Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..
The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!
Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.
….in for a pound. Now that the utility room had been refurbished I was in the market for a break but you know me, it couldn’t last! A few months ago my eldest son asked if I was going to paint the cellar hallway floor as I had done in the gym and larder rooms. It was more of a suggestion than an enquiry but it stayed in my thoughts as a possible maybe for I had other plans at that time. My thoughts were aimed at the room we have now called the utility room and as you know I ended up completely revamping it. A few days ago (that is around the middle of November as I write) my thoughts turned to the cellar hallway which needs a small section of the pipe work boxing-in, a few small repair jobs and the floor painting as suggested. Here is a part-view showing the entrance to the utility room on the right…
At the far end of the hallway and beneath the stone steps is a small storage area which has never been decorated since we moved in and has been used as a temporary dump for timber and other paraphernalia. It stands beneath the wet room and indeed the plasterboard ceiling had been partly removed when I installed the wet room drain.
As you can see it needs a lot of work doing to it and it would be better done before any work is considered in the hallway. To that end I have already begun (22nd Nov) clearing out the timber and rubbish. There are large mirrors (middle picture above) and panes of glass stored beneath the steps and some more just outside in the hallway. The ceiling will need repairs and a removable panel fitted beneath the wet room floor drain for access to it. I plan to block off the area beneath the lowest of the steps too. No doubt ideas will develop when I start the work in earnest.
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.
Since the bulk of my last project had been completed I was at a loss for something to do. I shouldn’t be concerned about having a lack of something to do around our house for there are plenty of things I could be doing. It is more a question of what would be the best and what I would feel like tackling at any given time. A few months ago when I was involved in renovating rooms down in the cellar I mentioned in a post that one of the other rooms down there could do with a make-over too. I was talking about the utility room where we keep the washing machine and freezers and a host of other things we perhaps should store elsewhere or get rid of.
As you can see from the above pictures it is somewhat of a mess but an organised mess! We know where things are, just about! With that in mind I was down there yesterday (5 th) looking at how to tackle the first part of the work which was to remove the sink unit and replace it.
However after some consideration and a quick clean-up I decided we should renovate it and keep it after all it is only a utility room and doesn’t need a new unit even if one could be purchased. As it is an old unit and now out of production it would be difficult to find a similar unit at a small cost. The stainless steel top only requires a thorough clean and the cabinet only requires a new shelf inside, a clean-up and a paint job. So that will be the first job to start on. However E and I would like it to be turned and fitted to the adjacent wall alongside the window because it will not only look better but will make better use of the room space. Having measured the unit we found it would sit neatly in the proposed position. When I remove it I will be in a better position to repair and renovate it………and clear away the spiders. There will be plumbing to do of course but I’ve assessed that work and it won’t be difficult. There is plenty of work to do in that room and will likely keep me occupied for months.
People might say that I am an impetuous person, I do things on the spur of the moment. Though that may be true and I must confess to acting that way many times, I do usually give plenty of thought before taking any action. In a recent post I was writing about our problems with fridge/freezers and the fact that one unit not much older than five years had become faulty for the second time thus rendering it not cost-effective for a third repair. I had in fact carried out the last repair which kept it in service for over a year. It would be better to cut losses and simply buy a replacement. However I had decided not to make an immediate purchase and also not to purchase a similar unit but instead purchase a larder fridge. The logic behind that decision I explained in the other post. The main reason was to separate fridge from freezer, to have independent units rather than combined. We don’t really need extra freezers as we have some in the cellar rooms. We do however need the extra fridge capacity so that is why I intended to purchase a stand-alone tall fridge as a replacement. When and if the other fridge/freezer we have in the kitchen requires replacing we would purchase a stand-alone freezer to replace it. So instead of having two combined fridge/freezer units we would have two individual ones, a fridge and a freezer. I had decided to wait awhile before purchasing the fridge as I said but changed my mind and ordered one a couple of days ago. It had only been a matter of a few days but we were struggling with the lack of fridge space the other fridge/freezer has and couldn’t wait any longer. It is Thursday (30 th) as I write and we expect the delivery within a couple of days. Yesterday I received the new flag and weight and don’t have any excuses not to work on the flag pole and fit them.
If you remember I need to remove the top half of the two-piece pole in order to re-insert the rope and carry out a repair to the finial at the top which doesn’t move freely as it should. It may need replacing too which will delay completing the work. Fortunately we are in for a couple of days of fine weather.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For some weeks now we have been enjoying dry and warm weather and I have been able to go for walks wearing the lightest of clothing. This morning (13 th) I was up and out of the house at seven doing just that. I arrived back home two hours later and was able to sit at the table with E for breakfast. She had only just gotten up as I entered the front door. Anyway I sat out on the patio after breakfast relaxing with a cup of coffee for a short time but I knew I had things to do so that didn’t last. The first thing I wanted to do was to erect some sort of temporary barrier to block a gap in the Laurel bushes to stem the wind so that the space could fill naturally with new leaf growth. New growth is already there but shielding it from the wind will encourage it to grow quicker….
I used some of the fire-clay floor tiles which I had removed from the gym room when I dug the pit a couple of months ago and propped them up with bricks though they were capable of standing unsupported. That little job didn’t take long and I went on to do the next which took far longer. The rear door frame of the garage in which I keep my van had become rotten on one side at the bottom. We suspected a mouse had recently been trying to gnaw its way though the rotting timber of the frame because there were a lot of .wood chippings around. I had to remove the door, which is very heavy, in order to saw off the rotted timber. I made the cut at an angle and manufactured a replacement section to match. This was to prevent the ingress of rain. A level cut would have allowed water to seep between the joint. This is the finished work before it was painted the following day. I had treated the timbers with preserver before fitting it.
I re-hung the door but left off the automatic closer to prevent the door closing by itself as it once did. Sometimes ‘auto-closers’ can be a nuisance. It was twelve-thirty and E made me a cup of coffee which I again sat and drank on the patio before returning indoors within the hour for lunch. The afternoon was mine to do as I pleased, which was almost nothing! I did take a walk around the garden though and took some photos as I went. In front of the large greenhouse…