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.
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!
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…. 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.
I am trying to make the most of a: the fine weather and b: the fact that I’ve taken a two-week break but it seems I work too fast! I don’t think I do. I just plod on regardless, never looking at my watch because I don’t have one but just relying on what my tummy is telling me and sometimes my bladder too! I made a start on my current little project on Monday morning but I doubt it will be ‘current’ for very long. I write this on Monday afternoon and I think the little project will be complete by tomorrow. The little plot was in dire need of some care and attention and really needed a small retaining wall in place as well as you will have seen in yesterday’s post. After only two hours work on Monday morning I had gotten this farAll the stones were first shifted and stored on the raised concrete area behind the garage, a very useful place to store things temporarily for short-term or long-term. Over the years all kinds of things have rested there before moving them for use. Anyway as you can see I managed to dig out around the bed removing a few edging tiles from the right-hand-side before placing the large natural stone slabs along the three sides. I took a break at this point to go indoors and prepare some lunch just after twelve. E was at the top of the house doing some craft work (making greetings cards) and wouldn’t be down for lunch until nearer two o’clock. She gets up later than I most days and therefore has a late breakfast. I like to be up and about early most of the time. After lunch I continued with the work which was mostly digging out the weeds, filtering the soil and generally cleaning the site before washing everywhere with the hose.
All that remains to be done is to fill in the spaces and gaps with a smooth concrete mix which shouldn’t take long. To the right of the green wheelie bin you may see the buttress which had been built before we moved into the house back in 1989. It is in need of attention as there are a couple of loose bricks and missing mortar near the base. I have an idea I will render the lower half of the buttress using a smooth concrete mix too. What will be next?
It is Sunday and I am bored stiff! I had gotten out of bed very late in the morning and didn’t get downstairs until after eleven o’clock. Most unusual for me to have slept in so late but there was a reason. Firstly I didn’t get to bed until very late and I’d had a restless night, never getting more than short breaks of sleep until at six o’clock after a visit to the toilet I eventually dozed off for more than four hours. I obviously wasn’t tired enough the evening before! It meant I skipped breakfast and had lunch at twelve o’clock instead. I need to be doing something to get me tired enough for sleep and I haven’t been doing as much work of late. I have taken a two-week break from my electrical work so I expect few calls during that time, though I have still been getting them by word-of-mouth, recommendations from others. I even received a call from someone who had seen my advertisement or recommendation on a website listing me as a good and reliable electrician. I don’t advertise on the web. Anyway the long and short of it is that whilst I am officially unavailable I have to find other things to do at home or remain bored stiff! I don’t work on a Sunday anyway but I had been out in the garden a couple of times during the afternoon enjoying the sunshine for the most part but all the time thinking about things I could do, weather permitting, to ease the boredom. Most of the work in the garden this year has been centred on projects like redesigning three flowerbeds, restructuring and designing the area behind one of the garages we have labelled the Plot and installing extra lighting but there is one area which has been neglected because of a lack of time or what to do with it, that is the area behind the other garage and the first thing we see when we enter the garden from the cellar door, the preferred route we take.
As you can see it needs some attention. Now there are still plenty of the natural stone blocks lying about which we dug out of the Mound a couple of years ago, they will come in handy when, as I plan to do, and start work to tidy it all up. Of course I will nave to dispose of or hide away the old house bricks temporarily lying there too. If the weather stays dry I will make a start.
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.
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 …It 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.
