The things I do

For one reason or another I felt so tired I went to bed early, that is just after ten o’clock on Tuesday (3rd) evening. Perhaps it was the hassle we had in getting the mortgage paid off. Anyway it served to get me up much earlier on Wednesday and I was downstairs before seven-thirty eating breakfast. E wouldn’t appear until ten o’clock! I began thinking of things I could do but first I had to bring up from the cellar some items of food from the freezer and some canned food too. The upstairs freezer was short on stock but I needed the canned food because I had decided to prepare a Bolognese Sauce for later in the day. That required canned tomatoes and mushrooms. I should use fresh foods for that but as I often make things on the spur of the moment canned foods are easier. It wasn’t long before the sauce was done. Whilst I had been downstairs in the cellar I noticed some of the pipe insulation I had fitted a week or so earlier had shrunk a little in length in one or two places. This can happen with new insulation until it is settled. It was easy enough to cut some small sections of insulation and squeeze them into the spaces to seal the gaps. This I did next before returning upstairs again. E still hadn’t arrived downstairs so I decided I would bake a cake and set about preparing that. This time I was baking another Family Fruit Cake. Easy to prepare and bake:
Ingredients:
1 lb self-raising flour
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1/2 lb fruit (sultanas, currants and some chopped lemon peel (if desired)
1/2 lb caster sugar
Small quantity of milk
2 Standard eggs

Method:
Put flour and butter in mixing bowl and mix together by hand to form a crumble.
Add fruit and caster sugar to the mixture then the eggs with a few tablespoons of milk. Using a metal spoon mix thoroughly until a soft paste is formed but not too moist. Add a little extra milk as you mix. The mixture should be firm enough to handle and not be dry.
Prepare a small baking tin (say 8 inches) by lining it with parchment paper and covering it with butter using fingers. The paper should stand an inch or so above the edge of the tin to allow the cake to rise. Scoop mixture into tin and level out leaving a small dimple at the centre to discourage it rising there too quickly. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 350 F /180 C for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Using a wooden probe test to see if mixture has baked through to the centre near to the end of the baking period. Don’t open the oven door before then or the cake may not rise! If it hasn’t set in the centre then leave in the oven a little longer.

Just as I was about to place the cake in the oven E came into the room. We chatted and we discussed what we would like to do in the cellar regarding a storage room down there. She has been asking for quite some time that she would like to as she puts it ‘sort it out’. Well it does need sorting out…..

Don’t you agree? It is one of those rooms where everything gets dumped and is almost forgotten about though we are often in there looking for tools and materials for use on projects. Looks like we will be busy again soon ‘tidying it up’.

Shirley Anne

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One last look

It was now Wednesday morning and I hadn’t anything special to look forward to in the way of work or anything else either but there was one thing I had to do nevertheless. I had to tidy up the gym/boiler room and collect and put tools, paint and paint brushes away as well as cleaning them beforehand. Thirty minutes should have been enough time but I ended up taking two and a half hours! Minor touching up of paintwork and giving the rear door which leads out into the garden a thorough cleaning both inside and out all added to the total time I had spent down in the room.

Note the washing had been cleared from the line by E the night before so the room appears as it does for the majority of the time. Even if all three washing lines are full of washing none of it would interfere with the use of any of the equipment in the room but look at the open space now that we have cleared out the clutter that once occupied it. The project is for all intents and purposes now complete but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post I have yet to treat the floor. Already I have the next project in my thoughts but I will tell you about that when I tackle it.

Shirley Anne

At last

Saturday (17 th) ended up being a busy day for me though it wasn’t all about the decorating down in the cellar. I wanted to complete the construction of the cupboard surround for the boiler but I didn’t get to work on that until after lunch. I surprised myself by getting up very early for after the previous day’s work I had been very tired going to bed and a sleep-in could have been a possibility. However, I didn’t rush into the work I promised I would do before continuing with the cellar job. For some time E had been hoping I would replace the fluorescent light in her workshop with a new LED unit and at the same time move it nearer to where she does most of her intricate work. I had purchased the new light a couple of days previously so I was obliged now to install it. That work took me less than an hour but most of that time was spent in preparation. Whilst I was doing that work I had put the robot floor cleaner to work in my bedroom. My next job was to vacuum the tops of the fitted furniture. I do this every few months for fluff and dust accumulates up there and if left can end up on the floor. It proves one thing, there must be a lot of dust floating about in the air. That work led to my cleaning the vacuum cleaner itself as I do that every few months too. I am not talking about just emptying the dirt but washing component parts and allowing them to dry before reinstalling them. I also replaced the 24 door and drawer knobs on my bedroom furniture.

