It just had to

It was the last day of February and it was completely different from the days in the week before. I was up early in order to do the weekly shopping and at that time, around seven-thirty, it was quite cool bordering on cold in fact. It was also dull and cloudy. February just had to have the last word to let us know it was technically still winter. I had eaten breakfast before doing the shopping run so when I returned home I was able to begin the task of scraping off the moss on the sloping roof outside my bedroom window. I had erected the scaffolding tower the day before. I took with me a hoe, hand brush, yard brush, bucket and soda crystals together with the garden hose. The hoe seemed the best tool for scraping off the moss and it proved so especially the moss out of normal reach. I did a section at a time scraping then switched to the yard and hand brushes to sweep it down toward me and into the rain gutter from where I handled it into the bucket. Obviously I was wearing gloves as I always do when doing messy and dirty jobs. Once a section was cleared I hosed it down to remove the debris the brushes hadn’t removed. The roof tiles are rough cast so things tend to stick to them. Had I paid for the re-roofing of the house I would have chosen smooth tiles or slates. The roof had been re-tiled by the previous owner just prior to us moving in back in the summer of 1988. After hosing down I sprinkled some of the crystals onto the roof the filled a bucket with water and added soda crystals before ‘splashing’ it onto the tiles. The soda crystals evidently kill any spores to prevent regrowth or at least stave it off for longer. I moved the tower to the next section and repeated the process. I took this picture from my bedroom window later showing the cleaned sections (about three-quarters of the roof)…

I did half of the area you can see (above) before lunch and the second half after lunch at which point February once again let me know it was February and it rained! The rain didn’t last too long but by then I I’d had enough for the day. I moved the tower once again in readiness for completing the last quarter of the roof….

As it happens the last quarter had far less moss on it so hopefully wouldn’t take long to remove. If it didn’t rain on March 1 st the next day it would get done. I was expecting the delivery of my new mower in the morning so it might have to wait.

Shirley Anne


Making it work

Sunday let us know that summer was on the wane, on its last legs, struggling to stay warm and dry but nothing could be done about that. The day was damp and rain fell frequently, it was a day to stay indoors though had I wanted to go for a walk I would have. By coincidence I actually wanted to stay indoors to relax and this I did. Monday would soon be upon me and there was work to be done. Lately I have been involved in keeping active by undertaking various little projects at home, mostly in the garden. Monday however I had set aside for preparing for the new garage door installation which means installing a power outlet, a board on which the control unit will sit, re-positioning existing wiring and switches and to remove other items which I will reinstall sometime after the door is installed. To install a power point will require that I alter the existing circuit and supply it from the main distribution panel in order to isolate it from house circuits. It is at times like this I appreciate my electrical experience for it makes the work simple, straightforward and not least of all free. Well free from labour charges! I could say the same for all the other work I do around the house. There is a lot to say in favour of DIY. As the year gets colder I find that working outside is much more pleasant than it is during the warmer months. I suppose the cold encourages me to keep active anyway. Is it possible that I to do too much work? I can only say that if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it! Could I move to an apartment where there would be almost nothing to do? I doubt it but not because I would have more time to indulge in personal pleasures, I would be bored stiff! My motto is more work and less play though not all work and no play! It works for me anyway.

Shirley Anne

It wasn’t enough

A couple of days ago I unscrewed the top hinge on the lounge door in order to set it back in the door frame. This was because the door was too low at the leading edge and was brushing the carpet as the door was opened or closed. Setting the top hinge back even a tiny amount was enough to raise the door but unfortunately the door still brushed over the carpet. The hinge couldn’t be set back any further however so on Wednesday morning I decided the door had to be removed so that I could plane off some of the wood on the bottom. It took me less than twenty minutes and the door was back on its hinges and no longer brushing the carpet. The old carpet didn’t have the same depth of pile that the new one has so the door wasn’t a problem. Anyway that was the first job for the day. Mid-morning I took a trip to the electrical supply store to purchase a new in-line switch and some flexible lighting cable with which to lengthen the cable supplied with one of the new table lamps I had purchased. The cable supplied on the lamp wasn’t long enough to allow the lamp to sit on the new pillar stand.I had made. Unfortunately the switch that came with the lamp couldn’t be removed except by cutting it free which was why a new switch was required, one that clamped together with screws.

The power outlet is behind the television just over a metre away from the stand. The stand is just that, simply a stand with no access to the inside. It could equally have a vase full of flowers sitting on it instead. By now it was approaching lunchtime and I decided to eat at the pub rather than at home. I had hardly left the house at all over the previous couple of weeks being as I was busy working there. I had walked to the pub and on my return I met my next-door neighbour who was about to keep an appointment with her doctor. She tells me often that she is fed-up with her situation in that she has to go everywhere with an oxygen bottle because of her condition. She has emphysema. I always try to cheer her up and I get her to laugh but I can see she knows her situation is not going to improve. The rest of my day was spent at home and out on the patio. We have been enjoying a lot of wall-to-wall sunshine this past month and it is good to be out in it.

