We had been informed that warmer and drier weather was coming our way for a couple of days, an ideal time to be doing any outdoor work that was necessary. It was Saturday (14) and I had plans to do some patching up of the garagefloor, completing the ramp I had put there many years ago and filling in a couple of holes with concrete after the recent work we had done. First though I wanted to go for a longish walk as I hadn’t been able to do any walking other than the two miles I had walked a couple of days earlier. I hadn’t been too well and had remained more or less indoors for a few days. I arose early and went out as soon as I was downstairs. I walked south along the coastal road to Ainsdale and onto the beach there turning northward to walk back home. I was surprised how many folk were out and on the beach so early on a Saturday morning. It was about eight forty-five when I arrived there. The round trip from home on that route is just over seven miles. I have to admit to feeling a little tired but that was probably due to my not eating breakfast and not having been out for a while. I did take a banana along with my bottle of water. Anyhow I ate breakfast on my return home and after a short time donned my overalls and got on with the concrete mixing. For this work I used 6 mm granite chippings in the mix rather than using grit which would result in a finer concrete as it would have to withstand a vehicle passing over it. These are the holes which required filling after the old wood frame was removed and the existing floor ramp which was never finished years ago…
The ramp exists because the garage floor is almost level with the concrete drive leading to it. When we had heavy downpours of rain it sometimes ended up inside the garage so I constructed a ramp to prevent that happening. It does the job but it needed the back edge finishing. Here are pictures of the finished work.
The van wasn’t going anywhere for a couple of days! Rain water flows into the grid shown which is lower than the surrounding concrete drive. The drain pipe actually runs beneath the garage floor to connect with the main drains at the rear of the house. That work had been done when we built the garage back in 1988/9. Much has changed since then. After lunch I added an extra fixing to secure the new bird box I had fitted a week earlier then carried on with some gardening work. Who said retirement would be boring with nothing to do?
Not very often is it that I complain about being unwell and for reason, I am seldom unwell. That is a good thing and I am happy I can at this time be able to say it for many folk have the misfortune of having poor health. In that respect I am fortunate but it isn’t to say I never get ill or feel ill, at times I do. On Friday I began to feel a little ‘under the weather’ as they say but I soldiered on and stuck it out. I had though I was suffering the beginnings of a cold for I was beginning to feel the symptoms, dull aches and pains in my upper body, arms and back. No headaches but a general feeling of being drained of energy. I plodded through Saturday, staying indoors for most of the time except when E and I were examining the leaking garage roof (see yesterday’s post) and effecting a temporary repair until Monday when her nephew would come and check it out. Incidentally, the guys who were supposed to return on Saturday to install the free alarm unit on the new garage door didn’t arrive. I received a call on Sunday morning from one of them who apologised. Evidently his brother, the other fitter, had been involved in an accident whilst carrying out work on the installation of another door elsewhere on Saturday morning and he had been taken to hospital. It was arranged that they would fit our alarm later in the day. The alarm would be fitted one day in the forthcoming week. Anyway my routine for Saturday evening was to simply relax and watch television then have an early night. However after a couple of hour’s sleep I awoke with severe stomach cramps. Trapped air. After some time of sipping water and burping I felt more at ease but couldn’t get myself off to sleep again. I finally did get some sleep after a toilet visit at six o’clock. That meant I didn’t arise on Sunday morning until almost noon! By the time I got downstairs it was one forty-five. I felt awful and didn’t want any food. E told me to take a pain-killer but the one thing I do not do is to take medication of any kind unless it is absolutely necessary. I would rather suffer a little discomfort than take a drug which only masks the problem anyway. Obviously I would and have taken acute medication in the past and will continue to do so for chronic illnesses. So Sunday was again spent relaxing indoors trying to get my body back into sync.
