Best part

Well the best part of any project is the end of it I guess but I like the fact all the hardest part is over and only the small things are left. I like doing everything in a project but get more satisfaction doing the little things at the end. That is probably because I am getting tired of it! Not really, it all keeps me active one way or another. It is Saturday 6 th April and finally we have warmer weather, weak winds and no rain but of course that can all change so easily. The sun is out, well dodging the few clouds that dot the sky and the birds are chirping away. Must be Spring. This morning immediately after breakfast I drove to the retail park to purchase a small can of grey undercoat paint and a couple of escutcheons for the keyholes. Yes I discovered, well I actually knew but had forgotten they were called by that name. The store that sells the paint sells all sorts of materials for DIY enthusiasts, even locks and other door furniture. However they seemed not to have any escutcheons on the shelves. On the way back home I stopped off at a locksmith’s store and it was there I was reminded of the name ‘escutcheon’. The guy gave me two free of charge! He explained that he had loads of them. I thanked him and left the shop for home. On my arrival back home I put on my overalls and gave the outside of the new door a coat of the undercoat paint. It would take four hours at the most to dry. I didn’t fit the escutcheons but left them for another day.

Following the painting I fitted a piece of timber to the top of the frame to block off the gap there and to finish off the appearance. I couldn’t paint it because I had just coated it with wood preserver. Once that was done I mixed some mortar with which to fill in the holes in the brickwork and the gap in the centre of the overhead concrete beam.

I may paint that beam if I’ve a mind to. Now for the top coat of gloss paint I have two choices, white or mahogany but I think I will choose the mahogany. I am not electing to paint the inside pointing face of the door as it isn’t necessary but the door has had a couple of coats of preserver and may get another. The preserver is oak-coloured so looks good by itself. I will continue the work on Monday hopefully.

Shirley Anne

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Next please

It was Monday 25 March and it promised to be a fine and sunny day. I was up early to take my first walk of the week. It was eight-ten when I left the house taking only a banana and water for I didn’t want to eat breakfast beforehand. Already the sun was up and shining though a westerly wind was blowing to cool things down. Nevertheless I was wearing lighter clothing beneath the jacket and chose to wear my trainers rather than my boots too for the first time this year. A lovely Spring day and it lived up to expectations throughout the day. Returning home I ate a small breakfast for I wanted to get into the garage and begin the next project. The ramp alterations were now complete but I would be doing more cement rendering in the same area later at some point, probably when I am at a loose end. I took the workbench and tools I would need and cleared a space in which to work. I drove the van onto the driveway to make that space. The main task was to cut the timber and erect a new door frame inside the garage. Here is the result…

Looking at the picture you can see the existing door and the white frame set between the brick each side in the normal way. I needed to widen the opening without cutting the brickwork. The extra width would make it easier to move the new ride-on mower through it. The new frame is sitting against the wall on the inside with a small amount of the bricks showing on the left and a larger amount on the right. The door will be hinged on the right just as the old one is but the extra width of brick on that side will allow the door to swing completely away from the opening. Full use of the opening between the brickwork will then be possible. The bricks on the left will act as the door stop when it is closed though the door itself won’t be in direct contact with them. The extra width gained will be around 10 cm and plenty for the mower to pass through. Incidentally it does pass through the existing doorway opening but with the bare minimum of clearance. That was all I did that day. Hopefully I would begin constructing the door on Tuesday.

Shirley Anne

Keeping my hand in

Where? Well nowhere would be the answer but I am talking about keeping any acquired skills active to some extent so they are not lost. The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ springs to mind. As a retired electrician it is wise to keep my hand in so to speak but it applies to anything we have learned over the years. I can only speak for myself of course when I say there have been many things which I lent my hand to do over the years. I can also say with modesty that I became quite proficient in those things I made the effort to tackle. Now that I have been retired for two years I find there is less of the electrical work to be done for obvious reasons but there has been plenty of other learned skills I can continue to use. You are probably aware of that if you’ve read my posts. My next door neighbours are both men, one is a practicing solicitor (or lawyer) and the other is a police inspector but neither of them seem skilled with their hands and DIY is something other people do. The solicitor I have never seen doing anything around the house and the policeman by his own admission tells me he isn’t skilled in anything of a practical nature. His father used to do everything around the house but never encouraged his son to take an interest. Both his parents have now passed on so he is finding now that he has to make some sort of effort to get involved in any domestic problems or tasks which need doing. The week after his mom died which was only recently he was telling E that one of the bedroom ceiling lights was broken and I told him I would call to fix it after her funeral had taken place. That was earlier this week as I write and so I called there today (20 Mar) and replaced the ceiling rose and pendant for him.

