Never stopped……

……during the morning that is. It was Thursday and this Thursday E had made arrangements to visit Manchester with a couple of the members from her hobbyist club. It meant she had to arise early but although she was eating breakfast after taking her shower she hadn’t dressed. I entered the room fully dressed as I normally do before eating and she was surprised to see me, thinking I was going to have a lie-in. Well I had thought about doing that but soon after waking I remembered I hadn’t put the wheelie bin out for collection so I had to arise early enough to do that before the they came to empty it. I was however intending to go for a walk too so it was just as well I arose earlier rather than later. I don’t eat breakfast when going for a walk but might have some honey before I go and also take a banana with me just in case I get hungry. I was out of the house long before E went out and in fact she passed me by as I was walking along the coastal road about a mile from home. I waived as she went by. She was off to Chorley on her way to meet with a friend there before they went on to Manchester. Had she been going directly to Manchester she wouldn’t have been on the coastal road going north. It was a very cold and a very windy morning and I struggled at times just to stand up! Not quite as bad as in the picture below as it was a dry day but it certainly was windy….I didn’t go far along the beach this time, it was too cold, so I turned away and made my way toward the lake behind the dunes where it was slightly better out of the wind. By the time I arrived back home I was feeling the effects of that cold wind. I had work to do, cleaning my bedroom being one, moving a couple of items of gym equipment around to make easier access for the washing lines which hang in the same room in the cellar and then apply a top coat of paint to the lengths of wood I shall be using to space out the safety edge strips on the garage door frame. Then a few other small things too. Ah but breakfast before all of that though it was only a small bowl of muesli with fruit. The afternoon? That’s another story.

Shirley Anne

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Slowly getting there

Slowly but Surely
Slowly but Surely (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.

 

Shirley Anne

 

First month over

The first month of Winter is over and as they say, it can only get better! Along with the new year comes the prospect of ‘Spring Cleaning’ too. Although I suppose Spring cleaning should happen in Spring it doesn’t necessarily have to, it’s only an expression. I suppose also that traditionally the tidying up of the house was always carried out after the colder months were over, when the inclination to take on the tasks of the year ahead was in people’s minds. As with many traditions folk take them too seriously. I was sort of minding my own business on Saturday afternoon just after lunch when E called me to ask if I could fetch her a small brush, a paint brush would do she said. I went into the cellar to fetch one and took it upstairs where I discovered she had been vacuuming the top stairs and landing. Naturally I asked what she was doing and she replied that she had been vacuuming the room she now has as her craft workshop at the top of the house and she had decided to carry on down the stairs. The brush was to clean the dust from the staircase banister rails and I told her that I would fetch a better brush to do the job as we had one down in the cellar. I went to get it but on my return I took over the job. She meanwhile continued with the vacuuming.

As you can see in the picture above the cast-iron is intricately detailed and was, along with the wooden spindles coated with dust. When we first moved into the house almost thirty years ago we had to remove all 57 of those cast-iron pieces and have them sand-blasted and then painted in the gold/bronze colour you now see. The detail had been painted over so much we couldn’t see it, many of the gaps had been filled in with the numerous coats of paint they had received over the previous years since the house was built and that was in 1877! In order to remove them to have them renovated I had to remove the small piece of wooden moulding at their base and remove the large screws which holds them through the hole in the casting. On their return I had to replace everything before we could begin to decorate the woodwork. There are two flights of stairs and three landings so it took us some time to clean them. The next pictures show the lowest flight from below and above.

We repeat the process every six months or so though the stair carpets get cleaned far more often. E is good at giving me jobs to do! I don’t mind because it gives me something to do when I am not engaged in one of my projects and I know she cannot do many things by herself these days.

Shirley Anne

Old wood and nylon stockings

At a bit of a loose end on Friday afternoon I began searching for something useful to do. Recently I had cleared away a lot of debris which was lying on the boiler room floor in the cellar where we have set up some gymnasium equipment. At the time all I was able to do was to sweep the floor and follow that up with a mop and bucket. What was really needed downstairs in the cellar rooms was a dedicated vacuum cleaner, not one we would use for the upstairs rooms. We have owned an old ‘Aquavac’ cleaner for many years but somewhere along the way it has lost its filter. The machine needs the filter when using it to suck up dust and other solid things but the filter has to be removed when sucking up water. Somebody used the machine to suck up water years ago but didn’t remove the filter beforehand. Anyway the machine ended up in storage in the garage collecting its own dust after we purchased other vacuum cleaners. It can still be used without the filter for sucking up water of course and it can also be used outdoors where it doesn’t need a filter. I wanted to see if I could use it in the cellar so I used several pairs of old nylon stockings to make a temporary filter and it worked just fine but I think we’ll have to source a proper filter at some point.

