……for my weekly advert this past week but thankfully sufficient. However that means little extra for profit. It is the nature of the job, swings and roundabouts and so on. Other weeks find me swamped with work. As it happens this last week has given me the opportunity to do more at home as you will already know if you are a regular visitor here. It is Wednesday evening right now and I have one small electrical job to do in the morning. Maybe there will be more this week, who knows?(update-there was!) This morning I arose very early because I wanted to finally fill in the gaps between the stone slabs of the pathway we had constructed a few weeks ago. There is still more to fill in but those gaps are the small vertical ones between the upright slabs around the path and can be done later. I needed to get the work done this day as the weather forecast was for rain within the next twenty-four hours, plenty of time for the cement to set hard beforehand. It was a quarter before 7 o’clock and I was outside with the necessary materials to start the job. I had prepared a mixture of sand, grit and cement as a mortar rather than just sand and cement as it is more hard wearing for walking upon. We have a path immediately behind the house constructed using the same mix that was laid 25 years ago and is as good as the day it was laid. Prior to filling the gaps of course I had to get on my hands and knees to scrape out the soil and other debris that had filled them over the weeks since the slabs were laid. Once I’d done that I put some small gravel chippings in the gaps and then covered them with the cement mixture but it wasn’t mixed with water, I deliberately left it dry. Once all the gaps were filled I sprayed the whole area with a fine mist of water from the hose pipe and let is wet the mixture slowly, finally increasing the spray a little to ensure it was all wet through. No need to smooth everything out as you would normally do for paving slabs. It would be impractical with natural stone because it hasn’t smooth or even straight edges. Using grit in the mixture also makes the fill turn grey making it blend in better with the natural stone. I had the area done before 9 o’clock. Whilst I was wearing my overalls I thought I’d go into the cellar room we are converting to a toilet and see how easily I could remove the floor tiles for when I level out the floor. Presently it slopes somewhat. The tiles are around 40 mm or more in depth and are square in shape with sides measuring something like 200 mm or so. They are the original fired clay tiles that were laid throughout the cellar when the house was built in 1877. They look similar to the wooden tiles shown in the picture.
They are laid directly onto sand. Many of them in the room are broken anyway and would have required covering over had I not intended to remove them. I want to lower the floor slightly in any case in order to make the most of the floor to ceiling space as the ceilings in the cellar are not that high though high enough at around 2.2 metres. I removed a few then left it for another day. I need to remove the old patchwork ceiling before I remove the floor tiles so that I have something solid on which to stand! Putting a new ceiling up can be done when the floor has been sorted out. It is all about planning and in which order things need to be done. It was lunchtime when I’d stopped working and after lunch I drove to the ‘Homebase‘ store to buy four plastic storage boxes for use inside the new freezers. They will make access much easier. Later in the afternoon I wasn’t feeling too good. I was feeling weak and tired and it felt as though I was coming down with a cold. I was feeling much better later though.
There is a battle going on outside between the wind and the sun and we are getting equal measures of both! Trouble is the wind has the greater effect upon us. It blows me sideways when I go outdoors and makes the day much colder than it would otherwise be, probably as much as ten degrees (Celsius) in some places. We were told earlier in the season that we might get more warm, even hot weather at the end of this month. Well that is only a week away and at the moment it doesn’t seem possible. One of the trees on view in the rear garden and which actually stands in the corner of the garden has brown leaves already, not because it is Autumn but because of wind burn! Strange as it may seem though nearby trees are not as affected yet they stand in the wind’s path too and one of them is of the same variety. I suppose we can’t complain about the wind as we live right on the coast. Taken all round we don’t have many wind-free days where we live though for most of the time the wind is not blowing hard. Today it is Sunday and I am happy to be staying indoors, tomorrow however I have to be out and about at least during the morning though that may have changed since I wrote this. I am keen to do some more work in the cellar. I have been mixing the mortar I need for laying bricks in the doorway by hand, by the bucket rather than using the cement mixer. It enables me to spent less time than I would have to on the work if I had a mixer full of mortar to use. More mortar in one go means laying of more bricks to use it up and with this particular job I can’t lay too many bricks in the same place. Nice excuse but in reality perfectly true. My personal life is being blown about somewhat too as E and I are still not talking after three weeks. I won’t go into details but it is symptomatic of my life at home in general as it has been over the last 25 years if the truth be known. Personally I hate the wind, it is the only element of the weather that I don’t like. In the same way the wind that blows in and out of my personal life is similarly despised. The one problem I face, we all face, is that there isn’t much we can do about the wind, except stay out of it!