Shirley Anne

Different work in progress

Today, Tuesday (22 nd) as I write this post, I have been busy at home all day long. I actually received a call an hour ago asking if I would do a small electrical job! Now there’s a thing but I am waiting for his return call at this minute to let me know for sure. So this morning my first job was to cut and fit four lengths of semi-circular molding to cover the joints on the pillar/stand I have made and then paint them with primer. An hour later I gave the whole unit another coat of gloss paint and left it to dry, which will take it at least 24 hours. Gloss paint takes time to dry and even then it will be a few more days before it becomes rock-hard. It will probably be the weekend before I attempt to use it. Following that work I removed the top hinge on the door to the small lounge in order to set it further into the frame by chiselling out a little wood beneath it. This has the effect of lifting the leading bottom edge slightly so that it clears the floor covering, the carpet. The new carpet pile was restricting the door moving over it. That work took me almost to lunch time and after lunch I decided to water the gardens because of the dry weather. As I went into the rear garden however I saw that the lawn was looking a little unkempt due to the daisies and other plants growing in it. I think it needs treating to eradicate weeds but at the moment it isn’t too bad. Anyway I had to mow it. Rain threatened, that is I could just about feel tiny drops of rain falling on my bare skin now and then but it didn’t materialise and I got on with the mowing. Once that was done I could water the garden. When I say water the garden I usually mean the border plants and those in planters or on the patio. I only water the grass rarely at this time of year though in the warmer months I try to give it a watering regularly. That took some time as once again I had to stop to dig out Montbretia shoots. I moved into the front garden and to give the plants there a good soaking too but first I spent some time removing a few weeds from the flowerbeds. I got stung by the rose-bush as I reached between the stems to get at a weed. I wasn’t wearing gloves and I had forgotten the fact that rose bushed have thorns, large thorns! The flowers are beautiful though in this picture only one has at yet fully opened..

I wish it were possible for you to smell the scent, it is a heavy and powerful aroma which can be sensed far away from the plant. Other plants in the front garden are in blossom too, like the small rhododendron in the Mound. The Mound has been left to grow a little wild though some wild flowers such as dandelions and thorny weeds I remove.

The flowerbeds I worked on last year have been growing back well but a few plants, supposedly perennials, haven’t grown back for some reason. See bare patches at the front.

Shirley Anne

Household chores

A distraction from chores
A distraction from chores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night until way after two o’clock despite my nodding off in front of the television before I set off to bed. Maybe the ‘cat naps’ had been enough to keep me awake but I did eventually fall asleep. That meant I ended up sleeping in until nine-thirty and missing breakfast. When I finally got downstairs and carrying laundry I put it into the washing machine then went for a walk. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t miss not having breakfast. It was another pleasant day, still cloudy but reasonably warm with no wind whatsoever. Soon I was on my way back home to do some household chores, taking out the waste, cleaning the bins, hanging up the washing, vacuuming the carpets, you know, all the mundane stuff in life that has to be done. Once upon a time I didn’t much like doing household chores but in more recent times I find I actually enjoy it! Am I crazy or what? Not really, after all it is work and something therefore I enjoy. When I was very young I was the only one among my siblings who like helping out at home. I would prepare meals, wash and scrub the floors and other things most children shy away from. I won’t say that my brothers and sisters didn’t help out but from what I can remember I was the one who encouraged them to help. That was probably because I was the eldest. They remember me as ‘bossy boots’ and I probably was but I got hings done. So was my Saturday all chores and no rest? No, I am not that crazy! I get restless though and soon find myself looking for things to do but the problem with household chores is that they never seem to end, by the time you think you’ve done everything you have come full circle and have to begin again. When I finally retire from my electrical work (perhaps) I know there will be plenty of work to do around and inside the house to keep me occupied………………but that is life isn’t it?

