anything else I sorted out what old bricks I had with which to work. The twelve new bricks left over from building the flowerbed wouldn’t be suitable as they didn’t match the bricks in the old walls. Part of the old buried wall would have to be demolished anyway and the bricks removed would just about give me enough with what I had already to rebuild the walls. I mixed enough mortar with which to lay the final step and spread it out over the prepared concrete. I then had to manoeuvre the paving slab up onto the second step and on to the two bricks I had placed there to make it easier to ease the slab down into position, Did I say ease? You can only lower such a weight so far before gravity takes hold and it slops down onto the wet mortar. Not having anyone to assist me I have to devise alternative ways to move heavy objects around. Once the slab was on the mortar it was exceedingly easy to slide it about and tamp it down until it was in the desired position. It was then that I noticed that the rear edge of the slab was not exactly parallel with the end wall of the flowerbed but I knew that would be the case. The reason being the wall at the pathway had not been built parallel to the main garden wall which separates us from our neighbours property. So although by build was parallel to the wall it could never be parallel to the wall at the pathway. The only solution would be to rebuild that small wall but it simply doesn’t justify doing it. I plan to fill in the space at the rear of the top step with a fine concrete anyway so the discrepancy, small as it is, won’t be noticeable. That was the first problem. I will insert the picture here so you can see.plot-24     The right-hand-side small wall alongside the lower two steps gave me the most challenging problem because the pathway wall at right angles to it is the one which isn’t parallel to everything else and consequently the right angle abutment wasn’t parallel with the steps. I had to knock most of it down and rebuild it but in doing so I had to make the front edge slightly wider in order to get it aligned with the steps. I call it an unavoidable manipulation of an original cock-up. I mention here again that I didn’t build the original wall. The opposite small wall on the left of the steps presented me with a different problem as I had to demolish part of the double-brick buried structure to make use of the extra bricks but someone had topped that wall with a very strong concrete and it looked as though they had used concrete instead of mortar in places. I managed to do both walls as you can see. The next problems are rearing their heads as I move along with the project. One is how to align the paving slabs in a reasonable way to make it presentable but I can see I will need to fill in a lot of spaces with fine concrete to make that possible. The other smaller problem is being able to fill in behind that pathway wall on the right which adjoins the patio wall. I have decided to use mainly concrete to do it. My next task will be to level the ground in preparation for laying the other paving slabs. I have nine left but I think I may have to purchase a few more.

Shirley Anne

Days off

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On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I decided to do no work……..that is electrical work! I wanted to concentrate on getting things done at home on my projects. I say projects for there are now two I am working on, both in the garden. The first as you all know is my redesigning of the Plot and the other is making a start on the lamp-post project. The weather forecast promised three or four days of warm and dry days so I had to make the most of them whilst I could. I had done a couple of electrical jobs on Monday which left me rather exhausted but after a solid night’s sleep I was ready to work on Tuesday. It was a little uncomfortable on the day for it was humid but I persevered and started by preparing the footings for the final step on the Plot and then laying concrete. It would be set by Wednesday morning and would allow me to lay the paving slab on it. Here are the two pictures

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Once I had that done I went across the garden to a spot in the long flowerbed which faces the rear of the house. I had planted two shrubs there a few weeks ago but the area to their left was overgrown with Montbretia plants which I intended to remove when I had the time and before their leaves died back.long-flowerbed-3 As long as the soil is loosened they are easy to pull out. I wanted to fill the area with the soil I had dug out in preparing the base where the lamp-post will stand. I managed to clear the area of the Montbretia but there were two wheelbarrow loads to dispose of in the wheelie bin! There are more Montbretia plants further along the bed which I will remove later. You may notice the variegated holly tree being supported by a long length of bamboo.The tree had been surrounded by other trees and was being choked by them. As I didn’t want these other trees because they spread themselves by putting up more shoots I removed them some months ago. I wrote about it in a post at that time. The holly is slowly being trained to grow more upright and is already beginning to fill out.
So I dug out the area where the lamp-post will stand and filled it with hard-core before topping it with concrete.lamp-post-base-1

I was ready for lunch by this time and as I wasn’t going to do any more work on my projects for the day I put everything away. After lunch at 2 o’clock I spent a little time resting on the patio but decided the lawn needed mowing again. So I did it as it only takes about twenty minutes with the petrol mower. Just as I had finished I received a request for my electrical services. I accepted the work and scheduled it for Friday. It would be about three to four hours work and would probably be the only work I would be doing that day.

