I didn’t get much work done on Friday (4 th) after going for a walk earlier that morning. After breakfast and two hours of watching catch-up tv it was time to start but I waited yet a further three hours before doing anything and sat with E for a while. My first job was to paint the extra support panel I had made for E’s top-of-the-house workshop worktop, wow what a mouthful! I had moved it into the cellar hallway for it had been too cold in the cellar workshop for the paint to dry properly.
It would be better to fit beneath the worktop as constructed and already painted rather than do it in-situ. Following that exercise I painted around the small store room door and also the two handrails on the stairway.
The store room is on the right of the stone steps in the picture. I retouched the red gloss paint elsewhere in the cellar whilst I had the brush in hand. That was all the work I did that day but I would be back later to retouch the white paint in a few places before I could say the painting was completed, except for painting the floor that is! I had hoped to have cemented the floor by the end of the week but as I write this I am not sure I’ll get around to doing it until next week. No matter how many times I go checking for places that need paintwork retouching there always seems to be more!
All I seem to be doing lately is painting. It is now January 3 rd. For so long it was vinyl silk emulsion and over the last couple of days it has been gloss paint. Whenever I do a project I really enjoy the construction part whatever it may be but when it comes to filling in holes and painting it bores me soft! With the construction there is always something new to tackle or a problem to solve but with the decorating part of the job it is the same thing day after day until the job is finished. Maybe that’s why I am not a fan of the decorating stage. Most of the current project has involved just the decoration aspect. Initially it was the filling in of the countless holes and gaps everywhere before any painting could take place. The painting stage was and is never done in one go, there are usually a couple of coats of paint to apply, sometimes even three and the work never seems to be getting anywhere. Over the past couple of days I have been painting the door frames in a red gloss paint. Originally they had been painted with emulsion being as they are only in the cellar but as I had some red gloss paint left over from painting the worktops in the new utility room I used that. I had to purchase another can though as there wasn’t enough. Today as I write on the 3 rd I have completed the painting of the frames except that they may require touching up here and there later. One frame was shown in yesterday’s post, here are the other four..
The white emulsion on the pipes close-by will need retouching as keeping the red paint off them was unavoidable. They are over the gym and workshop doors. One door frame yet remains to be painted, the one to the small store room. It can be seen in yesterday’s post. Once the painting is finished I will be able to cement the floor in readiness for that to be painted too.
After the short break was over it was time to start work again. Alright it was only one day off but it did make a difference. So now it was Wednesday morning and I was up before one o’clock! I’d had enough sleep by then having retired to bed at seven-thirty. Time for a walk and at two thirty in the morning I never expect to see anyone about, that is near to my home for in town it is a different matter. Not that I walk through the town centre often at such an hour but if I do there is always somebody about. I walked down the road called Rotten Row which is usually deserted but this morning there were road works being carried out and as I passed I saw two guys from the local energy supply working on some underground cables. I had noticed a power outage along that road several days earlier. They were the only people I came across throughout my walk though there had been a few vehicles about. When I returned home and after breakfast it was time to put on the kit, overalls, gloves and mask. I was going to paint the small store room floor in the cellar….
The left-hand picture might be slightly blurred as I had to take it from outside the room by reaching around the wall. The right-hand picture was taken from the same position just outside the room. In that picture you can see a dark triangular patch in the top right of the floor. When we cleared out the room we discovered an old cut-off lead water pipe and we think it was either a water supply to a tap (faucet) for use in that room or a supply pipe for what used to be an outhouse where there was a washroom and lavatory. I remember cutting off the lead pipe whilst digging out the Plot at the side of the house when constructing the raised flowerbed there a couple of years ago. When I cemented the gaps in the floor a week or so earlier it took a long time to dry. We are not sure at the time of writing whether this triangle of cement now covering the remains of the pipe has fully dried out or if it has water in it (seeping in from the soil in which it is buried) which is keeping it damp. If it doesn’t appear to be drying out I shall have to dig outside to locate and cut it off. Until then that corner will remain unpainted. I wasn’t able to do any more work in the cellar until the fumes had disappeared.