Because the installation dates from the early sixties there is no earthing conductor in the lighting circuits. He was asking if that was safe and I told him it was as long as he didn’t have metal-clad fittings but that a rewire would be advisable. He is now considering that possibility. He wanted to pay me for my services but I wouldn’t have any of it, I was glad to have been able to help and it did keep my hand in so to speak!

Shirley Anne

Not always

I could say, if I were vain and egoistic which hopefully I am not, that everything I do is perfect and never goes wrong. Then however I would be wrong for it is never true. I will say that much of what I do lasts the course but not always though I would add that sometimes it really isn’t my fault. We have to take things on trust else we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. As my readers will know I have been doing a lot of work in and around the house these last few years and actually ever since we moved in over thirty years ago! I’ve taken on board many projects and have successfully completed them to my best ability. Things did go wrong occasionally but that is as they say part of the course, it comes with the territory. Sometimes it has been my own fault and sometimes the materials I have had to work with. I will never say that when things go wrong it is the fault of the tools, only poor workmen/women blame their tools. Many a time I have purchased an item and discovered when installing or fitting it just how badly it had been designed which often made working with it more difficult than it should have been. Sometimes it would be the simplest of things which needed changing at the design stage for example a slightly longer screw instead of the ones supplied or ones with a pointed end to make inserting in a hole easier. This was often the case with lighting units. One hand would be needed to hold the item being fitted, one hand would hold the screwdriver whilst at the same time trying to manipulate a tiny flat-ended screw into a tiny hole and often it would be up on the ceiling. ‘It does what it says on the tin’ is an expression often used in advertising a particular product but does it always do what it is intended to do? Well no, not always. During work on my latest project I noticed a small amount of water dripping from the wet room’s drain located in the ceiling space of the room I was working in. I had constructed the wet room with E’s help a few years ago and at that time had much difficulty in securing a watertight floor seal around the drain.

Part of the reason was the design of the drain itself which I overcame by fitting a small part inside. The other reason was the tile cement and grout which although designed for the use we were putting it to nevertheless leaked twice! Now I had to effect another repair but this time I was going to use silicon rubber around the grid where the leak was coming from. The tile cement will remain beneath but above it will be around six millimetres of rubber. On Monday morning (3 Nov) after returning from a walk I got on my knees to inspect the floor in the wet room. Using a magnifying glass, as I had done before, I saw two small cracks in the otherwise seemingly sound filling around the grid. It took some time but I managed to dig out the grout/cement around the square stainless steel grid ready for filling later. Hopefully when that is done everything will be alright.

Shirley Anne

In for a penny…..

….in for a pound. Now that the utility room had been refurbished I was in the market for a break but you know me, it couldn’t last! A few months ago my eldest son asked if I was going to paint the cellar hallway floor as I had done in the gym and larder rooms. It was more of a suggestion than an enquiry but it stayed in my thoughts as a possible maybe for I had other plans at that time. My thoughts were aimed at the room we have now called the utility room and as you know I ended up completely revamping it. A few days ago (that is around the middle of November as I write) my thoughts turned to the cellar hallway which needs a small section of the pipe work boxing-in, a few small repair jobs and the floor painting as suggested. Here is a part-view showing the entrance to the utility room on the right…

At the far end of the hallway and beneath the stone steps is a small storage area which has never been decorated since we moved in and has been used as a temporary dump for timber and other paraphernalia. It stands beneath the wet room and indeed the plasterboard ceiling had been partly removed when I installed the wet room drain.

