It was now Thursday 18 th and after a really good night’s sleep I was ready for the day. First of all though I was to take my morning walk. It was a little on the cold side at 7 deg C but because there was no wind whatsoever it didn’t feel that cold. The sky was clear and the stars filled it. However the street lighting prevented a clear view, that is until I reached the seafront where it was almost pitch black. Soon my enjoyment was over and I was back home for breakfast. I had a number of chores to do before I could even consider doing any work in the utility room, except to fill the washing machine and switch it on. I had re-positioned and re-connected the machine the evening before to check for leaks. Yes there was one! One of my pet sayings is that I hate plumbing and to be honest it is true, at least to some extent. The leak was sorted and I washed my overalls, they needed it! On Wednesday I had concentrated on installing the second cabinet, no painting the floor that day and having to fight the fumes. This is how far I got…
By the end of the day I was ready for bed and a good rest. Now it was Thursday but I had the weekly shopping to do. I watched some catch-up tv before going to the supermarket and returned by eight-thirty. An hour or so later I began to work in the utility room but kept the work to a minimum. I fitted the doors to the second cabinet and the door knobs to both after which I painted the new section of worktop.
I couldn’t do anymore work thereafter until the paint had dried in case I stirred up dust so I had the rest of the day to myself.
I had been preparing the walls and floor in the area of the utility room ready for the installation of the new sink and cabinet unit early on Monday morning (yesterday’s post). I had painted them and had to wait for the paint to dry. The wall paint was dry soon afterward but the floor paint took longer and because of the fumes it gives off I couldn’t start the work of building the cabinet immediately. After four hours the fumes had dissipated and I went back to the room and assembled the cabinet, a flat-pack affair. I don’t know about you but I think flat-pack furniture can be somewhat daunting at times, it all depends upon adequate and easy to understand instructions. Diagrams and different screw sizes, parts that seem to be able to fit anywhere or nowhere at all and confusing instructions written by a foreign hand with little understanding of the English language all add up to a frustrating experience if not approached logically. Even the experienced DIY enthusiasts might find instructions problematical on occasion. As it happened the cabinet wasn’t difficult to assemble on this occasion though and extra pair of hands would have sped up the process!
I had to drill a hole with a hole cutter in order to slide it over the waste pipe protruding from the wall. It is fortunate I have plenty of hole cutters. Nothing as yet is permanently fixed in place of course but it gives me an idea on how to proceed with the next stages. The sink/drainer has to be fitted in the plywood top and the plumbing connected amongst other things. I stopped work around lunchtime and would continue with the work during the rest of the week. Whilst I was waiting for the paint to dry I made another apple pie, later putting it in the freezer with the other pies I had made for the previous day I had made an apple crumble which hadn’t yet been eaten.
Since the bulk of my last project had been completed I was at a loss for something to do. I shouldn’t be concerned about having a lack of something to do around our house for there are plenty of things I could be doing. It is more a question of what would be the best and what I would feel like tackling at any given time. A few months ago when I was involved in renovating rooms down in the cellar I mentioned in a post that one of the other rooms down there could do with a make-over too. I was talking about the utility room where we keep the washing machine and freezers and a host of other things we perhaps should store elsewhere or get rid of.
As you can see from the above pictures it is somewhat of a mess but an organised mess! We know where things are, just about! With that in mind I was down there yesterday (5 th) looking at how to tackle the first part of the work which was to remove the sink unit and replace it.
However after some consideration and a quick clean-up I decided we should renovate it and keep it after all it is only a utility room and doesn’t need a new unit even if one could be purchased. As it is an old unit and now out of production it would be difficult to find a similar unit at a small cost. The stainless steel top only requires a thorough clean and the cabinet only requires a new shelf inside, a clean-up and a paint job. So that will be the first job to start on. However E and I would like it to be turned and fitted to the adjacent wall alongside the window because it will not only look better but will make better use of the room space. Having measured the unit we found it would sit neatly in the proposed position. When I remove it I will be in a better position to repair and renovate it………and clear away the spiders. There will be plumbing to do of course but I’ve assessed that work and it won’t be difficult. There is plenty of work to do in that room and will likely keep me occupied for months.