I refer to the painting of the utility room floor and the obnoxious fumes it gives off for hours afterward. It was Wednesday 14 th and soon after breakfast at three-thirty I was down in the cellar with my overalls and protective face mask on brush in hand and on my knees painting the floor. Whilst carrying out the work and wearing the mask of course, I cannot smell a thing. It is only a short time later and when upstairs can the smell be noticed and it is quite strong. If I open windows and doors it does dissipate but then the house gets too cold. If I keep the windows and doors shut it lessens the circulation and it takes ages for the smell to go. It’s sort of catch twenty-two situation so what I do is open the windows and doors for brief periods which seems to work. It is basically the chlorine in the paint which is the main source of the smell. So when I had completed the floor I was hoping for it to be the last time, at least in that room. I may consider painting the cellar hallway floor next year but if I do I know the fumes will be far easier to get rid of for I can open the door to the garden and a window at the top of the cellar steps and get through ventilation. I did the same when painting the gym floor. So the rest of the day I rested from work though there was still some to do, the room’s door, the inspection hatch and the kick boards. I would need to be down in the cellar to do any of them which was out of the question of course. It had taken me around four weeks to reach this stage but not really all that time in actual working hours. A little bit here and a little bit there soon eats away at any task.
Or…for my American friends and some others….a wrench in the works. Somehow ‘wrench’ doesn’t seem to express it as well as spanner but I suppose that is due to my living in the UK. I would prefer to say England rather than the United Kingdom because I am English, I was born here. I do have Scottish ancestry though on my father’s side of the family but I was born in England. Now we say ‘spanner in the works’ to express a condition whereby a planned activity has been forced to a stop by an outside influence or objection. Well it seems that E has thrown such a spanner in the works having raised tentative objections to my planned garden project. I think however she would prefer something slightly different from my proposals though not entirely different. At the moment therefore the plans are on hold until we can agree on what to do. I suspect that won’t take long and I’ll soon be making inroads but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I can rest up though with me that will be difficult. This morning, that is September 1 st I had to water the garden again because we’ve had little rain lately and one or two of the plants were beginning to wilt a little. I had watered the garden on Friday evening and the plants were looking healthy afterward but a second watering was needed to ensure the soil was moistened through. For today and the following few days the weather forecast says it will remain dry. Anyway I did that and on the way back upstairs I glanced at the pit in which the cross-trainer stands and noticed a small amount of paint flaking off in one corner. When I first constructed the pit a few months earlier I had used paint we had in storage but was never really satisfied with the colour after painting the walls in the room white. The paint in the pit was more creamy looking. Having painted the floor red it magnified the differences between the wall and pit colours. I decided to scrape off the flaking paint and redo the whole pit in a gloss white though I couldn’t of course paint beneath the cross-trainer itself.
It didn’t take long to do, about twenty minutes but now it looks much better for it. Later in the day it was time for more garden maintenance, sweeping up leaves and mowing the lawn.
I could have been a surgeon……but I didn’t have the patience (patients). Okay and old joke I admit but then again well let’s say I’m over thirty-nine! Actually the medical profession was the last thing I would have considered as a career. Apart from the thought of all those years of study followed by a very long subsequent learning curve I don’t think I had the aptitude. Even in the career I chose as an electrician and electrical engineer I had four years of study and an apprenticeship followed by years of learning experiences. I had in fact begun a higher level of education after obtaining the relevant qualifications but a year into the course I gave up the idea. You see I didn’t want years of studying, I wanted to use my skills hands-on. The rest is history, in fact everything is history isn’t it? I will lay claim to having a steady pair of hands and am dexterous. As a surgeon that would be essential of course. Having a steady hand has been an advantage especially when the work demands it. Most of the things I do now naturally involve the use of my hands (even typing this). My current little project is nearly coming to an end and it totally requires the use of my hands, painting the gym floor though I will admit my steady hands didn’t prevent me from applying paint where it shouldn’t be! That though is mostly due to the uneven edges between the floor and the walls. One area involved painting alongside an existing white line.
