Blind man

You must have heard the expression but if not….’A blind man on a galloping horse, won’t notice’……well that can’t be anything else but true, if you could have blind men riding horses at such a pace! It’s an expression used when excuses for something we have done is not appearing quite right. I didn’t go for a walk on Friday because I wanted to press on with building the column for the proposed gate I want to make. I didn’t wish to be tired from walking whilst knowing I had the work to do during a dry spell in the weather. I began the work at ten o’clock and was finished as far as I could go before twelve-thirty. I completed the column but have yet to fit a capstone. The capstone you see in the pictures is twisted and isn’t cemented to the column. I have never seen a piece of twisted capstone before but yes this piece is definitely twisted. It is also too long. I shall have to purchase another…

Anyway E came to inspect the finished work but before she could say anything I quipped ‘A blind man on a galloping horse won’t notice’. Well it looks alright but it isn’t perfect, just near enough! I could have said it is perfect as long as you don’t look at it or anyone living in Australia can’t see it. Actually it isn’t that bad at all. My next task, apart from buying a capstone is to begin manufacturing a gate, hopefully from timber I have in stock. It may be a while before that job is done but there’s no hurry. After lunch E and I sat out in the sunshine though it was still quite windy. Later I took a few minutes to mow the lawn whilst I had the chance, we were expecting some rain. I did however water the garden just in case it didn’t rain.

Shirley Anne


Getting further

English: Bricks in a wall.
: Bricks in a wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was up and out reasonably early on Tuesday (1st) for my walk. The previous day saw me taking a backward route before continuing in my usual direction. It has the effect of adding an extra half-mile to any distance I might travel on my walk. Southport is an easy place to plan a long walk especially if you like walking along the coastal roads. However, Southport can be a windy place too and for that reason. For myself it is ideal as I like the refreshing and invigorating breeze when out walking. When I am not out walking I detest the wind! Is that strange do you think? Maybe not. Sitting on the patio is spoiled when the wind is too high. Anyway my walk ended up longer than I had imagined it would and it gets easier each time I go out but I know this from my experiences when running. Any exercise gets easier the more it is done. When I arrived back home it was almost noon and as I had little to eat before the walk I was hungry. After lunch E had to take her mom into town to do some shopping and I took the opportunity to lay a few bricks. ‘Few’ being the operative word as I didn’t wish to rush into it. I am building the column for the gate I plan to fit later. I decided to mix the mortar by hand in a large plastic bucket rather than use the mixer as getting out the mixer for such a small amount wasn’t worth the effort. In fact I have decided not to use the mixer at all as I build. The mixer has been a boon during the time we have had it because the projects I had undertaken required a lot of mortar. This column will use far less each time I add a course of bricks and will serve to slow the process down. There is no urgency to get the work done quickly as I have all the time in the world and can take things slowly. Normally a job like this would take me two days, not because I couldn’t lay the amount of bricks in a day to complete the column but because only a few courses can be laid each time. Too many courses being laid will result in the mortar being squeezed out between the lower courses and the structure may not hold its shape whilst the mortar sets. Sounds like a good excuse but in fact is true.

Shirley Anne

I feel the urge

Master of Styles
Master of Styles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has to be said…I am feeling the urge……aha but what urge? Since declaring I am retired, officially that is, I have been enjoying much free time for myself. However as many of my readers will know and all those who know me will know that I need to find things to do else get very bored. A few days ago E asked her nephew, a builder, if he had any second-hand bricks we could have for a project at home. I mentioned what happened in an earlier post but since then we have decided we will require more than the forty-five we took at that time. He told us that we could have as many as we wished because he wanted to get rid of them. He told us that he would deliver them within a day or two. Perhaps when you read this he will have done so or I might have done so. I am in the ‘building with bricks’ mood and feel the urge to get my hands dirty again. I have a couple of small projects which I am eager to start, all depending upon the weather of course. If it gets too warm I will probably leave off beginning the work until it gets cooler though at the time of writing this on Sunday it is fairly cool at 16 deg C. This is the UK however and it can get hot or cold, wet and windy in hours! Hopefully I will be able to do the work soon and pictures will follow. There is always the garden to work in of course but at the moment the only work there is in removing weeds and mowing the lawn. Speaking of lawns, I have been on my hands and knees manually digging out weeds from the lawn recently, an ongoing problem which will take time to complete. Ideally the lawn should have some chemical treatment but it isn’t that bad or bad enough to warrant that just now. I don’t like to use chemical treatments if at all possible but in certain cases it is necessary or have a lawn of weeds instead of grass! For me though it is all about occupying my time. I suppose that when you feel the urge you’ve got to do something about it!

