Carpentry and stuff

I have always enjoyed working with wood, it is one of those materials which is easy to work with though it is unforgiving, make a mistake and it isn’t easily undone. I have made a few mistakes in the past when working with wood as I am sure many have but it is a rewarding experience making things in wood. My latest little project is manufacturing a wooden gate and installing it at the side of the house. My readers will by now have seen my progress with the brickwork if they’ve followed my recent posts. On Thursday (10 th) I began working with the wood and my first task was to cut and fit the two wooden posts for each side of the gate opening…..

The one on the right has to support the gate itself so I used large ‘Rawlbolts’  to secure it to the brick wall. Here is a picture of a rawlbolt for anyone who doesn’t know what they are,,,

As the bolt is tightened it draws the nut (on the right-hand end) into the body which expands inside the hole in which it is fitted. The bolt obviously passes through the timber first! The post on the left has no weight to carry and therefore I used long screws instead. I must remember to clean off the dried mortar on the wall on the right where I had been filling in some holes after installing the posts.The posts themselves do not stand directly on the ground so that they will resist rotting  when it rains. Wood standing on the ground will soak up water and eventually get wet rot. The timber was purchased pre-treated against the weather but I have given it more coats of weather resisting treatment too. After lunch I began work on constructing the gate itself and got this far with it before stopping for the day at five o’clock….

I have it standing in the garage as I write this. There is more work to do on it yet before I hang it in position though. Hopefully I can finish the work soon, it all depends upon other things, not least of all the weather.

Shirley Anne

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Still……..

Norman tees off at Royal Birkdale
Norman tees off at Royal Birkdale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Work is still ongoing at the house two doors away, though that work is now concentrated on developing the grounds rather than the house itself which is completed both inside and out. The ground works seem to be taking far longer than I would have expected but of course it isn’t my house. E and I were talking about the progress of the work which has been slow from the start and how much longer will it be before our new neighbours can move in. They had been expecting to move in two months ago! We think the slow progress has been due to a lack of control over the work that has been done. A project such as this requires a site foreman to chase the various trades persons to speed things up and to maintain proper control of schedules as would be the case in any construction development. We are not sure proper control has been maintained in this case. Still the noise from the house continues each day as it has done for over seven months. More noise from both our next-door neighbours over the last couple of days as one is having the garage roof replaced/repaired whilst the other has a guy cutting down some very out of control Leylandii trees in her rear garden.which should really have been cut down years ago long before they got so tall and wide. For years the husband would prune them back as much as he could but he needed to use an extension ladder to do it and even then it was extremely difficult. Since he died, it will be four years come November, she has had other Leylandii trees chopped down and removed in both the front and rear gardens. A few months ago I myself chopped down an out-of-control tree in her front garden to help her out. It was a job her son should have done as he is fit enough and twenty-five years younger! One snag there, he just isn’t capable but that is because he was never encouraged or prevailed upon to do his bit at home. So life is going on all around us. It will be great when all the work is done and we can have our street back for a while. Speaking of streets, the local authority have placed notices on almost all of the street lamp posts to indicate a temporary parking restriction in order to prevent them becoming congested during the British Open golf championship being held here once again at the Royal Birkdale golf course a week or so away. The ‘Common’, which is common ground adjacent to the club and used by many to exercise their dogs will be turned into a car park during the event. A fee is levied of course, any excuse to squeeze money out of people as I see it. Still….

Shirley Anne

They’re all at it!

Carry On Regardless
Carry On Regardless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer brings with it dry and warm weather and the opportunity to get outdoors and carry out repairs to our homes. There are several houses near my own where scaffolding has been erected in order to carry out maintenance repairs or alterations. Since living here we too have had scaffolding erected a few times for such works. I was sitting in the garden on Wednesday afternoon having just eaten my lunch. I had been out for a walk earlier, this time covering over five miles. I was feeling hungry because I had missed breakfast except for one small banana. E was busy at the top of the house and didn’t eat lunch until an hour later. I was disturbed by the noise of metal on metal which seemed to be coming from the front of the house. Being as I am very inquisitive I simply had to go and investigate. It was just as well I did for soon after I entered the house the doorbell rang and it was a guy who’s crew had begun to erect some scaffolding at the side of our immediate neighbour’s house. Before he could speak I jumped in with, ‘You stand no chance’ and smiled. I knew before he asked what he was about to say. He was simply asking permission to place the stabilising/supporting bar for the scaffolding on our driveway. ‘Of course you can’, I said and ‘how long will it be there?’ About three days was the answer he gave and I said, ‘Oh well I’ll just have to leave the van in there until you’ve finished the work’. He asked if I needed to get the van out but I assured him that it was unlikely. It just meant that should I get an offer of electrical work I would have to postpone it. That isn’t a problem these days but had it been I would have asked him to stabilise the scaffold in a different way. He could have extended the scaffolding across the garage roof but that would be time-consuming and unnecessary. It appears that my neighbour was finally getting some loose brickwork attended to. Not before time I might add as it was beginning to look as if it would fall away if the wind strengthened. It’s not as if he is short on cash, he runs a business from home as a solicitor (lawyer) employing a couple of people and has no family commitments as he is single. I think he just can’t be bothered half of the time. Perhaps it was the work going on in the next property which prompted him to do something, who knows? Work has been going on there since the start of the year and will continue for a couple of more weeks yet.

