Less was more

Dining out

Tuesday turned out to be a wet and miserable day during the afternoon and although it had been a dry morning it was very cold. I was to take my van in to have a part replaced in the braking system, a compensating valve as they called it, and to have the van serviced at the same time. I had been informed that the valve wouldn’t be inexpensive so I was ready for a sizeable invoice accordingly. I drove there to arrive just before eight-thirty as they had requested then sat there for twenty minutes waiting for E to come and collect me. There never seems to be a sense of urgency in anything E does, especially if it doesn’t affect her in any way. She is willing though and that is appreciated. I add here that I reciprocate her good deeds though I never keep her waiting! Anyway we returned home for a couple of hours whilst they sorted out the van. Just before noon they called me to let me know the work had been completed. E duly drove me there then returned home whilst I sorted out payment. As it happened they hadn’t needed to replace the valve for they had in their own words ‘loosened’ it. It had simply required manipulating and lubricating and if they done that during the MOT test there would not have been the need to check it in for replacement of a supposedly faulty component. It didn’t really matter as I had arranged for a service on the vehicle anyway . The good news was the valve didn’t need replacing and accordingly the invoice was much lower than I had thought it would be. I still had to pay £161 though but it had been worth it. The van was always lively to drive but now it felt more so. When I arrived home E was still backing up the drive. We decided on which vehicle we would use to go for a meal and we opted for her car. After going indoors to change (though I was already dressed for the occasion) we drove off to our destination. When we got near to where we thought the place was located we couldn’t find it. As it was getting late (for lunch) and we were quite hungry we chose to return to another venue we had passed by along the way. We would hopefully check out the original venue at a later date when we had more time. The last time we were at this other place was about three years ago it had changed dramatically since then and for the better too. We were glad to have chosen to dine there. The food and service were excellent and they can expect us to return in the future. So what looked like a day that was going to remain miserable it surprised us and turned out to be the opposite. We just wished it had been a slightly warmer day.

Shirley Anne

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How it changed

On the evening of Monday 17 th Dec. E received a call from her brother letting her know that once again her mom was in hospital. She left the house to visit the hospital but I remained at home. I had been working most of the day as you may have read in my post and was rather tired. I stayed up for as long as I could to wait for her return but finally had to succumb to sleep. I went to bed at ten-thirty and fell asleep in minutes. E returned home after midnight. I was so tired I slept in until after eight o’clock and arrived downstairs just before nine-thirty. E had just finished her breakfast and I asked about her mom. It appeared she had been sent home after a little treatment and thankfully was now fit and well.

   I told E I didn’t much want to work in the cellar though I had planned to paint the small store room floor. As she wanted to do some work herself in the utility room I wasn’t able to paint the floor anyway because of the noxious fumes it gives off. There was a small job I could do and which I did but it was very little. There were other jobs more important but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to dine out for a change and asked E if she would like to do the same. It was then that I remembered my van stocked full of old carpet, underlay and vinyl which had to be taken to the dump. So off I drove whilst E finished off her work. It was around one o’clock when we drove off for a meal. She suggested a specific eatery, a place called The Thatch and Thistle where we have dined often before. Strange as it may seem I was thinking of going there anyway. Our thoughts often agree but I guess that is because we have lived together for a long time. The meal was exceptionally good as it usually is in that place and we had a nice time. On our way back home E was able to buy some presents and carry out some business. The day turned out completely different to what I had planned the previous afternoon and I was grateful for that change. It would be a case of getting back to work on the Wednesday.

Shirley Anne 

Less but more

The title seems to be a contradiction but this is what I mean, I did less of working on the utility room project and more on securing the plastic tunnel in the garden after high winds had loosened everything. When I arose at two it was still dark of course and I didn’t pay any attention or give any thought that the wind might have been a problem. It was the 13 th, a wet, windy and miserable day but it didn’t stop me going for a walk. I bore in mind that the wind was blowing from the south-west with intermittent heavy rain showers so I set off in the opposite direction. When I reached the place where I would normally turn toward the seafront I chose to walk inland instead for I didn’t wish to walk back into the wind and showers. Choosing to walk through the town’s streets offered shelter from the wind but I chose to walk home through an indirect route for the extra distance. On my return home I wasn’t in any hurry to begin work but when I did the first thing I did was to clear the room of tools. Next, I moved the two freezers away from the centre of the room to their permanent resting places so that I could fill in the gaps on the floor with cement. 

