On the evening of Monday 17 th Dec. E received a call from her brother letting her know that once again her mom was in hospital. She left the house to visit the hospital but I remained at home. I had been working most of the day as you may have read in my post and was rather tired. I stayed up for as long as I could to wait for her return but finally had to succumb to sleep. I went to bed at ten-thirty and fell asleep in minutes. E returned home after midnight. I was so tired I slept in until after eight o’clock and arrived downstairs just before nine-thirty. E had just finished her breakfast and I asked about her mom. It appeared she had been sent home after a little treatment and thankfully was now fit and well.
I told E I didn’t much want to work in the cellar though I had planned to paint the small store room floor. As she wanted to do some work herself in the utility room I wasn’t able to paint the floor anyway because of the noxious fumes it gives off. There was a small job I could do and which I did but it was very little. There were other jobs more important but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to dine out for a change and asked E if she would like to do the same. It was then that I remembered my van stocked full of old carpet, underlay and vinyl which had to be taken to the dump. So off I drove whilst E finished off her work. It was around one o’clock when we drove off for a meal. She suggested a specific eatery, a place called The Thatch and Thistle where we have dined often before. Strange as it may seem I was thinking of going there anyway. Our thoughts often agree but I guess that is because we have lived together for a long time. The meal was exceptionally good as it usually is in that place and we had a nice time. On our way back home E was able to buy some presents and carry out some business. The day turned out completely different to what I had planned the previous afternoon and I was grateful for that change. It would be a case of getting back to work on the Wednesday.
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.
On Tuesday 16 th (as I write) we were expecting the delivery of the pebbles we had ordered online a week or two earlier for the lawn feature. At that time we were informed of a possible eight to nine weeks waiting period before they became available. I have to say that companies who advertise goods on sale should make them more readily available or remove the advertisement. We had already experienced poor service, actually no service as it turned out, when we didn’t receive the fridge we had ordered. Since then of course we obtained a better one from a UK supplier. On Monday (15 th) we received a call from the company who were to supply the pebbles asking if we would like to purchase the pebbles that were delivered to themselves but of a different kind. We were asked to go online to check them out which we did. I had already viewed all of their advertised stock when placing my order and had selected my choice because of their colour and form. None of the others compare and can be purchased locally at almost any builders merchants. So we were being asked to accept something that they said was sent to them in error. They must have known we wouldn’t. I was expecting to finish the work on the project this week but now it seems it will be a few more weeks yet before that can happen. I had prepared a space within the garage where the pallet could be dropped which seemed a bit of a waste of time after I had received the call. No matter it will remain as it is for when the pebbles do arrive. I worked on the utility room project on Monday and again on Tuesday though on Tuesday I didn’t do as much. I cut out another large portion of the carpet that lies on the floor so that the washing machine could be moved. Eventually of course it will all be lifted. E and I assembled one of the new cabinets so that I could check the floor level and cut out the side panels to accommodate the drain pipe on the wall.
The worktop would continue from the first cabinet and had to be accordingly level with it. We discovered there was at least a centimetre drop in the floor across the width of the room at that side. That will mean packing beneath the new cabinet legs to make it level. Nothing is ever straightforward is it?
It is Sunday 14 th and I am writing this at six in the morning. I arose three hours ago, an hour later than my now most usual time though I was awake then. I had a really good night’s sleep and am feeling totally refreshed, completely different from yesterday’s experience. With every new day there is hope for better things in our lives though we may never take advantage of that. Things look different from the previous night in the cold light of day as the saying goes. We may look back at what we did the day before and now find it wasn’t as bad as we thought or maybe it is worse! Yesterday I felt pretty much tired the whole day which was probably why I slept so well. I hadn’t done much work partly due to my feeling tired and partly due to there not being much to do on my project. Actually there was more I could have done, there always is but I wanted the rest. So I kept the work to a minimum and spent the rest of the day relaxing. E went to her nephews’ birthday party in the evening held at a venue in the village a half mile away. I wasn’t invited, I never am but I don’t think I would have been able to stay awake to enjoy it anyway!