Shirley Anne

Fireworks

I had a lousy night’s sleep on Thursday to Friday morning, tossing and turning throughout the eight hours I had. I had gone to bed at eight-thirty but didn’t actually nod off until just after nine. I was up and out of bed several times during the night until I decided I’d had enough and rose for the day at five-thirty. I remained in a sleepy state all day long and it was all I could do to stop my eyes closing. I had to go to that job I mentioned in yesterday’s post, no power to the downstairs lighting circuit. It was in the next town over seven miles away and I arrived there before nine o’clock as arranged. It transpired that the problem was a blown fuse and it had supposedly blown because one of the light bulbs on the circuit had blown. The lady’s son had previously rewired the fuse but it blew again. I could not find a fault so had to assume the fuse hadn’t been rewired properly. It can happen that if the fuse wire is too taut or has an indentation or even a loose connection causing an arc that the fuse gives up and blows under any load, especially if a light bulb has short-circuited. I repaired the fuse and all was in order. I was back at home just over an hour later. As the weather forecast was for rain early in the afternoon I decided not to do any work in the garden. I had been thinking of going to the pub for lunch yet again but thought the better of it as there was food in the refrigerator that needed to be used. E would be doing the weekly shopping and restocking the larder so to speak. She had been out all day on Thursday so switched to Friday to do the shopping. She even went out before noon which is a first as she usually goes out after two o’clock, even three o’clock sometimes. I digress. I prepared myself an early lunch because I’d had an early breakfast. When I had eaten I was looking out of the window at the rear garden, just pondering at first but then I went out and trimmed back the dead stalks on some plants so that the already sprouting new foliage could grow. Whilst doing that I noticed three or four bluebell plants growing in the flowerbed that runs in the front of the greenhouses..greenhouse-flowerbed-5

…..the one I had worked in late last year where I had fitted the stone edging and repopulated it. I knew there would be some popping up as is the case elsewhere. They were all located in the right-hand half of the bed where there had been a number of bluebells growing before I removed them. Just as I was finishing that small job I was shaken by the sudden loud bang of a large firework being let off followed by three or four more. They were exploding rockets being set off by workmen working at a house two doors away. The new owners have employed builders to renovate the property before they themselves move in, probably in a month or so. The noise was unbearable and I was showered with the debris which floated down over my house and garden and my neighbour’s garden too. I went upstairs and shouted as best as a woman can for them to refrain from setting the fireworks off whilst also telling them that they should be working. The noise abated, they must have heard me. I went to one of the front bedrooms and looked out of the window. I saw a couple of the men chatting and one of them walked past my house on the opposite side of the road towards his vehicle. I drew his attention regarding the fireworks telling him that there are folk in the area who work at night and they would be finding it difficult to sleep because of the noise. At first he tried to deny any knowledge of fireworks. I couldn’t believe his impudence. He apologised after I had told him I would be taking action if their inconsiderate behaviour lasted. It was only a few days ago I had to walk to the house to complain about the very thick smoke from a fire that was affecting several neighbours as well as myself. They had actually poured diesel on the fire to help it burn! Just then my next-door neighbour phoned and was wondering where the noise had been coming from. I went round to see her and explained what I had been obliged to do. She was answering a call from yet another neighbour who wanted to know the source of the noise too. Workmen can be so inconsiderate when there is no-one there supervising operations. Anyway it was around two o’clock and still there was no rain. As I walked up the path alongside this flowerbed I saw something that infuriated me…..No 2 Flowerbed 10

