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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
E has never been one to rush things, always taking a long time to get something done. That is just her way but sometimes it infuriates me whenever we have planned to go anywhere she takes an inordinately long time getting ready. By that I don’t mean getting dressed or applying make-up but rather she finds things to do that should have been done say the day before. She hardly ever wears make-up anyway and getting dressed doesn’t take much time either, she simply drags her heels and wastes time. I am the complete opposite, always dressed well in time and always ahead of time for any event we have planned. E had suggested we go out on Monday morning in order to purchase a few things and to perhaps visit the garden centre for a coffee too. We actually left the house at twelve forty-five! We could have been there and back long before noon. We drove off in the van and our first call was to the electrical supplier to purchase some cable, a LED floodlight and a battery. I was greeted with a ‘Hello, long time no see’ quip from the guy behind the counter who hadn’t realised I had retired. Our next port of call was supposed to be to the timber yard to purchase the timber I would need to pack-out the safety edge equipment on the garage door (see yesterday’s post). However just a short distance before reaching the yard we had to pass by the pub/restaurant we sometimes visit when dining out and I suggested we make the detour and dine there. http://www.thatchandthistle.co.uk By now it was around one forty-five and lunch time anyway. I had a garlic mushroom starter and E had some garlic bread. I had a simple dish of plaice and E chose barbecued pork ribs for the main course. However the ribs she found rather tough and overdone to the point of being burnt. She complained to the waitress who promptly removed her plate and brought the replacement which according to E was perfect. Although it had only been the ribs at fault she was given a full plate of chips (fries) and a salad too even though she had told them not to. She had already eaten much of those on the first plate and didn’t want more. I thought what a waste serving up food that was not going to be eaten. Usually the fayre is spot-on and we have had no complaints in the past. After our meal we drove to the timber yard where I purchased the wood. The rear of the van had been filled with waste cardboard for several weeks because there was no point in making a special journey to dispose of it. The waste depot isn’t far away from the timber yard so we took the opportunity to dispose of the cardboard. It was time to make the return journey home and on the way call in to the garden centre for our free coffee. I can take advantage of the two free coffees offered once every month because I am a member. Sometimes we would have something to eat with the coffee but this time we had already eaten. Whilst there we bought some potatoes for planting as we wish to grow them in the raised bed between the two greenhouses. Finally we arrived back home around four-thirty and E pointed out that there were some bluebells growing in the two flowerbeds at the front of the house. I had spotted some of them already as I have been looking out for any that might still be there after digging most of them out last year just as I have been doing in the rear garden also. I wasted no time and dug them all out. I am not one for dragging my heels when something needs doing.
There is something about appointments, well some of them, they can fill you with an air of expectation or one of dread. Appointments however should be kept and not shied away from. On Tuesday (9) E had an appointment which she had asked me to attend with her. Whether that was for support or to bolster her stance I am not quite sure but I went along with her. The appointment was to meet with a representative for the local government who was to assess her eligibility to receive PIP (Personal Independence Payment). Our Government has decided to rationalise many of the old departments in order to streamline public services and improve efficiency. Naturally they hope this will reduce costs in the process. For instance they have implemented an across the board payment for the State Pension whereby all eligible people receive the same amount, in other words they have eliminated the old tiered system. People who are disabled receive a disability payment in accordance with their level of incapacity and were assessed to determine their eligibility. Because of the changes E will no longer receive her payments under the old scheme but to continue to receive payments she had to undergo an assessment by the new department. It was for this assessment she had the appointment. Just to make it difficult the appointment was to be held in another town over ten miles away at one-thirty. We drove there and arrived well in time and were ushered into a waiting area and waited for only a couple of minutes before being called. A young woman carried out the assessment asking questions and testing E’s physical ability to do some minor tasks. I of course was only there to observe and support though I was asked one or two things regarding assisting E in certain areas. The assessment took an hour and the information received would be passed to the relevant department for consideration. Nothing should change but with government anything is possible. E will know in due course if she is to continue receiving the payments or not. As it was by now after two-thirty and we hadn’t eaten lunch we drove to a restaurant for a belated meal. E and I hadn’t enjoyed dining out together for quite some time so it was nice to do so especially as it was late in the afternoon and with few other diners there, quiet. We arrived back home just before six o’clock for an evening of rest.
My van will be ten years on the road come Spring, March to be precise and during that period so far it has covered a mere thirty thousand and a couple of hundred miles only. Not a lot of mileage and considering the engine is run on diesel, a mere drop in the ocean. That means little wear and tear and of course little expenditure too. Nevertheless despite the low mileage the engine has been started many, many times which of course has been a strain on the battery. The original battery, as I write this on Monday, is still under the bonnet but I made the decision to have it replaced and by Tuesday a new one will have been installed. I had the old one checked beforehand of course and a replacement was just about required. Although I could have managed with the old battery for a while longer I thought it prudent to have it replaced just in case it failed at an inopportune time. Money well spent I think. On Wednesday this week (27th) another measurement will be taken in the garage to ensure our alterations will be adequate for the new door installation. There is no reason why it should not as we have followed the instructions regarding the installers requirements. The door will be installed on Thursday the following week and I am to pay the balance on the day. However, the fitters are to be paid separately preferably by cash. With that in mind and whilst I was out arranging for the battery replacement I withdrew the remainder of the cash which I couldn’t withdraw the first time in readiness. The fee will be £415 requiring two withdrawals from an ATM on separate days because of the present £300 limit here in the UK. All routine stuff as we all know. That expenditure will be money well spent too. I asked E if she would like to dine out for we hadn’t done that for a time but she had to spend the late morning and early afternoon out with her mom. On my return home she still hadn’t left the house but did so soon afterward. It was one-fifteen when she returned and we went out to lunch. We drove to a place located on the other side of the next town, somewhere we have visited many times. This time however service was slow even though there were few diners in there. Disappointed we left and went to another establishment not far down the road, another place we have visited many times before. This time the service was prompt. Well we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent there laughing and joking with the staff as well as ourselves. Time well spent cheering up other people and bolstering our own relationship too. We didn’t stay for coffee though as we might have done but drove homeward passing Dobbies (garden centre) on the way where we spent a little time drinking coffee. The coffee was free, that is each month I am entitled to two free drinks of coffee or tea because I have membership there. That was nice too and again our time had been well spent.