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!

Shirley Anne


Got the chance

I was determined to go for an early morning walk on Saturday (12) and put aside for a while the things which have been taking up much of my time. It had been around a week since my last walk as I hadn’t the time to spare. This is where having something to exercise on at home is handy, you still get some exercise even if you can’t do it outdoors. I had spent Friday morning doing just that because of a tight schedule. Anyway the day was beautiful on Saturday, nice and sunny with a slight breeze and comfortable in the not so hot temperatures. Although I had the time for a long walk I chose to walk only four and a half miles. On my return home I came across the postman delivering mail close to my house and he stopped me saying that he had mail for me. I took the two small packages and a letter from him as he delivered next-door’s mail. On going inside I gave the smaller package and letter to E and opened the larger package which was addressed to me. Finally the mask I had ordered had arrived so I put on my overalls and the new mask  and asked E to take a photo…

Very becoming don’t you think? At last I could finish painting the cellar storage room floor and less than an hour later it looked like this…

I don’t know why the walls seem to be different colours but I suppose it is just the way the light is hitting them. The upper of the two pictures reflects more accurately the colour in the room. Now all I need to do is touch-up the walls here and there and put a threshold across the entrance. That won’t take long and I can then say the project is complete.

Shirley Anne

Curbing my spending

Gas mask 1
Gas mask 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For one reason or another lately I have been engaged on a spending spree. Today, May 3rd, I bought a gas mask online. Now what do you suppose I needed that for? A kinky party (never been to one)? Well if you remember I purchased some floor paint and it arrived today. Having taken off the lid of one of the cans and painting a sample corner of the cellar storage room I thought it would be best if a mask was worn when painting the whole floor. Indeed it is necessary for the paint fumes are strong and the room cannot easily be ventilated. The paint itself is a chlorinated rubber composition and even after painting such a small amount it sent fumes throughout the basement and the first floor. I hastened to close the room door to minimise the fume distribution but even so I had to keep a few doors and windows open to disperse them. As I hadn’t a suitable mask I had to make the purchase. A few days ago I purchased some clothing for myself and for E and yesterday I purchased the item of gym equipment I was looking to have to go along with the treadmill and elliptical cross-trainer we already have. This time it was an exercise bike, bike machine or whatever you choose to call them.The picture shows the exact model we chose. It looks a though I will be installing an extra power point in the gym soon! So although I have been spending out a lot recently it isn’t a regular habit, I simply couldn’t afford to be spending all the time. Now, for the month ahead at least, I have to curb my spending. Well maybe. Now that I have the paint I can finish off the storage room though it will have to wait now until I receive the mask. I will have to use the mask again when I paint the gym floor but at this moment in time I have still to fill in the holes with cement. I would have had it done by now had I not been looking after E while she has been incapacitated. Today for instance I had to do the weekly shopping once more, something which seems to becoming a regular thing lately. I don’t mind of course, it’s a change from what I usually get up to!

Shirley Anne

Hard enough as it is

I actually got to stay in bed a little longer than I had been able to for the last few days. Oh it wasn’t that I couldn’t have a lie-in, it had been my intention to arise early so that I could do the work I wanted to do. Even so I was up eating breakfast at eight before continuing the work in the cellar on Saturday (9th). E joined with me after an hour and she began filling in holes where necessary in preparation for the painting she wanted to do. Unfortunately she didn’t get around to the painting as she had that work and other work to do. Meanwhile I had been painting the ceiling, walls and pipes. The ceiling in that part of the room would require two and perhaps three coats of paint for it was black and dirty-looking having not seen a lick of paint for years. It would take me hours to decorate over a couple of days.

The area at top left was actually cleaner-looking than the rest shown in the picture above which had just received its first coat of paint. Anyway  I plodded on and completed the walls in the same area…..

When E had left the room I began clearing out the area under the window and continued doing that after lunch. Some items were thrown out but much of them I moved to the greenhouses where they were supposed to be and tidying up the large greenhouse in the process. I returned indoors and fitted a piece of wood over the top of the window frame to allow E to paint the frame later.There are cables clipped along the wall at the top above the window and the wood was placed there to separate them from the frame which would be painted a different colour. You probably cannot see the piece of wood in the picture above because the gas pipe supplying the boiler runs just beneath it. You will however be able to see that the area beneath the window is now clear of the junk which had been stored there together with the garden furniture. Whilst in the room I discovered two more jobs (aside from the cupboard) which I plan to do during the weeks ahead, well when the painting is finished. I will show them in forthcoming posts.