…bluebells! Now this was the second of the two front flowerbeds I had revamped last year and I had thoroughly sifted the soil from one end to the other. I was confident that there wouldn’t be any bluebells left as there are in the other bed  where I hadn’t been as fussy. If you magnify the picture you will see a shrub at the far right end of the flowerbed, a Fuchsia which I didn’t disturb when working the bed but did remove some bluebells from beneath it at the time. Now there were bluebells growing deep inside and among the stalks, impossible to remove unless the Fuchsia was taken out too. I was so annoyed but made it my business to remove it there and then. It took some time but eventually I got it out and then it was time to get at those bluebells too. I removed a bucket load of them! I didn’t really wish to lose the Fuchsia but on reflection it is a plant that grows vigorously, producing more and more stalks which get out of hand. For the time being therefore I am going to concentrate on the two front flowerbeds, especially the right-hand one which has many bluebells needing removal…Front flowerbed redesign 1

This is a picture (above) from last year. The rose has since been pruned right down and is going to look far better this year I think. Does it never end?

Shirley Anne

Nothing is straight

Nothing is straight but it really doesn’t matter. Nothing is altogether parallel either but again it doesn’t matter. Working on the project I have called the Plot it has become apparent that alignment with other structures is a little way off perfect. It is due to a couple of things, the rear wall of the garage is not perfectly built at right-angles to the perimeter wall and the small walls at the path alongside the house are not built parallel to the perimeter wall. I ‘discovered’ the discrepancy whist constructing the new steps. I was actually aware of the problem, if indeed I could say it was a problem, when construction began. On Saturday morning my work was to level the ground to the left of the new raised flowerbed and lay six paving slabs. plot-26That in itself proved a little awkward because I had to lay them so that a gradual slope was formed as I reached the pathway wall. Existing slabs to their left do not form a slope so I couldn’t simply follow their line. Now because I wanted the front edge of the last paving slab to sit upon the small pathway wall it meant that by the time I reached the perimeter wall the slabs were not parallel with the flowerbed. The alternative would be to have them parallel to the flowerbed but not parallel to the existing slabs next to the rear wall of the garage. In the end it won’t matter as I will be filling the spaces with a fine concrete mix which will disguise the errors. If you study the picture you will see what I mean. Had everything else been built squarely none of these problems would have presented themselves. It only takes one or two minor errors from previous building projects to cause problems with new construction projects. The only thing that has been built truly square with the perimeter wall and which also is parallel with the patio wall to the right is the new raised flowerbed! It should all look well when it is finished though despite the problems. I have yet to lay some paving slabs on the right-hand-side of the flowerbed too when I get around to it. There will be little left of what was once open ground in the Plot when the work is completed but that was the whole idea.

Shirley Anne

One step at a time

Quite literally too. I remember the time it took to construct the other steps in what we now call the Plot and you can see those is many of my previous posts. The reason they take so long, if they are to be constructed in a robust way, is that solid foundations need to be laid for each of the steps in turn. For the smaller projects, as this one is because there will only be three steps and the top one will simply blend in with the paving slabs I propose to lay in the area. As such the body of soil beneath it will be enough for support as it is compacted. Having to lay a foundation not only makes the construction solid but it is a great way to dispose of old bricks and rubble. They serve as a base for laying the concrete on which the paving slab steps can be laid. So the method I use is first dig out the ground, next fill the area with hard-core (bricks and rubble) and tamp down until solid then lay concrete on top. When the concrete is set lay a thin bed of mortar on it then lay the paving slab on the mortar making sure it isn’t perfectly level for when it rains you’ll want the water to run off the step! On this project I have to do all that twice as there will be two steps needing a solid base. On Thursday morning I laid the first step on a bed of mortar then I laid four bricks along the rear edge. The front edge of the second step will rest on them. Next I filled in the space behind those bricks with more hard-core. I had placed some old bricks at the rear to form a retaining wall for when I pour concrete on the rubble. It all sounds easy and in fact it is but it is also hard work. This is how far I got on the day…Plot 17

The opening is wider than the paving slab I laid so each side was filled with a concrete mix using the granite dust or ‘granno’ instead of the stone chippings in order for it to blend in with the paving slab. In this picture you can only see the far edge where that small brick nib juts out. For some time I have been thinking of making the small single-brick wall which connects with the patio at the top right more solid. If I can dig out behind it I might be able to lay more bricks or I may simply shutter it with timber and pour in some concrete instead. Either way will ensure a more solid construction. With all that weight of soil behind it I am amazed it hasn’t been pushed out by now. I might add here that I wasn’t responsible for building it in the first place. Although the remainder of the wall at the bottom left of the picture is also of a single brick construction there is less weight of soil behind it due to the hidden wall which separates the area left of the new steps from that on the right. It is the same wall which runs to the boundary wall and on which I built the left-hand wall of the new flowerbed. You may have noticed that the whole area is slowly getting cleaner as I remove or use the old bricks and rubble that was scattered about.