English: A historic Vacuum cleaner on display ...
A historic Vacuum cleaner on display at the IXL museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have done so many domestic jobs at home resulting in the cellar rooms becoming filled with old timbers and odd pieces of wood, some of which can remain but much of it needs dumping. I decided to start collecting it together and place it outside behind the garage ready for me to load it into the van and take it to the tip. It will take me some time before all the wood is sorted but at least I have started the work. I just needed something to do. There are plenty of old things and accumulated items in the cellar rooms which we no longer need or want so as and when I feel at a loose end I don’t need to remain bored, I can collect them and take them to the tip!

Shirley Anne

No big thing………

just lots of little ones! A few weeks ago I went on a mini shopping spree, mainly to buy toiletries and some underwear. Part of those purchases were three bras all in black but differing slightly in design. On Saturday I took the only one at that time I hadn’t worn since its purchase to wear that day and discovered one of the straps was twisted and no matter how I tried to correct it stayed twisted. It had been stitched that way in manufacture. It either meant a trip to the store to have it exchanged or unpick it and stitch it back as it should have been. I put the bra to one side and wore another instead. It would be Monday before I could get to the store. On Sunday I had decided to rest, my Sabbath rest if you like but with me I seldom have a complete rest. It is more that I don’t work at my profession or do any major work at home, except the small things. While getting dressed on Sunday morning I remembered the bra. I took it downstairs with a view to altering the strap myself after breakfast. It took ten minutes and it was as good as new, it was new but this time the strap wasn’t twisted! I have to say I had never come across such a thing in a new garment before. I had brought down my soiled bed linen on Saturday evening and placed it in the washing machine hanging it all in the cellar boiler room before treating myself to a soak in the bath tub. It was so much nicer than having a shower after the hard work of the day. I don’t use the bath too often but it is nice when I do. On Sunday morning I folded up the now dry linen in order to hang up the towels I had put in the machine before breakfast. It was then that I remembered the grease-band kit I had purchased on my visit to Dobbies Garden Centre earlier. I cut and fitted a band around the two fruiting apple trees to prevent insects from crawling up the trunk. There are two reasonably large apple trees and one very small apple tree though they were all planted at the same time in 1989! The small tree’s trunk has never grown wider than a couple of centimetres and it is less than two metres in height. We have no idea why. In this picture taken a few years ago before we had the large greenhouse installed, you might be able to see the trees on the left of the greenhouse. They stand in a row with the small one nearest (just left of the green watering can)..

I came indoors to prepare another vegetable and chicken stew and another rock cake. It rained all afternoon so I remained indoors apart from a short visit to my next-door neighbour who wanted to see if I could help with a technical problem concerning their television and extension speaker unit. They had purchased the wrong connecting lead! On my return home I placed the two green wheelie bins in the street ready for emptying on Monday. I am so ready for them to be emptied of all those bluebells! Trouble is, one of them will get filled again almost immediately when I empty out the builder’s bag of its bluebell contents………..

Shirley Anne

Boxing Day

Blue vacuum cleaner
Blue vacuum cleaner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I won’t explain what Boxing Day is, information is easily found in your search engine. Already things are back to normal, high-pressure advertising back on track, the same year-in and year-out. Lounge furniture and summer holidays on special offers to entice people to spend even more money, if they have any left after Christmas! Today, Boxing Day, has been a funny day but a sunny one except that the wind never ceased from blowing. Left to my own devices once more I wasn’t sure what I would do with the day but in the end procrastination left me with no time to do anything. Wanting to go for a walk but thinking to myself the inconvenience of it, getting cold in the wind for no reason or too soon after eating became excuses I couldn’t resist. Consequently I stayed at home but I did spend some time on the treadmill by way of compensation. It is nice and warm in the cellar room which houses the treadmill because the boiler is located there too! E left the house before noon and didn’t return until later in the evening. I busied myself by doing a little housework, vacuuming the carpets and such before I got bored with that. It is one of those tasks which need to be done and despite the fact that we have a robot cleaner it doesn’t clean as deep as the mains-connected variety. Cordless vacuum cleaners too may be alright for general use but they also lack the power a mains-connected cleaner has. You have to unplug a mains-connected cleaner occasionally and move on to the next outlet, so what? There are plenty of outlets in the house. Anyway I could have carried on with the work of chopping down and digging out the shrub I had started on the day before but it was a colder day and still windy. Christmas Day had been windy too but it had been warmer with it. Had it simply been cold without the wind I’m sure I would have carried on with the shrub. There is no immediate hurry. During the afternoon I walked around the rear garden with a hot drink in my hands and taking stock of the work I will need to do there soon I could see Montbretia and Bluebell shoots beginning to show. Both will need digging out but it is the Bluebells which will be more of a problem as many of the bulbs will be deep beneath the soil. The Montbretia can usually be tugged out by hand if the soil is first loosened around them as they tend not to be that deep. It won’t be an easy job either way but if I am to do the work it has to be less windy. So I wait and when the time is right………