Shirley Anne


Old scars

I sometimes wonder why I make plans because when I do they frequently change, usually because of circumstance. So my plan for Thursday morning was to ensure the bare plaster of the walls in the small lounge were sealed and that’s what I did. I had purchased a ready-mixed paper adhesive thinking it was ‘size’ or the conventional powder you mix with cold water to form a paste. However, it was a very thick paste based on PVA adhesive. I had to take some and mix it with water so that I could brush it onto the walls as I would have done had it been an ordinary paste. I mentioned in a previous post that the walls were already smooth and therefore unlikely to absorb the paste from the paper but I applied a coat anyway. Whilst doing that I began to think back to the last time the walls were bare in 1989, how we had to patch it up in places and repair the plaster work when we installed the fire surround. I remembered how much that unit had cost me, £400 because it is made of oak.

I noticed that the door required another coat of gloss as did the skirting boards in some places and also the fire surround. I decided not to do anything then but attend to it later after lunch. I had to drive to the carpet store to select and purchase a new carpet in grey together with some new underlay. I went to the store I always use when buying new carpets and asked if I could have the same fitter I normally have to lay it. I paid the full amount  (£800) and set a date for it to be done which will be 12th May. It was now lunchtime so I gave myself a treat and dined out at the pub for the third time in the week. I knew that once I returned home it would be to do some painting and I was feeling a little reluctant but returned home soon after I had eaten. I got to work immediately and had the painting done in an hour. Again I was hoping it would be the last time I would need the gloss paint. Before I put the brush and paint away I right-turned the coffee table I had upturned the previous day to paint the underside and I gave the top a coat of paint. The whole table will need another coat before it is finished. Now I was ready to hang the paper but it would have to wait until Friday. However, I had a small electrical job to do on Friday morning and there might be more to come later. The paper hanging would have to wait but if I couldn’t do any of it on Friday I would be able to do so on Saturday.

Shirley Anne

All gone

I was up early on Friday and soon after breakfast I began working in the small lounge once more. It was 8.30 and I was ready to go. First job was to apply the priming coat to the skirting board, door frame and door. The window and the fireplace were already done earlier. It took some time to get around the room but the finish didn’t need to be perfect as the paint was only a primer and in this case was being used to blot-out the mahogany stain too. All the stain has now gone. Next job was to strip off the wall paper which I had not been able to remove while it was dry. Now some people might use a steam pad to wet the wall paper but I use cold water applied with a brush and while the water is sinking through the surface in one place I use the scraper or even fingers to remove the paper elsewhere. Most of the time it comes off, well falls off in sheets! The only difficult part is where the top vinyl layer has not been stripped off first which then means the process has to be done twice. As I had already stripped much of the paper from the wall when it was dry there was little of the top layer left. 

That work took me into the afternoon, with a break for lunch and then I decided to apply the first coat of white gloss paint to the window frame. It was surprisingly easy and could almost pass with just the one coat but it will get two.

You may notice that the carpet has gone but not the underlay. When I purchase a new carpet the underlay will be replaced too though the existing one is quite serviceable apart from a small area near the door which I think was water damaged when a liquid had been spilled and then washed off with water. It wasn’t replaced when we had the last carpet change over fifteen years ago so having a new one is probably a better idea. It was four o’clock and I was finished for the day. I am happy with the progress and am enjoying doing the work.

Shirley Anne

Before a break

It is late on Saturday afternoon as I write this having completed almost three full days working at home on the small front lounge. A few days ago I had decided to completely renovate the room which although having had a change of furniture and a carpet since we moved into the house in 1988 has never been redecorated since 1989! Anyway that aside I decided on a total change, decor, furniture, everything. I was going to employ someone to do the decorating but changed my mind to do it myself. Over the last three days I have concentrated on the ceiling and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post I painted it twice. I thought it might need three coats and indeed when I looked at it this morning it still looked a little patchy in places. That meant a drive to the supplier to purchase another 5 ltr can. First job for the day though was to dig out a few bluebells which had thought I’d given up on them but no, I have been digging them out as they appear. Thankfully there are not as many now after all my hard work earlier in the year. That took a half-hour and then I phoned ahead to make sure the supplier was open. Many businesses close from Good Friday to Easter Monday so I had to make sure. They were open until 2 o’clock but I went immediately as I wanted to continue with the work. As it happened I did have enough paint to complete the second coat on the ceiling and frieze but would still need the extra can to paint parts of the ceiling which still looked patchy. I wasn’t going to do that until Monday at least but I had the extra paint ready now to hand. Finishing off the second coat and painting again the frieze and ceiling cornice for the third time on the window wall took me to lunchtime for after lunch I had decided to start painting over the dark blue stripes with the new red colour.

Incidentally, the dark-stained woodwork you can see in the pictures will eventually be painted white as the work progresses. Try as I might I couldn’t avoid spilling over the new colour on to the white parts of the ceiling. I used a piece of thin board like hard board to shield the parts of the ceiling I didn’t want the paint to touch but it was never going to be perfect. It will be easy enough to touch-up with white paint where necessary later. I stopped work at that point and wouldn’t be returning to it until Monday. Sunday was my rest day.