Shirley Anne

Surprised myself

As Friday was to be a warm and sunny day and as I had no electrical work scheduled I had the opportunity to do more work on the Plot project. First though I had to pay a visit to the builder’s merchant to purchase more sand and cement. I didn’t have to empty out the van completely because I wasn’t intending to buy much, Even so I still had six bags to take home. Whilst there I purchased twelve large paving slabs too but they will deliver them for me on Tuesday. I may need more depending on what I decide to do on the Plot.  That done I set everything up apart from the cement mixer which I have been leaving outside overnight. I have to cover the motor and bearings though just in case it rains. It means I don’t have to waste time having to get it out of the garage and setting it up each day. The plan was to lay the final course of bricks to the raised bed I have been busy constructing, point the inner brickwork where necessary and then begin to fill the structure with soil a little later. After mixing a huge amount of mortar I discovered there wasn’t enough to lay the last two bricks! I knew I would need more anyway in order to fill in the gaps inside so I mixed more in a large bucket by hand. All I can say is I am glad we have a cement mixer for mixing large quantities! Once upon a time I used to mix everything by hand but it is extremely hard work if a lot has to be mixed by hand and I am no longer a young person. So I got this far at the end of the day……Plot 13

I didn’t begin putting the soil inside immediately but waited a while until the mortar had become firm. I guess I must have filled the bed to about half-way then I had lunch at some time around one-thirty. I was planning to resume filling it afterward but just before I sat down to eat I got a call from an old guy who had recently moved to the area and was having problems with some fluorescent lights in his garage. He lives just over a half-mile away so after lunch I went there and sorted it out. Easy money and it went part of the way to offset the cost of the materials I had just purchased. At the time of writing I may have to put off doing any further work for a few days. It all depends upon the weather.

Shirley Anne

Waiting for the rain

Up early again on Wednesday to do more work on the Plot. Wednesday was an ideal day for working outdoors being as it was slightly cooler than of late. After an early breakfast I was outside at a little after eight o’clock and was soon working. I didn’t have to set up the mixer so I was pretty much able to get straight to work. My main object for the day was to finish building the walled enclosure, its inner walls. I managed to do that but I may take the structure up one more level of bricks as I have discovered I have sixty-three bricks remaining and to lay another course will take forty-eight bricks. As it stands (Wednesday) there are seven courses of bricks. Of course I will be topping the walls with natural stone in keeping with the patio brickwork. In this picture the work has been temporarily covered because rain was forecast for Thursday and I wanted the walls to remain dry.Plot 12    Now then, I had finished with mixing mortar for the day as it was approaching lunchtime and I wasn’t prepared to carry on working into the afternoon. Rather than do nothing I chose to remove part of the wall alongside the path and dig out the soil behind it as you can see in the bottom right of the picture. I then laid some old bricks and rubble as a base for some concrete upon which I will lay a paving slab later. Eventually there will be three steps to match those I constructed a couple of years ago shown on the left in the picture. The plastic sheet standing there covers what is left of the four hundred bricks I had delivered for the work. There are sixty-three of them as I mentioned. Before I can fill the structure with soil I have to ‘point’ the internal walls, that is fill in all the gaps in the joints. Later I will have to do the same with the outer surfaces of the construction. I had my lunch and then spent a few minutes on the patio but was disturbed by a phone call from the auto-electrician who had been repairing the fault of my van’s lighting switches. I walked to their workshop about a mile away and collected the van. The guy had to replace the whole mechanism which slides over the steering column and to which the control stalks are fitted. The cost for the replacement and fitting it? £246! I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I didn’t expect it to be quite as expensive. I’m going to need a couple more electrical jobs to offset the outlay. Fortunately the work is still coming in.

