I did a swap between days at the weekend. I rested on Saturday but did a little on Sunday instead. The wind had finally eased off and I was able to get into the garden to begin the jobs I had lined-up. First though it was ‘clean sheet day’, I changed the bedclothes and put the soiled ones in the washing machine before eating breakfast. After breakfast I placed one of the duvets in the bath and hand washed it. Have you ever washed a duvet? They are very heavy when wet. Following the wash was the rinsing, all very tiring work. How then to dry it? We have a plastic linen basket in the bathroom and I used that on which to put the now folded duvet to allow the water to slowly drip from it. It took hours for that to happen but as the bath wasn’t needed it could stay there all day. Then it was time to put on my overalls and get outdoors, first of all to replace the flag now that the high winds had ceased and then into the rear garden to saw off the remaining tree stumps at ground level. Four of them stood one to two metres high and two were nearer the ground. My arms were aching somewhat after I had finished. I might decide not to saw through those stored tree trunks I mentioned in yesterdays’s post but take them to the recycling centre instead.
Sawing them is too much like hard work! By the time I had done with the work outside it was almost time for lunch but first I had to hang the washing on the line in the boiler/gym room. Whilst down there I spent some time on the cross-trainer. Time to cook lunch. It was two o’clock and I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and as it was a bright and sunny afternoon I spent some time in the garden.
That is giving the whole room, the walls and ceiling its first coat of white emulsion. Bright isn’t it? I think so. The room had been in an awful state very much as the other rooms I had refurbished during the year. By the time you are reading this at the end of January hopefully the work in the cellar will have been completed. It wasn’t the only thing I did that day for I spent a little time in the rear garden cleaning and hosing down the area in the Plot where we keep the composting bin. It had been looking a little neglected when I went to tip more compost in the bin.
Moss loves the area and leaves get trapped too. In all I spent around five hours working before I decided I’d had enough.
During the last months of the year I have no excuses for being idle as there is much to do. The truth is though that I have been pretty much busy throughout the year! As at the time of writing this Oct 21 st (Trafalgar day here in the UK) I am engaged with the utility room project and waiting for the pebbles to finish the lawn project. In the pipeline of things to do are the removal of some of the fruit trees and the pruning back of others in The Mound and setting up the frost protection for some of the plants. I also have in mind the uprooting and replanting of a few plants and other general garden duties in both front and rear gardens. This year though I will not be sweeping up the fallen leaves in the front garden except to keep them away from the garage doors and drains. Last year the council did not empty out the two wheelie bins properly leaving them both still half-filled on the last collection day. I emptied them out onto the driveway and let nature do the rest. They disappeared after a day or two just as they would do in the wild!
No doubt if I run out of things to do I will find something, it’s in my nature. As long as I can take a break occasionally I will be happy doing whatever comes my way. It is funny to think that once upon a time I wouldn’t consider doing some of the things I do now but being retired from formal work gives me more time on my hands and it must be filled somehow. I treat my projects as hobbies rather than chores and indeed they are more as a hobby to me.
Well yes I did get a day off but as it was a Sunday I’m not sure that counts as I always take Sunday off. I did get a day free from having to water the gardens though and not just for one day but two. We had a good spell of rain so the ground became well-watered. Trouble is it wouldn’t last too long and I would have to resume manually watering the gardens, at least those plants which would otherwise die if I didn’t. On Monday morning (the 30 th) I got up a little later than I had been doing, about an hour later but still it was only three o’clock. I wouldn’t be taking a walk that day and I wouldn’t be watering the gardens either but I would be doing other things instead. First of all I ate breakfast after which I put on my overalls and mask and painted the next section of the gym floor.
When I had finished there was but a fifth of the original amount of paint left (about 2 litres) so all I could then do would be to fill-in the remainder of the floor in readiness. That would hopefully get done in the days following. I have placed an order for a further ten litres but as to date there has been no action from the supplier, something I would be chasing up during the week ahead. It was wise of me to choose Monday to resume painting because there was little wind to blow any fallen leaves into the room with the door being left open for ventilation. They accumulate in the area outside the door. I realised I hadn’t put out the green waste wheelie bin for emptying so that was my next job. It wasn’t simply to put out the bin however for I had decided to cut back the overhanging branches of the yew tree which were hanging over the public footpath (sidewalk). The bin had only been half filled but it was full when I had finished the pruning. I still wasn’t finished however for I had to hang out the washing I had previously placed in the machine before breakfast. When I had completed those tasks it was still only seven-fifteen! Of course many other small things got done later in the day. My plan for part of the day ahead were to visit a garden supplier to check out what was available for the island on the lawn project I was thinking of doing. I could end up purchasing something or not, it would depend on what I might find. The second supplier I visited was a few miles out of town and he had what I was looking for but the problem he had was that the hoist on his vehicle was out of action. He decided he would visit my home soon to see if the problem could be overcome in some other way. So at the time of writing I am waiting for his visit. All other materials I would need for the project would be sourced locally and I myself would collect many of them anyway.
