Last Monday?

I write this mid-afternoon on Tuesday 27 th. The day feels cool and uninviting because of the wind and overcast sky. Not a day for sitting out in but earlier I had been out for a walk which was pleasant enough though the wind took the edge off things. I was having a day off work, no intentions of continuing with the project in the cellar, I just wanted to take a break. As it happens I had been working the previous day and had completed most of the basic work anyway. One very minor thing needs to be done, a sticking door. One of the doors on the cupboard needs a little shaving off near the bottom as it is sticking to the other door when closed. That will take all of two minutes to do at the most! So apart from filling in a few cracks in the floor and then sealing the whole floor the project is complete. Maybe it will have been the last Monday of the project if you disregard the floor. The room as it stands this afternoon simply requires tidying up but as you can see from the pictures it is in use as a laundry drying room which it always was anyway.

Clothes don’t hang in the room too often and in the warmer months seldom at all for we hang them on the washing line in the garden. It is very handy having a drying room for when the weather is bad. It appears at the moment that the floor inside the cupboard is slowly drying out now but it is a very slow process. The walls have dried out at least which only leaves the floor to do the same. Had we been aware of the problem months ago I am sure it wouldn’t have gotten so damp. I am at that stage now where I am looking for another project to tackle.

Shirley Anne

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Little done

I had no intentions of doing any work on Thursday (22) for I wanted to go for a walk first thing in the morning. Having not been out for a walk for a few days and for more than a week or so prior to that I kept the walk brief, that is I walked four miles only. I didn’t wish to push myself too much this time but even so I felt tired on my return home. It was one of those days, typical of early Spring when the sun was trying to warm things up but a biting wind was making it difficult. I was warm enough in my clothing but could still feel the coldness of the wind, especially down on the beach front. Having had no breakfast before I left the house I was feeling hungry and rustled up something to eat. E had recently eaten her breakfast and was preparing to dress so she could go and do the weekly shopping with her mom. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and watch tv. The nourishment finally took effect and I was feeling my old self again. It was too late to begin the work in the cellar room gym as E would be returning home with the groceries and it would soon be time for lunch anyway. The work I would be doing in the cellar was filling in gaps in the woodwork and walls and painting the inside of the cupboard I had prepared with a priming coat the day before. The floor inside the cupboard still looked a little damp in the corner though not as much as it did the day before. Perhaps it was drying out after all but only time will tell and I had doubts about it. That part of the cupboard would be left alone until I was sure there was no rising damp or ingress of moisture from outside. I any event I would be taking measures externally to ensure there would be no ingress of water at a later date. I didn’t sit watching tv all the time E was out, no, I did some house cleaning, mopping floors and such!

Shirley Anne

Just making plans

We’ve had a few bad days of cold and windy weather from the east but today as I write this on Thursday 1st March it looks as though things are about to change for the better. It has been snowing but not that much, in fact we’ve probably had only a few hours of it during the time it has been falling. I guess we’ve had three centimetres  of the white stuff at most as it comes and goes. What is worse is if it doesn’t melt away it freezes so although there might not be much of it the snow can still be a problem. We are very fortunate though for in many parts of the country conditions have been far worse so we mustn’t complain. It never ceases to amaze me though that this country cannot cope as well as it should when it snows whereas many other countries take it in their stride. I had planned to go for a walk but changed my mind and worked out on the Elliptical Trainer instead. That’s the beauty of being able to have the space in which to fit exercising machinery and equipment and I humbly acknowledge that privilege. Having gym equipment was never on my thoughts when we first moved into this house thirty years ago. Funny how things change I suppose. For most of the day I stayed indoors relaxing but I did wander about making plans for other projects E and I have been considering. My current project is to decorate the boiler room which houses the gym equipment and as you have been reading part of that work is already complete. However there is some preliminary work that needs to be done in other parts of the room yet to be decorated, tidying up wiring, replacing some of the pipe lagging, perhaps replacing the main light and installing another just to name a few. So over the next few weeks I shall be doing that work whilst decorating those areas which require no preparation. A little here and a little there is the way it will go. One other small project E would like have me do is to install a couple of 5 amp power points in the hallway for the two table lamps we use there. She wants them to be automatically controlled and I have the plans to do it. It will mean installing a photo-cell similar to those controlling the garage lights as shown in this picture…

and in conjunction with a time switch. The photo-cell will supply power to the 5 amp sockets when it goes dark and the time switch will prevent the lights remaining on all through the night. Once it is daylight again the power will automatically shut off. The system of operation is similar to that supplied to the porch light and the garden street lamp-post via the ‘part night’ controllers except that the new one will use cheaper parts and will be manually adjustable if required. Nothing like having plans as long as I can get around to doing them!

