Preparation

I have always maintained that preparation is key for any project or eventuality. I don’t like starting any work, any project or task without having all the necessary materials to hand though if I know something I’ve ordered will be with me soon I will proceed as long as it doesn’t delay me too long. Presently I am waiting for materials before I will make any inroads to the project they are for. It might be that those materials will have to be sourced elsewhere if nothing happens soon. Anyway, thinking ahead I have purchased the materials I will need to protect some of the garden plants against the weather in the colder months. At the time of writing (21 st) two of the three main components have arrived and the third should be with me in the next day or so. Even now I am considering an alternative method for the project but haven’t decided which would be for the best. So obtaining materials for any project is a must before beginning the work and it gives me the incentive to start the work when I have the materials to hand. I can have no excuses for procrastination if I have made the preparations and there is little to prevent proceeding now can I? Well maybe but not always, especially if the work is outdoors and the weather prevents it. In the garden I have other things besides the lawn project but they have to wait until the end of autumn as it involves some heavy pruning though not pollarding of the damson (plums) trees we have in the Mound. There are too many of them and those we will keep need cutting back.

 The picture doesn’t show the height of the trees but they are at least twice the height you can see. Gathering the plums is impossible unless we stand beneath them as they fall! It isn’t about the fruit though, it is more the appearance and management of the trees. The fruit is nice all the same. We may even take a couple of them out to allow the other plants to spread a little. The only preparation for this work is being available to do it. I don’t think there is a problem there do you?

Shirley Anne

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Just about done

My work in the cellar painting the gym floor was completed on Tuesday morning (14 th) for there was only about a square metre left to do, that small patch where I had parked the treadmill. As I write this on the same day there remains only to touch-up the white paint on the walls where I have splashed or touched with the red floor paint. That will get done tomorrow all being well. I had slept in an extra half-hour but still arose just after two-thirty. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t heard the alarm for it had been set. I put it down to my having been very tired the day before and indeed I had been. I was going to water the rear garden first of all but decided eating breakfast would be a better idea as I wished to take a walk. It would give me extra time for a toilet visit before the walk by doing the watering after breakfast. I didn’t want to be ‘caught short’ on my walk! Even so I do have to visit the toilet sometimes when out walking, doesn’t everyone? When I returned home I finished the floor painting in the gym and that was it, nothing left to do. My thoughts turned to the next project and when if ever it was going to begin; the lawn project monoliths…

Stone monoliths (Castlerigg in Cumbria)

I had been thinking a lot about the obstacles I would be faced with in not only getting the slabs of slate (monoliths) delivered but how to get them into the rear garden once they had. I wanted to give the guy who had the slate as much time as possible for the price he was charging was far below what I had seen for similar materials elsewhere. The problem he was facing was how to lift them on to a truck for his hydraulic hoist had been faulty when I had initially visited his yard. If it was going to take too long in receiving the slate I might decide to go elsewhere instead. I need to source some heavy-duty round steel tubing with which to use to roll the slate over the concrete, through the garage and into the garden. Four pieces about a metre in length should suffice. The method is to have three at all times under the slate and the fourth is then placed ahead for it to roll onto. The rear tube is then exposed and placed ahead of the slate to repeat the process. We used to move very heavy electrical equipment that way. The work is best carried out with two or more people so I will need to muster help from my sons no doubt. At this moment though it is all speculation……

Shirley Anne

Same old again

Rest over, time to get back to work. Typical routine for me these days. I am not happy unless I am working but the strange thing is that I like getting away from it after a while. Even stranger is that I can’t wait to get back to it after a short time! I am a hopeless case I suppose but I’d rather be doing something constructive than just doing something which isn’t or not doing anything at all. That said, it was Monday morning again, the first of the month and there was a feeling in the air that things were beginning to change in the weather, it was getting perceptively cooler. I was up very early again and ready for a walk after the weekend break but at two o’clock? No way, that was far too early so I busied myself doing other things until I finally left the house at five o’clock. This time I was wearing my waterproof jacket though with only lightweight clothing beneath. I was glad I did for the wind had increased and it felt very cool. Without the jacket I would have felt uncomfortable and probably would have returned to collect it. On my return home I thought I would get some work done but unfortunately there was little I could do. I wanted to use up the remaining floor paint to do as much as I could with it but wanted to wait until it was brighter outside. If you remember I mentioned that having the door open when it was still dark outside would attract flying insects, especially moths and I didn’t want a cellar full of them! However it was ten o’clock before I got around to doing the work as other things got in the way.