Here in the UK we have been and are still being bombarded with advertisements concerning PPI (Payment Protection Insurance). Years ago people were offered the opportunity to protect their repayments on a loan should they become unemployed or lose part or all their income. However it was discovered in more recent years that the system was found to be illegal and consequently all contributions to such a scheme could be reclaimed. Of course there would be the need for legal representation to effect such reclaims and many solicitors (lawyers) companies offered such support and still do so through mainly television advertisements. One such company opens their current advertisement with a guy saying ‘What’s going on, I mean about your PPI? I could smack his face he is so annoying. In fact the whole PPI business advertisements bore me soft. I have never taken out PPI. Though I may have borrowed money in purchasing certain high-priced goods I have always had the cash in the bank to pay off the entire debt should it have been necessary. My attitude has always been if I cannot afford something I don’t buy it. That aside, I have digressed from the initial subject of this post but I used the point to show how annoyed I get with unsolicited and unnecessary attempts to put me under pressure when they don’t concern me. That applies to all forms of solicitation as far as I am concerned. If I didn’t ask for it then it should be obvious that I don’t want it! When I do ask for something however I expect it to happen and barring all minor mishaps along the way (for no-one is perfect) my requests should be delivered as requested. If that cannot happen when the right person is asked and takes on board my requests then what hope do I have? A few weeks ago now I asked E’s nephew, a builder, if he could elevate part of the garage roof in order that I could have a new roller-shutter door installed beneath it. The work was carried out quickly and it was sealed over with a fibreglass based compound rather than bitumen covered felt as the rest of the roof. He insisted and assured me that the new substance was superior and indeed it seemed to be, that is until I spotted a leak. I had asked him to carry over the covering to include the adjacent bricks but he failed to do so saying it wasn’t necessary. He was wrong. He returned and gave the surface an extra coat of what I thought was the same compound but it dried a different colour. He hadn’t placed some fibreglass sheet over the joint before painting it over with the compound as I think he should have but again it appeared fine and there were no leaks. I had the new door fitted on Friday (6th) and on Saturday E and I went into the garage to check out the door operation just prior to the fitters returning to add the alarm (see yesterday’s post). I noticed the roof was leaking where it had been elevated! I climbed the ladder to investigate and discovered the whole of the fibreglass covering was raised as if air had been trapped beneath it and indeed that was exactly right. It hadn’t adhered to the ceiling timbers and it appeared the gap between the bricks and the roof where it should have been covered was letting in some water. Two problems, why didn’t it adhere and why didn’t he do as I had requested? Needless to say the covering will have to be redone……at his expense. I mean, What’s going on?
It was Thursday (14th) and a bright and sunny day. I was up early enough to go for an early morning walk but decided I was in need of food more than rushing out for a walk. If I eat breakfast I don’t go for a walk until an hour later and that is what I did. E asked if I could post a couple of letters so I took them with me. On the routes I take there are posting boxes along the way and not too far from home so I don’t have to carry the envelopes for very long. By the time I had reached the coastal road half of the sky had turned very dark and out on the sea I could see that it was raining. The other half of the sky was almost clear of clouds. The wind was blowing almost directly 90 degrees on shore and I was walking along the coast toward the clearer sky. I glanced back a couple of times to see that it was now raining heavily where I had been a few minutes earlier. I managed therefore to completely avoid getting wet. Soon I was on the return journey home, stopping on the way to chat for a brief moment with one of the staff at my local pub before walking the short distance home. After lunch I was going to sit out on the patio for an hour but E had other plans. Thursday she does the weekly shopping and was expecting the delivery of a parcel. I had to stay indoors to wait for it. Before she left we both took a peek inside the garage we are working in because I feared it was leaking in rain in a different place from that which I had dealt with a few says earlier. She sent a text message to her nephew explaining the problem and he said he would call in an hour or two. I had to remain indoors for that too. I had asked him to cover the top of the wall over the door opening with the same covering he had used for the raised portion of the roof he had constructed but he failed to do so. He explained that he didn’t think it would be necessary. Well I thought otherwise but went along with his decision. He called just as E had returned with the shopping and I asked him if he would cover the top of the wall when he had the time. He did it straight away and didn’t levy a charge, though the work was quite minimal anyway. At the time of writing this we are hoping that there will be no further teething problems before the guys come along to fit the replacement door. Speaking about the door, the sooner it gets fitted the better for the existing one has started to give me plenty of mechanical problems, like jamming, reversing when it jams and slipping out of the track occasionally too!