Shirley Anne

Wintry weather

I was going through one of my phases of not being bothered or interested in anything and it led me to lie in bed for hours on Saturday morning. I simply didn’t want to get out of bed. I wasn’t tired, I’d had a good night’s sleep and had actually woken by eight. It was almost twelve-thirty by the time I arrived downstairs. So that was breakfast missed. I didn’t much feel like eating anything but I had to eat something. I decided to prepare a chicken and vegetable stew, one of my favourite meals as it is very healthy and tasty too. When I make it I do it in quantity and can get three meals out of it, four if I have a smaller portion but it is the kind of meal I call ‘moreish’, a small portion just doesn’t cut it. As I was preparing the food I couldn’t help but notice the sound of hail on the windows and for a while everywhere began to turn white…first-sign first-sign-2-jpgIt didn’t stay that way as the hail turned to rain after a short time. I wondered if this was the first sign of a colder winter ahead. I was thankful to be indoors in the warmth but I needed something to occupy myself. First of all I had some of the stew for my meal. It was by now two-thirty. E had gone to her monthly meeting and would be away for hours. I have been checking for any air in the radiators on a regular basis now that the heating is switched on. E’s workshop is at the top of the house so any air in the system naturally migrates up there which means the radiator in the room doesn’t get warm if I don’t bleed out the air. It needed bleeding which took minutes to do. The radiator in the bedroom we refurbished early in the year had been left valved-off as the room isn’t in use but I usually allow a little water to pass through just to keep the chill out of the room though it doesn’t get too cold because of its southerly aspect. I discovered it wasn’t warm in the least even after I had checked for trapped air. I opened the valves fully and still the radiator remained cold. I will need to address that problem when I get the opportunity though I think that may be next year if it is more than simply an air-lock in the pipes. I went downstairs and decided to do some baking, one of my other favourite ‘hobbies’. This time it was a fruit cake.Rich Fruit Cake Whilst it was baking I prepared a scone mix and baked the scones an hour later when the cake was done. E returned home after five o’clock and knew instantly that I had been baking. I love the smell of baking in a house, it makes it feel more homely. Just nice when it is cold and wintry outside.

Shirley Anne

The long weekend

As I write this it is the beginning of the second long weekend in the month. In May we have two national holiday days both on a Monday, one at the beginning of the month and the other at the end of the month. It means, theoretically, that we get three days off work at the weekend. Of course not everybody will observe these extra days as days for relaxing. Traditionally I too don’t treat them as special days but that is because I am self-employed and take time off as I need it. For those who are not self-employed these days come as a welcome break. I’d had a couple of electrical jobs in the previous week and one I thought I was going to do on Saturday. The lady who asked me to do the work didn’t call back as she had promised so I was set for the long weekend free from work other than that I might do at home. The problem was that she works in London and has not been able to arrange either for herself to be available or someone else. However just as I was about to eat a late breakfast someone else called asking if I could exchange two ceiling lights with replacement fittings. These fittings it turned out were second-hand and one was missing its fixing bracket. I decided to take the job though I had ideas about working at home. The work itself was easy but I had to manufacture a bracket to replace the missing one before I could fit the second unit. It is fortunate then that I could find some metal in the van with which to make it. The lady was well pleased that I could make the bracket and not have to return at some later date to finish the work. It was lunch time when I returned home and I could look forward to the rest of the day to relax in, and that is what E and I did out on the patio for a time. It turned cool and cloudy for a spell and we returned indoors. An hour later and it was bright and sunny again. English weather! Front step wallWhilst I had been away from home E’s nephew had called and finished off rendering the small wall (shown above) that had been constructed a couple of months ago! It will need painting sometime in the weeks ahead. Whilst I was taking the picture I took another showing these two rhododendron shrubs. Flowering shrubsI had planted them in Autumn last year. They are different types of the same shrub. The one on the left  flowered a couple of weeks ahead of the other which only opened its blossoms last week. Eventually they will grow to fill the area surrounding them. I am thinking of planting one or two more shrubs out there in the front garden as there is plenty of space for them.

Shirley Anne

No work but work

Paint and Paint
Paint and Paint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After my Sunday rest day I thought I would be rearing to start work on Monday but I had slept in as I had felt so tired on Sunday evening. It was around ten in the morning by the time I got downstairs. I missed breakfast but ate a banana and had a fruit drink instead. Despite this I joined with E and went upstairs to do some more work in the top room. I hadn’t any electrical work which seems to be the norm lately for the start of the week but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be doing something at home. We spent about three and a half hours painting and carrying out alterations to the electrical power circuit. I managed to paint the lower half of the ceiling whilst E did more filling in of holes. We had to stop for something to eat but by the time we did it was already approaching one-thirty. I was feeling rather weak as I’d only eaten a banana for my late breakfast. We didn’t return upstairs until after three o’clock. I finished painting the remainder of the ceiling whilst E applied an undercoat to the underside of half the worktop. We had to remove the curtain rod and the timber it was attached to because it wasn’t secure. The wall behind required some repairs to the plaster so I got on with that too. It was six o’clock before we stopped work for the day but later after my evening meal I decided to paint some of the lower wall with the emulsion paint we had bought. It is the colour of lilac, E’s choice not mine but I admit it looks good. Monday had been a cool and dull day, ideal for working at home indoors. Tuesday however was forecast to be warm and sunny but even so I would most probably be working indoors for most of the time.