Shirley Anne

The long weekend

As I write this it is the beginning of the second long weekend in the month. In May we have two national holiday days both on a Monday, one at the beginning of the month and the other at the end of the month. It means, theoretically, that we get three days off work at the weekend. Of course not everybody will observe these extra days as days for relaxing. Traditionally I too don’t treat them as special days but that is because I am self-employed and take time off as I need it. For those who are not self-employed these days come as a welcome break. I’d had a couple of electrical jobs in the previous week and one I thought I was going to do on Saturday. The lady who asked me to do the work didn’t call back as she had promised so I was set for the long weekend free from work other than that I might do at home. The problem was that she works in London and has not been able to arrange either for herself to be available or someone else. However just as I was about to eat a late breakfast someone else called asking if I could exchange two ceiling lights with replacement fittings. These fittings it turned out were second-hand and one was missing its fixing bracket. I decided to take the job though I had ideas about working at home. The work itself was easy but I had to manufacture a bracket to replace the missing one before I could fit the second unit. It is fortunate then that I could find some metal in the van with which to make it. The lady was well pleased that I could make the bracket and not have to return at some later date to finish the work. It was lunch time when I returned home and I could look forward to the rest of the day to relax in, and that is what E and I did out on the patio for a time. It turned cool and cloudy for a spell and we returned indoors. An hour later and it was bright and sunny again. English weather! Front step wallWhilst I had been away from home E’s nephew had called and finished off rendering the small wall (shown above) that had been constructed a couple of months ago! It will need painting sometime in the weeks ahead. Whilst I was taking the picture I took another showing these two rhododendron shrubs. Flowering shrubsI had planted them in Autumn last year. They are different types of the same shrub. The one on the left  flowered a couple of weeks ahead of the other which only opened its blossoms last week. Eventually they will grow to fill the area surrounding them. I am thinking of planting one or two more shrubs out there in the front garden as there is plenty of space for them.

Shirley Anne

On the go

I woke up rather late on Thursday, I must have needed the sleep is all I can say. I knew the guys were coming early but I wasn’t dressed and ready to come downstairs. Fortunately E had risen earlier than I but even she had to answer the door at ten minutes after eight in order to give the guys access to the rear garden. I actually didn’t get downstairs until almost nine-thirty. I ate a very light breakfast, mostly fruit and after a short while drove off to buy the LED light bulbs for the new fitting. If you remember yesterday I mentioned E had been given six tungsten bulbs but I was never going to use them. Anyway I drove to the retail park to see what they were charging for the bulbs and then phoned my electrical supplier to ask them how much they charge. They were even less than half the price at the electrical supplier. I drove there and bought them for less than £19 for six. When I returned home E had just finished vacuuming the carpet on the stairs. I went upstairs and installed the new light fitting…Bedroom light

It didn’t take long to install though even using the high ladder it was still a bit of a stretch to reach the ceiling. I have been able to get things done at home as my electrical work has been slack in coming in this week. E went out in the afternoon to do the shopping and I decided I would climb the ladders to the top of the scaffolding were the guys had been repairing the roof to see what they had done. The guys had left for the day. One of the tasks they were to do was to re-point some of the brickwork but like most builders I have come across they are no too fussy about the mess they create. One of the five floodlights we have on the walls at the rear of the house was literally covered in red mortar. I descended to fetch a brush and clean it off before it set hard. A plastic bag to cover the light whilst they were working would have prevented my having to clean it. I am capable of climbing ladders but many women, probably most women my age are not and would therefore not be able to check things over. I set high standards when I work, especially if it is for others so I expect those working for me to be just as conscientious. It looks as though the front steps will be finished off soon as one guy was preparing the small wall for skimming with cementFront steps 3

Everything is on the go but I will be happy when all the building repairs and alterations are completed and the scaffolding removed. We can then concentrate on our own work.

Shirley Anne

All done at last

pics 1164I am only referring to the building of the scaffolding and not the actual work it gives access to. At the time of writing that work hasn’t started of course but maybe as you read this it is well under way. To be quite honest I am tired of the upheaval and all I want is some respite. The work is essential though for the weather is best kept outside of the house rather than inside it! Fixing holes in the roof where the rain gets in quite literally. It is mid-afternoon on Friday and I am waiting for the guys to tell me that their job is completed. E has just gone out to see her mom and together they will go into town if her mom is up to it. She is in her late eighties and hasn’t been enjoying the best of health lately. This morning before the men arrived at eight-thirty I went into the garage to move a lighting cable out of harm’s way so that supports could be placed under the wooden joists as the scaffolding would be built on top of it. The previous day I had mentioned that we had two ‘Accro’ adjustable steel supports in the other garage which they could use if required. One of the guys collected them and it was then we saw that in fact we had three of them. However none of them were in perfect condition, though all they needed was to be lubricated and two of them have bolts fitted. They chose to return to base to collect theirs but while they were gone I carried out the maintenance on the supports making them as good as new! I think they were rather surprised at that.pics 1163 Anyway throughout the afternoon all I could hear was the constant banging and clashing together of steel as the scaffolding was being erected but there was no escape. I had insisted they not place under-roof supports where I park my van overnight as they otherwise would have. The van’s insurance cover would be invalidated in the event the van was broken into or stolen because it wasn’t in my garage overnight. Sometimes I wonder why contractors assume they can please themselves in some of the decisions they make. The two pictures are of the same section of scaffolding, one being taken at the front of the house at that side and the other at the rear.