So it was I was up and about at two-fifteen on Saturday morning and looking out of the window into the garden shrouded in darkness. Despite it still being dark it wasn’t so dark that I couldn’t make out the lawn and the path around it. I could even see most of the plants in the borders but I could also see that everywhere was still dry. The overnight rain and stormy weather hadn’t materialized and I was wondering if it would. The lightning storms which apparently would pass over us must have passed by unless the forecast was wrong. I am writing this at eight-thirty and still there is no rain though the sky is filled with rain clouds. It is also partly blue in places too. I decided to water the rear garden in case it didn’t rain so that was my first job at two-fifty when I arrived downstairs. About forty-five minutes later I was back indoors to eat breakfast. What next would I do? I put on my overalls and went into the garage to mix a bucket of cement mortar and began filling in the next area in the gym floor
I had to be careful to leave a corridor to the door above the steps which leads out to the garden so the area at the bottom in the picture was left. It actually doesn’t need much filling-in there anyway but it will get done in turn. It is this next area which will be more of a problem because the furniture has to be moved but it will be done.
When that was done I left it to dry and then used the remaining mortar to fill a gap in the patio capping stone, something I had been meaning to do for ages. I covered it just in case it did rain. Well now it was time to take a very early walk. It was now five-fifteen and I left the house, posting some of E’s letters on the way. I hadn’t put on my rain-proof coat but had it tied around my waist. It was so lovely in the cool of the morning but I hadn’t gone far when the rain began to fall so I put on my coat. However it stopped raining after a couple of minutes and didn’t rain after that. The rain had been very light, hardly rain at all but I wasn’t going to take a chance and get soaked before my walk had started properly. I was back home a couple of hours later and went into the cellar to sweep the excess mortar off the gym floor. It would be ready for painting over the next day but seeing as the next day was Sunday it wouldn’t get done until Monday (30 th) at least.
It was Tuesday morning (17 th) and I awoke just a bit later than I had been doing but still quite early. I was up, showered and dressed before six o’clock. I ate breakfast before checking my in-box and found my friend in New York had sent me another mail. We have periods of sending each other mails and then we stop for a while before it all starts again. She was just greeting me and saying hello and letting me know how things were going for her. I replied in kind before switching off the computer and donning my overalls. I was intending to install the small wooden fence now that the rain from yesterday had stopped falling. The previous time it had rained, a few weeks ago it didn’t last long though it was a good downfall. Yesterday it rained down almost the whole day.The morning was overcast on Tuesday but at least it was dry where I was working and reasonably cool. It couldn’t really be anything else at seven-thirty I suppose. Because the little fence was in three sections it wasn’t easy to fit due to the position of it. I used my battery-powered drill to drill the brick walls which made it longer to do. The mains-powered drill would have been faster but a lot noisier and at that hour I didn’t want to annoy the neighbours! As it was I had to dismantle some of the sections in order to fix them to the wall. sometimes the smaller jobs are more awkward and take longer to do. I was able to fit the copper bracket at the joint in the capping stones so avoiding having to drill the stone itself. It is so well hidden you will not be able to see it but it is positioned behind and is hidden by the bush in the second picture. I used brass screws for fixing the copper bracket and wood battens to the walls but I was forced to use steel screws in constructing the fence for there were many of them. When I had finished the work I applied some varnish to the screw heads to stave off corrosion, though they were coated steel screws. So all I had to do was tidy up and the job was finished. For a week or so beforehand I had fixed a piece of wood between the gate post and the Laurel branch in order to train it to grow away from the post as it hadn’t been doing. It would otherwise make installing the fence at that point impossible. Already it has forced the branch away from where it was before. I will leave the wood in place for a while. You can see it in this picture on the left..