I like being my age, most of the time that is! Age brings with it many problems for some people though some will sail through their latter days with hardly a problem at all. You might say it was a matter of luck or good fortune and you would be partly right. Much of our health and susceptibility to illnesses can be attributed to our genes but not for everyone. We have to do our best to stay healthy and hope that will be enough. Remaining active into old age is beneficial to our health and well-being and it is one of the reasons I have kept working beyond the age I would normally have retired. The other reasons for working are that I enjoy it and if I am working for someone else it pays too! The beauty of working for one’s self is that there is no real pressure, you can work as much as you want to. Since becoming self-employed over nineteen years ago I have found that to be true. I can take work on board or not and take time for myself when it suits me. On Tuesday last I had a call from a guy for whom I had worked in the past and he was asking for my electrical services to solve a couple of problems he was having with his installation. My intention has been to work at home on a mini-project concerning the floodlights at the rear of the house but as there was no pressure to do it I agreed to respond to his request. It was nine o’clock when I arrived at his house and eleven-thirty when I left. It was financially beneficial to me of course and well worth the time I had spent there. When I returned home I prepared a vegetable and chicken stew, mostly vegetables, the way I prefer it being made. I used onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, carrots and peas on this occasion together with pre-cooked diced chicken. I made enough for two or three meals as often I don’t have the time or inclination to stand in the kitchen cooking, much as I like cooking. I had some of the stew for my lunch as by then it was one o’clock. Soon after lunch I put on my overalls and started working in the garden. First job was to move the small concrete slabs, natural stone slabs and a couple of bricks that I had temporarily left in the passageway between the side of the house and the ‘Plot’ where I had been working lately. I then began to erect two sections of the scaffolding tower to allow me to reach the floodlights on that side and end of the house. There are five floodlights on the rear and side walls of the house. The one nearest the patio and facing the lawn had been faulty for some weeks so I planned to remove it and replace it with the one just around the corner which faced the Plot. It is the light just to the right of the window at bottom right in this picture, though the picture was taken a few years ago before I changed them to LED floodlights…… I would then extend the wiring from where I had removed that floodlight and install a new floodlight further along the wall but at a lower height and better position to illuminate the Plot and the passageway to the rear of the garage. Re-positioning that floodlight would also prevent false triggering of the floodlight’s sensor caused by the laurel bushes at the side of the patio which move in the wind. I got most of the work done by five o’clock when it began to get too dark. I had to put everything away but of course I left the tower erected as I hadn’t finished the work. Another hour or so would see it completed and I planned to do that the next day.
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.
Just 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.
Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had a dental appointment mid-morning on Wednesday which pretty much prevented me from doing any work, if I had any that is. The appointment seemed a little pointless to me because all the dentist did was to assess what he needed to do at my next visit. My teeth needed a little cosmetic treatment which according to my dentist wouldn’t take long to do but it just meant I would have to return at another time. The receptionist gave me an appointment near lunch time on 2 November! That’s almost a month away! The dentist, that is the surgery, must be in great demand for me to end up with another appointment so far off. I needed to pay a visit to my banks in order to deposit some cash but I had to drive home first to change my shoes. The reason for that is because I had been wearing shoes with a small heel. Let me explain. I never park my vehicle in the town centre because of the parking fees and the problems I would have in finding a parking space anyway so I park outside the zone and walk in. Although I could have walked in my heels walking any distance in them can be painful especially as I have problems with my left knee-joint. Apart from anything else high heels wear out faster than flat-heeled shoes. When I go walking I don’t wear heels. So a quick visit home and then I walked to the banks and made the deposits. While I was in town I decided to buy some cosmetics and on my way back to my vehicle I stopped off at a florist’s shop and bought a potted orchid as a surprise for E. It arrived late in the afternoon. After lunch I was just catching up on my emails when the house phone rang. It was the lady from the lawnmower shop telling me that the plaque I had ordered was now ready for collection. I drove off to collect it and on my return home I made a template to use when drilling the wall which is far easier and safer than using the plaque itself. I hoped to fit it the following day, Thursday. I will post a picture when it is fitted. Finally I made a cup of coffee and went outside to sit on the patio in the glorious sunshine. Considering it is early October we are experiencing some fine, warm and sunny weather of late. There was one snag. One of our neighbours had a gardener mowing his lawn, which is larger than ours so it takes longer to do. Well he had to cut the grass sometime just as I do. However just as he had finished someone else further along the road decided to start cutting theirs too. Oh well, so much for a quiet time on the patio. The noise abated after a while so could I relax? No I couldn’t. Another neighbour living close-by and in fact whose garden adjoins ours has two small dogs who like to bark, and from the moment I went out until way after the lawnmowers had ceased cutting, they barked continuously! After what must have been an hour they finally stopped barking. They are a pest but to be fair to the dogs it is their owners who allow them free rein. The dogs seem not to have been trained. The man of the house is a veterinary surgeon and you would think he would have trained them. It appears though that his wife puts them out into the garden sometimes when she goes shopping. She doesn’t have to sit and listen to them and it doesn’t occur to her that the dogs are causing a nuisance, though E and I have spoken with her about this in the past. I am surprised some of our other neighbours haven’t complained. Maybe they are all deaf!