Shirley Anne

Another day off

I spend more time at home these days and far less at my electrical business but I am almost never idle when at home. It is about that time when we can switch off the central heating system, though if it were only myself to consider it would have been switched off long ago. E feels the cold more than I do so it had to stay on just that little bit longer. The reason I want it off is so I can work on the system changing radiator valves, fitting a towel rail in the wet room and carrying out an alteration to pipes in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. All the jobs are individually simple and not time-consuming though it will take time to do them all. Before that work was undertaken I intended to get the artificial lawn laid on the patio. On Wednesday morning at around eight o’clock the front door bells sounded, it was the guys delivering the artificial turf. I wasn’t dressed and there was no way I would be answering the door. E however doesn’t bother about such things and she answered the door in her dressing gown. After breakfast I called the guy who would be fitting it just to let him know it was here. He called later to look at it as he has to source a suitable adhesive. At the time of writing he hasn’t set a date for doing it though he did say he might do it soon whilst the weather is good. Meanwhile I sprinkled some soda and water over the patio floor where moss had spread itself thinly in one part in order to kill it off. Later I was able to brush most of it away but had to resort to getting on my hands and knees with a steel wire brush to remove the stubborn bits. I also used a gas torch to burn some of it but finally it was clean and ready for the adhesive. I did some work around one of the rainwater grids which took some time. Water drains 006Basically I removed the plastic cover and set in place an open metal grating instead. Earlier in the year I had heavily pruned back the two main apple trees and had temporarily stowed away the branches. E and I got the wood chipping machine out and set it up to chip the branches. It is the yellow and black machine in this picture below. Nearby stands an old ‘Aqua Vac’ in red and grey which we had stored up in a small attic space at the top of the house. It is damaged but usable and though it can now only be used for vacuuming up water it may come in handy for vacuuming rainwater off the artificial turf when it is laid. Summer showers happen don’t they? The picture also shows the petrol mower in yellow, an electric mower in turquoise behind it, a cement mixer in blue, a wheelbarrow and hidden behind them another electric mower and strimmer. The artificial turf lies rolled up in the foreground waiting to be fitted.G 1Anyway E had to go out later and I took over chipping up the branches. We got quite a lot of wood chippings which we bagged for use in the garden. Amongst some of the other things we did was to take out the carpet and mattress from the garage ready for collection the next day by the council waste disposal team. We were both very tired having spent many hours working throughout the day.

Shirley Anne

The only day

I had been wondering why I hadn’t any electrical job requests this past week but then I realised that children hereabouts are still enjoying their Easter break from school. Offers for work are usually less frequent at such times I have found. It isn’t that I didn’t get one or two requests but those I did get I didn’t want to do for one reason or another. It worked out well anyway as it meant I was available to do any work at home that needed doing. On Monday I had my six-monthly check-up at the dentist which meant I wasn’t available during the morning and in the afternoon I don’t think I would have wanted to work unless it suited me. I don’t much like starting work in the afternoon if I haven’t been working in the morning.Angels 001 On Monday afternoon E and I spent a little time out on the patio before the weather turned cooler and overcast. On Tuesday the weather had started wet and windy but soon after lunch it turned sunny and dry, though the wind was strong. I had to stay indoors as I was expecting the delivery of the replacement drawer part for the new bedroom furniture and it arrived just before lunchtime. We had noticed the drawer base had been damaged but the fitter hadn’t mentioned it. Perhaps he thought nothing of fitting a damaged part but I’ll give him the benefit of my doubt and say he hadn’t seen it. After lunch E had to take her mom to the optician and I still had to remain indoors awaiting the fitter to install the part. By the time he had done the work the day had turned cool and cloudy again so I was unable to spend any time out on the patio as I had wished. The only day we were to have it sunny enough to sit out in I was stuck indoors! Story of my life. I wouldn’t mind but the damaged part was replaced in thirty seconds and I could have done it myself it was so easy. However easy it was though my guarantee may have been compromised had I done the work and in any case I had paid for a quality product and I expected one so they had to fix it. Anyhow whilst I was waiting for the fitter I made some tentative steps toward clearing out the small bedroom which is used by my youngest son when he visits. There he is in the picture with his elder brother. Even at that age he had a mischievous look upon his face. Nothing has changed. It will take a few days to sort and stash his belongings, though I wish he would either throw them out or take them to his own property. I may insist he do so when next he visits. The room is quite frankly a mess and there is so much ‘junk’ it is difficult to see the floor in places! Typical boy’s room, well young man’s room, he is 31 years of age for crying out loud! Once the room is clear of personal possessions we have to remove the furniture which is free-standing and made of solid wood. We can then lift the carpet which is in dire need of replacing and get on with the painting, which is all it needs. I would probably be better off retiring from my electrical work as there is plenty I can occupy myself with at home. Not just yet though.

Shirley Anne