On Sunday afternoon as I write this the rain is falling heavily as the country gets bombarded with the aftermath of the tropical storm ‘Bertha’ which has made its way across the Atlantic Ocean over the last week. As it happens we on the northwest coast here in Southport are on the outer edge of the eye as it passes north and eastward on its journey but nevertheless there is still plenty of wind and rain. Apparently as it moves toward Scotland it is getting more active. I am resting after my lunch as I write this but this morning I decided to do a spot of tidying up and cleaning out of the passageway and one of the rooms in the cellar ready for when our chest freezers arrive, hopefully this week. A number of things cluttered the passageway or hallway, tea chests, cardboard boxes, a couple of large mirrors (we seem to have lots of mirrors down in the cellar) and among other things a fire-surround or mantlepiece. I’m not sure where that was planned to be installed but no doubt there will be a use for it somewhere. A couple more things were taken out of the hallway and stored in one of the other rooms. The ‘laundry’ room as we call it has a washing machine in it together with a small spin-dryer, a small freezer and of course the large chest freezer we have been having problems with, which is why we purchased two slightly smaller chest freezers to replace it. (See recent post). There were many more things in the room which needed storing properly and some things which needed removing altogether. I rearranged things to create the space for the new freezers and in the process moved the old chest freezer away from the wall. As I did that the unit became noisy again, just as we found it a couple of weeks ago but then the noise stopped. I had a feeling then that perhaps it was only the motor/compressor’s mountings that were the problem. I think I was right for since moving the unit all the noise has ceased. I am therefore convinced that there is little wrong with it so when the new ones arrive I will tell the delivery guys not to bother taking the old one away. No doubt they will be grateful for that. It means however that we will have three large chest freezers now! Providing of course that the old one continues to operate. It must be around forty years old now but fridges and freezers should last that long and the reason for that? Well the motor is immersed in oil and the unit, if not leaking, remains sealed from the atmosphere. Usually though with modern units things seem to go wrong earlier, thermostat, refrigerant leaks are the main culprits. Now that we’ll have three units and a small one down there we are going to have to plan exactly where to put them which will mean my having to install extra power outlets as the existing ones are all in the same place. As it happens this is one of the rooms we have carpeted but we may decide to remove it in favour of the sandstone blocks beneath which lie in all the other rooms bar one which was screeded over when we moved in years ago because it was so uneven. That room became a storage room for dry-packaged and tinned foodstuffs and is where we rebuilt the old kitchen units having refurbished the kitchen years ago too. The laundry room is also fitted with a sink unit, one that I am determined to replace as it is falling apart, not literally, just looks that way! It is a mess and it needs replacing. There is also what passes as a wall-mounted storage unit which needs attention or removal too. There is plenty of work down there to keep me occupied for weeks, remembering too that the room we wish to turn into a toilet accessible only from the garden is presently accessed through the laundry. Once that doorway is bricked up there will be more available wall space in the laundry itself. I will endeavour to make that a priority as soon as I am free to do the work. For the time being the laundry looks far better than it did a couple of hours ago, maybe not as nice as in the picture but it may be one day.
I mentioned the other day that I had two small projects in mind to do aside from the large one we have left alone for a couple of days. The last day we worked on the mound was Saturday and there is still quite a bit to do on it yet but Sunday is my day of rest so I did nothing and E was out at the NEC all day too. Monday saw me working away from home on an electrical job so I didn’t bother working more once I returned home. Tuesday morning I was out-of-town again on another job and E and I dined out in the afternoon. Wednesday morning we decided not to resume working on the mound but instead do one of the other two small projects whilst the weather permitted. It meant getting the cement mixer out of storage and dusting off the cobwebs. Just as I was about to start I received a call from someone wanting my electrical services. The job was to move wiring that had been installed by others in the wrong positions. As the house was only a half-mile away I went to do it. I was back home about and hour or so later and was ready to start work with the mixer. Whilst I was away E set about painting the rear door to the garage that we had repaired a day or two back. The little project we were going to do was to dig out a large hole in the front garden, line it with plywood and fill it with concrete. Digging the hole was a dream compared to what we’ve been faced with in the rear garden over the last few weeks. I came across not one stone for a change. Now I suppose you’ll be wondering what the hole was for and why we were filling it with concrete. Well for many years I have wanted a flagpole in the front garden but never seemed to get around to getting one so last week I bought one over the Internet together with a George Cross flag. I have since decided to buy a Union flag too. The price for the aluminium pole and one flag was £224 delivered. Not too expensive I thought though other places sell them for less, of course the quality isn’t as good. We had some left-over materials from work we did last year laying concrete steps though unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough but we used it up before going to buy some more. By late afternoon it was done. The sleeve into which the pole sits was set into the concrete of course and had to be held fast whilst the concrete was poured in. Naturally it was fixed rigidly and set up vertically using a spirit level. I write this on Wednesday evening and by the morning the concrete should be set. Well the concrete is set…………………………….. The other small job we have planned requires that we purchase the materials first but we have yet to do that.
I had plans this summer to get the ‘garden toilet‘ project underway but it looks like it will be a non starter for a least a few months at the minimum unless something changes. For those who don’t know about our proposals regarding the toilet there are posts about it earlier in the season. Our youngest son and his girlfriend have hopefully secured the purchase of the house they were after buying after some further negotiations with the seller. Work needs to be done on the house soon after they gain possession as a condition of the mortgage supplier. As this work involves the services of a builder/bricklayer they have asked E’s nephew to undertake the repairs as he is qualified. He has his own small building business. E and I had already asked him some weeks ago to give us an estimate for that part of our toilet project which requires a professional builder. Obviously our son’s needs will come first so our project will have to remain on hold though I am capable of doing some of the brickwork and may do so if I get bored! At the moment we are more concerned with getting the corner of the garden sorted and that will take us a few more weeks yet no doubt. There are a couple of smaller outdoor projects in the pipeline over the next couple of weeks but I will talk about them as and when I do them. As I write this on Sunday afternoon E and I have made some more progress on the pathway we have been constructing where the ‘mound’ once stood. Yes, we can say once stood now as most of the ground has been dug out of all the building rubbish though some still remains. E has gone out for the day to the National Exhibition Centre down in the Midlands with a few friends and I have remained at home. Our youngest son has been spending each weekend here for a few weeks whilst he is waiting on finalising his house purchase but he doesn’t stop indoors long! That means I have been home alone all day with very little to do. I started the day by going on a bike ride along the sea front and discovered that the main traffic route along the coast had been closed to vehicular traffic for a few hours in order to accommodate a cycling event. Hundreds of racing bike enthusiasts were out for the morning on what I assumed to be a race of some sort. I was overtaken at speed many times as I plodded along but I wasn’t using the road, I was on the cycle track which isn’t suitable for racing. I felt tired just looking at them racing by! I didn’t go far and was home after an hour.