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.
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.
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 (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.
I went to the job I had arranged to go to on Monday but foul weather had prevented me from doing it then because the work was all outside. Tuesday was a much better day though there was some drizzle. I had been busy installing replacement floodlights using ladders so I had no choice but to put the work off until it was dryer. The work itself wasn’t completely problem-free but that is often the case, The original wiring was connected directly into the existing lights but the new fittings came with an attached flex which meant installing connector boxes as well as the light units. The work kept me employed almost until noon and when I returned home I prepared lunch and ate it. Meanwhile E, who had spent a couple of hours up at the top of the house in her workshop remained up there and didn’t come downstairs until I had finished eating. I wanted to do some work in the garden and that is why I ate lunch early though breakfast had been early too. The lamp-post had been delivered on Monday morning which meant I could then see how to secure it to the ground. It also meant that the cable I had installed the previous week could now be measured and cut to length and the gland fitted, which is what I did. I also secured it to the concrete base I had made a few weeks age with the now shortened cable pointing upward where the lamp-post base would cover it. I then decided to get the mixer out and prepare some more concrete to pour over the existing concrete and cover the cable. I made some makeshift shutters to use at the front and side to contain the concrete whilst it set. The other two sides of course were brick walls, ready-made shuttering! The afternoon was gloriously sunny but the weatherman had forecast the possibility of a slight shower in certain areas. I wasn’t going to take a chance on it not raining so I covered the area, can you see it? I will take a close-up picture when the area is uncovered
If you click on the picture a couple of times it will magnify. Look near to the top dead centre where the two walls meet. I took the picture from the kitchen window which is one floor above the garden. The patio greenery looks nice. It is now a far better view from the window than it was this time last year before I had built the flowerbeds on the patio. Whilst I was mixing the concrete someone called me about an electrical job. It seems that whenever I mix mortar of concrete people want to speak to me about electrical work. The same thing happened a few days ago if my readers will remember. Just before I went out into the garden I received another call asking for my electrical services. I would be doing those jobs on Wednesday and Thursday which allowed the concrete ro pretty much set and be ready for me to erect the lamp-post if I wanted to. I would also have some time to work on the other end of the cable connecting into the patio circuits. The weather forecast looked favourable for a few days which is good for the time of year.
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..
Once 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!
I was keen to get into the garden on Saturday in order to work some more on the Plot but the night before whilst looking out of my bedroom window I saw something and was reminded that I ought to get it out-of-the-way. E had asked me months ago, even as far back as last year, that she would like me to cut off the Sycamore tree that was hanging over our garden. The tree stands in our neighbours garden so I could only cut that part of it which overhung our property. Anything I did cut off belonged to my neighbour so I would have to drop it off on their side of the intervening wall. A couple of years ago we had a professional tree surgeon in to lob off the branches of a much larger tree which even now still hangs over our property. That tree is forever losing small branches and twigs which fall into our garden. At that time our neighbour told us that he wasn’t interested in what we did regarding his trees if they needed attention. Earlier in the year we had part of the boundary wall rebuilt. The wall is actually his responsibility but because he doesn’t seem interested in anything regarding his garden we chose to fund the rebuild ourselves. In fact about two years ago we told him about his Japanese Knot-weed problem and he seemed disinterested though in Spring this year he and his family dug it out themselves and burned it. However the Knot-weed that was growing on the other side of the wall we had rebuilt together with all the brambles and ivy still remains. I had no qualms therefore in cutting down as much of that Sycamore as possible and whilst doing it I cut back the ivy in the area too. Yes, that was my first job for the day. I had to get out a long ladder and tree saw to get to it and I was wearing my overalls and a safety helmet too.