Shirley Anne

Twice as slow

safety_manualThe advantages of having a house with 53 steps in it means I get plenty of exercise. The disadvantages include the extra time it takes to do any work at the top of the house! I reckon I am reasonably fit for my age (70+) but climbing those stairs a few times leaves me exhausted. For example, if I begin working on our current project too soon after breakfast and climb those stair steps (40 from the breakfast room) I am a little out of breath. After a while though descending and climbing them isn’t so bad but it is still tiring if I have to do it two, three or more times, which is often the case. Again the same thing happens after I have eaten my lunch. Obviously, well to me anyway, my body is being starved of oxygen whilst my food is being digested so exercise becomes more difficult. At the other end of the scale tiredness sets in through lack of sustenance and my age. Doing any work at the top of the house is always going to take longer because of these factors. Still I plod on. E will be finding it even more difficult I know as she suffers with her condition (spina biffida) which, though not severe, nevertheless impedes her movement somewhat. More recently she has been suffering with a problem around one of her knees and even as I write she is booking an appointment to have it X-rayed. Despite her afflictions she works quite hard and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop. I have to insist she stops before she will do so herself. So things take longer when we get older and we need to be more careful that we don’t rush. There isn’t a need to rush anyway but there is the need to keep active else seize-up! Progress has been good on the project, the walls and ceiling are fully painted and the woodwork that needed to have an undercoat, that is most of it, has been painted. E painted a large section of skirting but somehow managed to twist her back in the process. It took her quite a few minutes to manoeuvre herself into a position whereby she could get up off the floor. I could do little to help (she’s very independent). I had to suggest that I do the low-level painting in future for there is plenty of painting that has to be done at waist height which will be more comfortable for her if she insists on painting something. To be fair she doesn’t usually have problems but it proves just how susceptible we can be if we don’t take care.

Shirley Anne

Down and up…….

….and up and down. Nothing doing on the electrical front on Tuesday saw me working again at home on our latest little project at the top of the house. I had decided to begin painting the walls with the emulsion paint. E had an appointment at the doctor’s surgery late morning so she didn’t bother to do any work before then. I began by painting over the patch we had mended on the ceiling that had required more work doing on it before the top coat of paint could be applied. Leaving that to dry I started work on painting the lower parts of the walls beneath the worktops before I got a call from a guy asking me to change a light fitting in his house some fifteen miles away. Down with the paint brush, off with the overalls and off to the job. E had just left the house and it was eleven o’clock. I was back home twenty minutes after twelve with extra cash in my purse. It was too near lunch time to resume painting so I ate lunch. Whilst I was preparing it E arrived back home but she wasn’t alone, her mom was with her. She had invited her to see the work we had done in the two bedrooms (not the room we are currently redecorating). I was taken by surprise for it has been almost fourteen years since I last saw her. Since my transition I have not been invited to any family gatherings at her house or anywhere else for that matter. I do not know who is responsible for that but I don’t blame anyone. We said little to each other but she seemed quite amiable and I was as polite as ever. She didn’t stay long and E took her home. Her mom is in poor health and she has aged a lot since we last met. She is 88 years of age after all. E didn’t return home until long after I had eaten and had returned upstairs to continue with the painting. Top room 5


Top room 6After she had eaten she joined me. She began applying an undercoat of paint to the worktop surfaces.Top room 4 I managed to do almost all of the walls before emptying the paint pot. It was by now after five o’clock and it wasn’t worth opening another. I didn’t think I would like the colour lilac but it does make the room look brighter and fresher.

Shirley Anne

Shades of grey

Two electrical jobs on Tuesday kept me away from home for most of the morning. When I got back home I discovered E had been working in the small bedroom and had almost painted the wall with the lighter shade of grey paint we had bought the previous afternoon. It is supposed to be a shade of grey but it has a tint of green in it unless my eyes are deceiving me…Small bedroom 8

Small bedroom 9

The difference between the two shades is evident, I think you’ll agree. After we had eaten lunch an hour or so later we returned to the room to apply the darker shade to the other three walls . We had that done in an hour but we thought they might need another coat later despite the number of coats we had applied already! Tuesday had been a wonderfully sunny day but the wind took the edge of it being pleasant enough to sit in, though we did give it a try for a short time. In the end E decided to take in the washing she had hung on the line hours before and return indoors whilst I gave the garden plants a thorough watering as we hadn’t had rain for some time. We planned to finish painting the walls on Wednesday though at the time of writing this on Tuesday the wood work has to have its final coat of white gloss paint applied too. We also plan to buy a wall mirror and of course curtains and the rail to hang them from but these purchases can be made later.

Shirley Anne