You can see from the picture above how far I was able to go with the remaining paint. The area I covered was all that behind the makeshift barrier. It wasn’t quite enough to cover the whole area as you can see. The next can of paint was on its way from Ireland and I would probably receive it on Tuesday or Wednesday. There was nothing further I could do on that project. The first thing I would do then would be to give the same area another coat of paint so that a couple of days later I could return the treadmill to its original position. That would allow me to repair the small area where it had been standing and I could then go on to finish the painting. Later I would be giving the whole room another coat of paint, except the area under the treadmill which would already have been coated twice. That was the plan anyway, let’s see if it went that way.

Shirley Anne

Progress

Due to one thing or another my gym floor project had taken a back seat and the work wasn’t getting done. I always maintained that there was no rush to finish my work but there comes a point where it begins to annoy me if it isn’t! The previous owner of our property ran a business and one or two of the cellar rooms were used to store goods. The rooms were never decorated but they did lay linoleum on the floor. Many may not know what linoleum is but it is a bitumen-based product which comes decorated with many different designs printed on it. It is supplied in rolls and is very simple to lay. I am not sure if it is very popular these days and doubt it is actually available now. Being a bitumen (tar) based product it burns easily so I would think that makes it a fire hazard. When we moved here thirty years ago we weren’t that bothered about removing floor coverings in the cellar except for one of the rooms where we had a concrete screed laid because it was so uneven. Over the years we have changed things around down there though there is much more we could do if we were inclined. The last two projects in the cellar were the gym and the larder rooms which I have written about in the last few months. Having redecorated the gym we decided to do something about the bare fire-clay tiles many of which were broken or cracked. There were also holes in places. My decision was to fill-in the cracks and holes with a cement mixture then over-paint it. As you may have read I am a little over half-way through doing that. One small area still had linoleum firmly fixed to it and had been left that way for years because it was so difficult to remove. Now that the floor was being painted I had to remove it and this is what I did on Friday (3 rd) morning on my return from a walk.

The picture above shows the unfinished area with the treadmill raised to give me access. I had already moved the bench press (just left out of view). Below shows the close-up of the area that had the linoleum on it which is between the brush and the shovel and toward the top of the picture.

I had trouble removing it, first by trying a gas torch which wasn’t successful, then by applying turpentine substitute which proved very successful. Even so it still took much elbow grease with a scraper to lift the very stubborn pieces. No wonder we had left it on the floor! My next task is to fill the gaps with the cement prior to painting. I will have to paint this area twice before replacing the treadmill and bench press and before moving to the final area by the internal door. Having done that I will paint the rest of the floor with its second coat. This is why the project is taking a long time to complete.

Shirley Anne

I gave up

Sometimes you know that despite all your efforts to make things simple it still goes wrong. I was trying to re-order a special floor paint by email and was informed that they would get in contact for payment. I waited but nobody got in touch so I sent a reminder by email and the reply was they had called several times but got no answer. I actually checked the phone’s incoming call history and no-one from their organisation had called, in fact the last received call to the landline was two weeks earlier than they could have phoned. I ended up going online to place the order instead. I should have done that in the first place I suppose. The floor paint is for the gym where I have been repairing the floor and giving it a coat of paint, in fact there will be two coats applied once I get the paint of course! I have found so many times in life where I have attempted a short-cut to resolve or solve a problem and ended up with the work taking twice as long instead! It is obviously sometimes not worth cutting corners for a quicker response.

I write this on August 2 nd so hopefully I will receive the paint before the end of next week. The supplier is based in Dublin, Eire, which is merely across The Irish Sea from where I live but it might as well be across the Atlantic for the time it will take to arrive. I am in no hurry but I would like the floor finished as soon as possible. The reason for that is I wish to make a start on the island I am proposing to put in the lawn. There again though I have to wait upon the supplier for the large slate rocks, stones or whatever they are called. They are actually three pieces of slate but they are long and heavy in weight. I would like them to be delivered before any other work starts on the project for I would like to set them in place and work around them. I am excited at the thought of working on this project because it is outdoors. I like working outdoors as my previous projects will testify.

Shirley Anne

A day off?

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.

Shirley Anne

Stuck indoors

After such a long spell of hot and dry weather it finally poured down with rain on Friday through to noon on Saturday (21 st). It was much-needed though even if it did mean I had to stay indoors and not being able to do any work outdoors. I had gotten up very early in order to go for a walk and at five o’clock on Saturday morning the rain had all but stopped falling. However that didn’t last long for half-way through the walk it resumed and had I not taken my raincoat I would have been soaked to the skin. I was soon back home and eating breakfast but I really wanted to be outside doing something in the garden. The rain put paid to that and I resigned myself to remaining indoors. E went out for the afternoon and didn’t return home till early evening so I was left to my own resources. I needed something to break the monotony, I needed something to do. It had been quite some time since I did any real work indoors though there was work to be done. Whilst it was hot and sunny however working indoors was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought I would begin the work of filling in the gaps between the floor tiles in the gym preparing the floor for painting it later. I prepared a sloppy mix of cement, enough for the area I wished to work on and as it turned out was just the right amount. Even with the mix being sloppy I still needed to wet the floor because it was so dry. 