Shirley Anne

Half done

The scaffolding company arrived at nine-thirty as they had planned. They stayed for two and a half hours and had to leave but they returned two hours later for an hour and a half, four hours in total. However they would have to return on Friday morning they said so that they could erect the scaffolding at the second position on the other side of the house. This is what they have erected so far (Thursday evening)….pics 1162

A little less scaffolding than that which we had there in 2010. That scaffolding continued over the garage in this picture and then along the whole front of the house. It seems a lot of steel work for a leaking roof doesn’t it? Unfortunately it is necessary. What you see here is around 12 metres in height. The second position will be at the opposite side of the house to the left in this picture and should span the whole side of the house to the same height over the other garage. I will attach a picture in another post. I had arisen early and decided to clean out that garage of unwanted items such as the many large plant pots of various sizes. I put those into the small greenhouse with those already in there. We have so many pots we could open a gardening centre! The other items like mowers, wheelbarrows and furniture only needed to be stored properly to be out-of-the-way and of course the floor got swept too. For scaffolding to be erected on the garage roof there has to be a support beneath the roof and that was the main reason for my tidying up the place. As I write this in the evening the house is empty as E has gone to see her mom and I am waiting to take the cake I am baking out of the oven. I had prepared a scone mixture and had baked them an hour ago. The cake is a rich butter cake with desiccated coconut and a drop of vanilla essence in it. E doesn’t like coconut but asked if I would bake some scones for her to eat instead. She didn’t want a cake. How could anyone not want cake?

Shirley Anne

Breakneck speed?

Bricklayer in Paoua, Central African Republic
Bricklayer in Paoua, Central African Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t think so. I refer to the building work that has been going on at my house. E’s nephew runs a building and construction business and has guys working for him, some of whom are apprentices or what you might call ‘newbies’. The work they have been doing is rebuilding that part of the garden wall E and I dismantled last October as it was in danger of falling down by itself. The problem was caused by its age, the aggressive plant growth on the neighbour’s side of the wall and of course the weather. The house was built in 1877 and we assume the wall to be of similar age. The work they have done is good but they have taken a lot of time to do it. I know it could have taken less time as I have done quite a lot of bricklaying over the years and I am not a qualified bricklayer. As I write this on Wednesday evening there still remains two or three bricks to be laid at the junction with the adjoining wall which could have been done today but they pressed on and began to reconstruct the steps at the approach to the front door. We thought the existing three final steps too awkward to negotiate and neither do they provide much space on which a caller could stand. I had it in mind to do the work myself last summer but never had the time. So for a day or so E and I will have to enter the house through one of the garages instead. Last night, that is Tuesday as I write this, the two guys who had been working here on that day, were about to leave when I noticed that the grid beneath the kitchen window was blocked and there was a huge puddle of muddy water on the path. They had been flushing the dregs of mortar out of the mixer onto the path and into the grid. I insisted it to be cleared of mortar which meant reaching down the grid and taking it out by hand. Sometime during the summer months I clear out this particular grid in the same manner myself for grease and fats from the kitchen sink can block the drain if it isn’t kept in check. We try our best to prevent grease from entering the drains but there is always some nevertheless. All appeared well and they left but soon after the grid filled up again and another pool of water lay on the path. We called E’s nephew who responded immediately and came around to unblock the drain. It took about thirty minutes before we could say the problem had been sorted out. This morning, Wednesday, two different members of his crew turned up instead! Even so at the end of this day I discovered the grid cover blocked by the remnants of mortar. There is little possibility of further problems now as the mixer is being used at the front of the house away from all drains. I hadn’t any electrical work scheduled for both Wednesday and Thursday but I did have an electrical job out in the garden. On Tuesday evening I discovered that one of the three wall lights by the greenhouses wasn’t working and I gave it a quick check but realised the whole unit needed replacing so I purchased one on Wednesday morning and spent a little time fitting it. The rest of the day was spent catering to the needs of the bricklayers and just pottering about. E made a start on painting the bedroom woodwork with an undercoat ready for overpainting later with a gloss paint.

Shirley Anne