The picture was taken hours later when the cement had almost completely dried. I wasn’t going to paint the floor that morning for I wanted to paint the worktops with their final coat of paint. Before I could do that I went into the garden to use the left-over cement to patch up an area in the stone pathway behind the Mound by the lamp post. As I was returning into the house I noticed the tunnel needed some attention but first I painted the worktops, (both pictures).

Finally I was able to undo the wind damage but it took quite some time for the wind was still blowing strong. When E and I assembled the steel frame we fixed the two side bars to the outside of the structure and didn’t realise they should have been fixed on the inside so as not to interfere with the plastic covering. The wind had caused chafing of the cover by the two ends of the bars so my first job was to re-fix the bars on the inside. Not easy in the windy conditions with the cover in place but I didn’t take long doing it. I then set about securing the structure and fitting some bubble-wrap sheeting to the inside of the plastic cover and generally securing it as best I could, I also weighed down the structure with ropes and concrete slabs, Hopefully that would keep everything in place until Spring. Time will tell. I had just about enough of work so I suggest to E that we dine out for a change. By mid-morning the weather had changed dramatically , it was now blue skies and sunshine though still a little windy. We drove about four miles to a canal-side pub called The Saracens Head in a small hamlet and enjoyed one of the best meals we’d had in a long time. Well worth the trip.

Shirley Anne     

Dining out

It was E’s birthday on the eleventh of the month, that is last month of course. She was ** years old. Well you didn’t think I was going to reveal the number did you? As I mentioned in an earlier post we don’t exchange gifts but I usually treat her to at least a meal out at whatever venue she desires at the time. Thinking she would select a nice restaurant perhaps one we had never visited previously I asked in which direction we were to travel. I was driving because she wanted to go in the van rather than her car. Although her car gives her easier access than many other cars on the road, and that is why we purchased it but the van makes getting in and out even easier. She has to walk using supporting sticks because of her condition. Whenever we take the van she brings along her badges which give her special parking privileges so we can park in the bays closest to whichever venue she visits. So she told me to drive south a couple of miles to her chosen venue, a local carvery! I queried her choice and she told me her reasons for choosing it, she wanted especially to have some carrot and turnip mash! Such vegetable mash isn’t usually readily available in the average restaurant. It was her birthday and her choice so that’s where we went. As it happened we had one of the most enjoyable meals we’ve had together over the years. Often the simpler choices are best but what makes dining out that bit more special is the company you share it with. That’s why I like dining out with E though I have to say sometimes in the past she needed a little help to unwind. During the meal she mentioned that perhaps her mom would have liked to come with us. I asked why she hadn’t invited her. Perhaps she thought I would object but she knows me better than that. Her mom is now 91 years old and doesn’t get out much so it would have been a treat for her. Perhaps next time. She went to visit her mom shortly after we had returned home but I remained at home.

Shirley Anne

Lots done

It was Thursday morning and I had the unenviable task of doing the weekly shopping once again. E had been taking things easy for the past few weeks in order to recuperate but had in fact driven herself and her mom into town yesterday. Maybe next week she will resume doing the shopping but if not it will be down to me again. Actually next Thursday (31) I have a dental appointment late morning so will have to shop early if it falls to me to do the shopping. I digress. Today therefore I went shopping early and about an hour after returning home first went into the front garden to water it with the hose then I got out the larger watering can in order to apply a weed-killer/lawn feed mixture onto the lawn in the rear garden. Last year after doing exactly the same the lawn looked much better having been rid of the weeds and moss. It took about six cans to cover the lawn and not long after I had finished I could see it taking effect as the moss began to turn black. Having already mentioned to E that I would like to leave the house together for a few hours she went to dress whilst I was doing the lawn treatment. I had left the van on the driveway on my return from the supermarket rather than putting it in the garage as I would normally do for I was determined to go out for the afternoon. We drove down to the pub/restaurant about two miles away and had a meal there. It is a well-known local eatery offering a set meal or something from the carvery.

English: Toby Carvery
Toby Carvery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We chose the carvery as most people would do dining there. One thing you can say about a carvery is its value for money, as many vegetables as you can eat together with your choice of meats and a one-off payment (£2) for an unlimited amount of soft drinks of choice add to accompany it. We paid a mere £19 for two with drinks included. After the meal we drove off to the garden centre and browsed for more plants to put in the gardens. This time we purchased Verburnum Davidii (a large shrub), Lewisia, Diascia, Weigela Foliis Purpureis, Jacobinia, Oxalis and Alstroemeria (smaller shrubs and plants).