Even when I am not busy I remain busy! It’s just that the nature of the business has changed. I am getting more used to not working on one of my projects and turning my hand more often to other things instead. Those ‘other’ things were always there and always needed doing just as they still do. The difference is that now I have more time to do them and it’s funny how those things seem to have multiplied because I have more time. When I think about it I wonder how I managed to get other chores done when I worked full-time as an electrician but somehow I did. Today, Thursday (7), I got up early and did the weekly shopping, leaving the house just as E was coming downstairs. She hasn’t done the weekly shopping for eight weeks, though I am not counting it against her. Strange as it may seem to some I am beginning to enjoy the new routine now that I am getting familiar with where things are shelved. I usually don’t waste time and just whizz around and get it done but lately I have been taking more time and taking more interest in what is actually available. There are items for instance that I never knew existed and some of them I might be tempted to purchase one day. Generally though I stick to my shopping list. I returned home and after packing everything away I spent a long time watering the front garden. After a coffee I went online for a time then sat outside on the front bench playing my guitar.
It is nice sitting there for it is usually quiet in the front garden. There is very little vehicular traffic and even less pedestrian traffic. The only problem is it can get too hot if there is no cloud cover and on Thursday there wasn’t any cloud cover. I returned indoors to prepare lunch, a tomato omelette on a bed of lettuce followed with strawberries and pears with a little single cream. I spent a little time out on the patio then returned indoors again to spend a half-hour on the cross-trainer. Thursday was a hot day but exercising in the cellar gym wasn’t a problem for it is much cooler down there. I say down there but the cellar is at the same level as the rear garden. Nevertheless I worked up a sweat despite the coolness. I soon cooled down on returning to the garden, a more shady part of the garden of course where there was a slight breeze blowing. An hour later I found myself mowing the lawn then watering the rear garden too. By that time it was after five o’clock and the rest of my time was spent relaxing, mostly indoors.
There must be something wrong because I am beginning to like doing the weekly shop! Shopping for foodstuffs has never been high on my list of favourite things to do. Once upon a time and many years ago I used to share in that weekly event but in more recent times E took it upon herself to do it. However, she has been unable to take on the responsibility over the past few weeks so I was obliged to do it. Now I am finding it isn’t all that bad after all. I hate crowded places, always have, and I especially dislike waiting in long queues at the supermarket checkout. I dislike waiting for anything to be honest, my get-up and-go wants always to be doing just that. Whereas E shops late in the day I do it as early as possible and for two reasons, one, there is far less traffic in the aisles and at the checkout and two, I get the rest of the day to do others things. Today, Thursday 17, I was up early and had eaten breakfast by seven before going into the garden to water all the plants with the hose. At eight I was driving to the supermarket and had returned home with all the groceries by nine o’clock. I don’t mess about, I treat it as just another chore and those I like to get done as quickly as possible. Once I had put everything away and had made myself a coffee and had prepared E’s breakfast it was nine-thirty. I put on my overalls and went into the cellar to fix the threshold timber to the floor of the storage room we are now calling the ‘Larder + Pantry’. Once that was done I touched-up the paint here and there and then began to fill the shelves with foodstuff on one side of the room and on the opposite side cleaning materials…
Aside from affixing a label on the door which E is making, the job is finished. It looks like a mini version of a supermarket itself now! Originally we were going to use the room for storing paint and decorating materials but we decided to leave them where they are in the workshop room. After lunch I fed all the garden plants with a liquid feed whilst E potted about (quite literally) in the greenhouse. She was in fact supposed to be helping me but a phone call put an end to that and she began replanting some of the seedlings into larger pots instead.
……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.
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.
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.
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.
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!