I had missed my early morning walk on Friday because of a doctor’s appointment so instead I spent time on the treadmill, the cycling machine and especially the cross-trainer. Over the three machines I covered a couple of miles and with other daily chores following later I was tired by bedtime and slept through seven hours. Now as you may already know I seldom get more than five or so hours of continuous sleep. It was Saturday morning, a little windy but dry and sunny and it would have been ideal for taking a walk only for the fact I had something else to do. During the day on Friday I chanced to see there was a slight leak of water on the floor inside the airing cupboard in the upstairs bathroom. It appeared to be coming from a ball valve on one of the heating pipes to the radiator outside.
The problem had been brought about by own mistake in fitting the ball valves in the first place when I was installing the new bathroom a couple of years ago. I had removed the easier to reach valve over a year ago and thought the other would hopefully not be a problem for it was situated in a very awkward place at the rear of the airing cupboard. In the picture below you can see the replacement straight-through connector I somehow managed or rather struggled to fit. The hand tools were either too small or too long to manoeuvre in the confined space but I did it!
You can see the old and original wooden skirting board (white) in front of which is the narrow pipe, The joint in the middle of the section of pipe is where the valve had been but is now replaced with the connector. You can also see that the wooden floor is wet due to the leak and it had in fact travelled down the wall into the kitchen below and loosened some of the wallpaper there. That can be easily repaired but will probably shrink back into place. In the effort to reach the pipe some of the lagging jacket around the hot water storage tank was damaged. The heat eventually breaks down the plastic covering so it is easily broken if handled too much. Did I tell you I hate plumbing? That by the way is a sort of ongoing joke in this blog as I have done an awful lot of plumbing at home and there is always, almost without exception a minor leak after I have done the work! This time however I bucked the trend for a change. Of course before I could do any of the work I had to shut off the water supply to the ‘header’ tank up in the loft and then drain off some of the water from the system down in the boiler room. Having re-instated the supply later I had to go around all the upstairs radiators to bleed off any trapped air. It all takes time and the bathroom radiator part of the circuit was difficult to rid of air. At the top of the house are three radiators of which one had been blocked in by my son’s stored furniture. All that had to be moved to gain access to the radiator. I had started the work soon after seven o’clock and finished four hours later. So much for taking an early morning walk!
A few months ago I manufactured a gate to fit at the side of the house……
It didn’t take long to construct and it fitted perfectly into the space where I placed it but that was when the weather was warm and dry. The weather naturally has changed since then becoming colder and more humid which all means the wooden gate expanded. That’s what wood does when the temperature and humidity change. I knew I had to remove the gate and shave a little wood from it but I had to wait for my youngest son to return the borrowed plane so I could get on with it. In fact he had borrowed two planes, one of them electric and it was the electric one I wanted to do the job. Finally after weeks of asking he brought the plane over and I was able to do the work which only took a half hour. Now there is a gap between the gate and the frame so further expansion if it happens will not result in the gate jamming as it did. A few years ago I erected a flagpole in the front garden…..
As you might expect the weather has affected that too. The flag has to put up with wind, sun, rain and everything the weather throws at it. That being the case the flag has to be replaced from time to time and in fact new ones have been purchased along the way. On Thursday last week however I noticed the halyard rope had become worn and I had to remove the flag for a few days until I could replace the rope. At the time of writing I am waiting for the delivery of the rope and a couple of accessories. I have never had to change the rope since it was new and I am hoping I will be able to attach the replacement to the old one in order to pull it up through the pole and out at the top. If I find I can’t it will mean erecting part of the scaffolding tower around the base to remove the top section of the pole. It may be prudent to do so anyway so that the finial can be serviced. At present it tends to remain fixed when it should be free to rotate about the top of the pole. The weather takes its toll on anything exposed to it!
At last we have some cool and refreshing weather after days of unbearable heat and humidity. I write this on Thursday morning at home with the fresh air wafting in through the open windows. Again I had slept upon the bed rather than in it because of the high overnight temperature and humidity but perhaps this evening I will be able to have the duvet cover me! Enough of that. I woke early enough to have breakfast but fell asleep again and was late getting up. It was ten-thirty and I allowed myself only a fruit drink until lunch. I had a job to do at home, one of those things we promise to do but keep putting off. I say ‘we’ but in this case it was an electrical job which of course not everyone would do anyway unless they had the knowledge. At home we have a large hot water storage cylinder where the water is heated either by the immersion heater or indirectly by an internal coil through which hot water heated by the boiler circulates. Most of the time we have the boiler heat the cylinder. Our boiler is in a room in the cellar and the cylinder is two floors above but not directly above. This means the circulation pipes are long and have to be well insulated, which they are. The boiler ‘knows’ when to heat up the circulating water because there is a thermostat exactly as the one shown above on the cylinder to send that signal when necessary. Now then, for some time the cylinder water temperature has been excessively hot which isn’t a problem in itself but can be hazardous if we are not aware of it. The thermostat was positioned too low on the cylinder and set at too high a setting. The water at the bottom of the cylinder was being monitored rather than that higher up the cylinder which is the normal way. I had to replace the supply cable to allow the thermostat to be re-positioned. Not a big job but a little awkward and I had it done in a half-hour. The benefits resulting from such a simple job are well worth the short time it took to do it so I wonder why it took so long for me to get around to it!