Following on from yesterday’s post it turned out that the weather was favourable on Saturday after all. I am referring to recovering the top of the garage wall with a concrete mix. When discussing the work with E’s nephew the builder he assured me that the seal between the fibreglass and the brick walls would not let in water. Well he would have been right in that assumption had the joint been against a smooth and flat surface but brickwork as you might guess is far from that, especially if the wall is aged and the mortar has given way in places! I checked inside the garage for any leaks the following day and sure enough there were four of them, though one was not associated with the new roof alteration work. They were all but one very minor and that which was worse wasn’t too bad, just bad enough to do something about it! Any leaks are undesirable, especially after new work has been done. Part of the problem was due to the top layer of bricks not keeping out the water because the mortar had cracked and some weeds had found a home in them. I had suggested all the bricks have new mortar or be repaired but nothing was taken on board. Any builder worth his salt would have ensured the wall he would be securing something to was solid enough to take it. Seems our builder didn’t think it was necessary. At the end of the day it didn’t matter because I could carry out the repairs to the brickwork myself. All I needed was a time slot in which to do it. The weather forecast hadn’t been promising and rain was said to be on its way to stay for a few days. There was just the one slight opportunity after lunch on Saturday when it would remain dry for about the next sixteen hours. It was raining when I arose and it didn’t stop until about ten-thirty. We knew that marked the beginning of the short dry spell so I took the opportunity and began the work. Here is the result…
The topping is a fine concrete mix, that is sand, grit and cement rather than just sand and cement in order to give it durability and strength. The same mix is used when laying a footpath and at the rear of our house there is a footpath constructed using the same mix. It has been there for 28 years and is as good as the day it was laid. Not only have I put a layer on the top (where it was needed) I have put some on the sides too as that was where water was getting in mostly. That should have been done by the builder before the new roof seal was applied so that the fibreglass could be placed over it. That can still be done should there be any more problems but I have a feeling it won’t be necessary. The rain held off until well after the concrete had set. Timed to perfection. The work had taken about thirty minutes to do.
After E’s nephew and his crew had finished their work on the garage roof alterations I finally got the opportunity to finish the electrical work on Friday morning. The task was to wire-in the new power outlet from the existing circuit in the garage but before I could do that I had to remove some now unnecessary lighting cabling and tidy up what remained. In the picture below all that work took place at ceiling height on the left above the ladders and scaffolding stored there and toward the door out of sight on the left. It would have taken far too long to shift everything to gain better access but the ladders and scaffolding were actually a benefit as I could climb them to reach the ceiling!
Once that was done I set about fitting a little extra support beneath one of the timbers. In the next picture it is the piece on the left flat against the wall at ceiling height. Let me explain. When the garage was built not all of the joists had been inserted into the house wall (the wall in the picture). Some had been supported by another joist which had been secured between two that went into the wall. It sounds complicated but in essence some of the joists could not be inserted in the wall where there is chimney stacks, and there are two of those along the length of the house wall.
In the picture above two of the three joists had been inserted into the wall whilst the middle was supported by the timber lying flat on the wall. The left-hand joist of the two which were inserted into the wall had to be cut and removed. It ran alongside the steel beam you can see top left. Now that short piece of timber on the wall was only secured to the outer timbers. Although the nails are intact and still in place the timber had been moved and it left a gap as you can see. My task was to fit a short length of timber to the wall beneath it thus giving more support (not shown in the picture). It probably would be fine without it but I never take chances when it comes to structural integrity. At the opposite end of the now removed joist the crew had kindly left the hole unfilled. In the picture below it is immediately adjacent to the steel beam (top right).
It was awkward to get at and it needed much filling. I used a fine concrete mix and a brick. When bricklayers build double-thickness garden walls, which in fact the wall in the picture above is, they never bother to fill the gaps fully between the two bricks. Saving mortar I guess. The wall we reckon is as old as the house (1877). Later in the day I went to the top of the house to see E who was busy in her workshop and I looked again at the roof…
…and noticed something that needs attention. In the picture above on the far side of the roof the top of the wall can be seen and it was capped with a layer of mortar when the garage roof had been constructed. Some of that mortar needs to be replaced, about one-third of it toward the front at the right-hand-side. When the weather permits I will do that work myself but I won’t be using just mortar, I will use a fine concrete mix instead, it is much stronger and less prone to cracking in the heat of the sun.