After lunch I was finally able to continue with the work on the cellar. I completed the construction by cutting the plywood and fitting it to the sides of the boiler cupboard.……and then painting the whole unit with primer

I think I did enough for one day. It was five o’clock when I stopped work. After painting the unit with a couple of top coats it will be finished. I will then move on to the final construction work or rather I should say refurbishment of the room’s only storage cupboard. The only other task will be touching up on the paint work in various places and that will mark the end of the project unless we either seal the floor or paint it.

Shirley Anne

First month over

The first month of Winter is over and as they say, it can only get better! Along with the new year comes the prospect of ‘Spring Cleaning’ too. Although I suppose Spring cleaning should happen in Spring it doesn’t necessarily have to, it’s only an expression. I suppose also that traditionally the tidying up of the house was always carried out after the colder months were over, when the inclination to take on the tasks of the year ahead was in people’s minds. As with many traditions folk take them too seriously. I was sort of minding my own business on Saturday afternoon just after lunch when E called me to ask if I could fetch her a small brush, a paint brush would do she said. I went into the cellar to fetch one and took it upstairs where I discovered she had been vacuuming the top stairs and landing. Naturally I asked what she was doing and she replied that she had been vacuuming the room she now has as her craft workshop at the top of the house and she had decided to carry on down the stairs. The brush was to clean the dust from the staircase banister rails and I told her that I would fetch a better brush to do the job as we had one down in the cellar. I went to get it but on my return I took over the job. She meanwhile continued with the vacuuming.

As you can see in the picture above the cast-iron is intricately detailed and was, along with the wooden spindles coated with dust. When we first moved into the house almost thirty years ago we had to remove all 57 of those cast-iron pieces and have them sand-blasted and then painted in the gold/bronze colour you now see. The detail had been painted over so much we couldn’t see it, many of the gaps had been filled in with the numerous coats of paint they had received over the previous years since the house was built and that was in 1877! In order to remove them to have them renovated I had to remove the small piece of wooden moulding at their base and remove the large screws which holds them through the hole in the casting. On their return I had to replace everything before we could begin to decorate the woodwork. There are two flights of stairs and three landings so it took us some time to clean them. The next pictures show the lowest flight from below and above.

We repeat the process every six months or so though the stair carpets get cleaned far more often. E is good at giving me jobs to do! I don’t mind because it gives me something to do when I am not engaged in one of my projects and I know she cannot do many things by herself these days.

Shirley Anne

Back to it for a time

Having recently purchased an Elliptical Cross Trainer there was a need to install a power outlet close to where I intended to locate it, (read yesterdays post). It was Monday morning and I had spent some time on the treadmill before eating breakfast during which time I planned how I was going to install the outlet. After returning upstairs to dress for the day my fist task was to check the cellar’s socket outlet circuit and decide where to break into it. There are regulations to observe of course so simply taking a supply from the nearest outlet is not always possible. There exists an outlet close-by but on the other side of the wall to the where the proposed new one was to be fitted. However because of the regulations I had to take the supply from elsewhere. The next-nearest place was another outlet four metres away. I took a supply from that one. The work itself took a mere forty minutes but I was down in the cellar for three hours! It was all about access and the removal of items no longer wanted causing the work to take so long. While I was carrying out the work I received a call from an old customer asking if I could repair her faulty lights but I had to tell her that I am now retired from my electrical work.  Not however at home! A few days ago  I talked about accumulated waste materials, items of furniture and other paraphernalia stored in the cellar rooms and no longer needed. The two rooms in which I was carrying out the work had plenty of such items. So the work was two-fold, carry out the new installation and remove and tidy up the areas. While I was downstairs I made use of the washing machine too for there were clothes needing to be washed. It is amazing how sidetracked one can be when carrying out a task. I expected that of course, especially working in the cellar. Slowly but surely waste was removed and gardening items like plant pots and other things taken to the greenhouses where they should have been in the first place. Our eldest son used to do a spot of DJ work and was also involved with the church’s audio and sound systems. Consequently he accumulated large speakers, lighting equipment, amplifiers and mixing desks with enough cabling to surround a village! All of this equipment is stored in the cellar and some of it in the boiler room where we now have the gym equipment. That had to be moved too. This is why I spent three hours down there. Finally I got the power outlet installed and ready for use just before lunch. Electrical work it seems is still part of my life for a while.