The work I did involved fitting the shelf and the doors but not the handles as we hadn’t purchased any. We first thought we would only purchase the one cabinet so we were going to use the handles on the old unit to save buying new ones. However the plan now is to install at least one more cabinet and probably two in which case we will need three sets of matching door handles. They will be purchased when we buy the cabinets. The other work I did was to cut and fit the timber with which to fill the space at the right of the new cabinet, shown not yet painted in the picture. Other work I could have done involved fixing a single row of wall tiles around the top of the unit. The sink is now in use. There is a lot more work to be done in the room and slowly but surely it will be done. Today I rest, tomorrow is another day.
I pride myself on being reasonably fit for my age. Fitness alone however isn’t a measure of how much physical work we can do, age can impose limitations. Having said that I think I achieve quite a lot considering I am no ‘spring chicken’. I do get tired of course and have to rest up and give myself a break. I have been trying to limit how much work I do in any one day and so far I think I have succeeded. The various projects I have undertaken over the last couple of years have involved much work but I have avoided working too many hours at a time. Lately I have not worked more than three hours in any day. Some work is more taxing than others like sawing through heavy-duty plywood by hand for instance! This was the case for me on Tuesday (8 th) morning. Tuesday was the day for my walk which didn’t help but neither did not getting enough sleep! I did sleep but not long enough it seems. I had breakfast after returning from the walk and soon after I began working on the latest project. The first task was to level the cabinet by adjusting the five supporting legs before I could secure it to the wall. Needless to say the floor isn’t level where the cabinet stands. I had to secure timber to the wall beforehand so that I could secure the cabinet to it. The rear of the cabinet does not fit directly against the wall for it is constructed in such a way to leave a space of around 100 mm. I could have used the small brackets provided but that would have been more difficult. The next task was to cut out the centre of the sheet of plywood to enable the sink and drainer to fit inside which is were the saw came in. I should have used a jig-saw but guess what? I don’t have one! The one I once had finally gave up the ghost and I didn’t replace it as I thought it unnecessary at the time. I just wouldn’t get the use to make it worthwhile. There have been a number of occasions however when I regretted that decision, one being Tuesday morning! I was worn out by the time I had cut out the hole. Tiredness had caught up with me and I stopped work. I had spent a couple of hours down there anyway. I returned later accompanied by E as we discussed the projects problems and how to overcome them. We further discussed what we planned doing elsewhere in the room too. More work to get tired doing. I’m happy with that.
Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day.
Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.
Before any work could be done on the lawn project I had to figure where I would put the soil after digging it out to allow the cobbles to be laid. Some of the soil would be replaced once the grass had been removed from it. I decided the only suitable place to store it would be where the second bag of sand had been placed. I had removed the sand from the cellar floor whilst constructing the pit in there (see earlier posts). That meant I had to put the sand into small bags and store it in the garage as I had done with the first large bag. Some of that sand has since been used but there was still a large amount unused. I spent some time on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning re-bagging and removing the sand from outside.
…and putting it into the garage with the rest….
It may not seem a lot but there are seventeen bags there in the picture above with two more behind the wheelbarrow.There are also bags of grit, granite chippings and cement there too! The garage is getting quite cluttered as you can see from these pictures….
The wooden crate and the blue coloured pallet were used in the delivery of the cobbles. In this country these things are never collected and we have to dispose of them ourselves but sometimes they do come in handy. The timber can be used and the large bags used in delivery of sand, soil and other things can be used too as you can see. We use this garage for storing most things we use outdoors for there is more space in it than the second garage as well as it being more accessible to both front and rear gardens. Whilst access to the gardens is easy from the second garage access to the rear garden is more restricted and only suitable for pedestrian activity. Just after I had completed the removal of the sand the rain came down heavily. Typical UK weather…
Once upon a time I used to arise about two o’clock in the morning and go for a run before my working day which at that time began at five o’clock. Quite often I worked well into the afternoon too. That’s like fourteen hours or more of activity and I was no youngster either, in fact I was in my late fifties and early sixties and working full-time. I was used to the lifestyle so it was never a problem, in fact I looked forward to the early morning exercise and the work which followed. Now I am in my early seventies I still find it uplifting to go for early morning walks followed by some work at home. I spend some time on the gym equipment too a few times each week. So getting up early doesn’t bother me except that I have to adjust to different meal times. Lately I have been getting up at two o’clock, partly because I go to bed early and don’t sleep long and partly because I want to go for a walk and do some work, especially as it is much cooler at that time of day. Of course it is usually after four or four-thirty before I venture outside for my walk. As for the work, well some of it gets done earlier than that and some later. I have been cementing in the gaps in the gym floor in readiness for painting as there is no noise made when doing that kind of work. Who wants to use a hammer, a saw or a drill in the early hours unless they are far away from sleeping people? When there is no background noise every other noise seems amplified. The old saying ‘it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ is true indeed. I live in an old Victorian house that has creaking floorboards in one or two places. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night is difficult to do without making some noise. What little noise the boards make sounds much louder than it really is because it otherwise so quiet. I will be able to do the work in the cellar as early as I wish in the knowledge that I won’t be disturbing anyone. If I choose to paint the floor I will need the outside door open to ventilate the room. Even though I will be wearing the special filtering mask it is better the room is ventilated too but having a light on will only attract moths and other insects into the room. I will probably therefore leave the painting until after dawn. So far I have completed about a third of the floor (see picture above) which I hope to paint before moving to the next area. It is the area beyond the kneeling mat.