Once more I was unable to wire that power point in the garage due to the roof alteration work. I awoke at four-forty and though I had set the alarm for an hour later I decided to get up. I had planned an early morning walk anyway so a little earlier made no difference. The guys were due to arrive at eight so I moved the van on to the driveway and out of their way. I opened the gates in readiness so they could reverse their van onto the drive when they arrived. I had given them one of the remote control units so they could simply get on with the work without having to announce their arrival. I did that in case I hadn’t returned from my walk before they arrived. E would still be asleep and I didn’t wish her to be disturbed. Unfortunately things didn’t go exactly to plan. The guys arrived before eight and the boss ten minutes later. They rang the doorbell! E told me later that she had heard it, oh well. They immediately went to work and carried out the changes I had insisted upon having seen their first attempt. I need not have worried as, according to them, the previous attempt was a temporary affair. I gave them the benefit of my doubts.
You can see the roof between the end joist and the steel beam is now higher than the rest of the roof. You can also see a sheet of thin plywood has been affixed to the surface of the last joist which secures the added timber that has been fitted on top of it. The joist which sat against the steel beam was removed and new timber was fixed at a higher position. In fact you can see the hole at top right in the lower picture. I will fill that as soon as I can, though I don’t know why the builders didn’t do it! I could have insisted I suppose but I have the materials to hand and it will give me something extra to do anyway. Just after lunch they began to seal the roof using fibre glass and resin in preference to the existing felt (bitumen sheeting). Evidently it is superior but only time will tell..
There is now plenty of header space in which to install the new roller door and at last I can finish the electrical work. Had I the time in the afternoon I may have done so on the day but I was too busy tidying up!
No walk for me on Wednesday morning, I wanted to get on with some work in the rear garden. For some time I have promised myself I would do something with the remaining long length of natural stone we had discovered buried with all the other stone a few years ago whilst we were digging out the ground behind what is now the Mound.
We had found such a large amount buried we were able to use it in various places around the garden as you might know if you’ve read my posts over the last three years or so. I decided to construct a stone seat in the area we now affectionately call The Secret Garden, once The Plot. There is a space immediately behind the garage which never sees the Sun. It is a great place to sit for a time to cool off when the weather is hot and sunny but the location isn’t exactly what you might call romantic though the view forward is pleasant sitting close to a water-butt and a compost bin which looks like a ‘Dalek‘ I would think isn’t.
A plant or two either of which prefer total shade or a couple of artificial plants might make it more attractive and perhaps that is what I will consider later. The work involved constructing the two small brick pillars and setting the stone slab on top and I had it done in an hour.
My next job will be to lower the drain pipe to below seat level and maybe construct a back rest fitted to the garage wall which shouldn’t take long once I decide to do it. Whilst I had some mortar I cut the stone cap and fixed it to the top of the brick pillar which I had built a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t been able to cut the stone at that time.
Finally I mixed some fine-grained concrete and set the stones around the base of the recently installed washing line post to complete that job too. I took the afternoon off and lounged about on the patio in the warm sunshine with E. Yes, it turned out much warmer than Tuesday had been (see yesterday’s post).
Up early on a wet and windy August Thursday morning ready to venture out for a walk. One banana later I was outside in the weather. Though it was wet and windy it was warm, though when in the wind it felt that much cooler. I ate breakfast on my return home because it was still early enough to do that. On some occasions I skip breakfast if I am late getting back home and have an early lunch instead. E was still sitting at the breakfast table when I returned. She seldom asks how far I walked but I usually tell her anyway. It had been a short walk of just over four miles but it felt as if I had walked twice the distance because of the wind. On the outward journey I had taken a more sheltered route in the built-up areas through the town but on my return leg I walked along the promenade which is totally exposed to the west. The wind was blowing from the south-west and therefore directly in my face. I could have taken the coastal road instead as it would have made little difference. Between the promenade and the coastal road a quarter-mile away there is almost nothing of height, lake and gardens is all. I shudder to think what it would have been like for anyone out running but there weren’t any runners to be seen. Fair weather runners? I think not for I never used to deliberately run in the wind in exposed places either. I had work to do in the afternoon and the weather was to change by then, that is it would stop raining. I have been building the column for the gate at the side of the house in the rear garden and the weather has been fine whilst doing it. This is how far I got with it the day before…(centre in both pictures)
I gave up on the idea of working on the column in the afternoon for two reasons, one I was feeling tired and two it was still very windy though the rain had stopped. At the side of the house where the work is being carried out it was very windy indeed with gusts of around 35 mph, far too uncomfortable to be working in especially as there is no hurry to finish the job. Hopefully though by the time you read this it will be completed.