Shirley Anne

Following yesterday’s post

Monday was a very hot day. very humid at first but less so later in the afternoon. The carpet fitter arrived in the morning and finished before noon as I mentioned in a previous post. I had no electrical work as I had half-expected and probably won’t for another week because I withdrew my advert for some time off. Well the first thing I did whilst the carpet was being laid was to give the gardens a thorough watering knowing that it was going to be very hot. Starting in the front garden and then going into the rear garden later. Whilst watering the rear garden the fitter appeared and asked if the carpet he was about to lay was the one I had purchased. It was, but I wondered why he hadn’t asked that question when he first arrived and I was in the front garden where he had parked his van on the driveway. He told me that it would take him a further twenty minutes to lay it which just about allowed me to finish watering the garden. I packed the hose away and went to the top of the house to see he still had a few minutes of work to finish. Here is one of the pictures I posted two days ago..Top room carpet 2

Although it looks as though it is blue it is in fact grey overall, combining coloured spots of black, white and grey. E had Robbie (robot cleaner) clean the carpet whilst she had lunch. After lunch I decided to go for a walk but just before doing so I called the young builder called Ben who had been employed by E’s nephew to do the work on the roof a couple of months ago. He and a friend (who is now living in Australia) had done all of the brickwork when we had a lot of work being done on the outside of the house back in 2010. They had rebuilt our perimeter walls at the front and other walls within the front and rear gardens at the time. He is a good worker and really just a nice guy to have working for you. Anyhow I couldn’t speak to him directly and had to leave a message instead. I wanted some work doing on the garage brickwork where it has been leaking and alterations to the felt covering too.. I went for my walk and in doing so decided to go in another direction from the one I might usually take. I walked up to the top of the road and then turned left toward the village. I had walked only a short distance in that direction and I saw a pick-up truck parked at the kerb. I seemed to remember having seen the vehicle before and as I approached and to my left there was a guy on his knees and pointing away from my direction. He was doing some work on the paving slabs in the gardens of the apartment block there. I was about to continue past then realized he looked like Ben. I called out his name and he turned around. It was Ben! I couldn’t believe it, what a coincidence or was it fate? Sometimes I think we are led to do certain things rather than that they are chance happenings. He would call around on Tuesday evening to look at the job. I continued on my walk changing half-intended directions a few times. I ‘bumped’ into an acquaintance, a guy I had not seen for some time who strange as it was had been doing the same as myself, going for a walk. I mentioned a couple of days ago that this happens quite often when I go out walking. When out I walked along one of my favourite roads hereabouts, Rotten Row. It is laid with flowerbeds throughout it’s length but sadly these days only on one side of the road, a case of the local authority crying poverty. The diversity of plants are amazing, there is even a banana plant growing in the shelter of a hedge backdrop and surrounded by other plants. No bananas though! I didn’t think they could grow here unless under cover. Banana in Rotten Row

Shirley Anne

Another week

Shirley Anne 46For someone who is supposed to be semi-retired I have been very busy with my electrical work during the week gone by. It is now Monday and I am wondering what the new week has in store for me regarding electrical work. Most of the jobs I do these days are small though occasionally I will get several ‘small’ jobs to do at the same address! This happened twice last week. I get tired if I do too much especially when the weather is warm as it has been for some time now. The heat drains my energy and that is why I prefer cooler weather if I am working. Our little decorating project in the top room came to a grinding halt more than a week ago because the weather has been too nice to remain indoors. There is little to do up there anyway, a couple of hours painting over a couple of days and some other small jobs to do will see it finished as far as our involvement goes. Once the carpet has been fitted there will be nothing left to do. The weather can’t remain fine and sunny forever can it? On the days I haven’t been working away from home E and I have been busy in the gardens, mostly removing plants or planting new ones (see previous posts). On Thursday afternoon whilst E was out shopping I removed two plants from one of the two smaller flowerbeds I had constructed on the patio last Autumn. We had purchased what we thought would be small and slow-growing plants when we first populated the beds. Some of the plants are Cyclamens which don’t grow fast or large as well as another variety which likewise remains small but one other variety does. I don’t know its name. The plant in the picture below is of course a Cyclamen.