Shirley Anne

Slow start

You can tell that Autumn is not far off, it is beginning to cool down a tad and there seems to be more rain lately. Mind you I am not sure you could use rain as a measuring stick here in the UK. So it was that Wednesday began wet and it stayed wet all morning which meant there was little I could do toward making anymore progress in the Plot. I knew I needed an extra bag of granite dust or ‘granno’ as they like to describe it in building circles. It is basically the fine dust and chippings which is produced when cutting granite. It is used to make smooth lightweight concrete for paths and places where the traffic is very light, though it can withstand much wear. Trying to get a smooth finish with a normal concrete mix is more difficult because of the stone chippings it contains. Where I need to fill in places between the paving slabs I use ¬†granno in the mix, it is basically how the slabs are made themselves. Incidentally there is a path running the length of the rear of our house which was laid about twenty-six years ago and it is as good as the day it was laid. As well as the extra bag of granno I also needed one bag of small (10 mm) stone chippings for making the sturdier concrete mix I will be using for certain places, especially beneath the proposed new steps where it will be used to hold together the foundation materials. So I drove to the builders merchant and purchased the bags. Bags of materials these days come in 25 Kg quantities and the reason for that is to prevent injury to those who have to man-handle them. Even so that weight is still heavy but most burly men can handle them. I have to resort to dragging them and manoeuvring them on to a trolley or a truck. It was approaching eleven o’clock before I could put on my overalls and do a little work but after three mixer fills of concrete I reached this stagePlot 16

Alright, it doesn’t look much but it hides all the hard-core I had to break up by hand and place beneath it, that was after I had dug out the soil first! That soil I had to put over on the right of the new bed. That concrete base needs to be extended just a few more inches but I didn’t wish to do it all at once. When it was dry, the next day in fact, I could do more. Most of this work will be hidden once the project is complete so it is better that I take pictures at each stage to show how much work was needed to do it all. I cannot put the mixer away just yet, there is much more to do.

Shirley Anne


Maybe Friday

That would be yesterday as you read this and as I write on Wednesday afternoon it has just begun to rain. Since exposing the hidden wall in ‘the plot’ and doing a little digging on Tuesday I have done no more work there but maybe I’ll get the opportunity on Friday. Thursday was forecast as a miserably wet and windy day but Friday everything would change. I have just returned indoors after moving 400 house bricks from the front drive to the rear of the garage, not the garage behind which stands the plot but the one in which I park my van. The minute I had finished and swept the drive it began to rain. Good timing or good fortune, either way I benefited. Bricks¬†That is a handy concrete base and has been used to temporarily store all sorts of things on it over the years. It actually forms part of the garage floor and the wall you see was originally to be built further forward. However because there is a drain grid behind the wheelie bin the whole wall could not have been built further out. The easier option at that time was simply to build the wall as shown. That work was carried out in 1989 or 1990 by my late father-in-law and his friend also now departed. The whole garage was built by them. I was responsible for building the other garage, that is extending what was already there, a small stable. If you’ve been reading my posts for a few years you will have read about my other building projects with bricks, mortar and concrete. What makes you think I like bricklaying? I ordered the latest batch on Friday last week and they were supposed to be reclaimed common bricks but they sent me new bricks though of a lesser quality. They are one-third holes and not solid as I imagined! For the application it doesn’t matter too much but I will have to ensure the holes get completely filled as I lay them to give the walls more strength. Out of the 400 only two were delivered broken and you can see them being used to hold down the temporary plastic cover which will keep them dry until they are needed. If you click on the picture and the click on it again you should be able to see the holes in the two bricks at the rear. Anyway for the time being I need to concentrate on laying the concrete base and I’ve got the feeling that the weather this coming week will not be all sunshine and dry. It may take me therefore some time to make much progress. I’ll have to try to keep my electrical work for rainy days!

Shirley Anne

Back to work Monday

Monday, Monday
Monday, Monday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday had been a well-earned day of rest but then along came Monday, a fresh week and of course more work! My day began in a little township about ten miles south of home where I was to investigate the reasons for a circuit-breaker often tripping out. On the side of the house there had been built an extension the full length of the house which was being used as a utility and workshop and inside of which was a total of fourteen power outlets! Nothing wrong in that except that they were all connected to the single and only cable that had been fed from an outlet in the lounge! As that outlet was already the maximum permissible to be wired as a spur on the ring circuit no other outlets should have been connected to it. It wasn’t so much that the circuitry was wrong but more what was plugged into it, a washing machine, a tumble drier, a freezer, hundreds (literally) of fairy lights (don’t ask) and some workshop equipment. As they were connected to the house ring circuit there would be more appliances plugged in around the house too. They were simply trying to draw too much current from the circuit and hence the breaker kept tripping out. The breaker is rated at 32 amperes. The washing machine and tumble drier would be drawing around 24 amperes at full capacity let alone any other appliances. Part of the extension wiring had been done in 13 ampere rated flexible cable too which I changed to 20 ampere for safety’s sake. The only real solution in the interim is to ensure only one or two appliances are used at any one time but the circuit really should be changed to meet regulations. I can only advise whilst making it as safe as possible where it is required. I suggested the circuit be wired in such a way as to become part of the ring circuit which can be done but better still a separate supply should be installed for the extension. That however would not be easy to do as it is remote from the circuit board. Either way it means spending a lot of money to put things right. They were reluctant to have the work done and the circuit remains as it was though a lot safer. Maybe I will get a call in the near future to put things right. I drove home to find a lone builder finishing off the front steps. They are now completed but the little containing wall needs rendering, a couple of hours work which will get done on Tuesday as I write, that is if the weather is dry. We expect on Tuesday to receive the remnants of the storm which left the east coast of the US in deep snow and blizzard conditions. It has been unseasonably warm over the last few days with temperatures reaching 15 deg. Celsius in places, hereabouts around 13-14. We still have two more months of Winter to look forward too but somehow I don’t think it will get too cold the way things are going, we’ll have to wait and see.

Shirley Anne