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

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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

Occupied

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.

Shirley Anne

Moving along slowly

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.

Shirley Anne

Finally

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..

Shirley Anne