Embed from Getty Images

We weren’t aware of this when we purchased them but this season two of them grew so large they were blocking out the other plants. This only happened in one of the flowerbeds for in the other bed these particular plants did not survive and did not grow at all. I removed the two plants to a position beneath the apple trees near to the greenhouses further along in the same bed as the new Dahlias and Scented Lily we had planted a week or so ago. They survived the move as they had fully developed root balls which were not disturbed during the process. The thing about gardening is that there is always something to do all year round but especially in the growing seasons. In the unlikely event I don’t get any electrical work whatsoever you can be sure I will find work in the gardens and if it is raining I will be working indoors, if I am up to it!

Shirley Anne

Another day off

I spend more time at home these days and far less at my electrical business but I am almost never idle when at home. It is about that time when we can switch off the central heating system, though if it were only myself to consider it would have been switched off long ago. E feels the cold more than I do so it had to stay on just that little bit longer. The reason I want it off is so I can work on the system changing radiator valves, fitting a towel rail in the wet room and carrying out an alteration to pipes in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. All the jobs are individually simple and not time-consuming though it will take time to do them all. Before that work was undertaken I intended to get the artificial lawn laid on the patio. On Wednesday morning at around eight o’clock the front door bells sounded, it was the guys delivering the artificial turf. I wasn’t dressed and there was no way I would be answering the door. E however doesn’t bother about such things and she answered the door in her dressing gown. After breakfast I called the guy who would be fitting it just to let him know it was here. He called later to look at it as he has to source a suitable adhesive. At the time of writing he hasn’t set a date for doing it though he did say he might do it soon whilst the weather is good. Meanwhile I sprinkled some soda and water over the patio floor where moss had spread itself thinly in one part in order to kill it off. Later I was able to brush most of it away but had to resort to getting on my hands and knees with a steel wire brush to remove the stubborn bits. I also used a gas torch to burn some of it but finally it was clean and ready for the adhesive. I did some work around one of the rainwater grids which took some time. Water drains 006Basically I removed the plastic cover and set in place an open metal grating instead. Earlier in the year I had heavily pruned back the two main apple trees and had temporarily stowed away the branches. E and I got the wood chipping machine out and set it up to chip the branches. It is the yellow and black machine in this picture below. Nearby stands an old ‘Aqua Vac’ in red and grey which we had stored up in a small attic space at the top of the house. It is damaged but usable and though it can now only be used for vacuuming up water it may come in handy for vacuuming rainwater off the artificial turf when it is laid. Summer showers happen don’t they? The picture also shows the petrol mower in yellow, an electric mower in turquoise behind it, a cement mixer in blue, a wheelbarrow and hidden behind them another electric mower and strimmer. The artificial turf lies rolled up in the foreground waiting to be fitted.G 1Anyway E had to go out later and I took over chipping up the branches. We got quite a lot of wood chippings which we bagged for use in the garden. Amongst some of the other things we did was to take out the carpet and mattress from the garage ready for collection the next day by the council waste disposal team. We were both very tired having spent many hours working throughout the day.

Shirley Anne

Something to do

Static & Silence
Static & Silence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My readers will know by now that I am somewhat of a restless person, always looking for something to do. I rest on Sundays in so much as I don’t work at my usual job or any project I might be doing at home. I am however open to ‘leisure work’ or I call it ‘pleasure work’, though that might hint at all work being a pleasure to me. In fact I do enjoy work but the only work I might do on a Sunday apart from preparing meals and washing dishes is a little gardening and I do emphasize it is minimal. I might mow the lawn, dig out the occasional weed, potter about or water the garden with a hose. Although April thus far hasn’t been all that wet we have had some rain but over the last week or so we haven’t had much to speak of at all. Twice this past week I have had to resort to using the hose because the plants have needed the water. Sunday was one of those days. I got the hose out even though a little rain was in the forecast and I watered the gardens front and back. It was quite a cold day on Sunday and the wind made it seem that much colder. I was glad to return indoors. During the afternoon it did rain, twice but the amount that fell was insignificant and would not have been enough for the gardens so it was just as well I had used the hose pipe. I get restless as I said and late in the morning I decided I would bake another fruit cake just to relieve the boredom so that is what I did. What does one do when there isn’t much to do? My problem is I get bored too easily I suppose and that is why I take on projects at home if I am not out working. I am always looking for something to do but on Sundays I am restricted to household chores if I cannot get out into the garden and if I want something to do. Playing the guitar and watching television doesn’t count though at times I am too tired to do anything else!

Shirley Anne