I arose very early on Wednesday morning and after breakfast I was outside just before eight o’clock fully dressed in my overalls and ready to work. There was a bit of a chill in the air and everywhere was damp because of the high humidity. About an hour or two after I began to work I had to return indoors to remove some of the clothing I was wearing beneath the overalls as I became uncomfortable in the high humidity. Late in the afternoon on Tuesday I had decided to dig out the remaining soil behind the small wall where I had earlier begun to fill in behind with concrete. I found some spare wood sheets in the cellar that I could use for shuttering and set them in place ready for filling behind with concrete on Wednesday. I had not been able to do any other work in the Plot on Tuesday as you will have read in yesterday’s post. So the first thing I did on Wednesday morning was to mix some heavy duty concrete. Two mixer loads would just about do it and I had very little left over. Even so, that didn’t go to waste as I used it elsewhere. I poured it in behind the shuttering (see middle right in picture). I switched from mixing the heavy duty concrete to one using granite dust or granno for I was using it to fill in between the paving slabs. Even though I had mixed two full mixer loads there wasn’t enough to do all of the work but by that time I was beginning to get very tired. I would need to clean up the area later when the concrete had hardened. I stopped working at just a little after one o’clock but then had to tidy everything away. It was just as well that I couldn’t finish all the work I had intended to do because I needed to plan what I was going to do in the area around the new steps. I made those plans a little later in the afternoon but to do it I would need some more old bricks. Now there are some old bricks in the area behind the other garage but many of them are covered in either concrete or hard mortar. I would have to see if there was enough of them that I could reclaim to do the work, though I could manage with fewer if I had to. At this stage I wasn’t sure what I would concentrate on doing the following day but I wanted to do as much as I could while the weather was good. I have yet to start work on the right-hand-side of the flowerbed but that work is mainly laying paving slabs and filling in with concrete.
It was a funny week, a bit like a sandwich week, a week where my electrical work was done at each end and where my domestic project was done mostly in the middle. Friday though was a bit of a sandwich day itself. In the morning I had an electrical job and later in the day another one and in between I worked on my project, redesigning the Plot. With September’s arrival came more rain so I had to plan my outside work accordingly. The week has been dedicated mainly to the construction of steps and on Friday I had to mix and lay some concrete for the second of the steps having done the first step on previous days. It was important that I got the concrete laid as early as possible in order to give it time to set in case I wanted to finish the step on Saturday. So off I went to the first electrical job and was back home before ten o’clock when I set about doing the concrete. It was whilst I was doing that when I got the request to do the other electrical job which I arranged to do after lunch. Having done the concrete I had to cover the area with some plywood sheets because rain had been forecast late on Friday and into Saturday morning. It actually arrived around 9 o’clock in the morning and carried on for the afternoon. Ordinary concrete will not set properly if it doesn’t get the chance to dry out first. Once set I could lay the paving slab on top on a cushion of mortar the following day. Rain however would continue to fall until the afternoon according to the forecast so if I wanted to lay the slab it would have to be late in the afternoon. I have taken every opportunity possible to plod on with the work but it is slow progress. That doesn’t really matter as I have no deadline to meet and the enjoyment I get is from doing the work itself and not in rushing and pushing it along. For anyone not familiar with building and construction and what is entailed in carrying out such work you would be forgiven for not knowing how hard it can be. In my posts it may seem that everything is quite simple and easy and perhaps I have been taking too long doing the work but I assure you it is very taxing. What surprises me is the fact I am still able to do it! It looks as though this week may be warmer and brighter at least for a few days so I will try to make the most of it.