The Sycamore is the sawn-off trunk standing just right of centre standing about 2 metres above the wall. I had taken off about 4 metres together with the branches all of which overhung our garden. The massive tree to the left of centre which is covered in ivy is that tree which is always losing branches. In fact there are at least four large branches which have broken off in the last few years but remain stuck in the canopy rotting away slowly. Most of the tree’s branches are between 5 and 15 metres from the ground! Anyway it took me a couple of hours to cut the Sycamore and its branches and to tidy up afterward. I still hadn’t started on the Plot but at 11 o’clock I began work. I stopped for a quick-lunch and returned to finish off what I could. I finally stopped work around 4 o’clock. So this is the Plot on Saturday evening….
I had to remove about seven wheelbarrow loads of soil from the space on the right of the flowerbed (last picture) and dump it in the long flowerbed below where I had been cutting the Sycamore. At the time of writing this on Saturday evening I am not sure when I will be able to continue with the Plot but I’m sure I’ll find the time. In any event I need a dry day to do it.
I had been very busy almost every day during the week but come Thursday I felt so tired and weary and struggled to do anything. However I did work but at a more leisurely pace. I started a little later too but only a half-hour or so. The filling in between the paving slabs, the ones I had laid so far, had been done the day before but there remained a small area next to the new steps that I had left because I wanted to plan what I was going to do there. I had decided to add another course of bricks to those already there first so that I could maintain the thickness of the screed to match the paving slabs. It meant that on the paving slab side half of the height of the bricks would be covered leaving a few centimetres showing to enable me to fit some natural stone capping on top. On the other side of the steps I needed to build up the groundwork to enable a couple of extra bricks to be laid there for the same reason. First though I had to see if I could dig out some usable bricks, sixteen to be precise, from the heap of second-hand bricks we have lying about by the small greenhouse. Most of them were still covered with mortar or cement so I had to chisel that off. After some time I managed to get the sixteen bricks I needed. I broke up a few more and used them as rubble where I had to lay some concrete to allow the extra bricks on the right-hand side of the steps to be laid later. I chose to mix all the concrete I needed in the wheelbarrow because that much would be enough. I didn’t want to use the mixer and then have to clean it out just for the one mix. So I fixed some shuttering where it was needed and then laid the concrete, covering it up to protect it from the rain which was forecast overnight. I would be able to lay all the bricks and perhaps finish the laying of concrete that had been left undone. The following day, Friday, I had the time to continues with the work. Friday was a much welcomed cooler day. It had been raining in the early hours of the day but at nine o’clock when I started the work it was fine and sunny. I wanted to lay the extra course of bricks on both sides of the steps and then finish laying the concrete on the left of the steps. I managed to do that but just as I was smoothing out the concrete it began to rain. It was a light shower but it got heavier after a few minutes so I had to scramble and look for something to cover the area while I finished the work. I got drenched in the process but I was able to finish the work as best I could. Considering the situation I think I did well. Later and after lunch I returned outside and re-arranged the covering that I had hastened to set up as it was and as you see in this picture. I would leave it that way until Saturday morning just in case it rained again. So now the two walls alongside the steps are one brick higher and apart from a couple of small finishing off cementing jobs on the left of the flowerbed that side is complete. The next phase will be to level the ground on the right-hand side of the flowerbed and lay the four paving slabs which remain. It was around noon on Thursday by the time I had finished what I had to do on that day and to be honest I was glad I could rest for a while from the work at least. Before lunch I drove off to the place where I had purchased the natural stone slabs for capping the flowerbed. Some of my readers may remember that I had purchased three more than I had needed for that job although it was the guy at the depot who had made the wrong calculation but I intended to use them elsewhere and kept them. I will be using them to cap the bricks around the new steps and also on top of the small wall behind which I recently poured concrete to strengthen it. However I needed one extra slab at 600 mm in length and three others at 300 mm in length. I would then have four long slabs and three half the length to do the work. I bought an extra bag of cement at the same time to save another visit to the builders merchant. I needed fuel for the van so I made the detour to the filling station before driving home but on the way to the filling station I received a call for my electrical services from an old couple living in the next town. I got the fuel then dropped the materials off home before driving to the job. I was there less than an hour but it covered the cost of the fuel and the building materials I had just purchased with a little over too.
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. 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.