Lewisia
Lewisia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I name them for the botanists and gardeners who may be reading. We planted them immediately upon returning home late in the afternoon. Three went into the front garden beds and the remaining seven into the rear garden beds. I think the only other planting out will be the beetroot presently growing in pots in the greenhouse and we plan to put them among the plants in the flowerbeds in the near future. The last task of the day was to water the rear garden plants with the hose. Overnight and throughout the whole day tomorrow, Friday, we have been informed to expect heavy rain. For a few days after we are told it will get very warm and dry.

Shirley Anne

The fat end

When we talk about the thin end of a wedge we are usually referring to the start of something big. Sometimes those things may be good and sometimes they may not. The wedge I am referring to is a good one, the project I have been engaged with over the last few weeks, the gym room. I am now at the thick end of that wedge where it all comes together as a finished work. There is still more to do but the major part of the work at least is over. It is now Tuesday 20 th and this morning I was busy at it again. I wanted to paint the doors of the boiler cupboard in the red colour we had chosen for the woodwork in the room. This I did first of all and I was going to give them another coat later in the day to finish that part of the work but I didn’t get around to doing that on the day. While the paint was drying I set about clearing out the room cupboard and began working on the inside of it. First of all I had to insert a brick in the wall where there had been a hole. I could feel a draught coming from the wall’s cavity. I cut the brick and mixed some mortar with which to set it in the hole (Top right beneath and above new ceiling in picture below). Next task was to remove the loose plaster from the exposed laths of the cupboard ceiling  and tidy up the mess. Finally I was able to construct a false wooden ceiling making the cupboard ready for a few coats of paint.

E had been to the hospital for treatment and returned just as I was finishing the work. I had agreed to pay for her computer repairs so I got changed and we drove down to the shop to collect it. By now it was approaching one-thirty so I decided we might dine out. E of course never declines such offers so we drove to a carvery and had a full-sized meal. On our return home we called in to see our neighbour who is chronically ill with emphysema. She struggles to breath at times and has oxygen cylinders to hand at home. She was happy so see us and grateful for the visit. As far as my working day was concerned it was finished but Wednesday beckoned!

Shirley Anne

Sum total

I didn’t know what I was going to do in the way of work on Thursday though there was much to do on my current project. I did know however that I had to go purchase a few things. I had a good night’s sleep but was still feeling a little tired as I sat down to breakfast. I hadn’t been keen to rush into anything because of that. It is true what they say, your body will let you know when it needs a break and mine was telling me to take one. To be fair I have been doing rather a lot of late and so I knew I needed a little break from things. Shopping is one of those things which takes my mind off my usual routine for a while but though I would be shopping it was the wrong type! I would be shopping for materials and nothing nice like clothes. I don’t often shop for clothes but when I do I usually spend a lot of money and time doing it. It was after ten o’clock when I left the house and after eleven o’clock when I returned. E was about to go shopping too, for food. My purchases were for cup washers, cabinet hinges, door knobs, a ‘Surform’ plane, two lengths of mini-trunking and a five-foot long LED lighting unit. That involved visiting three separate outlets around town. I suggested to E that we dine out  when she returned from the shopping trip and whilst she was out I fixed the mini-trunking on the ceiling in the gym and placed the telephone wire that had been hanging on the ceiling into it. That was the sum total of the work I did on the day. When E returned home it was approaching two o’clock and we drove to our local pub for lunch. I was feeling tired and weary but once I had eaten I felt better. When we returned home we spent a little time watching catch-up tv. I took the remainder of the day just relaxing mostly on the sofa watching more tv. The LED light unit was a little present for E as she had been asking if I would move the existing fluorescent unit nearer to her work-station in her workshop at the top of the house. I thought I might change the unit at the same time. I would probably do the work on Saturday afternoon while she was out at her monthly meeting.