Shirley Anne

Slowly recycling

English: A contradiction in terms! Whatever go...
A contradiction in terms! Whatever goes through the minds of the people who put up these signs? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I seem to be getting faster in my treadmill regime, running quicker, longer and further and slowly improving all the time. Sounds a contradiction in terms but progress has to be slower rather than quicker, building stamina takes time. It isn’t that my stamina was ever low but having neglected the stricter regime I had until a few months ago it dropped off somewhat. Now it is slowly improving with each session I have. Being an active person exercising has never been a problem for me. If I wasn’t working I would be exercising most of the time. Nothing has really changed over the years, I am still actively working at home now that I have retired from the electrical industry and my exercising continues. My latest trend has been clearing out unwanted items and materials, things we have accumulated over the years and stored in various places around the house. The advantages of having a large house are often outweighed by the inclination to ‘put things away in case they might be useful one day’. Worse still we have cellar rooms which are very handy for storing things then forgetting about them until the rooms become cluttered. When we stripped out the main bathroom three and a half years ago most if not all of the timber that was removed was stored in the cellar. I have always tended to keep timber because it is often useful and has been very useful when I have been engaged in projects at home. Why buy new when there is plenty in storage? Having said that I am now beginning to rationalise my stock of used timber and taking what I no longer need to the recycle centre. My now empty van is worth its weight in gold when it comes to clearing out the house. On Friday morning after much exercising on the treadmill E and I emptied out a bench seat we have which was stocked full of telecom, computer and power cables together with routers, old computers and computer equipment, and power adapters none of which are now of any use and we loaded them into the van. The broken dishwasher was already in the van waiting to be dumped. We had removed a lot of timber from the cellar and loaded that on the van together with bags of old clothes and odds and ends. We drove to the recycle centre and dumped it all. Much still remains to be disposed of but it is a slow process and will take time to complete. It may take months but there is no hurry. I am just happy it is getting done

Shirley Anne

Spring clean?

We Are Ever So Clean
We Are Ever So Clean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the saying goes, Spring cleaning usually gets done in Spring but not on my watch, I do it throughout the year! I live with someone who, shall I say, is often reluctant to tidy around the house these days. Whether that is due to her condition or she has turned lazy I am not sure though she does get stuck in if she sees me doing it, usually when I am working or we have both been working on a project at home. However, if I take it upon myself to simply tidy up because I think it needs it she often doesn’t want to get involved and actually resists me doing it. After going for a walk through the sand dunes because it was far too windy to be on the beach I returned home feeling refreshed and rearing to finish the dining room work. Although I had completed the work of painting the ceiling on the previous day I wanted to check it over and paint over any missed spots and indeed there were a few. So after a quick snack I set about the work. Once that work was completed both E and I dismantled the scaffolding tower and I stored it away in the garage. As I had eaten a late breakfast I wasn’t hungry when E sat down to eat her lunch but I had a drink and sat with her. We have an open cupboard space in the corner of the dining room on which there is a television. We often watch the television when dining. Above are a couple of shelves on which were stored all sorts of things from a dismantled hamster cage and accessories belonging to our youngest son, vases, pictures, boxes with new items having never been used sealed inside them. One was a large ‘slow cooker’, another a coffee machine both it seems had been won by E entering one of her competitions. She is always winning prizes. For some time I had wanted to tidy the area as it was an eyesore. I mentioned to E that I was going to tidy the space whilst she was out shopping and she immediately went on the defence making it obvious to me that she didn’t want me doing it. She thinks I will throw things away without consulting her but she has known me long enough to know I wouldn’t do that. The space got tidied and only rubbish was thrown out. It would be better if I fitted a door over the space so that it becomes a proper cupboard but the television would need a new home. Maybe I’ll think about that one.

Shirley Anne

Old wood and nylon stockings

At a bit of a loose end on Friday afternoon I began searching for something useful to do. Recently I had cleared away a lot of debris which was lying on the boiler room floor in the cellar where we have set up some gymnasium equipment. At the time all I was able to do was to sweep the floor and follow that up with a mop and bucket. What was really needed downstairs in the cellar rooms was a dedicated vacuum cleaner, not one we would use for the upstairs rooms. We have owned an old ‘Aquavac’ cleaner for many years but somewhere along the way it has lost its filter. The machine needs the filter when using it to suck up dust and other solid things but the filter has to be removed when sucking up water. Somebody used the machine to suck up water years ago but didn’t remove the filter beforehand. Anyway the machine ended up in storage in the garage collecting its own dust after we purchased other vacuum cleaners. It can still be used without the filter for sucking up water of course and it can also be used outdoors where it doesn’t need a filter. I wanted to see if I could use it in the cellar so I used several pairs of old nylon stockings to make a temporary filter and it worked just fine but I think we’ll have to source a proper filter at some point.