Traditionally E and I have never gone away from home whenever it is a national holiday such as the recent one we had two weeks ago. For many a year the weather has proven to be poor especially on the Spring bank holidays and many folk will take a break in a foreign country for that reason. This year the Spring bank holiday weather was exceptionally warm and sunny over the three-day period so staying at home was fine and there was no need to go chasing after the sun elsewhere. I took advantage of the fine weather to get a little gardening done, setting in five new shrubs, weeding and watering and such but it wasn’t all work as I spent some time relaxing too. One thing I didn’t do was to work indoors though it might have been a possibility had the safety mask been delivered for that was holding up finishing off the little project I had been doing over the previous weeks, the cellar storage room. I needed the mask in order to paint the floor because the floor paint gives off noxious fumes when it is wet. It would have taken less than an hour to complete and I could have done it and still have had plenty of time to relax. As I write this on May 7th I am still waiting on the delivery of the mask. Everything in the cellar room is therefore on hold until the floor is painted but I have not been bored. I am hoping that I will receive the mask tomorrow so I can write off that job. There is always work to do in the gardens of course and while the weather is fine I can get on with them. I have it in mind to carry out repairs to the driveway to the garage E uses and want to get that out-of-the-way too. It looks like I won’t be able to spruce up the gym floor just yet as I thought I might. We are still awaiting delivery of the exercise bike too so I will probably need to install another power outlet for that before I can even think about the floor. It is almost impossible therefore to get bored in this house as long as I wish to do any work.
I have been working rather hard these past few days, often putting in eight hours or more each day. I sometimes think I am doing more now than before I retired! When I purchased the Elliptical Trainer earlier in the year I had no idea it would lead me to be doing all the work I have been doing at the moment. Most of the ceilings in the cellar are 7 feet (2.13 m) high except for the boiler/gym room which is 8 feet (2.44 m) from the floor. All the doors are at the standard height which is 6 feet and 6 inches (1.98 m) so walking about isn’t a problem. However we discovered that although the gym ceiling is that extra bit higher it gave very little spare head-room when using the trainer. Consequently we decided to lower the floor by about 7 inches (17.8 cm) where the trainer was to be used. That in itself was time-consuming and hard work but having decorated the area round about it led us to decide a full room decoration was required. Having made that decision it led us to do a lot of preparatory and necessary work like filling in large holes in the ceiling and walls, re-routing cables and generally tidying things up. On top of that we had to replace the pipe insulation too which led us to do the same for other rooms in the cellar. The above pictures show only parts of the installation. Over the last three days (it is Friday 9 as I write) I have been starting work between the hours of 05.30 and 06.30 in order to replace the insulation before the heating switches on in the morning. Thankfully that work is almost completed with just some minor parts requiring attention. This is why the main work of decorating is taking so long. Today for instance I did very little in the way of painting. One of the other things which prevented my decorating was clearing out an area in the garage in order to store the garden furniture from the gym.
As you can see the area left of the window is now free of the furniture (see previous post) though there are a few other things still there to be found new homes. On the extreme left is the cupboard which requires some internal work before it too can be decorated. It all takes time and I have plenty of that on my hands. I must however take a break now and then.