Most folk would use masking tape and simply remove it once the paint had dried to leave a straight line. It doesn’t always work especially if the surfaces are not smooth as the paint can leak under the tiniest of spaces. I decided to have a go at doing it free-hand…It isn’t perfect but is pretty close! As for the ‘splashes’ of red paint on the white walls, they will be far easier to cover with the emulsion paint because emulsion can be wiped off with water if it gets where it isn’t wanted. The chlorinated rubber floor paint however is more difficult to remove and more so considering its red colour. On Friday morning (10 th) I had almost completed the painting of the floor though half of the floor was yet to receive the second coat.
As I had cemented in the cracks where the treadmill had stood temporarily I couldn’t paint that small area on the day.
If I was being pedantic I would say six hours and twenty minutes but if I was being extra pedantic I would be honest and say well okay it was more like five. What is she talking about? My early morning activities of course what else? It was Wednesday morning and the promised rain hadn’t fallen through the night. I was up.before two o’clock, which accounts for the twenty minutes and downstairs before two-thirty. I checked to see if we had rain and discovering we hadn’t I went into the garden to give the plants a drink. At this time of year it is important not to let the plants die for lack of water. Next it was breakfast followed by a half-hour of catch-up tv. and checking my emails. I was about ready for another walk which used up two hours. On my return home I would be doing some painting in the cellar again. I was about half-way through my walk when I happened upon a guy in a wheelchair who darted out of a hotel lobby a couple of hundred metres ahead of me and going in the same direction. We had both reached the far end of the Promenade before I caught up with him and I hadn’t been walking slowly. I bid him good morning and we chatted a while as we went along. I mentioned that I was impressed with his speedy exercise and he told me the chair was brand new and he was ‘putting it through its paces’. ‘Much better than the previous one’ he said. He was staying for three weeks at the specialist respite care home at the far end of the Promenade after leaving the spinal treatment unit at the hospital. I assumed he meant at Southport. He told me he had an operation which hadn’t gone well and it had left him unable to walk. He was very philosophical about it but I thought how sad for him. I asked him where he lived and he told me North Wales. North Wales can be seen across Liverpool bay from Southport on a clear day. Soon we were at his destination and we parted ways. As I walked along the seafront I could see the heavy rain clouds dumping their load over Ainsdale about four miles down the coast. As I got nearer home it began to rain there too. It had just about stopped raining as I entered the front door. So what next? I put on my overalls and painted over the area I had been working on a couple of days earlier giving it its second and final coat. I also painted the step leading into the room and a little more elsewhere.
At the time of writing there remains the area around that step and the small area beneath the up-righted treadmill to be worked on and of course the bare section in the picture. The other half of the floor also needs its second coat of paint. None of that will take long to do. The floor repairs and painting will then be finished but at some point I will need to touch-up the white walls where I have accidentally touched them here and there with the red paint.
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.
It truly is amazing that with a little ventilation things change radically. ‘A breath of fresh air’ is often quoted when someone presents a new perspective or common sense approach to a problem. We sometimes cannot see a problem until somebody reveals it to us by their different approach. Maybe it is the stubborn heart and refusal to accept assistance which keeps us from seeing the solution and that solution is often so simple. Our blinded eyes prevent us from seeing it. A breath of fresh air is usually all it takes to speed things up too. It wipes away the dust and cobwebs and clears away the dross. Ventilation is needed for many reasons in life, not least of all to keep us alive! Working in hostile environments and situations hazardous to our health requires ventilation to make things safe for us to be there. A fine example in point was when I was painting the floor in the new pantry or larder I had been constructing a couple of months ago at home. The paint was hazardous to use unless the area was well-ventilated but alas being in the middle of the cellar it had no access to fresh air. I had purchased a suitable mask with appropriate filters in order to use the paint safely. In recent days I have been working on the repairs to another room in the cellar, the new gym, which fortunately does have access to fresh air. I have been cementing in the cracks and joints in the floor before painting it with the same paint. Despite the ventilation it was still necessary to wear the mask of course. On Wednesday (25 th) morning I painted the area I had already filled-in and had the door to the garden open to give that ventilation. I finished that work and packed everything away. About a half-hour after I had finished the paint was dry!
Previously it had taken many hours to dry in the room which had no ventilation. It is amazing what a little ventilation can do. All I have to do now is the rest of the floor!