Shirley Anne

Even E and I

I was up and about very early again on Wednesday morning and after breakfast by then seven forty-five I was out in the garden checking on the protection I had taken for some of the plants was still in place. I decided to strengthen that protection because of the weather forecast which informed us of an even colder night to follow. By the time I had returned indoors an hour later E came downstairs for her breakfast. We talked about taking a trip to the garden centre but actually didn’t set off until eleven-thirty as she wanted to wash her hair have a shower and get dressed! Whereas I get up and go to bed in the same day she gets up one day and goes to bed the next! She is what you might call a night person and never retires to bed before one o’clock in the morning unless she has an early appointment the next day. I’ve usually had a couple of hours sleep by then. It makes going anywhere together in the morning difficult at times. Anyway we did go out and whilst we were out I decided to take a trip to the decorating store and the electrical store after we had visited the garden centre. I needed more emulsion paint and some light bulbs to replace faulty ones. It was approaching two o’clock when we sat down to lunch and at the same time watch some tv. At three o’clock she and I went into the cellar and moved the Elliptical trainer into its new home….

Not bad for two ‘senior citizens’! Actually it wasn’t that difficult, it was just a matter of approaching it in the right way. Neither of us had to exert ourselves in any way because of the way we tackled it. Now it is in its new home E will find it much easier to mount when she uses it. I had painted the whole wall and that part of the ceiling above it to make it easier. Now it is out-of-the-way so to speak I can get on with decorating the rest of the room, when the mood takes me of course!

Shirley Anne

And on to Sunday

Six Ways to Sunday
Six Ways to Sunday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was such a lovely sunny day that greeted me as I awoke from my slumber. I didn’t really want to exchange the warmth beneath the duvet but I knew I had to get up some time. It was nine o’clock and I forced myself into action. I didn’t dress for the day but put on my sports clothes for I was going to spend a little time on the treadmill. Before I went downstairs however I stripped off the bed linen and replaced it with fresh sheets. I collected some clothes which needed washing too and I took the two large bundles with me as I left the bedroom. Going directly into the laundry room in the cellar I put the first load into the washing machine and returned upstairs to put on my running shoes and socks. I returned downstairs with my water bottle and started my exercise. I had to open the cellar door leading into the garden to allow some much-needed ventilation as the room still smelled of paint and sealant! I left the door open whilst exercising. Although it was sunny outside it was also bitterly cold. For the next few days and for a couple of previous days we were to experience a cold snap with winds blowing from the east. We were getting our weather delivered fresh from Siberia for a change. All I can say about that is I am glad I live on the west coast and not the east! It would be bad enough here but far worse on the other side of the country. My main concern was for the plants in the garden, the semi-tropical ones such as the Phoenix Canariensis and the Fan Palms. They are supposed to be able to withstand temperatures down to -8 C but I sure wouldn’t like to put them to the test. With expected temperatures down to -2 C on this side of the country it would probably be alright. The plants are somewhat sheltered by native varieties in any case. Those temperatures incidentally are the ones through the night, daytime temperatures are expected to be a few degrees higher. Hopefully after a few days the winds would be coming from the west. I finished my exercise and as I normally do if it isn’t raining, I cool off outdoors in the garden. That is when I saw some more bluebells which needed digging out so I did the job whilst I was out there in my shorts and skimpy top! Gosh it was cold out of the sunshine but soon enough I was inside again and hanging up the first bundle of washing. I then placed the second bundle into the machine before finally going upstairs for something to eat…..at belated breakfast! I did venture out again later but this time I was well-wrapped up!

Shirley Anne

Construction over

It was now Saturday morning and after an early breakfast I went into the cellar to begin the final stage of constructing the pit, the cosmetic work that is! I had sealed and later given the lining of the pit and the floor a coat of paint but hadn’t done the brickwork that had been exposed when the floor was lowered. See yesterday’s post. I had thought about rendering the bricks with cement but when I got downstairs and looked at them I decided simply a coat of paint would do….

At the same time I gave the rest of the pit another coat of paint and might have to do the same for the bricks later. there was one small spot on the floor of the pit where the sealant hadn’t dried out completely and it refused the application of paint so I have left it until it does. It is in the corner by the wall and is just out of sight in the picture. When the paint had dried, which I would leave until Monday, I planned to move the power outlet to a position above that same corner. A switched fuse box will be installed where the power socket is now situated. If you are an electrician you will know why and if you are not it will allow more outlets to be installed later should they be needed. The fuse will limit power usage from all the outlets. Technical stuff over. So it looks like we will be able to finally get the Trainer into position in the pit within the next few days. That in itself may not be as easy at it sounds.

Shirley Anne

Moving on slowly

After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.

I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…

The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.

Shirley Anne

A bad day?