As I write this on Thursday afternoon the guys who were fixing the roof problems and the chimney stack, well one of the chimney stacks as there are three of them, have informed me that they have finished. I phoned the scaffolding company to let them know and the boss told me they would call tomorrow, Friday, to dismantle it and take it off site. At last I thought, I would have my house back but as I was putting the van in the garage I noticed one corner of the roof had been letting in water and the wooden roof is beginning to rot. The supporting joists don’t seem to be affected but part of the roof sheeting will have to be replaced and then the whole roof in that area will need resurfacing with bitumen. I think the real problem is where that bitumen sheeting meets the brick wall. Aside from that it also needs to come over the brick because at the moment it lies on top of it and out of sight from the driveway. Water has seeped beneath it and it has lifted the bitumen under the two stone blocks I placed there to hold it down some time ago. You can see them on the right-hand-side on top of the brick parapet in this picture taken recently.The leak is in the corner on the inside of the garage above and in front of the van.
Anyway that part isn’t the main problem as far as I can tell. I think the main leak is just on the other side of that parapet where it joins the side wall. It means I will need the services of Es nephew once again if he’ll do it. When will it all end? At least this work is at low-level and scaffolding won’t be needed. I could probably do the woodwork repair but I would still require a professional to do the bitumen sheet. Maybe I will need to employ both. Anyway as I write this I am expecting E’s nephew to call around to see it.
Apart from changing the radiator valves and some minor touching up of paint work E and I have no more to do in the bedroom as far as decorating is concerned. As I had no electrical work scheduled on Thursday I took the opportunity to finish what little work that was left to do and especially in the afternoon whilst E was out at the shops. The room could have been completed much sooner but as there was no reason to get it done quickly and as I hold down an electrical service business I haven’t always been available. Added to that we have had building repairs going on too and have had to cater to the guys doing that work. By Wednesday evening most of the work was completed but there remains for some leadwork repairs to be done as I write this on Thursday evening. It may get done on Friday but knowing E’s nephew it isn’t likely, we’ll see. All the ridge tiles have been removed and re-bedded with new mortar and that took some time to do for the tiles are massive. They are Y-shaped and are fitted upside down. I am guessing they weigh at least 5 or 6 kilograms apiece, maybe more and there are a lot of them up there. Anyway nobody arrived on Thursday because of the intermittent rain.
Here are some more pictures of the bedroom……
In the last picture you can see where I have painted the coving in the same colour as the lower part of the walls. All we need now is the carpet and bed and the room will be ready for use.
For those of you not too familiar with the English language the above phrase ‘Well I never‘ is often used as an expression of surprise for an unusual situation or occurrence that a person may experience. It is a light-hearted way of showing unbelief in the actions of another person. ‘Did you hear what so-and-so did the other day? Oh, well I never, now there’s a surprise’. It was a famous saying often used by the English comedian Frankie Howard in comedy films in which he appeared. On Tuesday morning I drove across to another town to install a light and its switch in a small broom cupboard space under a stairway for an old lady living there. Fortunately there was a power outlet nearby from which I could wire the circuit, through a fused outlet of course! Anyway that sort of work isn’t unusual in the least, many people want a light installing in such spaces. I hadn’t asked the lady why she wanted a light there because without the light the cupboard would otherwise be dark inside. However she volunteered the information. She told me that sometimes when she was downstairs she felt the need to go urgently to the toilet so she had decided to buy a commode and put it inside the cupboard for such emergencies. The cupboard was too small in which to site a toilet and wash basin and besides which it was remote from a water supply and a drain. A commode seemed the obvious choice but as the room was dark she thought it best to have a light installed. She need not have told me anything of course as it made no difference to what I was doing. I thought to myself ‘Well I never, I’ve never seen a cupboard under a stair being used for a commode but there’s always a first time for everything I suppose.’ As I drove back home at noon I was half-expecting to see E’s nephew or one of his crew working on the front steps he has altered for us at my request. The small retaining wall needs a coat of render and the steps need an acid clean. The weather has prevented anything being done over the last couple of weeks. At the time of writing this on Tuesday it appears we have a whole week of dry and sunny weather ahead so there should be no excuse for not getting the work finished. No-one was there but soon after lunch E received a call from her nephew telling her he would come by and fill in the now obsolete fireplace in the bedroom we are refurbishing with building blocks and mortar. He arrived soon after and did that work and at the same time removed all the building rubbish that had been left after the rear garden wall was partly rebuilt a couple of weeks ago. He also removed the old carpet we had taken out of the bedroom. It was such a lovely day on Tuesday that I actually spent a few minutes sitting out on the patio in the warm sunshine. Everything is springing back to life and the cold weather is slowly leaving us.