Shirley Anne

For later

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The weather forecast for Saturday was rain for most of the day. Any work I might want to do outside would have to wait until late in the afternoon when it was supposed to become dry. I had gotten up early and before breakfast I went out into the garden with a tape rule to measure something but first I checked the concrete I had laid the day before. It was solid but obviously still ‘green’. I had placed a cover over it whilst it set and decided to leave it covered until the rain had ceased. What was I measuring you might ask? On Friday I received an email from a company who sells among other things, street lighting posts. I had been making inquiries with a view to purchasing one for the rear garden but they had none of the type and size I wanted in stock. I chose to wait and they would send a message when they became available, the email was to inform me of that. I immediately ordered one online. This is the one I chose.victorian_lamp_post_set_2.26m_1

With a discount voucher but with the added cost of delivery the cost would be £319. I have at the time of writing on Saturday no date for the delivery. As Saturday was going to be wet I could do no work at least during the morning so I decided to pay a visit to the electrical supplier and purchase the materials I would need to install the lamp-post when I could get around to doing it. It will also require that I build a concrete base on which to stand it. The concrete mixer will need to stay out a little longer! The tape rule was to measure the length of cable I would need to reach the proposed lamp-post position which turned out to be a little under 19 metres. The cable I am using is pvc steel wire armoured which will be small enough to be almost invisible when I install it beneath the capstone where they overhang on top of the wall. The other materials included a weatherproof box in which I will put a control switch (for isolation only) and a weatherproof connection box where I will connect the cables and the wiring to the photo cell unit which will control the light. The photo cell could not be purchased over the counter so I have been trying to source one online. A few years ago I bought one to control the light in the front porch. It is a special unit which switches on at dusk, off at midnight, on a few hours later and then off again at dawn. It takes a few days to settle down and adjust the switching times more accurately and it will enable the light to remain off during the early hours of the day. In the meantime I have work to continue with on the Plot as long as it isn’t raining. The rain did ease off for about thirty minutes in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to mix some mortar by hand as it was quicker for such a small amount and I managed to lay the second paving slab and recover the area before the rain resumed. I wanted to lay some bricks on its rear edge as I had done with the first step but hadn’t enough time because of the rain. Here are two shots taken on Sunday morning.Plot 19

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It would be Monday before I could do any more work at home but I had two electrical jobs scheduled, one small one and the other not so small which would scupper the idea.

Shirley Anne

One step at a time

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Quite literally too. I remember the time it took to construct the other steps in what we now call the Plot and you can see those is many of my previous posts. The reason they take so long, if they are to be constructed in a robust way, is that solid foundations need to be laid for each of the steps in turn. For the smaller projects, as this one is because there will only be three steps and the top one will simply blend in with the paving slabs I propose to lay in the area. As such the body of soil beneath it will be enough for support as it is compacted. Having to lay a foundation not only makes the construction solid but it is a great way to dispose of old bricks and rubble. They serve as a base for laying the concrete on which the paving slab steps can be laid. So the method I use is first dig out the ground, next fill the area with hard-core (bricks and rubble) and tamp down until solid then lay concrete on top. When the concrete is set lay a thin bed of mortar on it then lay the paving slab on the mortar making sure it isn’t perfectly level for when it rains you’ll want the water to run off the step! On this project I have to do all that twice as there will be two steps needing a solid base. On Thursday morning I laid the first step on a bed of mortar then I laid four bricks along the rear edge. The front edge of the second step will rest on them. Next I filled in the space behind those bricks with more hard-core. I had placed some old bricks at the rear to form a retaining wall for when I pour concrete on the rubble. It all sounds easy and in fact it is but it is also hard work. This is how far I got on the day…Plot 17

The opening is wider than the paving slab I laid so each side was filled with a concrete mix using the granite dust or ‘granno’ instead of the stone chippings in order for it to blend in with the paving slab. In this picture you can only see the far edge where that small brick nib juts out. For some time I have been thinking of making the small single-brick wall which connects with the patio at the top right more solid. If I can dig out behind it I might be able to lay more bricks or I may simply shutter it with timber and pour in some concrete instead. Either way will ensure a more solid construction. With all that weight of soil behind it I am amazed it hasn’t been pushed out by now. I might add here that I wasn’t responsible for building it in the first place. Although the remainder of the wall at the bottom left of the picture is also of a single brick construction there is less weight of soil behind it due to the hidden wall which separates the area left of the new steps from that on the right. It is the same wall which runs to the boundary wall and on which I built the left-hand wall of the new flowerbed. You may have noticed that the whole area is slowly getting cleaner as I remove or use the old bricks and rubble that was scattered about.

Shirley Anne