The picture shows the completed area the following morning when it had dried out. Before I begin the painting I want to prepare more of the floor in order to make it worthwhile. I intend to complete the whole floor this way in stages, first the cementing and then the painting of each stage in turn. The main reason for that is due to the furniture it the room and the need for access to the garden plus I don’t want to work too long each time. As always there is no hurry to get the work completed so when I am at a loose end I can do a little more. My only concern is that there might not be enough paint to do the whole floor. Time will tell.

Shirley Anne

Yippee!

An expression sometimes given when filled with happiness, joy and glee. I woke up early on Friday (13 th) and it was still dark outside. At four-thirty it should have been much lighter at this time of year unless there was a heavy cloud cover. It had been cloudy throughout Thursday but it remained dry. However on Friday it was raining and looked as if it had been raining for some hours. I was overjoyed to say the least for I had been praying for rain for a few days in the hope that the gardens wouldn’t need hours of watering by hose for a while. Nature does it better than me anyway. Rain had long been overdue, everywhere I saw grass it was straw-coloured and dry as a bone. This had resulted in many wild fires across the country although some of those we were told had been deliberately caused. What kind of person thinks that is a good idea to set fires this way especially as there had been a water shortage? In fact what kind of person wants to set fires going anywhere in the open countryside? It is bad enough dealing with urban fires and many were indeed set off in urban areas. How long would it continue to rain or how frequent would they be? Those were my thoughts but the forecast looked gloomy, it would be dry again for at least five days unless the forecast was wrong. At least the rain gave everywhere a good soaking and it gave me a little respite from having to use the hose for a day or so. Rain threatened to fall throughout Friday but little did. I was up early and after breakfast I carried out some adjustments to the small fence sections I had made and made them sturdier. I then gave the parts a coat of wood preserver and left it to dry, returning later to give it all a second coat. It would probably get four or five coats before it was fitted. For the support bracket I flattened a piece of copper pipe, bent it in an ‘L’ shape and drilled fixing holes in it ready for use. It is lying on the long fence part between the two upright smaller parts in the picture below. I was hoping there would not be a need for further support but wouldn’t know until I began installing the fence.

Shirley Anne

Just can’t hold me back

There’s just no stopping me sometimes. I had quite a busy day on Thursday, that is up until after three o’clock in the afternoon.  At that time I decided to take a break and rest up. The evening before I had watch England dismally fail to get to the Fifa World Cup Final. After scoring a goal in just over five minutes of play and remaining in the lead until well into the second half when their opponents, Croatia, equalised. Extra time had to be played to decide the winner and Croatia scored during that period. It also meant that I had stayed up just that bit longer to see the final result. Despite that I was still in bed before ten-fifteen and slept through until three-fifty and that is when I arose. No early morning walk as I would be doing the weekly shopping at eight. I had planned to water both the front and rear gardens and that is why I arose as early as I did. So at five o’clock I was out front doing that and by six-thirty I returned indoors having watered the rear garden too. Time for breakfast and a short break before I drove to the supermarket. I was back home before nine-thirty and had stored everything away. I wanted to make a start on that little fence I had planned to make but before that I had an hour’s break watching catch-up tv as I had missed a program I wanted to see because of the football. Once that had finished I set about measuring and constructing the fence. It would be in three sections and be assembled together when it was to be installed a couple of days later. Before then it would receive several coats of penetrating wood preserver just as the gate I had constructed twelve months ago.

The fence would be fitted on the right of the brick column, turn toward the corner (above the pot on the ground) then turn to the right again to meet the wall of the patio. Like the letter ‘Z’ but with right-angles. Here are the parts (three of them) on the workbench.

I also need to make a small corrosion-proof bracket that will support the fence near the middle and fix it to the natural stone capping at the joint so as not to drill the stone itself. I will probably use copper to make the bracket, a simple ‘L’ shape will suffice that can be screwed to the wood. Where the fence meets the brick wall and column it will be screwed through the timber. It will therefore be fixed at three points. It was a nice little project to work on whilst the weather had cooled down to a more respectable 21 deg C or thereabouts. Thursday began with a completely cloud-covered sky and it stayed that way all day. As I was driving to the supermarket, in fact I was still in my own street, it began to rain. However the amount we got amounted to a bucket to cover a football field and then it stopped. I was hoping it would return by nightfall but as yet at the time of writing it stays persistently dry. Maybe tomorrow?

Shirley Anne

Shopping day

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.

Shirley Anne