As you can see it needs a lot of work doing to it and it would be better done before any work is considered in the hallway. To that end I have already begun (22nd Nov) clearing out the timber and rubbish. There are large mirrors (middle picture above) and panes of glass stored beneath the steps and some more just outside in the hallway. The ceiling will need repairs and a removable panel fitted beneath the wet room floor drain for access to it. I plan to block off the area beneath the lowest of the steps too. No doubt ideas will develop when I start the work in earnest. 

Shirley Anne 

Easing off the throttle

Today (17 Nov.) would have been my dad’s 100 th birthday had he still been with us. My own birthday is on 21 st Nov. so as you read this I am now 73 years of age. I have been told many times to take things a little easy, notably by my neighbour. I mentioned this not so very long ago. Obviously I cannot do things as quickly as I once did so any jobs I tackle take that little bit longer and I take breaks from it too. I try to limit the amount of time spent working but it is difficult as it is in my nature to be actively doing something. My latest project is progressing well and there is not a great amount of work to be done for it to be completed. As I write this I have some kick boards to make and the room door to repair but there is no hurry to do either. In fact I completed part of the kick boards installation today.

Today I also finished off the inspection hatch by giving it a coat of paint. I had completed its construction yesterday.

…….and I gave the door frame a lick of red paint

Take no notice of the junk outside the room! If you look carefully there is a very old spin dryer, an ironing board, a waste bucket, a basket of bits and pieces and a ten inch reflecting telescope, which incidentally isn’t junk! Yesterday I did some work in the garden to protect some of the plants likely to be damaged by the forecast very cold and windy weather. The wigwam….

The others are covered by the plastic tunnel…..

The title says ‘Easing off the throttle’………well I’ve got to do something. In fact again today I cut some thin plywood for E to use in making some more door signs like the one she made for the Larder a few months ago.

Shirley Anne

Same again

It is Friday 9 th as I write and I am pleased that I was able to do more than I had expected in the utility room. I say this because soon after my early morning walk I felt so tired I didn’t want to do anything. However soon after breakfast I got stuck in and felt better for it. I think my work keeps me going, without it I would soon wither away! I finished off painting the walls having first dragged the room’s door into the workshop to get it out of the way. I would work on it later for it requires a lot of attention. I also dragged the two freezers standing on the floor (the third is on a small plinth) to the centre of the room to allow the floor to be worked on. After an early lunch I gave the ceiling its second and final coat of paint and then mixed some cement with which to fill in the gaps in the exposed parts of the floor.

Once the cement sets and dries I will be able to paint it a couple of times just as I have done in the gym and larder rooms. Only then will I be able to move the freezers to their respective spaces and do the same with the part of the floor they are presently standing on. I hope to begin the painting of the floor on Monday next (12 th). In the meantime there are other things to be getting on with, if I can stay awake!

Shirley Anne

Tired of it

With no morning walk I was able to concentrate in carrying on with the utility room project immediately after breakfast on Tuesday. However breakfast was at four o’clock as I had allowed myself an extra hour in bed once again. It appears I am working so hard I need the extra rest and who am I to argue with that? I began the work at four-thirty not leaving myself open to any distractions for I wanted to continue filling in the gaps and joints before painting could start. I spent almost two hours filling in holes, some of which were large and had been made by others many years ago and not repaired. It is because the room is in the cellar that any sort of refurbishment was considered unnecessary, even by myself at least while there were more important things to be doing in the upper rooms and elsewhere. So not only have I had to fill in my own work but all the other gaps and holes too and there were quite a few. I was beginning to tire of filling them in and in fact I had been doing it in stages to relieve the monotony. Some of the holes were too large to fill in one attempt anyway.  After two hours I decided to do some painting. The woodwork needed an undercoat of paint so I searched my stock to see if there was anything suitable. I found a half-filled ten litre drum of vinyl silk emulsion in magnolia which was pale enough to act as an undercoat to the white paint I was going to cover it with later.

There was still more filling-in to do which would hopefully get done the next day. I was happy to see the undercoat of paint making a striking difference to the now already brighter room after I had installed the new ceiling light the day before. Although there is still plenty to do yet I am beginning to see the finished job. It’s got to be better than when I first started on the room!

Shirley Anne

No floor painting

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.

Shirley Anne

Back in there

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.

Shirley Anne