I wasn’t sure……

…..if the promised respite from the dull wet and windy weather was going to happen on Tuesday morning (5 th March) because when I arose nothing much had changed. No it wasn’t raining at that time, around six o’clock so there was some hope. The reason I wanted a break from the poor weather was because I wanted to add some more base concrete to the ramp behind the garage I am in the process of altering. I got dressed and ate breakfast and about a quarter after seven put on my overalls and boots and decided to give it a go. First I had to get the van out of the garage in order to remove the large panel of plywood I would use to cover the work once done. While unpacking the mixer and setting everything up there was a light falling of rain and I began to think it pointless to continue. Nevertheless I plodded on regardless and filled the mixer with sand and gravel followed by the cement. The rain began to disappear and the sky started to brighten up. I added the water to the mixer now that everything had mixed together and poured out the contents into the wheelbarrow. One full mixer load fills the barrow to the brim which under normal circumstances would spill out if it was moved too far. Fortunately the job was only two metres from the mixer and I soon had the concrete tipped onto the ramp. I have an old stiff plastic yard brush which comes in handy for tamping down thin layers of concrete and I spread and levelled the mix. Normally I would use a spade to tamp down and remove any trapped air but this was only a few centimetres deep. By the time I had finished the sun began to shine though not where I was working which was still in the shade that early in the morning and time of year. I had thought the first stage would be enough before applying the top screed but changed my mind after checking the contour once it had dried and the covering had been removed. When this second stage has set and dried I will be able to finish with the screed. That may not happen for a further few days until the weather has settled. I covered the work with the plywood in case it rained but it wasn’t necessary, it stayed dry all day.

I paid a visit to the builders depot to collect more sand (yes I finally ran out of the stuff) and ‘granno’ or granite dust. Later in the day I had an appointment with the dentist.

Shirley Anne

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Whilst I could.

As I write this on March 2 nd the weather is turning a little unpredictable with rain threatening to fall every few hours. It is however dry at the moment but could rain at any time. It appears it is going to be the best day out of the next four or five in respect of the rainfall. I made it my business therefore to get some work done outdoors at the rear of garage one, or the one in which my van sits and now the new lawnmower too. Obviously there are many other things in there some of which have wheels and need to be pushed out through the rear door for use occasionally. When I purchased the new mower I wanted to see if I needed to alter the concrete ramp behind the door to make it easier to push those wheeled items into the garden and especially the new mower. When it arrived yesterday I was able to see how difficult the existing ramp might be unless it was altered but I always had the feeling the ramp needed altering anyway. Immediately after breakfast I brought out the cement mixer and its stand together with tools with which to begin the work. First I set up the mixer and then using a heavy lump hammer broke into pieces several of the old used bricks I had to make rubble. Doing that had two advantages, first I could at last dispose of them and second, I would need less concrete too! I was extending the existing ramp with a view to making it less difficult to manoeuvre when wheeling out the mower and the other things. It took two full mixer loads to establish a base with which to follow up with a finer screed covering a few days later or when the weather permitted. Because rain was set to fall I covered the finished concrete with some old pieces of plywood temporarily.

It would only take a few hours to set enough to prevent any rain from affecting it. The old bricks I had used occupied the space on the raised concrete platform on the right in the picture. This base layer of concrete was left deliberately rough to enable the next layer to adhere better. I covered the mixer to allow it to remain outdoors for a few days.

So that was my Saturday morning taken care of. I wouldn’t be doing any more work until Monday.

Shirley Anne

A new mower….

….but first…..it is now March 1 st as I write. The day started off dull, cool and misty with rain threatening to fall and according to the forecast will do before nightfall. It is now the afternoon and a little warmer but still dull. I went for my walk before six o’clock so that I could return early and eat breakfast before the delivery of the new mower I had purchased on Monday. I wanted to get on with finishing the job of removing the moss from the roof which I had started yesterday but had to wait for the delivery. The guy delivering it arrived later than I had expected but still within the time slot between nine and ten o’clock as arranged. When he arrived he reversed onto the drive and proceeded to unload the mower. I had removed my van from the garage so that he could wheel it straight in. He instructed me on how to use it and then we pushed it through the rear door mostly to see if it would pass through. I have to say there was little spare space each side. I am thinking of ways to widen the doorway and also to lay more concrete outside to make the existing slope more gentle. Here is the picture of the mower standing inside the garage…

Here is the picture of the slope outside showing the doorway also…

We are not disposing the other mower which is in the shop being serviced but will keep it as a standby.

Once the guy had gone I plugged the mower into the power supply to charge its battery as he instructed I should do. Then I put on my overalls and set about finishing the moss removal before then dismantling the tower and storing it away in the garage. It was approaching one o’clock when I had finished and time for lunch. If the weather allows I will begin work on the concrete slope but first I will need to buy more materials though it will only be granite chippings for I already have enough sand and cement. Looks like the concrete mixer will be in use again. That must be one of the best things I have purchased in the last ten years for helping me do all my construction work and there has been plenty of that!

Shirley Anne

Walking through the day

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 garage floor, 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?

Shirley Anne

All out of sync..

Out-of-Sync
Out-of-Sync (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne

What’s going on?

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?

Shirley Anne

A teething problem

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!

Shirley Anne

Time slot

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.

Shirley Anne

Extra work

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.

Shirley Anne

Mostly there and ready

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!

Shirley Anne