Another warm and humid day on Thursday yet I had determined to arise early and do some more work in the garden before it got too warm and sticky. Alas it didn’t work out that way as by the time I had finished breakfast it was already uncomfortable to work in. The repairs to the brickwork I had done on the raised bed the day before was now solid. The job I had in mind this time was to mix some, well quite a bit, of concrete made with granite dust (granno). I wanted to place it along the joints between the paving slabs and the border stones I had placed around the Mound and the west wall flowerbed. When I did the stone border along the long flowerbed a couple of months ago I formed a substantial joint along the whole length in order to prevent gaps appearing either caused by the weather or more likely the activity of ants! Ants have been very active lately along the west wall flowerbed border and also along the front edge of the Mound where they face the lawn and a couple of gaps have appeared along with the tell-tale sign of excavated soil. I’ll say one thing for ants, they certainly work hard. However I had to shelve the idea of doing the work until it gets a little cooler. I was sitting at the computer late morning when I received a call for my services. Someone not far away wanted me to replace a ceiling light. I was happy to do it and off I went. I was back home twenty-five minutes later. I waited a short time before having lunch after which I sat out on the patio for a while. I noticed the ‘bib tap’ (faucet similar to that shown in picture) was leaking water from the handle yet it was valved-shut.
The garden hose is usually kept connected to this tap in the rear garden whereas we keep the hose for use in the front garden in one of the garages and connect it to the tap there when we want to use it. The packing seal, usually called the stuffing box, was worn so I used some PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape to wrap around the stem which effectively cured the leak. Now I was keen to do something else but there was little else to do so I sat it out again on the patio before watering the garden plants. I thought I would sit a while longer outside to relax and enjoy the view but I spotted a montbretia sticking out of the soil on the far side of the garden, about thirty metres away! When you have been digging out montbretia and bluebells for weeks on end (see earlier posts) you get to spot them as soon as they appear. Actually I don’t know how five minutes earlier I hadn’t seen it when watering the plants.
….and you lose some, that’s the way in life. We can feel disappointed when something doesn’t go our way but there is always something else on the horizon. That’s the way it is with my electrical work, sometimes, well most times, I get to do the work I am offered if I say I will take it on. Sometimes though I find I am unable to do the work once I get to see what is involved. I am qualified and experienced enough to tackle any electrical work but now my age prevents me from doing too much and indeed I have chosen not to. So it was that on Friday I went along to assess replacing a couple of flood lights and discovered that although I could have done the work it would have been too much for me. The problem had nothing to do with replacing the lights but the way they had been wired meant that they needed rewiring properly. That led on to another problem for there was no RCD protection on the house wiring system so one would need to be supplied.
All this would add to the expense and the time needed to do it all. That is why I turned down the work. Now it could be that the customer will employ someone else who perhaps isn’t as concerned about electrical regulations and just replaces the lights alone but there is no way I would. Friday was a day of rain and wind so I couldn’t have worked outdoors anyway. When I returned home I carried out a little maintenance work on the garage door and dug out a couple of bluebells I had noticed in the flowerbed nearby. It’s a game of cat and mouse with the bluebells! One day maybe I’ll be rid of them. As I write this it looks as though the weather for Saturday will allow me to work in the garden if I’ve a mind to do so but I might leave it until Monday. It all depends on how I am feeling and how bored I might be if I don’t do something. I might just go on a bluebell hunt on Saturday to allow me to concentrate on the stone edging in the days ahead. That’s the plan anyway….
Or didn’t I? That is the question and the short answer is yes. I was rambling on in yesterday’s post about whether I would get some garden maintenance done because the weather had been forecast as warm but a little windy. Well it was a little bit windier than just a little though not as it was on Christmas Eve. I came down quite early and to my surprise E had pipped me to the post and was just about to eat her breakfast. She hadn’t gotten back home until very late and didn’t get upstairs to her room before one o’clock. I knew that because I was having difficulty nodding off in the heat and humidity inside the house. Three times I had to get up and open the window fully just to stand in the cool breeze and help chill the room down a little. I must have dozed off around two o’clock but was up at seven-thirty after a sound sleep. E’s good at finding things for me to do and Christmas morning was no exception. Evidently her garage door had once again stuck in the open position and wouldn’t drop down. After breakfast I put on my overalls, for I was going to do some garden maintenance anyway and went out to check the roller door. The real problem is with the tracks, one either side, in which the roller door runs. If it catches something the motor continues to unwind the rolled-up door and it all becomes loose. The cure is to disengage the motor using the installed lever and then pull down the door manually until it reaches the floor. Once there the motor is re-engaged and all is fine. I applied some lubricant to the tracks using furniture polish. Yes you read that correctly, it has bees-wax in it which is the recommended lubricant. Now I could get on with the garden work. The first task was to dig out the bluebell bulbs I had missed when redesigning the flowerbeds in Summer, though only one had bulbs in it. I must have done a more thorough job in filtering the soil in the other! That didn’t take long and then it was time to pull out some Montbretia and begin to take down little by little an overgrown tall shrub growing in the border. This is the picture I took after I had cut down half of it…….
it is the one standing immediately next to the large holly tree on the right. The problem is that this shrub likes to grow fast and weaves itself amongst other plants. I left the other half to chop down for another day as by that time I’d had enough. Here is a picture taken near to its base which will also have to be removed in the near future….
When I had tidied up I went into the rear garden and cleared away more leaves that had found their way there, almost half a wheelie bin of them when loose. Naturally I pressed them down to get them in. I had thought I’d seen the last of fallen leaves in the gardens. It wasn’t to be. It was time for lunch when I had finished but this year I broke with tradition (beans on toast) and had eggs on toast instead. E had cooked a chicken to compliment other roasted foods her mom would be cooking and soon she was off out with it to Christmas dinner with her family, and half of my family too! Why didn’t I go? I wasn’t invited as usual.