English: A historic Vacuum cleaner on display ...
A historic Vacuum cleaner on display at the IXL museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have done so many domestic jobs at home resulting in the cellar rooms becoming filled with old timbers and odd pieces of wood, some of which can remain but much of it needs dumping. I decided to start collecting it together and place it outside behind the garage ready for me to load it into the van and take it to the tip. It will take me some time before all the wood is sorted but at least I have started the work. I just needed something to do. There are plenty of old things and accumulated items in the cellar rooms which we no longer need or want so as and when I feel at a loose end I don’t need to remain bored, I can collect them and take them to the tip!

Shirley Anne

I did and…

In contrast to yesterday’s post I said I would get on with the electrical work and I did. It was a slow start for me on Tuesday as I began the work at ten-thirty. There were several things I had to do before I could make any progress on diverting the supply to the existing power outlets in the garage. This garage we erected in 1989 about a year after we had moved in, maybe less, and the wiring for a light and a twin power outlet was taken from the basement house wiring. I rewired the house in 1988/9. Different electrical regulations were in force at that time so the wiring was compliant to those regulations. Since those days the garage supply, though still wired the same way, was brought under the protection of circuit breakers and RCD units by myself. Added to that I had installed two outdoor electrical supplies each fed from a dedicated RCD unit and circuit breakers. One was fitted in the boiler room and the other was installed in the other garage. The board provides the supply for that garage and for the other circuits at that end of the garden, the patio for instance. The unit in the boiler room supplies a couple of power outlets and some lights at the opposite end of the garden behind the first garage. For a time I connected the power outlets in the first garage (the one in which my van is parked and the subject of this post) to the same RCD unit. Today, Tuesday as I write this, I have removed the supply to the outlets and re-supplied them from one of the house distribution boards instead as there was a spare circuit breaker I could dedicate for them. Ideally I could have installed a small RCD board we call here a ‘garage unit’ in the garage itself but because there is the same protection wiring it the way I have I chose not to use one. It would be an unnecessary expenditure. Most of the electrical work was therefore carried out in the cellar (basement) rooms as I had to run a cable to the main supply units through those rooms. Having done that work I ran out of cable to actually wire for a new outlet near to the garage door. I would have to do that small job another day, probably Wednesday after I purchase the cable. This is the board I fitted before doing the rest of the work….

The lighting switch was originally directly on the brick wall. The new power outlet beneath it is the new one waiting to be wired into the existing circuit. I had to do a lot of cleaning and clearing out of rubbish as well as moving some things to the other end of the garage in readiness for the new door to be installed in a couple of weeks time. Here are some pics of the existing door mechanisms. The motor in the top picture pulls a loop of chain similar to those on bicycles which is attached to the top of the door..

The tracks in which the doors wheels run can be seen with the huge springs and their pullies above them. Click on pictures to magnify. The ladder in the last picture has been there for many years and has never been used. It was left by someone but nobody can remember who! It could be used but we have other ladders which are in better condition. You can see in the last picture the old garage door post with the cream-coloured painted top which was left as am extra support for the wall when the garage was constructed around it.

Shirley Anne

 

The clean up

I have worked as an electrician and also a maintenance engineer for almost fifty-four years. During my working life I have conscientiously cleaned up after myself except in instances where it wasn’t necessary because someone else was doing it. I have noticed throughout my career that certain ‘trades’ were more conscientious than others. I won’t divulge which for fear of upsetting someone but I will say that on the whole I found electricians to be the tidiest. Not all were though. When I have had people working in my own house, and that has been quite rare because I have tended to undertake most of the work myself. I have never been shy in attempting anything I felt I could do myself. It builds confidence in one’s ability apart from saving to pay others to do it. Naturally I have had to tidy up after myself at home unless E volunteered thereby enabling me to get more done. I always tidy up when working for someone else, I consider it a part of the job. On Friday I mentioned that we’d had a new carpet fitted and that I vacuum-cleaned it once the fitters had left. There is a prime example of others who don’t think tidying up is a part of their work even though it was they who had made the mess in the process of cutting and laying the carpet. On Saturday the team who were dismantling the remainder of the scaffolding returned and took away all their equipment to reveal the area covered in builder’s debris, mortar, broken bits of tiles and stones and sand all over the place. In the mixing of the mortar the builder had used a red dye and small pieces of it lay on the paths. They should have cleaned up the area  but it was left for me to do. As I swept the path pieces of the dye broke up and turned the water lying there to turn red. It was raining but not hard enough to wash it all away so I had to hose it myself. Patio Flowerbed 13It took a long time but finally you would never know the building work had taken place. Actually all the work was upon the roof so you wouldn’t notice anyway. The garden has been restored to what it was though the grass that was beneath the scaffolding’s footings (a plank) will take a few weeks to recover. Nature will take care of that.

Shirley Anne