Tuesday (6th) was forecast to be a cold wet and miserable day starting off with a snowfall. Actually the snow was predicted to fall during late Monday night and on into the morning. As it happened it hadn’t been snowing by the time I awoke at six o’clock though I could detect one or two flakes every now and then. By the time I was dressed and downstairs however it began snowing in earnest. I was off for an early morning walk and had to keep the hood of my coat up the whole time I was out, about two hours. When I arrived back home the garden looked like this….As you can see by then the snow had stopped falling but notice it didn’t stick to the path. It was the same story everywhere I walked, snow only stuck on the grass and elsewhere was simply wet. About a centimetre or so had fallen. Around these parts over the last few years it has hardly snowed at all and if it did it didn’t last more than a couple of days on the ground. Sign of the times on this side of the country hereabouts. Rain was predicted to fall later in the day and it also began to get warmer. The snow didn’t last. Once my exercising was out-of-the-way I thought about the next project I had in mind to do. It had been on my mind for weeks really but I had been busy doing other things. It was to move the new Elliptical Trainer temporarily to a new position in the cellar room so that work could begin on lowering the floor where it stands. With the use of a trolley we moved it here….

Now the floor where it stood was vacant and ready for the work to start.Those paving stones have been there since 1877 when the house was built. Beneath them is sand. They are quite thick and closely packed together and will be difficult to dig out. However some are broken which may make it a little easier. Behind the short piece of timber which is standing at the top centre in the picture is a large piece of concrete. We are not sure what it is, perhaps the remains of a demolished pillar? It needs taking down a little further to make it level with the floor. This room, now our gym also houses the boiler.  It was once part of the servants work rooms and had a fireplace as did three of the other rooms down there. The chimney breast in this room stands behind the bench-press in the picture above but the fireplace has long since been bricked-in. At last I can get on with the project and then we can return the trainer to the spot.

Shirley Anne

A quick look

I was up and about early on Friday morning, that would be the 19 th but I actually didn’t get downstairs until 9.30. E was only a few minutes ahead of me in reaching the kitchen for her breakfast. I however only wanted to fill my drinks flask with water as I was about to go into the cellar or basement if you prefer to do some exercising on the equipment. I spent a little time stretching my leg muscles before mounting the bicycle to do some gentle peddling for ten minutes. I could have spent hours doing that as it is so relaxing even though it was exercise, mild exercise admittedly but it served to warm me up for getting on the treadmill. Finally I am getting back to where I left-off  as far as my treadmill routine is concerned. I spent thirty minutes on it and found I had increased my overall distance covered in that time. It isn’t all running though, I walk between stints of running but my distance run is increasing and the time spent walking in between is lessening. My next exercise was spent on the elliptical trainer, the machine I found difficult to get used to. It appears my muscles are beginning to accept the different exercise regime at last and I was able to spend fifteen minutes on it without any problems. It will take some time before I can do more strenuous exercise on it of course but I am getting there. Time for a little breakfast before taking a shower. Later in the morning I decided to go to the greenhouse to water the bulbs which had sprouted in the large tubs. E has been growing flowers in the greenhouse over the past few years. It was left to me to do the watering however, she didn’t want to face the elements as it was a cold, windy and wet day. I have no problems with that. Whilst outside I noticed a few montbretia and bluebells beginning to grow in the border close to the greenhouse. I was expecting them to show up at some point. I got out the kneeling stool and hand fork and dug them out. If you remember I spent the first couple of months of last year removing the bulk of them from the garden. The picture above taken at the time shows one of the areas I worked in. No doubt there will be more to come yet. Just as I had dug them out it poured down with rain. Later we had more showers of both rain and hail. Well it is Winter after all.

Shirley Anne

Suddenly

It was Thursday (18th) and it had been quite some days since I had last taken a walk of any distance outdoors. The reason for that had been the problem with my upper leg muscles combined with some very bad weather in the latter days. For a couple of days I had also been suffering with a mild cold too and pretty much didn’t feel like doing anything. I reluctantly left alone any exercising on the gym equipment for almost a week during this time but now I suddenly felt better and was eager to get out in the fresh air. Over the last couple of days I have been working out a little on the equipment though but now I wanted to take a walk. Thursday started off bright and sunny for the most part though there were some wintry showers of rain and hailstones. The wind had died down considerably too. None of that was going to stop me from getting outside for a while. There had been some very high tides in the previous days and the foreshore had noticeably changed, more sand and more piled-up seaweed lined the sea wall. If left it would compact and the existing grass would grow through it. I have no doubt that is what will happen. Slowly Nature is taking back control. Eventually I can see more dunes appearing for already some of the existing grass which stretches out to sea has formed into small mounds in places. I have seen this happening in other places only a quarter-mile south. I often think about what the coast will look like in say fifty or a hundred years from now. During my time living here in Southport, now approaching thirty years, I have seen a lot of changes along the seafront. I walked along the front for about a mile before turning back homeward though by that time I had covered two miles. I chose a more sheltered route on my return but still got caught in a shower of hail. My aching muscles have eased now and suddenly I feel much better. Nevertheless I shall be taking things a little easy for a while so I don’t do myself a mischief.

Shirley Anne