Shirley Anne

Liver and onions

Pan-fried lamb's liver with caramelised onions...
Pan-fried lamb’s liver with caramelised onions. (As served at the Tea Rooms of Yarck, Yarck, Victoria, Australia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was rather tired on Tuesday evening. That was probably due to my mixing and laying concrete screed for a couple of hours earlier in the day and the various other smaller jobs I did too. It meant I retired to bed earlier than I might have done but it also meant I wouldn’t have trouble getting off to sleep. True to form though I awoke after four hours for a toilet visit and after an hour tossing and turning I went back to sleep for another four hours. I still managed to get up around eight o’clock to spend a little time on the treadmill and cross-trainer before breakfast. When I went into the cellar I saw that the screed I had laid had set hard and was already turning grey in colour. I had set my mind on doing nothing more on the project for a day just to give myself a break though in real terms there was very little more to do anyway. The rest of the work would be cosmetic and wouldn’t take long to do. After breakfast and a quick shower I went into the garden to tidy up the fallen leaves. It amazes me that there are still leaves falling this late in Winter but they are practically all ivy with a few holly leaves. I suppose this is the season for those to drop if indeed they are going to. I suspect though that the squirrels have been busy disturbing the foliage. The ivy grows up and around a tree in a neighbours garden. If it were in my garden it would have been dug up years ago! On my return indoors I decided to give the hand rail and post an undercoat of paint. I had asked E if she would like to take a trip out to the garden centre but she mumbled something about staying indoors for the post to arrive. It did arrive soon after but there was no inkling from her to come out with me so I drove off alone. However I didn’t visit the garden centre, instead I visited the pub and treated myself to a meal of liver and onions and a naughty but nice chocolate fudge cake for dessert. It is hard sometimes to get E motivated unless it is something she specifically wants to do. It made a change for me to dine out alone but just getting away from the house was a blessing. Too much work and no play had been my lot for the previous few weeks whilst I had been working at home. Sometimes I think E doesn’t realise that I need a break too.

Shirley Anne

A lot of sand

It was Thursday and I decided not to take an early morning walk as I might otherwise have done but chose instead to carry on with the work in the cellar. More sand needed digging out before I could make any decent progress so after breakfast that is what I did. However before I got started I did a little sweeping up of leaves in the garden as it was beginning to get a bit untidy. It didn’t take long and soon I was digging out the sand. Have you ever tried shovelling sand that has been kept dry for 140 years? It takes patience. The next step was to shore-up the exposed edges and fill the base with hardcore. Hardcore is something we seem to have most of the time from the various projects we have done at home. It is produced and later used then more is produced from other jobs. We never seem to be free of it. Anyhow I got this far before lunchtime…

You may be able to see some bricks lying laterally across the base. I used these to split the area into three sections thus making it more stable whilst the work is ongoing but it also adds to the strength. Once I have mixed the concrete and spread it on the base the next task will be to add concrete to the side walls to stabilise and strengthen them. For the present I have fitted stone tiles against them to prevent sand from falling out. It was now twelve-thirty and I asked E if she would like to dine out for lunch. Normally she would be going shopping but she cancelled that and we went along to the Mexican Bar and Restaurant down by the sea front. It has been a long time since we visited a Mexican diner, though E is rather fussy about eating spicy foods. She actually had a steak with pepper sauce whilst I had Burritos filled with chicken for our main course. It made a change from our usual dining preferences. There are a few eating places down by the sea front though we seldom dine at any of them. That was about it for the day and we spent the rest of it relaxing at home.

Shirley Anne

All done and dusted

It doesn’t take long for me to complete a project once I get started. It is getting started which is often the problem but that is usually because I have either not enough time or I haven’t all the materials at hand. I have just returned from the pub after spending an hour there for my lunch. It is Friday (2nd Feb) and this morning I spent some time on the treadmill before breakfast. After breakfast I set about the tasks which would see the completion of the second part of the garage door project. The first part was to install the floodlight and the automatic circuit to control it (see previous posts). Whilst doing that work I discovered the safety edge equipment required a more robust installation from that which had been carried out by the installer. Sometimes things are best done by one’s self! This second part was what I set about doing earlier today. The first thing to do was to fit the two lengths of now painted timber, one at each side of the door frame on which to refit the edging strips themselves. They are coloured black in the pictures. The strips house the infra-red beams which when interrupted stop the downward movement of the closing door. The job took only a few minutes to do…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on pictures to see detail.

Finally I had to replace the metal cover over the length of the door which hides the door when it is rolled up (part of it can be seen in the first picture). I had removed it some time ago when repairing the guide strip (see older posts). That was it, the end of another little project. E had come to the garage to show me something and I took the opportunity to ask her about a plant we have in one of the flowerbeds. Whilst we were looking at the bed we saw some more bluebells beginning to show themselves so rather than going indoors for lunch I spent some time digging them out, about fifteen of them. It as almost two o’clock when I returned indoors and E had almost finished her lunch. She needed to go with her mom for the weekly shopping. I decided at that point I would eat out, hence the pub visit.

Shirley Anne