An expression sometimes given when filled with happiness, joy and glee. I woke up early on Friday (13 th) and it was still dark outside. At four-thirty it should have been much lighter at this time of year unless there was a heavy cloud cover. It had been cloudy throughout Thursday but it remained dry. However on Friday it was raining and looked as if it had been raining for some hours. I was overjoyed to say the least for I had been praying for rain for a few days in the hope that the gardens wouldn’t need hours of watering by hose for a while. Nature does it better than me anyway. Rain had long been overdue, everywhere I saw grass it was straw-coloured and dry as a bone. This had resulted in many wild fires across the country although some of those we were told had been deliberately caused. What kind of person thinks that is a good idea to set fires this way especially as there had been a water shortage? In fact what kind of person wants to set fires going anywhere in the open countryside? It is bad enough dealing with urban fires and many were indeed set off in urban areas. How long would it continue to rain or how frequent would they be? Those were my thoughts but the forecast looked gloomy, it would be dry again for at least five days unless the forecast was wrong. At least the rain gave everywhere a good soaking and it gave me a little respite from having to use the hose for a day or so. Rain threatened to fall throughout Friday but little did. I was up early and after breakfast I carried out some adjustments to the small fence sections I had made and made them sturdier. I then gave the parts a coat of wood preserver and left it to dry, returning later to give it all a second coat. It would probably get four or five coats before it was fitted. For the support bracket I flattened a piece of copper pipe, bent it in an ‘L’ shape and drilled fixing holes in it ready for use. It is lying on the long fence part between the two upright smaller parts in the picture below. I was hoping there would not be a need for further support but wouldn’t know until I began installing the fence.
I write this shortly after twelve noon on Thursday 13 th having returned downstairs and dressed to dine out for lunch with E. She is presently doing the weekly shop and won’t return until one-thirty. It is a good arrangement we have as she likes shopping for groceries whereas I don’t. I only do it if I have to. Now as she doesn’t like doing many of the things I get up to, though she does like some of them, it makes sense. Anyway my aim this morning was to mix some cement render and begin applying it to the cellar storage room wall. Soon after breakfast therefore I went into the garage where the materials are stored and I began mixing two of the ingredients by hand in the wheelbarrow. I didn’t wish to use the cement mixer for this job as it will be done in stages, a little bit at a time. What I do is mix the two ingredients which are sand and granite dust (granno) and then add the cement only when it is needed. I then take a small quantity of the mixture and add the cement to it before adding the water. This way I only have to mix the amount I need each time without adding the cement to the whole batch then having to use it all. This is as far as I got today
Each side of the wooden battens were cemented in. Once the whole spaces are filled and dry the battens can be removed and the spaces filled-in too. I applied a coat of oil to the wood before the cement was applied. This prevents the cement from adhering to the wood and should make them easier to take out. Yesterday I gave the ceiling a coat of emulsion though it will require another coat later and then I added a piece of architrave to the left side of the door as there wasn’t one there and it left a gaping hole along the door frame.Notice the door art has changed from the previous picture (ha ha). The door will get painted properly eventually of course. It is now getting near to E’s return and I am getting hungry.
How different things look after some tidying up! I have been enjoying some really sound sleep for quite a while now, all due of course to my being busy with my projects. I wake up feeling refreshed just as I ought to and it sets me up for the day, usually to do some more work! It may look as though all I do is work but it isn’t true, I do rest and do other things as well. What I prefer to do is to get the bulk of my work done in the mornings but sometimes I end up working through the afternoon too. I try to keep a tight rein on work for I will only wear myself out if I attempt too much. Yesterday’s post mentions a new project I am tackling with E’s assistance now and then. It was she who suggested the work be carried out as I suppose she just got fed up with the state of the store-room and to be honest I agreed with that. So in yesterday’s post you will see just how untidy that small room was but after today’s effort it now looks like this
Empty! Behind the door is a work of art…..
One way to clean a brush after use I suppose. I am as guilty as the next person for doing similar but I usually do it on walls that are going to be painted later. I don’t think that door has seen a lick of paint on the inside for many years, certainly long before we moved into the house anyway. There was a free-standing unit at the rear of the room which I moved out and put into the adjacent much larger room we call the workshop which itself needs a thorough clean out. Most of what we took out of the storage room has been put in the workshop but much has also been scrapped too. Now the serious work can begin, replacing bricks, filling in holes in the brick walls and floor tiles, work on the ceiling and shelving, sealing the brickwork and of course painting it all. It will take some time to do but as I usually say these days there is no hurry.
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:
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
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’.
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.